Straddling social issues

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Today, I stumbled upon this social attitude test from my friend Neener's blog, The Whole Kit and Caboodle.

I had to answer about fifty questions, and the results are:

Radicalism:   44.5
Socialism:     56.25
Tenderness:   75

These scores indicate that you are a tender-minded moderate; this is the political profile one might associate with a protective parent. It appears that you are accepting of religion, and have a generally optimistic attitude towards humanity in general.

Your attitudes towards economics appear neither committedly capitalist nor socialist, and combined with your social attitudes this creates the picture of someone who would generally be described as a political centrist.

To round out the picture you appear to be, political preference aside, an egalitarian with few strong opinions.

It was an interesting questionnaire, which forced me to think about some of the social issues, like abortion, death penalty, and socialism. I am mildly surprised that I have "a few strong opinions" as people generally describe me as quite opinionated. The rest didn't surprise me, as I have always thought of myself as open to other religions and peaceful coexistence with different beliefs; but I am surprised that I am a political "centrist".

When I took up Political Economy in college, we took a political values test before, and I was quite a radical leftist. I think the events of the past few months has quite changed me into someone more mellow and accepting. Work, too, has made me see the tension between employer and employee, and I have had quite some time to practice balancing between the two. It is nice to be able to see both viewpoints, while trying to pacify both to achieve an outcome or response that suits all.

How about you, what's your political values result?

Epic movie is epic!

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

This is kind of a late post, but I just really wanted to write about Epic! It was a film shown last May (here in the Philippines), about a teenager, Mary Katherine or MK (Amanda Seyfried) who had to live with her estranged dad, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) after her mom passed away. Her dad lived somewhere remote and has been pursuing the existence of an "advanced society of tiny people" in the forest, but no one ever believes him. By some chance of fate, MK happens upon the dying queen who entrusts her with the pod which will choose the next queen. MK goes through a fun adventure, and experiences mishaps along the way, protected by Ronin (Colin Farrell), head of the Leafmen/soldiers, and Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a "rookie" Leafman warrior.

Other notable actors are Beyonce, Tara the queen; Steven Tyler as Nim Galuu; Christoph Waltz as Mandrake - the leader of the Boggans; Aziz Ansari as Mub; and Chris O'Dowd as Grub.

The film was refreshing because of the unique plot, but I really disliked Nod from start to finish. He's a lazy ass who didn't really care about anyone but himself at the start. Until the end, he still didn't impress me. Ronin, on the other hand, was dreamy. I wish such a guy existed in real life. I'm not sure, but I think there was also a female Leafman (Leafwoman?) because during the battle one of them sounded like a female. That, and the fact that the main protagonist of the film is female, just made me like it even more. The ending was a little too short for me - we don't know if they are still allowed to visit the "advanced society" or if there were repercussions for MK's bringing her dad to their secret place, Moonhaven. Also, since the dad has discovered them already, and he was drawing them, we don't know if he was going to publish his findings. If he does, what does that mean for their existence? Also, are MK and Nod like...together? Huh. So, the story was really good but the ending left a lot of answers. I hope there's a sequel!

But what really captured my heart is the film's graphics. Oh my god, it is so good and so beautiful! When the film started, I thought I was mistaken that it's an animated movie because the rendering of Professor Bomba, as the screen panned across his arm, seemed so lifelike. Epic is produced by Blue Sky Studios, the same studio that produced   notable movies such as the Ice Age movies, Rio, Robots, and Horton Hears a Who!. I really marveled at the beautiful graphics. (Incidentally, Rio is the first animated movie I ever saw my mom watch that she didn't fall asleep while watching. She enjoyed it because she loves Angry Birds hahaha.) I was wishing that I was watching it on 3D, and then immediately thought what if they make a ride in theme parks ala Transformers-style in Universal Studios?! That would be awesome!

The Epic website is also very fun to visit. There are a lot of photos, videos, and games you can play. A mobile game app, EPIC Battle for Moonhaven, is also available in Android and iOS. The game is free to download but there are in-app purchases if you want to get bonus content.

I'm a Disney and Pixar fan, but after watching Epic, I'm going to be on the lookout for more movies by Blue Sky Studios.

