Weather and Travel

This is the satellite map from PAGASA as of  11:32 PM of September 26, 2011. Several provinces in Luzon are under Storm Signal No. 3.

Typhoon Pedring

Living in a tropical country facing the largest ocean in the world, this is a regular phenomenon.  Every year, about 22 storms hit the Philippines. (This statistics is taken from the deep recesses on my addled brain.  Further research needed.)  Two years and a day ago, ‘Ondoy’ hit Metro Manila. It caused massive flooding in large area, killed lives, displaced hundred of thousands of people and ruined properties. I remember watching the devastation unfold live on television while I was looking after my father who was gravely ill. I thought about what I would do should it happened to us while my father was bedridden. It would have been a nightmare. I found myself wiping my tears.


Two weeks ago, I went to Naga with friends. It was trip booked in February this year.  The Peñafrancia in Naga is on the third Saturday of September.  June to October is tropical storm season for the Philippines. Naga is in the Bicol, a region often hit by typhoon.  I cannot control the weather nor postpone Peñafrancia. The best thing to do for me is pray for good weather.

Before we left for Naga, Onyok is in the PAR (Philippine Area of Resposibility). It is only a tropical depression,  a category lower that a typhoon.  I think it did not make landfall. I was monitoring the PAGASA website.  This was the satellite pic on September 13, 2011.

Satellite pic as of 1:32 PM September 13, 2011

It looks like a good weather.  On the day itself, I visited the website before I left for Manila.  The weather is also good.

The latest update posted on September 14, 2011

This was our conversation whe I told my aunt I was going to Bicol.
(Translated from Bisaya)
Aunt: There is a coming storm.
Me: It is already in the country. It is on its way out.
Aunt: The report on TV said that there will be 4 storms this month .
Me: That is based on statistics. June to October is typhoon season.
Aunt: So, why did you book that date?
Me: September is Peñafrancia. Besides, there are no promo fares for summer months. Remember there was a storm a week before we went to Hong Kong and a week after returned home? Prayers work.

God and prayers are often my closing argument with my devout Catholic aunt. It is a discussion-ender. I sincerely believe prayer works. God answers prayers; sometimes the answer is “No”.

If God said “No” to my Bicol trip, there are other provinces to explore with my round-trip ticket. I know Butuan-Manila flights seldom get cancelled when a storm hits Luzon. There is Baguio, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Bataan, Cavite and a lot more to explore.

Even with Typhoon Pedring, the cancelled flights yesterday did not include Butuan-Manila.

Cebu Pacific Advisory

The weather was fine the day we traveled.  It rained in the afternoon in Naga.  It usually rained in the morning and by the time we go out  to explore, the rain disappeared.  When I think about it, we were always indoors when it rained. It makes the temperature cooler when exploring outdoors. Thank you, God!

This is Naga in the afternoon of September 14, 2011. Streets are wet when It rained a bit. No puddles. Ideal for strolling.

While in Naga, I got a call from my aunt asking me about the weather. It rained hard in Butuan the afternoon of the day we left. I took note of that event. It will be a good point to raise when my aunt and I will have a discussion about travel and weather in the future. 😉

Typhoon Names

PAGASA lists typhoon names alphabetically. The typhoon names are already chosen until 2016.  Typhoon names are reused. The names of the typhoons that were devastating are retired.  Thus, we know that Ondoy and Peping in 2009 were 15th and 16th typhoon for that year and those two names will not be used as a typhoon name again. This week’s Pedring is also the 16th typhoon for the year.

Taken from PAGASA website.

The complete list is posted here.

I spy my second name on the list for 2012.   Thus, I made a remark on Facebook, “ I just learned that my second name will be a Typhoon name in 2012 (the end of the world. ha!). Should I warn PAGASA? My first name was a devastating hurricane.

I’m traveling next month. Thus, I am praying for a typhoon-free country from October 20 to November 1.

