I’ve always prided myself on being the kind of person who can take anything because hey, I can dish it out too. Probably because I’m usually surrounded by friends and family who throws even spicier hirits than I do. I nonchalantly thought I can get away with saying anything to anyone – whether sober or intoxicated. Yet I realized not everyone is as thick-skinned as I am, but having this mentality does not excuse any lapses in insensitivity or carelessness in throwing out barbs.

I’m prone to scenes of tactlessness, to sudden bursts of sharp jibes in the interest of humor, to feeling like I’m close to everyone. That’s my way to get to know someone – to chika like we’ve been friends forever, and to poke fun at ourselves.  But the bitter pill to swallow is not everyone gets this side of me, and I shouldn’t expect them to. There’s a right place and time for everything, and that the concept of perception management is a really hard skill to master for me!

So if I say or do anything that might seem vindictive, counter-productive or inflammatory – seemingly trying to stoke the embers of a fire that should have died down – please understand that is never my intent. I am truly sorry.

Again, I am prone to surges of tactlessness, to sudden bursts of sharp jibes in the interest of humor, to feeling like I’m close to everyone. And the last thing I want is to say, do or post anything that might offend people who don’t completely know me or I don’t really know, so this is my way of removing them from the line of fire.  The fire being, well, me.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~Proverbs 12:18

My First Solo Sojourn: Sagada

So, one day, I went to the nearest airport, luggage in tow, hoping to snatch me up a yummy JM-slash-Anthony look-alike. I positioned myself near the baggage check-in counter, arranged my bags so they look like they’re overflowing, took out my jacket, a couple of lacy thongs and spread them out on the floor. And I waited. And waited. Alas, no dashing stranger approached me to offer extra space in his luggage. Tsk. Maybe chivalry is indeed dead. Or all the good men are either already in Sagada, or buffing up in some fancy gym somewhere in the metro. Geez. Time for Plan B. I ditched my bags, went to Cubao and boarded a bus to Baguio.

Yeaaaah. About that.

The truth is, a solo trip has always been part of my 30-things- to-do-before-I-turn-thirty bucket-list kinda thing two years ago. What can I say, I’m a walking cliche, which is why I don’t entirely blame those “concerned” people who keep asking me if I went up there to fix whatever it is that’s broken in me. Wow, thank you ha. To begin with, I don’t consider myself  to be quite the voracious traveler, but I’ve been to places, just never really alone. Back then, I have considered Sagada, along with Ilocos, Cebu and Davao, but time, budget constraints and maybe just plain fear of going alone prevented me from checking off this item from my list.

Fast-forward to 2015 where yes, that movie did help inspire other people to trek over there, and made it easier for me to gather reliable information for rooms and such to plan my own trip. Also, I was able to get some useful tips online so I want to return the favor by sharing some of my experience.

Getting There

I planned to be there Thursday to Saturday, so I can avoid the deluge of tourists going back to Baguio and Manila on Sunday, since also a lot of agency-sponsored tours do the Fri-Sun schedule. I left Alabang Wednesday night at 8PM, got to the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao ten minutes before 10. Just ride the SM Fairview buses in Starmall, Alabang (PHP 60 pesos, aircon), then buy a ticket to Baguio (PHP 450 with insurance).  For their schedules (both deluxe aircon that travels for 6 hours, or the luxury liner that cuts the trip to 4 hours via TPLEX, for about PHP750), check here:

I believe there’s an alternate route that goes straight to Manila-Bontoc then another jeepney ride to Sagada, which offers a view of the famed Banaue Rice Terraces. You can search for Ohaya Transit, which has a terminal in Sampaloc, Manila.

I caught the 10PM trip to Baguio and arrived at the City of Pines at 4AM, where I had the obligatory strawberry taho amidst the superrrr early morning cold! I took a cab to the GL Bus Transit terminal (about PHP50), which plies the Baguio-Sagada route. Their first trip is at 6AM so the terminal was still closed. I hung out and watched videos and at 5:45, the terminal opened and the bus arrived. Ticket is for PHP220, the bus is smaller than average, seats are by twos, air-conditioned and looks comfortable enough. I got the aisle seat behind the driver, which gave me some pretty good leg room and I believe the safest spot.


Because, yeah, I came just for this! Strawberry taho for PHP 30.

Because, yeah, I came just for this! Strawberry taho for PHP 30.

Starting March 17, some liners (Victory included) are temporarily not accepting advance reservations for tickets so you buy once you get there. I was planning to already purchase my ticket home but was advised of this. The luxury liner accepts, though I was told it was fully booked until Monday.

The trip took six hours, with two pit stops every two hours, one at a regular bus stop with rest rooms and food stalls, another at a roadside gas station, with food and veggie vendors as well. I bought a carton of strawbs for PHP 20 pesos and took in the brisk mountain air. I wanted a smoke so badly but felt like I would violate some unwritten clean-mountain-air law. The whole trip offers  breath-taking  views of the mountains on my left, and a steep, cliff drop on the other side of the road, often with terraces of rice fields and vegetation. The endless sight of robust pines trees was a welcome change from the usual coconut trees and pavement of past road trips I’ve taken.

Wish I live where they sell strawbs at the side of the road like they do corn or peanuts.

Wish I live where they sell strawbs at the side of the road like they do corn or peanuts.

Touchdown, Sagada 

We arrived at the Sagada town proper at two minutes before noon. All tourists are required to register at the municipal tourist information center and pay the environmental fee of PHP 35. You are expected to present the receipt each time you do any of the tours. The people at the front desk are really helpful. Since I was alone, I inquired how to go about with tours and she said I can come anytime and ask for a guide, or tag along a group if they would allow it. I was given a map of the town, which also includes numbers for the inns, schedule of the bus trips and the tours they offer. You can definitely choose your own adventure here, depending on your length of stay, budget and courage!

Pine trees and rainbows. Yes please.

Pine trees and rainbows. Yes please.

I did not reserve a room, but peak season was starting so it was only at the third inn – Indigenous Inn – that I got a room. The owners – Ate Wanay and Tita Josie – readily gave me key for a room with my own bath. It had three beds, heated water and cost only PHP300/night ,because Tita Josie said they count by the head, not by room. If you want to save more, they also offer rooms with shared rest rooms at PHP 250. Most of the establishments along South road (which has most of the popular lodgings and restos) offer rooms from PHP 250-500. You can easily search for them online and reserve. I inquired at Salt N Pepper and Residential lodge but they were both full.

Where I stayed.  You can contact Tita Josie or Ate Wanay at 09216455679 for inquiries and reservations.

Where I stayed. You can contact Tita Josie or Ate Wanay at 09216455679 for inquiries and reservations.

My room. Actually I ahd three beds, my own batch and hot water. All for 300 bucks a night. Yasss.

My room. Actually I had three beds, my own batch and hot water. All for 300 bucks a night. Yasss.

After settling in and finishing the rest of my strawberries, I walked up and down South road, which was semi-deserted at that time, finally settling at Salt N Pepper for some late lunch. I had beer and some pan-seared rosemary chicken inutom with rice for PHP 170 ( a bit pricey for the simple fare but delicious nonetheless). I went back to my room and lounged around then decided to check out some activities. I wasn’t really planning to go the adventurous route – I foolishly didn’t even pack my running shoes – but I realized you can’t go to Sagada and not try any of the activities they offer.

The interior of Salt N Pepper. Had the place to myself that time.

The interior of Salt N Pepper. Had the place to myself that time.


