Sharing photos from last February's trip to "Imperial Manila" with the officemates a.k.a Pantry Girls.

This was a legit budget trip. Budget airfare, budget hotels, budget Enchanted Kingdom package, budget everything!#cheapskatefriendly. There's really strength in numbers because you get to share the expenses like baggage fee, accommodation, transportation, food and even miscellaneous ones.

But the most important thing to share...STORIES! Hahaha.

Our itineraries include a whole day at Enchanted Kingdom (EK), a visit at the country's largest 3-D Interactive Museum - Art in Island, Quezon City, lunch at nearby Bellini's, a little shopping at SM Aura, an afternoon at Bonifacio Global City and last minute pasalubong shopping at Mall of Asia.

But just like what happens in any travel, there are untold stories behind every photo. For an instance, our 5:30 pm flight to Manila was delayed for almost 3 hours that the airline served us free packed dinner to compensate. It's a sad thing that delayed flights are commonplace here and it becomes something we just "have to live with" on a daily basis. Not to mention the Manila traffic pa. If you're someone from Davao, the Manila traffic is always a culture shock. I hope change is coming sooner!

To add to that, on the day we went to EK the weather was gloomy and it rained that the first thing we did as we entered was to search where to buy raincoats. Rain is absolutely not the best way to welcome you to an outdoor theme park.

But I realized: fun is a state of mind. You can have the best weather, your flight could be on time, traffic could be bearable but if you don't make fun a matter of the mind, you will never have it. It's a conscious disposition. You can let the circumstances run you or you can make it the other way around.

As what I've seen in an Instagram post: "Train your mind to see the good in every situation."

And that's what we did. We had fun!



It's been a long time since I've done this Casual Consumption thing. Maybe there's nothing casual in properly selecting the films you want to watch or the music you want to be obsessed with. 

Before, I'd absorb anything I fancy on the surface. Everything becomes an easy favorite. But now that I'm not having all the downtime as compared to before, I wanted to choose carefully the movies or books or things I soak myself in.

I hope it'll be worth your downtime too (in case you wanna heed my recos).

Anyway, here's the list!  

Warning: Might contain spoilers.


Into the Wild (2007)
I was watching a particular motivational video in Youtube when I saw clips of Emile Hirsch, first walking with his backpack on, next on top of a mountain and so on. I got curious, looked up at the credits and discovered this 2007 film.

This film is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless and his choice of living his life the unconventional way. He abandoned his former life, donated his savings, got a new name and hitchhiked his way to Alaska to be in the wild
This movie is said to inspire a lot of people to explore life and nature. What I personally liked about it are the main characters' musings about life. A few things were relatable since the protagonist was almost the same age as I am now. You know, youthful idealism on society and life and all those stuff. You get a lot of things to ponder on.

Even after watching the film, I was obsessed for a bit researching about the real Christopher McCandless. There were interesting answers so to speak.

And uhm, I know I can't be the only one who could see the uncanny resemblance between Emile Hirsch and Erwan Heussaff.

Copenhagen (2014)
I remember answering a Security Question for a website what's my dream city and without a snap, I typed: Copenhagen. It used to be New York but preferences change. And why not? Danes are considered the happiest people in the world, their food is said to be amazing and Scandinavian minimalist design is what everybody is pegging. 

I was unaware there's a titular movie of my dream city. And I just have to rave about this film! It has been awhile since a movie genuinely elicited Level 10 kilig feels from me then only to be heartbroken (sorta) with the ending.

This coming-of-age movie centers around angsty and immature William (Gethin Anthony) who's traveling across Europe with his best friend Jeremy and his girlfriend, Jen. They all found themselves in Copenhagen where William is also set to trace his roots and find his grandfather. But his third-wheeling paved way to complicated situations and the couple had to separate from William.

William then meets free-spirited yet wise beyond her years Effy (Frederikke Dahl Hansen), a waitress at the hotel where he's staying. Seeing that Effy speaks both English and Danish, William asks for her help to trace his grandfather and their adventure together in Copenhagen begins.

It starts all innocently and admittedly cliche. Boy meets girl and they do all the cutesy stuff like biking around, going to the amusement park, sharing conversations, basically enjoying Copenhagen in all its scenic glory while on a mission to find William's grandfather.
But as the story later unfolds, you realize life is not the romance movie we all hope for. Complex realities will kick in as it turned out that Effy is half of William's age. 

