Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Travel Diary: Exploring Iloilo's Gigantes Islands

"How far is this island?" I asked Ryan when we were finally at the port waiting to board the boat that would take us to the town of Carles where Islas de Gigantes was located.

"Ayun lang yung island oh," he answered as he pointed out an island that I could see from where I stood.

Confession: I'm scared of the open waters. Not because I can't swim because I can!

I blame it on all those movies I've seen as a kid about the open waters. Ha! Ha! Did you see JAWS? The sun shining above the sea making its surface seemingly sparkle did not do anything to appease my nerves. I think my knuckles had turned white from gripping the handle of the seat in front of me during the trip which tightened even more as we passed by the island that Ryan had initially pointed out to me and so much more as our boat traveled on meeting wave after wave that splashed us and got us a little wet. The boat trip to Islas de Gigantes was probably 1 1/2 hour - 1 hour longer than I thought it would be. Ryan told me later on that he honestly thought that he was gonna be in trouble with me for giving me the wrong information though he said that in his defense, he really thought that was it. All that time though I was thinking he actually knew the islands were farther than that but he was simply trying to calm a nervous friend down aka me. Ha! Ha!

Anyway, Islas de Gigantes is called that because the islands from afar looks like a sleeping giant. It's such a popular tourist spot now and I can understand the attraction. If you're willing to go the extra mile - aka travel about five hours on the road and the open waters - white sand beaches, interesting rock formations, crystal blue waters and amazing sceneries will be waiting for you.

We took the day tour as part of a joiner group. You can opt to stay here overnight because I think there are other activities offered on the islands. But the day tour package that we availed included lunch which consist of an abundance of seafood so if you're a seafood lover, expect your tummy to be happily satisfied and full. I think one of Iloilo's specialties as well is seafood. Not really a fan of seafood but luckily there was chicken served during our lunch and it was also delicious!

Even to our island hopping trip I had a big bag to hold my stuff from my camera, phone, powerbank and sunblocks for the face and body (I didn't want to get sunburned)! I also brought with me snacks to eat during the trip because it was a very early trip!

Well with such a beautiful view, you know #OOTD was a must! For this trip, I chose to wear my H&M sundress, Havaianas slippers and shades.

Underneath the dress is my blue swimsuit from Freeway which I also wore to our last beach trip. I honestly didn't get to do much swimming in Islas de Gigantes but I definitely had a lot of photos! You can check out more of it on my Instagram

I still got a little burned from the sun though. Can you see my tan lines from the photo above?

To quote someone I really liked who hailed from Iloilo and to whom I showed photos of this trip to, umaura kami sa Iloilo (we made like Vogue and struck a pose! A whole lot of poses!). 

For the whole Islas de Gigantes tour, I think we spent about Php2,000-3,000 give or take which includes the van transpo that took us to the port and back to our hotel. Not bad huh?

Compared to the famous white sand beaches of Boracay which is also part of the Panay Group of Islands, Islas de Gigantes is relatively underdeveloped. You won't see rows of restaurants, coffee shops or hotels in the area. Let's hope it stays that way really. Would be a shame if we fail to preserve this beauty.

I enjoyed touring Islas de Gigantes. I really did. But my knuckles probably didn't because when it was time to return, we were met with bigger waves that really made us wet thereby prompting me to keep on tightening my grip again, shutting my eyes close and praying we reach land soon enough! Ha! Ha!

So that wraps up my second day in Iloilo but you can also can read about my day exploring Iloilo city.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Confessions Part 5

Second week of April means birthday celebrations for three of my friends - three fourth of the Awesome Foursome: Ver, Ryan and Mai. So let me just give a quick birthday shoutout.

Happy Birthday to my BFF, Ver! When it comes to striking a pose for the camera, no one does it better than her.

Also happy birthday to another one of my closest friends, Mai - the girl I've known since high school and who I usually turn to for advice when it comes to fashion.

And of course, happy birthday to my best friend, Ryan! Who would've thought the guy who teased me a lot in fourth grade would end up being my best friend? Shared a lot with this guy - dreams, hopes, travels, work frustrations, love and heart break and of course, fitness.

I'm definitely lucky to have such awesome friends!

This week, I had a work event that asked us to wear royal blue, white or black as a dress code requirement. I chose to wear my royal blue structured tube which I bought from Warehouse a few years ago.

This look can turn from day work outfit with the white vest on...

to a date night outfit!

