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.

I Am Woman, I Fish and Tell…

Ahhhh, what a hellishly busy life I’ve been leading these days. With about 2 months to go before our company’s biggest event of the year is staged in Kuala Lumpur, the demands of work have certainly doubled. In fact, the usual 9 working hours in a day is no longer enough to cover the deliverables. Since the beginning of February, I have been staying back in the office until about 9 or 10pm. Oftentimes, I’m the last person to leave. Surprisingly though, I am coping and I mean real well – even churning out better output than when I was just clocking-in normal hours. I realised, I am in my element when things get a bit more tight; deadlines get even shorter; and pressure gets to near-boiling point. I’m a workhorse, that’s what I am.

But even with a crazy work and travel schedule, I still manage to get some fun things done on the side. And if there’s one thing I never sacrificed even when cross-eyed with deadlines, it would be my fitness regimen. True, I have not been visible in the local running scene – the last one I did was the disastrous BDM 52k Test  which I failed to complete due to injuries sustained – but I have not exactly been sitting on my butt, expanding horizontally in the process. Although, for a brief moment in February, I fell ill and had to be hospitalised for 3 days (doctors’ findings showed  Acute Gastro and vitamin B12 deficiency) which resulted to an alarming 6lbs weight gain. Now, I have worked hard to stay tight at 95lbs and for me to suddenly balloon up to 101lbs is completely out of whack! This certainly calls for an INSANITY intervention, for which I am eternally grateful to Abby Jocson, because she was the one who gave me the workout dvd last year.

But let’s talk about that in my next post.

I am woman, I fish and tell...

What I have in store for you, my dear readers (if you guys are still hanging around, that is, because lately I have been nondescript in the blogging world as well),  is a little sumtin’ sumtin’ called angling. Or fishing with an angle by means of hook, if you want to be more specific about it. At least that’s how wiki defined it. *wink*

As mentioned in my previous post here, the first time I got intro’d to fishing was in September of 2010 (if my faulty memory serves me right – paradox much, eh?) when a dear friend of mine took me to Apalit in Pampanga. I remember the exhilaration of landing  a catch very vividly as though it was only yesterday.

Oh wait, I did land a fish yesterday! Albeit a tiny tilapia which we naturally released back into the water so it can fight another day…or two.

But what really got me all pumped up was my encounter with two mean panggas who fought my awkward attempts at landing them every single step of the way! It was an incredible feeling! Here’s the fishing report I posted in the fishing forum where I am a member of:

So yesterday, I was finally able to wet my (technically, my friend’s) line. Favorite Angler BFF finally caved to my constant hassling and emotional blackmail(ing).

We went to Apalit, where I landed my first catch many months back and once again, the place did not disappoint. The weather was beautiful – clear blue skies with soft, puffy clouds painted over it and just the right amount of sun to warm my skin and give it a deeper tinge of bronze.

Barely an hour into our fishing trip, there came a series of violent tugs on my line which prompted my friend the young kibitzer (Carlo, i think, was his name) to rush over to my side. It appeared to be a sizable pangga and boy did it fight my awkward attempts at landing it every step of the way! In the end, my scaly friend prevailed.

I was terribly disappointed. More with myself and my obvious inexperience.

On my next cast, I got another violent tug and this time it was a bigger pangga which we saw when it briefly broke into the surface. I went on and on asking my friend to help me land the fish because I was clearly not confident with my skill but he would only coach me to either tug back and a few other helpful tips which obviously did not register in the height of my panic. For the second time, I lost what could have been a big catch. And I lost my temper too. :(

I got so upset that for a brief moment there, I no longer wanted to cast. But it was an incredibly beautiful fishing day to waste by acting like an irrational brat. As my friend told me, fishing is supposed to be a fun, relaxing activity which I am ruining by behaving the way I did. I guess it was the stress of the past week finally finding an outlet.

Anyway, we lingered for at least half an hour more and as the seconds progressed, I became evidently calmer. And just as I was nearly done reeling in, I saw a small-sized tilapia struggling at the end of the line. Of course, we did the honourable way of releasing it back into the water so it can fight another day.

Meanwhile, Carlo the young kibitzer caught a tilapia weighing 3/4 of a kilo. The tilapia eventually found itself stuffed with chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro; lathered with half a cup of calamansi juice; drizzled with olive oil; wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, and baked in the over for half an hour. A seriously yummy dish which I devoured after my Insanity workout.

And that was how my Sunday was concluded – beautifully! :clap:

To show you just how fabulous my fishing Sunday went, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure…

Favorite Item no. 4: Fishing!

With Henrietta the Hito

It shames me a little to admit that until very recently, the only kind of fishing I knew how to do – and gotten quite adept at – was the sort that involves landing compliments. I’m a little attention-starved that way, yes.

