I’M A SURVIVOR: My BDM 102 Story


Unlike many other decisions I have made impulsively over the years (some I regret having made but let’s not get into that), joining the Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 was a deliberate one. Except for the timeline, which was rather hard to ascertain because of the nature of my job. Will it be in 2012? 2013? I really couldn’t tell for sure at that time. Late last year, however, I had made my intentions to run BDM 102 known to my runners friends, and of course, Mr. Baldrunner himself, and the feedback were all positive. So when KB Runner signed me up on the last day of BDM 102 application and I eventually got accepted (Note: There are certain criteria to be met for one to get accepted as a BDM race participant), I was 50 percent sure I’d do it – the other half is obviously dependent on my work schedule.

Registered!

2011 ended and while nearly all of the 2012 BDM 102 runners were busy planning for the race and training properly by logging  precious mileage and incorporating heat training into it as well, I was busy working. And working some more. In fact, since 2012 started, I think I was only able to log a total of 40k running mileage and by ultramarathon standards, that is far from ideal. And then I was supposed to be somewhere for a company event on BDM 102 race dates so it didn’t occur to me to make time for some strength training at least. I was prepared to just cut losses and perhaps go at it next year. Next thing I know, our event was moved at a later date which leaves my March 3-4 weekend wide open for some ultrarunning action. By then, I only had three weeks to put together a game plan; look for kindhearted friends willing to be my support crew (whom I have found, praise God!); and psyche myself into BDM mode. Just to make sure my legs are still in good running condition, I joined two 10k races and carbo-loaded. I must say that was the best part of my preparation – EATING. I ate more than my usual amount of food intake, constantly reminding myself each time I would feel guilty that ‘Yeah, i’m going to burn all of it anyway come BDM 102!’ And so I ate like the buffet cart was going to run out soon.

The only time that the enormity of my decision to run BDM this year dawned on me fully was when I attended the Briefing Ceremony and Carbo Loading party two nights before the actual race. Seeing nearly all of the BDM 102 runners there and making a mental note of how strong and capable they all looked, I began to doubt myself. Seriously, what was I thinking?! It’s one thing to do 50k or even 65k and perhaps finish sterlingly (I did so with my two 50k races but DNF’d with my 65k race in Nuvali) BUT 102k is clearly something else! Reylynne and I would find ourselves staring blankly at the projector screen while BR was doing the briefing and clearly not able to put a finger to what it was that we were both feeling at that time. Nervous, unsure, excited, confident are only some of the decipherable emotions at play that night.

2012 BDM 102 Briefing and CLP at Camp Aguinaldo
BDM warriors with Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner, the brains and might behind Bataan Death March

Finally, it was the night before race day. I had been long done shopping maniacally for supplies (thanks, too, in large part to my brother who shared my BDM grocery expenses with me!) and I already have my Reebok gear, Lightwater and VitaminBoost, Smith Optics Pivlock shades, reflectorized vest with lamp from ARC Ph all locked-and-loaded. JJ of my running group Team UNGAS, also gave me some supplies for the race – all of which came in handy, especially the first aid kit. My amazing support crew which I’m sharing with Cris Dela Cruz, consisting of Eric Caramay, Running Atom, and Jennybave were likewise ready to rock and roll. I went to the salon for foot spa hoping it will relax my mind so that I would at least be able to clock-in some decent zzz time. Weirdly enough, I found myself tossing and turning until about 2:30am, playing scrabble on my iPad. It seemed my mind decided to race ahead of me because I would see snippets of various BDM scenarios being played out in my head! I woke up at 6:30am and even though gun start is not until 10:15pm, I couldn’t convince myself to sleep some more. Instead, I spent my time making cheese pimiento sandwiches, boiling eggs, and packing my running gear and accoutrements.

At 4pm, we were on the road to Mariveles, Bataan.

We made a short pitstop at NLEX to have lunch. In my nervousness, I forgot to eat something during the day. Funny story: Just as we were leaving HenLin, we were sandwiched by this small crowd of people having their photos taken with this guy who turned out to be friggin’ Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and I didn’t get a chance to have my photo taken with him because he was quickly whisked away by his posse before I could even reach for my camera or BB! Nakakainis lang!

With my support crew and runner friends.