And topped that look off by straightening my hair and putting on make up. The only thing missing I have to say would have to be a guy to date! (Not that I could that night because I did have to work). But I have to say it was the first time this past week that I felt good after the shitty week before that.     

Ryan thought the dress I was wearing was new but the truth is, I just haven't been able to wear it for a long while because it felt snug around the tummy area! I really put on the weight! But I'm happy to report that since I've gone to the gym a lot, I have lost a good amount of weight that I could fit into the dress again and this time, breathe more comfortably even after eating! Yay progress!


The picture on the left is from 2014 and on the right is also me, wearing the same dress again 4 years later!

Current List

Currently watching: Friends on Netflix

Yep, been binge watching it all week this week. It never fails to bring on the laughter. Also, Chandler is such a good boyfriend/husband to Monica! I never realized til now! I need a guy who can also love me for all my quirks and crazies.

Currently reading: Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

This is my first James Patterson novel. Borrowed it from a friend at the gym who turns out also enjoys reading books. So far, I'm liking this book.

Recommending: Netflix's Lost in Space

If you like sci-fi, you'll like this new series on Netflix. Actually, it's more of a reboot of a 1965 series of the same title. I quite like it. I think it's kind of exciting to watch. Watch the trailer below.

So anyway that's it for this week. If you have your own set of current list, drop me a note below and share your list with me. Always looking for something new to like. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Confessions Part 4

What a trying time this week had turned out to be for me.

There was the proposal at work that had to be done on a very tight deadline and I had to stay at the office 'til late evening of Monday and Tuesday to get it done. Thank God for teammates who despite the stress and pressure of the job still manage to crack jokes and laugh while still doing their best to pull through the job! Overtimes are not fun but when you've got those kind of people working with you, you're in good hands. On that note I'm lucky. Very lucky and I'm truly grateful.

Speaking of grateful, I can't forget people whom I call friends. Be it new people I've only known for months but already we're becoming fast friends - good friends (Hi Dom!) or people I don't always get to meet or talk to but still remain friends with (Hi Apol!)

Me with Ryan and Dom having fun on the photo booth again in Timezone. It's become our monthly tradition! 

Me with my buddy Apol. I met him through a leadership seminar I attended a few years ago and we met up this afternoon to catch up on each other's lives.

This week also brought in disappointment and heartbreak from a falling out with someone I thought was deserving of my affection. My judgment of the person was wrong apparently. It makes me both sad and angry. Angry at the way I was treated by this person because I don't deserve it! And angry at myself for letting my guard down so easily and so I got hurt. It makes me sad because I wasn't valued enough by this person even as a friend. It makes me sad because I cared for this person and I wouldn't have wanted us to end things the way we did. But there's nothing there to do but accept things the way it is and move on. 

Current List

Taking solace with this quote: 

It won't be an easy road to recovery and right now I do feel sucky even though we were never together. He still broke my heart and it hurts. But I'll get to that place again eventually.

Currently listening to:

My Moving On playlist. Powerful messages about fighting through heartbreaks and pain. That's what's gonna me through this.   

Tonight, I end my post with this sun set. Because that first time we spent together when I felt this happy feeling, I immortalized the memory and the feeling with a photo of the Manila Bay sunset. And now it comes full circle with this sunset that is all about our sad ending, the goodbye and the hope that the new day will bring me something better.   

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Travel Diary: Wandering Around Iloilo Day 1

"What's with Iloilo?" 

It was the immediate question when I first brought up the idea of going to Iloilo.

My travel buddies - Ryan, Mai and Ver. Someone from this group (not me) branded us the #AwesomeFoursomeTravels since we traveled to Boracay around the same time last year. 

It was asked again by my best friend, Ryan, the first night we were there in the city, having dinner at Festive Walk Parade, a lifestyle mall developed by Megaworld filled with rows of restaurants and coffee shops with walkways filled with very nice landscapes on its surroundings.  

"Wala lang. I thought it's nice," I answered as casually as I could.

Seriously, it's nice right, judge it from the photo above. The food park stalls were closed that night - only open during the weekend but there were rows of restaurants and Instagram-worthy coffee shops in the place so all was not lost. Our exhausted selves were able to find a nice, affordable enough restaurant to eat in that also allowed us to experience the local food of Iloilo that was also not packed with people.  

"Kasi we never talked about Iloilo before. You never considered it before." 