If you haven't seen Epic yet, they just released it on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D. Have fun watching!

Trying out French Baker's Angus Beef Burger

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I love trying out different burgers, as long as they're affordable, so when we went to French Baker, I decided to try out their Angus Beef Burger. I thought I ordered the whole plate with the potatoes and salad on the side (P295), but the cashier just entered the burger itself. The burger costs P215.

When the Angus Beef Burger was served, the server handed me two plastics with the French Baker logo. One was clearly a wet wipe towelette. I thought the other one was just mistakenly handed to me, but I opened it anyway and was really glad to discover that they provided me with plastic gloves! Now, I don't really require gloves to eat a burger, but I already had so many experiences of eating burgers with the sauce dripping down, leaving my fingers smelling afterwards, so the gloves were a nice touch. The gloves were a bit big for me, so I know it will fit bigger hands. I hope they have other sizes, though, for really big hands.

The Angus Beef Burger up close.
We saw the angus beef burger patty grilled, with flames really shooting up high. The bread was toasted but tasted a little dry. Aside from the patty, the Angus Beef Burger also had onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and mustard sauce. The patty itself was thick and tasty. The burger isn't too thick so it wasn't hard to bite into it, unlike other burgers that I had to slice the patty in the middle and separate the buns just so I can eat.

Flipped burger.
The buns were firm when the dish was served, but the juices and the mustard sauce smeared on the patty soaked through the bottom bun and it became a little soggy. I flipped the burger over, which made it easier to hold as the bottom bun was breaking apart. The top bun held its consistency and didn't break. The burger didn't fall to pieces on my plate like the other burgers I've tried. I don't know why there are holes in the top bun, maybe for decoration?

All in all, it was a good and tasty patty, but the burger as a whole didn't leave me wanting for more of it. It was definitely filling, but it's not in my list of favorite burgers.

What's your new discovery?

My first ballet show: Giselle

11:32:00 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

My sister asked me to watch the ballet Giselle in CCP with her, as part of the "cultural enrichment" thing we are both doing this year. Of course I agreed because I like ballet, although I've never seen a performance before (I did a year of ballet 18 years ago, and I still reminisce about it until today!). I did a bit of negotiating with her, since she just wanted to buy the cheapest ticket, P400, for the 2PM show. Since that was where we sat when we watched The Phantom of the Opera (and I regretted it since we all had poor eyesight), I argued that we would be better able to watch if we sat a little bit closer. After a few more days, she finally relented to sit in the orchestra section, costing P1000, although we paid a total of P2110, since we bought via Ticketworld's online portal and they had a 3% service charge (P60) and a P50 pick-up fee in CCP.

Note: If you're using someone else's card (your mom/dad's, etc), you have to bring the card you used to purchase the tickets along with the online ticket confirmation letter Ticketworld sent to your email, an authorization letter from the card owner, the card owner's two valid IDs, and your own valid ID.

The commute:
It was a rainy Saturday, and I was still recovering from a upper respiratory tract infection, so my dad drove us to Sucat via West Service Road. From there, we crossed through the bridge and rode a UV Express FX bound for Lawton via SM Moa. We paid P40 and asked the driver to drop us off at CCP.

If you will ride from Sucat to CCP, you will be dropped off across CCP, and you can either just cross the road and walk to CCP, or ride the orange jeep that goes around CCP. The jeepney costs P8. We rode the jeepney because it was raining cats and dogs, and we don't want to risk crossing the avenue with all the speeding vehicles.

For the way home, we just walked to the corner of the CCP block and hailed a passing FX bound for Sucat. We paid P45.

The show:
While waiting for Giselle to start.

Since it was my first time to watch ballet, I didn't really have any other show to compare it to. Watching ballet, I learned, is vastly different from watching other shows. You really have to understand the different movements of the ballerinas to know and appreciate the story. Thankfully, one of the heads of Ballet Philippines gave a speech prior to the show and taught us the different ballerina motions for you, me, I promise, dance and death/die.

