Boyce Avenue & David Choi - "Firework" Cover


Boyce Avenue collabs with David Choi in a Katy Perry cover.

The inspirational Firework gets an acoustic touch with Alejandro Manzano on guitars and vocals and David on violin. Quite a sound. I must say the song even became more inspirational.

Is It Possible to Daytrip Calapan City? (Part 1)


I was supposed to go up Mt. Pulag January 6th but begged off upon learning that it’s a four-day hike. I can’t afford to be out of the house (and out of the business) for that long this early in the year. It made me sad, though, because I really wanted to climb the third highest mountain in the country (and the highest in Luzon). So I planned a trip to cheer myself up while the team I was supposed to go with were having fun at the summit.

While contemplating on where to go, it so happened that I saw an old friend on Facebook and added him up. He’s now a policeman stationed in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. That fact made it easier for me to plan on where to spend my Saturday.

Leaving the house at 12:30 AM Saturday, my target was to catch the 4 AM RoRo leaving for Calapan from the Batangas Port. There was an air conditioned bus in front of Star Mall Alabang but since I travel on a budget, I always opt for non-aircon ones, so I headed to Alabang Bus Terminal to have my option. But unluckily for me, there was no bus bound for Batangas Pier (aircon or non-aircon) at that time at the terminal. I was told by the person manning the terminal that a bus would soon come and leave by 2:30 AM. I was sure, though, that I wouldn’t be able to make it for the 4 AM RoRo if I would leave Alabang at 2:30.

A young woman sitting at the bus terminal was obviously waiting for something and asked her if she’s headed for the pier. She said yes and she’s also bound for Calapan City. Since a person used to going there is better to ask than the internet, I asked her about the travel time and stuff, and if we would make it to the pier by 4 AM if we leave Alabang by 2:30. She said probably not, so I told her about the aircon bus I saw in front of Star Mall. To make the story short, we boarded the aircon bus and left Alabang at 1:30 AM.

We were already buying tickets at 3:30 AM for the RoRo that would leave at 4 AM.  We were first made to sit at the waiting area where you can also buy snacks and stuff.

There weren’t much passengers waiting and I was kinda happy that there would be no case of overcrowding. LoL! After a while, a voice coming out of horrendous-sounding speakers told us that Maria Ursula (that’s the name of the vessel we’re boarding) passengers could now go inside the ship. Okay so we walked down a set of stairs towards the ship where a bunch of trucks and delivery vans were waiting to board.

Jonah, the young woman I travelled from Alabang with, said it would be better to sit inside the air conditioned part of the RoRo. I wanted to sit in the plastic benches outside but I made it up to her since she’s the one used to going to and fro Calapan.

There were about like 6 persons inside  the air conditioned area when we got in. It actually doubled before the ship left Batangas but it was still just a small portion of what that aircon area could accommodate.

People had enough room to lie down and catch some sleep. Just like Jonah who immediately fell asleep after having a cup of instant noodles she bought at the ship’s canteen.

But I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. It was my time to roam around.

The sea was calm and the ship was steady. The first level of the ship was full of cargo vehicles and I didn’t go there anymore. After all, there were no windows or anything down there so I just walked around the second level where the air conditioned area was as well as the plastic benches in the open area.

There wasn’t much to see, really. I wished it was daytime but then traveling at night (or early morning for that matter) gives me more day time to roam around my destination. More day time means having enough time to go to the places you intend to visit, therefore eliminating the need to stay overnight. And that has always been my game plan (or in this case, travel plan).

The third level of the ship, the deck, was actually what I wanted to see. But since it was dark, all I could see of the sea was the white foamy water at the side of ship. It was so dark I felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Even the deck itself was dimly lighted, and to top it off, there was no one there aside from me. It felt a little creepy, actually. Good thing two men also went up the deck after a few minutes to take pictures. It wasn’t too creepy when I wasn’t alone.

Travel time was two hours, and by that time, we were already an hour into the trip. The sea became rough by then and I couldn’t walk without an effort to balance. The two men decided to go back to the lower level leaving me all alone again at the deck. After a few more pics, I also went back to the second level myself. The ship was so swaying I couldn’t walk without holding on to something.

