POSTCARD #4: Longshan area, Taipei 2017

Last week, I was just at Taipei with a couple of friends – and if you read my postcard a couple weeks back, the last time I was here it was a hell of an adventure (at least for me, that is.) 

I got a chance to see Taipei with new eyes this time. The rain, errr… storm, gave the city a cloak of depth to a point of gloom, but also a comfort that is familiar. Too bad, we couldn’t just stay in as we were just there for the weekend. It would be lovely to stay in the hostel and try to get to know fellow travelers. And keep toasty. Rain is best experienced indoors with a hot cuppa, I reckon. 

The brief was simple: get in, eat, and get back. Instead, we had so much more. It’s been a while since I took a trip this short. We did eat a lot. Unexpectedly shopped. And saw a lot of art. 

The city is brimming with art: either handmade by humans in a museum, or city life sprawling on the streets. Taipei has indeed gone up to being one of my favorite Asian cities. 

POSTCARD #3: Huashin 1914 Creative Park, Taipei 2015

My trip to Taipei last 2015 was two things – amazing and, in some ways, horrifying. I learned a whole lot about myself in this trip, and that I hope the next time some sort of thing happens to me next time, I’m hella prepared. 

You see, when I travel I plan and do everything on my phone. My itinerary, my flight, my budgets, good graciousness my Grindr. I had it all prepared – in classic Jonver fashion – an itinerary in the form of spreadsheet, complete with specific date and time and addresses and directions, was saved on my phone; the boarding passes on the respective airline app; a train app downloaded; budgets on notes; it was like clockwork. What happened next almost made me regret this trip. 

My phone, its screen blood red, died on me. On my first day in Taipei. I know what you might be thinking – it’s just a phone; your trip means so much more than that. Not when your whole life (in the form of plans and details for this particular matter) revolved on the existence and functioning of a phone. Taipei wasn’t known for their good English, but God bless them nice people who tried to help me. And no thank you Apple, for a non-functional international warranty? You apparently need me to go to my telco provider to give me my warranty. 

Needless to say, I gave up on it; also strapped for cash to buy a new phone to keep connected. The next logical thing to do is to grab a paper map in Taipei Main Station to help me get on with my trip, and try hard to see a silver lining. I found a couple of silver linings. 

When I was looking for a cheap phone around Guanghua Digital Plaza, I saw an instant film camera. It felt so familiar and not all at the same time; and instead of leaving what seems a hotpot of electronics in all of Taipei with a phone that could abate my internet withdrawal, I left with an analog camera and a couple expired rolls of film. It’s been a while since I loaded a roll on a camera and it felt so amazing. People stared at me when I snap a photo and they hear the tiny gears that move the film from one frame to another. 

I haven’t uploaded the whole two rolls I had developed. I guess I’m trying to be that nostalgic person who shows albums of old photos in house parties and reunions. 

Aaaaaaand I’m also on my way to Taiwan for a quick weekend jaunt! I hope this time my phone does not quit on me. 

POSTCARD #2: Foliage, Baguio 2016


I have a rather infamous travel bummer – I don’t do well with nature. People from my side of the world love the sun, sand, and sea; I don’t. People spend weekends hiking; I’d rather stay in, thank you very much. Me and nature, and my asthma more than occasionaly, would very much like to be left apart. 

Though last year saw my endless pursuit of le concrete jungle, one trip stuck out of them all… well, at least half. 

I’ll always love Baguio. I think the city is romantic; not too nature-y, not too concrete-y (if that makes sense.) It’s the one place nearest home I actually want to go to every weekend, if my hooman energy permits. Wait til it drizzles a bit and let the atmosphere completely change and hold you in love with the city by the mountains some more. 

Among my favorite spots is the Ben Cab museum – with human art in the front, and nature’s art in the back; with the comfort food of Cafe Isabel in between. This foliage is from Ben’s personal garden, I believe – which is a side of a mountain let me tell you. Plus points, when the fog covers the entire property – absolutely stunning to see. 