I admit I fell asleep right at the crux of the story in the first scene! I'm not used to watching plays without dialogues or singing, so I didn't know what happened. I thought a battle between the two suitors of Giselle, has occurred and that the one she loves was dying, that's why Giselle committed suicide. I didn't read the story beforehand because I wanted to see if I will understand the story based on the ballet dancing itself. My sister, who stayed awake throughout the play, corrected my story. From what she understands, the show is this:

Giselle is a peasant girl who is in love with this rich guy who seems to be a prince. But there is a hunter, who is also pursuing Giselle. Giselle's mother prefers hunter guy (HG) and dislikes rich guy (RG), but Giselle and RG are in love. They keep dancing and dancing, since they both love to dance. HG discovers that RG is actually a royal and shows a sword to Giselle, but Giselle doesn't believe him. Then a princess arrives in the scene, and confirms that RGs is indeed betrothed to her.

Giselle goes mad with grief and betrayal and dies of a broken heart.

In the second act (which I stayed awake for throughout!) HG visits Giselle's grave. The queen of the dead arrives and tells him to dance. HG dances until he dies. RG then visits Giselle's grave, and the Queen of the Dead also tells him to dance to his death. Giselle, who has loved him and forgiven him even after death, dances and supports him and saves him, until dawn breaks, and the power of the Queen of the Dead is broken. RG is then saved and Giselle goes back to her grave.

I had to Google the real story and found out that my sister's interpretation isn't entirely accurate. Visit the page for Giselle in the Ballet Philippine's website to read the full story.

Denise Parungao as Giselle.
The ballerina for Giselle's part in the 2PM show was Denise Parungao. She danced beautifully and was very light on her feet. She was very graceful and gave justice to the part. Watching her, I remembered my late schoolmate, Mary Saludares, who was also a ballerina but she died a few years ago, much too young, in a tragic accident right on the brink of her career. I also regretted that I never watched Lisa Macuja's ballet performances.

The photo on the left is Denyse walking towards a guy who was holding out a bouquet for her. He kissed her on the forehead and the crowd went wild with hoots! I don't know if he is her boyfriend though. Maybe?

The other dancers were also very graceful, although for the chorus dances, they weren't moving in synch with each other at all times. Some lifted their hands a second earlier than the others, or lifted their legs, etc. Still, the performance was beautiful.

After the performance, I just walked around the foyer. I found myself standing beside a group of girls who were talking about Denise, and how excited they were to see her. I realized I was standing beside a cordoned off area, and saw a table with pens. I realized that the dancers were going to do a signing of the program booklets, and I was right in front of their table! Prime spot to take a photos and see them up close.

The whole ensemble of the 2PM show of Giselle slowly walked down the stairs. Wait, did I mention Bembol Roco is part of the cast? I didn't even recognize him, but he is not visible from this photo.

The Giselle ensemble.
Sitting on the table, from L-R: Marvin Arizo as Hilarion (Hunter Guy), Earl John Arisola as Albrecht (Rich Guy), Denise Parungao as Giselle, and Ma. Celina Dofitas as Myrtha (Queen of the Wilis).

They all danced beautifully. I initially thought Celina Dofitas was one of the other Giselles in the other shows because she wsas so lithe and graceful.

Left to right: Hilarion, Albrecht, Giselle, and Myrtha.
I'm glad we bought the orchestra seats. It was a really nice experience to watch ballet, and I am grateful to the 2PM ensemble of Giselle for the wonderful performance and making us feel the money and the rain and flood-drenched clothes were all worth it.

Till my next adventure,

Plants vs. Zombies 2! Finally!

11:26:00 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Oh my, I waited this since it was first announced. Plants vs. Zombies 2 is finally here! Sadly, it's only available for iOS for now. Hopefully, a copy for other mobile platforms, Android and Windows OS, and PCs will also be available soon.

It debuted yesterday in Apple's App Store, and a lot of people have been downloading it like crazy! Of course, we waited years for this to come out so I can totally understand the hype. The first Plants vs. Zombies game was released in 2009 after all. It garnered so many awards, the developers must have been feeling pretty pressured to come up with a sequel that will be up to scratch!

