“I will because Nengkoy still”. This would be my response if I am to be asked if I would still travel abroad and around the country even if I reached eighty. Nengkoy who will be turning 81 years old this week has actually just gone to Bangkok, Thailand. I and my dear sisters accompanied her.
It was Nengkoy’s first time in Bangkok while it was my fifth. Bangkok still never ceases to amaze me. The people and their culture is so beautiful. Nengkoy was at awe when she saw for herself the weird reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the elegance and style of Wat Phra Keaw and the majesty of the Grand Palace. And I was super glad that Nengkoy was able to stand the super heat and humidity of Bangkok climate. Since Bangkok has yet to install lifts or escalators in every stairs facilities leading up and down the metro train, I was also super glad that Nengkoy at her age could still go up some high flight of stairs.
Travelling with an old lady have some unique challenges. The medicines to bring, the amount and type of food to order in a restaurant, the challenging long walks and difficult climbing, the spots and places to visit and go to, the modes of transportation to take, etc. But all these challenges were handled with ease. Thank goodness Nengkoy does not possess the grumpy, irritable and ill-tempered persona that I often possess during my travels. Hahaha! Anyway, Nengkoy’s Bangkok adventure was simply happy, easy and noteworthy. I am the proudest that Nengkoy got to see and experience the beauty of Bangkok!
Some friends and colleagues still could not believe that I was able to accomplish the rigorous hiking that the mountains of Batad in Ifugao Province entails. Some were actually not surprised when they heard the hardships and learned that I was the crankiest, most ill-tempered and was the number one complainer among our group. As If my complaining was the highlight of our Batad adventure! Hahaha!
But people don’t realize that aside from the breathtaking sites, I was able to appreciate how lucky I am based on how my life has been going on compared to the simple folks living in Batad. That is why seeing locals especially the farmers who keeps the bizarre and phenomenal rice terraces by their bare hands humbles me. I may have been blessed more than these folks yet I have so much respect for these people. Batad folks may not own the possession that a modern human being enjoys now, yet they are the people who chose to live simple, enjoy simple and chose to maintain a beautiful earth wonder by their very own hands.
Kudos to the people of Batad! You definitely are one of a kind! Galing nyo grabe!
*thanks to Aiko and JB’s cameras for these photos…
Batad in Ifugao Province is not just its beautiful and majestic rice terraces, another awesome attraction and must-visit destination found in Batad is its strong, massive and breathtaking waterfalls known as Tappiya Falls.
Hidden in the lush green rainforest, a one-hour hike in the mountains of Batad will take you to the beautiful Tappiya Falls. Without a doubt, the turquoise fresh water and the perfect natural surroundings will fascinate every living soul who can luckily be able to reach it.
It was a tiring hike from our hotel in the secluded town of Batad to Tappiya Falls and back, especially those long flight of stairs at the edge of the mountain. But being able to reach and marvel at the actual Tappiya Falls after a grueling hike was something so rewarding already. All body aches, lung-bursting tiredness and anxiety whether to be able to finish the hike or not simply went away as soon as I dipped into the fresh cool water of Ifugao! Being able to see, smell, feel and conquer Tappiya Falls make me the proudest!
Majestic, magnanimous and magnificent are not enough descriptions for me to illustrate the beauty and splendor of Batad Rice Terraces located in Ifugao Province here in the Philippines. I have been to quite a number of beautiful places and I can confidently say that Batad Rice Terraces ranks very high for being one of the most breathtaking places on earth.
Elementary school lectures about its location, its structure and how the rice terraces were created eons of years ago by my Filipino forefathers were my only personal encounter in the past. And most of what was lectured during my childhood days was about the Banaue Rice Terraces, which is a totally different place.
Let me clarify though that Batad Rice Terraces is different and is not the more famous Banaue Rice Terraces. The latter is near downtown Banaue with more modern buildings and structures. Actually, a couple of tourists from Banaue Rice Terraces who just side tripped to Batad (whom some of us got to talk to) has attested that Batad was indeed more beautiful!