I love this movie not only for the scenic cityscape but the way it teaches you to be less naive and more realistic about life and love. It portrayed life and love in a believable way.  I learned that some people are meant to come into our lives, make an impact and share life changing experiences although sadly, only briefly.

Gethin Anthony (who played Renly Barratheon, by the way, in Game of Thrones) and Frederikke Dahl Hansen's superb acting is undeniably noticeable. They both fit the roles perfectly. It could've been borderline pedophilic and dark but they still made the movie feel light and enthralling. No wonder this film got so much acclaim.

I can't help but hope for a part two or even three just like Richard Linklater's Before Trilogy. Who knows.

Side note: after watching their interviews and stalking Gethin Anthony, I came to a conclusion that he is one of those rare creatures who looks way better with a beard and scruff on. Just saying. 

Barefoot (2014)
Rebel without a cause Jay Wheeler is on probationary, mopping floors in a mental hospital. There he meets innocent but possibly mentally-ill Daisy Kensington. Due to some circumstances, Jay decides to bring Daisy to his hometown for his brother's wedding and a possible reconciliation to his estranged family. The ever innocent Daisy charms everyone but there's something obviously off about her.
At first, I thought Barefoot is one of those overly cliched but poorly played romcom movies. Again, all the usual cutesy stuff was evident. A date in the carnival? Check. A bad boy who turned out to be from a wealthy Southern family? Check. Familiar plotlines were out there.

But as the story progresses, you'll discover there's a gripping reason behind sweet Daisy's innocence.

I'm loving the British indie pop duo Oh Wonder. I've been listening to them for days and their songs are endless on repeat. Last week it was "Without You" then "Dazzle" and as of writing "Livewire" is on loop. They replaced my Hozier obsession (since 2015). Finally!


Done reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. I've been wanting to read this for the longest time but I waited for the paperback edition. Haha. #CheapskateForeves. It's the kind of worldly wisdom we need to take notes of to make it in life and doing it the #GIRLBOSS way. 

I was glad I was able to buy a paperback copy at Fully Booked during a recent trip to Manila with my officemates, which I'm about to share next!

What are you consuming lately?

(Photos used in this post are all via Google. Minor edits by me.)



After the trip from Oslob back to downtown Cebu (previous post), I decided to separate from my friends to see my cousins who are based in Cordova and whom I haven't seen for a quite a while.

Going to Cordova from Banilad involved a real frightening experience. It was past 10 PM but the streets in the city were still alive and buzzing. It was the eve of Sinulog after all. But consequently, the traffic was bad. So I decided to ride a habal-habal to get myself to Cordova the faster way. I entrusted my life to a driver who confidently said he knows how to get around Cordova.

It turned out the driver didn't know much about getting around Cordova. We had to stop multiple times to ask for directions. It was scary as hell. There I was, with a complete stranger who seems just as lost as I was (or he could be faking it, who knows?). It was almost getting midnight and the roads were dark.

It was then and there that I felt fear is freaking real.

In my mind, I kept thinking if I have some hidden karate moves to defend myself in case something crazy happens. But realistically, I know I don't have those skills. Can I blame it to my youth for feeling invincible and confident that nothing bad could ever happen to me? Or I'm just simply so stubborn at times. I remember my Mom once said to me that being carefree is far different from being careless. I was being the latter. I'm not one of those YA protagonists who are, as John Green would put it, "indef*ckingstructible". Feeling lang. Haha.

But with all seriousness, this was the real side of traveling solo. If it's something that genuinely appeals to you as well, be prepared enough to face situations like this. I personally, over-romanticize travel and adventure so much not caring that actual threats of danger are out there. Be safe folks.

Thankfully, I was able to meet up with my cousin at a 7-11 Store close to their subdivision. The habal-habal driver even waited for my cousin to arrive before going. That guy still freaked me out though. In a little way that experience helped me to be a better judge of one's character and make smarter decisions in the first place.

I made it in one piece at my cousins' place and we talked and catch up. I only rested for a bit and the next thing I knew, we were on our way back to Cebu City to attend the Mañanita Mass (Dawn Mass) at Basilica del Sto. Niño. I have no sleep for like literally 24 hours. #YOLO
The crowd as expected yearly was big. Many of us Filipinos do it every year as a devotion. I said to myself that THIS is the whole point of SINULOG. People gathered together to celebrate their faith and gratitude to Sto. Niño.

