Sunday Song of the Day: No Other Way ❤

OMG this song. The beat is so chill, so summery, and Sinead Harnett‘s voice is so beautiful. Listen, listen to this well!

I took this photo eons ago during a trip to Subic, Philippines with my office friends. I remember having a lot of fun, but I don’t recall some details, like sleeping. I know we had a hotel room, but did we sleep? There’s a picture of one of my friends passed out on the floor. I remember going to the beach and walking along this boardwalk before having a nice breakfast. Eight years and a move across continents later, I find out that one of the friends I was with during this trip is the cousin of my officemate here. Small world. Anyway, I chose this picture because the vibe is very fitting, and although the song seems to be about love, it also applies to friendship.

Happy Sunday, friends!


perfect morning

The best morning I’ve had so far this year was on January 2. My family and I had spent the night at Kabayan beach resort in San Juan, Batangas. I woke up really early to catch the sunrise. My mom and brother joined me on my walk along the beach. We were partly waiting for the sun to rise, and partly looking for a pan de sal vendor. Didn’t have much luck with finding bread, but we luckily found a taho vendor. When everybody was up, we rented a boat that toured us around a bit. When we were back at the resort, it was bright and warm enough for a nice morning swim. Bam. Perfect morning.

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

morning at the beach

University of Santo Tomas

College was one of the best times for me. It was so much fun, because it’s where I got to know some of my best friends, with whom I still have contact. Our reunions are always fun – we’ve been to an arcade, sang karaoke, had cheesy studio pics taken (we loved to get neoprints, and when our budgets allowed, studio pics taken) and had many a meals with even more funny stories and laughs. During my last visit in December, we decided to meet up at our old stomping grounds – our college, the University of Santo Tomas.

University of Santo Tomas

Founded in 1611, the University of Santo Tomas is the oldest university in Asia and is the alma mater of Filipino heroes Jose Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Apolinario Mabini, presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Jose P. Laurel and Diosdado Macapagal, and most importantly, Yikee.

University of Santo TomasYikee, what my friends and I call our group. The UST varsity team (which of course none of us un-athletic bunch of people were part of) is called the UST Growling Tigers, hence the “roar” pose.

This spot in front of Miguel de Benavides’ statue is also where class pictures were taken. I heard a story about how the Japanese military apparently hid gold under that spot before they left the country when World War II ended. Only Benavides knows.

University of Santo TomasChanneling Benavides while waiting for my friends.

University of Santo TomasThe Arch of the Centuries. There’s an inside joke that passing through the arch will transport you to another time and dimension. I tried it a few times, but nothing happened. 😦

University of Santo TomasRobbie didn’t want to take a photo with the very touristy sign (it wasn’t there yet when we were students), but we insisted and it turned out great.

How was your college life? Were there some urban myths or inside jokes about your campus that you remember?

Taal, Heritage Town

In high school, we had to learn about our province Batangas through the Aral ng Batangueño. We even had a book, and some sort of vow, and while I don’t remember much of what I ‘learned’, at the time it was nice to find out about the different towns and cities my crushes were from in Batangas. I never asked people from other places, but now I wonder if they had subjects about their provinces, too.

Anyway, when we went to Taal to attend a wedding, my brother and I snuck out of the ceremony to walk around the town. Taal is known for producing balisong and barong tagalog (an embroidered formal dress shirt), so people would travel to the town market to get these.
Taal, Heritage TownThis is kaartehan sa palengke.
Taal, Heritage TownThey sell colorful dresses and wedding gowns, too!
Oh, and the houses. So beautiful.  Let’s take a walk…

Taal, Heritage Town Taal, Heritage Town Taal, Heritage Town Taal, Heritage Town Taal, Heritage Town Taal, Heritage Town

Taal Basilica

When I still lived in the Philippines, every Good Friday, my family and I used to visit different churches around Batangas, and the Taal Basilica, or Basilica de San Martin de Tours, was always my favorite. I loved the old facade, the stairs leading up to the church, and how simple it was even in its grandness. So different from the usual opulence one sees. These days, whenever I visit the country, I try to visit Taal Basilica. Last December, we attended a wedding held there. I was so excited because I heard the church was newly restored.

Taal Basilica Taal Basilica Taal BasilicaI love the combination of blue and gold.

Taal Basilica Taal BasilicaI wonder how many people had their pictures taken at this spot!

Taal BasilicaOkay, the Taal Cultural Center nearby isn’t really part of the church, but I loved the steps and the casual red carpet.

Taal BasilicaI was easily distracted by the ceiling (or is it a dome?). The light coming in was so beautiful, I couldn’t really capture it with the camera. I was so mesmerized that I didn’t take that many photos inside the church. I just wanted to look at it.


Taal BasilicaMary among bricks. I didn’t see any sign nearby, but there must be an interesting story to this.

Walking in the Walled City: Intramuros, Manila

Manila has not been my home for the past seven years, but I will always have a soft spot for it. Whenever I am in the Philippines, I always squeeze in a few trips to the city to see my friends and go shopping. The visits have become quicker and less frequent, I admit, because I enjoy doing absolutely nothing but eat, watch TV, and read in my parents’ home in Batangas. A few days after I arrived in the Philippines last December, I went to Manila to attend the last day of a workshop that my boss has organized for one our Asian projects. The last day was mostly for concluding the meeting and to take the participants to Intramuros, the walled city and historic center of Manila. It is one of my favorite places in Manila.

Intramuros I love the classic coolness of this coachman.


IntramurosSpot the napping coachman!


Intramuros Comparing the Philippines’ National Hero’s footsteps to mine

Intramuros Jose Rizal’s well-preserved wool coat

Intramuros This would still be very stylish today

Intramuros Words that sparked a revolution


travel accessories wish list + charity

FEED Backpack

FEED Backpack, $75
This adventure-ready backpack provides 75 school meals.

FEED Health Backpack

FEED Health Backpack, $130
For each FEED Health backpack sold, FEED will donate an identical backpack to a Community Health Worker (CHW) working in a Millennium Village in Africa.

FEED Function Bag

FEED Function Bag, $100
This functional and stylish bag provides 100 meals, and is Jessica Alba-approved!

FEED Philippines T-Shirt

FEED Philippines T-Shirt, $33
A purchase of this t-shirt provides 10 emergency meals to children and families in the Philippines affected by typhoon Haiyan.

I have never witnessed so many individuals, organizations, companies, groups, and countries unite for one cause. The help and the compassion that the Philippines has received after typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck has been extremely overwhelming, heart-warming, and inspiring. A few days after crying in front of the TV every time we watched CNN’s coverage of the typhoon, my friend Apa asked me if I wanted to sing on the street to raise funds for typhoon victims, since I like to sing in public. I thought she was joking, but when she assured me that she wasn’t, I said yes. With all odds against us – we received our street performance permit just a few days before the performance, we had no sound system, not much time, no rehearsals, minors as dancers, rain and cold weather – we went ahead and sang and (they) danced in the rain. My knees were shaking because it was too cold, it was hard to move, and I didn’t wear gloves because I painted my nails in the colors of the Philippine flag (I am detail-oriented, okay), but I kept thinking that it was just rain; it’s nothing compared to a super typhoon. It was strange seeing people stop, listen and stay, and it was amazing to see them actually dropping money in the donation box. We are truly grateful for the people’s generosity – in those two hours, we were able to raise €675 (that’s PhP 40,000!). The proceeds went to the Austrian Red Cross who provide food, clean water, medicine, hygiene kits, body bags and emergency shelter in the affected areas.