Happy to be caffeine-powered.

A year ago Marcus got his first cup of Starbucks coffee. He is still able to stand and walk back then.


Lost in La Luz

It’s been years since we’ve savored sea, sand and sun. The last one we had was in 2006 when I tagged along with wifey being one of the top employees of the year who were treated for free in Boracay. It would be one of the worthy memories with our company. So on April 2, April Fools ’ Day in the US, we embarked on a road trip to see the beach once more.

It was a trip full of mixed emotions. We looked forward to fun and excitement in spite of the impending uncertainty and anxiety. The trip would be our farthest down south but it was fun as we passed along good roads and scenic views. We located La Luz beach with ease, thanks to the directions I printed from the internet. The last 4-kilometer stretch was a challenge due to the rough and dusty road with a couple of hill climbs as a finale to our destination.

old house
Creepy but interesting structure.
last stretch
Testing the car’s off-road capability.
hill climb
Slow climb.

We learned that the resort is already fully booked so we decided to settle in one of the local’s rental place–a nipa hut managed by Aling Ely—instead of going back to find another resort. Besides, I’ve been curious what if feels like to sleep, even just overnight, in one of those rooms.

As soon as we got settled, sad news came. In that small room is where we learned thru SMS from a colleague that the long standing rumor is now confirmed. The company’s top bosses flew in from the US that same day and have already told the news to all Cavite employees that the company is pulling the manufacturing operations out of the country in 6-9 months. An April Fools’ day joke? A thousand Filipino employees for sure wished it was, but unfortunately, it was not.

Setting the expected news aside and having had my mandatory siesta, we checked the beach. No big deal, we’re just going to be unemployed. The weather that afternoon appeared just as confused as we were. It rained hard but it quickly dissipated. The sun beams came out of the dark gray clouds after a brief but heavy rainfall.

The beach at that time was rather serene which I find unusual given the fact that it’s summer. The water was fairly clear yet the waves tend to be strong. Some portions underwater are also uneven and may surprise anyone unfamiliar with the area. And one thing I can’t help but notice was that sand all over the place is quite loose. Must be where the name La Luz was derived – from being La Loose. Ti abi. A few meters of treading on the loose sand (or pebbles) drained most of my energy. With every step we took,my stomach protested. Hunger eventually sets in.

Looking for food was also unexpectedly hard. Other than failing again to get reservations in La Luz’s dining, the surrounding area itself is scarce of bars or restaurants. Although there were some kainan or carinderia, the choice of food that you expect to eat while at the beach were not available. I find it ironic that we had a difficult time finding fresh inihaw na isda (grilled fish). Thankfully, after crisscrossing and thoroughly combing the nearby area like two hungry stray cats, one resort’s bar accommodated us as walk-in customers—believe or not we’re the only customers at that time so that could have left them no choice. Weird.

Night time was more quiet. With my San Mig lights beer from Taramandu bar, my wife and I settled in one of the cabanas with the dim incandescent light coming from the distant posts as the only illumination. It was a perfect time to talk about lots of things—our job, for one. It was also a perfect time to do some star gazing which as far I can recall I haven’t done for years without the distraction of honking cars, TV shows, noisy neighbors and interference coming from the street lamp post. The beach that night was almost pitch black. The only star that night, well, are the stars.

Nothing but dark beach.

We went home the next day after sleeping over at the nipa hut.  I had a very good sleep that night even with just having only an electric fan for ventilation. The native materials from roof (nipa) to flooring (bamboo) allowed good ventilation. It was a change from the usual air-conditioned rooms we’re used to when we travel. Except for the toilet where my wife discovered some friends from Joe’s Apartment (go figure), the overnight stay at Aling Ely’s place was worth the price (Php 1.2K) and the experience.

Boats and huts.

We Could Steal Cars

“Very nice…High Five…” – Borat Sagdiyev

Having planned a road trip with wifey for quite some time, even when we still have our trusty Kia Pride, the 12th PIHABF (Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta) came as the perfect moment. So I filed for a two-day vacation leave month ahead in anticipation of this event. And just like ants preparing for a rainy day, my wife and I went shopping a week ahead for clothing, food and storage–buying a Coleman cooler justified.

Feb 10. Past 3 AM. With the car’s boot filled with the stuffs we need, we set off. The early morning drive went well as expected. Traffic was light from Cavite to NLEX and in the back of my mind I began imagining picking a good parking spot and a good vantage point for us to witness the balloon flight before dawn. I fought the urge to floor the pedal. At some brief point the speedometer was at 120 yet the Honda City stayed stable despite it. Realizing the car’s capability, the temptation to go faster became stronger but sanity and the presence of the speed limits along the highway kept me from doing so.

