Flower Power

Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.”

According to a behavioral research conducted at a State University in New Jersey, one way of improving the emotional state of a person – is by sending flowers. It is believed that the presence of flowers can stimulate happy feelings, and brings about positive effects on one’s social behavior and emotional being.

Here are some of my favorite flower photographs. Seeing them doesn’t require a study to convince me that they can alleviate one’s mood. These flowers are indeed nature’s way of laughing and providing laughter to people around them.

TULIPS: These flowers are often associated with Holland/ Netherlands. But do you know that they actually originated from Turkey? This quintessential spring flower, is colorful, cheerful, and a sign that warm weather is finally coming. One of the largest groups of tulip varieties, the Triumph tulip, is a classic. It is sturdy and great for cutting but also creates beautiful borders and clumps in spring flower beds and comes in a wide range of colors.

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Tulips at Emirgan Park in Istanbul, Turkey during the annual tulip festival.

ROSES. The National Flower of Morocco. Roses are considered the floral symbol of Morocco since there is a rose festival in the country every year. Roses are not just decorative flowers, but they actually have a number of health benefits too. Here are some interesting facts about the rose.

  • There are about 100 rose species and they have different colors, shapes and grow in different climates.
  • The most common species of roses is Tea Rose.
  • Roses were of great importance to Romans and Egyptians.
  • In ancient Rome, roses were grown in order to ensure that there was a yearlong supply of ingredients for cooking, ornaments and medicinal extracts.
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These are roses for drying which in turn are the source for rose oil and rose water. This was captured during a visit to Marrakech in Morocco.

SWEET ALISON. aka sweet alyssum or Lobularia maritima — a mat-forming annual or short-lived perennial native to the Mediterranean, and the Iberian peninsula (specially the Canary Islands and Azores), where it grows along the coast in rocky, sunny areas. Some says that the flowers and leaves are edible and can be added to salads, and the plant has been used medicinally in the past but people with sensitive skin may develop a rash when handling the plant, so it is probably best not ingested. This herbaceous plant in the mustard family is commonly used as a bedding plant, and is widely available in market packs at nurseries and garden centers in the spring.

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I think this variety is called “Carpet of Snow’ — a short, compact white-flowering form I got to photograph during a visit at a beach in Lisbon, Portugal.

PURPLE FOXGLOVE. From among the flowers I opted to feature in this post, this one is the closest to my heart as I have studied about this flower since my Pharmacy years at the university. My love for Pharmacognosy as a subject is due to interesting plants like the foxglove. The common foxglove, (Digitalis purpurea), is a biennial or short-lived herbaceous perennial from the figwort (some says, its plantain) family). This pretty plant is such a wonder as it is the source of various cardiac (heart) stimulants like digitoxin or digoxin, digitalin, and digitonin (collectively called cardiac glycosides) that are now used in modern medicine in the preparation of the drug digitalis.

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The purple foxglove. While it is of European origin, we actually have this in the Philippines. This one was captured at Norther Blossom Flower farm in Atok, Benguet.

Enjoy these lovely visual therapy! Take it easy everyone.

Be Benguet.

Whenever someone asks me which among the 76 Philippine provinces I have been is my favorite, I without batting an eyelash, would quip — Benguet. Bias as it may sound, but no one gets close to a place you call home.

Benguet is one of the 6 provinces that comprise the Cordillera Region. The province has 13 municipalities and 1 city. I have been to 9 of the 13 towns and it is quite a shame that I still have to set foot on 4 of them.

Anyhow, be amazed with its picturesque landscape, cool climate, and warm, friendly people — Beautiful Benguet. 🥰

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy.

Mount Kalugong (Benguet, PH)

“I like the mountains because they make me feel small,’ Jeff says. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.” — Mark Obmascik, Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled–and Knuckleheaded–Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

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Having lived in Baguio for over 15 years, I was able to see and experience places near the city not many people knew about. Being a self-confessed mountain-enthusiast, my weekends then were spent either pigging out in various Baguio City restaurant or sauntering my way to several mountains in Benguet. Now, if you are interested in marveling at a 360 degrees vista of the La Trinidad Valley, a chill and quick climb (less than an hour) to Mt. Kalugong Eco-Park is a place you might want to check out. It’s an eco-park, I know, however it is still a mountain top of sorts.

