Monday, June 28, 2010

Where to?

Here I am again asking myself "what's next, RV?"

The signs are written all over the place. And they only bear a stark contrast when I arrived here, wide-eyed and  dreamy two and a half years ago.

It's the forked road again, inching its way to me by the minute. But I can only sit still and wait. And listen to the beat of my heart, to the hum of the universe.

But my alter-ego is yelling "it's time to hit the road! The world is too big to be explored in one lifetime."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We interrupt regular blogging...

...because a party is taking place right now in the campus where I am holed up.

This last party of the season only mean one thing! The term has ended! Yoo-HOOO!
See you when I'm sober!


Bench: Uncut - A Bold Look At The Future - Ticket Information

Hey fella travelers and style junkies! Get a free invite to the biggest annual fashion event in The Philippines (and actually making its way to China as well) with a minimum purchase from selected Metro Manila Bench, Herbench, Bench Body, and Superbench stores.

I walked inside a Bench Fix Salon a decade ago and I never look around for another  motley crew of haircutters slash stylists since then. Good thing, Bench Fix opened more branches. For now, the nearest  I could get a haircut are in SM Northwing and Ayala in Cebu. But sorry folks, the free tickets can only be scored in Metro Manila Bench stores (and no Bench Fix on the list, too).

Actually, Bench has been my store of choice every time I shop for jeans .  To date, I have accumulated a dozen of them already. The cutting edge image of Bench jeans stand  equal  with  Diesel or Girbaud at a price of less than 8 Happy Meals. Cut, price and comfort are non-negotiable for me.

As a traveler, my adventure wiring is always programmed on-the-go. So, I always pack with me a pair of jeans just in case a dresscode-imposed party pops out along the way like one time I was in Bangkok and my  artist-friends just tagged me along to attend a French exhibit opening at the Museum of Modern Art. It was totally unplanned! Like superman, I changed from my in-shortpants-backpack-tagging look to a smart casual get-up (why do they call it smart casual? is there a dumb casual look? just asking.)! Left my backpack at the museum baggage counter and I was set out for a night of socials. So there. Being a traveler means to expect the unexpected and be ready all the time. 

My secret weapon? Bench Texas Wild Slim Cut-- ultra low rise, tight through thigh and knee-tapered bottom. The nice thing about Bench Overhauled Jeans is that it is made of 100 per cent cotton denim. That said, it  is soooo light and take up sooo little space in my pack.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manila Metropolitan Theater now a National Treasure

I basked in its spotlight (hey, that was so friggin' glaring I couldn't see the audience, alright) when I was in my junior year in high school. Aunt H tagged me along (together with six of my cousins) to perform  a jive number during a Christmas party of the company where her husband Uncle B worked. I couldn't forget sharing the dressing room with some of That's Entertainment talents (that's enough clue already for you to guess my age! Guffaw!).

Inside my head this time, I play and replay images of its lobby and stylized relief carvings of Philippine flora that adorned the interiors and lobby walls. Outside, interesting sculptures liven up the facade. But the theater that time had already seen better days. So it didn't come as a surprise to me when I saw the theater left to decay many years after. 

 photo lifted from here

Metropolitan Theater or The Met, once the grand dame of Manila's theater, has been a favorite subject doing the rounds of feature segments in TV shows during haloween.  In spite of such reputation, there's no doubt that its art deco architecture speaks of an era we all want to revisit (exclude the WWII part).

"The Manila Metropolitan Theatre is an art deco building designed by the Filipino architect Juan M. de Guzman Arellano, and inaugurated on December 10, 1931, with a capacity of 1670 (846 orchestra, 116 in loge, and 708 in balcony). During the liberation of Manila by the United States and Filipino forces in 1945, the theatre was severely damaged, losing its some of its roofing and walls battered. After reconstruction by the Americans it gradually fell into disuse in the 1960’s. In the following decade it was meticulously restored in 1978 but again fell into decay.
The sculptures in the façade of the Theatre are from the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, who lived in Manila from 1930 until his death in 1958, and worked closely together with J.M. de Guzmán Arellano. Highly stylized relief carving of Philippine plants executed by the artist Isabelo Tampingco decorate the lobby walls and interior surfaces of the building.

