Christophe, I promise to love and care for you and I will try in every way to be worthy of your love, trust, and respect. I will always be honest with you, kind, patient, supportive, understanding and forgiving. Yes, even when sometimes being all of that is in itself a challenge. But most of all, I promise to be a true and loyal friend to you. I will love you through good and the bad, through joy and the sorrow, the ugly and the beautiful. Maybe not so much the ugly…kidding! I want to face all of life’s experiences and share beautiful dreams and goals with you. I promise to be your equal partner in a loving, honest, and nurturing marriage, for as long as we both shall live. Je t’aime enormement, mon mari.
P.S.: I will even learn to speak your native language to save you the trouble of translating each time we are in the company of French people.:)
Between a trail and a road race, I would go for trail – in a heartbeat. That I have always known since I had the opportunity to try out trail running at the first Merrell Adventure Run held at the Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal back in 2010. I only did 5k at that time and even though we got lost and ended up wandering aimlessly for a good hour before we would be able to find our way back, it did not diminish the exhilaration one bit. It sure was fun taking photos of the ducks, rocks, and the dam itself.
So when I was invited by Agatep Associates (Thank you Agatep!) to be part of the third Merrell Adventure Run last 2 June, this time at Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal, not only did I say ‘hell, yeah!’, I also signed up for 21k for maximum mountainside adventure experience!
The night before the race, it started to rain and the downpour came cold and steady I struggled mightily to get out of bed at 3am – enough time to shower and get prepped-up for the 4am pick-up. In the car, Lai and I were speculating whether or not the race will happen given that it still hasn’t stopped drizzling. We passed by Philcoa to pick-up runner bloggers Running Atom and Allan of Run Free Manila, both of whom I know and have run several races with in the Metro.
It was still dark and chilly by the time we reached Timberland Heights, but there were already a lot of cars parked and runners milling around, some doing stretching exercises and others are happily playing catch-up with fellow runners.
Ten minutes before gun start, Running Atom and I made our way to the starting line to join the rest of the 21k runners. Looking around, everyone seems to me is in great trail running shape. Extreme adventure athlete Thumbie Remigio, the brains and brawn behind this year’s more physically and emotionally demanding Merrell Adventure Run course, gave a few reminders to the runners before sending us off to what awaits us at Timberland Heights — a dunk in a mud pit, a few kilometers of slick uneven rocky pathways, and was punctuated with an endless string of uphill climbs.
The downpour had turned the already rigorous uphill off-road course into a slippery path. We found ourselves sliding down muddied inclines, groping for handholds at slippery slopes, and splashing across natural streams. I slipped twice while trying to cross the boulders that dotted the stream. One particular ‘vertical split’ (imagine one foot slipping fast down the side of the rock while my other foot was still lodged above) gave my inner thighs/crotch a nasty stretch, I would feel the tingle for a few more hours after the race. I also collected a number of cuts and scratches on my thighs, legs, and arms, from coming into contact with blades of tall grass and tree branches.
I didn’t have my watch with me so I couldn’t tell how long I had been running out there for but I was having so much fun I was practically oblivious to anything but. I passed Reebok teammate Beep Beep at some point and would not see him and our other friends after that. Most of the time I would be on my own, occasionally overtaking a few runners, but would also be overtaken by a good number of runners as well.
There was enough water and Pocari sweat in all the well-placed hydration stations (Pocari was, of course, limited) to keep me hydrated all throughout the race. Before the race, I had planned on bringing my hydration belt with me but decided against it when I learned about the mud pit. A wise decision as I would not have been able to save it from getting dunked into a pool of mud.
Thankfully, I did not suffer cramps or knee injuries that would have made running uphill and downhill such a painful task. Before I knew it, I was already approaching the finish line and Running Atom (boy was he fast in this one!) and Alan (RFM) were already there waiting to snap some photos of me crossing it. Chip time says I finished 21k of the challenging Merrell Adventure course in 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 27 seconds.