We reached KM0 in Mariveles, Bataan at around 8:30pm and as much as we wanted to cram sleep, we opted to prepare for the race. Jennybave took pains in taping my feet, especially my toes which are all blister-prone. I had wanted to use my Reebok Zigtech but after the layers of Leukoplast on both feet, the shoes were already a bit tight for me ( I must remember to get a bigger size next time!) and so I wore Claudia instead which was a good size bigger and has had an ultramarathon experience at last year’s 2nd PAU T2N 50k. It’s important that I give my feet some room to breathe given that it’s inevitable that feet will expand due to constant battering during the race. With my running gear all in place, I looked just about ready to head out to war.

‘Ultra Vicky’ says my ARC Ph shirt.:)

At the KM0 marker, ultrarunners gathered and chatted away. Photos were being taken, as well. In just a few minutes, Baldrunner would call everyone to order and he appointed some runners to sing the US, Japan, and Philippine national anthems. And then we were told to move to the starting line for the prayer and gun start.

Dear God, we pray for safety, strength, perseverance, and courage as we conquer Mariveles, Bataan all the way to San Fernando, Pampanga…

At 10:15pm, we were off like a marauding colony of worker ants. Destination: KM 102 marker at San Fernando, Pampanga. Cris, my BDM partner, and I started off strong. Even while taking it very easy in the first 6kms which was a steep uphill climb, we managed to clock-in sub-6 for the first 42km. And just as I was feeling somewhat invincible, I was brought down to earth when I heard my left knee give off a loud click followed by a very sharp pain I had to cry out. It reminded me so much of my trail run in Nuvali where my knees locked and I couldn’t move and I had to be carried back to the start/finish line on a stretcher, bereft of pride. Hello, deja vu. We immediately called on our suport crew to assist me. Bave put cold compress on injured knee and gave my legs a good rubdown. I put my knee support back on and continued running. Just a few kilometers after, my right knee gave a similar jolt. That’s when I got scared and slowly see my BDM 102 dreams fall apart piece by piece. Knee injury at any race is never a good thing. I decided to take Arcoxia to manage the pain. Cris, too, at around the same time, twisted his right ankle. And so it came to be that we were both limping even before we reached KM50.

Oh my knees! (Subtitled: Parang mag-gi-gym ka lang ah!)

At KM48, I was starting to feel very sleepy I felt like a somnambulist. I told Cris that I would need a 10-minute nap once we reach the pitstop if I am to perform well in the second half of the race. And so we both cat-napped and our support crew woke us up in time for us to see the sunlight slowly peeking out of the night skies. To feel better and refreshed, I brushed my teeth, washed my face with Physio Radiance (yes, plugging!), and brushed my hair. JJ also forced me to eat puto and drink coffee to send me on my way. My knees were feeling better but there was no telling when both will go bust again. We knew it was going to be a very sunny morning/afternoon going into Dinalupihan and all the way to San Fernando so I made sure to protect my eyes with Smith Optics Pivlock V90 Max.

Good morning sunshine! With my Reebok cap, play-dri top and shorts, you can always tell I mean some serious running business!

Just when I thought my painful knees were all that I had to manage, my left shoulder also caved-in due to the pressure of swinging my arms for a long period of time. It got so painful I had to beg RA to administer makeshift arm sling just so I can keep it stable and not moving to and fro much which only aggravates the pain. So with my knees and left arm now all in pain, I couldn’t possibly suffer more, right? I mean, Murphy could not possibly be that cruel, surely? WRONG. Because when the sun finally came out, the heat emanating from that cosmically-gargantuan ball of fire nearly burned everything on terra firma, including my skin. I thought all those years of sunbathing in the beaches of Boracay, Phuket, Davao and Bali will give me some advantage but NOTHING could have prepared me for the kind of heat that confronted us from Dinalupihan all the way to KM83 where I nearly passed out – hungry, dehydrated, and burning up!

Check out my cool arm sling!

It was then that I seriously considered throwing in the towel and calling myself a loser. I was too weak and in so much pain to even consider going further. I wanted to quit and probably never show my face at races anymore. I prayed hard for God to give me one last boost and as a testament to just how faithful HE is to his promise of keeping us safe under his care, my boost came in the form of my support crew and running group friends JJ, Leya, and Ambo. They refused to hear my protestations and declaration of surrender and instead, pushed me to give it one more go. In between force-feeding me with fruits, making me drink Oresol, and wrapping my burning skin with very cold towels, they would encourage me to get up and run the remaining distance and lay claim on my BDM 102 trophy. My support crew realized that I have not exactly been eating all this while. I would have a slice of apple, orange, watermelon, and a piece of banana and nothing more. My hydration, also, left a lot to be desired. I would only take a few sips of Lightwater, VitaminBoost, and Pocari and feel as though I’m drowning in my own skin. So weird! At KM83, my apparel were soaked and the heavy fabric of my top and shorts were weighing down on me so I changed into fresh top and running bottoms. I also discarded my knee support and patella band because at that point, the contraptions were impeding blood circulation.