After downloading the game via the link I posted, don't go offline yet or disconnect! The app will download some things for you to be able to play. The game is compatible with older devices, such as my iPod Touch 4 and my sister's iPad 2, but it requires iOS 5.1, and of course optimized for iPhone 5. The game took quite some time to load on my iPod, but the game was smooth and didn't crash no matter how long it was opened on my device. The photos here are all screencapped from my device.

After opening the game, it will first download the following:

Even if you get disconnected, the download will resume where you left off.
Then a patch will be downloaded, which doesn't need an internet connection.

This also did not need an internet connection.

I like PopCap's humor. It's definitely about time!

If you want to brush up on your zombie-killing skills, PvZ2 gives you the option to start with refresher levels (much like the original PvZ levels). This is especially good because there might be some who are not yet familiar with PvZ (after all, kids aged 1 also play games!) and so you can get a feel for the game. The graphics are not so crisp as the original PvZ on my computer, but maybe that's just my device? The iPod Touch 4th gen is a bit behind now, after all.

Be warned, though, that if you decide to start with the refresher levels, you have to finish all the refresher levels, which might bore you. Also, don't forget to get that mostly-helpful-but-sometimes-gets-in-the-way Assistive Touch button (I put mine on the bike on the lower left part of the screen).

And did I mention that it's currently free? Here's the link again if you are busting to get it now: Apple App Store.

Till my next something new,

A sweet, short visit to Zoocobia

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Welcome to Zoocobia!
Last June 1, I tagged along with my sister and her in-laws to go to Fontana, Pampanga, for a bit of swimming. We've been there before so I didn't think to take photos. Before we went home the following day, we went out for a bit of fun to Zoocobia, a new zoo hidden somewhere in the mountains of Pampanga. My sister drove, so I don't know how to commute going there, but it's definitely something that you should drive to, not really commute to.

Zoocobia is still new, and thus they only have few animals and the place is not really that developed. But the entrance fee is already a little steep, especially since there are only a few animals that are on display. Other fun activities, like the zooc ride, had an extra cost. Since we were already tired from walking, we decided to pay for the ride and go zipping down the short drive.

It was a bit sad to see the animals since they didn't look all that healthy to me, but the staff seemed so enthusiastic and so nice. And the animals do seem taken well cared of; maybe they're still being rehabilitated? The staff were also nice to the animals, and courteous to the guests.

David, my brother-in-law's half-American nephew, spouted a lot of facts as we went along. The tour guide kidded that it's a good thing he knows a lot about the animals since she's already getting a figurative nosebleed from speaking in English!

David bravely stepped up and fed the ostrich with a gloved hand.
You can feed the animals, under the guidance of the staff. For the ostrich, we had to use a glove but we didn't use gloves when we fed the birds. Having birds eat off the palm of your hand was a marvelous experience! I felt like Belle when she fed birds and sheep in Beauty and the Beast, the Disney version (my favorite movie!)

The birds crowded around my hand.

Our niece, Aj, with ate Mako, but she got scared so she didn't feed the birds.
There was also a bear cat, who we had to keep calling just to come out. They didn't have a harness, but we were safe because he didn't even approach us. He just got out and looked at us and then crept back into his home with the other bear cats.
Hello, Mr. Bear Cat!
After that, we finally reached the point where we can ride the zooc. We were supposed to wear helmets, especially cutiepie, but she just took it off. They were actually supposed to ride a blue zooc, but when she saw the pink ride, she stood up and left her mom and sat on the pink one. ;) She already knows the color she likes, and she's not yet even two years old!
Mommy Apple and Aj's first time on the zooc.
After the exciting zooc ride and usual assortment of snakes, birds, and monkeys, we arrived at the more exotic animals. It was fun seeing the animals, but sad because they were caged and they looked sad being alone and in a cage. I hope Zoocobia will develop into a place where the animals don't have to be caged, and they can roam freely around the grass and trees.