I end this blog post with this positive quote:

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.  ~John Ruskin 

Boat Trip to Magallanes

Anticipating the 4-day weekend this August, we already planned to visit Magallanes weeks ago. A friend, who lives there, is also celebrating her birthday so we decided that on August 27, we will be there and she will be our tour guide.

Magallanes is a municipality in Agusan del Norte. If you check out the map, the place can be reached (from Butuan) in two ways: boat ride and a land trip. We choose to ride the boat.

View Larger Map

Around 7AM on August 27, my cousin and I went to the Butuan Ferry Terminal at the PPA compound for our trip to Magallanes. The weather was good despite the fact that somewhere north of the country typhoon Mina is ravaging the area. The night before, my aunt warned us about the rain.

This was our conversation (translated from Bisaya)
Aunt: PAGASA said there will be non-stop rains all over the country. It was really raining hard this afternoon. Those who want to travel won’t enjoy the weather.
Me: Is it raining now?
Aunt: No.
Me: Therefore, it is not non-stop. (Don’t rain on my parade, Tita. I will see Magallanes tomorrow!)

When we arrived at the terminal, a boat was already docked and ready for passengers.

When I saw the plank, I doubted my ability to balance my weight on that  strip of wood. Failure was not an option because I do not know how to swim. I let my cousin walk ahead of me while I gathered courage to take a step. The boatman saw my predicament. He helped me cross that plank.

This was not my first boat ride to Magallanes. I spent 7 years of my childhood in that town. When I went to a kindergarten school in Butuan, Mama and I would shuttle from Magallanes to Butuan in this kind of boat.  I was kind of revisiting my childhood in this trip.

It took around 35-45 minutes to reach Magallanes but it felt like a shorter trip because there were so many things I found amusing.

This is a nice area. I wonder how to reach this place by land. Is this a private property?

Banza Church Ruins

Here’s the balangay docked at the Luna Compound in Bading, Butuan City.

When reached the port of Magallanes, we waited for our friend. There were benches in the port area and wind blew gently so it was a pleasant wait. It took some time before she arrived. She did not believe us when we told her we were coming. We called her the night before and thought we were just kidding. We went to her place to eat breakfast. We brought Spam, corned beef, eggs,  bread and brownies.

On our way, we passed by the municipal building.

Magallanes Municipal Building

I spent Grade 1 and Grade 2 here.  From the gate, I can see my Grade two classroom.

We dropped by the church to say a little prayer. After all, it was my friend’s birthday.

When we reached her place, we were met by her dogs.

Breakfast was yummy. It was already past 9AM. We were a little hungry so anything edible would be yummy for me. With spam, eggs, corned beef, brownies, bread and coke for breakfast, that was heaven!

The next stop of the day was to visit the Centennial tree.

I hope the marker will be replaced. I cannot read some of the text written.

This is the Philippine Centennial Tree. In the 1998 Philippine Centennial Celebration, there was a search to find the oldest tree in the country and this came out the oldest. The 500-year-old tree is called Bitaog.
The tree is so large that its branches canopied over the road.
The trunk is so wide.
To take a photograph of the whole tree, one has to walk several meters away to make it fit into the camera’s frame.
We already brought some meat to grill for our lunch. We only have to find a beach area where we can enjoy our humble meal.  Across the bitaog tree is a resort aptly name: Centennial Beach Resort.

They got a small pool area which we will try next time. We did not bring extra clothes.

The rates are affordable.

There are cottages for rent for large groups.  Rates ranged from P150 to P250.

For simple folks like us who only need a table,  there is a P50 table for rent.  The area is shady and cool. It is also near the grill area so we really like the location.

This was our simple lunch: grilled pork belly dipped in vinegar and soy sauce, rice, brownies and coke.  Burp!

We hang out a bit and we went off to see the Magellan marker then ride the boat home. When we reach the area, the site was closed so I took this picture behind the locked gates.

We walked to the port area. This time it is easier for me to walk through the plank.  There was an improvised railing which I held onto to be able to walk the plank.

See the novel way to add railing to the plank.