Activities and Food Trip

I went back to the tourist info center and asked if there we any tours going on. Most of the activities have a standard rate, but if you go in groups, you can split the rate. For example, the Echo Valley hike to view the hanging coffins cost PHP 200 for 10 visitors or less. Luckily, a fellow solo traveler also inquired so we decided to split the fee for the tour. Our guide was Mang Dangwa – named after the bus line since he was reportedly born inside the bus – an affable and quietly humorous Igorot old timer. He speaks fluent English and seems more comfortable talking to us in English rather than Tagalog. He led us through the Episcopalian Church of Mary the Virgin, the modern cemetery (where one of the Fallen 44 rests) and through the trail. He gave history nuggets about how religion and the tradition of burial had evolved with the arrival of the Spaniards, Americans and Japanese.

Episcopalian Church of Mary the Virgin

Episcopalian Church of Mary the Virgin

The modern cemetery we passed on the way to Echo Valley.

The modern cemetery we passed on the way to Echo Valley.



Hanging out by the hanging coffins at Echo Valley.

Hanging out by the hanging coffins at Echo Valley.

Looove the backdrop!

Looove the backdrop! O di ba, mukhang napadaan lang sa outfitan!

After the hike, which lasts for less than two hours, we tried the famous lemon pie at The Lemon Pie House (PHP 30/slice, PHP 200/whole) with some mountain tea (PHP 15) and coffee (PHP 30). The place was cozy and quiet. I loved the flaky crust, tarty leemon filling and moussey top of the pie. They also offer egg pies and other hot and cold drinks, which I would find out is pretty standard in most of the eateries there.


The buko pie girl tries the lemon pie.

The buko pie girl tries the lemon pie and their mountain tea.


For dinner, heeding recommendations, we headed to Mesferre Country Inn and Restaurant. Their menu consisted mostly of pasta, burgers and salads and cost anywhere from PHP 150-500+ depending on the size. I originally ordered an apple chicken salad plate (PHP 170), but the server served me a huge cheeseburger with potato fries and side salad (PHP 220) so I had that anyway.

The yummiest mistake I've had so far.

The yummiest mistake I’ve had so far.

The next morning, we were picked up by our tour guide Kuya Satur at 5AM for the sunrise at Mt. Kiltepan Viewpoint. The van ride costs PHP 500 so best to split it with other poeple. The ride up is about 15 minutes (3 KM) which you can hike, but I wasn’t going to do that all alone at 5AM. At the site, we found other tourists already there, some set up camp the night before, pitching tents, pouring coffee or setting up their fancy cameras and tripods.


A lover of beach sunrises, I quickly fell in love with mountain sunrises too!

A lover of beach sunrises, I quickly fell in love with mountain sunrises too!

This is Rio! Choz.

This is Rio! Choz.

Kuya Satur took us to a higher vantage point and I reveled at the lush greenery, the relative silence (occasionally punctuated by laughter or “tadhana” hiritans by some of the younger tourists) and the sight of fog covering the rice terraces below. The infamous sea of clouds was nowhere to be seen, it was mostly fog and smoke, as Kuya Satur explained that it’s better if it rained the night before. Still, the sight of the fiery ball of sun rising over the mountain skyline was no less breathtaking. We took turns standing over a rock perched on the side of the click, while elsewhere we can hear the cheers and applause of a group of friends, where apparently a marriage proposal happened. Kuya Satur said it’s common. He also shared some personal experiences and a bit of history as well. He recommended to get us a guide for the cave connection. “Wag kang kukuha ng basta pogi lang na guide tapos di nagsasalita. Dun ka sa marami matututunan.” Agree!

Breakfast was at Bana’s Cafe and Restaurant back on South Road. For PHP 150, I had banana pancakes, fruits, eggs, bacon and their famous Sagada coffee. It was a small place but also had a great view of some of the other lodges and more trees.


Bana's also sell their own ground coffee, which I bought to take home.

Bana’s also sell their own ground coffee, which I bought to take home.

Breakfast at Bana's.

Breakfast at Bana’s.

Kuya Juri, Kuya Satur’s brother in law picked us up at 9AM. He showed us the Sugong coffins placed at the side of the mountain. We walked until the end of South Road to the entrance to the Lumiang-Sumaging Cave. The tour costs PHP 800 and max of 3 persons per guide. We were told it will last for 4-5 hours. Kuya gave me props for wearing a trusty pair of cheap rubber slippers, since I didn’t want to wear shoes that would get wet and make me slip. Though if you have proper hiking boots, might be a better idea.


Sugong coffins.

Sugong coffins.

The descent starts here. Wooh!

The descent starts here. Wooh!

We started with a brief history lesson about the rest of the coffins placed at the mouth of the cave, the traditions involved, the rock formations and stalactites we were going to see inside, as well as some safety reminders. Kuya Juri lit up the kerosene and led the way in.


More coffins placed at the entrance. They still practice this, as the latest burial here was in 2012. Some coffins and bones were spotted a few meters away, washed away by rain and floods.

More coffins placed at the entrance. They still practice this, as the latest burial here was in 2012. Some coffins and bones were spotted a few meters away, washed away by rain and floods.

Traditionallyy, they regard lizards as bearer  of good omen.

Traditionallyy, they regard lizards as bearer of good omen.

I’m afraid of heights, and at some points during the spelunking, we had to go up and down slippery rocks, squeeze our way through small crevices by the help of ropes and the tour guide, or wade through knee-deep ice cold water. Though I was huffing and puffing a bit, I barely broke a sweat as it felt like the entire cave had the air-conditioning up on high.

Some of the wee spaces we had to squeeze opurselves into. One of the few times I'm glad I'm a stick. Kuya Juri jokingly says for healthier people, the rocks "adjust" and move around. :)

Some of the wee spaces we had to squeeze opurselves into. One of the few times I’m glad I’m a stick. Kuya Juri jokingly says for healthier people, the rocks “adjust” and move around. 🙂

Since it was already summer, the water in some places weren’t as deep. The tour guide showed us some places where the water would go up to the chest during rainy season. The cave the really beautiful and Kuya Juri kept up a steady stream of chatter filled with bits of history, geology, weather, showbiz trivia and jokes.

The latter part of the spelunking would take us to the deepest part of the cave, where interestingly, we found shells embedded in the rocks. Sagada is made up of limestone formations, and it really cool to think billions of years ago this place (and the rest of the Philippines) was underwater. The short course spelunking tour would actually just cover mostly the Sumaging end and lasts for an hour or so, while the cave connection we took is 4-5 hours. We were able to finish in less than 4 hours, with me taking about half the dirt, mud and bat crap on my hands and clothes, but yeah, totally worth it!

The King' Curtains. Some of the amazing sights inside Sumaging cave.

The King’ Curtains. Some of the amazing sights inside Sumaging cave.


They look like silky caramel formations.



Smiling yet super scared.

Smiling yet super scared. See that deep dark crevice where I came from?

At first I was afraid...  after almost 4 hours, keribelles na!

At first I was afraid… after almost 4 hours, keribelles na!

I’m not going to spill too much about the stuff we saw there (hint: they have rocks they call “porn formations” and there is a royal family residing inside this majestic cave) so I’ll leave it up to you to imagine or better yet, come and visit them.  🙂

After parting with our guide, we decided to get lunch at Gaia’s, since it was on the way and looked deserted at that hour (around past 1 PM). The small, two-storey eatery had a nice, rustic feel to it, with the tables set to offer a nice view of the mountainside. The dainty kitchen and rest rooms were below. The place offered all organic, vegan fare and once again I was delighted at the delicious yet affordable selection. I had their pasta with roasted tomatoes and red pepper sauce, strawberry smoothie, a chunky blueberry muffin and their famous camote (sweet potato) fries topped with muscovado (raw sugar), paprika and lemon.

A little cottage perched at the edge of the mountain road.

A little cottage perched at the edge of the mountain road.