I had goosebumps during the part when "Bato Balani Sa Gugma" was being sung. It was being sung wholeheartedly, hands were swayed up in the air and what made it more dramatic were the balloons (with people's petitions) being released up in the sky. It got me teary-eyed. It was astounding in a spiritual way. As I write this, it was over a month ago but I still can't help but shiver a little recalling the experience.

I may not join the parade and festivities since my return flight back home was at 10AM (sadly) but I'm content I got to celebrate the Mañanita Mass and felt the real essence on why we Filipinos, celebrate Sinulog.

Ahhh, Cebu you never fail. 

Thank you for all the good times!


I just want to insert a little pasalubong tip. Haha. If you find yourself in Cebu, forego the usual otap, rosquillos pasalubong. Try Turrones de Mani or rGies Butterscotch Squares for a change. They are personal favorites. :)



Early morning of January 16, 2016 we were en route to Oslob, Cebu.

The old heritage churches, the sunrise and the blue sea were noticeable while on the way. It distracted us a bit from heavy sleepiness due to the early call time.

Oslob is a municipality in the South of Cebu that has become famous (and controversial) for its whale shark watching attraction which was first in our itinerary for that day.

As we arrived, there were already a lot of tourists (local and foreigners) either lining up for the boat (bangka) or already out in the sea interacting with the whale sharks. January is peak season and just like us, tourists who will be celebrating the Sinulog in the main city also took side trips around Cebu.
We first had an orientation on the Do's and Dont's when whale watching. Afterwards, we waited for a few minutes and it was our turn to ride the bangka. Off we went.

I don't want to re-tell my experiences with rose-colored glasses so I'll be honest here. It's true that the place smells stinky because of the uyap (sergestid shrimp) that's being fed to the whale sharks.
When the boatmen stopped paddling, we waited for the go-signal from the guide to get off from the bangka. We dipped in the sea and waited...

And there it was, our first whale shark to behold in all its mighty glory!
But it's not as easy as it looks. The waves were strong and it was a real struggle seeing the whale shark up close. We were required to wear goggles which covers the nose because the whale sharks get distracted with bubbles. But all the kicking and struggling usually produces bubbles. 

We also kept looking where Kuya "GoPro" was, the guide we assigned to take charge of the camera to document the whole thing. We stayed a little longer just to get the perfect photos. We waited again for any whale shark to get close.

This is the kind of photo that makes it on Instagram:

And these are the photos that don't get the social media airtime but pretty sums up the actual experience:
At one point I stopped thinking where the hell Kuya "Go Pro" is and if my photo will be taken. I wanted to see the whale shark properly with my own two eyes. It's an experience I want saved in my core memory and not on a memory card.

I swam a little closer (not too close though) and was amazed how huge it really is! Its mouth, its fin, its gills...never seen anything quite like it!
But my realizations: It's a pity for the whale sharks that their food are to be baited around just to satisfy us curious tourists. It was an overwhelming experience but it is something I would only do once and that's it. No more.

On the other hand, I see how these whale sharks helped improve the eco-tourism in this fourth income class municipality. It provides livelihood and income to Oslobanons.

If you ever find yourself whale watching in Oslob, Cebu the least you can do is to follow the rules. Don't apply sunscreen as it will be harmful to the whale sharks.

As much as possible, do your best not to get too close and prevent physical contact with the whale sharks because they can be sensitive to human skin. (More about that in this article). I hope they implement strictly the rule of penalizing anyone who makes contact with the butandings. Follow the rules!

With researchers helping, I hope too that the local government will improve and develop a more (I quote the article) sustainable and well-guided management plan for the whale shark eco-tourism not just in Oslob but in the whole Philippines.

We had our brunch after the encounter with the butandings. There are a lot of eateries at the shore for you to choose from (an effect of the booming eco-tourism).

After our meal, we went to our next itinerary: TUMALOG FALLS! We had to ride a separate multicab for the uphill ride en route to Tumalog Falls. It's only a short drive away.

The view en route was amazing! You could see the sea from above and Sumilon Island from afar.

This photo is not even one-fourth of the actual view but you just knew you enjoyed the view cause you have no time capturing it (and the winding, uphill road made it hard to take pictures). You just take it all in. Ahh, how many times Cebu took my breath away. Naks.
We stopped in what seemed to be a terminal of habal-habal drivers. To get to Tumalog Falls, you have two choices: either you walk down or ride the habal-habal. We chose to ride the habal-habal (P50.00 per head, back & forth).

