Beach Bumming at Abagatanen

There is a calm, tranquil and secluded-like place north of Manila.  It is 300 kilometers away and would take around 6 hours to drive from Manila.  A quiet fishing village in Pangasinan, Abagatanen white sand beach is one beautiful attraction.

fresh waves! abagatanen, a back-to-basics kind of a beach

The white sand beach may not be as powdery and white as the popular, commercialized and tourist-infested beaches in my country, Abagatanen beach has its own distinct beauty.  With the absence of mercantile shops and restaurants the place is beautifully nostalgic.  With the non-existence of pricey resort facilities, the beach is charmingly traditional.  And with its having no mobile internet reception it is gorgeously retrograded. 

golden hour!!!

Its main attractions are the crystal clear water of the ocean, the exquisite wind-driven waves of the sea, the unassuming and courteous locals and above all the undeniable energy of peace and tranquility.  Me and my family were lucky enough to have discovered this piece of paradise.  Stressed and worry-free, I energized my spirit by basically bumming around the Abagatanen white sand beach.

Trusty Nippon

The BBC Reel documentary about Japan’s impressive lost & found scheme and system is true.  I have personal accounts and experiences about how remarkably honest, decent and trustworthy the Japanese people are. 

During our family’s second visit to Japan, one of the inexpensive yet enjoyable lunches we had was at a self-service keiseki-like (keiseki are like tapas of Spain or the small dishes of Japan) eatery in Osaka.  I can clearly recall that after we have stepped out and we’re like 200 yards away already from that eatery, we noticed that the old and short lady who worked in that establishment was actually running after our group.  Gasping for air when she reached us, she then handed a small bag to us. 

Without me understanding what she was saying, my now-niece-in-law (Alexis) then noticed that the bag the old lady was handing over was his.  He then realized that he actually left behind his pouch-bag inside the eatery which contains his cash, his credit cards and his valuable passport.

Another remarkable experience my family had in Japan when it comes to trustworthiness was when we had a winter adventure in Sapporo.   After a short flight from Osaka to Hokkaido, my family chose to reach our hotel via subway from the Sapporo airport.  The subway train station near our hotel was actually just beside a park, the Nakajima Park.  When we got out of the train station towing and dragging along our huge suitcases, out in the street, we noticed that the magnificent park beside the train station was filled with soft and fresh snow. 

My family lives in a tropical country where no snow falls.  Here in the Philippines, the weather is either hot or hotter.  Thus, it is but thrilling for us (a snow-deprived-family) to see, smell and touch those fields of frozen and icy hexagonal-shaped crystals.  And as if my family suddenly transformed into little naughty children we run towards the park and were unmindful of leaving behind our huge bags and suitcases right there in front of the train station.  We spent about half an hour inside the snowy park – making snow angles, snowball fighting, creating our very first snowman and gasping at how magnificent the snow formations are on trees.

the nakajima train station right beside the park.  that’s the very spot where we left our suitcases! haha!

After mellowing down and when we regained our adulthood back, only then that we realized that we actually left behind our suitcases right there at the train station’s entrance/exit platform.  We were gone for more than half an hour and when we went back to retrieve and get all our bags and suitcases, all of it were surprisingly still there!  Do that here in my country, all of our luggage will be gone in less than a minute and you got no one else to blame but yourself.

Japan is beautiful, its people are incredible and exploring Japan has been a worry-free type of adventure.  Because of these, this country has been my family’s most visited country.  I won’t be surprised if after the pandemic my family will again venture for another trusty Nippon adventure. 

A Little Kyoto in Baguio

The pandemic made hermits of us all.  A week before Christmas last year, after staring at a wall for hours to contemplate about my life’s existence, I decided to have a date with myself.

escaping…

I went on a solo travel and proceeded to the chilly city of Baguio (127 miles up north of Manila).  Known in my country as the City of Pines, I simply had a breather, walked through pruned gardens of parks, dine at cheap restaurants, watched people walk with their uninteresting facemask on, and re-read a book I have read fifteen years ago.  And when I started to get bored to the point of being spiritless, I decided to search the web on what site in Baguio have I not been to.

The World Wide Web pointed me to St Francis Xavier Seminary in Pacdal, Baguio where the Bamboo Eco-Park is located.  I hurriedly booked online a transport vehicle service car which brought me to the place tagged as the Little Kyoto in Baguio.

baguio bamboo eco-park

glad there were so few visitors (for safety)

the smaller version of arashiyama

selfie!

