Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Travel] What to Expect in Baguio City for First Time Travelers

City of Pines.

In the mountainous ranges of Central Cordillera enclosed by the province of Benguet lies a city of rich history, culture and tourism – Baguio City. The Philippines is a tropical country so it means that at times, the weather is mostly hot in the summer season that tourists, local and foreign seek relaxation, leisure as well as learning in this gem city in the central north of the country. Its subtropical highland climate attracts visitors providing relief from the heat of the lowlands having officially named as the Summer Capital of the Philippines since the American Colonial Era. The city got its name from native Ibaloy’s word “bagyiw” means moss because the area has a lot of the kind of plant in the area. When the American came, they changed the face of the city to what we are enjoying today constructing bridges, buildings and landmarks reflecting history. Then came World War II to the earthquake in 1990, Baguio City is indeed a truly gifted precious land.


Mines View Park.

Mines View.


You may have a hard time finding a place to stay during peak season but booking sites like Traveloka.com allow you to compare prices and check out deals in advance. Also, if you are a shopper who wants to find product sales much cheaper than those in the lowlands, you can buy many products from fresh vegetables, fruits, jams to bargain items like those in the night market in Burnham Park. Food lovers also visit Baguio City to find the numerous specialty restaurants, mouth-watering street foods and sweets. I personally liked the organic strawberry ice cream and taho which is very uncommon in the lowlands. Even those who want a break from the city would find it the perfect place to be, with the many hotels, inns, and guesthouses in Baguio that cater to various kinds of travelers.





Baguio City boasts flower industry like no other city or province in the country.



How to get into Baguio City from Metro Manila?

The average travel time to Baguio City from Manila is 4 hours and 6 minutes with the distance of 247 Kilometers. There are two ways of travel.

With your own vehicle: You can through NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) then take exit 85 into SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) to take the lane and to Baguio via Tarlac. Just follow the road signs until you reach MacArthur Highway. Drive straight to Pangasinan, La Union then when you reached Rosario junction, turn right Kennon Road. There is also an alternate road in Marcos Highway, just drive into Rosario to the right entrance.

On Public Transport: The two main bus company that offer trip to Baguio City are Victory Liner and Genesis Transport. Victory Liner usually offers express trips. Their buses were equipped with free Wi-Fi connection and comfort rooms. Genesis Liner on the other hand provides travel time for 6-8 hours depending on the hour of your trip.


Check out their sites for more information:



Where to stay in Baguio City?

Exploring Baguio City would not be complete without planning where to stay. I suggest that you do a research about the types of accommodations based on your preference in consideration to your budget and comfort. In our last visit to Baguio City, we stayed in a friend’s house near the Burnham Park making us have easy access to the places we want to visit to taxi cabs. Transportation rates in the city are slightly cheaper than in Manila. For the budget conscious, you can look for cheap decent inns and rooms with breakfast included. Pension houses accommodate guests in house type rentals, they serve full day meals. Hotels were in various kinds ranging from those simple and neat to deluxe for those who prepared ample amount in their budget.


A view from the balcony of SM Baguio.


What are the most popular sites and tourist spots in Baguio City that you should explore?

The city of Pines is a land where history, nature and art meet. There are historical sites like The Mansion and Camp John Hay that could bring us back in time and learn about the important events in the Philippines the time they were built. Leisure parks like the very famous Burnham Park where you could ride the large swan boats in the lake, sit down in grass to have a picnic and indulge in street foods. There is also the equally precious Mines View Park overlooking the majestic mining town of Itogon in the northern part of the city. Last time we visited, there were influx of tourists but I could say that the view is very worth the visit. I love the colors of the variety of flowers being sold everywhere. The Baguio Botanical Garden exhibits charming flowering plants good for those who want to have ample of OOTD pictures the nature way. Not so far in the area is the Wright Park. This park in just in front of The Mansion with a rectangular pool sided by pine trees in the sides is seen in the area. It is where we bought the very unique strawberry taho (soft tofu) being sold by street vendors. For shoppers, the Session Road comprises of restaurants, boutiques, bookstores, department stores and bazaars. If planning to visit Baguio City through Kennon Road, you will see beautiful mountainous scenic views of trees for a good sightseeing. The premier military institution in the country, the Philippine Military Academy is one of the most visited and photographed sites with all its Pine trees, glorious statues, old military structures and vehicles plus the smile of handsome soldiers and military students roving around.


