TRAVEL: BOHOL, beautiful!

So, thanks, in no small part, to my current state of preoccupation I have not exactly been livin’ it up in many areas of my life. Well, apart from super fun trip to Bohol with C for his birthday, I haven’t done anything exciting or sexy lately. Unless you are just like me, someone who thinks work is sexy. At least I consider mine to be. Maybe because I am passionate about what I do and the many opportunities that are still to come. Just this afternoon, Kas and I were having a private conversation on Twitter about how our respective social lives have ceased to become social, so to speak. Mainly because we have not been doing any form of socialization unless it involves work. Like I said, the only places I ever see now are the interior of our office, the mall close by where I would often have my lunch, and my shoebox apartment. And lately, I have been going home late nights because of so many projects we need to deliver by September. And most of these projects are simply too big to fail, so there’s very little room for F-ups.

So anyway, Bohol. Perhaps one of our best trips together. Well, come to think of it, all of our travels have been nothing if not fantastic. It’s just that I realized that apart from the two trips we made to Boracay in 2010 and 2011, C has seen very little of our country. We travelled to Banaue and Baguio once with friends but it was one disastrous trip it hardly counts as an adventure.  In fact, he would always remind me of it whenever the subject my ‘travel planning skills’ would come up. Now I can safely say that Bohol became my redemption. It was also my first trip to the island so it was double fun for us!

We stayed at the beautiful Bohol Beach Club and I could not have chosen better, if you ask me. The resort was just perfect for what C and I needed – some privacy, good food, fun amenities, and a long stretch of white sand where we can run barefoot on. The resort staff were very nice and accommodating and everywhere you look there’s always someone sweeping the ground or picking up dried leaves. Bohol Beach Club is such an amazing place I recommend that you make it your first choice when planning a trip to Bohol.

Now one of my favorite places in the country, Bohol Beach Club!

We were only there for the weekend but we managed to do a lot of things and visit a lot of places. Thanks to our local guide recommended by Atche Noel. For 2,000, our local guide took us to the touristy places in Bohol and all things considered, I’d say it was well worth it!

1. Blood compact. Our first stop during the tour. This is supposedly the site where the then-Captain General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi entered into a blood compact with Datu Sikatuna to crystallize the friendly relations between the Spanish conquistadores and the natives sometime in the 1500’s. The site itself is really not much to look at as it was just there by the roadside and one could hardly call it a marvel. But I guess it’s what the stone sculpture of the Spaniards and Datu Sikatuna represents that merit some form of acknowledgment in this case. So, hooray for friendship and alliance! Much good it did us, ‘no?

The Blood Compact.

2. Baclayon ChurchAnother colonial religious architecture dating back middle of the 16th century. The church interior has that kind of ornamentation that’s similar with a few other old stone churches still found in the Philippines. Although I think some of them failed to withstand the test of time and natural calamities but Baclayon Church, thankfully, is not one of those. There is a museum attached to the church but we did not go anymore because we rather pressed for time. I heard the museum itself is loaded with antiques and other beautiful art pieces, so looking back, it would have been nice if we made a pitstop there as well.

The interior is actually fascinating…and a bit sad. It carries a lot of history in it, for sure.

So there you go. I guess C and I have not ‘really’ been to Baclayon…

3. XZOOTIC Animal Park. For only P20 entrance fee, you get too see a few exotic animals such as the ostrich, civet cat, asian leopard, bear cat, monkey, porcupine, and the main attraction: the two pythons each weighing over 200kgs! If you’re feeling brave, you can have your photos taken with them inside the cage. Don’t worry, they’re fed well enough (two live chickens we were told) that they’re usually asleep or digesting during the day. Looking at those animals though, you’d somehow feel distressed because they are kept in such tiny cages you just know they feel very restricted and unhappy.

Norio the ginormous reptile. Caretaker told us he weighs about 203kgs. And no, i’m NOT that brave at all. It’s just that he’s sleeping, as you can see. If he were awake and hungry, I will be in another city or country, that’s for sure. LOL.

With Milo the Ostrich.

