Thursday, April 29, 2010

Climbing up and down the more than 400 steps to get to the cleanest, clearest, coolest and most breathtaking lake in the Philippines is not an easy feat. The steps are steep and crumbling in parts. If I only knew, I would have worn my trekking boots and not my flimsy flip flops. The steps to Kayangan lake is no place to wear your fancy Christian Louboutin sandals either. We had to take a break midway to catch our breath. We would have not minded so much if only we did not have to carefully watch each step as there are ones that are falling to pieces. I asked the tour guide if there's an easy access to the lake. There was none. I guess getting to see the lake is limited to those who could navigate the steps.

The 412 steps was worth it. The fresh water lake was so refreshing we didn't want to leave. It is a sad flight that more Filipinos prefer to travel to see the sights of other countries whereas they have yet to see the wonders of their native Philippines.

wait!...i have to put on lipstick first!

my first glimpse of the lake....

deck for getting to the lake ...

jump right in! the water's fine....

hanging on a two-pole bamboo floater...
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/29/2010 02:06:00 PM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There's a quiet little beach off Coron bay that is owned by one of the natives. You have to pay a fee of 50 PHP (each!) for you to be able to dock on their beach. Our tour guide brought us there after the Twin Lagoon trip. The travel time was a short 10-minute boat ride. The beach front was short. There were two nipa cottages were our guide and boatmen set up lunch. The spread before us was sumptuous and even if we've just been through the best fat burner routine yet (treading water in deep sea and panicking at the thought of a shark), we feel like we've already gained a pound just looking at the food.

Coron, Palawan is still unspoiled by its thriving tourist industry. I just hope that the people of Coron and the tourists who visit the beautiful place would take care to preserve the natural wonders of the place. the beach....

limestone cliffs pepper part of Coron Bay

my brother and I... that's a live starfish I was holding
which I promptly returned to the sea after the shoot.

Posted by desperateblogger On 4/28/2010 10:06:00 PM 2 comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We piled on the boat armed with our snorkelers and snacks. Our guide said she bought packedlunch for we are going to eat lunch at a secluded beach. Cool!

Our first stop was the Twin lagoons. It was an hour's ride away from Majika but only about 15 minutes away from the port of Coron. There are two lagoons. The first bay was accessible by boat thus we anchored there. The second lagoon was accessible by either climbing up some rickety ladder glued to the wall of a limestone cliff then down to the second lake. We prefer the second option of swimming a few feet under the limestone cliff out to the second lake. Ethan had to stay put in the boat as there was no way for him to climb the cliff steps or swim under the limestone arch. He stayed with my SIL on the boat.Fun!

The water was clear, deep and blue! We were all happily splashing and snorkeling in the second lake when a piercing scream caught our attention. One of the tourists was stung by a jellyfish! "Manong bangkero" was himself shocked as there was not supposed to be any jelly fish in the area.

"A shark!" one of my tribe shouted. There was a mad scramble to reach the makeshift bamboo dock at the bottom of the limestone cliff.

And there I was... laughing so hard at the comical scene before me.

The "jellyfish" turned out to be a small territorial fish that has the tendency to bite whoever poses as danger. Oh one such fish bit me in Puerto Princesa. Painful but tolerable and not enough pain to mar my day. The lady tourist was beyond herself with "pain". Puhlease!

I saw D1 and D2 and my other gloriously overly plump niece hit the water from the bamboo raft. These girls seriously need to do something about their weight. Diet pills? Well, maybe I should read up on the side effects of xyphedrine before I consider telling the girls about it.

Anyway... jump right in. The water is fantastic.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/27/2010 10:51:00 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Monday, April 26, 2010

I was able to sleep after all for the next thing I knew the first streak of sunlight was just starting to lighten the Coron sky. I know that we have a lot of island hopping to do for the day but I Ethan's booboo was troubling me. How the heck can I let him wet his toe with an open wound? I need that oral antibiotic now!

I looked around the still dark room and my eyes rested on the D1, the doctor and Ethan's mommy. She said there was nothing to worry about as long as we keep Ethan's wound tightly bound. Am I glad I bought a pack of tegaderm - those waterproof surgical bandages used in OR. However, Ethan will not just take a bath in the shower. I wonder if the tegaderm will remain waterproof even in sea water.

I went out to the dining hall and found one of the staff getting ready to board the boat to Cullon island to get the antibiotic for Ethan. It was 6:00 A.M. and she promised to be back before 8:00 A.M., before our group leaves for the island hopping tour How I wish the boat was equipped with Ferrari parts so that it could just zoom out and zoom in from and to Majika.