There’s less than two weeks before summer finally concludes its hellish heat. Maybe I should head back to Baguio, even for a weekend. 

POSTCARD #1: Fortune Cookie, NYC 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog. The last time I posted here, I was training in Singapore and that opportunity kicked off a lot of other opportunities for me. I also said, I was busy participating – which for the most part, is true. Lately, I’m just tired and too busy looking for Netflix shows to binge. I’m also too busy looking at my photos while traveling. It reminds me of my favorite times. So here’s my first postcard to you. 

Back in NYC last Christmas season, I found myself in a Chinese joint around Kips Bay. The weather too cold, my four layers not providing enough heat, and myself direly in need of a comforting meal after a humpy bus ride upstate. They were about to close in half an hour, but they took me in. I bet the Chinese momma manning the store took a pity at this scrawny obvious first-timer to the New York cold and told herself – jeez he needs soup. I happily finished my bowl of comfort. Chinese food really never fails you wherever you go. When I took my check, like clockwork, she handed me a fortune cookie. It said the one thing I’ve been thinking when I landed to New York for the holidays. 

Live for the moment, because there is only one result in life. 

Hello from Singapore!

Hey there, how’s it going? I think this is the nth time I’m telling you that I’m back – but not really because I got sent to Singapore for work for three weeks (!!!!!!). I’ve been meaning to update you but I’m busy participating.

I’ve been here since last week – and the city has nothing been short of amazing. I’ve already met a lot of people – both in and out of work. My liver is being tested with all of this participation but of course, it’s a hustle too because I’m still doing work that’s in Manila while training here. But I’m super psyched to learn about new stuff – while in a city, albeit I’ve been to three times already, that I’m still acquainting myself with.

Today is the start of Week 2. My friend and officemate who was with me last week flew back to Manila already – so I’m practically by myself now. Not that I haven’t traveled by my own before, but #sepanx. I guess it’s time to make new friends here.

I’m happy that I got to sneak in a lil time to update. Photos to follow – or follow me on Instagram for my finds!

 

Mindshare fam

BATANES DAY 1: Cute Basco Airport, Marfel Lodge, and North Batan Tour

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Airports will always be a place of comfort for me. I know, I know… Our airport here in Manila is not the one you’ll exactly call comfortable – but the impending sense of going away is always a welcome feeling, and I can disregard all others. Especially, after I get through the boarding gate.
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A year ago I bought not necessarily the cheapest flight, but relatively affordable ticket to Batanes – the northernmost island in the Philippines. I had to wait for a year before I can go… and I chose to go on my birthday week. It was the first time I am not spending my birthday with family and friends, not to mention alone, and I am kind of excited. I was breaking the quarter age, and I was getting a bit emotional when the trip was upcoming.IMG_6408

Just look at this amazing sea of cloudsIMG_6411IMG_6412

They say, the northernmost islands are only two hours away from Taiwan. But why isn’t there a flight from Batanes to Taiwan… Hmmmmm. I wonder. Batanes is where the Pacific meets the West Philippine Sea, and is also where most typhoons from the northeast come first. It is known to be beautiful and picturesque – and I was about to find if her secrets are true. IMG_6413IMG_6416

It was a nice plane ride from Manila. It was drizzling when the plane took off, myself a bit afraid that a typhoon might come. True enough on our third day, there was light rain – a typhoon passed by real quick. The place I was gonna stay at is just five minutes away from the airport. Marfel’s Lodge, one of the well-known homestays owned by a sweet lady affectionately called Ate Fe by locals, was my home for almost a week in this island. The place is simple, but it is enough. IMG_6418IMG_6420IMG_6423IMG_6424

The vernacular for thank you – Dios Mamajes always greets you when you go out of the house.IMG_6425IMG_6426

Tukon Stone Church (Mt. Carmel)IMG_6427

The nice guys at Marfel also assisted me to book a tour. I preferred to do the tour even though I just came from work. We went to the north of the island, aptly called North Batan, to sample ourselves with the wonders of both god- and man-made sights on the islands. At Day 1 we were spoiled by rolling hills, stone churches, and endless horizons. What an appropriate way to start a vacation!IMG_6429IMG_6430IMG_6432IMG_6434IMG_6435