The theater was closed in 1996 due to ownership disputes between the city administration and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
The theater is located on Padre Burgos Street, near the Manila Post Office."--wikipedia

On Wednesday afternoon, The Metropolitan Theater was declared a national treasure in a ceremony led by PGMA. In an article, Gemma Cruz-Araneta, vice chair of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission, said the Met was Manila's second national treasure. The first was the mural created by Carlos "Botong" Francisco" at the Bulwagang Villegas of the Manila City Hall.

Not for nothing but it's high time the grand dame gets that honor to shield her from mindless developments in Metro Manila like what happened to Arroceros Forest Park during the Atienza administration.

copyrights of all the photos on this entry are solely owned by their owners

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Early Travels with Father

Father owned a sepia-colored (or at least that’s how I remembered it) 1977 Yamaha motorcycle. The color amber splashed on the gas tank, silver on the body and black all over the saddle.That was the first family motorcycle. And for posterity, Father with his sideburns and mustache and I with my bald one-year old head, posed for what I believed was our (Father, me and the motorcycle) first picture together.

It was probably a summer day. There was no hint of clouds in the sky and dead leaves carpeted the foreground. I can still retrace the exact spot where the picture was taken because behind whoever took that photo was a store. The shopkeepers were Grandmother’s tenant. They owned a pet monkey and secured the primate on a bamboo pole that ran above the backdoor until the breadfruit tree five meters away. That guy-on-the-pole, let’s call him Moymoy, burst my bubble and taught me early on about a couple named Phobia and Trauma when one afternoon after lunch, I joined the women gathered around Moymoy. At first, Moymoy looked harmless but a few heartbeats after inspecting my hair for nits and louse, he grabbed my hair and shook my head for what was like eternity. He shook my head like how a farmhand checks a coconut for water. Fear gripped my insides and god knows what I did after that. Since then, I stopped getting anywhere near Moymoy or any of his kind. Not even toys with close semblance of him.

Going back to the photo, it was taken in Grandmother’s frontyard (in the house she worked so hard to acquire) facing the post-war town square. My family lived on the second floor of Grandmother’s big house with equally big capiz windows that emptied into the vacant lot across the road. The wooden coffee and mocha-colored hardwood planks that stretched from the front door until the comidor separated us from Grandmother who lived downstairs behind her sari-sari store (but I love to call it the big candy store for the rows of big garapon of candies that sat in the front area).

In the background of that photo was the church with its inverted letter “v” protruding tower anchored in the middle. A line of skinny mahogany framed us from both sides. Between the mahogany and that spot where we posed was the national highway that cut the interior of the island. By the time my milk teeth were gone, I had already covered the length of that bumpy 78-kilometer drive on the highway, end to end, from the dusty town to the sleepy city.

The motorcycle was attached to Father and it was probaby his bestfriend. He worked for the government and travel within town was part of his job description. Grandmother owned a small parcel of rice paddies outside of town, at the edge of a vast plain. During the early part of planting and harvesting, Father tagged me along for sunset rides. During those rare ocassions, we would sleepover at the nipa hut after mouse traps have been properly secured or simply to stand guard for the humay. By the time a hint of sunlight crawled in the horizon, we would pack up and be back at home just in time for breakfast with Mother and my three other siblings. And because such sleepovers came few and far between in a span of a year, I would always look forward to those trips with a firm resolve never to allow again the swarm of insects from getting into my eyes during the night drive.

I had grown fond of riding the motorcyle. Intensely fond that I’d incessantly cry whenever Father did not allow me to jump in the saddle whenever I was home and he was on his way to work and what-not. The sound of the crank shaft was my hint. Any sound of it made my soul jump out of my body and in a jiffy, I was already an arm’s reach near the motorcycle. But at times, Father used a few tricks. He would escort the motor a few meters away from the house and kick-start from there, away from my hearing the sound of the running engine.

In small town standards, each working class household owned a motorcycle and kids learning how to drive before their puberty was a birthright. One Saturday afternoon, Father finally taught me how to drive. Weeks prior though, to my excitement, I taught myself how to kick-start the engine and control the accelerator. By the second week, I already drove next town a relative who came by to visit for the summer. By the time I got my drivers’ license, I had outgrown the commute, so I ocassionally drove myself back to town on a DT Yamaha of Brother.

