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FALLING IN LOVE WITH ILOCOS- VIGAN (Part 1)

This blog is about fulfilling one’s dream, facing the challenges and appreciating God’s gift and keeping the best of the past. I set multiple of goals and hoping to accomplish for this year.

Every girl has the right to fulfill her dreams, and this time, and for the first time actually, I got the courage to be a backpacker in a place which is a total stranger to me,  but I needed the break and  be able to rekindle with the lost part of me.  I knew lots of Ilocano back then, it was a leap of courage to take an adventure with only a copy of few blogs with me.  It was a very liberating experience, and so proud of it.

Right after the 2016 Holy Week, my new travel buddy headed to Manila, a stop-over going to our dream trip, ILOCOS.  It is one dream trip that I listed in my bucket list, so I was so excited to take a plunge and be a backpacker for few days and  experience the history of the province, our first stop is Vigan,  “it is a  city located in the northwestern coast of Luzon in the Philippines.  Vigan is the capital of the famous Ilocos Sur province and have gained the name as the only UNESCO World Heritage City in the Philippines, and just recently  won as one of the New Seven Wonders Cities of the World.”  Having this in mind, I was so overwhelmed to pack all my things and ready for my first ever backpacker’s trip.

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boarding pass going to Manila

The photos I posted hopefully encourages people to explore our own country, because we actually had a lot to offer.

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EXPLORING CALLE CRISOLOGO

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What is remarkable about Calle Crisologo is how the people preserve the old houses. Motorcycles are not allowed only the “kalesa”. It’s a very beautiful place for me.

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My new travel buddy, Anamor Akil at the Calle Crisologo,  Heritage Village in Vigan

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We are so fortunate then that we decided to take that vacation right after the holiday since there were only few tourists flocking to experience and explore the province. Accordingly, there are 187 listed ancestral houses in the town.  The place is so interestingly amazing!😀😀   It was so early because we arrived at around 5:00 AM at Vigan City. After fixing ourselves, we went straight to the Heritage Village were famous houses are located.  The best advise I could give is be early, since there are only few tourists strolling the area if you come at around 5:00 AM.

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When we think of Vigan we always associate it with Calle Crisologo. At first glance, I noticed that it is just a simple structure, but as we continue strolling the whole area, it made me realized the noblest life of the people in the simplest past. A friend of mine told me also that the best time to visit is during night time when the lamps are lit, but obviously during that time, I’m sure there are lots of tourists.

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Here is the detail of our trip to Vigan.  Vigan City is located 408 kilometers away from Manila. From Cubao, we took the Partas Bus that took almost ten (10) hours trip. Since we never booked in a hotel, we decided to change our clothes and have some little freshen up at the Partas Bus Terminal.  We slept during the entire trip.   It was really a fun experience.

Note:  Fare for Partas Bus from Cubao to Vigan City is P645.00.

From Calle Crisologo, we hired  a tricycle which cost us P500.00 for a tour within Vigan. Though one can hire a “kalesa” for another kind of experience which cost P150.00/per hour.

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At the famous Calle Crisologo, Heritage Village, Vigan City.  We started strolling around at around 5:30 in the morning and since there were only few tourists during early morning we were able to enjoy the whole place.  AMAZING!! The cobble-stoned street in Vigan is a journey to the colonial era.  During early morning, I never thought it would be that magical since we were able to enjoy the different changes of the sky that compliment the color of the houses.

 

The historical houses of Vigan specifically in the famous Calle Crisologo reminded me of the Spanish era, but the people were able to preserve the beautiful houses complete with horse carriages. It is simple, naturally old-looking, yet has survived the challenges of time.  The trip for me was so far the best historical trip I ever had.  It gave me enough understanding of my past, and the appreciation of preserving what has left for us.

Research has told me, the houses in this area were owned by some Filipino-Chinese traders whose families rose to prominence and wealth when clothing and trading industry at the Northern part of Luzon was at its peak.  Fortunately, for generations the people has preserved and maintained the place like it was before, with the Spanish architecture. Few of the old houses were converted into souvenir shops, coffee shops, restaurants and hostels.

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According to some blogs, Calle Crisologo is at its worst during high noon because there are lots of tourists.  Fortunately in our part, we were able to enjoy the place for almost two (2) hours before we headed for breakfast. My tip is:  Come at dawn at around 4:30 AM until morning, its the best time.

