Encounter with the Fireflies

I can still remember the time when Marx invited me to join their Donsol trip through Twitter. With no money, I should have said no. But my instinct told me otherwise. Without any second thought, I said yes. Almost two months of planning and then the most awaited day, to me at least, came. 

I met the Butanding Freaks (Chino, Elal, Marx, Paola and Heiz) at the Legazpi Integrated Terminal (LIT). They were practically strangers. Though I’ve been exchanging messages with Marx and religiously following his blog, I never met him in person. And so are the other 4. When I told my mom that I`ll be away for a day and I’m going out with strangers, she freaked out. In the end though, she allowed me to. 

Upon arrival at the LIT, you have several options: a) hire a taxi (though this would be a bit pricey), b) ride a commuter van, c) take a non-air-conditioned bus and d) ride a jeepney. We chose to take a commuter van. It is easy to spot vans going to Donsol. It is located just a few walks across Save More. Since there was a scarcity of passengers that day (it was Sunday), we waited for at least an hour or so before the van departed much to our frustration. The driver doesn’t leave the terminal until it reach the desired seating capacity. The van left the LIT at around 4PM. The drive to Sorsogon was longish and a little bit drag. I/we went to sleep. After 2 hours and so, our vehicle licked the asphalts, the streets of Donsol, Sorsogon. Finally! When I saw the Butanding Fest billboard, I had to stretch my hand out and take a shot of it with some random guy (and random hands) in front of it. And I didn’t care if the background was very unpicturesque.

The driver was kind enough to bring us directly to the Dangkalan Beach Resort where we will stay in, which is 15 minutes away from the town proper. We paid P100 each. The resort is strategically located in front of the ocean (that’s why it’s called a beach resort, duh) and a few walks away from the Donsol Tourist Center where you need to register prior to your Butanding Encounter. There are a handful of resorts in this part of Donsol. I think Dangkalan Beach Resort is the cheapest and the top choice of budget travelers.

Ms. Lalaine, which happened to be Marx’ cousin, greeted us with a warm smile. We checked-in. And guess what, we even had a great deal. We got 2 deluxe rooms (for 3 people) minus the A/C use for only P1,000/night each. That’s P333.33 for each of us. Great, isn’t it? The staff led us to the cottage where we will stay. I’m quite impressed by the room. Nothing fancy about it but it was spacious and well-maintained. It has 2 beds (a single and a doubles), a shower and the bathroom comes with 2 towels and some basic toiletries. The resort’s management was also kind enough to provide us with an electric fan. The only downturn was there was no free wi-fi in the resort and the same goes with the other resorts. I was told.

Firefly Watching 

After we freshened up, it was time for our first activity, Firefly Watching. I first heard about it on the local morning show, Marhay Na Aga Kapamilya. It honestly intrigued me. Miss Lalaine led us to the boat docked on the shore within the resort’s vicinity. I stepped into the boat with Elal, Chino, Paola, Marx and Heiz together with three boatmen. The boat could only board a maximum of 5 people (excluding the bangkeros and the guide) but because we were VIPs of Miss Lalaine we were able to do so (Marx pretended to be our tour guide). She also arranged the boat rental for the Firefly Watching at P1250/boat.

We sailed the night away. (Photo not mine)

Night sailing. That’s probably one of the scariest things I did in my whole life. I may not showed outward signs of being scared but deep inside, my vital organs are coiling. Have I ever told you that I can’t swim? I never learned how to. I looked up, down, from side to side and all I saw was darkness. For a moment, I became scared of the thought that we might get lost or be swallowed by the sea or be lured by mermaids into the depth of the ocean. Hahaha. But thank God, He was with us. The water was calm.

Moving on, because we literally moved on, we sailed for at least thirty minutes. After entering the Donsol River, a guide boarded. As much as I hate to say this, the guide was still a bit amateur-ish and knows a little about the whole tour. There were a lot of silent moments and if not for Chino and the fireflies it would be boring as hell. Anyway, there will be three stop-overs: the first one being the “Huling Puno” (sounds ironic, right?). According to the guide, it houses the most number of fireflies and she was definitely correct. I was in awe. It was magical. In some way, it reminded me of a scene in Tangled.

