I made a bucket list a few months back, and one of the entries include visiting the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

The PPUR or more appropriately called the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River has just been named as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. This means that everything you see in the area is all-natural and has not been enhanced by any human intervention.

Long before the PPUR was named as a Wonder of Nature, it has been my Mom’s dream to visit the city of Puerto Princesa. Here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss when visiting the place.

1. Visit Plaza Cuartel, which was once a military fort during the Second World War.

2. Say a quick prayer at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

3. See hundreds of crocodiles being bred at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. Don’t forget to have your photo taken with a real croc in tow.

And of course, try the crocodile sisig (which was surprisingly yummy).

4. Drop by Palawan’s weaving center and hone your skills in making mats, bags and hats.

5. Have a quick break at Baker’s Hill and take a glimpse of Puerto Princesa’s landscape at Mitra Hill.

6. Challenge yourself to a spelunking session at Ugong Rock.

7. Be a foodie and try Palawan’s infamous “tamilok” found in the barks of mangroves. The tamilok is actually a mollusk that looks like worm but tastes like oyster. Icky.

8. Buy accessories and souvenir items from the locals. That way, you get to help boost their meager income.

9. Swimming along the premises of the River is not allowed, so content your self with dipping your feet in the water, playing with the fine white sand and teasing the resident monkey.

10. And of course, traverse the Puerto Princesa Underground River and be amazed by the grandeur of the limestone formations and the shriek of thousands of bats.

Falling in love with this city is not that hard to do. ❤


Baptism Of Flood

Rice. I am running out of rice. If I’m going to be stuck at home in this crazy weather, might as well arm my pantry with rice and easy-to-cook meals that come in cans.

By some luck, the rain stops. I rush to the nearby grocery store and I see long queues in the counters. Panic-buying is evident as I spot heaps of canned goods, instant noodles and emergency candles into the carts of the shoppers.

One and a half hours later, I pay for my groceries and head back to the subdivision. The rain pours heavily by now, and I am surprised that the roads leading to my house are now filled with ankle-deep floods.

As I approach the gate, I try to convince my self that there is no way the flood can reach the house. Water seeps through the gaps under the gate and I  think that it is just fine, everything is still okay.

The rains showed no signs of respite, and the flood rises by the minute. I pick up the phone, dial the Boyfriend for comfort, force my self to stop panicking. I call the landlady, she assures me that the floods will NEVER reach the house (because Ondoy’s floods didn’t).  I stay calm in the mean time.

Sleeping is not an option. I find my self peeking through the screen door, measuring the depth of the flood. A few hours later, the landlady calls. I tell her that the flood is freaking one inch away from entering the house.

And then…

Boy oh boy. Calm the hell down, Carisse.  I grab my travel bag filled with clothes, toiletries, Macbook Pro (yes, it was the first thing I had to save; go on and judge me), gadgets, food, and water which could last for a couple of days. I seek shelter in the 2-story multipurpose hall of the subdivision.

Rain boots are not available, but my good ol’ slingback slippers did a great job amidst the floods. The slings prevent the slippers from being tossed into the waters while walking.

There were around 10 families in the hall, and I could not help but cry as I notice that I was alone, while everybody else has his/her family. (Yeah, I was emotional like that.)

The Boyfriend could not get to me. He lives in Antipolo, and the floods along Marcos Highway are chest-deep. His dad starts to contact friends from Pasig to check the passable routes, to no avail. I had no choice but to spend the night at the multipurpose hall.

The night terrifies me. The rains continue to wreak havoc, babies in the hall are bawling, flood waters are still rising. When I saw the first rays of the sun in the morning, it was pure bliss. Boyfriend’s mom instructs me to stay at her sister’s place in Cubao while I wait for the flood waters to subside.

As I go back home and start cleaning the mess left by the flood, realization dawned on me. (It has nothing to do with the problems on garbage disposal and who to blame for the persistent floods.)

First, no matter how much you try to convince your self that everything is okay, there is that tiny part of your brain that knocks on your skull and tells you to expect for the worst to come. Listen to that tiny voice. Get your ass moving and start preparing.

Second, your love ones can only do so much. It is your own self whom you should depend on.

Lastly, clichéd as it can be, there’s always a rainbow after the rain. Well I didn’t exactly see a rainbow complete with a pot of gold, because that is too fancy, and I am blabbing once again, but the sun’s rays are more than enough.