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The happiest moment while strolling at Calle Crisologo

THE DIFFERENT FACES OF VIGAN CITY

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Tips:  Souvenirs at Paoay and Laoag are quite expensive than Vigan and Pagudpud.  However, in Bangui Windmill area, we were able to buy some souvenirs, even the t-shirts at the cheaper prices.

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The famous Basi Wine in Vigan

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THE TASTE OF VIGAN CITY

For me, checking and trying the cuisine is one I always consider when visiting a place.  Since I already had the the taste of some Ilocano foods, I simply want to have it cooked in its place of original, and Vigan never denied it from US. Funny but true, since I am a Jadine fan, I tried and asked the locals of the exact hotel where this famous couple stayed, thankfully, it was just within the area, Cosina Ilocana, where we had our breakfast.

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I learned to savour the foods of the Ilocano, and during the trip, of course, I tried the best of what they have.

The Vigan longaganisa is a small and plump native sausage, good for about two or three bites and stuffed with lots of garlic.  Honestly, until now I cannot fully appreciate it but maybe after many tries who knows I will be able to love it.

Note: Vigan Empanada is different from Laoag Empanada, and I have tasted the latter. Laoag Empanada uses achuete so it has a very attractive color.  IT was my first time to have a taste of it, but I am looking forward to try over and over in the future.

The two Empanada’s of Ilocos have basically the same ingredients: rice flour for the crust with or without achuete and for the Laoag Empanada it uses an achuete; filling of egg and mongo sprout or parboiled mongo or grated green papaya for ordinary orders, and additional Ilocos longanisa for special.

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And never forget the every famous Bagnet.  Bagnet is a pork belly meat in deep fried format and an Ilocano original and version of a lechon kawali.

THE STRUCTURES AND LANDSCAPE

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On of the most striking feature in this place is the bell tower, The Bantay Bell Tower standing in the beautiful  landscape hill nearby a church.  Like most of the bell towers, it served as the protector against the enemies during the World War I and World War II.

Have you remember the And Panday The Movie? this is where the ball of fire struck of one of the scene of the movie, and I cannot imagine I was standing right at this place. Uhhmmm…impossible dreams also do come true.  So never give up on your dreams.

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View from the top of the Bantay Tower

 

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A good view of the colorful cemetery from the top of the Bantay Tower.

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I never got the best shot for one of Vigan’s prominent landmark, the ST. PAUL’s METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL.

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The driver of the tricycle we hired generously toured us around without even telling him (actually Ilocos Region for me is the most friendly for tourists and backpackers), and he brought us to Vigan’s Pagburnayan, for some, it is the iconic pottery area in the city.  Most of the burnay jars are exported to other countries especially in some part of Europe.

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Abel is a traditional woven product in Ilocos Region specifically in Vigan.

Even before I am fascinated with colorful fabrics in Benguet, and since Vigan is also known of Abel Loom Weaving, I never failed to visit one of the Weaving Village in the City.  Abel is a traditional woven product in Ilocos Region.  The tradition is pass for generations to generations, in fact the antique furniture used for weaving is already considered an heirloom for some families.  And one will be surely amaze of how this people make this tradition and intrinsic part of their lives.

 

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HIDDEN GARDEN OF VIGAN- DISCOVER THE PLACE

Vigan and the rest of the Ilocos Region for me is a perfect place to unwind, it has almost everything you wanted, from journey of the past, enjoying the beauty of nature to the beautiful resorts, yet, I myself had not anticipated this beautiful paradise.  At first glance  Hidden Garden, is just like a regular garden, but what is so amazing is we kept on discovering what is inside the garden. Yes, the name is perfectly a complete description of the place itself.    Note:  There is a restaurant at the Hidden Garden where the tourist could grab something to eat, from meals up to the snacks.

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ENJOY AND EXPLORE OUR OWN COUNTRY!!!!❤❤ <3 😀

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LIFE’s ONE GREATEST GIFT

In every journey in life, I met different people who stayed with me through the years.  In this very important moment, I want to share some greatest journey I had with this wonderful people.  I owe a page of my blog to somehow share the best ever “not so special occasion” but created a memory of a lifetime.  I have great friends and they are among of those I cannot live behind. We live half a Philippines away, I got to see them usually once year, but my love for them never changed in a single.

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They are my good friends, who were like a family to me. 545234_10200919072642698_280789733_n

It’s common knowledge that long distance relationships are difficult and most likely doomed, but for me, it is a chance to keep the bond stronger.  It is not easy but a challenge.

NOw that I am halfway away, I tried not to lose track with them. An honest and adult best-friendship can challenge you in ways for which you can never prepare. Like most friendships, the biggest hurdle in ours is being apart. And as I always said, I always feel so blest to have them in my life and I will never get tired to keep them in my lifetime.

