Tagged: Sagada

Weekly Photo Challenge: Down

It’s hard to think about the concept of going down without  juxtaposing it with the  idea of going up.   I don’t think it’s possible.   Looking at someone going down a flight of stairs, means the seer is on his or her way up.  Climbing a million and one steps to get to a specific place, makes me think about the million and one steps I would need to walk down again to get back to where I started.  Then there’s the idea of being in the mountains for a week.  When I think of the mountains, (and I do love the mountains), I also can’t help but think of the sea.  And how I need to be near it very soon.

I know. A little weird, right?  It must be the exhaustion.

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Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

All photos were taken in Sagada with my iPhone4.  Filters used from Instagram.

grateful slice:  the Mountain Province, the ocean and Photography

Music … makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel

Two songs on replay on my Igadgets  right now.  (Thanks for the recommendations, SC).
Nothing like creating several playlists for a long road trip.  I can already hear the scoring for this trip’s movie in my mind.  LOL.

Now back to marking papers.

grateful slice:  music and long road trips (and work breaks)

Desperately Seeking Sagada

“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.”
― Ray Bradbury

Baguio and Sagada calling: Happy Feet

February is here and it didn’t come as a surprise. I know it feels like we just spent New Year’s Eve/Day half awake and full of hope but February walked a few steps behind January all month long, looming, peering over my shoulder, getting ready to pick up its pace and race ahead.  True enough, February has arrived.  It has bulldozed my To Do lists and has threatened me with deadlines front, back, side and center. I am taking it all in though. No sense in pressing the panic button.  I don’t want to feed the allostatic load and get wrinkles and heart disease in my thirties.  I’ve been here before.  We’ve reached the crazy season of being a teacher. But everything will work out, I know it, so I take it all in; even if I have the annual trip to the North with the kids staring me in the face right smack in the middle of report card season.   Yup, it’s Sagada time once again, which means, February is HERE  all right, exactly where it needs to be.

Conversation with trees

There’s a lot to be said about these trips to Sagada.  The first time a bunch of the teachers went up to do an ocular inspection six years ago, we ended up attending a local baptism where the traditional thing to bring home was a plastic bag of bloody pork. It was an amazing thing to be invited into the locals’ homes, to sit and chat and celebrate and hang out.  The multitude of tourists swarming the streets of Sagada that year  had no idea what was right under their noses.  Then year in and year out ever since, by the time February rolled in, the students and four to five teachers got ready to get on a bus, travel all night long and a day to arrive in one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.

This year, as tired as I am and as overloaded with deliverables as I am, I don’t care. I can’t wait to get on that freezing bus.  To take a break from all major cities and bond with the Grade 8 kids.  To take pictures with my prime and my new wide angle lens.  To breathe in fresh air and eat yogurt churned with butter (I just found that out) slathered on top of big fat strawberries and granola.  I can’t wait to wear fleece and gloves and funky bonnets and warm vests.  I can’t wait to spend time with Tommy and Vixenne, Mr. Fau, and the humblest of highest chiefs, Pulat.  I can’t wait to see the mouth of Sumaging cave, trek down Echo valley to see the hanging coffins and watch the sunrise from St. Jo’s with a hot cup of Sagada coffee. I can’t wait to see the kids interact with this unique community and learn something new about a place that’s part of where they are from.  I can’t wait for the bonfire and the s’mores and the Aha moments, new friendships the kids will make and the many little discoveries this place provides opportunities for.  I am harassed with work but I can’t wait to get to Sagada where the trees know so many of my secrets.   There’s so much in my heart I want to whisper  to them  right now.  Ssshhh…

The road that’s been traveled many many times

Anyway, ironically, at the end of the day what I am really  grateful for right now is time. It’s my last year to go to Sagada with the Beacon kids and I am glad I have this time to take it all in.  After that, five months and some left.  That’s just enough time to fall in love (again) with my complex city, time to say goodbye to my home and say see you real soon to everyone who matter (because Singapore is not far and I predict many visitors often); just enough time to pay attention, to take photos, write and document life as I am living and leaving it.  Enough time to sort, pack, throw and give stuff away.  Enough time to say it’s been super, but I have to go soon; no matter how bittersweet, no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how scary and exciting. Yes, just enough time to know and cherish what I am leaving behind because I am certain I will miss all of it to bits.

Well, thanks again, G.  Sagada always manages to make some kind of statement every year, without fail.  Welcome, February.  I know you will go by fast but I also know you will be unforgettable.

grateful slice:  time and reflection

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning: To Cat and Carlo

Pulled from both directions

Two months ago, I had to make a clear-cut but very difficult decision.

