Monday, March 6, 2017

The Catch-Up Storybook: Half a Year

I've been away. I didn't realize that 6, almost 7, months had passed since my last entry. Since the last one was written at a sad time for me, some of you might've wondered if I had given this up altogether; but no, I'm still here. Just taking it one day at a time.

Let's see, I was sick for half of August, but still managed a trip to my favorite island, Coron

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Mt. Tapyas

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Mt. Dalara

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Kayaking in the mangroves

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Caught in a storm at sea

I kicked off September with the launch of our third album, Sa Panaginip Lang (Only In Dreams,) and spent most of the month promoting it on TV, radio, and other platforms. 

Come October, we were off on our US concert tour, spanning New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. At every stop, I managed to escape work to roam in and out of cities for a few hours, and I'm grateful for all the friends who shared their time to be with me.

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Watchung Reservation, New Jersey

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Park Avenue, New York

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Muir Woods Redwood Forest, San Francisco

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Lake Hollywood Park, Los Angeles

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Topanga State Park, Los Angeles

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Waikiki, Honolulu

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Halei'wa, North Shore

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Koko Head, Oahu

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Stairway to Heaven, Oahu

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Ka'iwi Coast, Oahu

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Golden Gate Bridge view from the residence of the Philippine Consul General

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Lulumahu Falls, Oahu

When we arrived in Manila in November, it was back to work for everyone. I spent those weeks picking up the backlog from my clinical practice, setting make-up therapy sessions with my clients, and finishing progress reports. In December, things started to get busy with holiday events. We were invited to fly to Cebu for a gig, and it gave me the chance to visit its less-traveled spots afterward. 

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Osmeña Peak, Dalaguete, Cebu

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Kawasan Falls, Moalboal, Cebu

Night by night, I was glad to have the time to attend get-togethers with friends, and appreciate how we'd all grown, yet again, as adults through the year. We celebrated quite early, because I was going to be spending the holidays out of the country for the first time in my life. Since my sister is currently based in Sydney, we decided to travel to her, so we can all experience a different kind of Christmas and New Year's Eve. I'll post separately on it, but for now, here are some shots from when we visited the beach and the Blue Mountains.

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Manly to Shelly Beach, NSW Australia

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Blue Mountains, NSW Australia

Since we were already in the region, we went even further south and spent a couple of days in New Zealand. That deserves its own post as well, because I was so happy to be back after 10 years; and perhaps because of how much I've changed since then, it seemed even more beautiful. 

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Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

I dedicated all of January to work, and started writing my friends' second book. The process was slow because I was whisked away on all weekends of February. We had gigs with a foundation, for a baptism, and I got the opportunity to sing with one of my favorite local artists. Sometime in and around that period, I took a friend's fiancé to see the clouds, and I hiked through some canyons and visited several shores

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Duhatan Ridge, Mt. Batolusong, Tanay, Rizal

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Mt. Isarog, Naga, Bicol

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Panicuason Hot and Cold Springs, Naga, Bicol

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 Canyoneering adventure, Badian, Cebu

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Hermit's Cove, Aloguinsan, Cebu

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Thunderbird, Poro Point, La Union

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Flotsam and Jetsam, San Juan, La Union

Whew! It's March now, and I'm renewing my passport in April. Let's see where else this year takes me. I'm, more than ever, encouraged to keep exploring and finding wherever happiness leads me... and I wish everyone could have a piece of that. So, I'll put it out there for commitment: I'll be sharing my travel itineraries! If I help even one person put together an enjoyable trip, it'll all be worth it. Bye for now, and MABUHAY!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Passing of a Pet

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You always stood out: from being the whitest in a litter of browns, to your peculiar personality of oral fixations and expressive faces. 