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Going through my write-ups about Benguet (and Cordillera) mountains I have scaled, I am surprised that only now am I making one for Mount Kalugong (considering that this is actually one of the first few mountains I have climbed in the area). Moreover, this mountain that boasts a beautiful rocky promontory in La Trinidad, is one of the well-known peaks in the capital town.

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By the way, the name Kalugong is a local term for “hat” as the rocky peak looks like a hat from afar. The climb actually is pretty easy as the road going to the park itself is established (at least at this point in time, unlike my first trek wayback 2009 when trail was not as good as what is now). The problem one might encounter now is when you start your walk while sun is already up or when it rains in the area (as the pine needles and rocks can be slippery).

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During the heyday, the main points of entry were a road in Barangay Tawang, and or via Sitio Tabangaoen in Barangay Balili (requiring someone to enter the premises of Benguet State University/ BSU). My friends and I would often use the latter as our point of entry and the former as our point of exit. Now a private property, the eco-park has undergone some developments that included a new entrance point which is via Barangay Cruz.

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Today, noticeable improvements were made that include traditional Cordilleran huts/houses, and some picnic tables. The highlight of going to Mount Kalugong is of course, making your way to the peak which is made up of amazing rock formations. Though it can be quite challenging to some (especially to those who have fear of heights), standing atop the sharp, naturally carved rocks is an adventure itself. The view from there is more than picturesque as it gives an outstanding vista of Baguio City and the La Trinidad Valley.

Another must experience is to have a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at the Kape-an, the cafe atop this mountain. Besides the great selection of hot and cold drinks, sumptuous cakes – the view of the entire La Trinidad valley is just impossible to ignore.

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How to Get to Mount Kalugong (the easiest way):

From Baguio City, take a jeep going to La Trinidad. Make sure that the jeepney passes by Barangay Upper Cruz and inform the driver that you are getting down at the Baguio Memorial Services in Barangay Cruz (upper). You will see a post that indicating which road leads to Mount Kalugong. Walk your way up through the road until you arrive at a fenced area, proceed inside and continue walking til the end of the road where you can see a welcome sign that indicates you have reached the eco-park.

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Don’t be a watsed soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Reddoorz Baguio: Staycation Review

I have not always been a fan of staycation. I mean, why don’t you go out instead and explore what your surroundings get to offer. Then again, cliche as it may sound but some things change when we grow older. And that includes a changed perception about staycations.

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Living in a Baguio alone is already ideal and relaxing but these reasons didn’t deter me from choosing to “sleep over” in some hotels/ hostels/ BnBs from time to time. I have tried several bed and breakfast places and the experience was exquisite (especially at Lucia’s and The Old Orangewood BnBs). I also did a staycation with my family at a hotel near the Wright Park, and it was a happy one just cuddling and eating together with your mom, pops, and brother.

My recent staycation experiences are 2 Reddoorz Hotels near my place (actually both are just 5-minute walking from my home). These experiences are 2 totally different experiences – one highly pleasant, the other very terrible. I am writing this as a form of review, that may serve as a form of caution to people and at the same time, for me to vent out my frustration over  this very bad experience with one of these hotels.

I am not really promoting Reddoorz app but since this experience involves this app, it will be mentioned every now and then. (Also, I have other travel and accommodation apps i my phone since I am an avid fan of travelling with Bookings.com still being my personal favorite and Skyscanner). My 1st Reddoorz app experience was also beyond terrible that I ended up not staying in that hotel in Iloilo even if I booked 4-days and they would refuse a refund.

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Room at Reddoorz Aura One Hotel

I told myself not to use Reddoorz app again but when I got back home in Baguio, I got curious with Aura One Hotel being part of Reddoorz. I had a wonderful experience with this hotel back then during a Christmas party with my pharmacy colleagues. So I wonder how it was like to go for a staycation. Since I earned some rewards during my unpleasant 1st Reddoorz experience, I went on to use this in booking my stay at A1.