Two very special people (actually, special is an understatement) were getting married off shore (Coron, Palawan) and I had already RSVPed that I would be there, booked a flight and confirmed accommodations.  I knew, because I have the DNA of a hopeless romantic, that it would be a once in a lifetime wedding for the books (insert: all cliches on love) and I did not want to miss it for the world.  These two people, on their own were stellar but together, and finding each other — what a truly heaven inspired union.

with Cat and Carlo at Chelsea (Serendra, 2009)

Carlo and I go way back.  Back to times we are now mature enough to want to remember (Antioch, Literature classes in La Salle, exes Drama, bad poetry,  et al) and laugh about.  I am really proud of him.  Check out the latest information on his first feature length film here and other work here.  I like this one a lot.

Cat is like my other younger sister.  I spent a good part of the first ten years of my working life with her family.  Her mom was my very first mentor (she taught me everything I know about fitness) and her dad was my very first boss (joined the business side of fitness after being an instructor and graduating from university).  I even spent a year being the Head Writer for her mom’s daily morning fitness show before I finally left the fitness industry for good to pursue teaching and writing full time.  We traveled together often and I consider them a surrogate family (dysfunction included).  I remember helping Cat move to the US (for university) and feeling like an older sister, helping her un-pack and making her feel more at ease with the fact that she would be so far away from her family.  I also remember her wanting a tattoo years ago and asking for my advice before she got one and how I in turn,  asked for her advice when I got my first piercing.  Sheesh. Those were the days.  LOL.  Here is a related post about a weekend I spent in Caliraya with her parents after years of not having seen each other.  It was a pre-wedding reunion and I was convinced that I would be taking pictures of beautiful Coron and their gorgeous wedding come mid February, 2011.


something else was at work in the universe and to make a short story even shorter, the yearly trip to Sagada with the kids from school was scheduled and confirmed to push through for the exact same week.  Doh.

Like I said, it was a very difficult decision.

I prayed for days and consulted a good friend and what G plunked in my heart was crystal clear.  The kids came first; there was no question about it, even if my stomach felt a little queasy the afternoon I tweeted and emailed Cat and Carlo that I wouldn’t be able to make it after all.  In the end, they totally understood and my heart was at peace and my stomach calm.  I canceled my flight and off to Sagada we went.  From the moment we set foot on the bus all the way to my schizophrenic weeping (from stress-slash-joy) when we got back to Manila a week later, I had absolutely no regrets.  I knew I made the good, perfect, pleasing decision.

This morning though, when I came across their beautiful wedding video and teared a little, I allowed myself to feel a little bad for not being there on their perfect day.

Carlo and Cat from Bob Nicolas on Vimeo.

But only for a very brief moment.

Because hello, it’s not about me.  But about them.  Their radiant smiles were so much more compelling to me, than my sadness for wishing I was there to see it first-hand.  Their creamy and sandy bliss caught on cinematic cameras washed away the ennui and made soft waves of happiness rush back to shore.  It’s really about seeing two people, who are perfect for each other, find each other and have the gumption and the zeal to seal the deal.  That’s what’s important.  I mean, the alternative is way more tragic.  Haruki Murakami agrees.  (You can read his story here. Used this one for my unit on minimalism with the kids.)  Sigh.

I may have missed the wedding of their dreams, as missed opportunities go, but “it was the price I had to pay to be in a magical place” (one of EVP’s quotable quotes, edited a little) with these hams for an entire week.

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Living with a decision never felt this bittersweet but this beautiful couple and my amazing students make it a heck of a lot easier.

grateful slice:  the choices presented to us and the decisions we make, Cat and Carlo, love love love and yes, my grade 8 students.


Sagada Calling

Sagada calls

Am off to Sagada for a week.

rice rice baby

the road less traveled

market market

This is my umpteenth time to go up with the kids and some things never change.  It takes forever for me to pack.  Of course, I over do it with the cold weather wear since I can’t usually sport my North Face fleece in Hades hot Manila.  And,  I still feel genuinely excited to be one with such a breathtaking place.  Sagada holds a really special place in my heart.  I’ve been there blissful and content, I’ve also been there broken and tired.  And both times, it just gave me exactly what I needed.  🙂  Thank you, G.  I see your hand in this beautiful place.


the way up

I take a lot of pictures when I’m there but I am sure it’ll be a different experience shooting with my D90, my filters and my new lens.  It’s also going to be cool to have @maimailim and the lapster there.  There’s nothing like having your really good friends who are also  Sagada virgins with you to let you remember how it was like seeing such a spectacular place  for the first time.   I won’t forget looking out one of  the windows  in a  St. Mary’s School classroom wondering what it would be like to teach poetry and film and voice with such an awe inspiring view on a daily basis.  I am thinking it must be worth the huge pay cut.  They even have a Greek amphitheater.  Win.

The trees speak

Anyway,  I hope it’s as cold as they say it is this year because it was epic fail on the weather front last year.   I also hope I can carry all my bags by myself.   Sigh.  Nope,  it’s really not in my DNA to pack light.  One of my fatal flaws.

Rice the roof

grateful slice:  beautiful places and being lucky enough to visit every year