Forever Young

Today is my birthday.

I did not plan to write a post about my birthday on my birthday because it feels expected. As much as possible I try to avoid doing what is expected. I’m weird that way. At the moment I am in fact trying to finish a post about my Sinagtala trip, one that I have been working on for a week now.

I do not go to church every Sunday. I have no specific reason as to why I don’t go, but this might be because going to chruch on that day is what is expected.  On random days I visit the chapel behind the Holy Rosary Parish chruch and since July 1, 2014  decided to start a tradition of visiting Camelite Monastery every first day of the month.

Today was one of those random days. Well mostly its because it is my birthday.  I sat at one of the pews of Holy Rosary Parish church and had a conversation with Him. In our conversation I was thanking Him for another year that He has given me.  I sat there looking back the past years and realized I had a lot to be thankful for. My mind changed after that chruch visit. I had to write down this epiphany.

I have been alive for past two decades now. My life has never been perfect. I have had my share of unfortunate events more than I care to count or remember. What I have come to realize though is for every unfortunate event, He gives me a blessing. I never had a lot, but it never happened that I had none. I have been sick, but not too sick to be hospitalized. I have been down, but I am always able to stand up. I have been beaten, but I will never be broken. For all of these I am very grateful.

Another year has been added to my life. When someone asks me how old I am, it takes me awhile to answer. This is because I stopped counting a long time ago. I have no problems with getting older. In fact I don’t care much of it.  As cliche as it sounds age is nothing but a number. It’s not  the measure of a person. It should not stop anyone from doing what they want. Do not count years. Count your blessings and be grateful. Do not count your age. Count your learnings and continue to be wiser. Even when the lines and grey hairs start to show it’s still your choice. When everyone expects you to be old, You can still choose to be forever young.

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Peace out.

Sinagtala

These past few days I have been posting photos and videos of my recent adventure on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. The posts resulted into a lot of questions about the trip. Here’s the overdue visual diary of that adventure, which hopefully will answer those questions.

My brother from another mother invited me to come along on a trip that was by planned his special friend and her best buddy. A best friends adventure! Hehe. Due to the weather conditions and the fact that I was almost broke that time,  I was a bit hesitant to go at first, but I’d like to think that I’m the kind of person that keeps his word. I told my buddy I was coming, so I did. Of course I must admit that the prospect of a new adventure also contributed to my decision. Hehe. Let’s just say I did not regret my choice.

It was agreed that we will meet 9:00am and go food shopping. One of my bad habits made its presence felt and I was late. By the time I arrived they were done with the groceries. Hehe.

The four of us boarded a bus bound for Mariveles Bataan and started our adventure. During the ride I was struck by inspiration and finished writing a post about one of my bad habits, being late. Lol. Including traffic and pit stops, travel from SM Pampanga to Orani, Bataan took about an hour. Bus fare was P75 each. Not bad at all.

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Not sure who K of C is, but they love Orani too.  

Two of my companions have this thing. They say whenever the are together, it rains. I did not really believe this until we got off the bus and this happened..

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Totoo nga! Haha.

There goes our plans to visit Orani’s public market and buy food. We decided to proceed to the resort and just plan for food later on. Now on to our next mode of transport, the tricycle. We were told that the it can fit a maximum of four persons. They were right, what they forgot to mention was it would be uncomfortable, especially due to the rain. Haha. If you ask me, its these unexpected and uncomfortable moments that make an adventure more fun. After 30 minutes of wet, muddy and cramped tricycle ride, there we were at last, Sinagtala Farm Resort.

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Five minutes into our tricycle ride, the rain stopped and the sun slowly peeked through the clouds,

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By the time we reached the resort, it was fully out. Yey! Hehe.

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Peaceful. Beautiful. Amazing. These are the words that quickly came to mind upon seeing the place. The trip was just a few hours but it felt like we were on a far away place. Away from all the noise and stress of the city. A smile was permanently plastered on my face. Sulit ang biyahe!

We were assisted to our accomodations by one of the staff. We were staying on room 1 of the house called Duyan.

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Here’s a glimpse inside Duyan 1.

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two single beds,

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bay windows with great views,

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interesting paintings,

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an indoor cactus,

a ceiling fan, a dresser and a surprise. What surprise you say?

Here’s a clue.

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Surprise!!

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An open rest room!

Two guys and two girls sharing a room with only a swinging door to seperate the restroom from the bedroom, equals an akward situation when the call of nature strikes. Hehe. We were told that all of the available rooms were set up like this so basically we have no choice. I guess we just have to be discreet.

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Shhh.. Haha.

Like what I said before, when placed in an situation that you do not like but can’t do anything to about, just smile and enjoy it.

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 Taking a mirror selfie won’t hurt. Lol.

After we got over our shock and amusement, my companions went to the dining area to prepare our lunch.

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I on the other hand was tasked to wait for the additional airbeds to be set up.

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Once done I joined them in the dining area for the main event.