And woooow, woooow, wooow! My Aura One Hotel experience via Reddoorz was great. Everything was really great. Got the room for a really good price, the hotel room itself is lovely and the hotel staff are beyond nice and really kind. This 1st staycation at this hotel was followed up by 3 more bookings (that I didn’t notice I was already staying with them for almost a week).   I even went for a Red Club membership just because of my very pleasant stay at Aura One. (perks of being a member includes a special discounted price for every booking). So it is safe to say that my Aura One experience overshadowed that very bad experience in Reddoorz Iloilo.

After a few bookings at A1, I decided to try out other Reddoorz hotel hoping that the experience would be, if not as great as A1’s, pleasant and satisfying. And so I booked this Reddoorz @ Aurora Hill Hotel. It is just a stone’s throw away from A1. So the day of my booking at Reddoorz @ Aurora Hill came and boooy! I was shocked with different kinds of disappointments.

I arrived at the hotel at 12:43 noon. And I asked the receptionist if I can already check-in and she told me I cannot check-in unless it is 2pm. I asked why and she said just because that is what she was told. I understand 2PM is the standard check-in time in most hotels/ hostels around the world (not only in the Philippines) BUT in ALL past hotel/hostel experiences I have had, whenever I arrive between 12-2pm, and the room you are supposed to stay is already available, they allow you to do an early check in without paying extra. Some reception staff would tell you to wait for a while in case a room is still being cleaned up, nonetheless, they always allow early check-in. So I was in for a surprise of my life when I was told I can only check-in at 2PM.

I even wasn’t able to contain myself in comparing my Aura One experience. From the 4 previous stay with A1, 2 instances involves an early arrival at the hotel (around 12:15-12:30) and without batting an eyelash and raising an argument, was I allowed to check in immediately. I even asked if I could talk to someone about this and after a while, I was talking to someone who seems to be a “manager” of this Reddoorz @ Aurora Hill hotel. Talking to her over the phone gave me an impression that this person does not know how to properly deal with customers. SHE obviously does not know how to therapeutically and professionally converse with enraged clients and she just kept on insisting of their rules. This person even told me that Reddoorz allowed them to make their own rules when I asked, where in their written rules is this and that. I just really hope that what she said about Reddoorz, allowing them to incorporate rules they want to without their consent is true or else, this is a bad image for Reddoorz.

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Room at Reddoorz @ Aurora Hill

Then came the part where I had to pay a deposit. I understand that hotels usually ask for a certain amount. I paid Php500 in Iloilo Reddoorz, and I also pay Php500 whenever I check in at Aura. I gave Php1000 here at Reddoorz Aurora Hill. I was waiting for my change when the staff said that the deposit is Php1000.00. What a surprise!!! I felt enraged again! She said that is the usual deposit asked same as other Reddoorz Hotel, she even mentioned that it is the same amount asked by Aura One Hotel to which I vehemently denied and told her they only ask me Php500.00.

NO WONDER that out of the 5 Reddoorz Hotels in Baguio City, they have the lowest rating. Now I understand why! All these things happened even before me getting checked-in. So the time I got check-in to my room, I was no longer feeling the staycation vibes I have wanted. Instead of feeling relaxed, all I wanted to happen is for this 2-day staycation to end.

Assessing their room, I would say without a bias that they have a way inferior room to even the cheapest room at A1. I know this is way too early to say but I definitely will NEVER stay or book this hotel again. I will never recommend this to any of my friends coming to Baguio for sure!

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View from Aura One Hotel

Anyhow, I am looking forward to staying at Aura One again where my staycation experience was remarkably satisfying. Or maybe try this hostel I saw using my Zen Rooms App.

SUMMARY of Review:

Question Reddoorz Aura One Hotel Reddoorz Aurora Hill
ROOM – Temperature room comfortable upon arrival Yes Yes
ROOM – HVAC functional and in good condition Ceiling fan is ok Electric fan is ok
ROOM – DND Sign in good condition Yes Yes
ROOM – Entry door good condition Yes Yes
ROOM – Entry door functional Yes Yes
ROOM – Entry door lock functional Yes (makes use of a key card) Yes (makes use of a regular key)
ROOM – Entry door frame clean Yes Yes
ROOM – Telephone works Yes No telephone
ROOM – TV works Yes (+ they have Netflix and Youtube) Yes
ROOM – TV programmed correctly Yes Yes
ROOM – TV remote works Yes Yes
ROOM – Thermostat operational N/A N/A
ROOM – All electrical outlets functional Yes Yes
CLOSET – Safe instructions posted No No
ROOM – Minibar clean N/A N/A
ROOM – Minibar functional N/A N/A
BED – frame good condition Yes Yes
BED – Bedding clean and free of stains Yes Yes
BED – Frame good condition Yes Yes
BED – Headboard good condition Yes No headboard
ROOM – All flooring/carpet clean Yes A bit dirty
FURNITURE – Nighstands good condition Yes None
FURNITURE – Trash bin clean Yes No trashbin inside the room, just inside the toilet
FURNITURE – Desk chair good condition Yes Too low
FURNITURE – Desk chair clean Yes A bit
FURNITURE – Other chairs clean Yes No other chair
FURNITURE – Desk clean/ good condition/ functional Yes Not conducive
CLOSET – All accessories in closet present and in good condition Yes Yes
CLOSET – Light(s) functional No lights No lights
CLOSET – Doors open & close properly Yes Squeaky when opening.
CLOSET – Door good condition Yes A bit.
CLOSET – Interior clean Yes No
ROOM – Art hung straight/ good condition Yes Yes
ROOM – Mirrors clean/ good condition Yes Yes
ROOM – General area lighting clean/ functional. Yes A bit dim, not conducive for reading.
ROOM – USB charging ports work throughout room Yes Yes
FURNITURE – Tables good condition/ clean Yes Too high
FURNITURE – Sofa clean/ good condition N/A N/A
ROOM – Wall paint good condition Yes Yes
ROOM – Walls damage free Yes Some dent
ROOM – Windows clean/ good condition Yes A bit dirty, and one window cant be closed.
ROOM – Windows function (if they can be opened) Yes Defective
ROOM – Drapes/Sheers functional/ clean Yes Not so.
ROOM – Ceiling clean/ good condition Yes Yes
ROOM – WiFi functional throughout room Yes Yes
ROOM – Vents clean/ good condition Yes Yes
BATH – All  surfaces clean Yes NO
BATH – All bathroom tile and floor clean Yes NO
BATH – Shower glass streak free and clean Yes None
BATH – All drains in room clean and non-obstructed Yes Yes
BATH – Sink(s) clean Yes Yes
BATH – All countertops and surfaces clean and streak free Yes No
BATH – All lighting clean/ functional Yes Yes
BATH – Presence of foot rug and hand towel Yes None
BATH – All towels clean and in good condition Yes Yes
BATH – All amenities refreshed and present in bathroom Yes No
BATH – Trash bin clean and in good condition Yes Yes
BATH – Toilet clean Yes Yes
BATH – Toilet has functional bidet and shower Yes Yes
BATH – Water pressure functional Yes Yes
BATH – Hair dryer functional Yes None

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy.

San Vicente (Palawan, PH)

Dubbed as the home of the Philippines “longest white beach”, the Long Beach in San Vicente, Palawan stretches to approximately 14.7 kilometers of undeveloped coastal wonder, a figure that is thrice the length of Boracay’s White Beach. Although not as white and fine as the sands of Boracay, this Palawan is on it’s way to gaining more tourism spotlight moreso that its airport has been inaugurated last quarter of 2018. Local and foreign tourists who are on the look-out for more places to visit in Palawan, besides the famous El Nido and Coron, will now have another destination to explore.

The uber crystal clear waters of Inaladelan Island in Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan.

And so for my birthday this year, I decided to go and see what San Vicente offers. Having been to Coron twice, El Nido once, and Puerto Princesa on two occasions, it was high time to go back to the Philippines’ last frontier and experience a new place. So without much expectations, I packed my bag (a 6.5 kg bag — the lightest I have packed in years), for a 3-day, solo getaway.

Aerial view of a segment of San Vicente’s Long Beach.

HOW to REACH SAN VICENTE, PALAWAN:

Before the building of their own airport, San Vicente is reached through the Puerto Princesa Airport. From there, one will have to take a van or a bus that would usually take around 3-4 hours. But now, San Vicente has its own airport.