Pasta with roasted tomatoes and red pepper sauce.

Pasta with roasted tomatoes and red pepper sauce.

Camote fries, blueb muffin and strawberry smoothie.

Camote fries, blueb muffin and strawberry smoothie.

Cozy! No wonder they used this resto for that movie.

Cozy! No wonder they used this resto for that movie.

It was a very peaceful, quiet lunch and it was an effort to get up (especially since my calves were starting to scream bloody murder). We walked back to South road, with plans to hit up the museum later, but I guess the unplanned exercise and crisp mountain air did me good and I feel asleep and woke up past 5PM.

I met up with a friend who came to Sagada for a wedding and we had lemon pies and had dinner with the family. There, we were told how weddings in Sagada is basically a town activty, with everone pitching in the preparations, as well as the celebrations the next day. We had dinner amidst huge vats of chopped vegetables, meat and other condiments, since they were expecting a turnout of about 4000 people. They’ve already prepared 16 pigs and a cow and are actually receiving more for the feast. Wow!

My manang tendencies got the better of me and I called it a night early. The next day, I got up around 5 and walked around the town. It was market day and already, the side streets were filled with vendors selling fruits, vegetables, fish, dried meat, ukay-ukay, toys and pasalubong. I scored some more strawberries and blueberries, the obligatory coin purses and magnets, a pack of coffee, a jar of wild blueberry jam and two maxi skirts from a roadside ukay for only PHP 120 each. I took a leisurely walk towards the direction of Echo Valley though I went back and sat inside the church, already decorated for the wedding, and finished my coffee and quiet time.

Lovely views like this almost everywhere!

Lovely views like this almost everywhere!

The church all spruced up and ready for the bride and groom.

The church all spruced up and ready for the bride and groom.

Market finds!

Market finds!

More tourists were also arriving, and they came in droves of vans, cars and buses. Kinda made me thankful to be leaving that day and avoid the crowd, though I felt my stay was really bitin. The museum was still closed, and I’ve already spent a couple of hours buying stuff so I had a quick breakfast of chicken noodles at one of the eateries then went back to my room to pack.


I caught the 10AM bus going down to Baguio; last trip was at 1PM. Same way going back, just ride the GL bus to Baguio, take a cab to Victory and from there you can catch a bus to Cubao or Pasay. I chose Cubao since Victory’s terminal is just a few steps away from HM Liner, which plies the Cubao-Sta. Cruz route. After a three-hour interim in Baguio, since I had to wait for a later bus so I don’t get to Cubao at midnight, and another 8 hours from Baguio to Cubao to Los Banos, I finally got home at around 4:30 AM, tired physically, but still wide-awake from the short yet eventful trip I had.

I definitely missed a lot of activities I still wanted to do, and there were other out-of-the-way spots that tourists don’t frequent that I wanted to check out. But hey, all the more reasons to come back, right? Probably when everyone’s over their tadhana obsession, I can go back to a quieter, less crowded Sagada. For me, my first solo trip was a success. I was able to brave through long bus rides alone, lived within my budget, spent a lot of quiet, munimuni moments, ate a lot, met some new people and discovered a really great place.

Me, myself and I.

Me, myself and I.

One thing I realized during this trip is that I don’t need to be sad or broken to find time to carve out a trip for myself. One shouldn’t have to be. I went up their with really no concrete plans or expectations, except to eat and think, and yet I came out of it with more wisdom and experience (at least I like to think so haha!). Though I came for a myriad of reasons – curiosity, adventure, stress, budget – my sister summed it up when she shared one of my photos shortly after she, my other sister and mom spent the morning berating me for going up all alone.

I went because I want to and because I can.

You should try it.

Lahat May Baggage

Malamang, by this time, karamihan satin ay napanod na ang “That Thing Called Tadhana.” Sa bus, kalye at bawat sulok ng opisina, usap-usapan lagi ang mga relatable hugot lines ng pelikula. Lahat naman kasi ata ng kilala ko, naranasan nang maiwanan, mang-iwan, ma-broken-hearted, umiyak, magalit, magpaka-bitter. Mga 85% na nakausap ko, natuto naman mag-move-on. Yung iba, nasa iba’t ibang stage pa ng process, though marami ata ginawang tambayan ang Denial and Anger stages.

Ako, na-enjoy ko yung movie in the sense na it took me down familiar routes. Sa edad kong to at sa aga kong kumire, e malamang ilang brokenhearted episodes at moving on drama na ang dinaanan ko. Parang si Mace, ilang beses na din akong umiyak, nagtanong kung bakit pa kasi ako nabuhay, naghanap ng closure na hindi dumating, nagsisigaw ng, “PI! Ayoko na!” Kung susukatin mo siguro ang dami ng luhang itinangis ko kumpara sa alak na tinungga ko sa tuwing isa na namang boylet ang ginawang punching bag ang puso ko, lalamang lang yung alcohol ng mga dalawang tagay sa dami.

Pero more than about getting over a failed relationship or moving on, ibang konsepto yung mas nagstick sakin nung napanuod ko yung movie. And it’s all about baggage. As in emotional baggage. Napansin ko na yung mga luggage ni Mace sa movie ay parang naging simbolo din ng journey nyang maka-move on sa ex niyang gagong tanda-tanda na takot pa sa commitment.

Napansin ko kasi, as I got older and went through several relationships (i.e., actual boyfriends) and pseudo-relationships (i.e., ilusyonada ako, si boy, it’s-not-you-it’s-me ang peg), na parang we don’t really get over a past relationship completely. As in, walang erase lahat, back to zero, clean slate, ganun. When we move on to another relationship, we still carry small bits and parts of the previous one into it.

Eto, mga kaibigan, kapamilya at kapatid sa pananampalatayang meron pa ding wagas puro at dalisay na pag-ibig, ay ang tinatawag na baggage. Wala kong maisip na magandang term nito sa Tagalog, so I assume gets nyo naman to.


Collins dictionary defines emotional baggage as: “the feelings you have about your past and the things that have happened to you, which often have a negative effect on your behavior and attitudes.” 

Wikipedia describes it in a metaphorical image: ” it is that of carrying all the disappointments, wrongs, and trauma of the past around with one in a heavy load.”

emo baggage

Photo grabbed from ze Net.


Pansin nyo ba sa start ng movie, si Mace, awas-awas yung maleta nya. Pilit nya pinagkakasya pa yung mga gamit nya pero matapos ang ilang balik, excess weight pa rin sya. Hindi siya maka-move on sa next step ng pag-check in sa airport. Kasi gusto nya ipilit mai-empake yung mga binili nya para sa ex nya – yung trench coats, yung mga thongs, sapatos – kasi may sentimental value. Siguro they remind her of her time na she believed they had a future together. Pero waley.

Tapos, may lumapit sa kanya, si Anthony, na nag-offer na dalhin sa luggage nya yung ibang gamit ni Mace. And it worked, gumaan dala ni Mace, nakatuloy sila. Pero pansin ko, all throughout their trip, lalo na nung nasa Baguio sila, si Mace, hirap na hirap pagdadala ng luggage niya, often refusing Anthony’s help na dalhin ito kahit pataas or pababa ng overpass. Ayaw niya bitawan. Ayaw niya i-let go.


Photo grabbed from ze Net.


Kalaunan sa pelikula, naiwan nila yung mga bagahe nila sa Baguio at matagal pa babalik yung bus. Si Anthony yung nag-alala at gusto balikan, pero si Mace – probably realizing what a relief it was not to lug around those heavy bags anymore – just shrugged it off at nagdesisyon na i-enjoy na lang yung ipinunta nila sa Sagada. At para sakin, yun yung pangalawang good step niya into actually moving on and losing all those baggage: nung in-accept nyang iwanan na mga yun. Teka, ano yung unang step? E di nung pumayag siyang tanggapin yung tulong ni Anthony na dalhin yung ibang gamit niya.