Let’s pause for a moment of silence and appreciate the shrimps prepared by the resident chef.

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After a very satisfying lunch..

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Obvious ba? Haha.

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Burrpp.. excuse me.

It was time to do my blogger duties. Hehe.

The dining area was filled with interesting decors. Most of them were wood works of religious images.20140726_133050

 Sto. Niño

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Child Jesus, I think. Hehe.

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This one caught my attention, it seems.. headless?

Aside from the religious images, here are the other unique pieces that caught my eye.

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The other side of this red wall is our room.

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 Can anyone help me name this? Hehe.

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A grown man can easily fit inside this barrel.

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This is not a selfie. Haha.

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How cool is this.. ahm, vase? Hehe.

That’s it for the indoors! The three of them went back to our room to rest, I went ahead and continued my blogger duties outside.

Sinagtala is not only a resort, it’s also a farm. Towering coconut trees, fruit bearing trees, and colorful flowers contribute to the natural beauty of the place. My smile never left my face.

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This rambutan tree was just my height.

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 Outside our room.

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Perfect spots to enjoy the sunshine and the view

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Flowers look way better planted and alive instead of being inside vases.

From the paintings inside rooms to garden statues, whoever designed the place seems to have an affinity to topless women. Hehe.

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It was now 2:00pm, the sun was out at its hottest, but something caught my eye when we arrived and I just had to go  there and check it out.

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Forgive me..

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Its my first time to see an infinity pool! Lol. 

All senses now satisfied, I walked backed to Duyan 1 to rest for a bit. After a while we decided to check out the cafe that we passed by on our way in, to order food for dinner. The sun was still shining but it was not that hot so it was the perfect condition walk to around and explore. Maybe it was because we were on higher ground, and the air was thin so by the time we reached the cafe we were all sweaty and breathing deeply. Hehe. While catching our breaths, we ordered our food for dinner. We were told that our orders can be delivered to our room, which was very convenient since I don’t think anyone of  us would like to walk back there in the evening to get the food. Hehe.

On our way back we passed by a beautiful chapel. The word beautiful is overused in this post. It’s the one word I can think of that best describes the place. Hehe. After saying a prayer of thanks, I resumed my blogger duties.

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The chapel was made of concrete, wood and glass. It was on elevated ground and with big glass windows that provided a 360° view of the lush greenery outside.

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Here are other things that caught my eye inside the chapel.

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Sacred Heart

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Mama Mary

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Dove-shaped capiz light fixtures

I stepped outside to do more sight seeing. That’s when I noticed that the wind was picking up and the dark clouds were slowly rolling in.

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Before we get drenched by the rain, we decide to return to Duyan and rest before we experience the infinity pool.

On the way back, I called for a groupie. The first attempt was an epic fail and so was the 2nd one, at this point it was already raining so we ran back to Duyan. Haha.

Aside from pictures I also took videos to document this adventure. Unfortunately the audio of the videos was really bad, you can see my mouth moving but you can’t hear what I’m saying. Good thing I found this app that turns plain videos into amazing montages. Here’s Sinagtala Day 1

One of the plans that was affected by the rain was our plans for a meat and seafood barbeque. Good thing they bought a bag of hotdogs at least we still had something to grill. We prepared that and took groupies. Lol

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It was challenging to ignite the charcoal, they’ve already used up the alcohol and still no luck.

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Kaya pa Chef? Haha.

They must have spent a good 20 minutes using various things to fan the charcoal and make it burn before I realized that I did have foldable fan that can be used. Haha. Well, what can I say? One can not have it all, you can’t be good looking (Ehem!) and alert at the same time. Hehe. Cut the story short we were finally able to cook the hot dogs. Lol.

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Success! 

Half a dozen hotdogs later, we were ready for the infinity pool. One of the perks of being a dude is that you just ditch your shirt and you’re ready for a swim. That’s exactly what me and my buddy did while the ladies changed into their suits.

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We already raced a few laps (which I lost. Haha.) when we realized something. We have not paid the pool fee! Haha. Sinagtala charges a separate fee for the usage on the infinity pool. P200 entitles one to unlimited use of the pool from 7:00am to 9:00pm.

The water of the infinity pool  was so cold we were actually shivering. So we raced some more and of course I still lost but at least it helped keep me warm. The water did not have chlorine and I loved that, its not often that you get to swim in a pool of fresh water. The experience was even made extra special as we were treated to spectacular views.

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Our beautiful companions who planned this amazing adventure. Photo bomb! Hehe.

We stayed and played at the pool till evening,

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I’m glad we did. Because we got to see this..

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Infinity pool at night.

Around 7:00pm our food was delivered and we were done swimming for the night. It was dinner time.

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 Boneless bangus

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Lechon kawali

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The spread.

We also ordered Sinampalukang Manok, which tasted really good. So good I forgot to document it. Hehe. Right after we were done eating, right in cue, drops of water started falling from the sky.

We had several visitors during the night. These visitors are the best proof that the environment of Sinagtala is clean and safe.