That was one cool trip. We arrived Butuan before 3pm. We will do this kind of trip again in the future. Magallanes fiesta will be on the 3rd Saturday of October and the town will celebrating their centennial this year.

The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Hong Kong and Macau for the first-timers

Like what I mentioned here, my aunt and I went  to Hong Kong the day after independence day.  We slept at the airport the night before since we had an early flight.  The plane ride going there was uneventful. Thank you, Cebu Pacific!

I booked this trip in August of 2010 and we flew in June 2011. I had a lot of time to prepare for the trip. This forum thread is really very helpful. My aunt was amazed how easy it was for me to guide her through the itinerary I made. I was also her accountant. I kept her money and I pick what food to eat and what knickknacks to buy.  When we went there, it was 1 HKD= 5.5 Php. When she thinks  HKD100 is cheap, I would tell her, “That’s Php550. Would you buy that item for that amount in the Philippines?”  Yeah, I am frugal. I travel to see the sights and experience something new. Shopping takes a backseat.

Hong Kong is very tourist-friendly. Signs are everywhere so it is easy to get around the place. Their public transport system is very efficient.  Roads are well-paved so the more than 30-minute bus ride from the airport to the hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui was smooth.

Follow the arrow: To the city

In the middle of the busy streets like Nathan Road, there are still patches of green courtesy of the Kowloon Park.

Kowloon Park

There is also the Hong Kong Park just a train ride away from Tsim Sha Tsui area.

Two train rides away from Tsim Sha Tsui is the Nanlian Garden. It is worth the two train rides we took.  Plus, we had to go there twice because it rained the first time. All the hassle was obliterated once we set foot in the garden doors.

Nanlian garden

Since I traveled with a 65-year-old, walking can be difficult so I usually stick to the accessible  routes. This area could have been pretty at night but my aunt is too tired to experience the Symphony of Lights so we went to the Avenue of the Stars during the day.

Hong Kong Junk Boat: Here, it was used as a cruise boat for tourists.

The Avenue of the Stars is Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Notable Chinese celebrities have their stars in the boardwalk that stretched more than a kilometer, I guess. Hearing the whines from my aunt on how far we walked, I surmised that it was pretty far.  Of course, the most famous Chinese star gets a monument.

Bruce Lee

Almost every tourist  I saw who had their picture taken with the statue posed the same way. Haha! I had to restrain myself from doing the same.

HK Disneyland

Every kid I know wants to go to Disneyland. I am no exception. While my childhood was long over, my childhood dream is not. I just can’t go to Hong Kong and not visit Disneyland. So I allotted a day in Disneyland. Even if I read reviews that it is small and I can go to every nook and cranny of HK Disneyland in one afternoon, I needed one day in the park. At 9AM on the second day in HK,  my aunt and I are sitting on a bench near the entrance, holding our tickets, waiting for the gates to open at 10AM.  Excited much?

Disneyland is indeed the happiest place on earth! It is so hard to be sad inside the park.

I got to be a child again in Disneyland.

(Top) Train Station, Golden Mickeys Show (Bottom) The Festival of the Lion King Show, Sleeping Beauty’s castle


Since we got 4 days to spend in this part of the world, we might as well visit Macau which is only a 1-hour boat ride from Hong Kong.  It was already the 3rd day of the trip. The weather is fine so we took the earliest ferry schedule to Macau. There were only a few of us inside the ferry. I was already warned by a friend that I should take Bonamine because the sea is quite rough. True enough, the breakfast I ate that morning found its way inside the vomit bag.

I am no stranger to motion sickness. Land travel messes up my equilibrium and it is a rare occurrence when I do not throw up during out-of-town land trips.  I take medicine for such trips and it usually do not work. What works is keeping a plastic bag and tissue paper at arms reach. While land travel is a bane, boat rides are okay.  But there is always a first time and it happened in one boat ride to Macau.

Albeit hungry, I arrived at the Macau Ferry Terminal whole. On our way out from the Immigration counter,  we were approached by fellow Filipinos offering their services as tour guides. I declined. I did my research so I know I can reach Macau landmarks using the free shuttle buses of the different casinos. Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia. Different casinos offer free shuttle buses to tourists.