Diba, parang tayo lang din yan. Sabi ko nga, pagpasok natin sa isang bagong realsyon, lahat tayo may dalang baggage: trust issues, fear of commitment, trauma sa sakit na binigay ng mga ex natin, all those nasty, wonderful excuses na kung susumahin mo, would just fall under two categories: Medyo May Point and Total Bullshit.

Hindi na natin maaalis yan. Wala naman kayang burahin past nila diba. Kahit na gaano tayo kagago, katanga, kalandi or karupok sa nauna nating mga relasyon, di na natin kayang ibahin yun. Ang kaya natin kontrolin e kung paano nito maaapektuhan yung mga bagong relasyon natin.

Lahat tayo may baggage. Some more than most, some refuse to let go of theirs, but we all have them. Meron nasa maleta, gym bag, pwedeng backpack or ga-wallet lang. Pero para sakin, wala sa laki or bigat ng dinadala natin. Nasa paraan kung paano natin dadalhin.

Dadalhin mo ba lahat? Lahat ng frustration and unfulfilled expectations mo sa nakaraan, ipapasa mo ba sa bago? Na dahil may trust issues ka, magiging jaded at cynical ka na sa lahat ng mga bagong dadating sa buhay mo? Kakayanin mo bang dalhin lahat ng ikaw lang? O, handa kang tumanggap ng tulong para gumaan yung mga dala mo?

For sure yang babaeng natitipuhan mo or yang lalaking nagpaparamdam sayo, may mga baggage din sila. Give them a chance. Give yourself a chance.

Malay mo, may space pa sa maleta nila, pwede ka pa makilagay.

A Big THANK YOU From Ze Birthday Girl

I didn’t want to eat up a huge chunk of your news feed to post a mile-long status so I figured I’d put it here instead. Hope you take a couple minutes to read through.

I just want to express my sincerest, most love-filled gratitude for everyone who took the time to greet me through  Facebook/IG, text messages, Viber, photos and collages.

I promise you, I was either grinning from ear to ear each time my phone would beep with a new notification, or I would tear up because I was so touched by your words and effort. Secondary love language ko kasi ang words of affirmation, so your words and expressions really meant a lot. Whether you really know my birthday or you just saw one of my posts of FB reminded you, I truly appreciate you taking the time to greet me. God bless and keep you all, my loves!

Birthdays, while joyous occasions, can also cause the celebrant the tendency to wax nostalgic and sentimental about getting older. I like to think we all grow just a tad bit wiser as we age, and I like to think that I did.

If there’s one thing the previous year really taught me was to love myself first. Three, four years ago, a lot of my self-value was still hinged on other people’s opinions. Even if outside I was all putting up a strong, take-no-bullshit facade, inside, I was still a bit of that lost girl, craving attention, craving acceptance.

I spent a big part of 2014 just getting to know myself more. I relished my solitude. I spent a lot of time in recluse, foregoing a lot of activities to stay in at home, do stuff by myself, at times almost to the point of appearing anti-social. I learned more and more not to be scared of being alone. I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely.  While I had the love of my family and friends and God, I realized that my happiness does not rest solely on other people. They can’t make me happy if I wasn’t happy with myself.

As I celebrate another banner year and enter 2015, I’m not going to make any fantastic resolutions or promise to undergo any drastic changes. My only goal is to make everyday just a wee bit better than the last. As my FB cover photo says, in the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take. I’m sure 2015 won’t be perfect and I’ll probably do some more blunders, but well, those things come with the territory, right? They come with taking risks. And I can only pray that whatever outcome those choices bring, they’ll make me tougher than I already am.

So, cheers to my 32nd and God give me strength to face the work week again! 🙂


Dating Been-There-Done-That

Ever met or dated a guy, and after a while, you get that feeling that everything seems oh-so-familiar?

1. When a guy texts you at 2AM to “just hang out.” Block the schmuck completely especially when he starts the message with “Ei” instead of “Hey.” What, he’s too lazy to key in an extra letter?

Remember, nothing good ever happens after 2 AM.

2. When he tells you you are the most interesting, one-of-a-kind girl he’s ever met and he just wants to spend all of his time with you. Alone. Just the two of you. In out-of-the-way, far-flung places where there’s very little chance you’ll bump with people he knows. Because you’re just so damn precious and unique he wants to keep you as his best kept secret… especially from his girlfriend.

As a good friend – who seems to attract married or attached friends like a magnet – loves to put it: “Gagawin pa kong spare tire. Bakit kasi kukuha-kuha sila ng owner-type jeep kung gusto naman pala nila sa Ferraring pula sumakay.” Pak.

3. When he invites you over to watch DVD’s at his place. While drinking. At night. When everyone else is away. And he gives you directions instead of actually exerting effort to pick you up. And oh, while you’re at it, can you bring food as well?

If you don’t see that train wreck coming, then my dear girl, you deserve to be hit.

4. When you’ve just met and gone out on exactly one date, after which he constantly send you text messages  to know you whereabouts. Like all the time. He also stalks your Facebook check-ins and tagged photos from your friends. He’ll flood your chat inbox with constant, “Eat ka na? Where ka na? Sleep ka na?” and acts jealous when you don’t reply right away. Suddenly he’s everywhere, like all the time.

It’s a toss between flattering or borderline stalking.

5. When you become the ever dependable tropa, that wise sage he consults regularly as he tries to get over his ex. You’re there when he rants and wants to rehash every little detail to find out what made their relationship go kaput and why the hell is she dating a new guy now? Until eventually, he starts mentioning her less and less and shows more and more interest in you. And then you kid each other, like why don’t we just go out? Like, crazy right ha ha.

And when you two finally do go out, the rest of the world shakes its head and sits back to see how long this rebound thing will last.

6. When a guy you date occasionally texts you where you are and when you reply and ask him the same, nada. Well, now he sure knows where NOT to go, eh?

7. If, after an amazing, romantic night out on your first date, the bill arrives and he’s suddenly busy fiddling with his phone or he doesn’t even offer to at least to split the bill, pay the whole dang thing and walk away. Fast. Don’t look back.

8. When a guys has too many mobile phones or phone numbers. Unless he’s a cellphone dealer or sells load. Same goes for multiple Facebook or IG accounts, often not under their real names. Unless the rest are fan sites or fan pages… which can be get pretty dubious if he’s not a celebrity.

I guess when you start romping around the dating scene really young and fast, you also learn the lessons and mistakes harder. You’ve seen the scene, dated the players , the older ones, the young ones and everyone else in between. And when you’re a single mother, you’ve definitely had more of your fair share early on, but thankfully, you grow up, wise up and move on.

As Cuba Gooding’s character in Jerry Maguire, football player Rod Tidwell, so succinctly put it when his agent (Tom Cruise) asked him for advice on dating a single mom (Renee Zellweger’s Dorothy Boyd):

“Single mothers don’t date. They don’t date date. They’ve been to the circus, you know what I mean? They’ve been to the puppet shows and they’ve seen the strings.”

Don’t get me wrong. If you enjoy the above-mentioned dating scenarios, good for you. Just remember that while spending a bit of time in the circus (or jungle or hell, whatever metaphor suits your dating experience) is fun and kilig and painful and enlightening, at one point, you have to get out. You have to stop dating the jugglers who pass you around like a ball, the clowns who just fool around with your feelings, or that incredible man who eats fire and glass shards who just burns and cuts your tired, little heart into tiny, smoldering pieces.