Jonah was still asleep that time, and looking at her made me want to take a nap. I was awakened after a few minutes when the ship blew its horn. We were near the Calapan Port! I scrambled up with my camera to the open area where the sea was already visible. It was almost daylight! I hoped to get a glimpse of sunrise but the sun rises on the other side, I guess.

The ship was still swaying, though less this time. The islets of Calapan City were already visible you could almost see the trees in the not-yet-so-bright morning light.

A few minutes later, we were  already at the Calapan Port. People started going down to the first level of the ship, preparing to get out. I texted Nazis, my policeman friend stationed at Calapan City, that I was almost at the pier. Then Jonah and I decided to go down to the first level as well, where the cargo vehicles were. And boy, did we regret it!

The trucks and vans started their engines as soon as they saw the plank went down, emitting fumes that was so harsh to the nose and throat. And of course it would still take some time to fit the plank onto the pier, and we were trapped inside the first level with all that vehicle fumes which made most of us start coughing. It was quite impossible to get back up the second level because the small way back (which was actually just a space between the vehicles) was already filled with passengers wanting to go out. Honestly, these RoRo ships should have a separate entrance/exit for passengers rather than using the same one used by the cargo vehicles.

Anyway, we were able to get out of the ship alive and I thanked Jonah for being my guide up to that point. Honestly, Batangas Pier was a little confusing and I really thanked God for giving me a company who knows the way around.

I texted Nazis again that I was already in Calapan. But after waiting for like 10 minutes of no reply, I decided to move alone from there. I’ve gathered enough info from Jonah that I knew I only had to take a tricycle from the pier if I wanted to go to the town proper of Calapan. And what’s the best way to start going around than to visit the town’s church?

What I like most about the provinces (at least those that I’ve been to) is that everything can be found at the town proper or what they call bayan. The church, municipal hall, market, hotels, and even the jail.

So I rode a tricycle for 20 pesos and got off in front of Citimart which was a little past the church. I did that because I wanted to walk and have a feel of the place.

The Sto. Niño Cathedral didn’t have the look of an old church, what with its freshly-painted look and the lack of old architectural flare one who has seen enough old churches is accustomed to.

It was constructed in 1959 and it has a long aisle, which was being decorated when I got there. Asking the people inside, I learned that someone’s getting married at 9 o’clock that morning. It would have been great to watch the bride walk down the long aisle but it was only 7 AM that time. I couldn’t possibly wait and waste 2 hours of my time to watch a wedding.

The church houses a magnificent pipe organ (behind me on the above pic) which is its equivalent of the bamboo organ of Las Piñas.

I was almost about to leave the church when my phone (yes, the pink Torque you see in the pic) rang. It was Nazis, and he’s at the pier! Anyway, he met me at the church and we had coffee in a nearby karinderia.

My itinerary included Harka Piloto and Tamaraw Falls and a peek of Puerto Gallera if possible. There’s also an optional visit to relatives in Victoria if time would permit. I asked Nazis if all of that were possible (including the relatives thing) on a daytrip and he said yes. He said Harka Piloto is just a boat ride away, after which we could hop on a jeepney for Tamaraw Falls (which was along the road to Puerto Gallera) and then head straight to Puerto. He also told me I didn’t have to go back to Calapan because I could go back to Batangas via the boats in Puerto Gallera. It sounded okay to me so off we went to Victoria for the relatives my Nanay wanted me to visit. Honestly, I had never seen most of them and most of them didn’t know me prior to this visit.

(To be continued…)

Ricky Martin's New Sound


When I hear the name Ricky Martin, the first thing that pops into my mind is the singer shaking his booty to the tune of La Vida Loca. But then I guess the Puerto Rican singer won’t be singing such tunes anymore.

Since he came out via Rolling Stone, he has been much of an activist for gay rights. Even his latest song, The Best Thing About Me Is You, shows that other side of him.

