Life: Well, what do you know. Another life update!

life-update

2017 is less than two weeks away, would you believe? I mean, it’s an understatement for me to say that 2016 just flew by. A lot of things happened, personally, nationwide and even global. To be perfectly honest, I’m done with 2016. It wasn’t so bad, actually, 2016 was a brave year for me. I know I’ve been repeating it over and over and over again- how I left my stable-good paying-corporate job for uncertainty. How my life has turned after doing so! I’m only working part time now, on an allowance based job. Sometimes I accept odd jobs like researching and stuff for little amount of money. It made me realize that your good salary cannot pay your mental health, unhappiness and stress. So now, I may be earning so little, but I’m a lot happier.

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My working setup is so flexible, but above anything, I’m extremely blessed to have a boss who’s very understanding and sees my skills and strengths and makes it as a company asset. Let’s not jinx it, but 2017 has so much in store for me on this new career journey. Me, John and a few friends also has a venture that we’ll be going in to next year, I’m praying for its success.

I’m also still looking in to if blogging is for me. I mean, I don’t feel confident as a writer so I’m trying to look in to other means as to how I can be a storyteller. Vlogs, photos? I do not know yet. I’m also considering breaking free from this blog, but I’d have to discuss that with John first.

I’ve also reassessed myself as a traveler, I realized I do not wish to visit all 81 provinces. I intend to fall in love with each individual culture I get learn along the way. Next year I may stay in Baler for a few months – crossing my fingers – only because of the comfort and security I have when I’m there. I stopped having a bucket list or a next destination, I intend to travel in quality over quantity.

I’m hoping by next month I have a lot of stories to share!

xx

maria

Life: Well, what do you know. Another life update!

Travel: How Oslob Broke My Heart

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Early October, my cousin and I went to Cebu for some personal matters and we decided since we’re already there, we may as well visit some touristy spots. 3-4 hours from Cebu City is Oslob, famous for whaleshark watching. A friend of mind warned me about it, specifically she sent me this link and I was reading it on the bus ride. I wanted to see myself, still.

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We arrived very early so we waited for the first “batch” of tours at around six in the morning, they said it was perfect cause it’s the feeding time for the whale sharks (seems like humans fixed a “breakfast” schedule for these beautiful creatures). Before you get on a boat, you’re asked to attend to the discussion of guidelines. Which seems like it’s only done for compliance but no one truly pays attention to it. Tourists are also asked to wash off first if they’ve already applied sunscreen as it will be harmful for the whale sharks. We were also reminded to have at least 4M distance from the creature, we’ll be guided by the sea wardens along the tour.

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We were also asked to wear life vests which we were reminded not to remove them during the trip. One boat has 2 (?) wardens and 8 tourists. As soon as we got to deep waters, another banca would roam around to feed the whale sharks. Then the sea wardens would ask if you’re a good swimmer, cause if you are, you can ditch the life vest and swim and snorkel with the whale sharks.

As soon as we were interacting with the whale sharks, I wasn’t feeling too good about it. Yes, I loved seeing them, yes, I loved getting to swim with them, yes, I was truly excited seeing how majestic they were — but at the back of my head, I felt bad for these beautiful creatures. I felt like they were exploited. YES, EXPLOITED. A sh*tton of violations can be observed, not just by tourists but by the “SEA WARDENS” themselves.

I’d freak out every so often I realize how close they were to us.

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I left the GoPro so the bankeros can take photos of us, and here are some of the shots taken BY THE SEA WARDENS.

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At the end of what felt like one of the longest 30minutes of my life, yes I was happy I got to see the whale sharks, but the experience itself broke my heart. The whale sharks seemed like domesticated animals with feeding schedules, nudging the boats to be fed some more, and when I was on the boat, I tried checking out the whale sharks, I saw the scratches around their mouth the article was talking about.

Everything felt unnatural. It wasn’t as exhilarating like when I saw the dolphins in Mati, minding their own business, free in the wild, and even swimming away from boats — like how it should be, like how it normally should be. These beautiful creatures were begging for food. Some articles talked about how the whale shark got lazy, I don’t think so, they got exploited.

Would I recommend going to Oslob for whale shark watching? I don’t think so. I don’t think I can encourage this kind of tourism. Seems like humans are trying to outsmart these creatures for their own benefit. Oslob has a lot to offer, but this I feel like is too much.

maria

Travel: How Oslob Broke My Heart

Life: What happens after the quarter life

Wrote this a day before leaving Siargao, publishing three days after. ****

Twenty-six years and six days old, here I am in Siargao, opting to skip surfing in ‘Quicksilver’ on our last full day here. I spent most of the afternoon if not eating, watching a movie on my laptop. I still don’t know if it’s a day wasted or well spent since I’ve yet to feel any regrets with my decision. Here I am on the veranda of the room we rented thru AirBnb staring at Daku Island every so often, contemplating on my life choices. (LOL)

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I feel like the reality of unemployment is slowly creeping in. Unemployed with no backup plans? Yep, that’s me. As told on my previous blog entry, I’ve yet to decide what I want to do. With that thought looming over my head, it makes me wonder.. How’s everyone at 26 keeping up? Is everyone certain of what they want to do? John would always remind me how you’re not supposed to compare your life with others, something about race and marathons, so no need to remind me of that, it’s just that I’m very very very very curious as to how people seem to have their shit together. 