***Philippine Airlines (PAL Express). From Clark to San Vicente, they have 1 inbound and outbound flight daily. They have been operational since October 2018. Travel time is around an hour 20 minutes. Soon, 2 other airlines will fly to San Vicente and these are Skyjet Airlines (which will fly from Manila to San Vicente; and a relatively new airline company operating in the Philippines, Royal Air.

The San Vicente Airport is pretty close to the poblacion and the Long Beach. You could just take a tricycle to your hotel or ask your hotel/ resort to pick you up at the airport. Tricycle fare is around P60-70 per person. But if you want to charter the entire trike, you can do so for around P250-300 depending on how far your hotel is from the airport.

Palm-dotted paradise.

Another bird’s eyeview of San Vicente as my PAL express plane lands at the newly built San Vic airport.

WHAT to SEE and DO in SAN VICENTE:

LONG BEACH: Of course the primary attraction is the seemingly endless Long Beach, touted as the longest beach in the Philippines. This 14.7-km beach with the spectacular sunset every afternoon at this side of Palawan is just amazing! However, you have to manage your expectations. The sand quality of the beach itself isn’t really that outstanding (in case you get to compare it with the Boracay’s or Calaguas’). The sand isn’t really white and isn’t that powdery .

Irawan Beach as captured from Bato Ningning.

If you want to visit all 6 areas, it is best to ride a motorcycle (locally known as habal-habal). From the center or the Poblacion, the fares will vary. It will of course depend which beach you want to visit. According to the receptionist at the resort I stayed at, they have motorcycle tour – slash – beach-hopping tour wherein the rate range would be from P250 to P350.00 San Vic’s ultimate charmer – it’s sunset!

San Vic’s ultimate charmer – it’s sunset! My Day 1 sundown view.


The palm-trees silhouette just made this sunset capture much more spectacular!

BATO NI NINGNING and IRAWAN BEACH: Compared to the beach near Poblacion and Alimanguan, Irawan has a better beach quality from the sand to the water. It also feature some giant rocks at one-end of the beach that looks fascinating for photos. Moreover, a small hill that could be easily trekked from the beach, stands at the northern end.

The top of the small hill has been called by locals as “Bato ni Ningning”, one of the filming locations of A Filipino television series entitled “Ningning”. I personally love the view from this area. It offers a lovely scene of the beach, the nearby mountains and a lot of coconut trees. Another sunset in paradise. Just lovely!


Another sunset in paradise. Just lovely! This view is infront of Lazuli Resort.

To reach Irawan and Bato ni Ningning, you can charter a motorcycle for P300 (at least that is what I paid for). That is already a roundtrip fare and so the habal-habal driver will have to wait for you and take you back to your hotel/ resort. Atop a hill where the now defunct ABS-CBN soap, “Ningning” was filmed.


Atop a hill where the now defunct ABS-CBN soap, “Ningning” was filmed.

One of the many activities you could do in San Vic is free diving/ snorkeling and you will be amazed to see these wonders. Good thing I brought with me my underwater camera. Taken while snorkeling at Twin Reef, Port Barton.

ISLAND HOPPING: Just like in Coron, El Nido and Balabac, the highlight of a Palawan visit is a tour if the smaller islands. According to the tourism center of San Vicente, the town has 22 islands off its coast. A great number of these island are accessible from the Poblacion where the centralized jump off area for boats are located. If you are travelling solo or in pair, you can join a group tour. If you are a group, you could charter a boat going to these island and may include Port Barton. I joined a group tour that I coursed through the resort I stayed. I paid Php 1,800 (a little higher than the standard). I guess because it was coordinated with the resort.


Day 3 of my San Vic vacation. Decided to just chill by the beach (in style). LOL.

On the day of my birthday, I went island-hopping. This is one of the islands we went to see. The water is just so clear! This one was taken at Cayoya Island (locals more often call it Exotic Island).