Just a reminder, don’t shoot with a flash on. It scares off the fire flies. Plus, it affects their light synchronicity whatever that means. I’m just a bit disappointed that my P&S can’t capture it. And so were their DSLRs. Mehehe~ We went like that for another 30 minutes or so, jumping from one tree to another. At first, it was amazing but a few minutes into it, it became repetitive and in a lack of a better term, boring. I was like, “can you please row fast Manong bangkero so we can get out of here”. Sorry :3 I hope the Tourism Office can do something about this. Make it livelier, more entertaining

We told the bangkero to drop us off near the town center. You have a choice to either ride a tricycle or just walk. And because we are responsible tourists, we walked. It took us at least 15 minutes to reach the town center. The original plan was to find a cheap resto that serves local dishes. The one inside the resort where we checked in are bit pricey in our opinion. But because it was already past 8pm, all the local eateries are closed (except for those inside inns and resorts) much to our dismay. Heiz passed by a fruit stand where she chanced upon ripe mangoes and watermelon. She bought a couple of kilos. We then went to a grocery store to buy some stuff. Then went straight to the resort. Lines of tricycles are waiting to bring you to your resort. The tricycle driver charged us P20/person and it can accommodate a total of six people. 


 • Buy things you need or you want in the Centro the commercial center of Donsol – before you go to your resort. It’s cheaper and besides, it’s really hard to find stores near the resorts. 

• If you’re on minimal budget, I suggest that you take an early dinner in the Centro where the local eateries are found, sometimes they run out of food during peak hours. 

Siram Sana Resto and Bar 

Siram Sana is the restaurant found inside the Dangkalan Beach Resort. A single meal costs P150 and above. I told you it was a bit pricey. Little did we know that each serving is good for 2-3 people. So lesson learned, don’t be fooled by the menus. Charot! 

I ordered chicken adobo. And it was so yummy that it can probably match my mom’s. The others ordered tinolang manok, pinakbet and of course your Bicol experience won’t be complete if you haven’t tasted local dishes like laing and Bicol Express

Contrary to popular belief, Bicolanos don’t get to eat Bicol Express every day. Their version of Bicol Express is good but ain’t great. The laing on the other hand, well, I’m not buying it (high standards ba?). Then we had some ripe mangoes for dessert. I was so full at that time. It was like a “getting-to-know-each-other” dinner. I even taught them some basic Bicolano words. And I even told Chino a little bit of the legend of Magayon and Panganoron. Sorry, I don’t want to do the story-telling here.

After dosing ourselves to a splendid dinner and several Vice Ganda jokes, we went back to the girl’s room. We bought a bottle of a cheap hard drink and some chips when we were still in the Centro. I was a bit hesitant to drink because my alcohol tolerance is low. And when I say low, it’s really really low. I can only tolerate a bottle, two at the most. And indeed, after just three gulps, I rushed to the bathroom to puke. I didn’t push myself farther after that. Nobody likes to puke. To me, that’s not fun. 

Legazpi City to Donsol, Sorsogon (2 hours) – P100.00/person
Dangcalan Beach Resort
           • Deluxe room for 3 (fan cooled) – P1000.00/night 
Firefly Watching (arranged by the resort) – P1250/boat (good for 5 persons)
Centro to Dangcalan Beach Resort (tricycle) – P20/person 
Siram Sana Resto and Bar 
           • Chicken Adobo + 2 rice - P175.00 + P15.00 
           • Ripe mangoes – Free courtesy of Heiz



This is a sort of an obligatory entry for today so I’ll get back to regular programming on the weekends. 

I am still breathing, thank you very much. 
The 3-month long blogging hiatus was the result of the delinquency I have provoked these past weeks. I’ve really been a “bad” blogger. In my case, “bad” is defined as being inactive for 90 freaking days or so and not doing my blog hopping duties. I was busy. Having a social life, 12 hours a day/four days a week work schedule, normal sleep, maintaining two blogs and balancing all those is not an easy thing after all. Even if I could find time to be here, my guts is manifesting to have at least a leave of absence. This is especially true as I feel the pressure of my work increases as the end of the year draws near. My work is destroying every brain cells I have. My virginity was as well ruined (and you can take that anyway you want). I was fucked with these things for the past weeks. But with positive thinking, I’m going to turn everything upside down from now on. I promise! Cross my heart. Hope to die. 

This is getting boring so I’ll put the rest in bullet form. I have to remind you though, this post is everything in my mind at the very moment. 

(1) It does feel quite miserable when it turns out that I haven’t accomplished even half of my 2012 to-do list the fact that the year’s almost over. 

(2) I was drinking the other night and in between gulps of beer, I realized that I still had not blogged about my summer trip to Donsol with some travel bloggers. Wow, that’s funny! Talk about eternal laziness. 