PAG-ASA Weather Station – One of the places that I was particularly interested at (read: geeking at) was the weather station. There was a mainframe in their satellite office, and we can see that burgeoning typhoon from the northeast. Happy to know that PAG-ASA is not just guessing weather forecasts. IMG_6436
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Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel – They said that the Japanese used these tunnels as their base back in World War 2, but the people (rather, men) of Batanes made it. The place was very very very very creepy.  IMG_6441IMG_6446IMG_6448IMG_6449

Valugan Beach – thousands and thousands and maybe even millions of boulders that are spat from the nearby volcano Mt. Iraya thousands of years ago can be found here. You can’t swim here, oh no you can’t. Unless you brought a suicide note and wanted your own concussion. But the view, ah let me tell you about what I saw. The weathered rocks on the beach was peaceful to look at. I could stay here for a day with a book or a drink and just watch the sun rise and set. This also happens to be one of my favorite places in Batanes. IMG_6454IMG_6457IMG_6461

Vayang Rolling Hills – the island is never lacking of spreads of greenery and grazing cattle. Your view is almost always assaulted by rolling hills, in tandem with the sea of salt and sea of clouds. This particular bit in North Batan is overlooking to the entropy of the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific. Yet again, peace is also not lacking in this part of the country. I could stay here for a month, I thought.
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Basco LighthouseIMG_6470IMG_6471

Old American base (WW2)IMG_6472

Basco Cathedral, Town proper
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It was indeed a tiring day. By sun down, we decided to cool down on the nearby beach and try to take in all what we’ve seen today. God, the Philippines is beautiful. Or can be beautiful. After dinner, I couldn’t possibly have wanted a bed to lie down ever before but I wanted to dream about the sights I’ve seen and the air that breezed through me. There is no greater feeling than this, I told myself.

Then I realized, I have five more days in the island. Hmmmm what to do? IMG_6482

Weekend + @MUNI_PH Meetup this Wednesday!!!

My weekends are better spent on coffee, meetings over coffee, and... you guessed right -- more coffee!

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If you’ve been playing SimCity BuildIt, you’ll get me on this. Who has Dr. Vu’s Lab already?IMG_6936

Luna Specialty Coffee is a lil hole smack right in NAC Tower along 32nd street in The Fort. I know you guys call it BGC nowadays but I’m really not feeling calling it that. So I’ll stick to Fort. There aren’t that much options in the menu, but it works. I love that the cold brew comes in a bottle (that might as well look like cough syrup. Cue: Young The Giant.) The Corned Beef Tapa was just alright too! I’d love it to be hash-y than tapa-y, but hey I just woke up at 2pm and I need nourishment. IMG_6934IMG_6935IMG_6937 IMG_6939I’ve been doing some freelance work with MUNI and we have a lot of great events coming up for ‘ya! I’ve pitched a few of my favorite things – and one is below – and another one is above! Sooooo excited to work with them and bring you meaningful events to connect with like-minded people. /plug —

QUICK PLUG! This Wednesday, we’re having three nomads tell their stories of travel and truth – Hannah Reyes of www.hannah.ph and Nat Geo Creatives, April Cuenca of  FlipTrip.ph, and Guido Sarreal of Kawil Tours. Hope you can drop by and hang with us as we talk about our favorite hobby, that is in this blog, T R A V E L I N G! Register here – I think there are still Eager Beaver tickets available (PhP 150), PhP 200 for walk-ins.

/endplug

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We have time to spare after our catch up, so the MUNI team headed towards the Satchmi Vinyl Day festivities at the BGC amphiteather – and boy was it fun! Got to hear Jensen and Tandem before heading on to our agenda for the night.