In the middle of the trip, we decided to stop by Total gas station in San Simon and it was when the most unlikely thing happened. While waiting for the attendant to fill the tank to the brim, my wife and I decided to step out of the car. I grabbed some water in the boot while she picked something in the gas station’s store. Unconsciously, we both closed the doors with the car key still inside. A minute after I shut the boot door and while lazily stretching myself, I heard the car alarm’s beep followed by the sound of a latching door lock. Damn, for a moment I saw myself turned pale. I almost cried in despair. We got locked out!

After hopelessly trying to wake myself up from a bad dream, I started considering some options and eagerly asked help from the gas attendants and other people who also stopped for gas. The inputs ranged from the ridiculous yet the most direct–shattering the glass window, to the tiring and frustrating 60-kilometer public commute back going to Cavite to grab the spare key, and to the most viable yet costly option of hiring a locksmith to do the job. Also considered was taking chances if other Honda car keys will match. That one didn’t work, as expected. For the first time I hated Honda’s wave key and alarm feature.

Always. Bring. Spare. Key.

The thought of missing the balloon fest and ruining our trip made me decide to seek the locksmith’s assistance so I called the guy referred by a gasoline attendant. I was greeted by a man sounding a bit irritated–I understand the feeling of being awakened early Sunday morning–yet he was kind enough to encourage me to keep on trying by opening it through the door handle using a stiffer wire to reach into the lock. The mixture of desperation, the thought of a Hazard Pay’s episode, a welding rod wire, and persuasion from my wife seemed to work together after the phone conversation.

After an hour of trial and error, the lock tab popped. To say I shouted for joy would be an understatement. Upon checking my watch, I learned that we’ve been locked out for almost two hours already.  Without wasting another minute more we continued our trip but only after giving a ride to the two gas boys who stayed with us until the end of their night — they were our cheering team during the whole ordeal. My wife and I exchanged congratulations several times on our way to Dau. We kidded ourselves as being able to be in cahoots as carjackers. Honda City owners beware.

We arrived in the Balloon fest area past 7 AM, tired but glad we still made it. Parking far from the entrance gate didn’t matter anymore. Just being at the site bustling with people to watch an event featuring everything that flies is satisfying enough.


Like Writers and Photographers

“…I remember coming home a few days after EDSA 1 and playing it on the piano without interruption, and completing this five minute song in an unbelievable two minutes. How was that possible, if the song takes five minutes to sing…” – Jim Paredes

Athletes call it the playing the zone. It is the level where most play their best games and the performance continues as soon as they get into it and ends until they tire themselves out. Similarly, this applies to everything we do, day in and day out. There are times when we spontaneously do something without even having to think about it, when everything just seems fluid. Even doing a simple household chore has its own zone.

This must be why all of a sudden there’s that void of well-composed photos on my network. Just a few months back there was a barrage of spectacular pictures coming from my online buddies but lately it seems no one has posted much or not one has shot anything worthy to be considered photography. Hopefully, their pricey Canon SLRs aren’t sitting in a corner, collecting molds and dusts.

This is also true with bloggers and reviewers. I miss the days when I’d read write ups so nice that I’d wonder if the man behind the harmony of words are pro incognito or just plain individuals like me who don’t have the bucks to purchase expensive cameras and therefore decided to write instead. While creativity is involved, this is what sets the two hobbies or pastimes apart. Photography enthusiasts need at least a high-end SLR while all bloggers need is just an intangible idea.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed some of my previous (more than a year ago) posts and some made me smile and pat myself on the back, while some not so much. My only consolation is that my blog traffic isn’t so high thereby reaching only a few unlucky individuals. Having no proofreader or editor is my ultimate alibi.

But I still remember the times when I’d write better (as far as I’m concerned),  when I’d feel like I’m immersed in the zone. These are when a favorite music either plays in the background or just inside my head. I think the rhythm does something with the composition especially if it goes with the emotions behind the idea that is set at that very moment. My keyboard becomes the piano sans  the melody.

Even the people I admire and envy for having been gifted enough to possess such wonderful talents in both literature and photography, such as Jim Paredes and James Deakin don’t come free from blunders. I’ve read and seen some of their works and I can’t help but think “Hey, this isn’t them” or “Did they really do this?” But then, these are busy guys and the pressure of the deadlines sometimes affects the outcome.

With Christmas season getting nearer each day, work activities piling up, vacations to consider, parties to attend to are all joining our already chaotic schedule, I still hope that people could still find time to focus and be in the zone. Let those great articles come  back again and let those lenses capture the beauty of everyday life.