At first glance, Tumalog Falls was underwhelming. I mean, there were no bushy pathways getting there. You get off from the habal-habal and that's it, there's Tumalog Falls. We even joked that the artificial falls of Veranza in KCC Mall of Gensan is way better. Lol.

But as you get closer, it's a different story. Here I go again: ANG GANDAAA sa malapitan. <3
It's not your typical waterfalls. According to travel blog, Adrenaline Romance,"Tumalog Falls is an example of a horsetail waterfall in which the descending water remains in contact with the rock most of the time."

Kawasan Falls was intense while Tumalog Falls was chill, the drops were mild at that time. The pool underneath it is only knee-deep shallow but the water is super cold, mind you.

I seized the moment by floating on my back and just observed the descending water. In my head Bon Iver's Holocene was playing. I love moments like that. I'm so romanticizing the moment but travel just does that to you (or to me personally anyway).
Tumalog Falls ended up my Number 1 favorite among all the places we visited. :) I loved it. It's a grand piece of nature but it doesn't overwhelm you. You had to look at it closer to appreciate it. Kung naging tao pa, yung simple lang pero rock. Yung ganun. Gets niyo ba? Haha. What a beauty.
A groufie! It was a sweet short visit Tumalog Falls.

The sight-seeing doesn't stop! On the way back to the city, we made sure to visit The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in Marian Hills, Lindogon, Sibonga.
This grand monastery is popularly known as "Simala" but Kuya Stewart, our tourguide, clarified that technically the monastery is in Brgy. LINDOGON, the baranggay after Simala. People perhaps started calling it Simala because the big arc where you turn on the way says "BRGY. SIMALA".

And Simala rhymes with "himala" (miracle in Filipino) which sounds more apt given that it is a religious place of devotion. Maybe that's what stuck with people more?

For a Catholic like me, it is always a religious experience coming to Cebu. Aside from the natural wonders of nature, the Catholic faith is also very evident in the whole province.
We said our prayers and marveled at the architecture of the place too. It's not yet even finished but for sure it'll be grander once it's done.
That ended our exploration of Cebu South!

We went back to the city and had dinner at Choobi Choobi, SM City Cebu as per Kuya Sonny's recommendation again. In all fairness, we liked whatever Kuya Sonny recommended (that must have been part of the package tour too noh? Haha). It really takes a true local to recommend the best food around.

We ordered the Sea Food Bag in Choobi Choobi Sauce. Perf! We loved it, the sauce especially.
(Glad to know Choobi Choobi will be opening soon in SM Lanang, Davao!)

Alright, that's Day 3 of 4.

Thank you for reading!



Day 2 was our official first day of adventure as a complete group! Call time was 4:30am at the hotel lobby. Mission for the day: Canyoneering at Kanlaob, Alegria! 

I have seen Canyoneering featured in a local travel show (Biyahe ni Drew) and I was eager I'd do it the next time I'd find myself in Cebu.

Unknowingly, this is also what my friends had in mind. I was ecstatic when I first found out about our itinerary. We availed of a group package tour with Let's Go Tours Cebu and paid P3,100.00 per head

It included: Transportation (Roundtrip - 2 days, travel time: 2 - 3 hours per way), Gears/Helmet and Vests, Tour Guides, Entrance Fees and Habal-Habal Ride. The fee also included the Whale Watching Fee in Oslob which we did the next day.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I see to it that I spend my money wisely. The biggest chunk of the package fee perhaps goes to the car, fuel and driver. But it was all worth it. One of the advantages of renting a car is that you can stop by amazing views which Cebu has no shortage of.

Case in point: 
Kuya Sonny, our tour guide/driver stopped by this amazing view in Barili, Cebu while we were on our way. Grand, isn't it?

Okay, back to canyoneering. Perhaps this activity is still not familiar with others. When I first told my Mom about canyoneering, she thought I'd be put inside a cannon (canyon in vernacular) and will be launched somewhere far off. Hahaha.
Close enough but canyoneering is basically: you go to a canyon (think Grand Canyon) and you engage in activities such as cliff jumping, rappelling,  trekking, hiking, sliding, swimming, shivering, cussing, picture taking... :D
This is by far the most extreme activity I've tried and felt the most chicken. 

At the starting point, you need to jump approximately 15 feet and plunge into the fresh water. I've tried cliff  jumping four times but this just felt different. The previous times I've cliff jumped, what was in front of me was the vast, infinite sea while in canyoneering, what was in front (and below) were rocks and boulders. It was kind of...scary.

