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Showing posts from 2012

5 Reasons I'm Grateful For 2012.

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1.  Expanding my book collection

No matter how integral a role the iPad now plays in my life, I will always prefer looking, touching and smelling a real book.


* Books on History, Travel, Comics, Religion and Humor rule.

7 Other Things To Do In Barcelona

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The first stop on our Eurotrip was Barcelona.  I was told by all of my friends not to miss this city as the culture and history is just so beautiful.  In many ways, they say that it is even more beautiful here than in Madrid (which I hope to see in a future trip).  Now apart from seeing the Sagrada Familia and Barcelona Cathedral, here are 7 other things that one MUST do while in Barcelona.

1.  Walk Down The Las Ramblas

This is what travelling is about!  Full of great shops, cafes, street performers and interesting sights, walking around and getting lost in the various alleys intersecting the main street is such a pleasure.  Stretching on for about a kilometer and a half, this is the main tourist spot in Barcelona, kind of like how Times Square is to New York and Nanjing Road is to Shanghai.  Prepare to get culturally stimulated, just mind the pickpockets! (And there are a LOT of them)



Barcelona Cathedral and La Sagrada Familia

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1. The Barcelona Cathedral


Imposing and located on the famous Gothic Quarter next to the Las Ramblas, the Barcelona Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic Architecture.  Dark, huge and full of gargoyles, the Cathedral manages to retain some sanctity as there were more people praying in it than people taking pictures.

8 Awesome iPad Apps for Travelling

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My iPad was such an indispensable tool of my last three trips (Mid-East, China, Europe) that it has become THE constant source of Ready Information and Entertainment in other facets of my life. With so many great apps out there, I decided to concentrate on the 8 that are truly useful for the budget, foot travelling, wanna-experience-all-the-sights-and-sounds-in-limited-time traveller such as myself.

1.  Goodreader ($4.99)

https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/goodreader-for-ipad/id363448914?mt=8



One of the best PDF readers for the Ipad, Goodreader not only allows you to read the PDF’s, it also allows you to highlight and add notes on the pages.  I loaded this app up with various DK Travel Series and DK Top 10 Travel List books (the best travel guides due to the abundance of pictures and maps) and was particularly helpful in Barcelona, Rome, Paris and London.

Eurotrip (8/29/12 - 9/15/12)

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Europe has always been my dream destination.

Having been to the Americas, China, Middle East and around Southeast Asia, it was the one area of the world that seemed so elusive to me.  Part of what made it so was the fact that my family always chose to go to the States for the holidays.

So when I found out that there was a chance that we were going to go this August, I was beyond excited.

My cousin, Rachel, decided to have a destination wedding; and being the romantic that she is, she decided to have it in an actual castle in Florence, Italy.



* Ate Rachel and her fairy tale wedding.

Now it seemed like we were not only going to Europe, the whole family was going as well.  Around 20 of us, including my lola.

The month leading towards the trip, I got excited about the prospect of seeing all these beautiful faces that I had only read about in books and seen in movies.

I got word that the wedding was going to be part of a Mediterranean cruise. So I suggested to my folks that after the cruis…

Hong Kong Toy Hunt

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After the culture and history of Shanghai, we were treated to a few days of shopping, eating and galavanting in Hong Kong.  Truthfully, I did not know what to expect from HK as the last time I was here, I was about 12 and I was with my folks.

We were given two days to wander around this city of lights, sounds and cars driving in the wrong side of the road (or so my Brit buddies disagree) and while some went to Disneyland and that huge Buddha place, and others went shopping in the stores not found in the Philippines (HMV, H&M etc.), I decided to indulge in two of my favorite past times: exploring a city alone AND toy window shopping.

Hong Kong opened my eyes to a whole different level of toy window shopping.  The toy scene is absolutely CRAZY.  (Think a whole building dedicated to small stores specializing in specific toy sets: LEGO, Transformers, GI JOE, Marvel, DC, Anime etc.) This was ten times the awesomeness of Shoppesville and Virra Mall combined!

Thanks to the ultra-relia…

Shanghai Walk

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Thanks to my company, Pernod Ricard, I was able to spend a couple of days in Shanghai last August for some R&R.  As was the case in Jerusalem, I got giddy over the fact that I could explore another great city, full of rich history and booming with  (Yes, that’s 23 MILLION) people.

Though I had been to Shanghai a couple of years ago with my folks, I knew I wasn’t seeing the total picture as guided tours rarely give you the satisfaction of just “hanging out”, getting lost in the place and getting a true taste of the people and culture.

The adventure starts when the taxi driver drops me and my three buddies from work at some “shopping area” (think Greenhills) for foreigners.  Originally, we had asked to be dropped off at Nanjing Road (the central commercial center, think Times Square) but he dropped us off around 6km from our intended destination.

** I think it’s safe to say that among Asian countries, it’s only truly the Philippines where you can talk to ANYONE in English and they …

The Plan is REAL.

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China, Check.

UK, Check.

EU, Check.

The Goal for 2012 is REAL.

August 2012.  Let’s do this!!




Chillin

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The hounds chilling out in a rare moment of peace.


Hulk vs. Beast

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The Incredible Hulk has finally met his match!Can he withstand the brute force and glorious spectacle that is the Shaggydog?

The Fork In The Road.

