My Travel Plans for 2019

Another new year has come and a new set of travel plans I’m making, so yes, I’m eyeing this year’s long weekends and vacation breaks while constantly saving for these anticipated travel plans for 2019.  Maybe, you and I have the same plans in mind?

Going Japanese.

Cherry blossoms. The bright vermilion torii gates.  Soba ramen.  All these and more that will surely make me scream with happiness.  Japan, I’m coming for you this Year of the Pig!

Taking advantage of visa-free travel.

Since hearing the news that Taiwan’s visa-free until July of this year (here in the PH), my sister and I both can’t help but plan to pack up our bags and get ready to see the National Palace Museum, Taroko National Park, Taipei 101 and the other amazing spots in this country.

For the love of japchae and kimchi.

Not a fan of KPop, but I find Korea as a very interesting country.  I think its culture and history are something that entice tourists to go and experience this old yet modern country with underrated natural attractions.

The mere mention of Seoul is enough to tickle our bones!  This remarkable city filled with hundreds and hundreds of restaurants, shopping areas and mind-blowing attractions  is on every Filipinos’ travel bucket list.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have countless selfies there, especially when I put on a gatekeeper costume at Gyeongbokgung Palace and when I’m taking a peek at Lotte Mart.

Going local, of course!

With our seven thousand plus islands, there’s no shortage of beaches, coves, mountains, waterfalls and other natural formations that will always blew us away.  Haven’t tried swimming with whale sharks in Oslob and this year, I’m giving it a serious thought.  I’m also planning to revisit one of my favourite provinces in Luzon, La Union and do what I always do there: sit on the beach while drinking a bottle of iced cold beer, watch the surfers and just worship the sun.

How about you?  I’m sure you already have a list of travel plans for 2019.  Better to plan ahead, save and enjoy your chosen destination.  Remember, travelling is wonderful in so many ways. 

Coffee, food and friendship

It’s very common nowadays for friends to meet up in a cafe or pizzeria or restaurant to catch up on each other’s lives.  And my friends and I, belong to this demographic who enjoy an order of pasta, pizza, fruit juices and coffee while chitchatting the hours away.  There must be something about coffee and food that add up to the bond of friendship.  Personally, I favoured  those cozy coffee shops with  wide array of food choices than those mainstream cafes which are always filled with people and with limited menu options.

Living in the province north of Manila, the place doesn’t fall short on good spots to dine and enjoy some eating eureka.  One place we frequent is this cozy cafe/restaurant located along McArthur Highway, Meycauyan called Cafe Nenzo.  Well-lit with nice, welcoming interiors and comfy seating, Cafe Nenzo is me and my friends official “meeting place.”

That Saturday, like those old-usual-catching-up-late-in-the-afternoon bonding, we treated ourselves to our all time favorite –  pizza and pasta.  Always a fan of their trio cheese pizza, this time around, we tried the garlic mushroom pizza and we paired it with creamy seafood pasta.  Such a beautiful combination – the thin crust pizza smoldered with ample amount of mushroom and garlic slices (which you can top with diced tomato or lettuce or alfalfa sprouts before devouring) and the creamy seafood pasta (loaded with shrimps and squid, really!) were really filling, comforting even, if I may say; fruit juices complemented these meals.  Of course, desserts are always a part of a dining engagement.  And Cafe Nenzo offers a wide variety of sinfully good sweets.  We ordered slices of cheesecake and carrot cake and cups of brewed coffee.  What  I like about their pastries is that they are not that sweet like the pastries in other cafes – the cheesecake was so rich with flavours it makes you want to eat it the whole of it right away; and the carrot cake was moist and soft, it perfectly goes with coffee.

Service was very consistent.  The staff are  friendly and warm.  Not to forget that they are really attentive and would always approach you with a smile on their faces.  These things also tote up to the warm, relaxing ambiance of the place.

Cafe Nenzo also serves vegetarian dishes.  And from what I’ve heard from my cousins, these dishes are also something worthy to try.  Well, will sure do the next time!  Actually, I haven’t tried their coloful nachos, California maki salad, beef salpicao and a lot more.  Oh my goodness!  I think we have to schedule another catching-up-bonding very soon! Haha!