With barely 2 hours left ’til the 18-hour cut-off and still 12kms away, I regained some of my strength and my stride went from power walking to what my support crew surmised to be almost 6:30 pace all the way to the finish line. I took back the lead some of the guys snatched away from me when we were forced to just walk from KM70 because of our injuries and soon after, managed to squeak-in a strong finish with more than half and hour to spare.

Nearly there…
KM 102, come to Mama!

Seeing the FINISH LINE tarpaulin and the runners who crossed way ahead of me, including all the support groups, standing just behind the arch waiting to welcome the finishers was INCREDIBLE! That 500-meter stretch to KM102 was for me the best 500 meters I would ever cross – except maybe when I get married and have to do the same ceremonial crossing, only this time, down the flower-decked aisle and preferably with the feel of powder-soft sand beneath my sandaled feet. *ahem. ahem.*

I FRIGGIN’ MADE IT TO THE FINISH LINE!!!

And here she comes barreling through the odds stacked up against her…Vicky, FTW!!!

It was such an emotional moment for me that I couldn’t contain my tears. I cried and Bave cried with me. I have wanted that BDM 102 trophy and medal since the first time I tried ultrarunning at Mr. Pinatubo and now it’s mine! And I have a laundry list of friends and sponsors to thank for making my BDM 102 dream a reality. Thank you so, so, sooo much! You guys know who you are.:)

Oh, and one more thing. If you ask me what else would I write down as great BDM moment for me, I would have to say — and you gotta keep your mind open about this and your sense of humor ready just in case — those times where I would no longer care where and how I pee. Honest truth! Bear in mind that I was competing against a lot of runners and this is where being a lady is sometimes a disadvantage – but I learned to adjust, adopt, and accommodate. Grassy patch, behind the car, in between car doors, in a dried-out canal, inside a held-out malong — name it, I’ve done it all! But only during night time when it was dark and there were hardly any people around. During the day, I would knock at people’s homes and gasoline stations and beg them to allow me the use of their bathrooms. Those times, I was never without my wet wipes which I would now declare to be among the essentials a female ultrarunner must have when running an all-nighter.

BDM 102 now officially crossed-out of my bucket list! BDM 160 na ba?;)

Pains and killer heat aside, I would say my BDM 102 experience is something I will never EVER forget. On the 3rd of March 2012, I went berserk and made true my dreams of doing the ultimate ultra – not for cash or freebies BUT for pride, honor, glory, and that little kilometer marker trophy I have always wanted to have. I am no longer just a road warrior dreaming dreams of pushing myself the limits, I am a survivor – A BDM SURVIVOR! 

My BDM 102 story.

Thank you REEBOK, ARC Ph, Lightwater and VitaminBoost by Suncoast, Smith Optics, Toby’s, CW-X, Chris Sports, FTW magazine, Team Reebok, Team UNGAS, my fellow BDM-initiate and partner Cris and my amazing support crew! To those who prayed for me and wished me well on my BDM journey, my deepest gratitude as well. We’re all made of WIN!

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Sunrise/Sunset (Photo by Mark Montalban)


Congratulations to our dear friend Mark Montalban whose photo was recently included in the CVMP Coffee Table book. I am lucky to be in the company of extremely talented friends!

Sunrise, fingers entwined.

Fingers entwined, sunrise.

What makes life beautiful?

The sunrise or the fingers?

I am once again in awe.

Ah, the simple pleasure of waking up to streaks of morning light…and none of your tormented shadows.

REEBOK EasyTone Footwear and Apparel: YOUR Secret Advantage


With the incredible success of EasyTone in the United States, Canada, and other major markets, Reebok is finally bringing the EasyTone footwear and apparel to the Philippine shores.

On September 14, Reebok Philippines and FTW Magazine gave selected bloggers a sneak preview of what the EasyTone line is all about – at the famous Wicked Kitchen by Chef Kooch. It was an intimate gathering of friends with everyone bringing home a little something – tokens and GCs from partners, which were raffled off or given away as game prizes.