And true enough, though the place was really little as compared to the famed Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, the place was equally peaceful and beautiful.  I have been to Baguio numerous times (both solo and with group) but I never knew that such a beauty exists in this part of Baguio until then. It was indeed a refreshing visit!  My first time visit to Bamboo Eco-Park in Pacdal no doubt was the highlight of my latest Baguio visit.

And before I left, it dawned in me that those pandemic hermits living in St Francis Xavier Seminary must be so proud of their work which resulted to something tranquil and beautiful.  A total opposite of my being an indolent and lazy hermit during this ridiculous pandemic.

Embracing My Beautiful B Day!

My long birthday week has finally been concluded!  My digestive system can finally go back to its usual routine.  Haha!  And despite a protracted pandemic year, let me brag that there are actually two major highlights in my birthday celebration this year.

love this photo!

who wouldn’t do some artsy pictorial in this mansion when the background is the smallest volcano on the planet (taal volcano)?

Organized by my sweet nephews and nieces, I and my whole family spent a wonderful weekend in a mansion of a house in cool & misty Tagaytay province, a high-altitude city 59 kilometers away from the bustling Manila.

Second highlight was the sumptuous dinner buffet in 5-star Sofitel Manila, considered to have the priciest and longest buffet in the country.  My whole family was of course in attendance in this wonderful dinner.

sofitel dinner

I guess I have gone really old and already accepted this fact.  In the past years I tremble and experience anxiety attacks when I know that my birthday is about to come and I actually abhor celebrating it.   I hated getting old.  Haha!  

But this year, I decided to embrace this beautiful day.  I have accepted the fact that I have already lost my youth and the remaining years should be more about the essence of living.  And adopting the thoughts of Mark Twain regarding birthdays and old age, let me end this post by relaying what he said, “Age is a case of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Envious of Joanna Lumley

It’s not the monarch neither the Spice Girls.  It’s not Elton John neither J. R. R. Tolkien.  Though I admire the wit of Stephen Hawking and at awe with Margaret Thatcher, it’s not them.  The British human being who I envy the most when it comes to world travel is the effervescent Joanna Lumley.

Joanna thru her series of British TV travel shows feature amazing spots on the planet and showcase interesting cultures around the world!  What is so enviable about this travel diva is that she got to go around and got a bunch of travel-savvy production team who will do the chronicling for her!

 

I was at awe with Joanna’s enchanting Trans-Siberian adventures.  I enjoyed her splendid exploits of the inestimable Japan from north to south.  And how I wish I will be granted with the gift of travel for I was truly envious with her Silk Road adventures!

I have read somewhere that travel envy can happen to anyone.  It is caused by emotional discontent, frustration, feeling left out, the tendency for endless comparison and even social media.  In my case, it would be a mix of all of these combined with being stuck for a year due to this crazy pandemic.

I too read that one way to cope with travel envy is to turn such envy into inspiration, that is by planning the next adventure.  But it looks like planning for an out of the country escapade now seem unrealistic.

I would rather practice gratefulness and reminisce about my past trips.  Good thing I have this blog because reading through some of my travel posts decreases the intensity of my feeling jealous.

this is one spectacular spot joanna lumley has yet to step on! haha! https://neillangit.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/batad-rice-terraces-no-words-to-describe/

And while I was busy basking on these feelings of envy towards the British travel muse, I paused for a while not knowing how to end this invaluable writing.  I turned to my Facebook for a break and this very fitting photo struck me.

Hoping to see the world soon!

I Missed My Locale

This morning while the tropical sun is still mild, I dragged myself out of bed and decided to step out to give myself some pretty good cardio drill.  And while taking a break to catch my breath every so often (no thanks to the pandemic) only then did I realize that it has been a year that I have gone outside within the local vicinity where I live.

So in between the fast walks and jogs, I would stop and take a number of photos of the area.  It was the morning that I got to appreciate the aesthetic attractiveness of the spots and places where I live.  It felt like I missed my locale!

manila morning

fresh!

quiet…

i love this minute jungle in this part of the city

In the past, I have always been the kind of person who would rather chuckle and laugh at strangers (visitors and tourists alike) who would marvel, appreciate and take photos of the areas near my place.  I have been so used to how my nearby vicinity looks like that I find it weird for strangers to admire and gape at the charm and appeal of the area.

a cool morning in manila

And when the morning started to get too hot and while I walked my way back to my unit, I realized that people need to leave in order to miss their place and had to travel so as to realize how precious and beloved one’s starting point was.

Have a beautiful day everyone!