4. Loboc River Cruise. In truth, there was nothing exceptional about this part. Sure, it was relaxing to be on board a mid-sized boat while enjoying your lunch. Well, it would have been if only fellow passengers were not moving around too much taking photos of each other every two seconds and blocking your view in the process. Food was okay and for Php300 per head for the one hour river cruise with buffet, you could say it’s not that steep. At some point during the cruise, we made a pitstop so the young Boholanos can serenade us with folk songs and wow us with their folk dancing skills and dexterity. Oh, watch out for the waterfalls, too. And I mean REALLY keep your eyes peeled because it’s so tiny you’d miss it if you just blink.

Cruisin’ for Bruisin’

The Tinikling. I performed this once before in a school program back in the province where I came from. Ako na ang katutubo. LOL.

Dig in!

5. The TARSIER Conservation Area. Definitely one of the two highlights of our tour. Oh just to see those cute primates is already a fulfilling experience in itself! Too bad we are no longer allowed to get too close to them, much less pet them, because I really would have wanted to put them in my palm and just nuzzle their furry little bodies with my nose! The place itself is about three acres (according to the watchers) and it is home to 129 tarsiers, each one of them watched very closely by the caretakers – all of whom are ready to pounce on unruly visitors who would insist on taking photos with their camera flash on and/or touching the sleeping tarsiers. They’re nocturnal animals, by the way, so they’re sound asleep during the day. Although we saw one who was struggling mightily to sleep and he kept blinking his very big eyes until he finally tuned out the world. C was especially enamored by the tiny primates he wouldn’t stop gushing about the until after we left Bohol!

Home of the Tarsier.

Oh hello there, cutie!

The obligatory couple photo with the tarsier.:p

6. Man-made forest. What else can I say about this site except that it’s a forest made by, well, men. But seriously, the trees actually look pretty, slightly bent forward as they face each other so when you look at them from afar, they seem to form an umbrella giving shade to motorists and vehicles passing through. Nice place for photo op, too.

Man-made forest.

7. Chocolate Hills. Our second favorite part of the tour, next to the tarsier. What we found fascinating was the fact that these hills had actually been carved out from thin layers of corals and shell fragments as they were once submerged in water. As to why the nearly 1,300 mounds of earth were formed and shaped essentially the same is I suppose a happy accident. There’s also a wishing well at the viewing deck to which C and I made a coin donation each for our, uhrrrm, individual wishes. Oh, by the way, there’s some 200 steps you have to climb to get to the viewing deck, so I suggest you work on your cardio a little bit before you take the stairs.

The hills are alive with the sound of music…

Make a wish, baby…And our love will make it come true…

The two things we failed to do while there were (1.) Visit and dine at the Bee Farm, and; (2.) See the dolphins. C’est dommage! We actually made arrangements for a boat ride to Virgin Island, a known sanctuary for the dolphins, on our last day in Bohol, but on that particular morning it rained heavily we decided not to risk it. Seeing the dolphins would have been a perfect way to cap our trip. Instead, we decided to run barefoot on the beach for half an hour once the sky cleared; avail of our complimentary kayak ride; and get one last massage by the beach before finally leaving the resort.

Bye Bohol Beach Club!

All in all, it was an awesome awesome awesome adventure and we loved every single moment of it! I guess we will just have to go to Apo island one day to see the dolphins. But that won’t be anytime soon because we have Palawan lined up…

SPEED Magazine: Wanna get FIT? There’s an app for that!

Like a lot of people who have crossed the 30-year mark and are beginning to experience increasingly slowing metabolism, I am under a lot of pressure to keep fit – both for aesthetics and health reasons. But when you have a job that requires you to work beyond 9 hours and travel frequently abroad, not to mention, one or two extra curricular activities you dabble in outside of work, it becomes a major challenge to slot-in a sustainable fitness regimen.

But thanks to great discoveries in fitness technology, people like me who barely have time to visit fitness clubs (I enrolled for a one-year program at 360 and have only visited the club less than 10 times in four months), now have access to games such as Xbox 360 Kinect add-on or Nintendo Wii Fit and do workout at home instead. I don’t own either of these two but what I do have and I must say I am quite hooked on these days are mobile apps that let me share my accomplishments with online friends and fellow fitness freaks.  The latest crop of fitness technology –pumped up with gaming and social networking features – certainly add a deeper level of fun to the usual sweat and burn.