Team FTW before the Bloggers' Preview
With Blogger friends

EasyTone was launched via a mega event at the Trinoma Activity Center last September 15 with Reebok Running Ambassadors Kassy Pajarillo and Vicky Ras (uhrmmm, that would be me – in case you’re wondering) as hosts. EasyTone features Reebok’s resistance technology. The unique placement and tightness of resistance technology hugs the back and thighs. EasyTone apparel makes you look and feel good as you get moving.

EasyTone footwear has built-in balance pods featuring Moving Air Technology that transfers air in response to your stride, creating micro-instability with each step.

Kassy

“I have a confession to make: I fell in love with walking all the more when I started wearing my pair of Reebok Easytone which I also refer to as my silver bullet. When I was told to lessen my runs (mileage), walking has never felt this better. By the end of the day, you’ll feel how much it worked your leg muscles and I think it actually gave my thighs a workout, too! The balance pods boost you up, try standing on one leg, move with it, ah! That’s an instant balance (core) workout. “ – Kassy Pajarillo

Vicky

“I started wearing Matilda, my EasyTone sneakers, a month ago and have worn her several times since, especially on weekends after my long runs (using Bruno my Reebok ZigNano) when I’m out to run errands or just walk around the mall. The first time I wore Matilda, there was the awkward slightly off-balance feel caused by the balance pods which I eventually got accustomed to. I learned that these balance pods are actually built into the sole of the shoes to create instability. The inside of the shoes are actually very comfortable, with the forefoot slightly wider, to accommodate the slight expansion of the feet after prolonged walking. I did notice though that at the end of my long walks, my hamstrings feel heavy and stretched like how they normally feel when I give them a good workout.” – Vicky Ras

Both EasyTone footwear and apparel combine function and style that’s fashionable enough for everyday wear, yet is signed to help provide toning benefits as you move.

To reinforce EasyTone’s message of fit and active lifestyle without compromising fashion and intelligent style, Reebok has tapped empowered Filipinas to represent the brand: Bow Valdez, Rowena Aquino, Pearl Managuelod, Kassy Pajarillo, Nikki Gil, Nina Terol-Zialcita, Betty Romero, Vicky Ras, Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou, and Darlene Anderson.

The Women of Reebok

Introducing, the WOMEN of REEBOK…

Bow Valdez

Bow. Bow is a certified Yogi and Co-owner of FLOW YOGA CENTER ALABANG. She believes that challenges build a person’s character, whether you are on or off the mat.  So expect equal parts of challenge and ease as the usual recipe in her flow class together with Reebok.

Betty Romero

Betty. An educator for the last 21 years, Betty embraces education, empowerment and enlightenment as her advocacy and passion. She is the Deputy Director of Lifeline Foundation Support Team Inc, as well as Principal of Lifeline Foundation South City Central School, a Kinder level to Secondary School in BF Paranaque.

Anna Santos

Ana. A merry mix of contradictions that would probably make a good cocktail. Part single girl and part mother. Ana was once a banker, and is now a journalist and sexual health advocate. Apart from being co-founder of Writer’s Block Philippines, she is Associate Editor of Illustrado Magazine and editorial director of Sex and Sensibilities.com which promotes positive sexuality and informed choice. She may wear many  hats, but she only needs one pair of trainers–Reebok Easytone to make sure she stays on track.

Nina Terol-Zialcita

Nina. Aside from being a co-founder of Writer’s Block Philippines, she is editor-in-chief of AsianTraveler Magazine and author of numerous blogs, opinion columns, and books. She is also a new media social entrepreneur who uses social media for social good. When she is not writing, blogging, or traveling, she is organizing projects and advocating causes. Thanks to Reebok’s EasyTone, Niña can stay on the go and keep up her tight balancing act.

Rowena Aquino

Rowena. Zumba Fitness Instructor. The 50’s won’t stop her from surprising herself. She aims to make every woman dance, and dance some more or get back into the groove they once possessed. Together with Reebok Easytone, she feels younger and is able to move even better. 50, she says, is the new 30.

Nikka Sarthou

Nikka. When she’s not wearing her writer’s hat, Nikka Sarthou indulges in her passion for traveling. Sometimes, she gets to combine the two when she travels for writing assignments. Reebok’s EasyTone line helps her keep up with her hectic yet flexible lifestyle and manage her work as Co-founder of Writer’s Block Philippines, Contributing Editor for Smile, Content Manager for OfficiallyPhilippines.com, and a Manila correspondent for FilipinoStar News – Michigan edition.