Merrell Adventure Run 2012 certainly ranks high on my list of all-time favorite races! A fantastic upgrade from its maiden attempt in 2010. I enjoyed the race so much I am now on the lookout for more trail runs I could join. Thank you Merrell and Agatep!
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.
I’m finally back from my first ever trip to Europe (I’ve been told that the Euro side of Turkey does not really count as Europe, too bad) and I could not have been more glad that the destination was France. To say that the country is beautiful and the cultural sights even more so, would be stating the very obvious. And we’re not even talking about the food yet. Those gastronomic delights in all their orgasmic glory. And because it was spring when we were there, the gardens that we’ve been to in Paris were all abloom with vibrant-colored flowers – bringing to mind my dear friend Cris C. who would probably take only half a second to put a name on each and every flower, him being a landscape artist slash wedding organizer and all. But this spring was not at all what I expected spring would feel like. And by feel, know that I am talking about the temperature which, at 5 degrees and sometimes less at night, is already too much for a tropical creature like myself. Although Eric reminded me that I survived Beijing at -2 degrees when we were there in 2010, still, it didn’t feel like it was any warmer. But perhaps if I brought along with me a more appropriate set of clothing – more thermal wear and thick jackets maybe – then I would not have suffered so. I keep teasing C that it was his fault making me believe spring was all pretty and such, weather-wise, and so I packed mostly short dresses and open-toed sandals – none of which I was able to wear at all during our stay. Thank God, I had half a mind to buy the white faux leather jacket at Cache Cache for my aborted trip to Jordan last year – at least they found their way to France and was greatly abused, might I add. Later you will see just how much I had maximised the use of that jacket – one of the only two keep-warm essentials I packed. Obviously not C’s fault because I have the reputation of being on perpetual summer mode – my closet will most certainly attest to that.
Traveling alone to Paris was in itself already an experience for me. Though I have traveled quite a few times alone, they were mostly in Asia and places I am more or less quite familiar with. I took Qatar Airways which has its stopover in Doha, where incidentally, we were delayed for two hours due to some technical problems with the aircraft. Good thing the airport had free wifi access for passengers so I was able to inform C of the delay via FB. I was literally on tenterhooks during the final leg of my travel that I brushed my teeth and washed my face in the aircraft lavatory four friggin’ times! You see, I was going there to meet C’s family for the first time and the idea kind of made me nervous and I am known to do strange things when I’m nervous. If I could only take a shower there, I probably would have done so as well.
So anyway, I finally landed at the Charles de Gaulle airport and C was there to meet me, looking all cute and sweet as always. We haven’t seen each other in nearly two months so it was obviously a very happy reunion, with a capital V. We took the TGV to go to his sister’s place up North and the journey was c’est magnifique on so many levels. Ask Atche, he knows. *insert suspense soundtrack here*
I didn’t have time to fix myself up as the whole family was already at the train station to meet us. I’m pretty sure I looked like a hobo with my hair all messy (not that my hair looks great in other weather conditions) and face all dry, thanks to the freezing temperature and mad gusts of wind. Up until that time, I had only seen C’s nephew and niece on photos and I fell madly in love with them on sight! Both of them are so beautiful, well-mannered, sweet, and smart it was quite painful for me to leave after only four days. C had to find ways to entertain me on our train ride to Paris because I was so overcome with sadness after I hugged the kids for the last time just as the train started to pull away from the station.
I had the most beautiful time up north despite the crazy rainy weather which lasted pretty much the whole weekend and extended all the way until our departure for Paris. The sun only came out for a day and we spent it walking around Ardres, which was truly beautiful, by the way, with its little shops, church, boulangerie, restaurants, and beautiful houses and chalets. The rest of time, we were just indoors playing with the kids and chatting with the grown-ups. Yes, I do speak French very fluently you wouldn’t think I’m foreign at all! NOT. Because I spent so much time with the kids, my French vocabulary has expanded to now include the numbers 1 to 10, some animal names, and a few expressions. Yey!
