Monchhichi is off to Great Places!

It’s funny that whenever I check the stats of my blog, one of the mostly visited post is Monchhichi’s New Home. I expect that my serious posts will score the highest but I can imagine how many more people were charmed by this cute fella worldwide! Since most of my friends miss her in my bag and my stories on how Taku compares me with Monchhichi, here’s some of her photos while she wanders with us.

This was taken at Bonifacio High Street in BGC when we were goofing around before my bag with most of our valuable things were stolen. Here’s the story and video about that learning experience.



Monchhichi wandered a lot in 2011: Singapore, Boracay, Palawan, Bali, Japan and LA. I am very petite but sometimes I wish I am just as her size so it’s easy for me to fit in the luggage or better for Taku to be same with her size so I can put him in my pocket so it’s always a sun-shiny day! haha.

I don’t intend to collect all Monchhichi items that I see in stores (as if there are many in Manila!) since I try to live with less and basic things to save more and maximize the use of everything but I opt to keep those which are really cute, small and useful.

But I am keeping my Monchhichi from Kyoto!

Not just because it’s so cute but also because it was given to me by a good friend, Eri, who always bring me Monchhichi omiyage whenever she goes back from Osaka (most of the time the yummy Monchhichi candies!) but my heart skipped when she surprised me with this one:

“There are three monchhichis in the photo!” -Taku

And as we keep the kid in us, reach for our dreams and meet wonderful people along the way, let’s remember what Dr. Seuss have said (I’d like to remind my sister Charmaine about this wonderful passages cause I believe she’ll go more places!):
Congratulations! Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Oh! The places you’ll go!
You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
So…
be your name Bauxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day! 
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
*this is an excerpt from the book Oh! the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Advertisements

Cipika Cipiki

 
It was my first time to travel abroad. It wasn’t the first time to sleep in bus station and airport but it was my first time to meet such a wonderful man with a wonderful song (which I don’t understand. Haha).
 
I’ve been asking my Indonesian friends about this but they couldn’t figure out what was I singing so here is the lyrics and the video (which I finally found in my old files) and please, please let me know the whole version:
Sayang sayang, chowoku sayang.
Aku salalu sayang
Satu hari lima kali
Kachup, kaningmu laki…
Satu hari lima kali
Kachup, kaningmu laki..”

 

As far as I can remember “aku” is “ako” in Filipino and “me” in English, Satu is “isa” and “one” in English and “kaningmu” is “alalahanin” or “remember.” Is it right?
 
I wonder if this good man who taught me how to ride Bajaj, how to go to Gambir station and how to say “Aku mamili pirdana SL. Terima Kasih” (Filipino translation: “Pabili ako ng SL na sim card. Maraming salamat po.” English Translation: “I want to buy SL Sim Card. Thank you”) just made up this whole song.

(I flew to Jakarta via Cebu Pacific Air.)

It’s been a year, buddy!


I had a happy accident about a year ago and it proved that everything is perfect in its own time. I still smile upon the thought of the first question, “Do you like Japanese food?” 

Until now, he makes sure that I’m very well fed.

I found a buddy (that supports me in pursuing what I love), partner and best friend. 
This was our 2011 (the last part of the video, I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say . haha) and we’re looking forward for more places, people and culture to love and discover in the years to come! 



NOTE: I used to edit videos a lot when I was in college but yesterday, I was very much inspired by the videos made by Rick Mereki then I tried to incorporate all the photos of our trips last year (which was so hard for there are thousands!). 


You should watch MOVE, LEARN AND EAT, and be inspired too!

Bali, for the first time.

It’s Christmas and after a couple of weeks, a new year will begin. I grew up always making sure that I’m with the whole family on the first day of the year because that will be the reflection of the whole year- if I’m not with them, I’ll not be with them the whole year, that’s what they say. But this coming new year, for the first time, I’ll not be with my family, moreover, I’ll be in Bali.


I went to Bali last month to attend the Southeast Asian Bloggers Conference and had a glimpse of how rich the culture is and how beautiful the people are.


For me, Bali in Indonesia is as beautiful as Boracay in the Philippines. The difference is just, Boracay is more commercial, Bali is more cultural and maybe, the “sand” and the “bikes.

Beer, book and beach always go together.

Below is one of the most photographed places in Bali, I guess. But before you get to see this very beautiful place, you have to make friends with the monkeys all over the temple of Uluwatu which comes from different sizes and age so you have to be mindful about your little things like bags, sunglasses and even necklace! (I kept my necklace since I was scared to lose it again and I don’t like Taku to look for a new one over again.) 


Uluwatu is such a serene and beautiful place, a very good place for reflection but just like any sacred place, please try to be mindful of what you’re wearing. Well, just in case you’re in a “beach” mode and wearing shorts, linens are available in the entrance for you to cover your legs!

I like this part of GWK Cultural Park- Lotus Pond. It’s so vast and green, I can look at it for the whole day!

GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park is a good stop when you visit Bali. There, you’ll see the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue that will be standing 150 meters tall with wings span 64 meters across.