Breakfast was heavy - fried rice, eggs, danggit, hotdog, cereal, toast, marmalade and fresh fruits. The danggit was fresh and not the dried variety. As compliment to the fried fish, a salad of salted eggs and tomatoes was served. The coffee was brewed and the beans local and freshly ground. The coffee was fantastic. My nephew, who works part time barista at Starbucks (NJ) said so too.

As the rest of the group started to trickle the rest of the dining hall staff was put into action as they had to refill the serving plates over and over again. Boat #2 arrived with Ethan's oral antibiotic. What a relief!
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/26/2010 10:20:00 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I cannot remember the first dinner meal served to us in Majika Island. Seafood, veggies and fresh fruits I assume. I was too worried regarding our sleeping arrangements as there would be no air-conditioning for Ethan. The generator would be on all night so the two electric fans would have to suffice.

Everyone was tired. We all had a long day because of our trip from Manila to Busuanga to Coron to Majika Island. At 7:30 P.M. I told Ethan to go up the cottage so he could take a bath before bed. He ran, wearing his flip flops. Here's the thing. Ethan has never worn flip flops before so he tripped on an jutting stone from the sandy path.

I heard a loud ouch and an-honest-to-goodness wail. Ethan stubbed his left toe big time and it was bleeding bad. His mommy applied pressure on the wound and gave him a quick bath. The wound was worse than we expected. His mommy poured antiseptic on the wound, applied topical antibiotic and bandage. Ethan needs oral antibiotics and I didn't bring any. The nearest pharmacy was 45 minutes away by sea. There was no way to get off the island to buy the medicine for it was already dark. We just have to wait until morning. It is good that I bought paracetamol. I gave Ethan a dose and he fell asleep with ease.

It was me who had a hard time falling asleep. It was 9:00 P.M. and I don't "do" 9:00 P.M. I took out my laptop and tried my mobile broadband. Nothing. How I wish I downloaded movies in a flash drive so I could at least bore myself to sleep while watching a movie. In times like this how I wish I went ahead and bought over the counter sleep aids back in Manila.

Alright now... this will be a long night.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/24/2010 08:50:00 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My first sunset experience of Coron was beautiful! The view of the sun as it set in the horizon seemingly being silently but deliberately being swallowed by the dark sea struck me as both beautiful and frightening. Here we are, my family and my brother's, together in this isolated island. The generator was finally on. The dining hall and our cottages are now lit up but still there was an eerie silence to it all. Yes, we were talking and laughing and even singing along with an old Regine Velasquez CD but it was still too quiet for me.

There was no sound of traffic or the hum of electrical and electronic gadgets. My son and Ethan were about to go on a withdrawal phase from lack of cable TV and access to internet. It seems my nephew is about to join the band wagon of electronic gadget addicts in detox.

I heard a bell ring. No, it wasn't Angelus time. It was dinner time! One of the "manangs"to trudged along the beaten and sandy path clanging a bell to call one and all that it was time to eat. At the rate that we were being fed, my daughters and I seriously need diet pills that actually work to take when we go back home to "reality".
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/22/2010 06:29:00 PM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coron has no long stretch of beaches where you can loll around and pretend to swim. In Coron, you have to swim or else you will drown! Our first experience of Coron water was snorkeling out by the floating hut. We had to wear life vests because first: the sea current was quite strong and second, we might actually tread on the corals below.

Donning our snorkelers and vests, one by one we jumped out of the boat. The others used the boat's ladder to get down to the water. As I plunged into deep and dark blue water, my thought was that I forgot to ask the boatman if there were sharks around the area.

The boatman said "no".

The co-boatman said "yes, but small ones only and they don't bite."

What the crap?! Who cares if they don't bite?! A shark is a shark. My concerns were washed away as I viewed the beautiful coral reef below us. We were all floating heads down geared with our snorkels. Not 5 minutes have passed and we all found ourselves 10 meters away from our boat! The current was quite strong so we all swam back to the boat and hang by some ropes so the current won't sweep us out.

... and the new word for today is snork!

Align Center
... hang on... the water's fine but choppy

We had a hard time convincing Ethan to go down the deep and seemingly threatening water. Who wouldn't be? His mommy convinced him anyway while I watched and said that he could do it. He finally consented to go down the water but with D4 and not with his mommy.


.... don't let go auntie D4!