 

 

Hush

red

For quite some time now, I’ve been practicing quiet moments. Just being silent and minding my own thing. No phone calls, no dropping of texts to anyone. Like a machine, I just shut down. And crawl into my own bubble. Sounds crazy and weird, I know. But that’s me. Good friends of mine who knew me so well understand this side of my character. Sometimes, I don’t let myself be “accessible” for a week or two. I’m thinking, maybe there’s something wrong with me. And my good friends will say “yes” in chorus, Hahaha…

As a believer of quiet time alone, I like turning my back for a while from all these social media stuff and texting world and just breathe basics. And it feels very good! Several things I noticed and experienced give me big smiles on my face. And these are, not in a particular order, what makes up my list:
Creativity– being quiet lets my modest imagination comes out. No, I don’t do Picasso or Van Gogh. I finger paint or I write poems or take pictures with my camera phone.
Appreciation– when I am silent, I think I tend to be more sensitive to what I am seeing, feeling, hearing. Thus, appreciating things that come my way, be it life’s bloopers or tiny blessings, is second nature to me.
Knowing myself better– when I quiet myself, I’m able to listen to what’s inside me. For lack of a proper word to use, I “talk” to myself. Sounds ridiculously funny, I know. But it gives me a clear idea of my capacities, inadequacies and everything I need to understand about myself while I am in the process of growing, changing day after day.
Relaxedness– a serene feeling gives me this kind of comfort. I wanted to believe that even in such a tiring and stressful situation I am in, I don’t find it hard to loosen up and calm myself.
Considerate– I am not saying that I am a hundred percent sympathetic all the time. But those quiet moments taught me to work on this virtue every day. I learned to watch my words when talking to somebody, to be polite to those around me and to be conscientious in and out of our tiny home.

There are maybe more things that you can add up to my list… but if there’s one huge thing that makes my quiet time weighty, it is the of opportunity of being alone with the big guy up there: those moments of simple conversation, complaining the when’s and why’s of life, whispering grateful praises… Smiley here.

September (and counting…)

September of last year when I decided to start making blogs here in WordPress. From then on, and with some months that I shy away from my account, inmybatcave is still a work in progress, hehe..

I looked at blogging as a stage where I can do some thinking out loud stuff, share little stories and poems and photos. Honestly, it never occurred to me that I will gain more than a dozen following ‘cause, well, these are just shallow, modest writings that usually pops up in my mind. And I am humbled by all of you taking time out to read me and clicking that star. Gramercy! May it also be known to all of you that I enjoy reading your blogs too. I may not leave a comment of praise (or a piece of opinion, perhaps), but the fun and delight you give me while reading your works never leaves my side.

I know not a lot about the different writing styles, nor I might be able to tell striking stories or stunning photos or exquisite poetry, (you can label me as someone who’s too stubborn to learn the ins and outs of blogging, shame on me, my apology), but I am someone who is always excited and eager to share the plain world I’m in, the unfussy events of my daily existence, the feeling of flatness inside my (green, please) bubble, the craving to dole out some positive vibes to anyone reading me…

One of the things I learned from life is to be appreciative to anyone who shows me kindness. Personally, I love the words “thank you.” It’s something I won’t get tired hearing and something that I often say sincerely. And so, please accept this little thank you (written in my native language) from the little me who write little thingsSalamat! Thank you for the time.

Rain

I like it when it’s raining in the early morning or in the late evening. Those hours are my quiet moments. The pitter-patter sound of the rain is soothing and calming. I enjoy staring at the windows and seeing the spatter of the rain against it, and the curtains swaying in the gentle breeze. It brings back a childhood memory of me and my cousin playing hide and seek at our grandmother’s house. I used to hide behind her thick curtains in the living room, suppressing my giggle when my cousin couldn’t find me.

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain”. ~Author Unknown

I like this quote a lot. Sunshine, we equate it with positive, vibrant energy. We see life in all its colors. Whereas the dark, gloomy color is associated with rain. Sadness creeps inside us. We run for cover so as not  to get wet. But wouldn’t it be nice to try, even for once, to just stand in the rain and feel one of Mother Nature’s activities? Feel the rainwater trickles down on your face. On your body. Let it drench you. Delight in the feeling of vulnerability under the rain, the nostalgia, the romance and all. And on top of those, the feeling of being blest, refreshed and cleansed is what will resonate in the air. It makes us get in touch with the kid inside us. Makes us more humane.

I always welcome the company of rain- the sound it makes on the roof makes my quiet time more special. It muffles the noise of life I encounter every day.

