Surigao, My Philippines

I don’t get that much opportunity to travel. A few weeks ago however, finding ourselves with a long holiday weekend, my colleagues and I, decided to go out of town–way, way out of town–to de-stress. So we packed up our bags and rode off into the east, to Surigao del Sur.   It took eight long hours to get there but the fun and often hilarious company and the awesome destination were worth it.

Our first stop was Enchanted River at Hinatuan [I have no idea if this was a municipality or a village]. The river was not easily accessible, though. From the highway, you had to ride through partially rough, dusty road of about 11 km. Now, why was this river named “Enchanted”? Well, aside from the fact that it was indeed, enchanting, it was mysterious. The water was deep blue, an unusual color for rivers. The river itself was bottomless and the water was salty. It is because the source is the Pacific Ocean. Then at 12 o’clock noon, the caretakers fed the fishes. Out of nowhere, they appeared on the surface and fed on a frenzy, to the sound of 1950’s music. To onlookers, they seemed to be dancing.



After a hearty lunch of seafood, we hopped on the van and proceeded to Tinuy-an Falls, deep in the heart of Bislig. This was even farther. From the highway, it was about 19 kms. We passed a big, open lake and went over three wooden bridges. Some parts of the road were so steep the vehicle faltered at one time. The waterfalls, when we finally beheld it, was breathtaking. To get close, we rode on a bamboo raft and took a refreshing shower under it. The water was warm and invigorating.  And we couldn’t take enough photos of it.



AT sunset, we climbed a hundred steps to the Doll House. It’s a small museum full of local and imported dolls collected by this couple, who also own the hilltop restaurant a few paces away. Actually, I found the place a little creepy. I was never really fond of dolls as a child. But the guide narrated very interesting stories about them and we were all amazed to know that those Babushka dolls from Russia were made of gold.


Next day, we went island hopping to a place called Britania. Yes, island hopping. Literally. We boarded a motorized boat and went around several tiny islands, went swimming in two. The water was so so blue, so clean and clear you could see fishes swimming along with you. There were huge boulders and small caves too. And the view all around was simply stunning.  Before we set off for home, we had a bountiful lunch at the beach, under the coconut trees; we were served  assorted fish, crabs, shrimps and giant squid, and strange-looking but tasty shells, straight out of the ocean, and water from freshly picked buko (young coconut), then sweetened buko meat for dessert.  The seaweeds were so fat, juicy and fresh we just had to dip them in coconut vinegar before gulping them, cool and slimy, down our throats.





We were so tired on the way home. But we had loads of fun. We even agreed on a motto for this adventure: The most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful places. And I realized a lot of things,too, like, how beautiful my country is, how blessed I am to have found wonderful friends in my workplace, and to find happiness in nature.


My [sentimental]Farewell Speech

Today is my last day here at MCA. Naturally, goodbyes are in order. Im not one of those I-hate-goodbyes kind of person. Partings to me are somewhat relative: while some people or situations can be difficult to let go, others can be such a relief to get rid of. But this one, Im finding hard going through. I guess its true all around that when people touch your life, it’s like you are branded by that touch for life, too.


 How is it, I wonder, that a handful of people whom I have spent just less than a couple of years with, become so special to me that the thought of not seeing them again breaks my heart? But then again, it’s not perhaps, a mystery after all, for there is a lot of LOVE and RESPECT between us. There is AFFECTION and FONDNESS, and ACCEPTANCE and CONCERN. There is GENUINE FRIENDSHIP and UNITY and LOYALTY. There is a lot of PRAYER and WISDOM shared over DEVOTIONALS and Bible Study; tear-inducing and rib-cracking FUNNY STORIES over ordinary lunches and special dinners. There were endless PICTURE-TAKINGS and FB postings and posings, HUNDREDS of SMS and CHAT MESSAGES and FRANTIC calls, name-calling and bottomless SMILES and good mornings, MAKE-UP and HAIR STRAIGHTENERS, more make-up and take-outs…

ImageI don’t remember having so much fun than spending time with them, listening to their wonderful and amazing life stories, to their ridiculous and outrageous jokes and friendly banters and teasing, to their daily complaints and grumbles, to their laughters, to their dreams. Within the small and dusty and littered four walls of our little universe we created a bond, fleeting yet strong and so extraordinarily exclusive.

And too, there was a lot of PAIN; there was HUMILIATION; seemingly INSURMOUNTABLE ODDS, elusive TIME-TABLES and loathesome DEADLINES; there were DISAPPOINTMENTS and FAILURES and TRAGEDIES. And I wonder still, because I’d FORGOTTEN what all those felt, and what they were, like. Because all that I remember are the happy times, the feeling of belongingness, the sense of being HOME. Do I suffer from selective memory retention then? Perhaps.

And perhaps I may not truly capture the essence of this togetherness, what with this meager space and limited vocabulary. But one thing I am sure of: within this short, passing instance, I have held something essential in my hand; and, though this time will long past slide from my fingers like sand, I can look back at this moment and the memory will lift me up as the wings of those beautiful songs we have sung together, never failed to do.

Photos courtesy of Mishele and Arc y

Wishing Wells and Wishing Spells

“Pssst. Open your window. I got something to show you.”

“Another trick again?”

“No. Just come down quick.”

“I can’t. I have to take a nap.”

“Don’t worry. Yaya is listening to the transistor.”

“If I get caught again…”

“You won’t. Come down now.”


“Where are we going?”

“You’ll know soon enough. Hurry.”

“Uh-oh. Are you taking me to the river again? My dad will kill me!”

“No. At the memorial park. They built something new out there. It’s really cool. You’ll see.”


“What is it?”

“It’s a well, dummy.”




“You’re supposed to drop one into it and wish.”

“What should I wish for?”


“What are you going to wish for?”

“I won’t tell. You shouldn’t too.”

“Why not?”

“Coz it might not come true. Close your eyes tight and repeat the spell after me then say your wish silently. Wish really hard, ok? Let’s do it together now. Here. Hold my hand. Ready?”



“You think my wish will be granted?”


“Great. Let’s go home now.”

“Not yet. I’m starved. There’s a funeral. Let’s go ask for some snacks.”

“But we’re not dressed for a funeral this time.”

“They won’t notice.   Everyone will be too busy reviving the relatives.Come on.”

“Wait up, will you?”