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Forks in the road are tricky.  
Often it involves a choice between:
a.  the path you currently are in: safe, familiar, with the devils you know
b.  and the other path: with the more narrow roads, heavy clouds and the devils you don’t know.
However, the safest path is not always the best one.  For indeed, the narrower the road and the greater the challenges that await; the grander the treasures that behold you, in the land where dreams live and come to pass.
So how does one deal with a fork in the road?  How do I make the right choice?
Like any good gamer would say, you collect as much information as you can so as to make the most informed choice.  A sense of perspective over the big picture as it relates to your hopes and dreams, openness to see the signs that often point to the right direction, conviction to actually make the decision and stand by it and luck from the heavens; are the tools we need to equip when we face this situation. Friends and contacts often act us our quest giver…

The Case of the Migrating Dog

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Shaggy the immigrant finally exploring the place where I have been disappearing to for the past 10 years. 


Favorite House Guest

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2:30am - Dog looking happy to be my guest for the evening rather than being home alone in his human female’s house.


2:45am - Dog rolling all over the bed, to get rid of my scent and replace it with his.



3:00am - Dog realizing that it’s friggin 3am, gives me the “WTF are we still awake?!?” look.



3:30am - No longer caring that his human male is taking his sweet time in checking his email, Dog starts to dream about food, cats and belly rubs.

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Derpina and Derp, Friendzone-free!!  4/22/12


Top 10 Churches in the Holy Land.

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When I initially saw the itinerary for the trip, I couldn’t help but salivate at the sheer number of churches we were going to check out.  As anyone who really knows me can attest, I’m a huge fan of anything old, so much more if they are ancient.

In Manila, Intramuros would be the closest thing to fit this description with San Agustin Church being the favorite.

So you can imagine how it felt to see all these awesome churches in the Holy Land.. I felt like I was in freakin’ Disney Land!!

While I make it a point to say a prayer at every location, the bulk of my time is spent reading up on the history of the place (thank you Wikipedia), admiring the facade of the churches and the stories the mosaics, sculptures, paintings and stained glass tell.

I am a fan of anything that is created and hand-made (may it be novels, music, art, monuments or tourist traps), and these churches are indeed products of people who were not only masters of their craft but also passionate followers of the fait…

Jerusalem - Gethsemane

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Just noticed it now but there is actually a camouflaged lizard on this Olive Tree at the Garden of Gethsemane.  Can you spot it?  There MAY be more than one! :D






Barbican Beer of the Middle East

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The perfect way to end a 13 hour day in an Arabian Desert is with a nice cold bottle of beer, or in my case TWO. (Non-Alcoholic as per Muslim Law hahaha!)



Jerusalem

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"A new world. A better world. A kingdom of conscience…a kingdom of Heaven."

Taken from Kingdom of Heaven, one of my favorite movies of all time, these words never fail to strike a chord within me; for it’s idealism, it’s truth, it’s message of HOPE.


For Holy Week this year, instead of going to the beach as has been the case the past decade, I decided to go on a solo pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Why solo?

I have always believed that faith is a personal journey; one which does not have a destination, but is a continuing process of getting to know the Divine by which we get to know ourselves a bit more.

Definitely, the highlight of this trip would be the old city of Jerusalem.

Being the history geek, architecture admirer and student of religion that I am, I could not help but feel excited weeks before actually stepping foot in the city; where not only Jesus had done so but also countless Hebrews, Christians, Muslims, Romans and Ottomans before me.  Indeed I had always wanted t…

Walls of Jerusalem Old City

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JERUSALEM.

"How can you be in hell, when you’re in my heart."- Balian of Ibelin

Picture of the outer wall of the old city of Jerusalem, taken during my solo pilgrim walk from the hotel last night (sorry Mom & Mon).  Blog entry to follow.



Palestine - Mount of Temptation

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Definitely my FAVORITE mountain! 
(This is the mountain where Christ was tempted by the devil for 40 days & nights.)



Palestine - West Bank

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At the Palestinian controlled West Bank.Have a blessed Sunday, everyone!



Rockstar the Pilgrim

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Someone’s excited for his trip to Jerusalem!








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BOOKED: Countries #2 & #3 out of 7.

Ticket and Visas for my solo pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan for Holy Week.

Wild and Prayerful times are ahead.



The Life Plan

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So there I was, sitting on my desk at work on a random Tuesday afternoon. It was 2011.
After replying to some emails, I came acrosss this link that a friend had sent me on Facebook.
3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young
My mind was blown! 

And this set off a whole chain of events that led to me re-prioritizing my life.


It was that day, that I decided to make it my goal to see as much of the world as I could. 


And I realized that NOW would be the perfect time to start.



Because..


There are more resources now than ever to travel within a budget. 


In the age of..  HUGE Airline Sales Couch-Surfing Affordable Lodging Deals on Tours Extremely Useful Travel Apps and Data Roaming Plans..

Travelling doesn't have to break the bank.


At this point in time

I'm young and healthy



Which means that I'll be able to do such crazy things like..

Explore the Creepy Side of Old Cities
Party All Night in the Cycla
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Dinner at Monicca’s House 3/10/12
Special thanks to her Tita and Orlando-basedSuperstar ChefJehann Richardson:

Caprese Salad

Mini Quail Eggs Benedict

Baked Mussels and Oysters

Asparagus with Bearnaise Sauce

Mushroom Risotto

Pasta with White Truffle Oil

Roasted Prime Rib





Every. Morning.

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Me:  Wake up, boy!
Rockstar:  5 more minutes!!!