*This post was inspired by several funny conversations and observations. If you are one of those old, bitter single women such as the author of this piece and her equally cynical friends, do share your dating deja vus in the comments section. Happy circus-ing!

The Write Way

The year twenty-fourteen is winding down to its last few days and pretty soon, my social media feeds will be flooded with posts looking back on the year that was, and counting down New Year’s resolutions.

I only have one major to-do for 2015: start writing again. I haven’t written anything more substantial than a grocery list in almost a year, and after scrolling through several blogs lately and feeling an inexplicable ache, I realized I had pretty much given up on the one thing that has always brought me comfort in the past.


If I were to compare this year with the few that preceded it, it was – for lack of a better description – uneventful but exhausting. It was devoid of any major changes, sensational happenings, dramas or heartaches that made the previous years more (cringe) memorable.

But for some reason, it was so dang exhausting. I wasn’t dating anyone but I felt so emotionally wasted from being giddy one moment, then down in the dumps the next. It didn’t dawn on me until my best friend gave a simple yet sound advice a few weeks back.

“Wag mo masyado dibdibin lahat.”

And then I realized just how much energy, thought and emotion I was pouring into my work that I was getting physically and emotionally tired. I tried to hide it behind perky smiles and colorful Instagram photos and apps-made motivational quotes, but half of the time, even I wasn’t buying it myself. Which was kinda scary because I didn’t want to turn into a bitter, burned out hag.

So, I won’t wait until next year. Right now, I’m gonna get off my tired, lazy bum and revisit my go-to outlet whenever I’m feeling anything. I’M GONNA WRITE AGAIN. Probably the first few pieces I’ll churn out will be total garbage so please pardon me and just block me the heck off.

But I won’t stop writing.

Perhaps I’ll finally learn to drive even if just an automatic and write about it.

I’m going to try to stop saying “no” to invites all the time because the I-have-too-much-work-to-do” excuse is just lame. And I will write about it.

I’ll drink my vitamins and milk religiously and achieve the weight I’v so longed for and write about it.

I’m gonna be more patient with people and try not to bite their heads off whenever I’m in a foul mood, and if I feel like punching someone in the neck, I’ll just write about it.

I will devote more time for my quiet time, my VG and church and maybe, just maybe, do get that small group at work off the ground, and write about it.

I’m going to get a head start on that 15-year reunion stuff I’m supposed to spearhead and write about it.

I will strive not to snap the next time someone makes another comment how I’m not getting any younger and having a boyfriend is the only way to ensure my true happiness and prove my worth as a woman. I might as well just write about my impending old maidenhood, yes?

Heck, maybe I’ll go on that date my boss has been setting me up with for the longest time just so I can say I’ve tried to go on a blind date at least once in my life, then write about it.

You know what they say about the pen being mightier than thee sword? Well in my case it’s going to be my laptop’s keyboard. And I’ll slay the blues and doldrums by putting them into word and sentences.

So here’s the deal, 2015, I am going get a life and let the world know about it in all it’s painstaking and gory details.



Cagbalete Island: Beauty and Budget

Summer may be winding down for a lot of people, but not for me. My mandatory 2-week leave at work officially started last Friday, so after weeks of writhing with envy over the flood of beach pictures in my social media news feed, I gathered my closest work buddies and headed to my first beach of this summer – Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon.

A friend sent me a blog link about this place (check it out here:“6 Hours and 470 Pesos To Paradise”) and I found it beautiful, refreshing and most of all, affordable so I planned to go there alone at first, but decided later on to include my friends. It’s a great alternative to your usual beach haunts, and if you can get over the long bus ride, additional boat ride, walks and camping feel, you should add this to your list of must-visit place in the Philippines.

I’ll try to break down the details of our trip to help you if you are planning to visit this little pocket of paradise int he Quezon province.I am very grateful to the blog post I read, so I’m doing the same. I’m no travel blogger so don’t expect too much, alright? I’ll be sure to include other helpful links below.

Getting There

For commuters, there are a couple of ways to get there. Since our group were coming from work in Alabang, we stayed overnight in Cubao then got to the Jac Liner bus terminal at 2 AM. It has two trips to Mauban, 5 AM and 12 NN, and many trips to Lucena. The bus starts loading at around 3AM though and once it’s filled up, it leaves even before 5 AM. We boarded at around 3:30 and left at 4 AM. Note: be vigilant for line jumpers (singits!) though, or else you’ll lose your own seat. We almost got into a fight over line jumpers and the guard who wasn’t watching the line properly. The trip to Mauban is for 4-5 hours. We go there in four. Cost: PHP 277.





The line at the terminal.

Once there, you will take a tricycle to the Mauban port. Cost is PHP 50-100 for 4 persons, but if you will rent it and take a detour to buy supplies at the market, it costs around PHP 250. The drivers are friendly and knowledgeable and acted as tour guides as well, so the fare is worth it.


Don’t take your sweet time at the market or you’ll get left by the boat.

Once at the port, pay the environmental/terminal fee of PHP 50. The public boat costs PHP 50 each. It has two trips, one at 10 AM and another at 4PM, but same drill: it fills up early, it leaves. There were two boats when we got there: MV Anthony and MV Neneng (I think). It will be filled to the brim and for a few second you will wonder about the safety. Sit close to the life vest. Trip lasts for 30-45 minutes.


This ain’t Titanic. Bring a fan coz your armpits will be crying for Argentina.



The initial sight of the island is already worth the puyat, pawis and uhaw.

If you got left by the Mauban bus, you can take any bus to going to Lucena, then take a van or jeep going to Mauban. There are also private boats going to the different resorts in Cagbalete Island. Price starts at PHP 1500 for 1-2/pax, then going up as the capacity increases. Some private boatmen can offer packages and discounts so use your haggling powers (without risking your safety of course). You can negotiate with them as they offer their services to you at the port. I’m sure if you’re coming from the South (Los Banos or San Pablo), the trip would be much shorter. You may also bring your own car (road trip, yey!) and leave it at the port (at your own risk I guess).

Touchdown Cagbalate!

You will get off at the Sabang port (also called Cagbalete port) which is also lined by the homes of the locals there. Kids and adults alike will offer their services as guides and you can tip them as you see fit. The resorts are on the other side of the Island. Trek time depends on the distance of the resort you chose, 10 minutes for the nearby ones, up to 30-45 minutes for the farthest (which is what we did!). If you will take the public boat, I suggest staying at the nearby resorts like Pensacola (arguably one of the most popular there), Villa Cleofas, Villa Noe. We stayed at MV Sto. Nino which is at the farthest end of the strip. It’s more secluded though so it’s fine.


Walk, walk, walk. Bring a sarong or umbrella for cover. And water!


The trek to our resort is not for the faint-hearted and those prone to heat stroke.


I could stare at this all day, everyday, every damn day.

Most of them offer the same types of accommodations for roughly the same price range. You can bring food or buy there for slightly steeper prices, or you can get meal packages, cost around PHP 800 and up for three meals and snacks. You can also pay them to cook for you (cost PHP 100-250) or rent utensils. Ice is not regular, some resorts charge corkage for alcoholic drinks (PHP 50-200) and I suggest bringing lots of uling (charcoal), water and snacks if you plan to cook your own food. We bought food at the market and cooked.

There is no electricity in the island, just power generators which is only turned on from 6PM – 6AM the next day, so bring your power banks and also charge during the night. We brought katol (mosquito coils) but there weren’t a lot of mosquitoes so it was quite pleasant, though hot during the night.

For resort choices, here are some. Or simply type Cagbalate resorts in Google and you’ll get a lot more.