(3) I’ve been getting few comments (peppered with unsavory words) on my article, “RH Bill is not anti-life”. But I’m trying to just ignore them. At the end of day, like me, they are Filipinos too who wants the best for the country. 

(4) Speaking of RH Bill, my article has been getting a lot of views lately. I didn’t think it would reach even half the number shown on the blog stats but I am very grateful that it did. At the time I wrote that piece, I was simply putting my feelings and thoughts in black and white. My objective was to share it with young adults like me who have yet to make a stand. 

(5) A close friend confessed that he has feelings for me. No typo error there, he’s really a “h-e”. Awkward. 

(6) I am trying to focus and be serious right now since (if things went as planned) I’ll be signing a three-year contract with Star Magic next week (fingers crossed). I’m also trying to build up a habit of reading legit health-related books so that I can do better at work. 

(7) I’m crushing on someone. She’s from Tumblr. The thing is, she’s five years younger than me. Saklap. 

(8) I cancelled both my Calaguas trip this November and my Batad trip this December cos I got no money, baby. Yay! 

(9) We got a new apartment. It’s pretty small though. Only 2 rooms for the four of us. I have to share a room with one of my sisters. Not cool. But for me, it’s more home-y compared to our old house. 

(10) Finally, after 1672 years of having no communication and being cold at each other, my ex talked to me. I was even surprised that she was the first one to hit me on chat, which she rarely does ever on Facebook. 

(11) Christmas is fast approaching. I’m thinking of Samsung GS3 as a perfect Christmas gift. For sure, I’ll be the happiest. Or a girlfriend. Yeah right, a girlfriend. To keep me from being bored with my existence and thinking about coma or something. 

Tomorrow’s another work day. I hope it will be sunny. Not that I hate the rain, I just hate the way it makes me feel sometimes. Sticky, wet and dirty and it’s nowhere near sexy, sexy! I love the rain when I know I won’t get wet or I know I don’t need to look dry, presentable and neat the whole day. 

I apologize if this is nothing but blabber. I just want to update you guys. Anyway, long distance back pats and high fives to all my awesome readers – you are all great. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.


Page 2 of 6: After-thoughts on President Aquino's second year in Office

For 25 months now, I, with the rest of the 90 million Filipinos, have been in eager anticipation of changes, hoping against hope really, that the promises made by the President to the Filipino people and his supporters will be fulfilled or will see its beginning at this time already. But the prospects have been really gloomy these past few months. A thing that the President, of course, wouldn’t admit. Right from the start, I have had negative feelings towards this leadership and I wanted so badly to be proven wrong. 

Just a few days ago, President Noynoy Aquino delivered his third State of the Nation’s Address. I had a bit of an idea that the President will blame the previous administration and people will still be clapping their hands. Like his first two SONAs and countless campaign speeches before that, it was, as usual, full of unrealistic claims and empty promises, pondering to popular sentiments and engaging in mudslinging. Can anyone tell the President that he doesn’t need to be in campaign mode anymore?

I have to give him credits, though, for using the Filipino language, the personal approach, the timely pauses and voice modulation, the book-worthy statements and the (not-so-funny) jokes when he delivered his speech. PNoy did present the nation with a stable account of his administration’s accomplishments (sprinkled with slideshows and interview footages to make him credible) but if you listened close enough, you’d realize that there was nothing in the President’s one-and-a-half hours of speech (one of the longest speeches post-Martial Law) that showed measures that will distinguish him from the Presidents before him (read: what he can call his “own”). 

He started his speech with what else, his sob story. Honestly, I’m just so sick and tired of that and probably everyone else will agree with me. I can’t even count on my fingers how many times the President told us “his MMK-worth life story” since 2009. I mean, come on, can he just stop shoving that down our throats? I’ve heard that story over and over again and it’s quite an overkill

Moving on, there were points in his speech that were worthy of praises (the improved and still improving tourism sector, the construction of more decent infrastructures, the upgrade on our military facilities and equipment, the plans for rice self-sufficiency next year) but he failed to push some aspects better

For instance, PNoy was already on the topic of education and that encouraging bit when he mentioned “responsible parenthood” (that got a thunderous applause and even a standing ovation from about 1/3 of the audience) but what happened to any mention of the Reproductive Health Bill. Saying “Perhaps Responsible Parenthood can help address this” is different from saying “we need to pass the Reproductive Health Bill the soonest possible time”. I am pleased that PNoy voiced out his support for the RH Bill but he need to back it up with political will. He needs to walk the talk. He needs to have the balls, iron balls