Since we took the earliest ferry ride, we arrived at Macau around 8:30 AM. Shuttle bus services start at 9:30AM. (That’s what the guide told me. Thanks for the free tip. ) This was our conversation.

Guide: We can guide you in Macau for only 200. ( In my mind, 200 dollars? That’s 1,100 pesos. No way!)
Me: No.
Guide: Is this your first time?
Me: Yes.
Guide: You have a  friend here?
Me: No. We’ll just take the free shuttle buses.
Guide: Shuttle buses will be available at 930.  You’re going to waste 1 hour.
Me: We’ll visit the ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’ first.

I think I have convinced him that I know my way around Macau.  So, he bid me goodbye. (Thanks to the Internet!)

Fisherman’s Wharf is an area next to the Ferry Terminal. It is a recreation spot filled with different shops, restaurants, coffee houses, event arena, hotel. Different establishments have different themes. In one area, you feel like you are in Egypt then a few steps away, Roman columns beckon.

Fisherman's Wharf

We took a shuttle bus to Grand Lisboa and walked towards Senado Square. Our goal was to see the Ruins of St. Paul.

Grand Lisboa is an old landmark in Macau. It was a setting in one of the 'Bourne" books by Robert Ludlum.

The instructions I got from the Internet is to just walk along the road to the right of Grand Lisboa. You will know when you reach Senado Square.

(top) City street from Grand Lisboa to Senado Square; narrow streets from Senado Square to the Ruins of St. Paul (bottom) Senado Square, Sto. Domingo Church

The Ruins of St Paul. This is Macau’s most famous landmark.

Ruins of St. Paul

My aunt was too tired to climb up the steps. I bet there are sights to see out there. I’ll check that out next time. This was not my last trip to Macau. I’ll go back when I can.  We retraced our steps and headed back to Grand Lisboa to avail of the free shuttle bus to the Ferry Terminal.  Thus, we started casino hopping.

The Venetian. We did not ride the gondola. I think we had enough boat riding for the day. 😀

The Venetian

We watch the Bubble Show at the City of Dreams. I had to convince my aunt because she was not too keen on watching. I told her, “It’s HKD30 now. The next time you want to watch this, this will cost more. Better watch now and get it over with.”  Then, we realized we had to stand inside the orb while the curved screen above us projects all these effects. Dragons would look like they were flying above us (or were they supposed to be swimming underwater?).

City of Dreams

By this time, my aunt was already tired. I convinced her that we drop by MGM Grand on the way to Ferry Terminal. She obliged.


We could have visited a lot more places but the senior citizen wanted to go home so I gave in. This trip was for her anyway. I will just visit the other sites next time.

From the ferry terminal, I took a photo of the Sands Casino.  Bye, Macau!

The next day, we went to Hong Kong Island. It was raining and we got lost looking for the Peak tram. When reached the top, we can’t see the view because of the fog.

Foggy peak

On our way down, this was all I was able to capture.

VIew from the Peak Tram

We were able to visit IKEA in Admiralty. It is the smaller store. There is a bigger store in other part of HK but we were not able to visit there. IKEA is <3. We were wishing IKEA will open in the Philippines. Food was also delicious and cheap. We got the Swedish meatballs, hotdog and chicken wings. We bought some goodies, too. We got chocolates, biscuits and candies.

On our last day, we packed our bags and headed for Tung Chung to visit Ngong Ping.  Tung Chung is just a short bus ride to the airport that why we brought our luggage so we do not have to go back to Tsim Sha Tsui. Near the MTR station is a Citygate outlet. In the basement level 2, there are self-service storage lockers. So,we left our luggage there. It is a learning experience how to operate the compartment. What a techie way to secure our belongings! I should have taken a photo of the facility.

Ngong Ping can be reached by cable car or bus from the Tung Chung area. When we were there, the cable cars are under maintenance so we had to ride the bus. It was a long bus ride to the top of the mountain. I had my ‘Are we there yet?‘ moment. Amazingly, I did not puke.