This dude showed up right above the door to our room. It freaked out the girls a bit then after awhile, it left.

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Tuko! Tuko!

I was outside enjoying the cool evening breeze when I noticed something different on the rambutan tree which was not there earlier. Turns out, it was two birds, heads together, resting.

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Sweet!

Following the birds’ example, it was now time to sleep and restore energy for next day’s adventures.

I woke up early the next day. It’s how I am when I’m on a new place, its like I have this energy that I can’t quite contain. I needed to go out, to explore. That’s what I did. Sadly I was not early enough to catch the sunrise which I planned to watch by the pool deck. The view and the feeling of the morning was still amazing though.

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Thought I’d try to capture it in moving color. The audio now is better since I discovered that I just had to speak louder. Haha. In the interest of keeping it cohesive with the first one I just made it into another montage, Sinagtala Day 2.

Our accomodations included breakfast and their atsara was the best! Atsara is a Kapampangan side dish made of grated bits of unripe papaya fruit, chopped carrots, raisins ,fermented with vinegar. The older it gets the better it tastes. (Disclaimer: This is just based on what I know. Lol.)

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I was not satisfied with the time I had with the infinity pool the previous day. Bitin ako. My mind was set on swimming after breakfast. The girls required a bit of coaxing but my buddy was game for it. There was light rain at that time, but it was all good.

We met an elderly guy who told us that there was a river nearby, and if we’d like to see it we just have to follow the downhill path. We all agreed to go ahead and check out the river. It was only after we returned from it that I realized that we just came from a place that none of us knew following directions from a person we did not know. Haha.

Energy and excitement was high as we began our descent, but that slowly dwindled as we progressed down the path. We were now realizing that it’s going to be a daunting  trek. There was indeed a path but the further we got the less visible it became.

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The trek downhill was made even more challenging by the slippery ground due to mud. We also had to be careful for any wild animals that we might come across.

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Luckily, the only wild things we encountered were wild plants and mosquitos. We passed by this weird plant, its fruit looks like a guava but instead of growing on branches the fruit grows on the tree trunk itself.

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The lower we go, the steeper the terrain became and the sound of rushing water became louder.

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We had to take short pauses to catch our breaths. Ahh. What did we get ourselves in to?! Haha.

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After a few hundred slippery steps, buckets of sweat and several mosquito bites, finally we got a glimpse of our goal.

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A short distance away I noticed something very out of place, something you would not expect to see in the middle of the woods.

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It seems to me that the people here are quite fond of the idea of open rest rooms. Lol.

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We did not go all the way down there just to gawk at the river, we had to experience the it.

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I was not content with the stagnant water, I went to the part were the water hit the rocks on top speed.

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Kalabaw moments

After the refreshing dip we began our trek back to the resort. We thought going down was hardest part, oh boy were we wrong. The trek back up was very challenging.

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Half way through it I was breathing like and asthmatic and my legs were shaking. I was so happy when I saw the first sign of the resort. I felt accomplished, like I just finished a race. Hehe. All together the trek took an hour at the very least.

We still had an hour left before we had to check out and we spent that goofing around at the infinity pool.

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All good things, at one point will end. We will be leaving Sinagtala with priceless memories. It will not be a goodbye. I will be back Sinagtala, I will be back soon.

Sinagtala Farm Resort is located at Brgy Tala, Orani Bataan. We shared P2,000 each on this trip and it was more than enough to cover all expenses. That’s it folks!

Looking forward to the next adventure. Peace out.

9:00am

This is a self deprecating post. I’ll be admitting one of my flaws. Something that I am not proud of. Something I’ve tried to hide but always seem to find its way to the surface. Alright, here goes nothing.

I am chronically late. There I ‘ve said it. Kala niyo ano na ne? Lol.  Apologies for the build up,  just thought it would be fun. Haha.

So chronic lateness. Tell me that the meeting time is 9:00am and somehow my brain registers that as 9:00am will be the time that I’ll  leave the house. Lol. It’s a bad habit and as I’ve mentioned, I am not proud of it.

As cliche as “Time is Gold” is, it is still true. Time is valuable. Every minute wasted on being late is a minute that could have been used to do something productive. Being on time signifies respect or the lack of it. When you are on time it shows that you value the other person’s efforts to be there and meet you on the agreed time.

I have been working on eliminating this habit of mine from my daily life and I have been partly successful, partly since I still fail at times. Hehe. What can I say, I am not perfect.

Some would say that this can be attributed to culture. That being late is a proof of me being a Filipino. We are so well known for our chronic lateness that there is even a phrase for it,“Filipino Time” which generally means being at least an hour late from the agreed time. To us Filipinos this is an unspoken agreement that when told 9:00am not all will arrive on time.

In other cultures it is considered rude to be late.  One can probably brush this off and say each to his own, sila yun iba ako, walang pakialamanan. Then again, wouldn’t it be nice if we can change the connotation of “Filipino Time” from negative to positive?..

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Peace out.