I will feel your loss the most in the everyday things. I'll crane my neck after parking the car, just to glimpse your form on the driveway; I'll think you're nearby when I hear the soft tapping of your nails on the ground. I'll miss you welcoming me home with a leaf, a bowl, or occasionally a t-shirt grabbed from the sampay. I'll hear you in every high-pitched whine, thinking you want to be let inside; and I'll never forget when you peed and trampled my plants for stealing my attention from you. I regret not ever having captured the affection you showed Bruce, with your vigorous and thorough licking despite his seemingly disdainful face.

I hope you know how much I love you, and how loved you made me feel with every soft nudge of your muzzle or every time you laid your paws on my hand. 

What a character. What a life. What a way to love.

Knowing that my own "one day" will inevitably come, you are my reminder to love without restraint every day. I wish you could #StayKani, but I'll see you on the rainbow bridge

Friday, July 29, 2016

Growing Food

Maybe it’s all the time I’ve been spending in nature lately that has catapulted me into this, but I’ve become increasingly interested in the idea of living off the earth, planting my own food, and eventually feeding many mouths from my crops. My parents have a garden, but it’s landscaped for decorative flora. When I was given the weekly task of mowing the lawn, I took it as a sign to start with my new project.

It’s been 6 weeks since my first visit to the nursery, where I bought my first seedlings: 2 different kinds of sili (chili,) eggplant, and avocado. Since then, I’d attempted to care for chives, a Malaysian chili plant, and most recently planted passion fruit seeds from my trip to the mountains, where I saw them crawling lazily on other tree trunks. 

I joined a gardening forum I found online, and I’ve learned so much off the internet; but the best teacher has been every single day of sun and rain, observing what my plants like and don’t like. Unfortunately, I also learned the hard way, and that was watching some of my plants die. The biggest lesson so far has been to plant seeds and tiny seedlings in pots first. I think most of them drowned from the heavy rains, and I’m guessing my soil needs to be better prepped. I’ve been reading up on composting, and I love that it also functions as organic waste disposal.

Losing some of my plants was sad, but I don’t give up so easy. My eggplants, one chili, and avocado are thriving and are growing new buds every week. I’ve replanted some of my chili seeds in pots (instead of directly on a garden plot,) and some have grown into seedlings. 

There is much to be learned, and I'm a willing tudent. Barely a month into it and I’ve already been rewarded with some fresh chives that I was able to share with my my two girlfriends. Best feeling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day Hikes and Nature Walks

The cover of the handbook features the author atop the Monolith, if I'm not mistaken

I got my copy of "Day Hikes and Nature Walks from Manila: Itineraries and Backpacking Notes" by Gideon Lasco. A friend coordinated the order for 5 books, and we got free nationwide delivery.

Signed to "Kaye of the Mabuhaykers

Gideon Lasco is a licensed physician, and was apparently my sister's junior at PGH at one point. He is more popularly known as the Pinoy Mountaineer, and his blog at has become my #1 reference before hitting up the trails. His blog is not only extensive with details on altitude, difficulty, and trail class, but has beautiful descriptions of the terrain. 

Sample pages and itinerary

The chapters are based on topography, like tropical rainforests or seascapes. Within these segments are lists of mountains or water forms, and each of those include short narratives  that paint a picture of what to expect. Tips, sample itineraries, and sometimes estimated expenses are recorded as well. 

I wish I had gotten this sooner, because the rainy season has really put a damper on my hikes, literally and figuratively. For now, I'll have to read about the remaining summits on the lists, and wait for a perfect, sunny day to get back out there.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Miracle on Kalepa Ridge

It was a Wednesday, and our first full day in Kauai. We planned a hike around the Waimea Canyon, and then have a peek at the Kalalau cliffs, one of the most beautiful and remote areas on the island. We knew we couldn't attempt to hike the latter trail, because it spans 11 miles and usually requires overnight camping; but we wanted to have a glimpse of it anyway. 