But one Sunday last September, I tagged along with my buddy on one  of his weekend fishing expeditions and I finally got what the excitement was all about!  I woke up at 5:00am, showered quickly, got dressed, and watched a bit of news while waiting for my friend to pick me up en route to a fishing village in Apalit, Pampanga where a few other friends will be joining us. It was a short, easy-breezy ride as traffic jam was nearly non-existent and our light conversation would only be punctuated by a bite off the bread I brought for the trip or the quick drive-thru at Jollibee for hamdesal and coffee. It was my first time to ever go fishing and I was totally awed by the lures, poppers, fishing rod, line and the reel which my friend proudly showed me! Evidently, he likes fishing a lot and it’s very refreshing to see someone actually take a real interest in anything and not just because it’s a fad or a novelty. He’s been fishing for quite sometime now and even has plans of going an some major fishing adventure in the Amazon or Mekong River. Now that’d be an adventure of a lifetime! I’ve been a big fan of Discovery channel’s Jeremy Wade of the River Monsters fame since I first chanced upon an episode some months back and I have often wondered what it’d be like to join him in one of his trips in search of, say, the Goliath Tiger Fish, Alligator Gar, and other feared predators of the river. I easily get terrified but my daring for adventure far outweighs my fear, so I reckon I’m going to do just fine. Besides, I like roughing it out.

We fished for 3 hours and I was the first one to land a fish. It was a catfish which was about the length of my torso! It was funny how I caught it, really. I got me a bird’s nest – that’s what they call the massive tangle of line that usually happens when you reel in awkwardly – and I was trying so hard to untangle by myself because I was already pretty embarrassed to ask my friend’s help as it was my second bird’s nest and I don’t even own the thing! As I was tugging, pulling, and peering through the reel – all in futility – I felt something tug at the end of my line. My heart skipped a bit but I ruled it out initially as, I don’t know, maybe a patch of weed or twigs my hook got caught in. But then it tugged again and again and again and that’s when I called out my friend’s name and told him I might have caught something. I was jumping up and down when I saw the catfish’s head break into the surface. I caught a fish and nearly peed my shorts out of sheer excitement!

Terry the Tilapia. Such a cutie, isn't she?

I named my catch Henrietta the Hito, and no, it’s not named after someone I hold rancor against (I usually name them punyeta or some other fancy names, kidding!). I just happen to like the sound of the name Henrietta. After Henri, I would catch one more fish and this time, it’s a tilapia which I christened Terry. Now, as much as I like tilapia on my food plate (I seriously love tilapia – fried, grilled, cooked in soup, anything at all!), I decided to send her back into the  water because I felt she wasn’t full-grown yet. But not after having some photos taken with her. She’s such a cutie, that Terry!

We only fished for 3 hours but we ended up with Henrietta and three other friends! But more than the thrill of the catch, I was more in awe of yet another discovery I’ve made about myself. You see, I have a very short attention span and I’m one of those who need to be moving constantly or I will die of boredom. And so it came as a surprise to me to be able to just stand in one spot (or sometimes sit on the portable chair my friend had in his car) and wait for the fishies to take the bait. And not once have I felt restless or bored. In fact, it was one very calming experience, almost zen-like. I wasn’t thinking about work, personal crises – both real and imagined – and a few other trivial things I often catch myself getting obsessed with. I was…happy! I didn’t know fishing can do that to someone like me – an adrenalin junkie.

It would take two more weeks before I would have another go at it. Fishing, I mean. This time, it would be at Aling Nene’s Pond – or ANP as it’s fondly referred to by the members of the Filipino Anglers Forum, of which I am now also a member. Well, more like a lurker as I haven’t really gotten into the whole angling craze just yet. I’m still contemplating whether I should buy my own fishing gear because I’m kind of in a transition period now. There are so many things happening and some really major ones about to unfold and I don’t want to take up another interest that I wouldn’t be able to sustain in the long run. Unlike running, of course, which I can do pretty much anywhere and which does not require me to be carrying a fishing equipment and a boxful of lures and hooks at all times. But I like fishing a lot and I’m open to fishing invitations so long as I’m not expected to bring my own gear. Hint, hint, hint…:)

Anyway, going back to my ANP trip. Unlike in Apalit, we were skunked in a major way at Aline Nene’s. Not uncommon in fishing, even if you ask rabid anglers out there. See that’s another interesting thing about fishing. Not too far removed from what happens to us out there in real life. Sometimes, even with the best equipment (talent, looks, etc), we still end up failing once or twice. I don’t think any one of us here truly leads a charmed life. We get skunked every now and then. Such is life.

But despite getting skunked, I still had fun because the place afforded me with a nice view of the sunset on one end of the spectrum and the serene beauty of the water on the other. Again, that zen-like sensation came over me like a fleece blanket on a cold, cold night. Too bad I didn’t have a decent camera and had to make do with my Blackberry in taking photos. The view was just spectacular.