Like many people, I’ve had to make the decision between a path of certainty and a path of the unknown and I chose the unknown. Even though I’m content with the decision I made and the road it’s taking me down, if I’d known back then that it would take me so far from the best friends I’ve ever had, I’m still not certain I would do it all again. In a way, being apart has made our connection stronger. It was hard when we were separated after I decided to transfer to my province,   but when we went our separate ways to find careers and lives of our own, we found that no distance could ever take away the home base that is our friendship.

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IMG_1527          IMG_2234  Through time this people gave me so much joy.IMG_2233IMG_2230IMG_2228

 

 

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MY MIDDLE THIRTY BUCKET LISTS

I just read my EARLY THIRTY: My Realization and My Own Bucket List which I posted on August 2012.  It’s quite a long time that I listed some things that I needed to do and realized, I got few of them recently. We are in final months before ending the 2015 and next year will be another year to be added in my life (if God permits).   :V :V : V :D  ….It seems that it was just recently that I tried to make some lists, actually I was just doing what other bloggers do when I posted that blog.  But hey!I kept it to myself hoping for adventures, inspirations, more dreams to realize and places to travel. 😎 😎

There were number of times when all I could do was to cry for some uncertainties, but every second of the day, God always reminded me how He turned every happenings into a blessing.  Not all the best gives me joy and happiness.  That is  very clear to me now.

I looked at the list I posted before and meditated how long or short I went after how many years of struggle.  I mentioned “struggle” because that was the time where I tried to pick up myself after few of many defeats.  And again, I am talking about defeat because I was totally down and hopeless then.  Having gone through my lists it reminded me I really did my best to make things happened and it really turns out what I really hope for.  As I mentioned before, God has its own way of doing trick to us.❤❤❤

Having been away from my family for almost three years,  I learned the value of my parents.  Though the roller coaster ride of family relation is not that smooth but somehow, what I learned is making the most of my days with  them while they are already at their twilight years, and I could say I am bless enough to have it realized before I will regret.😀😀😀

One of the biggest lessons in life is realizing there is no failure but the failure to stop trying. 

Here is my Personal Update of My Own Bucket Lists now that I am already at my 35th years of Existence (Based on my Previous Blog): ^_^   ^_^   ^_^

1.  STILL HAVE TO CONTINUE MY DREAMS OF BECOMING A LAWYERDONE NUMBER OF TIMES..and still pursuing my passion of becoming a lawyer…UNTIL NOW, I still don’t have the plans to stop the dream)..One of the biggest lessons in life is realizing there is no failure but the failure to stop trying. Never give up on your dream.

2. I WANT TO BECOME A CHEF.  uHHHMMM!!! Sounds so beyond what I used to dream.I love cooking and I love to share some foods.  Doing the platting is for me like doing a make up or decorating a home.  I need to put some love and passion and it feels so good to make other people happy because they were satisfied with the foods I am serving, and right now, I want to do more, to learn more.

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3. I MAY NOT HAVE THE BEST RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD, but I never stop praying.

4. CONTINUE BLOGGING. The only platform where I could share my thoughts and aspirations, preserving my emotions and smiles of the days that cannot be forgotten.  Blogging is one way of expressing and being with  myself.  I do not pretend to be what I am not, I don’t care what people might say.the important thing is, I am what I am and what will I want to be. For the past years, I embraced a number of different hobbies: gardening, oil and watercolor painting, handicraft making, cooking,uhhhmmm…and a once-in-blue moon trying hard on the job trainee in photography with my friend, Nog Bernido, just to name a few. All of them changed my outlook in life, but through blogging I could put all the words somethings which would likely described me.

“And while there are many articles written about why you should blog to grow your business or become an expert or make a whole bunch of money—the best recommendations are still found in the personal realization that blogging changes you, the writer.”(excerpt from a famous blogger, becomingminimalist)

5.  TO MAKE THE FARM COTTAGE A BIG FAMILY BUSINESS and the FARM COTTAGE SOUVENIRS AND GIFT SHOP a successful.  Farm Cottage is our parent’s legacy for us, and I want to make it big for them. (I used the Blackberry Z10 for this photo)

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MY MIDDLE THIRTY BUCKET LISTS

Source: MY MIDDLE THIRTY BUCKET LISTS

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THE ART OF TRAVELLING

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I spent 8 hours a day and five times a week attending my duty at work.  For the past years in my life, I craved for travels. Nothing is wrong with it. One really needs to have her own time to enjoy a day.I guess I needed a break that could take me back to my old momentum before a year ends. Honestly, there came into my life when I felt so empty, overwhelmed with too many worries while still coping up with  big adjustments, and I needed to break free from all those untowards anxities. Questions hunting me for months for an unknown fear or the thought that I was already drained from chasing on things that I wanted so fast, still doubtful for so many things.