Darlene Anderson

Darlene. Not your ordinary Model/Actress, Darlene has a degree in Theater Arts from Central Saint Martins in London. She spends most of her time doing castings, helping street children by hosting charity events and whips vegan cakes for a living.  At a young age 19, Darlene is poised to conquer the world with her own brand of style, talent and passion for kids and animals. She is kept right on track by the EasyTone apparel she loves to wear.

Nikki Gil

Nikki. Nikki Gil is beauty and brains combined. Actress, VJ, model, singer and host, she first captivated the hearts of the Filipino audience and showbiz followers when she appeared in a Coca Cola ad in 2005. Since then, she has recorded several albums, acted in movies and musical plays and appeared countless in print and tv commercials, as well as magazine covers. For Nikki, living healthy and being fit are non-negotiable. So even when juggling projects, she still finds time to do some workout – wearing her favorite Reebok EasyTone tops, pants, and shoes.

Kassy Pajarillo

Kassy. More than just another Reebok face and a certified fitness enthusiast, Kassy’s love is beyond Reebok apparel, style and effective shoes. She juggles mindboggling opportunities from managing FTW Magazine and other business ventures, hence, her often-busy schedule. Losing weight is the bonus. Kassy Manages to keep up a healthy lifestyle by surrounding herself with positive people, getting into a lot of activities and always wearing her EasyTone apparel and shoes.

Vicky Ras

Vicky. Vicky Ras is a 30-something chronicler of life as experienced in supersized measures of beauty, pain, victories, failures and passions. She is a writer, PR and Communications practitioner, ultra runner, and a force of nature with a chronic case of the ‘elsewheres’. Her work takes her to a lot of places, strange some of them, and she balances life, work, athletic pursuits and the intricate web of events in between by following a disciplined fitness regimen where EasyTone proves to be a great ally.

Pearl Managuelod

Pearl. Yoga is the dance of her life. Running, swimming, and nature tripping are among the many things that keep her active, in addition to being a yogi and an entrepreneur. Pearl is also a full-time single mom who makes sure that her children have got everything they need. From teaching a yoga class, running a yoga studio, and taking care of her kids, she balances her lifestyle in comfort of Reebok flip-flops. That’s why, amidst all the sweat of joy from the yoga positions she teaches; keeping her yoga studio operating smoothly; carrying on with her life’s interests; and driving her kids to and from school, she still manages a graceful youth and an effervescent look.

***

Thank you for the lovely photos above Teacher Cheryl Golangco! Follow her blog here.

Aside from the EasyTone launch, that night was also the unveiling of sorts of the newest freebie magazine in the city — FTW! If you’re on Facebook, you may ‘like’ the page here and gain access to everything that’s MADE OF WIN!

FTW magazine maiden issue

For our maiden issue, we have Reebok EasyTone brand ambassador Nikki Gil on the cover, who was such a delight to work with at the video/photoshoot. In the cover story, he talks about her uber active lifestyle and how Reebok EasyTone footwear and apparel just synchs in perfectly with it.

Those who were at Trinoma during the launch were given copies of FTW magazine and they have all gotten back to us with great reviews! We can’t wait for the rest of you to check it out! Please keep visiting the FTW fanpage on Facebook for updates on WHERE you can get your own copy of FTW – which, as I have mentioned earlier, is ALL for FREE!  Only because we love you that much!

Check out some more photos of the uber fun REEBOK Traintone Experience below:

The stage is set...
Vicky with the EasyTone usherettes
FTW's Creative Director Chad Villarmino and Business Manager Kassy Pajarillo
FTW is born!
FTW Events Coordinator Cher Tanchingco and Managing Editor Marga Deona
FTW Editor-in-Chief Vicky Ras with the usherettes
Team FTW celebrates with friends post-event

Epson X-Fusion Media Adventure: Diving Into Fun


Thank you Epson and Total Fitness!

NOTE: Published in TOTAL FITNESS Magazine July 2011 issue.

***

Question:  SCUBA is an acronym which stands for…?

Answer: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

This question was asked in the trivia game which our team, the Black Team, failed to get cookie points for as I remember the two other team representatives were a lot faster jumping into the pool and swimming to the other side to touch the letter of the correct answer. We played a few more group games after that, in some of which our team would consistently lose, but there was just so much fun and frivolity at X-FUSION, the Epson Media Adventure, that none of these losses even mattered.