In the end of his speech, he mentioned “sa bawat atletang Pilipinong bitbit ang watawat saan mang panig ng mundo” yet he failed to present concrete plans for Philippine sports. He didn’t even send any good luck messages to the 11-brave hearted Filipino athletes who are on their quest to capture our first  ever Olympic gold medal. The dictates of good rhetoric would have eventually lead him there, and yet, nada. The President also seems to forgot to thank our Overseas Filipino Workers who last year brought a staggering $23 billion and kept the economy afloat during the bad times. He also forgot to mention that the BPO industry flourished much during the Arroyo administration but by some bizarre incidence he have made it look like it’s a recent development, implying that it happened during his stint as President. 

Of course, the President didn’t fail to boast about his fight against corruption which biggest “achievement” so far is the ousting of the ex-Chief Justice Corona. Never mind if the 5 month-long “trial by publicity” didn’t even prove that CJ Corona was corrupt. Never mind if the prosecution team violated a lot of laws, when I say a lot, it’s really a lot, in their desperation to convict Corona. Never mind how those falsified evidences illegally made their way to the hallways of the Senate. A question I have always in mind and would shout at his face if given the chance, "where’s the matuwid na daan you`re bragging about"?

It pains me to see that the conqueror of the “tuwid na daan” which he claims himself to be is very eager to get rid of everyone associated with the previous administration but is doing nothing to correct the blunders of his appointees. I could forgive Noynoy for being incompetent. After all, he’s already the President and that’s democracy at work. However, he should have at least competent people working for him. The problem is, at this moment, he is surrounded by lightweight people left and right. And instead of doing the right thing and bypass these guys, he let them all pass and, sometimes, even justified their mediocrity. It’s no wonder why this administration is gaining notoriety for its inability (or refusal) to fire people other than the ex-Chief Justice. And to think how the President continuously persisted to hound the Chief Justice until the end of time and that when he’s already fired, the President is still making cheap tirades against him. If that’s not arrogance, I don’t know what it is. 

And I thought Noynoy is for a corrupt-free government? I’m not happy to report that incompetence is the same as corruption. The only difference is that the money spent goes nowhere. Apparently, Noynoy is not taking the fight against corruption as personally as he likes to think

He is trying to be different from Gloria by changing whatever reminded him of the Arroyo administration. Not that I’m an anti-PNoy or anything, I do recognize his effort for trying to be better than Gloria. But the facts are simple, he are unnecessarily changing what already works and thus causing the government to spend extra. In his speech, he said something like (am paraphrasing) “we have done in two years, what the former administration was unable to do in nine years”. I’m not a pro-Gloria but man, he must give credit where credit is due. Well, blinded by rage or possibly other motives, he probably didn’t see it. Or didn’t want to. A true leader must not only show where a rival went wrong or where she could have done better. A true leader must have the humility to accept that his rival has also done good things for the country and this should be done regardless of personal beliefs and political affiliations. 

The only saving grace PNoy has for now is that he’s still popular, though not as popular as before but popular nonetheless, based on surveys whose reliability and validity I have already put in question. But soon, if he doesn’t get his acts together, these people who he considers friends now will be the same people who will oust him in power. Well, history kind of repeats itself you know. 

So for his second year, I’ll give him a 7/10. So-so. Mediocre. Just the kind of performance you would expect from someone who was untested in executive work and as far as I was (and still is) concerned, lacking in vision and direction. But in credits to him, his 2011 was miles better than the suckfest that was 2010

On the relatively brighter side, I don’t want to end this on a bad note of course, he still has four more years to prove his worth, four more years to stay to true to his promises. And while I’m not going to be holding my breath waiting for complete changes to take place in his stint as President, well, there’s always hope. I just don’t know when that hope is gonna end or if it gonna even last. Or maybe it doesn’t exist in the first place.


6 Months Of Bitterness Summarized

Since my younger years, I’ve been writing in English. That probably explains my tagalog-dumbnesia. I don't write in Filipino. I mean, I write but I sucks big time. So, I really salute guys who could express their sentiments well in the Filipino language. Clap clap!

Anyway, in celebration of Buwan ng Wika next month, I made a Tagalog post summarizing the six months of my “letting-go-moving-on” phase. I hope you read it guys and please be kind to me.