So let me brag that I was actually at a more stunning version! I could not believe that I was no longer just seeing photos and hearing it from lectures. I have upgraded because my physical being stepped on it and my very own eyes got to see the beauty, brilliance and grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Getting to Batad actually is already half the adventure. I have been to quite a lot of places but Batad seem to be the most remote place that I have been to. After a 10-hour bus ride from Manila to Banaue, me and my colleagues then had to travel for another 1 and a half hour via rickety and un-air-conditioned jeepney. And after alighting the jeepney, we then hiked by foot for another forty minutes (some say it was only twenty minutes but since I walk so sluggishly, it took me 40) for us to reach the tiny and secluded village of Batad. But all intense exhaustion, buckets of sweat and excruciating body aches were all be gone once I sawthe massive splendor of the amphitheater-like rice terraces and remarkable landscape of the mountains.
Some world attractions would not allow tourists to enter or step into their renowned site. Others would charge for an entrance fee otherwise you would just have to satisfy yourself by seeing it from afar. But for Batad Rice Terraces, tourists are allowed to step in, can mingle with the farmers and get through the muddy catwalks of the terraces for free! This made Batad Rice Terraces even more admirable compared to other sites in the world.
For those planning to get to gorgeous 2,000-year old Batad Rice Terraces, here are seven tips to ponder before getting there:
Bring lots of cash. No ATM around and no credit card payments accepted
There is no such thing as five star accommodation in Batad. Actually, all accommodations seem to look like half a star or no star at all. But the view and the people more than compensates for it. It’s more than 10 stars!
If you are the type who sweat buckets (like me), bring lots of shirts. Or if you are the type who would not mind smelling like a pig, then just bring 1 shirt per day of stay.
Batad is the best place to get away and take a short rest from the internet world. There literally is no signal in the area. No choice but to get off-line during the duration of your stay.
Bring Alaxan. Ibuprofen pain-relieving medicine was the most important piece of tablet that I popped as soon as I woke up after a dreamy night in Batad.
Do it while you’re young. Batad Rice Terraces is not for physically challenged nor the fainthearted. I actually still could not believe that I survived and was able to accomplish walking through those dizzying slim and slender catwalk portions of the terraces.
Pray! Pray that it won’t rain! Our tour guide told us that we were pretty lucky because the day before we arrived, it was raining all day. The terrain of course would be easier when it’s a bit dry compared to the muddy and slippery slopes of the mountain.
It’s Chinese New Year this coming Friday. To somehow get ready for the upcoming Chinese New Year, I and the 80-year old Nengkoy went to the world’s oldest Chinatown! Yeah, established in 1594, the Chinese-filled, Chinese-looking and Chinese-smelling Chinatown in Manila is the oldest.
And guess what? I have been on numerous times to Hong Kong, Taiwan and some portions of mainland China, but this is my first time to visit and traverse the street of Ongpin, the heart and center of Manila’s Chinatown.
Me, Nengkoy and my sisters proceeded to Chinatown not to greet the folks Kung Hei Fat Choi nor get there to immerse ourselves on some exotic Chinese food. We went there to optimize the potentials of our good fortune in the coming Year of the Dog. Believe it or not, we bought ourselves some oriental good luck charms and amulets.
It was such a fun experience when we reached and entered a store that sells various charms and amulets. A variety of glossy gleaming rocks and a cornucopia of gemstones, trinkets and ornaments that believed to dispel bad luck and will attract fortune, good health, peace of mind and even auspicious love life are all seem present in that store.
I got myself these…
The ritual of cleansing the purchased charms and putting a spell on it (as if switching on the potency of the trinkets) before it was handed over to us seem to enhance some authenticity to the powers of our chosen charms. It also adds up fun and amazement to the rare adventure we had at Ongpin Street.
Some would say that we may have made a fool of ourselves and we let ourselves be duped, tricked or conned by the sellers of these Chinese ornaments. But I have always believed that there must be something in these knickknacks that seem to influence human fate and providence. Nothing will be lost anyway if I am to practice or believe in these age-old Chinese tradition. Yet, what if it works? Hahaha!
But seriously, ,may it be effective or not, I know deep within my sensibilities that hard work, perseverance, Intelligence of the mind and the brightness of the heart are still the keys to good life and sought after fortune.