A real, live llama right here in the country!
My favorite part was seeing the Wagyu. Yes, that's a real live wagyu. After seeing him, I promised to myself to never eat a wagyu burger. He was magnificent! He stood tall and proud and imposing.
I can't believe I saw a live wagyu!
After the short tour, we were supposed to go to another area to see plants or butterflies, I think, but we opted to just go home because we had to get going back to Manila. Zoocobia was a little pricey for the sparse exhibit, but we still enjoyed it anyway, if only because I saw animals I haven't seen before.


Win beautiful goods from Papemelroti!

4:17:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Awesome giveaway from Papemelroti!

Papemelroti is having a giveaway this month, and the winner will receive a bundle of really sweet goodies.

Prizes include:
Mini Happiness Journal
Evening Bracelet Watch
Shabby Chic Picture Frame
Vintage Fabric Brooch
Full Color Notebook
Mini Box Cards
Rejoice in the Moment Ring
Blue Drop Ribbon Earrings

Papemelroti has always been one of my go-to shops for paper gifts and other cute knick-knacks. I especially love their boxes and calendars!

Their giveaways are so beautiful and quaint, as always. :)

To join, simply visit their website at or click here to go to the contest page.

Something old and something new #01: Dr. No (1962)

12:21:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

British cinema poster for Dr. No,
designed by David Chasman and illustrated by Mitchell Hooks
I call this post my Something old and something new because this talks about something old (like an old film, restaurant, food, etc) which is new to me. I was once talking to my good friend Kinah and she mentioned that she has watched all of the James Bond films. I love crime and spy stories, but I have never watched a single James Bond film because I wasn't a fan of old films. But lately, I found myself so curious about Skyfall that I decided to go way, way back and watch the first-ever James Bond film, Dr. No. I'm now angling for the second movie because, to my pleasant surprise, I really enjoyed it!

Sean Connery is oh-so-suave, but I guess that's the appeal of being James Bond; you're slick, you're handy with guns and hand-to-hand combat, and you get the sexiest women. I wasn't into Sean Connery at the start, but at the end, whoah, he's handsome. I now know why older women are so into him. He has that devil-may-care twinkle in his eyes as Bond.

I enjoyed seeing Ursula Andress acting so cute and pretty. I felt like she didn't have to be anything other than look how she was. She was truly beautiful. Plus, even with all those wonderful curves, she is considered the 'quintessential' Bond girl, which is very opposite today's beauty standard of stick-thin women.

Another reason I really enjoyed watching Dr. No was because I can't help but marvel at how far cinematography has come. Dr. No is no slouch, don't get me wrong, but I just felt a bit in awe when I think about the cinematography today. However, I enjoyed seeing this first James Bond film because I feel like it was very raw, in the sense that they relied on less-high-tech equipment and more on the performance of the actors. There is something so beautiful about seeing more raw films compared to films nowadays that makes you wonder if it was a great film, or just simply enhanced by the tech effects.

However, I felt like this film was sexist, with all the girls sighing after Bond, or falling into bed with him. They were purely decoration. But I guess at that times (Dr. No was shown in 1962), that was the usual role of women in films. I'm looking forward to watching the succession of James Bond films and see how they improve in this area. Yes, obviously, I have no idea about James Bond films, and. I try not to read ahead so I won't know spoilers.

My Henna Tattoos

12:30:00 PM 2 Comments A+ a-

I love getting tattoos - the henna kind, that is. I cannot imagine getting a permanent one - yet - because I keep changing my mind about the tattoo I want. If all the henna tattoos I've had done over the years were permanent, I'd be covered in tattoos by now.

One of my travel must-do's, if it's available, is to get a henna tattoo; that's one of the first things I do on my first day. I walk and look through all the designs and tattoo artists available before I finally settle on a design. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of all the tattoos I've had since I started. I get them every time I go to the beach and there's a henna tattoo artist available.

For now, here is my henna photo collection, which will hopefully grow as I go about my exploration.

This is the oldest photo tattoo that I have available. I don't know where the others are (sigh). If I recall correctly, I've had two dragons and one more cat. The original design of this tattoo in the first photo was actually not of a cat. I couldn't pick any of the cat designs available; some were too sweet and totally not my style. The tattoo artist then decided to "freestyle" and amend one of his designs into this beautiful cat.