X-FUSION, the second of Epson Philippines’ annual event aimed at showcasing the company’s sales and marketing efforts in first half of the fiscal year as well as providing a glimpse of Epson’s activities in the pipeline,  was held last 12 to 13May at Acacia Diving Resort in Mabini, Batangas with over 20 media representatives coming from business, IT, and trade publications joining EPSON Philippines’ General Manager Donna Ferro, Business Systems Group Head Jay Lavarias, and MarComm and PR Department Head Roe Dillera.

Mr. Jay Lavarias summed up Epson Philippines’ 14 percent overall sales growth at the end of fiscal year 2010 versus 2009 in a short slide presentation. He attributed the growth for Inkjets and Laser printers to a bullish market for 2011. More importantly, corporate markets can expect lower total cost of ownership this year with the launch of 13 more new product offerings.

Meanwhile, Roe Dillera provided a sneak preview of the global corporate vision of the company dubbed “SE15 Vision” or Seiko Epson 2015 Vision after sharing some corporate and CSR highlights in 2010.

Black Team.

But for compulsive adventure seekers like me, the biggest highlight of the event was the Intro to Scuba Diving which Epson got all of us to try out. It my first time to do diving and the days building up to ‘Fusion’, I was teetering on the brink of combined excitement and anxiety. You see, I do not know how to swim and even though nearly all my friends assured me that swimming is not really a requirement – especially since we will have dive masters assigned to us – there were still some niggling doubts in my head until I went 25ft below sea level and found myself enthralled by the glorious sight of colorful fish and corals! We even saw a school of mangrove jacks (or talakitok says my angler friend); some clown fish occasionally peeping out of the corals; and for a while there I wished we had more time to explore. Or that I have the time and resources to actually get PADI certified soon. Now that’s a thought.

Media Adventure-seekers.

Before taking the plunge, I was pretty sure I would have panic attack just like I did the last time I went on a travel assignment in Pagbilao, Quezon. But surprisingly, I was very calm even from our descent and all the way through the 15 to 20 minutes diving time – which Vlad, the dive master assigned to me, made sure I made the most out of by swimming happily along and befriending sea creatures, even for a brief moment.  Even breathing through the regulator came fairly easy to me I could have sworn I’m a natural!

Yes Siree, we're 25ft under water!

A few times I heard the ticking sound in my ears and, at one point I had some challenges in neutralizing the pressure I had to signal for Vlad to take me back up to the surface so I can get my bearings right again. When we got down to the spot where we were supposed to take underwater group photos, I got a bit embarrassed when I realized that I was the last one to arrive!

With DM Vlad

While I am not exactly a stranger when it comes to media offsite as I have had my fair share when I used to do PR stuff for another IT company many years ago – this was my first time to come as part of the media group and I must say it is something else altogether. I could get used to this!

X-Fusion Participants

From my slipshod snorkeling experiment in Pagbilao last year, I went ten notches up (or down?) with scuba diving and taking into account the fact that I still dream about the sights and wonders I came across with while underwater, I think it is now just a matter of time before I sign up for a course. My boyfriend (now fiance) says we should get PADI certified soon as I get settled-in with him in Singapore and you know what? I just might take him up on his offer very soon.

Travel: My Goodness, BATANES!!! (Part II)


Our FIRST DAY in Batanes, glorious as it were, did not prepare us enough for the feast of the senses that was DAY TWO. Ate Monica warned us the night before that lately, Basco has been experiencing scheduled brownouts which usually starts at 3am and lasts until about mid-morning. True enough, our AC went to sleep at about 4am and we woke up to a steam room. IT. WAS. HOT. After yet another delicious breakfast served by Ate Monica, we filed out of the hostel into the van that will take us to the port where we will be taking a motorized banca bound for Sabtang.

Day Two was going to be a day of exploration and as you can see, we wasted no time. None at all.

At the Port of Sabtang. Subtitled: Stating the very obvious.

There was another van waiting for us at the port and we have a new driver, Rudy, to take us around. We started our tour with a quick stop at the beach to take photos. Have you heard people who’ve been to Batanes say that you can use the crappiest camera you own and the photos will still come out superb? Well, LUMI is certainly not made of crap (oh, I would smack someone so good for calling my baby that!) but she’s also not of Lumix GF or Sigma quality. However, she certainly made me proud of the photos she churned out. The colors and contours were captured so beautifully that they bring me close to tears each time I’d rake a peek at any of our albums.