Hesitation was all over me and it took me OA moments before I jumped. Haha. Kuya Stewart, our tour guide commented later on that he really felt my hesitation and wondered if I'll push through. But my friend Elver put it this way: "Yung nakakatakot pero gusto mong gawin" 

You genuinely feel fear but at the same time there's the adrenaline. "Joyfear".

I guess they call it "joyfear".

YOU JUST DO IT. You just jump and that's it, you're alive.
After the first jump, the fear was manageable already (more jumps to gooo!). All five of us even decided to jump the 30 feet cliff. It was optional. You could still go on with the trek without doing the 30 feet jump but everyone was feeling daredevil and nobody was KJ so, JUMP WE ALL DID!
We witnessed a proposal on this boulder!(And no, it's not #Kamay07 haha #insidejoke).

BUT LET ME JUST SAY THIS: the place was so beautiful, magnificent, amazing, grand, lahat na! I took the time to just float on my back and take it all in. The way the sunlight lit up the whole place made me speechless (made me thankful I'm on Vacation Leave haha). Every turn will make you gasp and utter "Wowwww". I shared the same sentiment of adoration with the other tourists to whom some are foreigners. Even if the trek was so long (it'll take 3 to 4 hours) the scene around makes it all worth it.

Imagine two cliffs, a river with crystal blue water in between then add the stellar rock formations and the lush trees swaying above. Mannn, you can't help but marvel deeply with awe at God's creation. Nature at its best, finest. Only in the Philippines! No photo could justify and capture its beauty. It's something to see in person, something to see for yourself.
This photo could've been a favorite except it's blurry. Haha. 

But on the more practical side of things, if you want to try canyoneering, we advise you wear rash guard with long sleeves and leggings that would really cover your entire legs. Aside from protecting your legs from the rough rocks, the leggings will help in fighting the ice-bucket coldness of the water. It is superrr cold I tell you. Hypothermia talaga ang labas.

Buy aqua shoes too because you don't want to risk getting your sneakers wet. I didn't buy any aqua shoes and decided to use my sneakers but as I contemplated I think it wouldn't be a smart choice. So I rented shoes instead for P50.00 (good thing something fit me). But for sanitary purposes, I don't advise you do the same thing. Invest in aqua shoes. :)

Also bring a dry good bag so you can bring money because the trek is really long. All the jumping, swimming, sliding, trekking will consume your energy. Why money? Because at the end of the trek you will find...a treasure. A treasure that comes in ladies selling barbecue and other food. The smell of barbecue is actually what will keep you going. Haha.

Yes, you read it right. Sorry to spoil it to you.

I have a mixed feeling towards it. Whoever thought of it, it is so enterprising of them, I mean barbecue/food at the end of a long, tiring trek? Why not??? But I just feel that the commercial vibe of selling slightly marred the natural appeal of the place. Anyway.
Looks like we made it! WHAT. AN. EXPERIENCE!

You have two options to end canyoneering. First is to go downstream and that is to continue trekking until Kawasan Falls or second is to go upstream and that is to hike up a stiff cliff for 15 minutes and walk back towards the starting point. We chose to go upstream but Kawasan Falls is still on the itinerary.

We had our late lunch and then went to Kawasan Falls!
 Look at the unique shade of blue of the water...amazing.
Hoo, nevermind my lovehandles...este salba bida just to be safe :)))

Those faces! Hahaha. We had the best massage ever! The pressure of the cascading waterfalls was so intense, just what we exactly needed to soothe all the tired muscles from the trekking and hiking from canyoneering! Perfect. Thank you Kawasan Falls!

On the way back to the city, we stopped by Carcar to buy their famed chicharon for pasalubong (another advantage of renting a car instead of taking the bus). We changed clothes at the hotel and had dinner at Kusina Uno which Kuya Sonny recommended.

No exaggeration but I have to use the adjective best again! Really, the Best Pochero/Bulalo! A whole big bowl costs P475.00 but could feed 4 to 5 persons. If you want, the lutong bahay (home-cooked) meal type, Kusina Uno is worth trying!

We capped the long day off at La Vie Parisienne. Not a trip to La Vie goes without a photo at their Instagram famous wine cellar:
We ordered their Shanpelino Wine in Grapes and salami and cheese. The wine and salami were good, the cheese...I guess my taste has to widen a little more. 

What better way to end a loooooong day but with a toast, cheers to more adventures! :)

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