My favorite Strawberry Taho.


Wright Park.


With the natives.

Baguio Botanical Garden.

The Mansion.


Philippine Military Academy.

There are still so much to visit in Baguio City that I haven’t visited yet and mentioned in this article. For sure, they are worthy to be explored soon.


-Flordeliz Fullo


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Saturday, October 08, 2016

[Food] Falafel Arafa: Falafel Wrap


Working here in the Middle East for more than three years have made me accustomed to their culture including their foods. Arabian foods usually have strong flavors because they always contain herbs and spices. My favourite is the Falafel wrap. It consists of hummus falafel, beets, tomatoes and eggs. 

The flavor is very tasty without meat. It is satisfying and handy for instant an instant meal or snack.
The Falafel wrap is healthy due to its ingredients containing mainly of vegetables. It is also good for the health conscious people who patronize vegetables or meat alternatives. The ones commonly included in the recipe are tomatoes, onions and beets. For the hummus, there are chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, parsley and coriander. The spices are mostly salt and pepper. It also contains eggs making it a good source of protein and energy.




For those living or working in the Middle East, specifically in Saudi Arabia, there is Falafel Arafa, the store where we used to buy this food. It has branches in Unaiza Al Qassim and Al-Malaz Riyadh. They can also offer orders by delivery.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

[Life Learnings] The Effects of Receiving Something from Someone



They say it is better to give than to receive. True enough, hence receiving a gift even a simple little something is a joy to the heart. It is not about how expensive or huge the thing is but the value and happy memories with it.

Years ago, I was frustrated to receive a teddy bear gift. Yes, it sounds shallow to hear from me that I haven’t received a stuffed bear gift all my life, so awful. When I was a child, my parents used to buy me dolls and art materials until I became an adult then realized that I never had a teddy bear gift all my life. This situation made we wish that my future lover should give me one. Unluckily, I am still single.

Last 2012, my friend Karen gave me a small dark brown bear due to my insistent demand, never would I expect to receive one. Although it is small and I know it is not that super fancy, I know it was given from the heart making it priceless in my eyes. My crush back then looked chubby and tall, looking like one, I texted him for some name suggestions. He jokingly suggested the name “Bogart”. From that day of naming him, I had Bogart as my companion in the remaining months of my stay in the Philippines then also brought him with me here in the Middle East where I have been working for more than three years. He is now inside my Balikbayan box on the way to the Philippines for I will go home in my country in a few months. There were a lot of memories I had with that little stuffed bear. Whenever I go to places, never would I forget to take pictures of him.

My new little bear is named Eden. She is named after my friend who gave her to me.  Weeks ago, I and my friends went into a thrift shop where all the prices of goods were the same. Everything could be bought from cooking wares, clothes, accessories and toys. I saw a cute bunch of small teddy bears in a corner. I then teased my friend, Eden to buy me one as a remembrance since I am going back to the Philippines early next year. After some endearments, she told me to choose one because she already agreed to buy one for me. I felt thrilled as a child. We went back home with my new little creamy white bear in my arms. Sounds childish but I really have this unique regression in teddy bears and now extra happy that I have a new one.

This act of giving something even though simple can make us smile. We will feel a surge of affection to the giver. A small token of appreciation will not only make the receiver know that he is remembered but also make someone’s day bright and could take the sadness away.

Here are the effects of receiving something from someone:

A Sense of Appreciation: Receiving a small Thank You Card with home baked goodies from someone you helped out to make some chores gives a feeling that he appreciates the good deed you have done. To feel appreciated is very rewarding and fulfilling.