Me, Anthony B. and the Vicious Sisig

A couple of years ago while on a 6-hour pit stop at Incheon International Airport on my way to San Francisco for some exciting solo adventure, I can clearly recall that I chose to sit at a very quiet portion of the airport and a tall white curly-haired gentleman sat across from where I was.  He too was quiet and seem so engrossed with his mobile phone.  My hazy brain tells me that the guy looks like Anthony Bourdain.  When the guy looked at me and realized that I was staring at him and seem to have noticed that I know who he was, he stood up took his leather bag and silently left.

I recalled this vivid experience because of my recent visit in an eatery at the culinary capital of my country where the late Anthony Bourdain once dined. I was at Aling Lucing’s, a humble eatery in Angeles City, in the province of Pampanga. A two-and-a-half-hour ride from Manila.

anthony bourdain with the sisig queen during his visit (framed memory posted on the wall of the eatery)

I chose to dine in this modest eating place for its original dish called “Sisig”.  This too was the same dish that drove Mr. Bourdain to dine in this eatery because the tasty Sisig has been established to be one original Filipino food. 

I consider Sisig to be in the same league of other scary savage Filipino dishes like the Dinuguan (black-colored pork blood stew); the petrifying Balut (steamed fertilized duck egg); Betamax & Helmet (grilled coagulated pork blood and grilled chicken head respectively); Tuyo (the dreadfully stinky dried fish); and, the lewd Soup No. 5 (soup made from bull’s balls & wiener) to name a few. 

sisig!

these other food selections clearly complements the ferocious sisig! steamed tilapia, grilled eggplant, salad with pink shrimp paste, balo-balo dip (another savage dish made of fermented rice sauteed in shrimp & tomatoes)

a collage of photos i took during my visit

Sisig for me is vicious and ferocious because it is the ears, the face and sometimes the brain of the pig that is the main ingredient – grilled, chopped into pieces and served on a hot sizzling plate!

Sisig has gone a long way since the time this has been created by the Sisig Queen herself, Aling Lucing.  In fact, during that solo trip in San Francisco, I had the chance to eat Filipino Sisig in burrito form! Click here to learn about it: Sisig Burrito.

According to Mr. Bourdain “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park.  Enjoy the ride.”  And one unique culinary ride that one must take is by trying the vicious, un-elegant yet very tasty Sisig.

A Non-American and the Un-American at the US Capitol

If it would be inevitable to change my citizenship, one of the nationalities I would prefer would be to be an American.  Sad, crazy and outrageous as it may sound but who would not want to be part of the populace who has the strongest economy, the richest opportunities, a very hip civilization, beautiful people and a super power status as a nation?

It is therefore not surprising that setting my foot on USA soil (at least being a tourist) was on top of my bucket list.  Luckily by some grace and blessings from the heavens, this entry on my long and arduous bucket list has long been done and accomplished.

majestic yet a tranquil visit

I, a non-American have been to USA a couple of times already.  And in my last visit, I found myself at the capital state of Washington DC touring the insides of the US Capitol.  I can clearly recall that the outdoor grounds as well as inside of the Capitol Building gave me some incalculable sense of calmness and security.  It was majestic, it was peaceful, it was secured.  I can also recall my regret of not bringing my favorite pillow then.  Reason behind this is that being inside that most secured building on the planet gave me immense feelings of security and comfort.  The building made me feel so at ease, dreamy and relax I wanted to take a nap.  Haha!

loved it!

But these personal experiences in and out of the Capitol Building was a total opposite of what I saw and read on the news when Americans themselves consecrated the dignity of that honored spot of their country.  For me, the reckless and unwise siege done last January 06, 2021 at the Capitol Building was so sad and very un-American.  From my personal view point, the January 6 incident did not in any way made Americans great again!

Though some peace has been restored, I was in fact quite glad that on the day of the humiliating siege I was not an American.  I just hope that every American would realize how lucky, how fortunate and how free they are being citizens of the strongest and most democratic nation on the planet.  They should not let these valuable benefits slip from their hands because of some rash, thoughtless and heedless revolts and rebellions.

If some un-Americans are tired of being American, a lot of deprived and underprivileged gasping human beings here at a third world far east are willing to swap with them.  I guess, only when they become non-Americans would they realize how precious it is to be one. 

Wishing Heaven Got Visiting Hours

There was a simple gathering at my mom’s house last night.  Me & my sister brought a cake while my mom cooked our family’s favorite dish.  It was my dad’s supposed 80th birthday. Had one desire though yesterday.  How I wish God allows visiting hours in heaven.

My mom & dad.

Happy 80th birthday Tatay Joe!