So those were my two very memorable fishing trips. I don’t know yet when I’d be able to go on another but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a haruan if and when fishing trip happens. We’ll see. Anyway, here are some more photos of my fishing trips. Enjoy!

Fitness: Be On Top Of Your Game, Gear Up!

All across the sporting world, training sessions are at a fever pitch: NBA superstars are gearing up for the 2010 season, elite runners are preparing for the New York City marathon, UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar is hitting the bags for a championship match, and our very own Manny Pacquiao is hard at work for his next big fight.

These super athletes have become today’s archetypes of total fitness, inspiring sports and fitness buffs to pursue training and exercise regimens to raise their own level of game. And the more demanding training goals are, the more important it is to have the right training equipment.

Sporting goods expert Chris Sports is well aware of these needs, as it delivers top-flight fitness tools for both beginners and seasoned athletes, from the most basic to the most cutting-edge sports and fitness gear. Whatever your sport, whatever your fitness thrills, Chris Sports has a wide array of top equipment at hand:

Hi-tech home fitness

Whether you’re a serious athlete or just looking to shed a few pounds, cardiovascular exercise is a must—it leads to better fitness and endurance, and is a great way to burn calories. Treadmills and ellipticals have long been the preferred cardio tool for many, as they allow users to exercise in the comfort of their homes. For those looking for the best home fitness equipment in the market today, Chris Sports offers the renowned NordicTrack treadmills and Pro-Form ellipticals.

Nordictrack X5i

The NordicTrack X5 Incline trainer features a heavy-duty (300 lbs. capacity) frame that houses modern training features such as 0-40% 1-Touch Incline and 0 to -3% 1-Touch Decline for varying workouts, a patented CardioGrip heart monitor, a Scrolling CrossTrainer Display, and even a special music port for your iPod. The X5’s excellent programmable workouts and its fully dynamic incline allow the user to burn five times more calories, even by walking. Previously priced at P129,000, the X5 now retails for only P105,995, with deferred payments for 12 months at 0% interest.

The Pro-Form ZE3 features a large LCD display, varying digital resistance training, four preset workouts and eight weight loss workouts, an EKG Grip Pulse, 250 lbs user capacity, and iPod compatible audio with built-in speakers. The ZE3 retails for P19,995, with 12 month payments at 0% interest.

“Through the NordicTrack X5 and the Pro-Form ZE3, Chris Sports provides the very best in modern home fitness for people ranging from serious enthusiasts to beginners,” remarked Gilbert Tang, Managing Director of Chris Sports. “Cardio training is an absolute must in any fitness regimen. And the user-friendly and customizable settings of these machines are perfect for people who want to lose weight, or have been advised by their doctors to have a healthier, more active lifestyle, as part of their fitness goals.”

Hard-hitting gear for boxing, taekwondo, MMA

If punches and kicks are your thing, Chris Sports offers high quality hand wraps, MMA and boxing gloves, mouthpieces and shin guards, and punching/kicking bags in various sizes and price points. Among the must-have gears are the Taekwondo brand Kix, and boxing and MMA brand BULLS, which is also the official equipment brand of the URCC (Universal Reality Combat Challenge).

Serving an ace with the best brands

Among Chris Sports’ most frequent patrons are tennis and badminton enthusiasts, as the store offers top rackets, balls, shuttlecocks and accessories from leading brands Babolat, Dunlop, Head, Prince, Slazenger, Wilson, and Yonex.  The store’s tennis and badminton offerings go beyond high quality products, as Chris Sports also offers Stringway and Babolat precision stringing services for players.

Exploring the outdoors with Deuter and Tribu

The very nature of outdoor sports such as hiking and biking requires only the best equipment to ensure maximum safety and performance. For adventure seekers, Chris Sports can enjoy superior outdoor gear from Deuter, including durable and lightweight backpacks for hiking, travelling and biking, heavy duty trekking accessories, and outdoor sleeping bags. For a comfy and enjoyable hike, Chris Sports recommends the high quality, non-slip outdoor sandals of Tribu, a popular brand among adventure lovers.

Going for a swim with Mares and Zoggs

Whether it’s for recreation or for competition, swimming and snorkeling enthusiasts will up their game with hi-level equipment from Zoggs and Mares. Zoggs offers innovative goggles, swimwear, swim caps, as well as various training aids such as fins, paddles and kickboards. Mares is the brand of choice for snorkeling buffs, with its exciting line of masks, snorkels, diving wear, and accessories.

Diverse range of sports

Chris Sports’ impressive line of sports gear spans a wide range of disciplines and recreational activities, ensuring that no athlete or sports buff would be left out in their equipment needs. Included in Chris Sports’ collection are quality products for darts, extreme sports, billiards, squash, fishing, table tennis, aerobics, weight training, sports nutrition, and the Team 8 performance apparel for running, cycling and triathlon.