The 2nd Philippine International Pyromusical Competition – Korea and Spain


It was late January when my friend Danilo told me about the 2nd Pyromusical Competition. I immediately made a mental note to watch it alone. Either that, or my going shouldn't depend on someone else's decision to go or not.

You see I bought two VIP tickets last year for me and a friend. I still wasn't open to going out alone in those days so when he cancelled at the last minute, I didn't go as well, wasting the precious 2 pieces of VIP tix.

I was only able to watch last year's Pyromusical on its last day with my sis and nephew, and the fun that night made me regret not using the VIP ticket on the previous show.

But going out alone because you planned to be alone is really different from going out alone because the person you're supposed to go with either stood you up or cancelled at the last minute. The latter sets your mood and excitement to a very low level, making you irritable and not enjoy whatever it is you are supposed to have fun attending.

Anyway, my online friend Mean who I played Ran Online with years ago, expressed her desire to go with me. She had a date that day, though, and was honest that she wasn't sure if her date would end in time for the Pyromusical Competition. And to cut it short, she wasn't able to come so I watched the show alone.

I was at the Mall of Asia by 4 PM that first day, February 12th, and immediately bought the cheapest ticket. I knew I'd have front row view even with the cheapest ticket if I was early.

A group of people were already waiting around the entrance area, but there's no line whatsoever so I decided to buy food first. Anyway, the entrance would open at 5 PM. Fifteen minutes later, I got back to the entrance and to my surprise, a line had already been made. Around 30 persons were lined up so I immediately positioned myself behind the line. I sighed. I wanted to be first, but anyhoo, I wasn't so far behind the line naman.

I put the doughnuts I bought inside my backpack and fished out my Kodak camcorder. After fumbling with my bag a little, I looked back to check how long the line had formed. Lo and behold! I couldn't even see the end of the line anymore! I was still lucky I arrived a little earlier. Lucky. Lucky.

The gate opened at exactly 5 PM.

I immediately went to the silver tickets area that's starting to get full. I was alone anyway so it wasn't that hard to make singit.

The show, as indicated on the ticket, would be 7PM and 8PM. But the fireworks display started almost 8PM. Korea first exhibited.

And how I wished I had a better camera. My cheap Kodak C813 could only do this much.

And my camcorder (Kodak Zx1) had so much glare I don't wanna upload it.

Anyway, Korea's exhibition ran for about 20 minutes. There was a long pause before Spain's exhibition began.

I loved Spain's better than Korea's, though.

It was almost 10 PM when the show ended. Imagine sitting on the breakwater from 5PM til about 10PM! But all in all, it was a great night. Better than spending my one hundred pesos on two bottles of beer. Got home at around 11PM. My Nanay was still awake, waiting for me. Waiting for my kwento about the fireworks display I watched.

What I did was plug my camcorder to our tv set and let her watch. She enjoyed the pictures better, though. The glare on the camcorder was really disappointing.

MakTrav with MSOC


The last mountain that I climbed was Mt. Pundaquit when I went with the MSOC to Anawangin Cove. It was November last year.

My friend K also invited me to their Batulao climb last January 9 (Sunday) but he texted me January 8th while I was already in Calapan. I couldn't actually go home Saturday night from an out-of-town trip and leave again the following morning for a mountain climb. Yea, pwede, but my Nanay would fume mad and Princess would feel depressed two days in a row and that's bad.

Then some of the MSOC applicants invited me for a MakTrav the following Sunday, January 16th, and I immediately said yes. It would be my first major climb ever.

K didn't join the team so I went to the Jam Transit station in Buendia alone at 3 AM. It was even baha in Pasay Rotonda because Manila Water was working in the area. Most of the team members were already there when I arrived.

We left for Sto. Tomas at 4 AM via an air-conditioned Jam Transit. The trip cost P90.00 because we were all charged student fare. Majority of us were students, anyway.

It was a pleasant team. I already met Sir Maldz and three of the applicants during the Pundaquit-Anawangin trip so I didn't feel like an outcast anymore. Not that they made me feel like an outcast the first time, it's just that it's easier to travel with people you already know.

The kids (as I call the applicants) ate their packed breakfast even before the bus left the station. I didn't eat. It's hard for me to eat that early in the morning. I slept through the trip instead.

the Maktrav team before leaving Sto. Tomas town (clockwise from left) me, Prince, Sir Maldz, Sir Jury, Sir Aim, Troy, Khollin, Rain, and Akil

We were at Sto. Tomas after an hour and hired a tricycle to take us to the jump-off in San Bartolome. The air was so cold that morning you could hear the wind howling and the trees were swaying like mad.

After praying (which was led by Troy), we left the registration area at exactly 6 AM. It was still dark but not much that we would need headlamps. But OC as I am, I wore the headlamp around my neck just in case.