We’re flying back to Manila, and I kinda dread it. Although I haven’t fallen in love with Siargao as I expected, I really like it here. I’d ask John during our rides how people do not have a sense of urgency here, and he said, what’s there to be urgent about? Point taken. Time seems to slow down in this island. What I do love about Siargao is how lively it is at night, yet at 9 or 10 it would mellow down. We’d been having late dinners before we realized how most of the restaurants close at 10. I like how there seems to have a perfect balance of being lively and quiet. I like how everything’s accessible via a motorbike, which made me realize how surprisingly convenient it is.

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Maybe I need another week here to get to know the island more. Or a month. Or a year. Maybe. We don’t know.

maria

Life: What happens after the quarter life

Life: I left my job for uncertainty

Been going back and forth as to how I’ll write this entry, the thing is, I still don’t know how this decision will turn out. About a month ago I decided that I’m leaving my corporate job to do something else. Do what? At that point I had ideas, but nothing was set in stone. I guess the idea of not being employed scares me, the idea of freelancing scares me. Maybe I’m not cut out for it. I guess I’ll never know. I’ll never know til I’m in that situation. I have this inkling feeling that all I’ll ever be is what I’m used to doing, almost seven years in the industry and I feel like it’s who I am now. It’s never too late to change, or is it?

I want to travel, I don’t want to travel long term. I wanna be somewhere until I could figure out who I wanna be. Away from all the noise and stress of Manila, living in Manila has made me sad in more ways I could imagine. Yet, Manila is home to me, I wanna travel for a few weeks and go back home when I feel like it. Sounds selfish. I just feel like no matter how unhappy I am in Manila, something still pulls me back to it, maybe my parents, or my brothers, or my nephews. I honestly still do not know how I feel about it.

I wrote that before it actually happened, and now it’s happening. I’ve been bouncing around the idea of actually traveling for maybe a month continuously (?), go back to school (?), enroll in TESDA (?). I’ve yet to decide what I really wanna do, one thing’s for sure, I need to have an income. I don’t know if I should be proud of myself for actually not applying for any jobs whatsoever and missing out on (what I feel are good) opportunities for me, I just do not feel good about committing to something I may or may not go in circles again — everything’s just uncertain at this moment.

I guess for now, I’ll enjoy this view for a week and decide when I get back in Manila. 🙂

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Snapchat: @ememquinio

I’ll keep you guys posted, then?

maria

Life: I left my job for uncertainty

Travel: Why I May Never Go Back

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I asked John if we could go to the beach after not traveling for almost two months. I wanted a relaxing weekend, just lounging at the beach and chilling. It was almost the weekend and we have yet to plan our trip. We had a couple of places in mind but nothing was set. I asked, “Puerto Galera?”, John agreed. Friday came and we found out that our officemates were going there too, not knowing anything about Galera, we decided to tag along. 

Bus from Kamuning to Batangas Port. Boat ride to the island. But no, since it’s summer, we failed to consider that. We waited two hours in the bus station, the trip itself only took two and a half hours, booked a boat trip for the 3:30 trip, boarded the boat at 5. I was trying my really best not get pissed off at how everything was not going well and how we wasted one day just to get to the destination. 

We arrived in Galera 45 minutes past six, we were ‘welcomed’ by these locals who were charging for environmental fee. Took a tryc cause we wanted to avoid all the people and went to the first room our officemate booked, he said that it wasn’t the room he paid for, but decided to take it anyway since it’s just for one night and everyone’s just too exhausted. Had dinner by the beach, along with seven hundred million tourists (JK), dinner was a tad expensive, but the entertainment was great. The following day, Sunday we decided to go island hopping. The price was sort of reasonable, but then you have to board a smaller boat to get to the corals – which they charged us separately. If you’re a broke traveler like us, Galera isn’t a place for you, or we have just not explored that option. I saw a turtle while snorkeling and that I think was the highlight of my trip, hahaha! 

All in all, I had fun. It was far from what I wanted that weekend but Puerto Galera didn’t offer that. Maybe because we stayed in White Beach where it’s the tourist capital. Puerto Galera was beautiful, but the flock of people just makes me feel like it isn’t worth it. Maybe it’s just me. And maybe it’s too soon for me to tell. To be honest, I don’t hate Puerto Galera, I mean, if given another chance and a better situation, I would definitely go back. Maybe when it’s off season or something. 