On the day of my birthday, I went island-hopping. This is one of the islands we went to see. The water is just so clear! This one was taken at Cayoya Island (locals more often call it Exotic Island). Some of the islands included in the island hopping are Inaladelan Island (formerly German Island), Exotic Island & Maxima Island, snorkeling at the Twin Reef and Turtle Sanctuary, Starfish Island, and the public beach of Port Barton (plus a trek to a waterfalls). There are other islands and coves to explore like Capsalay Island, Blue Cove, Daplac Cove, Boayan island, Velasco island and Paradise Island


Laid-back, serene – just the way I want it!

At a sandbar called Luli. As to why it is called such, you’re guess is good as mine. Hahaha!

Where to Stay in San Vicente:

So I opted to stay at Brgy. Alimanguan which is around 30 minutes away from the Poblacion and the airport. Here are 2 accommodations I recommend.

LAZULI RESORT: A relatively new beach resort located at a laid-back fishing village at Long Beach, Brgy. Alimanguan, San Vicente. Lazuli boasts off rooms with lovely wall art, a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a private bathroom. They also have an outdoor pool and an in-house restaurant that serves probably the best tasting thin-crust, brick-oven pizza! And there is more to that! Lazuli is a beachfront property! How lovely! The sunset and sea view are just a stone’s throw away from the resort.

You can contact them at +(63)9178125711 +(63)9171267180 or you can visit their website HERE.

VICTORIA’S BEACH HOUSE: Another option is this very homey beach house that is literally by the sea. Also located at Brgy. Alimanguan, Victoria seems to be a common choice for travellers’ who are in for a longer stay. It has its own bar-resto that serves affordable and sumptuous meals. (Heads up though, if you are up for a place with strong wifi connection, Victoria doesn’t have that. I could barely connect to their wifi). You can contact them at +63999 994 1332 or email them at victoriapalawan@gmail.com

Another shot atop Ningning’s Hill overlooking Irawan Beach.

A closer look at Irawan Beach where turtles have a sanctuary!

By the way, please make sure that your hotel/ accommodation is along the Long Beach area if you wish to stay at Long Beach and NOT Port Barton area. Port Barton, a farther barangay of San Vicente, is relatively far by land.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy.

Betcha Bye BALI Wow

After a grueling 2-week, work-related trips around Central Thailand and Java in Indonesia, I spent my then untouched annual leave in Bali.  My original plan was to go to Jeju Island in Korea but I wasn’t sure if my body was ready for a winter-y holiday so I ended up doing a 6-day staycation in the famed Indonesia island getaway.

So what did I do during that almost one week trip in Bali? Here is a rundown:

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1. Chased some sunset, surfed, and strolled along the beach. I stayed around the Kuta Beach and Seminyak Beach areas so a splendid sunset view is a regular. Plus, these beaches have waves one can’t resist to ride so surfing is a good option to do. Also, you can go to Padang-Padang Beach, a famous small beach on the way to Uluwatu temples. It is one of those places Julia Roberts filmed in the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

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2. Went nature-tripping in Ubud. Perhaps the best place to relax — the greenery, the gimmickry (think giant swings, infinite pools in the middle of forests, photogenic picture taking corners), and some friendly primates make Ubud a must visit.

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3. Jaw-dropping seascape of Nusa Penida island. From the very scenic Broken Beach to the uber-mesmerizing Kelingking Beach, this island’s wonders shouldn’t be missed. I wish I stayed longer in this island as it seems to have more to offer.

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4. Bali, predominantly Hindu in religion, is filled with temples. Some of which are found near beaches, and cliffs adding beauty to seaside views. I really didn’t explore much of the other well-known temples of Bali as I had an overdose of these structures during my 1-week Thailand trip. I only managed to see Uluwatu and Tanah Lot – perhaps 2 of the most frequented temples in the island.

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5. Experience Balinese culture at the GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park, a cultural park about 10–15 minutes driving from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. It is devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu, and his mount, Garuda, the mythical bird who became his companion. Thanks to a very generous and kind local I met at the Jakarta airport, Sir Gunawan (an architect of the park) who invited and have shown me the beauty and vastness of this place.

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6. Lastly, probably the best thing I did in Bali — sleep and just laze around (doing nothing), and at times, spend some lovely time by the pool. Accommodation in Bali are some of the cheapest yet they have very comfortable, beautifully adorned rooms and relaxing pools!