For the last couple of months, I focused myself into doing the things that I really need to do for the most anticipated financial stability.  This is to finance myself for the possible expenses that I might be creating for another months. So many things that I really need to focus before leaping into another milestone of studying and doing business at the same time.  But for now, i simply want to share another travel I have been into together with my colleagues.  I already posted several photos i took during my visit to one of the most beautiful island here in Bohol, Pamilacan.  IT is a place of serenity.  I love Pamilacan.

Beauty from a distance of the destroyed Immaculate Concepcion Church in Baclayon

Beauty from a distance of the destroyed Immaculate Concepcion Church in Baclayon

A simple step could take you to anywhere, just have the courage to do it

A simple step could take you to anywhere, just have the courage to do it. Start enjoying life and start with a single step:-)

I like to think that I am pretty strong person. I’ve been living in Manila having myself alone, yet inspite of it, sometimes, I underselling myself and even questioned my capabilities when personal and family problem came, but I challenged myself of doing the things other people could do. I never been a passive person, playing supporting roles. I always been the lead even in the men’s world, but most of the time then, I felt the pain of taking the lead.  I simply wanted to relax.   Seriously, sometimes, I want to be a damsel in distress. But who will care?😦

But today, allow me to unload my heart, this is fast and you will enjoy.  Sharing photos might be a great help.

Boat that could take us to PAmilacan

Boat that could take us to PAmilacan. Pamilacan Island can only be reach through boat.  No other means of transportation since no bridge is connected from the mainland.

When the sky meet the water

When the sky meet the water A clear blue sky with blue water.

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Lengthy sand bar.

The beauty of island is amazing with it’s powder white sands. There are beautiful places in Bohol and Pamilacan Island was one of the most lovely places I visited, where yone can see the sky and water meld into each other so seamlessly.

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Enjoying a day with no less than kuya Lawrence. (Photo taken Maam Anamor Akil)

I posted several pictures in my recent blogs about Pamilacan Island, but everyday I got the chance to visit the island, my love and admiration undeniably renewed.  No doubt this place is a paradise. (All the pictures are unedited, this is my way of knowing whether I have the progress in my photograph).

FISHES IN THE OCEAN :-)

FISHES IN THE OCEAN:-)

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Fresh new catch

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Blue Starfish (Wondering)

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RED CORALS

Life changing experiences happened in different ways and even in the most simple incident in life.  From the harsh reality of busy world, I aimed to spend a time for myself meditating on how to go on, picking few pieces of me shattered by the material world and I came to realized taking a break is one of the best thing to reconcile with my inner self. A day can create a difference in my own core.

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THE DIFFERENT FACES DURING OUR DAY TOUR:

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KUYA LAWRENCE

KUYA LAWRENCE AND GABRIEL

KUYA LAWRENCE AND GABRIEL

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I encountered different characters along the way, but somehow it could give me enough wisdom to decide on things without judging.  During my break I learned not enough neutrality but courage to stand what is right, because at the end of the day what matters most are the people who  came into my life which became part of who I am.

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wITH THE TEAM

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SHARING STORIES OVER ARRAY OF FOODS AND DRINKS, A BEST WAY TO RELAX AND ENJOY NATURE

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In the next few months, I will be updating my blog again, because at last I am back to my old self doing the things I really, really love. I will be posting places that made me cry, laugh, smile, dream, inspire and love.  Places that made me feel I’m alive.:-):-)❤❤❤❤

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My Own Version of Japanese Hot Pot – the Every Classic SUKIYAKI (FILIPINO VERSION)

me and my little sissy

me and my little sissy

For the past months and before I came home, I enjoyed some comfort foods which I longed to taste again. Thanks to my friend, Fria, who unselfishly share her expertise in cooking, from Ilocano-Bisayan-Japanese Foods.  One of our fave food is the famous and the most exquisite Japanese food, the SUKIYAKI.