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Note: Bring cash since the island only has two ATMs. Puerto Galera truly is a tourist destination, almost all activities will cost you. Prices for food / water has tourist prices, be prepared. 

maria

Travel: Why I May Never Go Back

Travel: Surviving One Week in Baler

No, this isn’t a how to entry, and this isn’t a step by step guide how you’ll get by. Every year, we’d usually go to Ilocos for a week which has been our usual getaway for two years now. But this year since we originally planned to pick up a few of our friends in Baler then head to Ilocos, we just decided to stay in Baler for a week. We originally planned to stay in a nice ‘hotel’ worth 4500 a night for an article write up, we decided not to. We spent one night in one of the known hotels for around 2000+ a night. I know we could’ve spent that 2grand a better way, but you gotta do what you gotta do. On our second day, we called our uncle (no, we’re not related to him, but he takes care of us in Baler and lets us stay in his transient for a very reasonable price) but his transient is full so he let us stay in his in-laws home. It was along the road, a small hut with one bedroom on the second floor with AC, downstairs was a sala, restroom and a small kitchen. The kids decided to sleep downstairs in a mattress on the floor. One of the reasons why we need a decent amount of space, even if it’s just us two staying in Baler is cause more often than not, at least two kids will stay with us in our room. The first couple of nights I was down with a slight fever so I’d spend it in our room sleeping and trying to rest. The kids would then buy food and would leave some for me, John would accompany other friends for dinner and he’d buy me food to go, too. 

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Flat!

The first few days, there were little to no waves. Some of the kids went to another town and spent a couple of nights there. We decided to drive around, looking for waves we could try to catch. I would be wherever in my bikini and shorts just cause the beach is the only place I am most comfortable with. We also met new friends in the beach and while in the lineup. In the afternoon, when it’s flaaaat, we try to drive around and see what else we could do. Lala (a new found friend) mentioned a cake shop and on a whim, everyone decided to drop by there. It was an afternoon full of stories and laughter. 

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Everyday was somehow repetitive yet unique in their own way. I’d wake up very early, wake the boys up a after boiling water for coffee and then our day would start. I would usually have breakfast, else I’ll be too weak to surf after 30ish minutes in the lineup. The boys would have coffee and be in the water for two hours plus. I have no idea how they survive, yet they do. I really want to surf early in the morning only because there isn’t much people swimming and/or surfing. Mostly the people in the lineup are guys and would be a lot nicer to me, letting me take a wave they all have waited for 15+ minutes. John said I should take advantage of it cause it’s a perk of being a girl, lol. When I’m at the beach, I’d usually lounge around Kuya Cris’ surf shack, offering surf lessons to tourists. Yes, I’d yell “Surf lesson po?” once in a while. I also do a lot of people watching and story telling. Or some quiet time when everyone just wanna rest for a bit.  

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Stopping for a photo-op!
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Little hut in Dianed..

John and I are truly blessed to have a family in Baler.. Family not by blood, but by bond. Family who would take care of us, cook us food or take us to places we would have never visit if we do not know any locals. We went to Dianed on a flat day in Sabang, it’s a good hour trip from Baler. Dianed according to Wikipedia is a baranggay in Dipaculao, Aurora. IT. WAS. SO. LOVELY. A white beach with a small hut built by surfers in Baler, we had the place to ourselves. We brought our gas stove, an 11kg gas tank, pots and pans, rice and fish. The surfers prepared our lunch while we waited for high tide. A reef break which would be nice on season for pro’s and a lot nicer for beginners like me off season. I feel like I was the only one who enjoyed the waves since I think it was a tad boring for the locals. I on the other hand, had a  blast cause the waves were clean, easier paddle outs and a lot easier to paddle in to ride waves. I was able to practice my rides, squat in the board when I wanted to speed up. I have tried it in Sabang and I ended up losing control cause my board picked up speed and I ended up rolling in the beach. Unsafe, I know. 

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Longboards goes on top…
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Shortboards goes inside!

Some days we’d visit Villa Belen in Reserva, when it isn’t windy and the waves aren’t choppy, I would enjoy it. More than likely, I would take a wave or two after braving the harsh sets with no clean up trying to paddle out. I’d feel too exhausted and/or miserable after so I’d just go back to the beach and rest. The guys would enjoy it, I’m not complaining if I’m just relaxing in the beach. 

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On a Saturday when Sabang is too crowded, I still wanted to surf late afternoon, Lala accompanied me to the line up, I could not emphasize on how crowded it was, I took a wave and almost hit a couple of instructors had I only stood up on the board but they started screaming, then they’d ask why I didn’t stand up. Really, sometimes those guys are out to annoy me. Haha! John decided to stay in the beach, and he was in a roof deck of Smart Beach House, signaling me when to paddle for a wave, stage boyfriend of the year! Lala and I ended up surfing till 7PM, and I could no longer see and the ocean was almost pitch black. One for the books, I must say.

Sunday was our last day surfing, I had Mico (my eleven year old buddy, who now calls me “Nay” (short for Nanay or mother in English) – different story) accompany me in the line up, and put my trust in him to pick for a wave he thinks I could ride. I must say, I have improved a lot. But, then again if I have stayed in Baler for a week and did not improve my surfing, I would have hated myself. On top of all of that, I have learned a lot from this trip, from knowing that John and I couldn’t cook a decent meal for ourselves, how I am like mother who couldn’t stand dishes in the sink and how the people we meet trust us, a lot more that maybe I should tell in another entry. I have learned a lot about myself, too. 

maria

Travel: Surviving One Week in Baler