I think this is one of my most beautiful tattoos to date; if I was going to get a permanent tattoo, I would consider this one. I go this in Boracay of 2009.

MEOWR. Hiss.
My second oldest tattoo is this tiger.  I saw it on the design books of the tattoo artist and thought it looked "cute". I decided to have it on the middle of my back for maximum space. I didn't realize how bad ass it looked until my friends saw it when I wore a dress with a low back. Thus, my moniker "El Tigre" came to be. This surprised a lot of people because of my sweet and feminine facade. But if I will get a permanent tattoo, I'd really consider this one.

I think a tiger best represents me - fierce, strong, and protective - and this one is definitely my favorite so far. This one was from Boracay in 2011.

"Back off," said my sweet protector.
I got this in Boracay of 2011 as well. My sister, who was not with me at the beach that time, asked me to get a tattoo for her instead. Since she likes dolphins, that's what I got. I'm not really a fan of flower or girly tattoos, and getting this dolphin felt a little bit too much for me, but I got one anyway because I like dolphins - just not as a tattoo. If you'll see me in person and you'll know this about me, you might be surprised because I dress up so girly and I'm quite feminine, but oh, I don't know, I just want my tattoos to be different.
Sweet or just right?
I got my most recent henna tattoo during the launch of the graphic novel Anak Bathala, which I as a book blogger, was invited to. They had an artist doing free henna tattoos and I immediately lined up for one. Mine says Haeja in Alibata, one of the oldest writing languages in the Philippines. This one was done just last January.

Haeja. 'nuff said.
[Update: New tattoos since I posted this]

How about you, do you have beach rituals/must-do's when you travel? Do you also like getting henna tattoos?

Till my next adventure,

Picnic and Relaxation in Caleruega

12:30:00 PM 2 Comments A+ a-

Me praying on a pew laid out in the middle.
As I mentioned in my post about Java Jazz Coffee Shop and Lodging House, we went to Tagaytay specifically for Caleruega. This was our first time to travel together as a group, and coincidentally, this year marks the tenth year that we have been friends with Chichi and Faye. Everything just seem to came together for us that June, and we all needed that getaway for some peace, quiet, and meditation.

I have read up a lot about Caleruega and found out there's a hidden chapel that not everyone knows about way out on a "hill". In my previous visits to the place, I only went as far as the part overlooking Tagaytay, so I decided to persuade the rest to go up the hill in search for this hidden chapel.

How we got there:
This was a commute galore kind of trip. From Java Jazz, we rode a tricycle back to the Tagaytay circle. The fee should only P50. If they say it's more than that, try to haggle or tell them you know it's only P50. When we got to the circle, we rode a jeep bound for Batangas, and specifically asked the jeepney driver to drop us off where we can ride a tricycle to Caleruega.

When we got off the jeep, we rode the tricycle. Don't forget to get the name and number of your tricycle driver as you need to contact him again when you want to get back to the highway to ride a jeep again back to the city.

Ate Mako and Chichi on the way up to the Church.
Once we arrived in Caleruega, we paid the entrance fee at P30/person. You will get a brochure about Caleruega, and their room rates (with food) if you want to go on a personal retreat. It also contains  details on how to go about if you want to get married there.

While there is food being sold inside and outside Caleruega, we decided to just buy packed lunch from Java Jazz before going to Church. They were kind enough to pack it in carton containers with plastic utensils. That being said, don't buy anything with sauce to avoid spillage if you know they won't give you plastic containers.

Before going up the Church steps, which is kind of steep and be prepared to do some walking (or hiking), we took a few moments to enjoy the scenery. Caleruega is one of those places where almost everywhere you look, it's beautiful, with brick steps, green plants and trees, and clean surrounds.

After we all prayed for a while, we went down the brick path again in search for that hidden chapel. I honestly have no idea how to get there and where we were going. But the important thing is we enjoyed every minute of it. We walked down a concrete road on the side of the Church, and we were greeted by wood carvings of Jesus' death and resurrection. It must be pretty popular during Holy Week! There were also wooden swings where you can sit or eat. Past that, we came upon the beautiful pond, and there were also plastic tables on the ground.