Inside my head, nothing much had changed in the scenery thirty years after that picture was taken. The same church sans the trees. The same clear blue skies but now with a park and a whitewashed house under it. Beyond the borders of that photo, practically the same number of bridges, hills and street corners would greet me along the national highway. Except that the roads now are well-paved and that this time, it will be my hands on the grip and the little version of me snugged on top the gas tank, his arms barely reaching the rod in front , those tiny hands tightly gripping it while his legs dangle between the engine.

Happy Father’s Day, Popsy Minoy!

PS: The photo has long been gone, drenched during typhoon Nitang

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

gone for another long weekend!

So, guess where will I be by sunset on Thursday this week?

photo lifted from this site >>>>

I won't be gone because it's another holiday, no. It's mainly work. Time and again, my job (I don't exactly call this a job) sits side by side with its alter-ego called leisure in such a disarming way. So, going back to the clues, I'm posting here another photo. The cross off-center  is such a dead giveaway!

photo lifted from this site >>>

So, where would I be?
If you haven't got the slightest idea yet, just continue.

To catch some zzzzzzzzzzzzzzs in the four nights I'll be there, I will be holed up in a tree house much like Peter Pan's, replete with ropes, trees (actually most sleeping quarters are built around a century-old acacia tree) and creative spirits roam free, sans the pirates, ticking crocodile and bumble bee (was there a bee?). But we'll see.

From the ecolodge's website, I gathered that its vision is to nurture creative ecological space for cultural and spiritual refreshment that can create happy memories and bring positive change to the self, community, travellers and the environment.

Here's more:
"Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge has private natural spaces for travellers to stay.  Also get a chance to meet new people with Backpackers’ dormitory for an experience of shared communal living.  
We welcome you to our newly transformed wide open space Balay Kalipay Peace Library Cafe with support from Imagine Peace. The second level is an open space platform perfect for workshops and functions.  Find the GANDA Art Galeri right below it."    

Here are photos I got from its website:

And look! There's more. 
Isn't this lovely? Those recycled bottles! Such a work of art, I must say!

And like the last time I was there, my futon will be right smack above this part of the lodge. The way up is through that flight of stair you can see in the middle of the photo:

The weekend holds so much to set my muse and duwendes free!
Now, if you know where am I heading, tell me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hongkong food pOrn: treading on pareng Tony Bourdain's footmark!

The last time I was in the former British colony, shuttling between Macau and Hong Kong Island, with a day to spare for HK Disneyland, I awfully missed trying a resto or two featured in No Reservations by cocky (but you can easily forgive him for being so) host/chef Anthony Bourdain.

That trip to Hong Kong yielded an offer I couldn't resist. On the way back to Cebu, my seat was bumped off. With that said, I was given a roundtrip ticket by the airline to any international destination of my choice aside of course from the free hotel room at Novotel Citygate (see photos below). I did not have to work out my charm for an upgrade (hey, there's no business class at 5J!) at the check-in counter. The manna from heaven just fell oh so naturally, baby!

I was told the travel voucher was only valid until September, so I did not waste time booking a flight. Given the limited destinations coming from Cebu hub, I was left with Seoul, Busan, Osaka, Singapore or Hong Kong. I initially planned for a Singapore swing then exit thru Bangkok (BKK-MNL), but the political situation in Thailand was unstable, so I crossed it out on the list.

 my free hotel room in HK courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air

I thought I haven't explored much of Hong Kong's quiet side--the nature trails and secret beaches as well as the daredevil bungee jump at the Macau Tower. So there. I booked a flight to Hong Kong in time for the summer break at school.

This trip will revolve around food porn, nature hike and heritage walks of both colonies--Hong Kong and Macau. To be more specific, I will try some of these restos featured by Pareng Tony in his show.Woo-ho!

"Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant: On his first day in Hong Kong, Tony and friend Josh enjoyed a meal together at this restaurant, located in the New Territories. Tony ate razor clams, cellophane noodles with soy and bamboo shoots, stir-fried cuttlefish, conch dipped in chicken stock and horseshoe-crab soup.
Address: G/F, 87-89 Man Min Street, Sai Kung
Phone: 852-2792-9294

Four Seasons Clay Pot Restaurant: Tony and Josh enjoyed traditional Hong Kong clay pot rice and assorted sausages.
Address: Temple Street, Yaumatei

Long Kee Noodle Shop: At this restaurant run by brothers, Tony enjoyed some spicy beef brisket noodles.
Address: G/F, 10 Hak Po Street, Mongkok
Phone: 852-2390-3990

Tung Po Seafood Restaurant: At this dai pai dong restaurant, Tony dined on various types of delicious seafood consisting of deep-fried mantis shrimp, fish fins, black-ink squid balls with noodles, stir-fried prawns and clam soup.
Address: 99 Java Road, North Point, Cookedfood Center

Yat Lok Barbecue Restaurant: Tony and Josh ate a delicious meal of various roasted meats, including goose with rice, suckling pig and pork belly.
Address: Po Wah House A, Tai Ming Lane, Tai Po, New Territories

Bo Innovation: Tony had an innovative, creative, delicious meal at this Hong Kong gem. It included sausage ice cream with rice crisp, toro sushi with air-dried foie gras, lobster with Szechuan sauce and har gao pasta, and wagyu beef with shrimp and scallop broth.
Address: Upper Ground Floor, Ice House, 32-38 Ice House Street, Central Hong Kong

The Grand Stage: Tony met with some Hong Kong natives to enjoy a tradition ... shark head soup.
Address: Western Market

Typhoon Shelter Crab: Tony sampled this traditional Hong Kong dish (crab with soy, scallions, salt, fried garlic) for the first time at this waterside restaurant. Tony also enjoyed fried mantis shrimp and clams in spicy black bean sauce.
Address: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab
Phone: 852-2573-7698

Lin Heung Teahouse: Tony and friends experienced traditional Hong Kong dim sum at this popular teahouse. Tony ate pork liver shu mai, barbecue pork bun, Chinese-style steamed sponge cake, steamed crab meat with fish maw and har gao (shrimp dumplings).
Address: 160-164 Wellington Street, Central
Phone: 852-2544-4556"
info culled from:

So, it's gonna be food porn at its finest! And here's hoping I get another FREE ROUNDTRIP TICKET!
Don't we all love to be bumped off once in a while and score a free hotel room and roundtrip ticket?!

See you on the road.

KL, Malaysia to Yangon, Myanmar for less than USD10 (Php429.00 only)

 A girl from the Padaung minority, 
one of the many ethnic groups 
that make up Burma's population (wikipedia)

Asia's number one budget carrier and voted as "World's Best Low-Cost Airline" for two consecutive years by the prestigious aviation consultants Skytrax, AirAsia introduces daily flights to the gateway of one of Southeast Asia's largest and most diverse countries--Yangon (Rangoon) in Myanmar.

According to Lonely Planet:

"...the hub of economic activity, a hive of underground intellectual debate and the gateway for most international visitors. The stunning Shwedagon Paya is the centrepiece of the city, a gleaming golden stupa visible from all over town. Closer to the waterfront, downtown Yangon is a warren of historic streets concealing some of the best British colonial-era architecture in the region. Forget the cosmetic renovations in Singapore: this is the real deal. A walk along the Strand or Pansodan St is like strolling down Pall Mall, albeit without the paint job."

The stunning Shwedagon Paya, the centrepiece of the city
(photo lifted from wikipedia)

Hugging the international headlines of course is elected Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize awardee Aung San Suu Kyi who has been under house arrest by the military junta in the last 12 years. More of her story and the political situation of the country on this link. Vatican and the United Nations, among other international organizations, have been appealing for her freedom but to no avail.

(photo taken by Amy L. Beam 
in Rome, Italy, May 29, 2009. lifted from wikipedia)

Myanmar was under British rule, (1886-1948) so many of its buildings are British colonial in designs.With my penchant for architecture, this will be a catch if I come to visit this country.

 Old City Hall of Yangon (photo lifted from here)

So, where exactly in the world is Burma or Myanmar (the largest country in Indochina in terms of geographical area)?