A bit of YOLO

I received an email from a friend this morning and she wrote “YOLO! Smile!” on the last part of her letter. It did make me smile. “You only live once.” Wiki says it’s similar to “carpe diem.” For some people, YOLO means being reckless, unapologetic. An excuse when doing something wrong. Being stupid that leads to self-destruction. While for some, I included, this acronym connotes with the positive ideas about life. And every one of us had that YOLO moment or moments written on a page of our existence. That moment of zest, appreciation of life, enthusiasm. The courage to achieve anything exciting and gutsy and at the same time respecting life and living it well. 

My YOLO moments  are not  the extreme types of stuff. I think mine is between crazy, spur of the moment ideas and with just a little bit of YOLO attitude. Before my close friend move to CA, we decided to go somewhere – to a place where my pointing finger landed on the map she’s holding. North! And so, we packed our bags and off we go; excitement filled us up. The 8 hour bus ride never lessens the excitement we have. It even doubled when we reached our destination. I gave a loving, delightful glance at the sea before going inside the inn to rest. The moon seems to offer a lullaby to the tired body and soul. Come morning, I noticed how the sun shines brightly and the salty air has that appeal to the senses. Goodness! I must be getting really old  to be remarking like this, lol… The surfers we saw on the beach must be having their YOLO moment every time they ride the waves. Wow! My mind yells in respect and envy, haha!… My friend and I had a blast discovering the locality and in one way or another, discovering something about ourselves too. I love DIY trips like that! I remember a summer vacation with another friend of mine wherein we walked to the other side of the 33.07 square kilometer island to frolic on the unspoiled beach. Don’t get me wrong.. Of course I love traveling with my family. My DIY trips with a friend or two and the trips with family are both fun. The only difference is that family trips are well planned while the other is spontaneous – tests your patience and your flexibility.

Aside from those DIY trips, I put wall climbing under the tab of my little bit of YOLO moment. No one in my family and circle of friends believed when I bragged that I went wall climbing. They know how clumsy and panicky I can get, lol…. My heart and mind are screaming the first time I did this. But it taught me a lot – from the physical benefits to the emotional betterment that is to be calm, to push myself and persevere, to listen to myself. I’d do wall climbing again soon. Insert smiley here,hehe…

“We only live once.” “We only have one shot at life.” People say that often. If we want to do something – planned or in random- then go ahead and do it. Just remember, getting an  affirmative result afterwards is the best YOLO experience you should have. 

a saturday

Growing up with the Guys

I grew up in an environment that has more males than females. And it’s like, you’re always inside a messy world because of these high-energy, aggressive, playful human beings you get to see and be with every day. And these males I’m talking about are cousins and uncles from my dad’s side who happens to be our neighbors too. Of course, there are female personalities around, but as what I’ve said,  the majority of my family has testosterone in them.

 Imagine how noisy our place is whenever we sit together and celebrate one’s birthday. Or how rowdy we all are when we’re making fun of each other’s misadventure and boo-boos. Some cousins have their own family already and their kids, nephews all, give their share of naughtiness only little boys can deliver. People passing by our place must have thought that we are contributing much to the noise pollution on this side of the planet.

These guys are no saints, of course. They have their share of blunders, shortcomings and all. But they showed these qualities that’s worth telling: a man should never lose his faith to his creator come what may. Just like my grandfather. A man should stand up to his doings whatever the outcome will be. Just like my dad. A man should know how to value a woman. Just like my uncles. A man should know how to cook good food. Just like my brother. A man should be able to crack jokes effortlessly at the right timing. Just like my cousins.  

 In my modest opinion, growing up with mostly men on your side gives you these pictures of their kind-   that they’re a bit of control freak, but they will let you be once you proved them that you can stand up for what you want. That they can be authoritative and gentle at the same time. That they are non-emotional and tough-skinned, but there are those surprising little things that can pull at their heartstrings.

 There’s more pictures out there about men, guys, boys. Bigger pictures that will show men in different situations, emotions and beliefs. Mine are just snippets from my simple life.

 

 

Life and Weaving

My mother who is a retiree is into weaving now. She’s making welcome mats or doormats. She says that it keeps her busy and keeps her sane. She uses remnant fabrics which she first meticulously cut into strips, then knot and weave afterwards. I noticed three things when she’s doing that – she’s calm, she’s focused and her creativity guides her. I love how she combines colors – light and dark, monochrome and multicolored. I love how her finished creations look like – colorful, firm and ready to greet the visitors that shall drop by our house.