With an elevation of 1,090+ MASL and a difficulty of 6 out of 9, MakTrav is classified as a major climb. And before this, the hardest mountain I climbed was only Pico de Loro with the the bird's beak going almost 90 degrees.

Good thing I expected the worst because the trail, though moderately steep at first, became difficult midway up. The wind became stronger and it made the passage across the cogon area very difficult. The sharp blades of the tall grass were slapping at our skin.

We arrived at the Melkas campsite at about 10:30 am and decided to have an early lunch. It started to become so cold with the wind bringing in the fog. It was there where I first set eyes on limatiks. These blood-sucking creatures are mean. You won't really feel they're sucking on your skin unless you see them. Too bad none of us were able to take pictures of the limatiks. But here's a vid of the Melkas campsite.

Passing through the Melkas Ridge was a little nerve-wracking. Prince, one of the applicants who says he's afraid of heights, almost crawled at the ridge.

Troy, Khollin, Prince, me, and Sir Aim

We arrived at Peak 1 at exactly 11:54 AM. Sir Maldz, being the leader, arrived a few minutes ahead of us, while Rain, Prince, Khollin, and I were the next to arrive. Troy and Akil were at the tail with Sir Jury and Sir Aim (who called his girlfriend that's why they stopped).

Sir Maldz, Rain, me, and Prince at Peak 1

Aside from limatiks, trapper plants can also be found in Mt. Makiling.

After Peak 1, the trail becomes more complicated. We found ourselves either clinging on vines and ropes or sliding on mud. The mud was very evident on my feet and on the Lagalag trekking pants that I have only used for the second time (the first being Calapan).

The temperature became lower as we headed for the summit. And since the kids didn't know it was that cold in Mt. Makiling, they didn't bring jackets aside from Khollin. I have to tell you, though, that my thick Bench fleece wasn't enough for the cold. I should've brought with me a windbreaker.

And since the kids had no jackets, one of them, Akil, frightened us all when he started getting chills.

Akil in green shirt before the chills; all wet in the rain.

Troy volunteered to carry Akil's bag and Rain became his official alalay. We really feared hypothermia might have hit him but it was too late to go back. We were just a few minutes away from the summit and the trail going back was very complicated.

Me at Mt. Makiling's summit

When we reached the summit, they made Akil sit in the bushes to hide him from the wind. Sir Aim also gave him his jacket and threw whatever they could throw on Akil just to keep him warm. Good thing Sir Aim had a stove that he was able to heat water for Akil.

That's Akil covered up in layers of clothing to keep him warm. Sir Aim behind him desperately trying to heat water, protecting his fire from the strong wind.

When Akil felt a little better, we immediately took off for the trail going to Los Baños, disregarding Peak 3. But it was still a long trek going down. It was 2:45 when we left the summit. Sir Maldz and Sir Jury led the team while Sir Aim stayed at the tail. The two sirs walked so fast, followed by Rain, Akil, and me. Good thing the trail had no ligaw because I suddenly found myself alone in the middle of the trek. Rain and Akil walked so fast that I was left behind, while the others in the tail group were much slower than I was that they were so far behind me!

Then I remembered Sir Jury's kwento before we set off that morning. He related how one time, he and another MSOC member couldn't find their way out while descending Mt. Makiling. They would keep on walking but would find themselves in the same place over and over again. It was almost dark that time and they knew what was happening. Namamaligno sila. Then they saw a little boy in white sando ran across the trail in front of them, before disappearing in thin air. After that, they were able to find their way out.

So I feared the same thing would happen to me. It would be worse cuz I was alone. So I walked fast, took my whistle attached to the strap of my new Hawk daypack, and whistled like mad. No answer though, either from Rain and Akil ahead of me, or from the group of four behind me. I walked alone for almost an hour and it was getting dark. I had my headlamp with me, but still!

What's worse was when I felt the need to do number 1. What if I peed on a punso or something? But I couldn't help it anymore so I just said "Tabi-tabi po!" and did it. I haven't been so frightened peeing in my whole life.

I was also looking around if I was passing by the same area over and over again. If what happened to Sir Jury happened to me that day? I really wouldn't know what to do. Imagine being mamaligno alone!

Anyway, I suddenly saw Rain and Akil ahead. They slowed down because Rain's foot got injured. The kid was wearing a pair of Nike slippers. He thought MakTrav was an easy climb because it was just a dayhike so he didn't wear anything appropriate.

But I was really lucky his foot got injured. At least it made them slow down.

It seemed like an endless trail, really. We reached the Los Baños jump-off after walking non-stop for three-and-a-half hours and it was already dark that time. Sir Maldz and Sir Jury were taking a bath when we arrived at the jump-off. I just washed-up, though. I fear pasma.