Takes your Sadness Away: When you are having a bad day with sad emotions, receiving flowers with a thoughtful note to cheer you up could make you smile, chances are this thoughtful act could lessen if not forget your sorrows away and there are people supporting you in what you are going through.

Open your Mind on Situations: A simple stuffed animal with a letter saying that you are sorry might lighten your resentment or ill-will on someone you are not in good terms with. However, it would still depend on your readiness.

A Feeling that you are loved: When a boy likes a girl, it is indeed pleasant for her to receive some surprises like roses and teddy bears. Sounds common but it is a nice feeling for her to feel showered with love through this kind of effort. Some may be skeptical about receiving material gifts but somehow this is one of the best ways to make someone that he/she is valued.
Receiving a something from someone does not mean that things have a price or there is a requirement to receive something in return. It is not the quality or expensiveness that matters but the thoughts we give with it.

How about you? What is the best gift you have received from someone so far?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

[Food] Lipton Herbal Infusion Camomile - Product Review



Herbal tea infusions in instant tea drinks are now becoming popular as companies produce products with other herbs as an addition. Yesterday, I just tried Lipton’s Camomile Herbal Infusion Tea. It comes in a box with 20 sachets inside. After infusing it in warm water, it yields a light yellow color and a fragrant calming smell. The essence of Camomile dominated its taste giving a calming effect on the senses.









Camomile infusion tea is good for those with tired mind or after having a stressful day because the aroma and the taste could help you relax. Camomile plant is beneficial in inducing sleep so as for the skin. In the nutritional information found in the packaging, a 100ml of Lipton Herbal Infusion Camomile gives 4KJ/ 1kcal, less than 0.5 Protein, Carbohydrates and Sugars. It contains 0g of Fat so it is good for people who want to lose weight.


Friday, September 23, 2016

[TV Series] Doctors 2016 - Korean Drama Review



TITLE: Doctors

YEAR: 2016

TV NETWORK: Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), South Korea

DIRECTOR: Oh-Choon-Hwan

WRITER: Ha-Myung-Hee

MAIN CAST:

Kim-Rae-Won as Hong-Ji-Hong

Park-Shin-Hye as Yoo-Hye -Jung

Lee-Sung-Kyung as Jin-Seo-woo

Yoon-Gyun-Sang as Jung-Yoon-Do


SYNOPSIS:

The story is about a girl named Yoo-Hye-Jung (Park-Shin-Hye) who experienced family hardships in her youth, the impact it made in her facing her past issues about forgiveness, falling in love, letting go and healing. In becoming a doctor, her life revolves in treating her patients as well as interacting with her colleagues; the different kinds of lives Doctors are facing.


ABOUT THE ACTORS:

Korean drama fans all over the globe know that this drama combined two of the most popular celebrities in South Korea. Having Park-Shin-Hye, one of the highest paid actresses of her generation and Kim-Rae-Won, the country’s prime drama heartrob in the 2000s; gives anticipation to their K-Drama that this drama will soar high with their superb acting skills and superstardom.

Actress Park-Shin-Hye portrays a teenage gangster who has issues surviving life’s adversities, found refuge in her grandmother, admired her high school teacher then turned into a successful neurosurgeon. This role embarked new heights for the fans as she has moved into maturity in her role from sweet teeny bopper flicks in the past. With her pretty looks plus a hard side in Hye-Jung’s character, viewers will surely sympathize. The character’s metamorphosis from a being a rebellious youth to a strong doctor transitioned gorgeously. Though seen as quarrelsome with fight scenes, her charming looks still penetrated the scenes. Her portrayal as an adult neurosurgeon older than her age showing strong will and confidence is remarkable.

The male lead, actor Kim-Rae-Won who play Hye-Jung’s high school teacher, Ji-Hong not only added star power to the tandem, he had a lot of contribution to the romance aspect of the story, and he supported his female lead effectively providing  balance in the development of their roles as the story progresses. Knowing that it would be a Shin-Hye, Rae-Won tandem before watching made a lot of Korean drama enthusiasts curious on how the two leads would produce effective romance feels in spite of their age gap. There is this masculine aura in Rae-Won that spices up the scenes like whenever they had a kissing scene. An icon of his generation, age does not seem to be a hindrance for pairing him with a much younger female lead.
Both of their acting is natural and effective.