"Come on Ethan! You can do it!"

wew! made it!
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/21/2010 08:31:00 AM 1 comment READ FULL POST

Monday, April 19, 2010

It does not matter where you are. "After-lunch" hour generally translates to siesta time especially when you are on vacation. There are two things I learned since childhood regarding napping and swimming. Siesta time is a legacy from 300 years of Spanish colonization and that "bathing is bad after eating." Not that I really care about one of the lazy habits the Filipinos got from the "Insulares" but who the heck has the power to walk after a sumptuous meal of "catch(es) of the day" and fresh fruit? Not that I adhere to the the old wives tale of swimming is bad after eating but we really needed time for our tummy's to settle down. In the process we found out the many ways to nap on a hammock.

guess who?
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/19/2010 05:45:00 PM 2 comments READ FULL POST

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I was slightly disappointed by the view that greeted me. The sea looked wonderful as it was deep blue and clear with some lighter blues evident of white sand and shallow water.

I was thinking "Where the heck is the pristine beach front?" Then I remembered that D3 told me that the island itself has nothing of that sort as the real activity in that island is island hopping and snorkeling. There's the small paddle boat though that you can use to get to a small floating hut about 100 meters from the shore. The small hut serves as a base -point while you snorkel and view the beautiful and colorful corals below.

We were ushered to the main dining hut for refreshments. It was 10:15 A.M., three hours plus after our plane took off. I was really hungry as I did not eat breakfast. We were given our hut numbers and we trooped on the dusty path. Crap!No water. No electricity. The generator will be on around 3:30 P.M. There was no point bringing my laptop and mobile broadband as there was no signal. There was intermittent for our mobile phones but one service provider had a stronger signal that my crazy clan asked one of their soon to arrive cousins and aunt to buy SIM cards of the said provider at their stop at Balay Majika at the town proper.

Come to think of it, the Coron town proper was the closest thing to the comforts we all took for granted. There is no existing phone lines as the population depended on mobile phones for their communication. The general mode of transportation was motorized tricycles as only a handful can afford cars. Vans were the usual transportation for tourists and were provide by the hotel/accommodation. If you were unlucky enough to miss your shuttle to the airport, then woe on you. I guess there is poster printing
services too in Coron as the only print ads I saw were pertaining to the national presidential election.

path from the boat to the main dining hall

the dining hall where a staff had to pour spring water on our sanded- feet before we could go in

my SIL's cottage

the boys trooping to their cottage

My brother and his kids were the last to arrive at 5:30 P.M. Their flight was 2 hours delayed that is why. I was increasingly worried as my Fil-Am nephew and niece might not survive Coron. Boy, was I wrong!

like a sentinel...waiting for my brother and kids to arrive

here they are.... my niece and nephew figuring out how to get off the raft
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/18/2010 06:59:00 AM 5 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coron is an island off the northern tip of Palawan. Access to Coron was limited to small boats until 2 years ago when the small airport in Busuanga was opened for commercial planes. Busuanga is a 35-minute ride from Coron and its small airport was built in the 1970s for military use only.

We made a reservation to Majika Island. I have no real idea what to expect as my company and I were driven to Balay Majika in Coron town proper to await for our boat ride to the island. I was surprised by the small roads and old homes. It was like being transported back in time. The town's electricity runs on generator. Fresh water is scarce and definitely not wasted in such trivial things as watering plants. Vegetables sold in the market come from Manila and therefore quite "dear".

We were not in Balay Majika more than 10 minutes when our designated guide, Vangie, came and fetched us. We need to go to the pier for the boat ride to Majika island. The ride was less than 5 minutes. We got off the van, took our tons of luggage and proceeded to walk to the pier.

Our guide said the ride would be about 45 minutes long as we cannot take the shortcut in the mangrove as it was low tide. We were told to wear life vests as the water in Coron Bay, is deep... really deep.

our ride anchored at the Coron Pier

Life vests? Check!

Our first view of Majika Island

I was relieved to see the is;and. I am not even sure what the island's name is. I just call it Majika because our package says "Majika Island Adventure". No running fresh water. Electricity provided by a generator from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. I was beginning to have misgivings compounded especially when I saw that the "beachfront" has mangroves.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/15/2010 11:27:00 PM 3 comments READ FULL POST
What I don't like about vacations is the "after" vacation mode that I usually experience. It's back to reality time. There are tons of things to do that it is overwhelming me. My son's summer classes have started and he is still "apartment-less". Oh I have paid the deposit and advance on the apartment but the landlord still needs to check the just-vacated unit to see if there are any repairs to be done. In the meantime, my son is crashing in with a classmate.

The house is still a mess because of empty suitcases that need to be stored, clothes and stuff that need to be sorted and a million and one things including getting free insurance quotes for the car that is due for registration this month.

D2 is busily sorting out the Coron, Palawan pictures. I saw that she has been filing the pictures under day 1 part 1 sort of thing. Below is a picture of my son and Ethan with two of his little "uncles" as they try to paddle off the island.