What to see in Ngong Ping:

Giant Buddha

Po Lin Monastery

Ngong Ping Village

With this, our trip to HK came to a close. We took the bus to Tung Chung. From Tung Chung, we took the bus to the airport.

What an experience! I will do this again.  I wish my cousins can come with me next time.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.  ~Mark Twain

P.S. This blog post is still unedited.

June 12, 2011- 113th Philippine Independence Day

Last June, my aunt and I went on a trip to Hong Kong. We flew from Butuan to Manila on June 12. Our flight to Hong Kong was on June 13 around 8AM. We have the afternoon of June 12 to spare. What better way to spend than to visit Luneta. It was Independence day after all.

Luneta is the park in Manila where a monument of the Philippine's national hero, Jose Rizal, stands. Almost every town in the Philippines has a Rizal park. Luneta is the mother of all Rizal parks. Luneta was formerly known as Bagumbayan. It is where Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards through firing squad.

I have never been to Luneta. My mother used to tell as a child that the Jose Rizal monument has guards. I remember my mother saying, “Why do they have to guard him when he is already dead? It was only just a statue. It is not like they (the Spaniards) can kill him again.”  I was amused at her story.  I was doing my grade one project on heroes when she told me this. (Papa recorded our conversations on a cassette tape. One day I will convert it to digital format. )  My father, on the other hand, had some riddle in Bisaya (or Ilonggo?) referring to Rizal: “Hantungtung habato, hapilit ha posporo, ha uwanan ha initan, dili hahilantan“. Roughly translated: ‘ On top of the rock, glued on the match. Rain or shine, he will never get sick.”

Jose Rizal: On top of a rock (concrete) and on a match


Because our flight is on 8am the next day, I already told my aunt beforehand that we are going to sleep at the airport. She needed no convincing because my cousin’s house is in Fairview and my aunt knew how far is that place from NAIA Terminal 3. While I was planning for the trip, my only problem is where to leave of our luggage. I can carry my backpack but I do not think my 65-year-old aunt would want to carry her bag while we stroll Luneta. Good thing I came across an article about Luggage & More. It is a luggage storage facility in NAIA terminal 3. For P150, you can leave your small bag for 3 hours; P300 for more than 3 hours up to a day. Large bags have different rates . The facility is tucked in the right wing of the arrival area. Ask an airport personnel for directions. Luggage & More opens at 6am and closes at 11pm. If you have a plane to catch early in the morning and you leave your bags there, make sure to pick them up before they close.

NAIA Loop and LRT

The commuter in me already search the cheapest way to reach Luneta. The airport taxi’s flag down rate is P70. So, that was not an option for the budget travelers like us. Good thing there is the NAIA Loop. It plies from NAIA3 to Pasay Rotunda for P20 per person. Waiting time is longer though. I think we stood in line for 30 minutes. My aunt had some crackers and candies so the wait did not seem long. Besides, we were busy chatting. It was a short trip to Pasay Rotunda. All I knew was that we passed Baclaran area. NAIA loop dropped us at the terminal near Taft MRT station. There is a McDonald’s and Chowking in that area so we picked the latter for lunch. I already researched beforehand the nearest LRT station to Luneta which is the UN Ave station. I already checked google maps and saw that I only need to cross a few streets to get to Luneta.

The Taft MRT station connects to the LRT station. We just had to follow the signs. The fare was P15 per person. When added, our fare from NAIA3 to Luneta was P70 -a steal considering the flag down rate for an airport taxi was P70. I am giving myself a virtual pat on the back.

One probinsiyana (from the province) booboo though: A man standing beside me on the LRT asked me for direction. Uh-oh. I was not prepared how to react. I knew he was from the province like me. He spoke to me in Tagalog with a hint of Bisaya (like me!). Plus, he was carrying a luggage. He asked, while we were approaching the Gil Puyat Station, “Dito ba Buendia?” (Is this Buendia?) . I stared at my ticket. There is no Buendia in the route. So I answered, “Gil Puyat, po“. The man did not get off on that station but he quickly realized his mistake and hurriedly left the train when we reach the next station- before I can say sorry. I should have said, “I don’t know” so he can ask other passengers. Gil Puyat Avenue is formerly named Buendia Avenue. Oops.


