Year 2011 will always be one of the most significant years of my life. It was the year I tolerated myself to do things I’ve never done before or never thought I could’ve done. Mistakes were committed, lessons were learned, some opportunities were wasted…others were not taken for granted… and most of all, living life with utmost joy in the glory of His name.
Year 2011 has been a travelling year for me. Thanks to the invention of the so-called Pinoy Travel Bloggers, it awakened my deep-seated emotions to wander and see the other side of the world, without compromising my budget. Thanks to the magic words ‘seat sale’ among airline companies, that allows a diligent and hardworking employee like me to experience flying in and out of the country without hurting my wallet. Thanks to my office and my colleagues for the off sets and swaps. Thanks to J for extending me a hand and your pockets... and letting me utilize the thing called credit card. Haha. To my parents who never fail to pray whenever I’m on the road… And most of all, thanks to the Heavens for the provision, wisdom and safety.
So what really happened last year, let’s look back.
January: My first loss!
I originally booked tickets for Legaspi this month , but I wasn't able to use because I need to save up for the following months travel. What a waste. Tickets costs 400 pesos. Lesson learned: Wag magpadalus dalos pag book!
February: Best travel of the year!
February is my parents anniversary month and my father's birth month (reasons why I needed to cancel my January plans, to save for more funds haha.) It was a lot of firsts for all of us. Our first travel together as family, minus my Kuya. My fathers first flight experience. My first flight with Zest air. Our first in Bohol.
Since there’s no direct flight from Surigao to Tagbilaran, I had to meet them in Cebu, that gave us a chance to stay in the city and explore a little in the Queen City of the South, where my parents who were surprised but didn’t show any signs of fear when they tried the Skywalk… nor were they frightened about an crazy jump shot in the hanging bridge…and the --- high zipline in Bohol. I seldom travel with my parents – and when I do, it’s always the best trip experience ever.
The part of the year when I came, I saw and conquered Sagada. Together with friends, we survive the one of a kind experience to cave connection, we succeeded the exhausting trek to Bomod-ok falls, gratify our gastronomic obsession and overcame the freezing temperature to witness the very shy Kiltepan sunrise.
Also this month last year, I had a glimpse of one of the country's pride and historical sites... the Banaue Rice Terraces.
April: The Re-birth
Since I grew up in the province where mountains are everywhere, it’s not hard to develop a passion to hiking. I have somehow forgotten this once favorite hobby, when I started to migrate to the city. Thus, when an opportunity came to trek one of the famous and controversial volcanoes in the land, I was up to the challenge. Got bruised from the 4x4 bumpy ride, had blisters from the rocky trail, was disappointed with the crater’s grayish colors – having this, I was certain, it was the rebirth of my obsession with mountains.
Weeks after Mt Pinatubo climb, we conquered Mt. Maculot in Batangas.
May: Not Our Ordinary Sumvac
Every year in May, J and I allot a week or two for our official summer vacation in our respective hometowns. We both live in CARAGA region, which makes it easier to visit one's family in between breaks.
It was J's brother first year to college, so he needed to facilite his enrollment in Mindanao State University-Naawan. And when you’re an hour-bus-ride away from Iligan town, you cannot possibly miss the chance to visit Mindanao’s major source of power, the ever famous and majestic Maria Cristina falls… and the other hidden gem of the town, the Tinago Falls..
Back in my hometown, mother asked me if I want to go beach hopping in Socorro. I'm not really a fan of beaches but when she told me about Sohoton Cave, I didn't think twice. I have seen it featured on TV so I knew it was the best time to visit.
I ended my summer with a celebration in Mt. Batulao with Mommy Earl and Abi. The three of us braved the irate weather amid reported typhoon – and went home untouched by any sign of a storm.
June-July: The Road to Self-discovery
I spent the first half of June studying and contemplating about this mad idea of travelling solo for eight long days – outside the country. I decided not to tell my parents about it until the day before my scheduled departure to Vietnam and Cambodia. Mama got so surprised at the same time bitter because she wanted to join the adventure. Haha. I basically didn’t tell anyone about it, except J, because I hate to hear my friends warn me of things they know about my destination. It might convince my other self to hold back and shelf the much-awaited backpacking trip. I may be daring at times, but it’s never consistent. But just like any challenges, the first step is always the hardest…and sometimes, it’s all what it takes!