It's true. Out of all the provinces I could go exploring in the Philippines, you wouldn't find Iloilo in my top 5. I don't think it's even in my top 10 (if I had a top 10 list of must-visit provinces in the country!). Now I don't dream of exploring all the provinces of the Philippines unlike a friend of mine but I do have some places in the country I'd like to visit such as Siquijor, Zamboanga (for the vinta festival)and Sagada (for the hanging coffins).

So why Iloilo? The idea started when while browsing through Facebook news feed  I saw a video of Garin Farm, a place they said where you  could see heaven on earth. It was beautiful and I was immediately enticed. That was followed by an article I also happened to stumble upon on Spot.ph - things to do in Iloilo. I shared the video and the article and together with suggestions from another friend to visit Gigantes Islands and Guimaras Island which appealed to the beach loving friends, the plan to go to Iloilo was hatched and set in motion.

And yeah... I went to the City of Love aka Iloilo because someone I really like is from there. I was looking for a connection between us I suppose. And thought seeing his hometown would be a good way to somehow know him a little bit better.

Anyway, so four days in Iloilo was spent exploring the city and the nearby islands, Gigantes and Guimaras. For our first day, we spent it visiting ancestral houses, trying out some local delicacies and visiting a church.

Iloilo Food

When in Iloilo, one shouldn't miss eating La Paz Batchoy. We went to La Paz Market and dined at Deco's. I enjoyed this food. I thought it was delicious (minus the pork and liver toppings which I gave to my friends!) and filling enough plus. Also that puto - not a bad combo meal. Pretty affordable too at less than 200 pesos.

We also tasted their version of longganisa which tasted real sweet so I loved it!

And this tsokolate is from Camina Balay Nga Bato. For 150pesos you can get the tour of the house plus this. They also serve the tour with pansit molo and tsokolate at 200pesos and lunch, tsokolate and pancit molo at 500 pesos.

Someone I know who hails from Iloilo asked if we tried siopao at Roberto's (he said he always orders like 2 siopaos from there whenever he's there!) and if we went to Breakthrough. which is a seafood place but I'm no seafood lover. I guess if you guys are traveling to Iloilo, include those in your must-visit places. We didn't get to do so unfortunately but maybe next time.

The Places in the City

Camina Balay Nga Bato

The name means house by the river and the architecture of the house reflects the merging of indigenous Filipino and Spanish influence. You can read more about that here.

There's a bell behind Mai and you're supposed to ring that by the way for assistance. How cute was that? It's like the old days I imagine when a noble comes calling for service.

The stairs in Camina Balay Nga Bato is built at an almost 45 degree angle. Read that the reason for that is so that anyone who goes up the stairs will have their backs bent inwards like a bowing gesture to the owners of the house. Also read that all the stairs in the area are built facing the setting sun.

At the elegant dining hall of Camina Balay Nga Bato. 

This is us feeling like Ilustrados sipping our hot tsokolate in the afternoon in the dining hall

We visited another ancestral house during our stay in the city- the Yusay-Consing mansion more popularly known as Molo Mansion. This ancestral house faces the town plaza and St. Anne Parish Church also known as Molo Church. 

Wondering when I can have my own mansion? Ha! Ha!

We stayed at the garden cafe for a while so we were able to see the mansion all lit up at night. Also so beautiful. 

We couldn't miss dropping by the Neo-gothic feminist church, Molo Church as well. This Spanish-colonial church has an all-women ensemble of saints in it.

It's nice to visit this place in the afternoon so you'll see the golden rays of the sun as it touches the coral stone facade of the church.

You can also drop by Molo Plaza which is beside this magnificent church structure.We took a stroll around that plaza and of course, had to take a photo of my outfit.

And if you still feel like continuing your stroll, head to the Iloilo Esplanade which is just a couple of walks away. The nice thing about this river esplanade is it's so clean. People stroll around this esplanade and some even jog around the area. But a friend of mine who went to Iloilo with me as well shared on Facebook that it wasn't always the case. It used to be that this esplanade was full of trash until the Ilonggo bikers in collaboration with DENR and DPWH planted more than a thousand mangroves in the area. 

This first day outfit took me from the airport to Iloilo.

What I wore on the first day: 

Top - ForMe
Skirt - SM Surplus (I bought this skirt on impulse. A reward to myself for making it through strong rains in the city that day)
Shoes - Superga sneakers

So that's about the first day of our travel in Iloilo. Next up, Garin Farm and a continuation of our city tour.