Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

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Ah-ah!  My niece was not frowning.  She was actually joyous, and a little bit ticklish, with her first encounter with this beautiful winged-creature.  Not that she did not see a butterfly in all her 17 years.  But born and reared in the city, she was only afforded a fleeting glimpse of the rare presence of this flighty insect.

Last May 2013, we were fortunate to visit the Simply Butterflies Conservation Center in Bilar, Bohol, Philippines.  We were introduced to various species of butterflies and felt some of them.  I envied my niece’s reaction.  It seemed she can’t believe the butterflies landed at the side of her face, she had to shut out the world and just feel the moment.  Afterwards, she was a bit shy, wondrous, but joyous, that she reacted towards a butterfly that way at her age.

Go Girl!  We all have our moments.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: One (2)

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One road connecting all three routes…  One tree at the center of them all…

– at Calauit Safari Park in Calauit Island, Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines, March 2013 –

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

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“Anymore food, anyone?” asked the lone giraffe.

She (I insist, she has to be a female) was the only one left loyal after her fickle companions left us for another tourists waving leafy foods to them.  She tiptoed around our safari ride, unbelieving we already were empty-handed.

Just one more peek to be sure.  “Anymore food, anyone?” asked the lone giraffe.

– at Calauit Safari Park in Calauit Island, Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines, March 2013 –

10 Things to Do at Khaosan Road in Bangkok, Thailand

Khaosan?  Does it ring a bell?  Remember the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Di’Caprio of which is based on a book of the same title by Alex Garland.  That’s Khaosan.  It’s a short street in central Bangkok in the Banglamphu area about 1 km north of the Grand Palace famous as a haven for backpackers and as the center of night life in Bangkok.  Curiosity brought me and my friends there and true to its reputation, Khaosan indeed is teeming life of its own.  So based on a few hours that we were there, let me offer 10 things one can do in Khaosan.

1)  Get lost in the crowd.

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2)  People watching (and probably make friends).  There’s a plethora of colors and personalities.

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3)  Inspect souvenir shops.

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4)  Eat and drink in a sidewalk cafe.

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5)  Eat Pad Thai by the road.

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6)  Drink Beer Chang by the road.

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7)  Sample fresh fruits and veggies.

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8)  Discover a quieter section of the stretch of the road.

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9)  Discover ingenuity like this automobile cafe.

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10)  Don’t forget to take a souvenir shot at this marker.

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Enjoy Khaosan!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community 4

…..of imposing structures or dominant parts of a structure that define the distinctiveness of a place in the Philippines

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the enormous buttresses on the sides of the Church of Saint Augustine or the commonly known Paoay Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines.  Paoay Church is a prime example of Earthquake Baroque architecture aside from exuding Javanese architecture traced to Borobudur of Java.

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Bangui windmills (or Bangui Wind Farm) in Bangui, Ilocos Nortes, Philippines.  Each of these 230-feet high wind turbines, all 20 of them, is capable of producing electricity of up to the maximum capacity of 1.65 megawatt.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

then I met GRANDEUR…

A Journey With My Aunt

It was 20 years ago, or so.  I sat on the lone chair beside her bed, wanting to hold her gnarly hands.  Instead, I busied myself by patting her head and tucking errant hairs away from her face.

“How are you?”  She feigned a smile.  Too late.  We both knew I should not have asked that.  My aunt had been in and out of the hospital.  We were just waiting for her remaining days with us

“Have I told you about Baguio?”  Many times.  But I said, “not yet.”

“It’s the most beautiful place I had been to.”  I listened fondly.  It was her signal to reminisce.  Despite hearing it several times from my aunt’s quivering lips and incorrigible words, I was still excited to hear about Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines, the city of pines.

I saw in her dreamy eyes an uncongested city on top of a hill, mountains all over, lots of pine trees, culturally diverse as the center of arts and commerce in the Cordillera region and as home to the Igorots, proud to be the only producer of strawberries in the country and boastful of its various vegetable and flower farms and nature-filled garden parks.

She stopped.  She seemed so tired.  “Do you want to rest?”  I thought I was tiring her with the strength used to gather those memories.  She tried to wave, gesturing a no sign.  “I will soon rest anyway.”

So she did go on.  She shared how hardworking the Igorots are.  Females can toil the land while carrying children on their back.  As a mountainous place, they found a way to build rice paddies as terraces.  The city’s high altitude made it a perfect getaway for summer vacations.  People from all over the country would clamor to flock to the city.

Then my aunt shivered from remembering how cold Baguio was.

“If ever it would snow in the Philippines, it would be in Baguio,” she lamented.

“Promise me you’ll go there one day, then tell me.”  She held my right hand and looked faintly into my eyes, forcing a promise from a teenager about to enjoy her high school life and eager to hear of other places.

By 2006 and 2011, I had seen Baguio for myself.  It still has its old charm but time caught up with it.  Congestion forced residents to locate their houses on mountain sides, perceived an eyesore by first-time visitors.  Traffic in the city center Session Road usually resulted to frustration.  And the once-pure fog was clouded with smog.  Despite this, I admit Baguio is still one of those places I would love to return to.

I talked to myself, convinced my aunt would hear me.

“You’re right auntie.  Baguio is the most beautiful place to live in.”

For my aunt’s sake, I had to put a tinge of a little lie.  Baguio was her only image of how a beautiful place should look like.