My impression of the North? It was just as the saying C shared which goes a little something like this: The people in the north have the sun in their hearts which they don’t have in the sky. They’re such sweet people and it’s a shame that the weather can be so horrible sometimes, if not most of the time.
Now Paris on the other hand is sublime. Elegant, captivating, intoxicating (I may have had one glass too many of all sorts of wine, teehee) are only some of the words I can think of right now and even then I fear that they’re not enough to really capture the enigma that is Paris.
Ever the sweet and loving fiancé, C made sure I absorb as much of the city as possible given the limited time we had. He took me to a lot of touristy places and fed me loads of French food so that I may never have to go and hanker for fastfood and junk anymore. Oh you must see how C cringes whenever I would lather my French croissant with an unhealthy layer of Nutella and butter! I’ve been told it’s almost tantamount to desecrating the famous French bread. Yikes. Unfortunately on our last full day in the city, he came down with high fever and we had to make some adjustments on our plans for the day. But even when debilitated, he still took me to Musée du Louvreso I can go and see the Mona Lisa (how very original of me, right?) and other glorious works of art and be swept away to another period in time. He really is an absolute darling and he knows me too well already, I couldn’t help but love him dearly. Yiheeee.
Anyway, these are all my memories of France and the City of Lights (oh, incidentally, I never got to see Tour Eiffel at night so I guess I will have to tick that off my bucket list next time – along with a more exhaustive tour of Musée du Louvre since we only got to cover a small portion of one section because C was in such a bad shape due to his fever)and I know there’s still so much to see and experience. I hope you will love the photos as much as I loved every bit of my time there.
From the North, we now go to Paris – where to love and being loved in return is really the most glorious thing that can happen to any person. How very Moulin Rouge. With that, let me first give you…
And of course, some of the food I have tried and salivated for over and over and over again. But one thing I noticed though – and was extremely happy about, mind you – was the fact that I didn’t go home as fat as I had anticipated, despite the unreasonable amount of food and sweets I devoured day in and out. I must’ve gained only 2lbs or so and they all seemed to have gone on my arms I could’ve sworn they looked like Johnny Bravo’s or Popeye’s after he’s had spinach in some photos. LOL. It must have been all the walking and uhrmmm, yes, definitely the walking, which we did a lot of while there.
One thing I regret and I learned just the expression for that – c’est dommage – is that I missed the Paris Marathon!!! I didn’t know that it was on the 15th of April – the same day C and I were to fly back to Singapore. We saw the banners when we were at Tour Eiffel and it was such a heartbreaking moment because I packed my running gear: Reebok and C-WX were just sitting prettily atop my luggage, lonesome and unused. Had I known, I would most likely sign up and join because my fellow runner who’s based in Paris said they actually opened the registration slots last minute and I could have joined a few Pinoy runners there! C’est dommage indeed!
We also spent time with some of C’s couple friends and both couples were just lovely! The conversations were just as good as the food, if not more. Here we have the sweet couple Rene and Carmen whom I first met in Phuket in 2010 when C and I were on Christmas holiday and they were on their honeymoon. Unfortunately, we didn’t take photos with Vanessa and her husband who invited us over to their lovely home for dinner the previous night. I especially enjoyed listening to them talk about their University days and how C had always been so freakishly neat and clean and organized. One of the many things I love about him, by the way.
But of all the things I have come to love and cherish about my trip, these are the ones I miss the most. The kids, especially, were my source of ardent joy in all those days in Calais. Sometimes I could hear their cheery voices in my head saying ‘Vicky! Vicky! Vicky!’ and egging me to play hide-and-seek or just cuddle with them.
The weather is cruel at 5 degrees with rain showers and strong gusts of wind so we had to abandon our plans for staying outdoors and doing outdoorsy things. But, we made up for it by spending more time on the dining table and playing hide-and-seek with the adorably cute, incredibly smart, undeniably sweet kids named Raphael and Claire. I mean, seriously, with kids as beautiful as these two, who would need dolls?