WARNING: This is a lil bit depressing. *wink* 

Labis labis akong nasaktan ng sa huli kong inibig. Hindi ko inaasahan na mauuwi sa isang mapait na pagwawakas ang aming pag-iibigan. Masakit. Sobrang sakit. May mga pagkakataon pa ngang naisip kong magpatiwakal. Anong silbi ng buhay ko kung hindi rin lang naman siya ang makakasama ko habambuhay? Wala. Mas gugustuhin ko pang mawala sa mundong ito kaysa makita ko siya sa piling ng iba. Ngunit alam kong isang malaking pagkakasala ang aking gagawin kaya hindi ko itinuloy. 

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. But if not, it doesn’t mean to be. Sa sobrang pagmamahal ko sa kanya, pinalaya ko siya. Oo, masakit ngunit mas masasaktan lamang ako kung ipagpapatuloy ko ang aming relasyon kahit alam kong hindi na siya masaya sa piling ko. I will hurt her and I will hurt myself in return. Hindi naging madali ang paglimot ko sa kanya. Sa totoo lang, mahirap. Hindi ko alam kung paano magsisimulang muli na wala siya sa tabi ko. Kahit minsan, hindi siya nawaglit sa puso’t isip ko. Hinahanap-hanap ko ang kanyang mga yakap, mga halik, mga bagay na nagbigay sa akin ng saya sa pitong buwan ng aming pagsasama bilang mag-kasintahan. May mga pagkakataon pa ngang magigising na lamang ako sa gitna ng gabi na umiiyak. Sobra akong nagdamdam. Naging mas mahirap ang mga panahong ito dahil wala yung mga taong dapat nakaagapay sa akin kapag may pinagdaraanan ako. Hindi dahil sa nilayuan nila ako. Kung hindi dahil mas pinili ko na huwag sabihin sa kanila ang nararamdaman ko. Ayaw ko silang mag-alala. Ayaw kong dagdagan ang mga problemang meron sila. Mas pinili kong mapag-isa. Alam kong malalampasan ko ang unos na ito. Hindi ko alam kung kelan pero alam kong matatapos din ang paghihirap ng puso ko. Kaya ko ‘to, sabi ko sa sarili ko. Kaya at kakayanin. 

Lumipas ang mga araw. Paunti-unting nabawasan ang sakit na aking nararamdam. Paunti-unti akong bumabangon. Paunti-unti kong inaayos ang buhay ko. Ngunit, nalaman ko na lamang mula sa isang kaibigan na may bago ng mahal ang mahal ko. Muling gumuho ang mundo ko. Nawala ang katiting na pag-asang pinanghahawakan ko. May mahal na siyang iba, paulit-ulit na tumatakbo sa isip ko. Nagtampo ako. Nagalit. Ang sabi niya sa akin hindi na muna siya iibig muli. ‘Yun ang dahilan kong bakit kami naghiwalay. She’s tired of commitments. Ngunit, bakit may bago na agad siya? Hindi ko matanggap. Hindi madaling tanggapin na ang pinapasaya mo noon, pinapasaya na ng iba ngayon. 

Doon ako natauhan. Sinabi ko sa sarili ko na wala ng patutunguhan ang nararamdaman ko sa kanya. It is not worth it. Kahit anong pilit ang gawin ko, hindi na siya magiging akin. May iba ng nagmamay-ari ng puso niya. Kung ipagpapatuloy ko ito, ako lang din ang masasaktan sa huli. Sinumulan ko ang totoong paglimot. Ang pagbangon. Sinimulan ko ulit mahalin ang aking sarili. Napagtanto ko na mahalaga na mahalin mo muna ang sarili mo bago ka magmahal ng iba

Ngayon, masasabi kong tuluyan ng naghilom ang sugat sa puso ko. A part of me will always have feelings for her. I will never stop caring. I just learned to get over her. Naging mapait man ang aming paghihiwalay. Hindi ko pinagsisihan na minahal ko siya. Bagkus ay nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya, sa mga aral na itinuro niya sa akin sa loob ng pitong buwan ng aming pagsasama. Habambuhay ko yung itatago at pahahalagahan bilang alala ng aming kahapon. 

Give me a grade please – 

A. Applause! Applause! You should write in Filipino more often. 
B. Some more practice and you’ll give Marcelo Santos a run for his money. 
C. I`m not being harsh but can you rewrite it again?
D. English na lang please. 
E. Tang ina mo bro!