After about 30 minutes, the tail group arrived, dirtier than us. They only had one headlamp making the trek in the dark forested, muddy trail a very messy feat. Good thing the water coming out of the pump was lukewarm so some of the kids took a bath.

After cleaning up, we walked to find a jeepney that would take us to where we could have dinner. We stopped at Sulyaw sa Grove and I have to tell you, the food there was cheap! It was just so bad that my camera ran out of battery that time that I wasn't able to take any pic of/at the resto. So here's Sulyaw taken from

I have to tell you, if you're going to UPLB, you have to drop by Sulyaw to experience good food without shelling out a lot of moolah. There's a catch, though. You have to bring your plates, etc to the counter at the far end of the restaurant after you eat. But they won't make you wash those naman. So okay lang.

After eating, the three sirs went off for a drink, while we head to Alabang. The rest of the team were from Quiapo so they still had to take another bus ride from Alabang, while I took a jeepney to go home.

I must say MakTrav is one tiring dayhike. My muscles ached again as if it was my first climb. But there's no regret whatsoever. MakTrav was one heck of an experience.

Here's a compilation of the pics and videos of my Mt. Makiling Traverse with the MLQU Stallions Outdoor Club:

Princess Eating Denta


Forgive the hair, I've been very lazy lately. But here's my Princess brushing her teeth, er, eating Pedigree Denta.

Is It Possible to Daytrip Calapan City? (Part 2)


Click here to read Is It Possible to Daytrip Calapan City? (Part 1).

Since Nazis told me I could go to Harka Piloto, Tamaraw Falls, Puerto Gallera, and even visit my relatives in Victoria all in one day, I got all the more excited. I could go to all the places in my list plus do the favor my Nanay asked of me - to go introduce myself to our relatives in Bongabon, Victoria.

I decided to first go to Victoria since all the rest of the places in my list was in Calapan. Nazis said it would only take us about half an hour to reach Bongabon so after having coffee, we immediately boarded a van and by 8 AM, we were on the road to my relatives I haven't seen in my life.

But the road was wet cuz it had been constantly drizzling, and there was an ongoing reconstruction in most parts of the national way, thus, the traffic. One-way on most parts, so the half an hour became an hour.

Bongabon, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro

From 9-10:30 AM, all I did was introduce myself to my relatives. I had a list of names from my Nanay and it was a good thing people were so kind over there. All I did was ask and I was given more info than I asked for. Well, actually, I have really never met a snob local in the number of places I had been to. People in the provinces, in my opinion, are really naturally friendly and kind to the dayos.

After saying goodbye to the last relative I visited, and while waiting for a van to take us back to Calapan City, we spotted a karinderia and decided to have a quick and early lunch. I actually declined my relatives' invites to dine cuz I knew it would take more time and I wouldn't be able to make the most out of the trip.

After the P105 meal, a van going to Calapan finally passed by. It was so packed with people and bags and the normally 3-person passenger seat accommodated 5. Nazis sat at the back on a wooden plank of wood that was put there to accommodate more. Good thing it was gloomy and drizzling. I was sure it would be freaking hot inside that van had it been a typical sunny day.

The traffic became heavier this time of the day so the trip back to Calapan was longer. We arrived at the town proper around 12:30 PM and immediately hired a tricycle to take us to Barangay Ibaba. Nazis knew someone there who had a boat we could use. But as fate had it, the friend who had a boat wasn't in his house when we got there so we hired another tricycle to take us to Barangay Lazareto where Nazis had another friend who had a boat. I was already feeling down during the tricycle ride cuz it was almost 1 PM and all I had done was visit relatives.

Luckily, the other friend who had a boat was in his house when we got there, and he was willing to lend us the boat plus a boatman. We only had to pay for the gas. And for that, I was able to smile :D

But there was one thing the boatman was wary about. This:

He said the waves are big and strong. To someone who's not always on boat rides, the waves looked fine to me. And for someone who didn't know how to swim but knew he'd be riding a boat, I wore the float vest I brought along with me. :D But really, the sea was peaceful when I was aboard the RoRo that morning.

Nazis took this. Do I look scared at all? LoL!

And then I realized the waves were really strong. A few seconds after leaving the shore, a big wave almost ate us alive. Good thing the boatman was skilled in what he does, he rode on top of the waves, at times even turning off the motor so we wouldn't drown, but it still didn't stop the waves from hovering above us and getting us wet all throughout.

The boat was really small, Nazis and I couldn't even sit together. I was hunched on the front, on the floor of the boat while Nazis was on the seat behind me. I was screamed through the ride. The waves were like monsters ready to eat us, just waiting for our boatman to make a mistake.

We arrived at the island safe, luckily, and I started looking for the "marine sanctuary" sign I saw in the Harka Piloto pics on the internet. There was none. And then I learned that we were not in Harka Piloto but in one of the Baco Chico islets. Good grief! But what could I do? We were already there. I changed my plan to just island hop the three Baco Chico islets and then head to Harka Piloto afterwards. But guess what? The boatman refused.

