At least sixteen percent of the Philippines

Tomorrow is the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Declaration of Independence, and to celebrate, I took the Lakbayan Quiz again. When I took it in 2007, I got a D, which means that I’d visited 5-10% of the Philippines. Now, five years later, I’ve visited 16-23% of the country, which gave me a C. Ha! Progress!

On a related note, I wrote a blog post about how many Philippine islands I’ve visited.

The Lakbayan Quiz is a project by Eugene Villar of Vista Pilipinas. It asks you where you’ve been in the Philippines, and how frequently visit each place–just passed by, been there once or twice, visit frequently, or if you’ve lived there. The grading system is discussed in this blog post.

If you like travelling around the Philippines and you haven’t tried the Lakbayan or something similar, I highly recommend taking it. It’s not to brag about how high your score is–or wallow in self-pity when you get a low one. To me, it’s a reminder that there’s still so much of the Philippines waiting for me; a realization that I’ve actually quite forgotten some of the provinces and islands that I’d studied in school before; and a reissued challenge to know my country and visit as much of it as I can.

My Lakbayan grade is C!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Three cities in three hours

Once a year, our church holds a Discipleship conference.

It’s a big thing: it was to empower leaders to raise up leaders.
It’s a big thing: over 10,000 people all over Metro Manila were to be in attendance.
It’s a big thing: it was held simultaneously across 16 locations.

Our team’s involvement was in the preparations. My (non-)conversation with a colleague captured it:

“Is it so hard? I mean, don’t your department just have to prepare everything and so that all the other locations can execute it?”

I just smiled at him, then, waiting for him to get it. That, yes, we prepared everything. The pre-program gimiks, the in-program videos, the post-program giveaways, the all-through-the-whole-thing documentation and web strategy, and we had to make sure that everything aligned with the whole point of the conference, and that it was prepared so that other people can execute it without us on the reins.

(He did: I saw the lightbulb moment as his face fell. “Oh. Right.”)

We had planned to do a caravan of sorts for conference day. A few from our team went to attend in our Grennhills location, while a couple of my teammates took a car to visit two locations. As for me, I took a cab.

I left Taguig early to arrive at our Quezon City location at 8 AM, just in time to check on their set up and do final run-throughs. By 9AM I was off to Pasig. I had just about enough time to ask how they were doing before they opened their gates; I stayed long enough to see the people pour into the venue. By 10 AM I’d made it to Mandaluyong. It was common knowledge that the mall that housed our venue had pitiful internet connection; and I wanted to see how they managed. (Miraculously, the connection on that day was superb.) Then in the afternoon, the caravan team piled into one car and drove to Metro East in Cainta to visit the afternoon session.

It was overall a tiring day, but one thing that I’ll remember from this day was the experience of seeing how others executed something that we tirelessly prepared for months, some even added their own unique spin.

No one in that packed room had any idea who I was. They didn’t notice me, anyway; they were too busy dancing as confetti floated in the air like joy and triumph. I stood there, in the sidelines and doing nothing but watching, as others enjoyed something that I helped make. It was surreal. It was awesome.

Waiting for chug-chug-chugging

Before October 2014, I had never ridden a train.

I’m not talking about city subways or bullet trains (although, before October 2014, I had never ridden a bullet train, either). I’m talking about cross-country ones that you ride for hours, where you stay in little cabins with your luggage tucked beside you; ones that seem to make you say “locomotive” instead of “train” in your head.
Continue reading Waiting for chug-chug-chugging

7,107 Islands

When a friend visited the Philippines recently, there was a question that people asked him quite a few times.

“Of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, how many have you visited?”

He just smiled and said: “Two. The island where Manila is, and the island where Davao is.”

During a conversation with him later, he swung the question back at me.

“Definitely more than two,” was my easy answer.
Continue reading 7,107 Islands

The Bakit List of Your Bucket List

One of my best friends, Loraine, is a traveller. (She’s also an accountant, which is really helpful when it’s time to do budgeting and accounting before, during, and after a trip.) Like a lot of people, she has a bucket list–most of it being places to travel to–but, unlike a lot of people, she’s actually plowing through her list at an impressive pace. When I asked her how she’s able to do this, she said:

Protect the integrity of your bucket list.

The thing about bucket lists is that people usually put a lot of stuff there just to put stuff there. Just because. YOLO and whatever. It’s all up to you, really, but Loraine says that if you want to actually do the stuff in your bucket list, make sure you know WHY you’re listing down what you’re listing down.

Want to backpack every single province in the Philippines? Want to visit every single country in South East Asia? Want to set foot in every continent in the world?

First ask the question: WHY? Bakit?

(I, for one, travel to eat, because I love food.)

There should be a good reason–or reasons–why you’re putting things in your bucket list. That reason should make sense to you, and it should be important to you. If you protect the Bakit, the why, of your Bucket List, then you’re all set and good to go.

Loraine can say a lot about planning, financing, surviving, and enjoying a trip. Read more in her (mostly) travel blog, Adventure Accounting.

Not Just Durian

Almost everyone knows that when you go to Davao, you eat durian. But Davao is a land of good food. Really, really, really good food that people who usually take photos of their food before eating might just put their camera aside so they can dig in. I know I did. As evidenced in this post’s photo, I was so excited to eat at Mam Beb’s that I just stuffed my plate—who cares about presentation?

Every year since 2008, the Davao bloggers organize the Davao Food Appreciation Tour so they can, as the event name suggests, tour bloggers around Davao and sample the city’s best food. I joined DFAT 2010, where I learned that Davao eats and eats well in the wide variety of restaurants that they have—I don’t think I ate in two similar restaurants while I was there. I also got to try snacks and desserts in Davao and love, love, loved it! My mouth still waters just thinking about them. Good Davao food isn’t just durian. There’s salad and steak and ribs and pasta and tapsilog and pancit and mango squares and, okay, durian coffee and durian cheesecake.

The Davao Food Appreciation Tour 2014 is happening on May 16-19. If you’re planning to go to Davao someday soon (which you should), or if you’re already in the city and looking for new good food to eat,  take notes from the official DFAT FAcebook Page or follow the tumblog.