Wait, which one is correct, Burma or Myanmar?
If you played hooky during the lecture of your Asian History teacher, aherm. Burma has been in use in English since the British colonial rule while Myanmar since 1989 when the military government started renaming many colonial-era names.

If you've made up your mind, whack here for the ticket

See you on the road!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Amanpulo Resort in Palawan

If you happen to see me sitting on a gutter (tattered clothes and-all for full theatrical effect) with a tin can on one hand while the other hand has the word help written all over it, please say hi! to me. Yes. That would be me. After a week in high-end Aman property in Palawan, I will now spend the whole year begging or living on welfare because I spent all my imaginable income (SSS, Pag-ibig contribution and withholding tax included) for a week in Amanpulo!

I am pulling your leg. Guffaw! Amanpulo is absolutely out of my league! With a package rate that could throw my total annual gross income down the drain in a week or two, thanks but no thanks. Nonetheless, the tidbits of information about the resort I am about to share might, at the very least, awaken my and perhaps your Donald Trump-fortune dream. 

Let me kick-off with the heavyweight guests. The A-list celebrities who have vacationed there in that truly a jewel off the shores of Palawan, Philippines include pop diva Mariah Carey, Tom Cruise, Robert de Niro, Samuel L Jackson, supermodel Claudia Schiffer and illusionist David Copperfield according to the resort's staff interviewed by Smile, the inflight magazine of Cebu Pacific Air. From the grapevine, we have George Clooney and Julia Roberts on top of the list. 

Getting there is one-full production in itself already. Here, an article that will regal us with the fine details:
"The stay at the lounge to wait for the one-and-a-half hour 19-seat Dornier flight from Manila sets the tone for what’s to come. The receptionist and attendant know you by name and immediately ask for your beverage of choice as you sit. You are given a cold towelette as you embark.

On the island, you will note that the lounge cookies served with your tea and the soap and clay bud vases in the airport restroom reappear in the casita where you lodge.

Amanpulo is said to be unique among island resorts. There is no room for confusion. You have arrived. There are the sampaguita lei and cold towelette as you disembark." (full article at

According to one of my favorite foodies in the blog universe MarketMan of
"I have been there where neighbors have hired private planes to bring them on a day of island viewing, landing in different cities for meals and returning to the island…"

Sigh. I should start buying lotto in a few minutes. Who knows, I might get lucky and start packing for my stay in that speck of heaven on earth, soon.

 all photos of the resort are lifted from

Beijing (北京) on a cheap airline ticket!

...the city remains an epicenter of tradition with the treasures of nearly 2,000 years as the imperial capital still on view—in the famed Forbidden City and in the city's lush pavilions and gardens...

Chaoyang Park in Beijing's Chaoyang District   (wikipedia)

The opulent temples, palaces and huge stone gates of one of the world's greatest cities is now only a thousand s/miles pesos away. Beijing, China's political, educational and cultural capital is the latest destination of The Philippines' number one carrier and Asia's third biggest budget airlines--Cebu Pacific Air.

Beijing which hosted the 2008 Olympic Games is home of the National Stadium (aka Bird's Nest; photo shown below), National Swimming Center (aka The Cube), New CCTV Headquarters (aka Z Crisscross) and National Grand Theater (aka Eggshell). That said, it's a delightful and jaw-dropping experience for those who are into architectural designs. Yes. Like me!

 Bird's Nest photo from

For details about the new route, here's what Cebu Pacific Air has to say:

Welcome to Beijing! Our newest nesting ground for only P1999!

Welcome to Beijing, China! We're happy to announce our newest nesting ground - Beijing. It is our 16th international destination and part of our planned international expansion.
Our newest destination comes with a P1,999 ‘Go Lite’ seat sale from Manila to Beijing and vice versa. This is for sale starting now until June 15, 2010, for travel from September 5-October 31, 2010.

We start our Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday flights from Manila to Beijing on September 5, 2010, and Monday, Wednesday, Sunday flights from Beijing to Manila on September 6, 2010.

The flights are scheduled to leave Manila at 7:35pm, arriving in Beijing at 12:05am. The return flights depart Beijing at 1:00am and arrive i! n Manila at 5:30am.