Miss Tourism - Batanes says 'Welcome Visitors!'
Before Batanes Busog Bodies, there was 'Batanes Best Bodies'
Only one of the reasons that make Batanes beautiful.
The legendary Ivatan houses of Savidug made out of stone and cogon roof.
Best Actors in a Still Photo. Yes, kami na nga yun.

From Savidug, we made our way to Chavayan where we had the greatest time walking on narrow streets lined with Ivatan stone houses. A must-do when in this area, we rented Ivatan wear such as Vakul – a headgear worn by the Ivatan women to shield them from the heat and rain when they go about their daily errands. To have your photos taken with these Ivatan items, you pay 20 pesos.

Lady GAGAh and the fierce Monsters
This is NOT how real Ivatan women carry the basket. Instead, they put the strap around the forehead before wearing the Vakul, so that the basket itself is sitting almost atop the butt.
'What's love got to do, got to do with it? What's love but as secondhand emotion...' Yes, Tina Turner, I'm a fan.
Ivatan Ambassador of Love and Goodwill.
Napagod din ang mga Curacha.

We also passed by the famous Chamantad Sanctuary which gave us the most fantastic view of the Sabtang coastline. We trekked all the way to the cliffside for more photo-taking. Kuya Jun kind of reminded us not to go down to the beach part anymore as we still have quite a few places to visit before heading back to Basco. Question is: Did we listen? Na-uh.

Cris C. immediately went planking. Cris B. continued to put all of us to shame with his sculpted abs and exposed body parts. Romy and Eric went deep into photographers’ mode. Uly kept trying to dodge the sun but would come out of hiding for photos. And I, well, did what I do best — jump around and look pretty for the camera. Pretty, of course, being a very subjective/relative term. Basta sa mundo ko, maganda ako.

FREEEEEEEEEDOM!!!
Ang Babae sa Damuhan.
Chamantad Sanctuary panorama.
Ang Babae sa Batuhan.
Beautiful beyond words.
Free as a bird.
Heatin' up Batanes

And finally, our last stop for the day: NAKABUANG BEACH. Here, we had our scrumptious lunch comprised of adobo, lobster, steamed fish, pinakbet, turmeric rice, and fried saba for dessert. We were so stuffed it was tough for us to get our butts off the monobloc chairs. For a brief moment we toyed with the idea of just staying right where we were – away from the burning heat of the sun as were were already burned to a crisp from all the walking of the past two days. But who can possibly resist the nakakabuwang beauty of Nakabuang Beach? Certainly not us. And so…

Yes, Loves, we are still in the Philippines.
Nakabuang Beach is famous for the natural rock formations studding the stretch of its sandy white beach
Solitude by Eric Cabahug.
Decadently happy. Or Happily decadent.
Taking a respite from the heat.
Bye Sabtang Island...'til we meet again...

Travel: My Goodness, BATANES!! (Part I)


I am one very lucky girl.

I may not be rich in the traditional sense of the word but God (has) most certainly blessed me in many other ways. I don’t drive around in fancy cars or fly business class, but I have traveled to some of the most remarkable places here and abroad. With the exception of my occasional leisure trips with my dear friends and boyfriend, most of my international travels are work-related. It’s quite rare to have a career that enriches you professionally and at the same time, gives you ample leg room for you to be able to explore activities that will, in turn, enrich you both physically and spiritually.

Until very recently, it never occurred to me to make my own bucket list – maybe because I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of setting a deadline on anything that has got nothing to do with my work deliverables. I guess I have gotten so used to be being on my own that the only pace I know how to walk or run is my own. I slow down when I want to; I go on full sprint when I want to. In retrospect, it all started with running.  Tried it once and got hooked for a while. From my first 5k, I found myself running a full marathon in less than a year. I didn’t stop there. Shortly after my first and only full-mary, I dared to do an ultramarathon and got even more hooked. Since then, I have tried my hand on so many other outdoor activities that I never thought I would have access to – let alone be genuinely interested in. Fishing, Trail running, Scuba diving, Surfing, Mountain Trail Biking — these are some of the things that I have now X-marked on my list.  Though most of them I have done only once – bringing to fore that I am indeed ‘Little Miss Will Try Anything Once’ – I wouldn’t mind giving them another go sometime in the near future. Surfing, especially. But first, I seriously need to learn how to swim already. Not just for that, but for my general knowledge and survival. You know, just in case someone tries to push me into the water and make it look like an accident. Hah!