When I saw them, I almost fell-off the hammock that I was in. The boys were several meters away from the shoreline, in deep water. Well, deep for the 3 little boys anyway. I would have not been so concerned if they were in life vests.

When I saw one of the little uncles try to get off the boat to paddle with his feet, that was it! Back to the shore! You guys are crazy!
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/15/2010 06:50:00 AM No comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The much awaited summer get-away to Coron, Palawan came. D2 booked us a flight while D3 took care of our lodging. My brother and his two kids were last minute addition to our original group of 17. Yes! We were 20 in all. We took different flights but my kids and I were in one flight going there while my kids and I together with my brother and his two kids were in one flight coming home. I have had some misgivings regarding the plane reservations as I really didn't want my whole family in one airplane. I grew more apprehensive when I learned that the airplane was a 50-seater propeller plane as the runway in Busuanga, about 20 kilometers from Coron, has a very short runway in between hilly islets.

Shuttle ride to airplane

"Do airplanes have insurances akin to cheap auto insurance?", I asked myself as we were taken on a short ride to the tarmac. The small airplane does not even reach the docking dock! Ethan and I sat together while the rest of my 5 kids sat close together too.

D4 practicing her Ms. Philippines "wave"

Ethan and I preparing for take-off: chewing gum

The flight was short (35 minutes) and uneventful except for the fact that the plane landed with a really loud "thud". The captain even had the gall to say "we have landed" which was pretty funny as everyone felt that landing. I heaved a silent prayer of thanksgiving. We have landed in Busuanga, Palawan.April 8,2010.

At the Busuanga Airport

Desperateblogger has landed!
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/13/2010 09:40:00 PM 1 comment READ FULL POST

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If I could bottle "stress" and "tension" and sell them as weight loss supplements I'd be rich!

Last night, all my kids took time to get home. D1 didn't come home at all for she was on duty. D2 was supposed to come home early but changed her mind and went to the gym to workout instead. D3 was invited for dinner. D4 watched a basketball game. My son commuted from his school to our house but got stuck somewhere in the middle en route because the MRT he was on broke down.

I didn't know of D2's change of schedule so I got worried when I wasn't able to contact her. My son took a bus to a take him to a bus depot going home. However he decided to walk all the way from the depot to the Mall of Asia because there was no bus at the dang depot. I called D3 and asked her to fetch her brother. Can't be. Dinner not done. I called D4 and asked her to fetch my son and she obliged by leaving the basketball game. At about this time D2 came home and asked me why I've been calling the gym looking for her.

By 11:30 P.M. everyone was home. My shoulders stiff from tension. My dinner, forgotten. See?! Stress and tension are the best appetite suppressants.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/06/2010 08:15:00 PM 6 comments READ FULL POST
I am so caught up with work that I forgot to take Ethan to his therapy. His reading therapist texted me and asked if we were on our way. We were not. We were at the mall doing some last minute shopping. I apologized to the therapist and told her the I plain forgot about the schedule. Anyway, I seem to have been on a last-minute shopping for two weeks now. The thing is, none of the things that I have been buying are for me. Today I decided to buy a swimsuit not because I want to but I need to.

I rummaged through my closet last night and searched (not really in vain) for swimsuits. I found three and tried them all. Crap! The swimsuits shrunk! Parts of me were hanging out of the swimsuits. I blame the construction of the road around our area as my jogging routine became sporadic. I blame the past holidays for the rich food that were served. I blame the swimsuit manufacturer for producing tight-fit suits.I wonder how fast those quick trim burn and cleanse diet pills work.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/06/2010 06:22:00 PM 3 comments READ FULL POST
Of late, I have noticed short strands of white hair peeking out from my hair. Oh no! I pride myself of not having to dye my hair to cover white ones. Am I "in" the group of white-haired-ladies now? I have very fine hair that has a tendency to curl more as the day wears on. I also tend to "shed" hair while shampooing that I occasionally use hair products that prevent hair loss.

There's a local shampoo that claims to make the user's hair "black" or "blacker" as the case maybe. My laundry woman faithfully used that shampoo in the hope of turning her almost all-white to black. After two months of use, her hair definitely changed color. Instead of the salt and pepper look, she was sporting a brand new "lavender" hair. The funnier thing was my laundry woman thought she must used the shampoo incorrectly. Now, is there any other way to use a shampoo?
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/06/2010 07:20:00 AM 5 comments READ FULL POST

Monday, April 5, 2010

It is funny how during the Lenten week, we all have the tendency to gain weight. There is just too much food to eat and not much activity to do. Since my brother and his family are here in Manila for a vacation, my mama has been cooking non-stop all of my brother's favorite dishes. As I watch my brother eat with gusto, it made me think what he and his family eat. The last I was in their place, there was nothing to cook for the freezer's only content was ice. When my mama came over for an off and on visit that lasted 10 years, she was the one doing most of the cooking.