The red, cream, and green layers of the Waimea Canyon

We had gone around the Kōke'e trails of Waimea, having gone as far as the Waipoo Falls, and were back on the road by 2:30 in the afternoon. By the time we got to the Kalalau Lookout though, the day had turned foggy and the entire range was covered by a sheet of white. For a tourist spot, there were hardly any people, possibly discouraged by the obscured view. Luckily, we met David, a quirky man sitting on a mat in the middle of the lookout, selling his own photographs of Hawaii and making bracelets, earrings, and necklaces from local seeds and stones. Aside from making good conversation (and entertaining us by sounding like Crush from Finding Nemo,) he tipped us off on an unofficial trail that may take us below the clouds, where we could hopefully see the Kalalau landscape. He vaguely pointed at a hedge to the side, and told us to try to be back before sundown.

David with his favorite whale photo

Did this mean it was forbidden?

The Kalepa Ridge Trail started beyond a padlocked chain-link fence, torn from its post, leaving a gaping hole just big enough for me to crouch through. It had very narrow paths, some did not appear well-trodden and led to drops. For most of the hike, we were walking along the edges of the cliff, keeping our weight toward the mountain to avoid falling off. Like many of the trails in Hawai'i, the vegetation was lush and varied, from fern, to wheat, and other shrubs I couldn't identify (and David said he knew of other 'happy weeds' that grew there, if you catch my drift.)

I could just about fit, and some of the barren branches kept snagging on my pants
The only trail where I saw wheat (?) growing in the mountains
On some parts of the trail, that excess brown earth was absent, so we were literally walking on the edge

My favorite part was when we suddenly found ourselves in an enclave of trees. The sun was just peeking through the canopy of foliage, bending outward and forming the most glorious halo. Coupled with the thick, white fog, it reminded me of those enchanted forests I used to read about in fairytales. We took a breather, as we had probably been walking for half an hour at that point, and only continued on after trying to capture the scenery many times on our phones' cameras. We went for a couple more kilometers, until we decided to turn back because it didn't appear that the clouds would thin; and since the trail was somewhat perilous, we didn't want to risk running out of sunlight. 


When we were back at the lookout, I realized I had misplaced the sunglasses I borrowed from my friend, and I quickly recalled removing them to take a jump shot somewhere at the far end of the trail. 

On principle, I volunteered to go back and get them on my own. I ran. I was doing good time, and had reached the beautiful clearing in less than 10 minutes, when two women emerged from the other end of the path. I don't normally make small talk, and I'm very awkward with strangers; so I surprised myself when I spurted, "This is my second time on this trail today, because I left my friend's sunglasses somewhere up ahead." They both smiled at me, then glanced somewhat incredulously at each other, and one of them said, "That's so funny..." while she reached back and pulled the very sunglasses from her pack. She said they picked it up thinking one of their friends had left it, as they frequent the place. We made our introductions, while gushing at the small twist of fate that saved me from searching pointlessly for the shades that were already in their possession. Considering how fast I was running along the trail, I could've easily zipped past them without making any contact; but I stopped and uncharacteristically initiated a chat and got the best ending I never would have expected. 

After thanking them profusely, I ran back to my friends, excited to tell them what just happened. I found them on the lawn, practicing some acroyoga, and they were surprised that I was back so quickly. I told them about the small miracle that just happened, and it made for a great story. Some time later, the two women stepped out of the fence, allowing me to introduce them to my friends. Turns out, they practiced acroyoga themselves, and we got to play with them before we parted ways.

Snow and Jen
Downward Dog Stack

It may seem like a small thing to some, but it was so significant to me because there was undeniably providence at work in those moments. Maybe we don't need to wait for miracles to happen to us, maybe we can make everyday miracles happen when we follow our instincts, do things out of our comfort zone, are thoughtful of others, and make new connections. Those were the things that turned a seemingly innocent, chance meeting into an extraordinary event. 

May you fill your week with miracles!

One of the angels I met that day was Snow, and she is the founder of this great wellness movement called Wild Women's Way