Currently, there is an onslaught of apps that are downloadable for free or for a minimal download fee. When it comes to health and fitness, here are some of the ones that I have on my iPad, which I try to update as often as my schedule permits me.

1. MyFitnessPal. Before getting started with this program, make sure to key in basic information about your current weight, height, activity level, goal weight etc. MyFitnessPal app allows you to set goals for yourself make suggestions on how much calories you should be consuming everyday in order to reach your goal according to the timeline you have set. You can log in the food you eat and this app will tell you how many calories that food contains. Furthermore, it also helps you monitor and keep track of your exercise and the amount of calories you burn for each workout session. The app shows your weight loss over time in a graph format, which you can share with your friends anytime.

2. Fitness Pro. With Fitness pro you can easily create your own workout plan. It has 450+ exercise photos of real people that help you find the right exercise routines for you. Fitness Pro 2.0 contains an advanced logging system that can assist you in tracking your progress. Just start logging your exercises during training so you can track your progress in detail.

3. LoseIt. Get closer to success when it comes to weight loss with LoseIt! Set goals and establish a daily calorie budget that enables you to meet them. Stay on track each day by recording your food and exercise and being conscious of your allowable calorie consumption. This app has a track record of helping the average active Lose It! lose more than 12lbs .  Now who needs lipsosuction when you have this app to help you shed excess weight?

To ensure that you keep to your health and fitness goals as the year continues to get busier for you, here are simple ways you can follow:

1. Make your goals visible.

I’m sure you’re just as tired of making resolutions that don’t get fulfilled just like the next person but probably one of the reasons why you have a hard time seeing your goals through is because they are not visible. I recommend that you put “I WILL…” and your resolution on the homepage of your computer, your mobile device, and your monitor at work so that your goals are in your face every time you power up your machine, make a phone call, or check your email.

2. Go on social media.

Self-pandering or not, you gotta admit that social media is a great tool to help support your resolution. Start out by announcing a measurable, attainable goal with a deadline (ideally the first quarter of 2012) and invite your Facebook and Twitter friends who can help support your initiative by training with you, sharing healthy recipes, providing you with extra motivation at work, or simply not tempting you with treats along the way.

3. Keep track of your performance.

Use an online workout tracker like Dailymile or download mobile device apps such as MyFitnessPal to help you keep track of your performance and identify trends to help you better succeed. Core Performance tracking and reporting tools allow you to track your weight, energy levels, quality of sleep, pain and soreness, productivity, overall mood, impact on others, and willingness to train. Fill in your trackers daily and see your progress charted over time in your Reports section.

Race Event: BROOKS’ Happy Run 2

I can’t remember where I was when the first Happy Run was staged but I missed it last year. I must have been gallivanting somewhere for sure because I normally do not pass up a chance to hit the road when I’m in town. After all, running is just right about the only proper workout I get to fit into my insane schedule. So when I heard that the second run is happening on the 3rd of June and good for me I’m around, I told myself I ain’t going to miss it this time. Even if it means doing (a) back-to-back race after Merrell Trail Adventure the day before. I hope my rusty knees are up for the challenge, given that I have been pretty sedentary these past weeks.

I heard that this year, Brooks, along with race organizers Without Limits and Pro Active, are cooking up a storm of fun and exciting activities at the race for the runners, guests, and families to enjoy. Aside from photo booths, inflatables, and games, there will also be a selling exhibit of top running brands such as Brooks, Moving Comfort, Polar, RUNNR and a few more. Not only that, runners can also purchase selected pair of Brooks running shoes at half the price!

Happy Run 2 has three race categories: 6k, 12k, and 21k with cash prizes up for grabs. Not only that, Brooks brand ambassador Jennylyn Mercado along with other GMA talents, will be there to grace the event. We heard Jennylyn – who’s also a triathlete  (how many of you know that? Amazing, isn’t she?) – will be running 6k. So guys, I would advice you not to run too close unless you’re prepared to get chicked. But for photo op purposes, why not?