The map was right. Luneta was a few steps away from the LRT station. Since it was Independence Day and a Sunday, there were a lot of people in the park. I see families spreading a mat and having a picnic in the park. Mental note: I should do that one in my lifetime.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines showed their wares (hehe power?). I saw people posing for a picture holding some kind of weapon. There were long lines of kids waiting for their free ride in an armored personnel carrier. Cameras clicked on people in different poses in different areas of the military tank. Some posed with the soldiers. If not for the number of people, I would have had my picture taken there, too.

Tanque de Guerra

What to see in Luneta?

There is the relief map of the Philippines commissioned by Ferdinand Marcos.

Information on the Relief Map

I was trying to locate Mindanao. It is somewhere there.

There is a very imposing statue of Lapu-Lapu (the Filipino who killed Magellan in Mactan). While I was looking at the statue, I was thinking, “Lapu-lapu or Dagohoy?” I know. My ignorance showed. I got confused why Lapu-lapu was given a prominent place in the park. When you think about it, Lapu-Lapu is the first Philippine hero. He fought against Spanish invasion. (Dagohoy led the longest revolt against the Spaniards.) He deserved to be immortalized in stone! ( or is that bronze?)


There are beautiful, old buildings near the park. The National Museum is near the park. This is the Department of Tourism Building.

Department of Tourism

The highlight of being in Luneta is to visit the Rizal Monument. FAIL! My senior citizen companion got tired of all the walking. The weather was warm and sunny. It would have been a perfect time for strolling. There are trees for shade. I even wanted to go Intramuros. As we walked towards the road that will lead to Intramuros, my aunt hesitated. The roads were empty and she was afraid we will get mugged or something. I was telling her, ” Why should we be afraid? This is the Philippines. Our country. You should be afraid tomorrow. We’re going to Hong Kong.” It has been my wish to visit Intramuros but my travel companions before were not as thrilled as I was in visiting there. Neither was my aunt. Hmp! Maybe I should start traveling alone.

Not yet Rizal, not yet. I will visit you one day.

The Mall of Asia

Because of the heat, my aunt wanted to go the nearest mall. After a train and a jeepney ride, we arrived at the Mall of Asia. I told her we should watch a movie. We checked what is showing and none caught her fancy. I wanted to try any 3-D movie but she doesn’t. So, we just roam around the mall and passed by an open area. I was curious so we checked it out. It is the Manila bay!

The Manila bay from MOA

I was thinking, “This is a good time to experience the sunset!” I wanted to wait for it but my aunt was too tired and wanted to sit down. She wanted to be in an air-conditioned area.

Tired feet.

We were sitting on a bench where people gathered. My aunt dozed off while I watched people go about their business. There was Filipino music in the background so I sang along to the ones I knew. When she woke up, we decide to find a place to eat. As we went near to an entertainment area where the music came from, we found out there was a free concert featuring Kuh Ledesma. We looked for a good vantage point and enjoyed the free concert. Henry Sy was there. He was on his wheelchair looking down from the second floor. I did not see his face but I saw the wheelchair as Kuh acknowledged his presence. It did not look like he had many bodyguards. He was watching like regular people.

Nice concert. Thanks, Kuh!

After we had dinner at Jollibee (Filipino fastfood chain for Independence day), we rode the jeep to the MRT station. I made a mistake of using the pedestrian walkway instead of the LRT station to cross the busy EDSA traffic. It was scary. We were on this metal platform traversing over a very busy highway (EDSA). We could see vehicles in moving fast underneath us. I could feel the walkway vibrating as I took a step. I kept praying that the walkway will not collapse. Thankfully, we reached the NAIA Loop station in one piece.