And now it seems that my list had just gotten longer with the addition of rock climbing, scrambling and rappelling which I may be doing soon as I get back from my trip. I want to tell you about so many other MORE EXCITING projects we’re working on with some very good friends but I don’t want to jump the gun too soon. For now, let’s just say that we are going to conquer the world one step at a time. Right, Kas, B, and Marga? *insert smiley here*

Now, on to the main reason for this blogpost which I accidentally turned into a novela again because of my penchant for digression: BATANES.

What else can I say about Batanes except that the island is TOO BEAUTIFUL for words? My senses are still somewhat overwhelmed that I cannot even come up with adjectives good enough to describe the whole Batanes experience (that) my friends and I had just recently.

So, just like what Eric did in FB, I will let some of the photos we took do the talking. And maybe add some unintelligible description here and there if only to delude myself into thinking that I’m still some sort of a writer.

But first, I want to thank Emperor Eric Cabahug for planning the whole thing and booking our flights as early as March when Seair announced its promo fare for Batanes. Normal flights to and from Batanes would cost you around Php16,000 including taxes and that is quite steep for a local flight. But let me tell you now that it’s all worth every centavo – and MORE. If it weren’t for the locals that look and talk just like us, you wouldn’t think you’re still in the Philippines. The island is so multifaceted you would think you’re in Hawaii or Scotland or New Zealand — three places I have never been to, by the way, but the natural land and seascapes of Batanes may very well rival the vistas of these three countries on Google images.

Sleep-deprived and in my case, still under duress from work (very normal for me), we – Eric, Cris B., Cris C., Uly, Romy and I – took the 5:15am flight from Manila to Basco, Batanes on July 1. The flight was one and a half hours long but quite comfortable. Our airhostess, Frances, had the best natural voice I have ever heard come out of a woman’s mouth. It had a sultry ring to it and she enunciated every word to near-perfection!

The Batanesians.:)

Batanes Airport is small but you instantly feel the warmth and beauty of the island the minute you step out of the plane. At the airport, we were welcomed by Kuya Jun, our designated tour guide slash driver for the whole of five days. After snapping our touchdown Batanes photo, Kuya Jun drove us to DDD Habitat, our home during our stay.

Ate Monica, cook extraordinaire slash manager of DDD Habitat, treated us to a scrumptious breakfast of fish lumpia, veggies, and rice. Not wanting to waste a single minute of our Batanes time, we changed into shorts and tanktops and set off to explore the island – except for Eric who opted to sleep the first half of the day. That morning, Romy, Cris B., Cris C., Uly and I went to the lighthouse nearby.

One of the MANY jumpshots we will be doing in Batanes.
United Colors of Batanes.
San Marino advert gone dark. haha.
Paging mobile providers, you might want to use this in your marketing collateral. LOL.

When we came back just in time for lunch, we were all twice as dark as when we first arrived in Batanes. We did not really anticipate the heat to be that intense so we scrimped on sunblock. Lunch was fantastic and we all fell in love with the fern salad Ate Monica prepared. Thus began the Batanes BUSOG EDITION. Let me explain. The minute we arrived in Batanes, all we did was eat, walk, take photos, eat, eat, EAT! Hence the ‘busog’ look in all of my swimsuit photos. So much for ripped abs. The all went back into hiding beneath the layers of fat – many thanks to the sinfully delicious meals we would have five times a day! Such was the case for me, at least. Because Cris B.’s perpetually ripped! he ate as much, if not more than, I did but the abs stayed right where they are. I asked how it’s even possible for those pandesals to stay unfazed despite the amount of food ingested whereas mine looked, well, bloated, he said, ‘it’s all muscles, Vicky.’ So I guess I have to work harder than ever before to scrape the fat layers, eh? When did it get sooo hard to be a woman?!?

Living on the edge is good...sometimes.:)
At the viewing deck of one of the smaller lighthouses.
For Cris' Mom.:D
Binibining Yellow bell.
Inside one of the rooms at 'Fundacion Pacita'

According to the caretaker, Fundacion Pacita can be rented for around P7,500 per day. They are currently renovating the place but it should be open for business again soon. In the meantime, you can have lunch or coffee at this beautiful place with the stunning view of the rolling hills of Batanes and the great pieces of art on display inside the house.

And that concludes Day One.