According to GWK, the statue is picturing Lord Wisnu, as the source of wisdom, riding on the back of the mythical bird Garuda as the manifestation of conscience toward Amerta, the perennial goodness and it is made from more than 4000 tons of copper and brass. The statue and its pedestal will be surrounded by more than 240 hectares cultural park which was once an abandoned and unproductive limestone quarry. GWK Cultural Park is intended to educate, especially the young generations about the importance of preserving and cultivating world’s cultural heritage.


 As of the moment, the statue of Wisnu, the statue of Garuda, and the hands of Wisnu have been placed temporarily in three different plazas within the park. 


You may refer to the photo below to let your imagination fly on how big the statue is going to be once it has been put altogether.

Left to right: Statue of Lord Wisnu, Garuda, miniature of how it’ll look like after completion.


One of my favorites in Bali is the Balinese dancer. 

How they move their hips, hands and even their eyes are fabulous plus their colorful costume! The music is also very wonderful and reminds me of the “Singkil” dance in the Mindanao, southern part of the Philippines which I think both dances influenced each other because of their location. Remember, Indonesia have lots of Durian just like our beloved Mindanao. I would be grateful to learn a few steps of their dances, especially the “eye” movements. Awesome!

Balinese dancer at GWK


Of course, I love eating, no one can change it. But of course, Indonesian dishes are so spicy! You have to be ready to have water beside you. Haha. But I think I can eat Nasi Goreng the whole week!


A few reminders to have a wonderful uninterrupted exploration and vacation, please listen to me cause I didn’t learn the last time I visited Indonesia and forgot about adapter. 

Philippines uses the flat one but Indonesia uses the rounded one.


Watch your step! Most of the people in Bali are Hindus which makes the place more interesting aside from the beautiful places to go and see. 

Always be careful when walking cause you might step on one of their offerings- a basket or container filled with flowers or rice which is called “canang sari.” It is basically a ritual of giving back what the gods has given and in Balinese perspective, giving back or offering is the best way to maintain the relationships between the people and the spirits and it is believed that it will appease the spirit and will bring prosperity and good health to the people.
Offerings in shops
I almost stepped on this offering in Kuta Beach.
Offerings in sidewalks.
One of my memorable experience in Bali is the “blessing” or the prayer. I was astonished with the amount of water thrown to us and the grains of rice that was put in my forehead. Surprisingly, I felt renewed.  
the start of the prayer.
Cheers for good life!
I have attempted to drink Bintang twice during the trip but I guess, it’s reserved for the next visit! Most of them agreed that Laos beer is the best (I’ll try it soon!) but I hope that this one can beat the best Philippine beer: San Miguel (which I doubt! Haha)


Taku sent me a chat message when I was there saying that “Bali sunset is dangerous” only to keep me away from seeing it because we’ll be back soon. Sunset is always one of the best moments in trips and I’ll definitely catch more of the Bali sunsets soon, now with him.

I’ll be back for more, Bali! See you in a few days!

(From the Philippines, I comfortably flew to Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific Air and flew to Bali via Air Asia)

Singapore, it’s always Sunday.

“There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing”—that’s what I read in one of the under renovation shops in Marina Bay Sands and I think, that’s Singapore for me. Living in Singapore I think is like living only once in a week– only on a Sunday when everyone’s getting together, happily greeting each other, eat out, unlimited sharing of stories, fast paced but friendly environment and definitely can be a day with books and sharing of stories over a cup of coffee. For someone from Manila like me, Singapore is like a big Fort Bonifacio High Street, a safer one.

Singapore is such a mixture of culture and the diversity makes this small country interesting and fun to visit. First stop, Chinatown.

The Chinatown amazed me for its cleanliness and entertaining atmosphere. Maybe it’s because most of the people in Singapore is Chinese and walking in the stretch with Chinese decorations made me feel that I was actually in China. I got our pairs of chopsticks for S$2 each.
Of course the Chinatown experience won’t be complete without eating frogs which has the taste of “in between fish and chicken.”


Bollywood is the new Hollywood, that’s what they say. Well, watching 3 Idiots, I will definitely agree to that, but Singapore can also be a haven for Bollywood fans. Then we transported to a different culture, The Little India.



India is one of the most colourful cultures for me and we were just so lucky when we visited because they just finished Deepavali (also known as Diwali Dipawali, etc), the “Festival of lights” which is one of the most important festivals in a year for Hindus when the families get together and performs traditional activities together. It was a national holiday in Singapore.



Of course Indian food is one of the most distinct and delicious food ever made by mankind. Haha. And so we tried the famous fish head curry in Singapore and finally met Gulaab Jammun.

                After trying out various dishes, our taste buds craved for the original Singaporean food so we headed to Hawker Centreand had a taste Laksa and taho.

   We also tried the famous Chili Crab in Jumbo Seafood Restaurant near Clark Quay. 

     And definitely, Halloween is awesome in Singapore.

                I can consider Singapore as one of the best places for walking, especially if you want to feel like traveling in different places when you can stop your feet (well depends on the mood). Maybe a few steps from Singapore Art Museum, we’ve reached the Arab Street where I found nice shops and restaurants that will definitely transport you to the Middle East. I think it’s one of my favourite streets there.