For the same sale period, you can also avail of P1,999 ‘Go Lite’ seats from Manila and Cebu to Singapore and from Manila to Jakarta, for travel from August 1 to October 31, 2010.

Locally, P999 ‘Go Lite’ seats are up for grabs for those going to Boracay (Caticlan) from Manila and Cebu, while P699 ‘Go Lite’ seats are available for those going to Kalibo and Roxas from Manila. These are for travel July 1 to August 31, 2010.

Visit Beijing’s many historical attractions and avail of the P1,999 seat sale fare which is 60% lower than the lowest year-round fare of P4,999!
For your bookings, log on to now! 

And there's more! The Great Wall of China is only 45 minutes by bus from Beijing! Whoa! Look!

But NO! The photo above is photoshopped.

It's time every Juan can fly to Peking Beijing! 

Friday, June 11, 2010

gone for a week (to the island born of fire)!

Even before my backpack gets soaping from too much grime and dust during the Mt. Kanlaon climb, I'll be hitting the road again. This time in the island born of fire! Will be staying there in a tree house much like Peter Pan's!

This is my third time to the island and each experience is something new. By my next visit, I hope to scale the heights of the mighty Mt. Hibok-hibok volcano!

See you on the road!

my Christmas wishlist: penultimate backpack!

I know it's way too early to make a holiday Christmas wishlist. But, just in case. Yes. Just in case Santa will stumble upon this blog and start sending an FBI or CIA or Scotland Yard agent to make a surveillance on me if I've been good since the start of the year, you know what to say. I mean, you know my motivation for doing extra good.

Here, lifted from palmer and sons website:

Palmer & Sons (Vancouver)
Custom Leather Designs

"At Palmer And Sons we make all of our designs with only our own hands in Vancouver, Canada.  My son Jack and myself design, prototype and produce each item one at a time from start to finish. Using traditional methods, heritage materials and vintage tools to bring you designs that are timeless and peaceful in their principles.  We hope you enjoy our limited issue designs, we feel they speak to a slow, calm, and more enjoyable mode of life."

In just 1 cubic foot of empty space a man can pack all that he needs to get the job done, and still bring back a gift for his angel.

more designs from the site:

Leather Suitcase No 03 XXS

Leather Suitcase No 03 S

Leather Case No 97a

Cebu Pacific Air: piso sale!

Piso sale of Cebu Pacific is back! One for Every Juan!

Book na! Now na!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

free diving at Dean's Blue Hole, west of the Bahamas

I've been talking about sinkholes in my previous posts. Now, to add a breathtaking footage of a sinkhole, the underwater kind called blue hole, here, look what I've stumbled upon. Lifted from (in association with yahoo sports).

Dean's Blue Hole is the world's second deepest, second to Tamaulipas, Mexico's Zacatón (335 m deep), blue hole (underwater sinkhole), which plunges 202 metres (663 ft) to the ocean floor, in a bay west of the Bahamas (wikipedia).


Freediver's breathtaking plunge into abyss part real, part fiction
By: Pete Thomas,
World freediving champion Guillaume Nery had for some time wanted to establish a link between his sport -- which requires diving to incredible depths on a single breath -- and BASE jumping, which involves free-falling and parachuting from stationary objects. Thanks to exceptional camerawork by fellow French freediver Julie Gautier, Nery has succeeded in breathtaking fashion. The pair took advantage of a recent visit to Dean's Blue Hole west of the Bahamas, in Gautier's words, "to make a short movie." more here.

photo lifted from wikipedia

the making of a sinkhole

In my previous post, I blogged about the Guatemala sinkhole and how I'd love to check out the place myself. While I dig a sinkhole to keep whatever savings I get for that trip to the Americas, I've found this illustration on how sinkholes are made. Here. Take a look!


And of course, the post wouldn't be complete without these photos:

Zacatón cenote in Mexico (from
the world's deepest sinkhole!

guess the location (from

The Great Blue Hole, located nearAmbergris Caye, Belize. (from

Dean's Blue Hole, located in a bay west of Clarence Town 
on Long IslandBahamas (wikipedia)

Over time, these sinkholes become nature's work of art! Awesome!