And oh, just so you know, Happy Run 2 is an event in support of the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), a non-government organization that helps to protect and conserve the environment. A noble cause, wouldn’t you say? After all, if our environment gets even more messed up than it already is, we may not have a dry place to run around in.

Register now at RUNNR outlets in BHS, Trinoma, and Alabang and selected Toby’s Sports outlets all over Metro, and get your race kit with the limited edition Brooks singlet and Gu gel. I saw the singlet and I totally love it! The color , fabric, and cut are sexy. And I kinda know sexy, so trust me on this. *wink*

So…are you ready to get happy with us?

TOTAL FITNESS: Secrets to a healthy relationship (And why you should know them)

Total Fitness May 2012

Relationships are a tricky business. Even with a thick manual on Do’s and Don’ts, a lot can still go wrong and you’re left wondering why, when you were pretty confident you followed every single ‘How To’ down to the last punctuation mark. This happens usually because most of the thoughts and sentiments of both parties are not conveyed verbally and it can get so cryptic at times that you would think mindreading really ought to be put down as a qualification for a potential partner.

So, really, what is deal here? Are there any more juicy secrets that men and women ought to know about each other to settle the stalemate once and for all? There are, in fact, a few secrets women wish men knew about them and men, too, have a list of what they want women to know. So how about we go through them quickly now?

She said:

  1. There are no secrets among us girls. We talk about everything, including sizes and embarrassing gaffes.
  2. We love men with an outstanding sense of humor. So make me laugh and that will make me happy, but being able to laugh at yourself and not looking so constipated-serious all the time; that, my man, is what will make me love you.
  3. Please listen to me when I’m saying something. Not because my statement will change the course of the world but because listening is a sign of respect. And respect just happens to add great value to how our relationship can eventually change course from being casual to serious.
  4. Always tell me when I look hot and try to bite your tongue when I just barely tip the scale of hotness to my favor. I’m only human and I have bad hair days, too. But you must know that I always want to look pretty for you, hence, the spa, mani-pedi sessions, shopping, etc. These activities I know you consider as frivolous, but let me tell you that the time to worry is when I stop making an effort.
  5. I love sex and yes it applies to days when you’re not around and I have to take care of business all by myself. I may be a suit-wearing corporate hotshot by day, but my mind is filthier than you might think. So allow me to run the night show sometimes and I guarantee you will be blown out of your mind.

He said:

  1. Men are turned-on by a challenge, NOT a chore.  We don’t like getting anything too easily, too fast. We want to work a little bit to get the woman we want. Instant gratification is cool when we are simply out for a play, but when we are serious we really mean ‘meet-my-family’ kind of serious.
  2. Men are not mind readers and we really need women to give us a bit of a heads-up, a hint here and there, to know exactly how to handle certain situations. Giving us the cold treatment will only cause us to fumble some more. You don’t even need to spell it out; just a hint will do because we are quite smart too.
  3. Guy time is an absolute necessity for us. We NEED time to bond with our buddies over sports, drinks, etc. Not for anything, but because it is healthy for us to develop and maintain good friendships and support systems in a highly competitive society.  This is not to alienate or isolate you and in fact, we will love you even more if you would also show some streak of independence and not demanding to be constantly together 24/7.
  4. Men love being wanted just for being who they are. Learn to simply bask in my presence and not only will you make me feel special, I will ensure that you will not nothing more when you’re with me.
  5. Men DO like it when women initiate sex. As seemingly crazy as we are about sex, we are impressed and pleasantly surprised when women are just as exuberant and sometimes take the initiative when it comes to sex.

By taking into account these suggestions, any woman can greatly enhance the way they communicate with the men in their lives, and vice-versa. Men desire to be understood just as much as women do; women desire to be listened to just as much as men want to dominate the conversation sometimes. And guess what? Both have a healthy appetite for sex and intimacy which when stoked, will certainly add spice to the relationship. With this in mind, any woman can always do her best to better understand her man; and any man would adore the woman who could apply such suggestions towards building a healthy relationship with them.