He apologized and said the waves were really strong he was afraid for us. And then he told the story of how his boat capsized one time and he got stranded in the open seas for five hours until his neighbors searched for him.

So okay, I didn't push it. If he told us that story to just scare us away, it's fine. He's the boatman and he knew the sea better.

I thanked him, anyway, cuz the boat ride back was really really scary. Roller coaster, indeed. I couldn't even take my cameras out cuz the waves kept hitting us.

So it was a failed attempt to go island hopping. Even a failed attempt to go snorkeling at Harka Piloto.

It was already 3 PM. And Nazis brought me to Camp Navarro (where he resides) so he could change.

I just changed my shirt at the beach and let the Lagalag convertible pants to quick dry. I knew I would still get wet at Tamaraw Falls and I had limited clothes so I didn't change much. Mountain clothes, after all dry easily. Ew to me.

Camp Efigenio C. Navarro:

And then it was past three. I still wanted to go to Tamaraw Falls but we were told that the last jeepney bound for Puerto Gallera leaves at 3 PM. Good grief, indeed! Nazis wanted me to stay overnight so we could go to Tamaraw Falls and Puerto Gallera the next day but I couldn't because (1) I didn't bring enough clothes; (2) I promised Nanay it was a day trip and I really don't wanna break promises; (3) I really don't like military camps, or guns more specifically; (4) I didn't wanna drink, which I was sure would have happened if I stayed overnight; and (5) I didn't wanna cause more troubles for Nazis.

So what we did was roam around town. We went to the Capitol and I couldn't help but be amazed. Everything The Capitol was surrounded by all these government agencies that the compound was like a one-stop shop when you need something government-related.

There's also a Jollibee in town.

As well as Max's.

But, of course, I preferred Jollibee :D

And since I couldn't go anywhere else cuz it's already late in the afternoon, I decided to just go back to the port to buy tickets for the next available RoRo back to Batangas.

The SuperCat was still there. But since the waves were so big and after the boat experience earlier, no more small boats for me at the moment. So I bought a ticket for the Montenegro Lines departing at 6 PM.

Actually, the Montenegro RoRo was still not there at the time so I took the chance to roam around the pier with Nazis. I actually realized we haven't talked much cuz since we met that morning, it was all about beating time. Roaming around the pier, we were able to talk about what's going on in our lives, and reminisce about the old times when we used to sleep over each other's houses so frequently and we drank so much and went out a lot. We were that close he even borrowed my tie for his graduation day. LoL!

The RoRo ride back to Batangas was scary. You could really feel the ship rock up and down, side to side, the curtains in the aircon area slide left and right. The two speakers beside the videoke machine were constantly moving and shaking, and the doors of the cabinets in the tv area kept on opening and closing.

It was hard to walk without holding on to something, but I managed to go out to the side of the ship. Watch how the light in the distance go up and down. It was actually the ship swaying.

I must say my itinerary failed big time. But I can honestly say the experience was okay. I was able to roam Calapan and was actually able to meet relatives I wouldn't have met if I didn't go to Mindoro.

The only highlight of the trip, though, was the boat ride and, of course, reconnecting with my old friend who's now a policeman.



Enchong Dee on Bench Summer 2011: Return to Temptation.

Need I say more?

Memory Gap


They say the national anthem, of any country for that matter, is the hardest song to sing in public. The pressure is there. And not even the five-time Grammy award winner Christina Aguilera found it easy to sing.

Aguilera completely dissed both the ramparts and the fact that o'er them, we could see the broad stripes and bright stars gallantly streaming, by skipping that line entirely. Instead she sang: "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming." That was a pseudo-repeat of the earlier lyric, "What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming."

Cristina eventually apologized for the “memory gap” by saying:

“I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.”

Oo nga naman. It’s the thought that counts. LoL!

Well, we Pinoys have our share of singers forgetting the lyrics or not following the right tempo and putting their own singing style (which, by the way, isn't an issue with the Americans) of the Philippine National Anthem, not to mention some who goes out of tune. And there’s a video compilation of that I found in YouTube:

Anderson Cooper and Team Assaulted in Egypt


The situation in Egypt is really sad. I pity the foreign reporters who have to brave going there to give the world updates of what's happening.

My fave CNN anchor gets the feel of how chaotic the situation is. He and his team were assaulted. They're so lucky to get out of there unscathed.

Video below.

UFO Sightings in Jerusalem


An orb of light, believed to be a UFO, was spotted over Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock last January 28th.

It came down from the sky, hovered over the Dome of the Rock for a few, then with incredible speed, shot up in the air where multiple other orbs were seen blinking.

Strangely enough, another set of orbs were also seen in Utah County within hours of the Dome of the Rock sighting.

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