Obviously I’m too lazy to do a proper blogpost so i’m letting these photos do the talking…for now. I’ll be back once i’m properly acclimatized. In the meantime, we have one and a half more days to spend with Chris’ family before we set out on our own Paris adventure. I have said it once before and I’m saying it again: All things considered, I know I got a good man right here. Yes, Salt n’ Pepa, a mighty, mighty good man.:)
In just a few hours, I will be with C in his home city/country. It’ll be my first time to meet his family and can I just say that I am a ball of shaky nerves right about now? In large part due to the fact that C and I haven’t seen each other for over a month and I’m traveling alone to a foreign country, a continent I’ve never set foot before. And of course, there’s the usual – and perfectly normal, might I add – mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety of meeting my fiance’s family. But they’re nice and sweet I’m pretty sure I’m gonna love them on sight – especially the kids! Speaking of anxiety, I am actually more worried about the weather. C told me it’s still pretty cold in Paris even though it’s spring and sunny during the day. This morning, he said, temperature was 8 degrees. If you know me, then you would know how absurdly low my tolerance is for cold temperatures. And being a tropical baby through and through, I am in perpetual summer mode – hence, my somewhat interesting fashion picks. If I could wear a bikini to work, I don’t think it’ll take much prodding for me to turn up one day in an animal print beach ensemble. I’ll make sure to wear bumblebee shades so no one would recognize me. hahaha.
Anyway, I’m about to board my next flight in a few minutes and really, there’s no better airport one could get stuck in than Changi. I just love, love, love this airport! Everything around here is shiny, pretty, clean, and there’s free wifi everywhere! Just now I wanted to test it by Instagramming while brushing my teeth in the loo but it being inappropriate, never mind that it can still be somewhat funny, I decided against pressing the ‘done’ button. I still am a lady, after all. *wink*
Soon, it’s Paris with my one great love. Can life be any more magical than this? Thank you Lord for the gift of love and commitment.
It being a Sunday and F1 Race Day at that, I will keep my post as concise and straightforward as possible. At least, I will try.
How many of you have seen the movie Hunger Games? Show of hands! One, two, 300. Good for you. I haven’t. Yet. Now, how many of you have read the book – at least the first installment of the trilogy – before making a beeline for the cinema? I see a few hands raised, good! Now I’m probably one of the many who crammed reading The Hunger Games in anticipation of the global premiere last Thursday – except that I haven’t made a trip to the cinema just yet.
I have read The Hunger Games, yes. In fact, I finished the book in less than 12 hours – totally sacrificing some precious hours of sleep – first, because I didn’t want to be the only person on the planet who’s clueless about the book that has the whole world raving about Suzanne Collins and second, well, because I found it riveting enough not to put it down until I’ve read it from cover to cover.
I think Katniss Everdeen is all things brave and sexy…at the beginning and all the way to her emergence as one of the victors of the 75th Hunger Games and even farther down the intricate labyrinth of gore and brutality of the Quarterly Quell in Catching Fire (Book 2) – where she was ‘conveniently’ thrown back into the death arena along with the living victors of the previous hunger games.
But when Mockingjay, the final installment of the trilogy, opened to our favorite heroine’s pained ambivalence and annoying ‘uncooperative’ spirit just when the wheels of the revolution against the evil dictatorship of President Snow and the Capitol, have already been set in motion – I couldn’t help but feel pangs of disappointment. I thought – and not that Katniss cared about what my thoughts are – she was being fickle-minded and selfish by hesitating to see the revolution down the wire. But then again, perhaps, I, too, am being unfair by denying her the right to be human and therefore be susceptible to feelings of doubt, self-loathing, and vulnerability. After all, I was not the one who was forced to kill and watch other tributes die in the most brutal way possible in order to save the people I love.