TOTAL FITNESS: Fun Activities To Tick-off Your List Before Summer Ends

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In a tropical country like ours where you don’t exactly have a choice when it comes to seasons, it’s fairly easy to mark summer as your default favorite. And why not? Here, we have some of the best beaches in the world and a few other interesting travel destinations, if donning short shorts and bikinis aren’t exactly your thing. But for those of you who can ill-afford to travel so much because of family and work restrictions, there are a lot of other activities you can do before summer is chased away by torrential rains.

1. Check out new dining places once a week and make your recommendations to friends and social media followers. Summer shouldn’t be just a treat for your (bronzed) skin. You must find ways to lavish your taste buds as well – without having to spend your entire life savings away. To make your gastronomic adventure even more exciting, try incorporating a theme into it.

2. Do a weekend movie marathon with friends. Start with your common favorite romcom or art film and then work your way through other movie genres. Don’t forget to serve up reduced-fat popcorn and healthy snacks so you can store up energy for a lively discussion during and after the screening.

3. Check out bazaars, flea markets, and ukay-ukay. Fashion need not be expensive and you can certainly look like a million bucks with a unique piece from ukay-ukay if you pull it off.

4. Travel locally. Whether by plane, bus, train, or boat, traveling has always been a panacea for all ills – except maybe that of your wallet. While it’s always enriching to travel abroad and getting exposed to foreign cultures, it is also equally important to discover pockets of beauty in our own shores.

5. Enroll in a language class. French, Mandarin, and Spanish are among the favorites and by the time summer is over, you just might surprise yourself – and your friends – with your multilingual dexterity.

6. Launch a garage sale. Rid your closet of clothes and accessories you haven’t worn in ages and make a bit of money you can spend on updating your wardrobe after. Now that’s a smart fashionista!

7. Visit a museum or check out the local art scene. Museums are one of the best places to learn about so many different topics ranging from space, to art, to natural history, and everything in between.  What makes museums so special is their ability to transport us to different times and places – at minimal cost.

8. Go to a basketball game or the local boxing match. Or any sporting event you’re a fan of. There is some wicked pleasure to be had in being part of a live action/crowd, and if you’re up for it, sign yourself up for some pre-game or half time festivities.

9. Sign up for a self-defense class. These days, it’s becoming increasingly important to learn the ways of defending oneself against criminal-minded people and dangerous situations. Take your pick from taekwondo, muay thai, or jiu jitsu and avoid looking like an easy prey.

10. Let your hair breathe. Before you know it, the humidity will cease and you’ll no longer have an excuse to not heat-style your hair when going out. Save time (and sweat) by using some texturizing spray in your hair before heading out the door.

11. Watch the sunset and take photos. Always beautifully dramatic, the sunset evokes a cornucopia of wonderment and emotions so much so that even if you don’t take good photos, you can always count on one or two of your captures coming out real good.

12. Stock up on fresh fruits. Make sure to put peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe and mango at the top of your grocery list, and keep them there as long as possible.  Suring summer, our skin tends to gets so dry especially when not cared for by moisturizers, so make sure to indulge in Vitamin A and E-rich foods and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

13. Sign up for a summer-savvy mani/pedi and spa treatment. Treat tortured tootsies and whole body to an extravagant TLC with a spa treatment finished off with a quintessentially summer shade like mint green or tangerine nail polish.

14. Have a fling. Whether it’s a guy with great surf moves or the girl down the hall with a shared love of long island iced tea, invest in the type of connection that runs on sun and laughter, and make sure to remain Facebook friends when the day gets shorter – for who knows what the following summer might bring?

15. Visit an amusement park. Pay tribute to your twelve your old self by hitting up all of the roller coasters at the local theme park. If living far from one, you might want to consider paying Tom’s World or World of Fun a day visit.

And so it begins…

Filed under something new. The time has come for me to conquer one of my greatest fears. This comes only second to recycling an Ex and/or vice-versa. Totally kidding, you guys!

Have a lovely weekend ahead, dahlinks, even though the weather during the past three days have been anything but. When all else fails, there’s The Avengers to watch. Beefcakes never go out of style.