So there… I may not have totally fallen in love with Bali, but I still enjoyed my relaxing and not so tight (in terms of itinerary) schedule. Maybe the next time I visit the island, the company of friends and loved ones would add more delight. Take it easy. Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust.

Filipi-Know: Pinoy Words I Love.

Words are exceptionally the most commanding force presented to people. The use of such is something we do every single day whenever we talk to people, and even to ourselves. We either have the freedom to utilize this power beneficially through words of inspiration, or damagingly using words of desolation.

Words have authority. It can either make or break a person. It has the ability to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to harass, to humiliate and to humble a human being.

So I am sharing some Filipino words I love to here, and say. Which one is your favorite? Can you use them in a sentence? Take it away.

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Take it easy everyJuan.

Quatervois

When you’re lost, when you’re in a “quatervois” — where do you begin?

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Most people I know (personal or random acquaintances) perceive me as someone jolly and happy and blessed and living a “really good life”. Yes… I am blessed, beyond blessed with all these travels I never thought would happen this soon. However, that “I feel lost” thought is becoming more intense for the past weeks. It feels like I am drifting away from people, from my usual activities, from myself. It is as if I am in a “quatervois” — a crossroad, where I have to come up with critical decisions as to what to do in life. Add to that the stress and anxiety from work and my boss. It has given me innumerable sleepless nights, a lot of abrupt sleep, and the inability to concentrate with my work.

The sense of excitement towards many things has dwindled and the falling out of touch with thy self is making me frustrated and melancholic. I even deactivated my major social media apps (Facebook to Instagram) and have been very lazy and uninspired to write something in my WordPress account. But I find myself frequently ranting and throwing random thoughts on my Twitter account.

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I have been trying to evaluate myself as to why I have been feeling empty and sad from time to time. I am not actually surprise to realize that I have been like this for almost 8 years now. (Could it be that, that event be the “turning point” in my life?) I knew I wasn’t okay some 7 years and 10 months ago, but who would have thought that one heart—breaking, soul-shattering experience would linger that long and that it would lead to more disappointing events. There are things I have envisioned for myself that did not turn out the way I have wanted it to be. And there are those that I could hardly talk about. They have become more difficult to share and talk out with people, even with people I feel who are trustworthy. As I grew older, I feel that shutting my mouth, and keeping things to myself is better than explaining things to people. Even if that means carrying all those mental and emotional baggage to my very soul.

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For now, I just really want to let my universe know that I feel lost, that I am not okay. Maybe this is a good first step in finding my way.

 

Portugal Kitang Hinintay

Dear Portugal,

Portugal kitang hinintay (can be translated as “I have long waited for you, Portugal)!, Was I happy? Are you kidding me? I wasn’t happy! I was enamored, over-whelmed (insert all superlatives here). Okay, so how did the desire to visit this travel destination start? Read along…

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2013. I was watching Leg 4 of the 23rd season of the Amazing Race. This Leg was filmed in Portugal, and the detour task then was a choice between putting together a life-size puzzle using porcelain tiles or retrieving a giant-sized compass at a monastery called Jeronimos (with which the team will use it to map out the distance traveled by Ferdinand Magellan). Search on Youtube should you be interested to see more of what happened during that episode. Because of this feature on Portugal, I randomly tweeted “makes me wanna see Portugal #AmazingRace”.

Since then, I always have Portugal in my list of “Places I want to Visit”. You see, I often jot down the things I want to accomplish, and that includes enumerating in my journal the places I want to see. (If only you’d get a peep at my personal notes, you’ll see a loooong list, hahaha). Last year, I managed to go to Europe for the first time. It was a 10-week backpacking across the continent. At the end of that one-of-a-kind solo adventure, I realized that I wasn’t able to put into fruition my desire to set foot on Portugal. (Magellan must be really disappointed in me). I, myself, was tad disappointed. I guess it wasn’t the right time, just yet.

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Fast-forward 2018. Another opportunity to visit Europe came about. This time, I made sure that Portugal is on top of my list. I asked my boss at work if I could go for a vacation after my work-related travels, and boy I was glad he would allow me to. Just this 1st week of May, my long-time longing of seeing, experiencing Portugal came into realization. And wow, what an experience!