So  Habagat, screw you for leaving mud in my house and destroying some of my stuff. But thank you, for teaching me three valuable lessons that I will put to heart.

If there is one thing in the body that women will never stop altering, it would be the hair. From classic dos such as the bob and the fringe, to trendy treatments such as rebonding and digital perming; the possibilities come in myriad styles and forms.

I am no exception. I sported a really short bob back in high school, grew it back to waist level, flaunted side-swept bangs, whipped out   ultra-straight strands, had it colored to reddish-brown, got a digital perm and had it colored to hazel brown. When I get tired of a certain style, I always go back to straight, jet black hair.

There’s this fairly new salon in Robinsons Galleria called Status Hair Salon. Imagine my delight when Ensogo offered vouchers to score great deals on rebonding and digital perming. Hurrah!

This is how my hair looked prior to the treatment. My previous curls are gone, so it’s time to chop those strands, Rapunzel.

Love the purple comfy chairs!

The receptionist assigned Mar to style my hair. I like it that I need not wait to be attended to. Mar starts cutting 3 inches from my hair to remove the dry ends which have been subjected to digital perm.

Eeeek. Dry, lifeless hair.

The methods were simple, but repetitive. Shampoo, blowdry, application of cream softener (to disintegrate the original structure of the hair), let it set for a few minutes, and then shampoo again.

By this time, my eyes are droopy and my bum starts to hurt from sitting for 2.5 hours already. I also got bored playing games on my tablet. Mar notices my discomfort so he grabs one of the salon’s tablets and coaxed me to watch a movie instead. Lo and behold, guess what movie pops onto the screen? Friends with Benefits. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Mar’s got good taste. 🙂

…Aaaaand the long process of rebonding ensues. By this time, Mar’s assistant steps in. (Sorry I wasn’t able to get the name.) She applies keratin lotion and neutralizer to straighten the hair. This is the part where you wrinkle your nose. Those chemicals have really nasty odors.

Mar suggests that I get a hair cellophane to make my hair shine. I guess the strands have been subjected to too much chemicals, thus the dullness. I had to endure another 30 minutes for that. Mar comes back to give me those side-swept bangs and do the final touches to my hair.

Yikes. Long strands of hair gone.

After 5 long hours, my hair now looks like this. Pretty sleek, huh?

Yes I know my hairstyle choices are pretty conservative. I don’t have the balls to get a pixie cut and have it colored to platinum because those are way overboard for me. But who knows? When I’m crazy enough to change my hairstyle drastically, I will definitely head back to Status Hair Salon.

Thank you for the excellent service! I wish you offered drinks though. Kidding. Status Hair Salon is located the Lower Ground Floor, Park Avenue Wing, Robinsons Galleria. Go give them a visit. Definitely worth it.

You know that Disney film entitled “Tangled”? Yeah, the one with the long-haired girl trapped in a tower who’s forever fantasizing on the flying lights she sees from a distance? Yup, that’s the one.

I cannot contain my excitement when my sorority sisters from the UP Phi Delta Alpha revealed that there would be part 2 of the Feu de Sororite: Lantern for a Cause.  It is a literacy cause where proceeds from the event go to M.I.N.D (Motivate, Innovate, Nurture and Develop) Project for out-of-school children. What better way to have fun and help children at the same time, huh?

Giddy as can be, I proceeded to the tambayan an hour early. Here’s a sneak peek on the preparations for the event.

Dark clouds threatened us, but no amount of rain could prevent us from flying those lanterns. I wrote a wish on my lantern, thinking it would reach the Big Guy up there and make it happen.

Here’s a quick guide on the how-to’s of flying a lantern.

And a photo diary of what took place.

Gorgeous sorority sisters waiting for the rain to subside. 🙂

Looks like someone’s going to be burned at the stake.

Some weren’t so lucky, their lanterns went ablaze.

From a single lantern…

…to dozens more up in the night sky.

It felt empowering to able to cross out one item in my bucket list.  Hey Big Guy up there, did you receive my paper lantern?

Credits to Keysi Nunez and Jom Remigio for the amazing photos. And thank you, dear sisters! See you next year 🙂

I try to convince my self that every day is a different one, but suck it, the days look pretty much the same to me.

I realized that I haven’t been maximizing my days as a human. (Because I was an elegant Persian kitty in my previous life, and my bucket list back then included entries such as: purr nonstop, lick my tail, meow til my owner’s ears burst, stretch like a ballerina, score a date with Garfield.)

For some, it would be easy to tick off several entries in their own bucket lists within a month. But if you’re confined within the four walls of your office, with 5 days of the week intended for work, then the opportunity to strike off a single entry in the list becomes impossible.

Okay, I was just making an excuse (like I always do). The entries in my bucket list range from the mundane to the unobtainable extraordinary. Please don’t judge me. *smirks*

1. Start a blog.  And make it worthwhile. And gather a thousand followers. And reach 99 million hits.

2. Learn to play the piano. (Childhood frustration, sorry.)

3. See the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Conquer the whole of Palawan. And take bazillion tourist photos.

4. Pet a Tarsier in the Chocolate Hills of Bohol.

5. Spot a Philippine Eagle at the foot of Mt. Apo.

6. Blow a birthday cake on the summit of Mt. Pulag.

7. Enroll in a make-up class. (And try not to look like a ghastly blob of white on photos.)

8. Take my mom and 2 sisters to a sky’s-the-limit shopping spree in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok.

9. Write a wish on a flying lantern.

10. Own a badass SUV and bring it to a drag race.

11. Get a tattoo. A teeny-weeny bit of tattoo. Just so my grandchildren would think I’m a cool grandmama.

12. Explore Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and leave a mark at the Harry Potter Theme Park in Universal Studios Orlando.

13. Get a master’s degree/law degree. Err. Master’s degree will do.

14. Conquer Bukidnon’s longest zipline.

15. Skydive/jump off a plane at 10,000 feet.

16. Place 200 pairs of shoes in my own house’s walk-in closet.

17. Work for the Asian Development Bank or the United Nations and sit side by side with the Secretary-General.

18. Watch Anderson Cooper live. And get his autograph. And hug him.

19. Plant a tree and check yearly if it is still alive and kicking ala Whomping Willow.

20. Enroll my sister in a school for special children and watch her graduate with honors.

21. Coax my mom to attend culinary school when she retires from work. Just so she could have fun after retirement.

22. Spend 2 to 3 days at The Farm in Batangas. Without cellphones, laptops and anything that would remind me of the outside world.

23. Dance, kiss in the rain.

24. Sleep under the star-studded sky.

25. Attend a kick-ass fashion show, and try being a model for one night.

26. Be a cast in a music video.

27. Donate blood.

28. Bring my mom to a rock-and-roll concert.

29. Devote an entire day to sleeping.

30. Travel to Bicol in an overnight train.

31. Attend the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Pampanga. Ride in one of the balloons and poke holes on it. Fly a kite.

32. Record one of my favorite songs and upload it to YouTube.

33. Oh yeah, get married with the love of my life and have healthy kids. Yada yada yada.

34. Win a million bucks in BIR’s Premyo sa Resibo. LOL.

35. Post awesome outfit photos on my blog.

36. Stop procrastinating and apply for a passport. Long overdue. Very. (edit: Accomplished on 27 September 2012. Hurrah!)

37. Set foot on all seven continents. Six will do. I would have to exclude Antarctica.

38. Go scuba diving.

39. Pay for a stranger’s fare. He/she must be really in need.

40.  Be my sister’s maid of honor.

41. Go white-water rafting.

42. Take photography class with a brand new spanking SLR camera.

43. Learn to speak another language fluently.

44. Road trip from the North to the South.

45. Touch real Safari animals.

46. Visit India and take a picture of the Taj Mahal.

47. Complete the one-day Juju cleanse, and eventually, the three-day cleanse.

48. Have our family picture taken, with my dad’s image photoshopped into it. And then, have the family portrait painted.

49. Spend at least 2,000 bucks at the Casino.

50. Tour the Malacanang Palace (and possibly grab a teeny-weeny souvenir).

51. Come face-to-face with a Butanding (Whale Shark) in Sorsogon.

52. Hug a panda and a koala. The real ones.

53. Learn how to bike. (I developed a phobia when I fell from a huge bike when I was a kid. And my sister refused to teach me.)

54. Start a legit business. A small-medium enterprise will do.

55. Witness a solar and a lunar eclipse.

56. Sport a hair do with full bangs.

… (will update when I get to think of new levels of craziness to add to my list.)

Why post my bucket list when I could just keep the horrible details to myself? I want to be reminded that at one point in my life, I was able to dream, and that I once dared my self  to make those dreams come true.

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