About the Story:

These are the central themes in which the story revolves:

FORGIVENESS: The characters’ past are complicated due to pain imparted by close people in their lives. Forgiving themselves to forgive others is taught and the struggles they went through to overcome the pain.

LOVE: Loving someone in spite of age, sacrificing for someone you love, how it could make you healed and happy in the end.

FAMILY: Each character does have a messed up life. Having a support figures in their lives paved way for their growth as a person. They have been a big part of what the characters have become. They are the ones who inspired them but there are also who gave them pain.

MEDICINE: Viewers could learn how hard it is to be a doctor, how they handle medical situations to save lives. I really commend those operating room surgery scenes, Korean’s are so meticulous in their dramas that watching will make you feel that they are really operating in a true surgery room. They also have focus on the patients’ lives in spotlight and most of them made me cry.


The series is a good watch not only for its romance theme but those who loves watching medical related dramas. Its combined themes  could give so much moral lessons about life, love and letting go of hatred and pain. There also are light scenes that could make you smile. It is worth giving a try not only for Korean drama fans.









Sunday, September 18, 2016

[Travel] Sagada's Bomod-Ok Falls: Beauty Beyond Challenge



Waterfalls are one of Mother Nature’s priceless wonders and the Philippines have the pride to possess abundance that many wanderlusts aim to explore. One of them is Sagada, Mountain Province’s wonder, the endearing big 200 meters Bomod-Ok Falls. Also known as Fidelisan Falls named after the Barangay’s name where it is located. It has been famous as one of the important scenic geographical landmark you should visit when you explore the province.

Before our adventure, some of my friends who already went there told me to be prepared for the journey because going down trekking from the jump point will require extra physical strength plus determination for walking in approximately one hour along the narrow roads, rocks, man-made stairs, rice fields and the small village. The Falls is estimated 5 Kilometers away from the Tourism Registration Center.


To Bomod-Ok Falls.


Posing with our walking sticks.

HOW TO GO TO BOMOD-OK FALLS?

From the town center where the Sagada Municipal Hall is situated, we rented a van that would take us to Barangay Banga-An. We just paid 200PhP as a whole for a group of five, I think the prices depend on the driver because I have read in some blog articles that sometimes they are higher or lower. We then registered at their Tourist Information Center. After the process, they endorsed a friendly reliable female guide. Before heading, they provided us sturdy sticks to be used as canes to aid us in walking for hours. Our tour guide prepared us with some information of the number of steps or the time estimated to reach the falls.


The start of our walk.

There is a small village in between the jump-off to the Falls.

A selfie with the terraced rice fields.

Us having a short Photo Session in the red bridge.


Resting on the rocks.


A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE

As a newbie in walking through irregular rocky elevated land platforms, I will say that the journey made me really exhausted due to aching feet and trembling knees. My advice is that you go on with a group of friends. Having a great company will boost each other up on the journey. The hike was somehow exhausting but as they say, good things come to those who wait. In the heart of the area, there you will you will find a small peaceful village with smiling people. I admire their lifestyle amidst being very far from technology, pollutions and noises of the urban areas, they look so happy. I almost gave up when we stopped by to rest and find a comfort room. My friends suggested me to just rest in the village and wait until they come back. Thinking of what great things would I miss if I do, I bravely hold up my head high and continue walking. We then reached the red bridge, took some photos with smiles in our faces because of excitement that we are near the Bomod-Ok Falls.


My friends Rio and Denise in front of the Falls and the clear water.





NATURE’S BEAUTY

As we reached our goal, we finally saw the treasure we patiently struggled to reach and it never failed our eyes so as our feels. That beautiful sight of crystal clear waters of the big falls surrounded with rocks, lush green trees and plants truly exhibit the beauty only nature can give us. All the steps going down were all worth it. If planning to swim, be careful of the rocks surrounding the falls as they are slippery, you could get injured.  The water from the falls is cold so make sure to be physically healthy before swimming.