                A few more steps then we reached Little Thailand, Little Malaysia and maybe the Lucky Plaza can be Little Philippines. Haha. (I’ll surely visit Lucky Plaza on my next trip to Singapore.)

                Every street in this country has different character. Taku and I were so amazed on the architecture of the city.
Look at the water in the ceiling! Woaa!
                We sneaked in the bar of Marina Bay Sands not just for our usual Mojito but to see the beauty of the city from the top. It was breath taking.

                We just moved around the city, tried the bus and MRT, and were wowed with the way of life and amiable nature of the Singaporeans. 



               With Taku’s friendly and nice nature, I believe that he fits in Singapore. I wish I could live there too so that every day is Sunday.


Thanks to Heidi, a couchsurfer from Malaysia for walking around with us! See you soon!


Hong Kong & Filipina OFWs

I’ve been asked a lot of times about how I was held in the Philippine immigration for an hour before my flight to Hong Kong last April. When I saw the photos of the trip, I thought of reminiscing about it, hopefully for the last time. Haha.


My flight was around 5am on a Saturday. Since it was so early and I was traveling alone from Manila, I decided not to sleep and just proceed to the airport after a late off from work. I wore jeans, flat shoes and black jacket. I didn’t put on makeup and having no sleep, I looked so tired.

It was my first time going to Hong Kong and when I was asked what was my purpose of going there, the immigration officer scrutinized how I look, looked at me from head to toe then said, “Hay naku ne, andami daming mga Filipina na napapahamak sa Hong Kong ngayon, hindi mo ba nakita sa TV?” (*sigh* young lady, there are so many Filipina that have been in danger in Hong Kong, haven’t you seen them on TV?). Then, I answered, “oo nga po.” I know I look young but I answered as smart as I could so that she could determine that I know what I was doing. Then she asked me to wait and fill in some immigration form. At first, I was patiently waiting for the late immigration officer that was scheduled to question me and the rest of the 15 Filipinos who were going to HK and Singapore but when they started to curse each other saying “son of a b*tch, blah blah” at front of us, I felt bad of how our officers behave. Well, at first I thought, that it’s something that I have to accept but the way they talk to fellow Filipinos who go out of the country may it be for travel or work, I think is unacceptable.


Given that fact that there are really a lot of Filipinos going outside the country illegally to find their luck, which we couldn’t avoid (I even have good friends and cousins who did that and looking at their motives, I think that that determination to get what you want is really good), I started thinking that maybe that’s why they are so rude to the fellow Filipinos but looking at the bigger picture, their attitude is really unacceptable. They’ll say “oist, punta ka don!” “bakit ka pupunta don?” with the rudest intonation I’ve ever heard in the whole Philippines.

I waited for an hour, some waited for 8 hours to be interviewed. Then, when it was my turn, the officer said “your ID is unacceptable.” I told her that it was my real ID and if he thinks there’ll be problem with it, I should tell my employer to change the appearance of the ID. He said that he could think that I just asked someone from Quiapo to replicate it (Quiapo is a place in Manila where you can replicate all important papers and IDs) and I replied, “if that’s the case, what’s the need of having this interview if you can just base your judgement in a person’s ID? Couldn’t you figure out if the person is lying or not?” Then he reasoned out then let me go.

When I went back to the cubicle to finally go (because I was the only passenger that my flight was waiting), the officer said, “If I were your sister, I won’t let you go to Hong Kong just to see your boyfriend. Can’t you be a true-blue Filipina? Be ashamed of yourself!” (I met Taku and HK before he goes to LA for a job assignment. He was from Japan, I came from Manila).

Well, everyone is entitled of his/ her opinion but it’s never right to judge and force someone to believe that your opinion is the right one.

As I arrived alone in HK, I felt so at home having seen a lot of Filipina. They’ve talked with me from the airport, to the bus, showed me around, and helped me explore the city while trying out the trum, MTR and even by walking. I loved the smile and eagerness of storytelling in their faces upon seeing a fellow Filipino. I felt the Filipino hospitality and love for kababayan. I think it was one of the things that made my trip memorable.
When they brought me to the World-Wide Plaza, everything was so familiar: from banks to grocery stores!
where you can find Filipinos in HK during the weekend…
trying not to miss home with these?
And upon seeing the balikbayan boxes and upon listening to their stories how they save and try not to spend their hard-earned money just for their salary to be enough for all the relatives that depend on them, I felt the hardships that each OFW has been going through for years. 

the place when you can send everything back home.
then Filipinos are hoping that what they’ll give is enough… 
Then I started asking myself, is the close family ties still an advantage or is it making Filipinos become dependent to their relatives who are brave enough to gamble?
I had a glimpse of the hardships our Filipina OFWs are facing from the moment they step out of the country up to the “living alone and missing home” feeling in Hong Kong plus the fact that in every corner that there’s a Filipino talking to a family over the phone, she’ll say “Isn’t it enough?” or “He is having a mistress?” then cry or get angry. hay…
what I saw in Hong Kong on a Sunday afternoon- Filipino picnic!
I wish our kababayans well and happy.

these were my beautiful tour guides!
I wish to see them again (I hope I remember their names.)