Every time a member of my family finishes his or her studies – may it be elementary, high school or college – the graduation dinner treat for him or her is always held at the old, not so expensive and not so savory Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila (which I refuse to name). It has always been the tradition that Nengkoy got to insist that the celebration be held in that restaurant may you graduated with summa cum laude honors or you finished at the bottom of your class’ ranking.
But for the Master’s Degree graduation of my nephew Luis, I got to choose the restaurant! Nengkoy allowed that it be held someplace else maybe it is because the graduation is not just an ordinary bachelor’s degree but something higher, more advanced and more difficult to obtain.
I chose China Blue. Having previously enjoyed the savory food I this authentic Cantonese Restaurant located inside Conrad Hotel, Manila, I knew that Nengkoy and the members of my family in that dinner would truly enjoy some sumptuous treat!
And since I arrive early in the restaurant, took the liberty of ordering the dishes for our group. And when everyone arrived and each dish was being brought in into our room, I asked my family not to touch the dish until I tell them to because I want to take pictures of it.
Here’s the actual photos of some of our orders. And since I lack the ability on how to properly describe each dish, let me then attach a Chinese proverb for every one of it…
I failed to take a photo of the Buchi or glutinous rice dumpling with red bean filling coated with sesame seeds (our desert) which according to our waiter Angel was a very good choice because it was the award-winning dessert of China Blue Manila. My family are all sweet toothed, it would not come as a surprise that everyone would just rapidly dig into the delicately sweet Buchi and would not care if I have already taken a photo or not.
I really can’t figure out what specific dish was the highlight of that dinner. It is because every dish was beautiful, every dish was delicious and every dish deserves a big round of applause!
And when Luis would decide to further pursue his studies, doctorate degree that is. I’m pretty sure Nengkoy would again agree that Luis’ PhD graduation dinner be held again in China Blue Manila.
It has always been my personal stance that it will take an exceptionally brilliant movie for me to watch it again for the second time in a movie house. The two movies that I can recall watching twice during its regular run in the theaters were David Cameron’s Titanic and Pixar’s Inside Out.
Well, Titanic and Inside Out now has been equaled by the outstanding and admirable musical drama movie by Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman. I first saw The Greatest Showman with friends and officemates last Friday. And as soon as the credits rolled at the end of the movie, I just knew that I have to see and enjoy it again in the big screen.
Well tonight, I saw it again. This time I am with Nengkoy, my sisters and nephew Luis. Here’s the five reasons why I decided to see it again tonight (Sunday, February 4, 2018):
One: The Music
I think I have fallen in love with the music of the movie. Each song in the movie are so superb. The melody in the whole selection are so brilliantly easy to the ear. The songs in this musical are so infectious and addicting you just want to listen to it again and again and again. And the lyrics especially in five of my favorite numbers (A Million Dreams, Never Enough, This Is Me, Rewrite The Stars and Tightrope) are so powerful it cuts through deep into my being. It would be hard to listen to the songs and not get emotional.
Two: The Story
It’s one movie that is so light yet magically entertaining. You need not have a big brain to bring inside the movie house to comprehend and understand the undemanding plot of the movie. And since the storyline is clear-cut, easy and light audience ends up loving every character in the film. And most importantly the story is positive.
Punctuated with memorable songs, The Greatest Showman is a feel-good movie, I ended up flashing a relaxed smile and with a happy heart (in both occasions) as I walked walk out of the theater.
Three: The Message
An unabashed piece of pure entertainment movie would often end up without a substance. But The Greatest Showman is something rare and different. It is one of those highly enjoyable film that exudes the message of courage and acceptance.
The message of being yourself, issues on body image and embracing what makes you unique are well within the highlights of this brilliant movie.
Another rare feat for this movie is that (though it is not a cartoon or digital animated movie) there was no sex nor swearing in the whole length of the film! That itself is something extraordinary in this time and age of movies.
After seeing and enjoying it the first time. I promised myself that I will have to bring Nengkoy to the movie house for her see, hear and experience the joy, the dazzle and the spectacle that The Greatest Showman bestows.
Fifth: It’s a Celebration of Humanity
And lastly, as stated by one of the theatre critics in the movie, The Greatest Showman is one good representation of a “Celebration of Humanity”