Villa Celofas

Villa Noe

MV Sto. Nino

Our Digs

We stayed at MV Sto. Nino, which is at the far end of the island, so unless you’re game for some walking (we walked for 35 minutes at noon time, san ka pa?), I suggest you rent a private boat so they can drop you off at the resort’s front step, so to speak. It’s quieter though, and more spacious, though once high tide, the shoreline is a bit smaller. There’s a swampy area though that’s fun to explore.


Main hall at MV Sto. Nino. If you like the dorm-like feel, stay here.

The beach itself is beautiful, just a few seaweeds, hardly any litter. The sand is fine, some parts are rockier than most but not painful. There were a lot of whole shells, probably because only few people  trample the sands. The water was pleasantly warm, not too salty and not painful that you can swim with your eyes open underwater and not get those red, ouchy eyes. The even sand goes on for like forever so there’s plenty of space to wade and swim and just lounge around.


Yehey there’s water na!


Low tide is around 10 AM until early afternoon, during which the place looks like an endless expanse of a damp desert. Water will come in though at around 5PM until the next morning. You can swim at night or even during early morning because the water doesn’t become cold.


Dude, where’s my beach?!?


Sunrises and sunsets are always more beautiful in the ocean, yeah?

We stayed in two small cottages with a room, PHP 1000 each. There’s a main house with air-conditioned rooms too. The rest rooms are clean and newish. You can buy food, beer, water and soft drinks at their little canteen. The katiwala, Ate Aileen is friendly and accommodating. There’s a volleyball court in the middle and you can rent the ball.


Our humble abode.

You can also pitch tents (rent for PHP 400-500, bring your own for PHP 200-300) or hang a hammock or roll out a sleeping bag. Be sure to keep your valuables close at all times.


Keep calm (and within budget) and cook your own grub. Yuuuum!

Going Back

Getting home is also as easy as getting there. Just reverse the process. You ride a boat from Sabang to Mauban port (it leaves at 6AM and 1 PM) or rent your own (we got ours at PHP 2200 for 10 pax). Then ride a tryc to the van terminal (PHP 50/tryc), ride van to Lucena grand terminal (PHP 65/pax, about 1-hour trip) and then once at the terminal, choose the mode of transportation depending on your destination. My friends going back to Alabang rode a Jac Liner bus; I chose a van going to Sta. Rosa, which will pass by Calamba. Tough if you live where I do (Los Banos), better to take a van to San Pablo, and from there take a jeep going to Calamba, to avoid taking the long route of Alaminos-SLEX and the traffic of Pansol.

There are several fast food chains in the terminal (Chowking and Jollibee) and some stalls where you can buy pasalubong. Broas (lady fingers), tikoy (a kind of caramel sweet), espasol (some kind of rice-macapuno sweet rolled in roasted rice powder) and cassava cake or budin, are local delicacies. Or if you can brave the dirty stares at an air-con bus, go buy some longganisa (sausages in pigs’ intestines) as well.

With my group of eight people, each of us spent roughly PHP 1700 each, which our own individual meals in fast foods going to and from Mauban, and our ambagan (shell out for the group expenses) of PHP 865 each. Not bad, eh?

Moral of the story: better to travel in packs or groups. Not only is it more fun, but more affordable as well!


What’s a beach trip without the obligatory jump shot?



I’m the one in the blue bikini. 🙂

There are still two weeks of summer left. Go book your rooms, pack your bikinis, board shorts and sunblock, and head out to Cagbalate Island. Let’s support local Filipino tourism, o diba? 

Status: SINGLE

A few months ago, when a guy I dated changed his Facebook status to “in a relationship” people started texting or walking up to me to see how I would react to the news.  Nobody seemed to remember that he and I parted ways for more than a year already and are still good friends after, nor the fact that I was actually one of the first people he told he was courting a girl.

“Okay ka lang?” They would ask in a low, deliberate voice, faces scrunched in concern, as if saying it loud or putting too much emphasis on it would cause me to break down in tears.

“Yes, I’m good.” And I could see in their skeptical faces the follow up question they wouldn’t voice out. Really? But… you’re still… single.

Of course, trying to convince them that I was indeed fine being thirty-one, single and not on the prowl for some guy would be an exercise in futility. Might even sound defensive. A lot of people think that because I’m not with someone means a) I still hold a torch for said guy or, 2) I’m a dried up, jaded beyotch.

I haven’t been in an actual relationship for about four years now. During those four years, I’ve fallen under a couple of delusions that some friendships can turn out to be more, which unfortunately ruined some perfectly good friendships, but nonetheless cemented my resolve not to settle for anything less than real.

During the last couple of years I’ve thrown myself into work and being a mom, and it’s all good. I’m not really into the dating scene. Even when I was younger, I’ve never been into blind dates. Small talk terrifies me. It’s just that at work, where I spend bulk of my time nowadays, I’m surrounded by couples and people who are in relationships. I think there are only three of us left who are still unattached. And when you’re a thirty-one-year old single woman surrounded by married or coupled folks, people assume there must be something wrong with you.

Being this single person, here’s some random things I noticed. Feel free to agree or disagree. Hey, it’s just me.

1. You can’t say or post anything about Valentine’s being a commercialized holiday destined to milk poor schmucks out of money for overpriced chocolates, flowers, stuffed toys and fancy candle-lit dinners. You can’t declare that red Cupid and hearts cut outs are cheesy. You can’t raise the question of why this became a holiday of lovers when in fact it was about a saint dying in some ancient prison dungeon. Or something to that effect. Wasn’t it?


2. You can’t go to a wedding and not participate in that seemingly innocent fun game of bouquet toss, or some sort of modernized version of it, depending on the wedding coordinator. You can’t go against tradition and give up the chance that some distant relative or friend of the groom or bride could be your “the one.” So go ahead and lift up that skirt and let some complete stranger grope up that pesky garter up your thigh.



3. You can’t finish a meal as leisurely as you want, because then the people eating with you would have to wait until you’re finished before they can start clearing their dirty dishes away, because “baka hindi ka makapag-asawa.” I don’t see the connection between dirty plates and snagging me up a spouse. What does that even mean?


4. You can’t change your Facebook status to “single” because dang, girl, be cool, everybody freaking knows already.



5. You find it hard to politely say no to offers of blind dates, casual coffee or “eye-balls” because then you’d appear all “choosy hindi naman yummy” and everybody would be like shaking their heads and saying, “Eh kaya single ka pa rin.” If I had a peso for every promise of setting me up with someone, I’d probably have enough money to buy me an iPad.


6. Your love  life – or lack of it – will become everybody’s business. (So might as well blog about it, yeah?)



7.  When everything in your life is going well – career, finances, you got your own car and condo and all – people will say, “O kulang na lang asawa.”

8. Every time you turn older, the next thing that comes after “Happy Birthday” is “Why don’t you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?” and /or “So when are you getting married?” Noticed this to be especially common for women once they turn 25 and older. Girls approaching the big three-oh always get cautioned about being left by the “huling biyahe” or falling off the calendar. There’s a deadline? Well, there’s still the Bingo card.



9. When you want to have a spontaneous, after-shift visit to the watering hole or even for coffee or dinner, everybody has to call or text their partners first. And even if they do come with you, they spend most of the evening constantly checking their phones, texting their location and activities to their partners. “Alis na kami. Dito na kami. Order na kami. Kain na ko. Nguya na ko. Lunok na ko.” You know guys, there’s this thing called GPS. And oh, trust.


10. When you look good and take extra care with your make up, hair or clothes, people assume it’s because you’re dating someone or sleeping with someone. “Blooming ka ah. What’s his name?” Like if you’re single you’re expected to dress in burlap sacks and look like dirty laundry.



11. You can’t can’t make an off-hand or jokey comment about another wedding/ baby shower/ engagement news / birth announcement because, it’d be like, well at least sila… eh ikaw…?