Picnickers on the search for...salvation?
We kept walking and found a hanging bridge! It wasn't very high up, but we got pretty dizzy anyway since we kept walking back and forth because of a dog at the other end that wouldn't budge. We almost went away in fear until a group arrived and told us the dog doesn't bite.

So cross the bridge we did and we came and grass and a hill. We didn't know where we were, but since there was nowhere to go but up the hill or back through the bridge, we just decided to soldier on. Thank God ate Mariko and I bought Sandugo sandals and wore them! We had no problems climbing the slightly muddy slope, although halfway there I was panting and out of breath already.

So, okay, we still haven't found the hidden chapel, and we were all so hungry as it was lunch time. We continued on until...

My panoramic shot of the hidden chapel, but I don't know its name.
We finally reached the secret chapel! It definitely felt like salvation since we finally had a clean spot for our picnic, rest from the lunch time heat, and meditate for the next few hours. It was quiet since there were only two other people at the time we arrived.

It actually reminded me of stone henge, since there were just stone walls, with three mosaic panels. Only a huge tent served as the roof, and there were no chairs in sight. While we were there, various groups arrived and took lots of jumpshots around the place.

Panoramic shot of the mosaic walls inside the chapel. It was beautiful. That's Faye in the photo.
For the next four hours, we had lunch, ate chips, listened to music, and talked quietly. Since it was one of those days when I barely slept at night, I fell asleep under the gentle sunlight on the hard floor. Well, for me it was gentle. At the end of the day, Faye got a little sunburned and looked like she went to the beach! Me, I felt so refreshed. Maybe it was because I slept right by God's feet?

By four in the afternoon, we decided to call it a day. I think we all found what we were searching for that day. Faye said it was the most relaxing day she's ever had for quite some time; I got to rest without anything bugging my mind or feeling sad; ate Mariko got her quiet time after finishing her final thesis draft; and Chichi was able to get some time to sit still, read, and talk to her friends.

Since we were too focused going up, we didn't particularly look around on our way up the hill. But on our way down, we definitely took notice of this beautiful view. I know it's not to everyone's taste, but it was the perfect serene view and ending we needed.

Manong tricycle driver arrived 5pm on the dot. We asked the jeepney driver to drop us off Carlos Pizza for dinner. Songs about love and heartbreak were blasting from his speakers and Faye and I had a heck of a time singing to each other the songs we thought were appropriate for us at that time. Ate Mariko and Chichi just looked on, laughing. We actually seemed to be high because we kept singing out loud and laughing. We quickly sobered up when other people started boarding the jeep.

After dinner, and a visit to the Cliffhouse for dessert, we went back to Java Jazz. They close at 10pm, and we wanted to be able to get a cup of their famous tsokolate-eh!, which was perfect since it was cold and slightly raining.

By the time we got there, I thought we were all pretty darn tired to get a cup, but we all ordered one and brought out our chips and cards.

Oh my gosh. After one sip of the famous tsokolate-eh!, we were all angling for a second cup. Too bad they were already closing. And that was also good because we already went on a sugar rush. Oh my, we couldn't stop giggling and playing cards. In fact, we played until almost 2am. We had so much fun with Madam's pretend fortune-telling (that would be me) about our supposed future love lives, and playing several rounds of tong-its, cargaboro, pusoy, and pusoy dos. I'm proud to say Chichi finished the night knowing how to play pusoy and pusoy dos. Want another round, Chi? :p

How we got home:
After having lunch at Army Navy (same way: tricycle to the circle, then a quickstop at Bag of Beans for Faye's pasalubong shopping then jeepney to Army Navy), we trooped over to the Cliffhouse again for crepe courtesy of Faye 'cause she's awesome like that. After that, Chichi and Faye rode a bus right outside the Cliffhouse, bound for Manila. Ate Mako and I had to go back to the terminal where the shuttle/vans were parked for the ride back to Alabang.

All in all, it was a great weekend for us, no matter how tired we were. I think the fact that we struggled through the commute to get to the places actually added to our whole bonding experience. Caleruega was just what each one of us needed. :)

Group shot in Caleruega.

Till my next discovery,