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But quick falafel run is always good, okIMG_6949

Our venue partner for the Travel and Truth meetup on Wednesday is Z Hostel at Don Pedro street in Makati! If you’ve been following my blog since I started traveling, you’d know I have a soft spot for hostels – and for cozy, good vibes-inducing ones at that. Right from the doorstep, Z will put an end to your hostility towards the common hostel, because it gives you good vibes. The roofdeck will be our rendezvous, and I am so ready to hear our nomad guests to tell their stories. Will I see you there?  IMG_6950IMG_6951Pun or not pun intended idk idk idkIMG_6956IMG_6957

Unwinding after a long day at Today x Future is always a good idea. It’s one of those places that I can call home and just go to and not feel alone. A lot has changed since I met Future but it still is that place where I go to randomly meet friends without ever texting or calling or vibering or tweeting anyone. Sucha good feels kinda place <3
IMG_6959It pains me to go home when I’ve gots lotsa things still to do but it’s all in a day’s work.

 

A little project with friends x impromptu drive to Intramuros x Muni Market Day on March 28!

A few weeks ago, I tagged along a couple of friends from Team Muni for a mini-project. Still getting permission if I can post the video here but It’s a short film to describe Manila as a creative hub. Between drinking coffee and taking safety shots, I also caught up with them and learned about their plans as well about Muni Market Day (after the jump!) Then a long-ish drive to Intramuros ensued. It’s been a while since I’ve been to this part of Manila. I actually forgot how to go to the walled city – though back in college I was always in this part of the capital *don’t ask hihi*. We also dropped by Manila Collectible – an all Filipino products curator in the corner of Cabildo and Beaterio streets, where we saw a both familiar and new local brands. #BuyLocal you guys 🙂

Gotta love spontaneous weekends!

Muni Creative Mornings 1 at Local EditionMuni Creative Mornings 2 at Local EditionMuni Creative Mornings 3 at Local EditionMuni Creative Mornings 4Muni Creative Mornings 5Muni Creative Mornings 6 at  IntramurosMuni Creative Mornings 7 at  Intramuros

 

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Horizons and Perspectives

Going back home to Manila is a bit of a difficult thing to do when I’ve just spent the last six days with these horizons and perspectives in Batanes. But life awaits in the city and I can only dreamy of another vacation to the enchanting islands of Batanes.

I heard the fiesta is on June… Hmmm I hope I can find another cheap ticket back to Basco!

Stop. And just stop. 

March 15, 2015 12:30PM

BATANES, PHILIPPINES — I’m now here at Phil’s Brew, Batanes’ first neighborhood cafe, and I’m finding it hard to finish any writing.

The birds are chirping, kids frolicking, the smell of home-brewed coffee, Ang Bandang Shirley appending the serenity; all beautifully distracting me from everything I’ve set myself to do today.

I came here to decompress anyway. The past few days in this island, albeit still not unplugged, has been nothing short of amazing. Even after seeing everything that has to be seen, this island — this little speck of land on the northernmost border of the Philippines still hasn’t ceased to astound every inch of my being.

Today, I tell myself, I am lucky to be here.

Being utterly present in the moment is something hard for me to do, but today, it seems that my hands are not willing to do anything. I am forced to bask in the quietness of my tiny space, this corner I holed up, along with the cacophony of the buzzing community on Sunday’s best. The wind is in my face, a typhoon is coming, and I’m halfway my cuppa. I could use this kind of peace in the city.

It’s more than the gifts of nature, or the cool breeze, or the honesty culture the island is known for. The invading peace that slowly creeps up to your system, forcing me to halt, that’s what is. Ah, when was the last time I stopped? To stay still, to appreciate, to feel the energy flow… and just flow in and out of my body like a steady stream of spring water. I in the middle of it all, just in a complete stop.

This place made me stop. Not to think, not to ruminate, not to analyze, but only to stop. I thought I came here to escape; I thought that’s what I need. But all I have done so far is to stop.

And it feels good.

My cup of exquisitely prepared local brew has just reached it’s bottom and I think a refill is in order. I’m gonna stay here for a while.

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