12. Whether you’re dining alone in a restaurant, going to the mall or some park alone, watching a movie all by yourself or just want some uninterrupted, quite me-time, for cryingoutloud, they’d be all like, why? You should have called me, I would’ve come with you. Chill, brah, I’m cool.

Gif not mine, credits to the www.

Gif not mine, credits to the www.


Of course I’m making sweeping generalizations here and some exaggerations there, but you get my drift right? Point is, while I do sometimes miss the feeling of being part of a couple, right now, I’m okay being single. REALLY. I guess it’s an age thing. Or maybe it’s that I’m-fed-up-with-all-the-BS thing that we realize it’s better to hold out for someone genuine and lasting, than settling down for whoever is available for fear of being alone. Been there, done that.

You know, as hokey or righteous it may sound to others, I do believe that God has a perfect timing for these stuff. And maybe this is not my season yet to be with someone. Probably because God knows I’ll screw it up again like I did those in the past so better He keeps me off them for now.

In the meantime, I’m cool having these chairs all to myself. So, yes, I’m fine. Really. We’re all fine.



Speaking From The Heart

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for my daughter’s elementary graduation exercises. I know what you’re thinking. Ako?! Baket?!? Yes, me! Kagulat no? Well, you can read my speech below to further share into my own initial surprise at being invited. The experience was amazing yet nerve-wracking. I walked the thin line between making my daughter proud and embarrassing her in front of her entire grade. Awa ng Diyos, it looks like the former because Ging’s still speaking to me haha! 


My baby all grown up and lady-like in her glamour grad pic.

My sister recorded my whole speech but stupid me got the camera’s SD card corrupted and therefore it had to be reformatted, so, boom, buh-bye video. Okay na rin, because I’ve never been telegenic/photogenic, plus I’m sure my voice sounded funny because I had severe allergies and my nose was all stuffed up.


Demure effect in a white frock, nude heels, messy up-do and some beautiful orchid corsage.

I got teary-eyed several times while delivering the speech, especially during the parts about how fast the kids are growing up and how afraid we naturally all are as parents. Fortunately, a lot of my audience probably attributed it to my allergies. But it filled my heart with relief and joy to know I connected to my audience (well, some of them anyway, mostly my family). I could see the school principal dabbing her eyes, some of the faculty members nodding at one point or another and finding out my sisters and mom shed a few tears of their own. What made me feel even better was a few parents approached me afterwards, thanking me for my piece and telling me it was beautiful.


Gosh I forgot to blot my face. Hello shiiiine!


Thank you!  It was truly an honor that the voice of a young, regular, single mom like me resonated to you, no matter how small an impact it might have been. Thank God I was able to convey my message. It was only by His grace I was able to forge through my entire speech without snot running down my nose or something equally horrifying, especially since earlier during the day, I was sneezing and coughing like crazy that I had difficulty breathing and had to hook myself up to a nebulizer. 

Just want to give a shout out as well to my daughter’s alma mater, South Hill School Inc., for taking such good care of my baby for the last five years. You rock! I would like to commend you for a short and simple yet very touching program, which highlighted the children’s journey and achievements, while also casting a spotlight on their amazing parents and families.I loved the thanksgiving video and the rose-giving thingie as well. Kudos!


Me and our youngest sister. Charot! Si Daddy, fumo-photobomb sa likod haha!


With my two lionesses, Leonina and Leonila. Super proud to be up on stage with you, my inspiration and my support.



TEAM GING REPREZENT YA’LL!!! I love you my family and Ging loves you too to bits. Missing Kuya Pao, Tita Babes, Aeden and Gab. Also the Atienzas, our extended family.


Because she’s everybody’s baby.

So for those bored enough to read through my piece, here it is.

To our beloved graduating students; to our esteemed board of trustees; to our dashing president, Mr. Augusto Legaspi; to our beautiful principal Mrs. Carmencita Nolasco; to the dedicated staff and faculty of South Hill School, to my fellow proud parents; to all  the loving families and supporting friends gathered here, a great evening to you all.

First of all I would like to congratulate our young graduates. This day marks the achievement of the first step out of many that you will be taking towards your dream. Today, you have every right to be proud of how far you’ve gone – from the little kids afraid to let go of your mommies’ and daddies’ hands during your first day of nursery school, to becoming these fine young ladies and gentlemen about to takea bigger bite out of that pie we call “real life:” high school.

Second I would also like to congratulate – and if only I could, probably give a high five as well – to each and every parent here. I share your pleasures and pains in raising these children, making countless sacrifices along the way to guarantee we provide a better life for them by, among others, ensuring they get quality education. Let’s take a moment to bask in the glory of our children’s successes… and then gear up and get ready for more, because hey, this is only just the beginning yes?

Third, let me also congratulate the teachers. You are our partners in our children’s learning. Your commitment to guide and support our children have helped mold them into the fine young adults they are today. My congratulations as well to all families and friends, who through the years have provided an amazing community of love and support for our children.

Thank you very much for that beautiful introduction. Made me sound more important and established, yes? Maybe a lot of you are wondering what I’m doing up here. Probably you’re thinking, sino ba siya? Sikat ba siya? Honestly speaking, that’s my first though as well when I was invited to speak here. Bakit ako?

I remember joking with Ging that all I’ll ever say is, kids don’t be like me in high school. When you say “guest speaker” our initial thought is wow, big time! We think of presidents of some company, scientists, inventors, celebrities. Unfortunately I am none of the above. I am just your average single mother, going through the usual day to day joys and pains of raising a child, earning a living, riding a bus everyday for four to five hours to the city to work, and living on three cups of coffee every morning.

And then I realized aren’t most of us just like that – “a regular parent?” We may come from different backgrounds. We may have different educational attainment, careers, jobs. But at the heart of it all we’re all just parents, and whatever differences we may all have, I’m sure there are several things we all share at this very moment.

First I know we are all bursting with pride at the fact that our kids are now graduating from elementary. Most of us were probably hit with waves of nostalgia seeing them wearing their graduation caps and togas. Was it just a few short years ago they were wearing diapers instead, not even talking or walking yet? Now they’re in heels in neckties!

Second, I’m sure most of us have… Facebook! Am I right? And I’m sure our kids have told or even begged us to stop posting their baby pictures, those hashtag Throwback Thursdays. My daughter scolded me once when I posted a sleeping photo of her that I found adorable and she found horrifying. Yes, I’m that baduy mom.

Kidding aside, I am deeply honored and humbled to be speaking here in front of you. I like to think whatever life experience or lessons I share today represents you in one way or another. It’s quite comforting to know that I am in the presence of people who are also feeling what I’m feeling now: a mix of happiness, pride, wistfulness, and yes, fear.

Time is flying by so fast and our children are growing faster! I know we also share some kind of fear. Fear of them growing up. Fear of them entering a big, new world where they might not need us so much anymore. Fear of them becoming teenagers, falling in love, getting hurt. Fear that all the things we taught them when they were little would not be enough.

I think a lot of us close our eyes and remember our high school years – whether they involved big shoulder pads or teased hair or boybands and Spice Girls. We picture our little babies going through that whole phase of angst, hormones, bullies and relationships. Yep, scary.

So to help lessen these fears, kids, here are some truths about high school and yes, about life that I learned growing up. Maybe you can pick up a thing or two. Yes, experience is a great teacher, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a little review beforehand, would it?

High school is a popularity contest… which is why you should worry less about being popular and more about being respected.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be popular. I wanted to grow up agad. I wanted to be with the cool kids, be part of the cool barakada. And I was and I did. Maybe I was what you’d call the “queen bee” – cheerleader, student council, school play lead actress.