I asked my nephew what they normally eat for dinner and he said "nothing". When I prodded more as only me can do, I learned that most meals where take-outs or eat-outs or granola bars and cereals. Crap! So, even as I know that the rich food that mama is cooking for my brother would probably give him aching joints, I did not stop him from eating the Filipino food that he must have missed a lot. I even asked him what if he'd like me to cook "Binagoongan Baboy" (pork sauteed in anchovy). D1 just has to give her uncle a prescription for the best joint supplement later... much later.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/05/2010 11:18:00 AM 2 comments READ FULL POST
The crabby and dirty former apartment of my son contributed a lot in peppering my son's face with with pimples. My son sees to it that his part of the bedroom, including bed sheets, pillow cases and blankets, are always clean. The problem is his apartment mates are the epitome of unparalleled sloth! At first I was surprised that empty water bottles, candy wrappers, food containers and even dirty underpants were found under the bed. Dirty plates and other kitchen utensils were piled high in the kitchen sink.

I actually have misgivings on having the same flat mates for my son. The thing is I have no options right now. What makes it more irritating is the fact that I seem to be the only mother looking earnestly for an apartment. Why? Why do I feel obligated?!

In the meantime, I have a need to read on some acne medicine reviews to find the right acne medicine for my son. It has gotten to a point where the root cause of the acne is plain old dirt!
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/05/2010 10:46:00 AM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It is Easter Sunday! As tradition dictates, Sunrise Church Services was held outdoors - in the dead of the night. Not really, but at 4:30 A.M., it sure seemed like that for Ethan. For many Christian churches the work over, Easter Sunday is observed with varying degrees of importance and pageantry. In our church, an outdoor sunrise worship service has been the norm ever since.

It was easier to bring the kids back then as I only had to bundle them up and throw them in the car to attend Sunrise Service. Today, it is more complicated as they have to take a bath first, out on make up (except for my son and Ethan), get dressed and fuss some more.

Me?! No need. I just have to make sure that the outdoor cushions were loaded in the car as it was no fun sitting on rocky ground as attested last year. Wait! I think I forgot the Easter eggs! Anyway....

Happy Easter!
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/04/2010 09:56:00 AM No comments READ FULL POST

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My brother's children are both good-looking. My nephew is 18 while my niece turning 16. Nephew is pretty soft-spoken while niece is quite the epitome of myself when it comes to "shopping". She has a bunch of items in her long list of what she "needs" to buy. As I write my kids and them are preparing for a shopping spree in Greenhills. My brother gave them money and just while buy, hubby took out his wallet and gave them money too! I think the ls2208 (bar scanner) will have a field day today. Ethan and I will follow later. My girls, my niece and I would probably turn Greenhills topsy-turvy.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/03/2010 10:10:00 AM No comments READ FULL POST

Friday, April 2, 2010

My brother and his family are now here in Manila for their 3-week vacation. We are all so excited with our trip to an island south of the Philippines. I should be preparing for the trip but something came up and I still need to "fix" this one before I could breathe again.

My son and his three apartment-mates were kicked out of their apartment! He and his mates took in 2 other friends last November because the two lost their dormitory slots at the University campus. The two said the stay was transient as they were working on their transfer to another lodging. The "temporary" stay stretched on. The 4-person apartment became a 6-person apartment with the two additions not paying rent. The 6-person apartment was cramped and noisy and dirty that the septuagenarian landlady felt she cannot live with the racket.

Two days ago D2 and I were at the apartment helping my son to pack. I was non-stop with my litany that I felt the 3 other apartment mates were about ready to strangle me. I was mad because they have no where to go which meant I have to help them find a new apartment. I was mas because the 2 "transients" are now happily renting out a room for their own. I was mad because their "goodheartedness" left them "apartment-less"! I was mad because the apartment was a veritable bacteria-colony. A vat of cleaning supplies, industrial supplies strength, might not be enough to clean up the place!

Now, my son's apartment stuff are here. Some (like the bed and desk) are in his friend's place. I have found an apartment but my son and his mates cannot move in until the 3rd or 4th week of April which could prove a problem since summer classes start on the 13th!

I have a myriad of things to tie up before our vacation.
Posted by desperateblogger On 4/02/2010 07:07:00 AM 2 comments READ FULL POST
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