Another booboo: I thought the drop off point of the bus in the airport is the same place where we took the bus. While quite a number of people got off in the middle of the arrival area where the bus stopped, we stayed on our seats thinking we should stop near the area where we took our exit because the Luggage&More is near that area. There would be less walking for the senior citizen. I saw the confused look of the driver when I asked to be dropped there. As we reach the door where we exited, I realized my mistake. There is only one entrance. The door we used to exit was for exit only. We walked (long walk) again towards the only entrance (where the bus stopped first).

We gathered our luggage and found a good spot were we could spend the night. I thought sleeping at the airport was my novel idea.  Nope, there were a lot of people who found a good spot for themselves. A lot of them were sleeping soundly already.

Some travel thoughts

Last year, I started dreaming about traveling again when I started to recoup from some personal tragedy. I can go melodramatic here and start telling my sob story-only child, orphan, no regular job. Instead of wallowing over things I have no control over,  I started dreaming and planning ways to reach my dreams.  Forget the big house with picket fence and tons of money, I am quite contented with what I have.  I thought about what will make me happy. A job that I love, yes. A happy family of my own, why not? While I search for that, I can’t just sit and watch the world go by. Traveling makes perfect sense.  Since I live off my savings,  I do freelance writing on the internet. Most of my articles are posted here. Working on the tight budget can challenging but it can be done.

Some of the things I do to be able to travel.

1. Be on the lookout for promo fares. Last year, I was able to book a trip to Cebu for 4 for P471.00 (roundtrip). Booked it on June 2010, we flew to Cebu on February 2011. I know. I booked 8 months ahead. Some people can’t wait that long. I can. I even booked a trip to Hong Kong on August 2010 and we flew to Hong Kong on June 2011. Blessings come to those who wait. While that amount may not be possible these days due to increased fuel surcharge, you can still travel cheap if you plan ahead.

2. Skip hotel accommodations. In Manila and Cebu, we stayed at a relative’s house. In Davao, we stayed in a pension house ran by a church. (We do not even belong to that congregation.) In Hong Kong, we stayed in a hostel. While in transit, we slept at the airport. Sleeping in NAIA Terminal 3 is allowed, many passengers wait for their next flight and opt not to find a hotel. We got to meet interesting people and learn a thing or two about their lives. (This is not for everyone, though.)

3. Travel light. For a short trip (less than 7 days), I carry a backpack. Some airlines charge less if you do not check-in your luggage. I’ve heard of stories of lost luggage and luggage picked by strangers. Worse, stories about strangers slipping illegal drugs into another person’s luggage. I have seen Brokedown Palace. It made an impact on me. If I have one small bag, I would be fine as long as I keep an eye on it.

On a trip to Singapore, compare my backpack to my friends’ luggage. (That’s my friend, Ann. One of those huge maleta is hers.)

On our 4-day trip to Cebu, I carried these.

On recent Hong Kong trip, my aunt and I carried these. The smaller bag behind is a foldable bag which we needed to use for our pasalubong. I know it looks gross to be putting our bags on the MTR floor. We were already going home. Our bags contained our soiled clothes. The bags are waterproof.

4. Use cheap public transportation. Taxis are okay if there are four of you sharing the cab fare. When traffic is bad, it is easier to take the train. Downside, be prepared to stand during rush hours. What impressed me most about Paula and Charlie was that they were very much comfortable taking public transportation. They took a jeepney, tricycle, small boat and habal-habal ride with me without showing any slight discomfort. They rode a van (together with other passengers) from Surigao to Butuan. If it were me, I would take the bus. (But then again, I have motion sickness. I need to be comfortably seated during land trips.)

5. Bring food. You will never know what food to expect in your destination. While I am quite adventurous with my food choices, sometimes my travel companions are not. Sometimes my stomach does not agree with me, too. Biscuits, candy, nuts can fill an empty stomach while you search for a place to eat.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
-St. Augustine


There is so much to explore in this world and I hope to see as many places as I can in my lifetime.


P.S. still to be edited for typos.

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