The reggae-ish song is not bad at all. But I really hope he will still sing stuff that made us love him back then.

Dance Showdown


I'm not into dancing like I used to so many years ago. But I still love watching people dance, especially dancers doing a showdown.

We chanced upon this hip-hop dance showdown at MOA's Sunset Strip last December 4th when me and my old friends had a get-together.

The "unmasked" kid reminds me of Audition Dance Battle moves.

Hubert Webb Talks About Life After Prison


Hubert Webb talks about technology and plans of getting married.

But seriously, he sounds gay.

Thank You


Doc Djoanne called up. She’s the vet who checked into Princess last December 31st. I was kinda holding my breath while she was going through the usual courtesies and asking how Princess was. The less-than-a-minute “prelude” to the real reason of the call felt like an hour of waiting.

It was worth the wait, though. Princess’ liver and kidneys are normal. I was able to breathe easier.

Here’s an everything’s okay tummy rub after the good news:

A Vet Trip on the Last Day of the Year


Amid the chaos inside our house while everyone’s busy preparing for the New Year, Princess threw up her breakfast on the sofa on the last day of 2010. Imagine how I felt! Part of me wanted to bring her immediately to the vet, but part of me also wanted to wait until the next day cuz it might be just a case of something not to be alarmed of. But then Animal House Alabang wouldn’t be open on the New Year, they only have the Jupiter branch for emergencies on that day.

So I immediately took a bath, got dressed and dragged Princess to Alabang.

Call me paranoid (cuz I am) but in our three years of being together, throwing up is Princess’s first sign of sickness. And of course a dog won’t throw up if there’s nothing wrong with her.

After checking Princess, Doc Djoanne took a blood sample for CBC.

Princess didn’t have any fever or any physical sign that she’s sick. I waited at the reception for the CBC result, praying that everything’s normal. Actually, I was kinda positive that time that it would be normal. So I busied myself looking at the other dogs.

After about 30 minutes, the result came. Normal. So I opted for a more thorough kidney and liver tests. Results will come out on the fourth.

Princess is now on a special i/d diet and is under Cimetidine and Liveroline (just in case her liver’s the problem). Anyway, her poop’s okay and she never threw up since.

The vet gave me a number of possible reasons why Princess would throw up. One was that she played right after eating. Two was that she licked something that her stomach wouldn’t take. And others I cannot remember as of this time. Those two stuck with me cuz they were the most probable. But I’m hoping it’s just the first reason.

A Walk in the Dark


These pics were taken on the 2nd to the last Simbang Gabi. In all the nine mornings that I attended mass (yes I was able to complete all the nine masses), I was never able to sit inside the church. Those people who were able to I guess went there an hour before the mass started.

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Second photo was taken on my walk home from the church at around 5:20 in the morning. That's where I walked eight times out of the nine Simbang Gabi (I took a jeepney ride one time). There’s an even darker part of the road, I took photos but it was too dark to see anything. I wouldn’t really use flash. Too risky. It might attract the attention of hoodlums hiding somewhere. LoL! But seriously, it’s too risky to use flash in that dark a place in that time of day especially when you’re alone.

But here’s a video I took using my Kodak Zx1:

It was along General Santos Ave. Here’s a map:

general santos ave map

And I went to church in Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish which is inside Bicutan Parochial School (marked A in the map).

The evening of the 24th, I attended mass with Princess wearing a Santa costume. There was no one to take a pic of her cuz I was carrying her and I don’t really put her down whenever we’re out (unless I’m taking her for a walk in which case I’d be taking her to a dog-friendly place) cuz of the dirt. Anyway, the Santa costume was the same one from last year (which you can see here).

So everyone who knows I completed the Simbang Gabi asks me what’s my wish. There’s this belief that you’ll be granted a wish when you complete all the nine masses. But I didn’t really attend Simbang Gabi for a wish to be granted. I just wanted to go to church. But then if God will let me have one wish for that, it would be good health for me and my loved ones, Princess included.

Simbang Gabi is really fun. I know I’d be doing it again next year.

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