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.
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.
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.
After close to two years of inertia, liberation seem to loom & bloom. Covid cases in my people-filled and densely populated country is now starting to drop.
injection gives me the creeps! so obvious is this photo. haha!
Unlike tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, I guess my government should thank me for being so cooperative, participative and supportive. Last month I had my vaccine booster shot which was six months after I had my complete double dose of Covid vaccines. Having my booster shot gave me confidence and a massive sigh of relief that at least I won’t die from this silly epidemic.
Keep your mask on everyone, freedom and deliverance seem imminent and forthcoming! We will all soon take it off. Excited to hug everyone! Woohoo!
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.
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.
My solo dealings literally, figuratively and unromantically about life’s quests and adventures has resulted to considering the love month of February as a season for silly rants, inane bitterness and ridiculous resentments! Hahaha!
While everybody adores the amorously fab month of Feb, for me, it’s a dark and menacing month that I hate to confront and grapple with! I am so prosaic and unromantic, friends and colleagues know that if I could just skip and jump to March after the cool month of January, I would! Hahaha!
But this year, let me go pretty easy towards the unescapable February. Let me be a little different this year. I decided to post no rant, no bitterness and no resentment in this season of love! I will instead try my very best to post thoughts and notions about love may it be towards pets, friends, a movie, a song, a romantic partner or even inanimate objects! Besides who wouldn’t want to be love-filled during these uncertain times of the pandemic?
Watch out Cupid, this blog may eat your heart out this love month of Feb!
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.
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.
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!
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.
I know that being next to someone is the ultimate favorite place of everyone. But if a spot that is about 2.5 hours drive and you no longer cannot count the number of times that you have been there, does this mean that such a place is also one of your favorites?
the compulsory posing! hahaha!
This will be short…
Abe’s Farm, a quiet staycation venue at the foothills of dormant volcano, Mt. Arayat, north of Manila is the place. For me, Abe’s Farm is one of those perfect getaway places where one can just stay quiet, have a short social media detox, simply breathe and relax.
A perfect add-on to this is the food that they serve. Situated right in the heart of Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines, Abe’s Farm food offers what one can call an assault to the senses – texture, color, presentation and of course taste.
happy eating! yum!
Yeah. I gave myself some short quiet break. And just this weekend I am again at Abe’s Farm. I guess Abe’s Farm though not a “next-to-someone” is one of my favorites.
I have always recognized that I do not have a green thumb. Though I love plants and have taken cared quite a number of them in the past, plants don’t love me back. My relatives can attest that I have purchased countless number of plants in the past, but all chose to breathe their last breath and declined to settle with me in my condo unit. I sometimes correlate my relations to plants as a form of unrequited love!
When I and my family would go out of town, I would often suggest to stop at a garden store by a roadside before heading back to Manila for I want to acquire new greens. “Are you looking for a new victim?” or “You’re just wasting some bucks” are the usual remarks of my relatives when I would suggest my buying new plants.
the recent garden shop where i purchased my succulents… i can hear these greens saying… “no! not me!!!” LOL!
I have always thought that I would make a good gardener because I had an A+ grade in my Botany subjects during my old school days and would even had the time and fortitude of talking to these plants. But all these photosynthetic members of the Kingdom Plantae refuse to live with me. My relatives has even tagged me as having the black thumb or even worse the black-kiss-of-death thumb!
Owning and taking care of plants here in Manila is the new craze. Like me, this has been some of people’s emotional outlet or thing to do and be busy of indoors during this time of quarantining and pandemic.
This has been evidenced by the steady increase in the number of social media posts of people posing behind, in front or beside their happy and healthy plants! People call these plant-fanatics and shrub-obsessed folks as Plantitas (for female) and Plantitos (for male) of Manila.
In my recent out of town adventure, I again purchased a new batch of plants to enjoy and take care of. I hope these creatures are as glad as I am. I am really hoping that this new batch will live a long life and would finally erase my being a black thumb.
if those trees can run, i’m pretty sure they’ve moved way way farther! hahaha!
my not-so-happy green companions! please don’t die…(my recent purchases)
But if these plants chose to reject me and die instead, I will still care for one and would just have to melodramatically remind myself that old warriors may have to fight a long battle more than once to win it. And if one zany plant would finally decide to settle it out with me, I will call myself a Plantito who would be smiling while sharing social media pictures with it.
Looking forward to having photos with these new plants!