August: Mayon, Magayon
If there’s one place in the country that I have been dying to see ever since I was a kid, it’s the famous Mayon Volcano . I first failed seeing her last January when I had to cancel my trip for some reasons. Again I to wait for another chance of a seat sale - and the wait was all worth it.
September: My Tanging Ina
September is mother’s birthday month…and it’s another travel celebration for the family. Papa didn’t join us this time, but J did. We went to Puerto Princesa to visit the Underground River before it made it to the new 7 Wonders of Nature. It was also our baptism to snorkeling.
Before our amazing trip to Palawan, I had perhaps the worst climb experience for this year - the disheartening climb to Mt. Pico de Loro…
October: Boracay and the flood
I may not seen the famous Boracay the way it should be, at least I’ve experienced it differently – in the midst of the typhoon and the aftermath flood – and the sweet consolation that I travelled for the first time with my college friends – made my first Boracay trip worth remembering.
November: Trip and trek
The most awaited time of the year. I always look forward to this month as it never fails to remind me that I’m alive and I’m growing… old. Haha. And celebrating it on the third highest mountain in the country was something very extraordinary – well, almost – as we didn’t make it to the summit of Mt. Pulag, but staying in the camping grounds with almost less than 15 degrees, was but another survival of the fittest. Also, the quick visit to the summer capital of the Philippines, after 12 long years was like a sweet prize for my wandering spirit.
To end a year with a travel with the love of your life is nothing but the sweetest. Much more if it happened in one of the coldest place in the country. Together with friends, J and I celebrated four years of love, friendship and commitment in the mountains of Batad and the waterfalls of Tappiya.
Indeed, it was a rewarding year of 2011. Such an achievement for a regular office worker who works eight hours a day, five days a week… with 12 vacation leaves … and a decent monthly salary. Haha. But seriously speaking, this wasn’t the greatest triumph I had last year. Because what I considered a lifetime accomplishment that transpired in 2011, didn’t happen outside the country nor out of town… it took place in a small and messy part of someone else’s apartment.
In a traditional culture such as ours, it is almost a requirement for women to know how to cook. When I was younger, mom would always tease ‘panu ka mag-aasawa, di ka marunong magluto..’ Well, not anymore Ma. Haha.
August of last year, I learned the most crazy thing I never thought I’d ever learn in my life. Cooking! Haha. Just the thought of it makes me feel uncomfortable. I’d always say, theoretically, I know how to cook chicken or pork…but I cannot put it in action, because I think, I can’t do it or maybe I’m just lazy. But how did I actually learn to cook?
It was one simple day when J and I had a fight. I started it as usual. Haha. To pacify his mood, I always tend to do or give him something in surprise. In four years, and thousand fights, I ran out of my sweet antiques. Then a very bizarre idea came to my mind. Uhmm… I sneaked into his tiny kitchen and cooked chicken adobo – (again, theoretically I know the procedure how to cook this but I just never had the chance to put it into action...so just to be sure I won’t make a fool of myself, I asked for Google for some help… )
…at imbes na toyo, patis ang una kong nailagay sa kawali.. ahahaha!
|(photo taken from a mobile phone)|
After successfully cooking the adobo… it rained… very hard… Perhaps the angels were just so happy about my newly discovered talent (or maybe the other way around…Haha…)
I then texted my parents about it, and the reason why I was able to do it. Sabi ni mother, sana mag away pa kayo para mas marami ka pang maluto. Tsk. Tsk.
From then on, little by little… day after day… I started to like it, and cooked some more. For a time, I’d always volunteer to cook for him during my off to practice what I already knew… and discover more from it.
I still can't compete even with junior master chefs, but as long as J is satisfied with my cooking and doesn’t complain much about it… I’m the happiest… I remember him praying one Sunday meal ‘Thank you Lord sa masarap luto ni love, at sa love nya sa pagluluto…’ Aaayyy… After all, the best way to a man’s heart…
I can’t dare end this article without thanking few friends who supported me in this ordeal (ordeal talaga..) Dolly, my food advisor, for all the suggestion and cooking tips, for educating me about cooking, for the inspiration and encouragement. Dada, for introducing me the baby potato with bacon. Haha. (I learned to mix it with mushrooms and cheese and ground pork. The very next thing I learned after adobo. ) To my other friends who never fails to appreciate my food haha – thanks for all the support guys.. And of course, to my food consultant and taste master, J … salamat sa pagpapagamit ng kusina, seven months lang tuloy inabot ang gasul mo… Haha…love!love!love! ... (Looking forward 2012...!)