It was years later I realized I was mostly popular because I tried too hard to be liked by the wrong people and to fit in the wrong crowd. I made fun of other kids because I thought it would make me look better. I slacked at school work and cut classes and stuff because, wala lang, para cool. I thought breaking the rules was cool. Cool equals popular.

Kids, the thing about popularity is it’s easy to get, especially now with social media and all. It’s so easy to be popular for the wrong reasons. But if you get known only for shallow stuff, you can lose something more important: respect. Respect of your peers, respect of your teachers.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Saying no to vices like smoking and stuff, saying no to peer pressure, it will make you unpopular. Yeah I was popular, but then I would see my name written in the walls of the girls’ CR: maarte si Jasmine, maporma si Jasmine, ganun. Popular, yes. Respected? Nah.

I learned that as a parent, as well as watching my older siblings raise their own kids. I learned that being a team leader handling a team of ten people. I make and will make decisions that will make me unpopular, but I know if it’s based on something right, it will be for their own good.

High school is about making new and more friends and expanding your network… just don’t forget the first people who were part of your life: your family.

I always say I’m a single mom but I was never an alone mom. Pag napupuri ako ng mga tao about what a good job I did raising Ging, I always say, hindi lang po ako yan. I had my daughter when I was 19. It was so hard. So dito na papasok yung tagline kong: kids, don’t be like me! I learned lessons I never thought I would learn that early, and I faced problems no teenager should worry about at that age.

The only upside? Ging may only have one parent present, but she has a houseful of loving family and relatives. My mom, my sisters, their husbands, my brother, cousins, aunts and uncles and friends I consider family, raised Ging too. I did not do this all single-handedly.  I may not have the perfect family I dreamed of when I was younger, pero I realized I only have this family. They’re my rock and they keep me going.

I believe that’s one of the main things that keep us Filipinos going, is those strong family ties. At hindi lang kamapamilya, may mga kapuso, kapatid, kabaranggay pa! So kids, cherish and love your families. I know minsan mahirap, especially when you get into fights with your siblings over the TV or the laptop, or you get grounded by your parents or hindi kayo napayagan pumunta sa school party because of some family get-together. Trust me,when I was a kid, I wanted to be an only child; I couldn’t understand why I have to have siblings.

Pero when we got older, my sisters and brother and I missed the fact we only get to see each other sometimes. We realized that even when everybody’s gone, at the end of the day, your family will always be there. Friends are awesome, yes, and a valuable part of our life. Pero sabi nga, blood will always be thicker than water.

High school is about your first step into what real life is all about and everything it has to offer you… just remember to face everything with a positive outlook.

For me, everything starts with an attitude of gratitude. Magpasalamat sa mga bagay na meron ka imbes na iniisip ang mga bagay na nawala or wala ka pa. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more in life or working hard to achieve better things. Just don’t forget to be thankful for very blessing we receive or every trial that made us stronger. I think the moment we stop being grateful is the moment we stop being satisfied.

Children, be thankful to and for your parents. Thank God for even the smallest things – you have food whenever you want or need them, you have a cellphone kahit minsan walang load, you have new clothes kahit minsan baduy kasi si Mommy or Daddy ang pumili.

Be thankful even for those times you got hurt or felt everything was difficult. Trust me, if elementary life has given you heartaches and headaches dahil sa dami ng exams at assignments, wait until high school and college. Believe me, when you’re a teenager, every little problem seems like the end of the world, whether it’s your crush ignoring you, or not getting into varsity or failing a Math quiz. That’s why it’s important to keep a positive attitude so that whatever curve ball life throws at you from this day forward, you can face it. Nakakawala ng confidence at courage ang negativity, kids. So repeat after me: bawal ang nega. Tell your seatmate: bawal ang negastar!

Filipinos are like this right? No matter what problems, scandal or natural disaster we face, positive outlook pa rin. We smile through it, make jokes out of it, we always try to see what good will come out of something bad. Minsan, tayo na nga yung nasasalanta ng bagyo or apektado ng lindol, tayo pa yung unang nage-encourage ng ibang tao. I believe this is also because of our faith. We can be positive because we know there is a mighty God above us who will strengthen our weakened hearts and spirit.

High school is about following your dream… just not by stepping on other people and losing sight of your values.

Don’t let the all the pressure of high school change you or the values your parents taught you. Filipinos are inherently values-driven and God-fearing. Ano ba mga ang character na itinuro ni God satin? It’s to be good like His son Jesus. Whether it’s choosing not to cheat on an exam, doing your own paper instead of copy-pasting from the Internet, telling the truth to your parents whenever you go out  or refusing peer pressure to smoke or drink or do drugs. Your surroundings will change. Your friends may change. Your body will definitely change. But don’t let society change who you are inside. Don’t let the world define you and how you should achieve your dream.

I remember one scene in Captain America:The First Avenger. Who here have watched it? Diba before he became Capatin America, Steve Rogers was really skinn and small, sickly and hikain. But he wanted to be a solider because he wanted to help his country, his people. So the night before siya gawing maskulado at malakas na super soldier, his mentor Dr.Erskine told him that the serum thye will inject him with, will not only make him physically better, it amplifies what is inside a person. Good becomes better, bad becomes worse. He told Steve, whatever happens, when the little guy becomes big, he should never forget what he is – and he said this pointing to Steve’s chest: a good man. And he didn’t. Steve Rogers’ dream was to become a soldier and he became such a fine one without ever losing his values.

But that’s basically how you survive high school – and life really. Nope, hindi naman maging superhero! Never lose sight of who you really are. Stick to your values. Stick to your families and loved ones. Have faith in God and His plan for you. Do the right thing. Have a heart that never gives up. Have a strong, resilient heart, one that isn’t afraid to get hurt or fail, but is confident in the knowledge that it can overcome, it can heal, it can fight, care and love again. Says one of my favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Kung ano ang nilalaman ng puso mo, siya ring ipapakita mo sa mga gawa, kaisipan at pananalita mo.

Sabi nga ng theme natin, hindi natitinag ang pusong Pilipino. Let me just add on to that a little. Pag sinabing hindi natitinag, para sa akin, hindi nagagalaw, matatag, hindi sumusuko, hindi natatalo. Invincible, determined. And yes in many ways, the Filipino heart is such. But I also believe that the strength of our heart lies not only in its ability to be unshakeable, but in its ability to heal. I believe the heart is the strongest organ we have. Kasi kahit ilang beses siyang mabasag or masaktan,ang pusong Pilipino ay gagaling at lalaban ulit. And that’s the kind of heart you need to overcome whatever challenges life throws at you.

Again, my warmest congratulations to all the graduates and parents. Have a good night everyone! 


Thank you for this South Hill and for entrusting me with such a vital role in your program. Plus I loved the gorgeous shawl you gave me as well!


Day 5: Beaming Birthday Beki

Today I say a huge prayer to God for another year in my life. Another year to learn, love, laugh, cry, earn, stumble, get up and spend time with my family, friends and even meet new people. More of you Lord this year!

These three made me flash those (not-so) pearly whites today:

1. Second day of delicious brewed coffee and bacon, plus another brekkie fave of corned beef with onions and potatoes. Yum!


Power birthday breakfast!

2. A powerful message at church to start the year right, and give us strength for this week’s prayer and fasting. Lifting to You my and Your children’s faith goals this year, Lord!

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

3. Birthday dinner at local Japanese eatery Eat-Sumo Terihaus since all of us were in the mood for some maki and bento boxes, then pistachio-cashew ice cream courtesy of Mama. Double-yum!


At magkakatabi magkaka-size hihi!


Happy birthday to me!


It’s our fave flavor!


Also teaching my mom how to use Camera 360 para kahit nasa States, wit oily fez!