Here are the ingredients:
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KOREAN MIRIN

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MY OWN VERSION OF SUKIYAKI THE FRIA'S SUKIYAKI

MY OWN VERSION OF SUKIYAKI
THE FRIA’S SUKIYAKI

mirin (but in my own version I used the Korean Mirin)

Beef (tenderloin /sirloin)

water

1 tablespoon black pepper

Kikkoman soy sauce

white sugar

butter/vegetable/ canola oil depending on what is available in your kitchen

beef broth

carrots (sliced)

1 stalk leek

1 medium onion cut into rings

Beef very thinly sliced

dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water,drained, then sliced into strips

Chinese cabbage leaves,  sliced into strips

Japanese Noodles/ Ramen

Japanese tofu, cut into small cubes

  PROCEDURES:

1  In a pan, combine mirin, water, Kikkoman soy sauce, beef broth and sugar. Bring to a boil, about 3 minutes. Turn off flame at once. Set aside. (this composed the mirin mixture).

2  Melt the butter in a separate nonstick pot. I never used for my first try an union (this is according to Fria) but just for another version let us try using  and Sauté an onions. Add the beef slices and stir-fry briefly until color changes to a darker brown. Set aside and make it ready for the next step without taking it away from the pan.

 Add the japanese tofu (for the tofu, i prepare not to fry it before adding), next the slices of carrots, crisp cabbage, mushrooms, sprinkle with black peper and the  pre-cooked Japanese Noodles/ Ramen and one stalk leek.  Pour the mirin mixture and cover, let it simmer For my own version, I separately simmer the noodles/ ramen (the way spaghetti noodles should be cooked):

What I did for the plating, and this is the most exciting, arrange neatly the tofu vegetables, mushroom sprinkle it with black peper in the pan and slowly adding the broth mixture.  The perfect aromas could easily capture the attention of your family members. This is my own version of Sukiyaki…the way i learned it from my friend..the Filipino version. According to Fria, it is always best in individual soup bowl and add wassabe to taste.

Note:  I don’t have a measurement on the ingredients.

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JUST ANOTHER DAY TO BE GRATEFUL

Even before the start of summer, I already planned to spend it enjoying and taking vacations. It is always one of the best season for me. So what’s all about my 2014 summer?

Taking the opportunity to enjoy my life, it seems the whole world just close to me like a door waiting to be opened.

I just took every opportunity…and there lies…waiting to be opened.

I am sharing few of the photos during my vacation from  Luzon to Mindanao.  EVERYTHING!!!:-)  <3❤ …I am so excited !!! yahhhooooo!!!

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10154420_649360128464188_4025526568058889601_n     My first visit to the crater of the famous Taal Volcano.  My summer may not be that perfect because I was away from my family, but I never skipped an opportunity to enjoy myself.

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I brought my family here in Manila to spend the vacation with them.  Though the vacation was just short, but it was still worthy spending moments with them.

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What is my summer is all about?  How far my learning go?

Maybe I mean everything…the love, the fun, the adventure, the wanderlust, the risk taking, everything…

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I became  fearless with every adventures I tried,  I just realized I am after all good at it .DSC00677

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I never realized how much I value the time I spent the days of my vacations.  I listed my wishlists in my bucket list, every now and then, everything seemed slowly unfold.  God is so good.  HE give me everything that I never thought I wanted before, but here it is!

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I never thought I could go beyond the limits, but yes, I did! Rock Climbing and CLiff Jumping…

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Giving myself a chance to be a model in the famous “NAKED ISLAND” in Surigao.DSC_0330

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OH!!!I am just so overwhelmed to share all the selected photos during my vacations.

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ANAWANGIN COVE, PUNDAQUIT, ZAMBALES:

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CORON, PALAWAN:

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Proud to pose above the Kayangan Lake.

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Posing with the members of  Tagbanua Tribe in Coron, Palawan.

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Coron is one of the best diving spot in the world with it’s majestic and stunning corals and it’s rich of diversity of marine life, but, some of those corals were badly destroyed by the Yolanda.

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Parking is more fun in the Philippines….:-)

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IMG_3254IMG_3260      Entrance to the famous Twin Lagoon.  During low tide it serves as the entrance, however, during high tide you can use the ladder and have a free dive to be able to go to the second lagoon.  According to our tour guide, the deepest is 80 feet.

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Encircled by gigantic limestone cliffs,what truly amazed me during my Coron adventure was the limestone formations that composed the islets.  Accordingly, there are different kinds of limestone that composed islands, one of those are coral limestone which is the composition of the island of Bohol, and here in Coron,it is said to be of  Permian limestone of jurassic origin.

More to discover some beautiful places in the Philippines.

What will be my next adventure?

 

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