GOING BACK

More than hiking down to the falls, going back up is more excruciating for a first timer like me; you will require more effort due to gravity. Just enjoy every step while the sun is setting, appreciate the beauty of the land formations in the valley. We finished at 7PM. Ate Tour Guide said that in all the travellers she assisted, we are the ones who travelled that long time and we know why.

Overall, the Bomod-Ok Falls is one of the most amazing landmarks I visited in the Philippines, also one of the most challenging so far. If you are that kind of an adventurer who loves hiking and challenges, the Bomod-Ok Falls of Sagada, Mountain Province should be on your list.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

[Book Review] Landing by Emma Donoghue

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2007


TITLE: Landing

YEAR PUBLISHED: May 2007

GENRES: Romance, Lesbian, Fiction

THEMES: Long Distance Relationships, Cultural Differences, Romance


SUMMARY: The story revolves around two women, Sile (pronounced as Sheila) is a 39 year old Irish flight attendant from Dublin which also has an Indian descent and Jude a 25 year old museum historian from the rural Ontario, Canada. They met on a plane when Jude travelled abroad for the first time. They formed a unique friendship from phone calls and E-mails. In spite of distance, they found comfort with each other then fell in love. With distance, race, cultures and age, the adversity of maintaining a stable and lasting relationship is the core of the story.


Kindle Edition 2013.


REVIEW: 

The Theme: After researching about the best lesbian novels to read, I have seen that Landing has been consistent on the top of the lists and seeing the author’s profile, I had this urge to read this novel as soon as possible. The LGBT theme is good that it does not fully exhibit popular lesbian issues as the main characters' adversities are about distance and enduring their differences. The delivery of light romance despite their imperfections is very effective in the first parts. There is this amusement whenever they were exchanging E-mails so I can recommend this to those people in Long Distance Relationships who haven’t met each other or just met in person in just a few times.

This novel explores the problems of loving someone who is 5 Thousand Kilometers far away from you. It is true that love does not choose people, time and distance; because of this there will come great struggles in between. Reading the mini summary on Goodreads made me curious to read it expecting much. I want to explore how LDRs work because I have friends currently in the same situation.

The Characters: My view about the two characters is not the same. I admire how Sile fought the struggles just to find ways to be with Jude, the way she will do anything for love being a mature modern woman herself. There is a part where she almost gave up but the way she stood up in the end is still admirable. On the other hand, I find Jude as careless, less rational and emotional though she has this very adorable side. I can see that the author planned their differences carefully to create conflicts that readers could sympathize. The more they differ, the more also they become closer. Whenever they exchange E-mails, you can feel this unconscious hunger to know and cling to the other. Emma Donoghue made them opposite with complexities so that they would find a virtual home in each other.

The Story: Like I said, the first chapters made me smile due to the characters’ blooming romance. The humor injected is satisfactory. As the plot progresses, the spice lessen because of unmoving narratives involving the other characters like Sile’s friends. A lot of happenings seem stagnant at the middle part especially when Jude acts up. It is also one of those few novels that took me longer (two months) to finish due to lack of progress to some important parts of story. Either you can predict how will it end or be disappointed although it is not a sad end at all. To be honest, it made me upset that one of the character’s realization just came in the end.

My Verdict: Overall, this novel is good for those who want to know the struggles of  LDR relationships and the sacrifice one should give. Lessons could be learned about love but don’t expect to be moved that much. Prepare yourself of boredom at some parts and disappointment on one of the characters.

My Rating: 2/5



My Favorite Lines/ Quotes:

"You could know a friend all your life and still find it a complete mystery why he or she loved this particular individual, out of all the people in the world."

"In the market I saw a woman in a cafe and thought, why can't I love someone like her instead of you?" - Jude's deleted line in her E-Mail to Sile.

"Love isn't a problem, geography is." -Jude

"... moving in with someone is always a risk, even if you stay in the same city. You're putting your heart in their hands." -Sile

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