It turns out, I’m not alone in this. My friend Gail was just as disappointed with Mockingjay and having my feelings validated like that has officially killed whatever little excitement I still harbor for the once-anticipated climax. But since I got the box set, I feel it would be doing my hard-earned money a disservice by not finishing the book – however long it would take me to read it because frankly, I am no longer psyched. Katniss and her emotional outbursts have become excruciatingly boring.
You know what else is brave and sexy? Having tested for HIV. I hope all of you reading this post right now are not viewing my declaration with myopic eyes. Take away your predilection for sanctimonious behavior and self-righteousness just for a moment and instead, think of the staggering number of Filipinos now confirmed to have been infected by the virus and are consequently reeling – if not dying – from its full-blown effect. The last thing they need is your coldhearted judgment or worse, apathy.
We live in dangerous times and the sooner we accept that, the smarter and more vigilant we will be in handling certain situations we still have control over. Like staying HIV and STI-free, for example.
Late last year, my dear friend Noel and I signed up for the HIV/AIDS seminar, after which, we got certified by the Department of Health (DOH) as peer educators or volunteers whose main vocation is to help spread knowledge and information about this dreaded virus and hopefully, prevent it from spreading far and wide. Sadly, if you go by statistics shared by the DOH and independent parties, the number of confirmed HIV cases is rising. However, that can also be viewed positively (no pun intended) as perhaps having the shroud of ignorance and denial being lifted, little by little, which has resulted to more people getting tested and myths getting busted, i.e., AIDS is a gay disease (IT IS NOT!) – thanks to the small number of social-medical workers and volunteers who make it their mission to drum-up support for a vigilant HIV-prevention strategy coming from all sectors of the society.
As volunteers, we share our two best and readily available resources: time and talent, for the purpose of advancing this noble mission. Take Noel, for example, who makes use of his great photography skills by conducting an open ‘themed’ photoshoot and sharing chunk of the proceeds with Take The Test and its various programs including free testing/screening, counseling, seminar, and certification.
I just came from the second Official Take The Test Open photo shoot session and I am simply in awe of the volunteers who share so much of themselves, and selflessly at that. I am especially in awe of Atche and his commitment to this cause.
Remember, you aren’t brave or sexy enough if you don’t take responsibility for your sexual behavior. Whatever you do, remember these five letters: A, B, C, D, and E.
A = Abstinence
B = Be Faithful
C = Consistent and Correct way of using condoms and other protection
D = Don’t do Drugs or drink alcohol
E = Early detection
Be guided by this 5-point rule book and save your own life and that of your loved ones.
In other (BREAKING!!!) news, FERNANDO ALONSO claims victory at the 2012 F1 Malaysia Grand Prix against all odds – especially Sergio Perez’s relentless pursuit of his Ferrari! This has got to be one of the best races I have ever seen and one I prayed hard for. So hard, in fact, that I almost reached for my bible and just clutch it really close to my heart. I know it sounds ridiculous but I’m really hoping this would be a Ferrari year. Okay, fine, an Alonso year. I really think he’s the best driver in F1 today and it’s unfortunate that his car is taking a while to adjust to levels where it can be considered worthy of going wheel-to-wheel with the McLaren and Mercedes cars.
Even today in Sepang, he had a bit of a tough time shaking off the relentless Sergio Perez who, by the way, is rumored to be on top of Ferrari’s shopping list for a Massa replacement. A long time coming for Massa, I would say. I can imagine his self-esteem taking a wild beating each and every time Alonso would outperform him – which happens to be all the time. Maybe it’s really time for him to pack his bags and let someone else take the Ferrari wheel. It’s painful to watch him being relegated merely as a charity case.
Oh would you look at that! Over a thousand words already and I did say I wanted to keep this short! Si Fernando Alonso kasi eh! Anyway, I hope you guys had a fantastic weekend. Mine is superb on so many levels and not just because of today’s Take The Test activity and Alonso’s F1 victory. If you would allow these few words of sharing: I am happy because finally, I can see God’s hand at work in my life and I am happy to finally be in a state of genuine gratitude and need for His presence.