 

Our life is parallel to a tapestry. Each of us is represented by a thread of different colors, woven into one another by the Great Weaver. Every thread is important. Every color complements one another. Every strand adds up to the strength of the tapestry. No one is indispensable to the Great Weaver.

 

In our own personal life, there are times when our thread rips apart because of the burdens and struggles that we face. We feel useless and alone. Torn. But during those times, if we only choose to look with a heart full of faith we will be able to see the tapestry of life entirely. It may take a while to comprehend things, but in doing so, our thread is slowly being repaired and woven again. Repaired and woven constantly.

 

Think-piece

 

“All that writers can do is keep trying to say what is deepest in their hearts”. Lloyd Alexander

I am not a writer. I am simply an insignificant individual who happens to love writing stuff, penning poems, playing with words. In writing, you get to share your sentiments, you can tell your pent-up emotions in a subtle way, you can create a world with all sorts of characters in it that you like and detest.

 

When I was little, I would always look at the night sky and wonder how many stars are up there. Or in what part of heaven does the good Lord resides. After an hour or so of staring the great black sky, I would open my imaginary notebook and write some poems using my imaginary pencil. That was, to me, a happy good night.

 

When I reached my adulthood, I still can’t get rid of that pastime. I would still find time to look at the night sky and this time, plan slash think slash desire slash totting up what happened to me the whole day. And unlike before when I was little and using my imaginary things, this time I have my phone with me, typing things that I deemed important to my next 24 hours.

 

Sometimes, I wanted to write those crazy thoughts that pass by in my head… Like, how badly do I like to smash the car of an ex. Or how I wanted to be meanly bad to an associate who keeps invading my private life. Or the sexy-and-not-so-proper-thoughts I have on that guitar player I saw in the bar. Random, crazy thoughts like that.

 

I am not keen on writing weighty topics… well, maybe because I’m thinking I’m not worthy to do so (weird I). Or maybe because I’m afraid to say a handful of politically incorrect things (scaredy-cat me). Or maybe because I know there are a whole lot of cerebral people out there screaming their bright minds out in every corner of the World Wide Web (I envy this bunch!). And so, the always plain, sometimes subnormal but ever optimistic me, would rather write simple stuff that fills my bubble. I am not expecting that my blogs will accord you a big positive vibe or make you smile, but I will be pleased if it does.

Faith

Faith is defined as a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. It is synonymous with the word religion, religious belief.

Every one of us carries a bag of faith in our hearts. It just differs from one person to another- he may be carrying a medium size of it, she may be loaded with it, and I may be holding a little of it. Nowadays, people are so outspoken about their faith. In various social network sites, a great deal of quotes and photos are posted every time . I think, it’s a very good reminder of the faith we should have in our life.

But, I would be very honest to say, are all these people carry a bagful of faith? Wow, if they really do! And without meaning to be bad, I am wishing to be like them…

I believe in the God that my family respect and worship. I am born as a catholic and I’ll say I will stand by that. Catholicism taught you that Sunday is the time for holy mass. We should hear holy mass on that day. No, I go to church Wednesday or Thursday. Maybe, you will ask why on that day? Well, that’s the day I want to visit His house. Too shallow for a reason? Yes, I wont argue. I love spending my Wednesday or Thursday in the warmth of the church. Also, I’m not used to praying with my eyes close. I want to look at the Black Nazarene and whisper my intentions, my wishes, and my prayers. It’s more like talking to Him, like He’s just there standing in front of me, listening, maybe sometimes nodding his head or knitting his eyebrows about my nonsense prayers and all. I will not take it against you if you’re gonna say that I really need a lot of growing up to do when talking about faith. Yes, I know I do. And I’m trying to know and understand my faith every waking day of my life…

I need to understand that there’s a proper time for everything. That it should be “thy will be done”. Not in the time that I want it. That God makes the perfect timing and gives our heart’s desires in the happiest moment destined for us. Yes, I need to understand the time for everything. I need to understand that there are times He let me failed on my decisions, and maybe jokingly tells me “boo, that was bad!”. But, He’s always ready to pick me up and dust me off and hold my hand and says “listen to me and trust me on this, this is what you should do….” Yes, I need to fully trust His guidance and wisdom. A lot. There’s a lot of things I need to really understand, using my mind, and more by using my heart.

I know I will fall short when it’s about faith. I honestly admit that one more time. But as I have said, I will never get tired learning and understanding and trying to live with it every day of my life. Faith. Five letters, yet so profound.