The moment I set foot outside the Porto airport, and that time I left the Lisbon airport, everything that happened in between during my stay in Portugal was just beyond happy, memorable, and nothing short of amazing! My first post on my social media accounts about Portugal was all praises, and words of admiration. I was all smiles sharing stories about Portugal, and I feel genuinely happy reminiscing every bit of my experience. When someone asks me why I speak so much joy and love for this Iberian nation, I end up being speechless just because.

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You know that feeling when you are in love and you are being asked what made you fell for that person you love? You just can’t put it into words. I try, but, I think I am failing big time. I mean, I have lots of reasons in mind but I just can’t seem to find the proper way to put them into words. It felt like Portugal and I were fated for each other. Hahaha. Okay, I may be a little exaggerated. Nonetheless, I will try one more time in this write-up to share reasons why “a feeling of certainty” came over me when I was in Portugal. I hope that the photographs I took will suffice what you would perceive maybe lacking later on.

I find Portugal’s Porto and Lisbon to be vibrant, and really charming. It felt like these cities have a pinch of something from the various European cities I have visited since last year. I’d be hypocritical if I’d say I didn’t set some expectations prior to my visit. Having been elected as the BEST European destination for 3 years — 2012, 2014 and 2017, Porto, specifically made me really excited. But I had to manage my expectations as well since I was already getting jaded of seeing street murals, cobblestone streets, historical monuments, museums, and the like. BUT, both Lisbon and Porto will prove you and your anticipated boredom, mistaken!

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Porto is amazing BECAUSE:
The view overlooking the Douro River is just impeccable. The colorful houses that dot the riverside, the Dom Luis metal bridge, the sighting of the Rabelo boats, the unsullied cold air wafting at my cheeks while atop Mostero da Serra do Pilar – were just too good to be true. Except that they were real and really lovely.

Walking along the narrow (and sometimes confusing) cobblestone streets seem to have transported me back in time. Every corner of which is “instagrammable”, hence one MUST stop every now and then to capture some moments.

It’s romantic! How do we know that a place is romantic? We just do! Or maybe the old art deco cafes, the street graffiti, and other architectural wonders (from churches to museum to apartments) within the city all contribute to this romantic sense.

Just like Lisbon, the mode of transportation, especially their tram and train, are not just cool ways to travel but are also aesthetically delightful pieces you’ll see in Porto.

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Lisbon is love BECAUSE:

Food is splendid. From the renowned “Pastel de nata” (Portuguese tarts) to their bacalhau, and seafood risotto — every restaurant and cafe I ate left me feeling tremendously gratified, without being guilty of spending much on food.

I am such a big fan of murals and street art. Colorful tiled buildings are everywhere. One thing I have noticed while walking along the streets of Lisbon, graffiti on walls (even houses), and abandoned buildings (with some garbage) are everywhere. BUT, unlike other cities I have seen with this similar depiction, I didn’t feel perilous. Instead, the shabby vibe added to the charm I mentioned earlier. It made Lisbon have a more distinct personality.

I love long walks through meandering and hilly paths. Reaching the top portion of these hills (whether you are on a castle or some random viewpoint within the city), you will be rewarded with an all-encompassing view of the city and its picturesque classic red-roof houses.

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I love the people I have met. As my travels get more frequent, the people I meet in a certain place is now a big factor towards the creation of a long-lasting impression. And the Portuguese surely made a positive impact on me for they are genuinely helpful and approachable (especially in time s I find myself getting lost). Special shout out to the staff/people I met at the hostel I stayed at!

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There are other reasons why I fell in love with Portugal but I am leaving those for you to find out. I left Portugal with admiration and respect. The way it impressed me has been lingering since I got back home here in the Philippines. It made me realize that just like people, only a few places will leave a lasting impression. And now, I have come to recognize why a lot of people speak highly of Portugal. I do, too, now. And as my plane took off from the Humberto Delgado Airport, I said my prayers of gratitude and hoped that soon, I will get to see Portugal again.

Most of my travels started as a dream, which eventually became part of my goals. I did put them into writing, wrote down possible steps how to achieve them. I directly and indirectly claimed they will happen. And guess what? A lot of them already did.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy.