Real Post 148 – The Intense Lectures of Ang Guro Kong ‘Di Marunong Magbasa

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It’s this time of the year again, Cinemalaya on its lucky number 13. Still, it never fails to amaze me with its diverse collections of masterpieces in all platforms possible, particularly the ones that tackles timely events that are happening in our country.  And that brings me to one of the full-length films we chose to watch this year – Ang Guro Kong ‘Di Marunong Magbasa (My Teacher Who Doesn’t Know How To Read).

For the past couple of years, we are only watching Cinemalaya movies because of the casts and crew, or the movie speaks our language. There were innate factors that affect our decisions, but it did not mean that they weren’t great (‘cos they’re all amazing nevertheless!)

This time, it was different. Nothing of those sort helped us decide what film to watched, so we had a top 3. After reading the synopsis and watching the trailers, we decided to go with this one. One major aspect that gave it a go for us – a raging cry for education.

Together with my cousin Mimi and her friend, Em-em, we arrived at CCP Complex, 15 minutes before the show started. We took some selfies before shutting down our phones as the movie is about to start. I will try not to spill out spoilers as I go along and discuss what my thoughts are after watching “Ang Guro…

The movie if I remembered correctly is more or less than 2 hours. It has full of battles in it, from start to finish, literally and figuratively portrayed. It tackles the current issues our country has to date – corruption in the government, violence against women and children, healthcare, poverty, war and conflict, and most of all, the inaccessibility to education of the children on the remote and war-stricken areas in the Philippines.

The story-line was pretty simple actually. Loosely prepared to be exact. It was seemed to be a puzzle compressed and fitted altogether to create a bigger, more important picture, and it surely was not about a teacher (played by Alfred Vargas) who doesn’t know how to even read and write, yet was forced to teach the children in their village due to extreme circumstances. No, it was more than that. At some point, I even think of it as an advertisement, a bothersome and a horrible one, yet done in the greatest way possible. Then comes the question, what are you going to do about it?

We laughed and cried our hearts out the entire time. It hits the nerve, very close to home. We got one word for it: Intense!

If you are looking for an entertainment, this is not for you. It depicts a very strong and unsubtle message that we, Filipinos, tend to neglect or escape from. It made me sad, uneasy, guilty at some point and horrified, as I look them in the eyes of these child actors. The kids are so amazing in the movie, as the movie itself is frightening in real life.

Message received Direk Perry! And I am still asking myself, what am I going to do about it?

And to Cinemalaya, as expected, you never failed to put us on edge. ‘Till next year!

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Out of Town presents… Just a Little Bit of Dingalan, Aurora

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Dingalan Trans is the only bus I know that travels to and fro the town of Dingalan and Cabanatuan City (aside from vans). The trip was refreshing, to say the least. It was a 2-hour ride, but there was no boredom. High mountains on each side of the road, plus long ranges of rice fields. The smell of hays and trees combined are so ecstatic, it painted a smile on my face throughout the entire trip. It reminds me of my hometown in Antique. Plus, it was the first time I saw a road being built in the middle of the rice fields. They were literally making one, which amuses me. Now, that’s progress.

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At around 1 in the afternoon, I was on another province. Aurora is not as urbanized as the provinces near it, which makes it more attracted to tourists and travelers. Baler is the most famous town in this province, but in Dingalan, the sceneries are also second to none. Lusty green mountains and clear bodies of water, what more can you ask for?

By the way, there are currently no ATMs in this town so you better stack some cash before you drive away from anywhere you are coming from.

The town is laid-back I should say, and peacefulness is where you’ll get.

I stayed in JSC Beach Resort owned and managed by Kuya Joel Carpio Mallari. I was the only guest in there when I arrived so I got the entire room (good for 5 people) for only 800 pesos to myself! It’s a house for rent, for 3000 pesos, with furniture and utensils accessible to everybody in there. You just have to buy the things you needed to survive (like food, obviously). The place has a room for karaoke and it has a rooftop. Fancy, right? It is fully air-conditioned as well, but since it’s cold in there even during the summer, you will not need it, trust me. They also got a big cottage near the beach, which is a few meters away from the house. For those who wants to spend their nights and days there, Kuya Joel can be reach through his Facebook account or his mobile number at: 0975-025-6129. After settling in, I took a nap…err…drop dead asleep.

I woke up at around 5 in the afternoon and Kuya Joel accompanied me to the town proper to buy some food for the night and the morning after, and some souvenirs for the trip as well. I took an early dinner and hurried myself to the beach. That time, I was officially and literally facing the Pacific Ocean.

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I went back to the house and stayed at the rooftop. Two wonderful moments from my childhood came back that night. Stargazing while looking over at the beach, with matching crickets buzzing and wind whistling- it was a refreshing moment.

I dragged myself back to my room ‘cos my eyes were sleepy, although my mind was still enjoying the moment. And again, I was dead ’til 5 in the morning.

Shortly thereafter, it’s morning again. Since am staying near the Pacific, I would never miss catching the sunrise, so I immediately headed back to the beach, wait as the radiant sun comes out of the sky to say hi. It was an amazing moment! The reflections it made in the sky and in the ocean is just magnificent!

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I then get myself a cup of hot chocolate after witnessing an amazing daily phenomenon in Dingalan. I asked Kuya Joel where to next, and he recommended a mountain resort just few minutes away from his house. Without further ado, I changed clothes and ride my way (via a tricycle) to Maligaya Resort.

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Apparently, it was still early in the morning ‘cos I was their first guest in there. Maligaya has a lot of pools and slides, but the best thing for me is the river down the cottages. Man, it was so serene and peaceful that morning. All I can hear was the sound of the water brushing through the stones and the birds chirping on the trees. It was a lovely day, indeed!

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I stayed there “til 9 in the morning (I got there at 8 so it was a 2-hour of natural therapy for my soul. I could’ve stay there all day if I can, to be honest. Definitely would go back there sometime.

Since the road uphill does not get a lot of vehicles, I hike my way down to the main road. It was just a 20-minute walk and the beauty you see around makes you forget the heat of the sun and the pain of your legs.

I bid goodbye to Kuya Joel after having a refreshing bath and ride my way back to the town. Caught a brunch at a local carenderia (2 cups of rice, 1 plate of sisig and 1 bowl of nilagang baka) before hopping on the bus going back to Nueva Ecija.

As the bus ride its way down the dirt roads to the concrete ones, I felt refreshed in all ways possible.

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(Whew! It took me 5 months to finally post this article. What a lazy head!)

Out of Town presents… A Quick Stopover in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija

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It is true, what they say, if your mind is on it, nothing can make you out of focus.

After months of planning with friends and colleagues, it came to an end. Not a happy ending as you might expected. I was recently invited to go to Aurora over the weekend, but due to unforeseen events, it was canceled. A few weeks after that, I decided to organized a trip to Nueva Ecija with some friends, but then, it was canceled…again. Then I told myself, that’s it. Am done. If I want to have this trip, I might as well do it myself, like I always do most of the time. And so, at 3 in the morning, Monday, I packed my bag and got on a 5 Star bus to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija.

I slept to a 3-hour ride and woke up with acres of rice fields from both sides of the road. Its vast amount reaches the horizon where the bright morning sky greets them. No wonder this province was dubbed “The Rice Granary of the Philippines.”

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I looked for a place to eat upon reaching Cabanatuan City ‘cos of their famous dish on my mind, Batutay Longganisa. It is seldom cooked in restaurants so I went over to every tapsilogan and karinderya I saw, hoping they have it in their menus for that day, and one of them did! There are two kinds of longganisa being made in Cabanatuan. The first one is garlic-ky and the other is sweet. I tried both of them, but I would say, the latter caught my picky taste.

I was about to head over to Camp Pangatian, but the tricycle drivers killed my mood with their service fares. Instead of ruining my entire trip with it (I got no sleep for more than 24 hours during that time, so my patience are nowhere to be found), I went to the church to calm down. It’s a good thing I did it. Whenever you feel lost and nowhere else to go, the house of God is always open to seek refuge. I am not a religious person, but in that moment, it’s my instinct that told me what to do. Besides, Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish is marvelous and solemn. Plus, it was just right across to the statue of General Antonio Luna, a hero of Cabanatuan City and of the Philippines. A time-saver, I should say.

After some self-reflection, I decided to roam around the city and spotted the best place to get a dessert. A cheese cashew macapuno ice cream by Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet. It is sooo good, not to mention affordable. If only it does not melt, I would buy a gallon.

It was around 10 in the morning and my eyes were trying to give up on me. It’s a bad thing not to get some sleep before traveling,  you might miss a moment, ‘cos I did. I was not able to visit some of the places I listed on my notes, but am not giving up. I got disappointed twice already, the triumph should be double as well.

I went back to the bus terminal and get on to Dingalan Trans going to Aurora. Let me tell you how great it is in there, in my next blog. 🙂

Out of Town presents… Taking a Glimpse of Marinduque

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Roughly 4PM, the boat docked in Balanacan Port. I gathered my things and get off the vehicle and looked for a jeepney that is bound to Boac. Oh, and by the way, I am now in Marinduque.

Let me tell you first an interesting story I encountered from the Dalahican Port in Lucena City all the way through my vogage to Balanacan.

After my amazing trip in Lucban, I rode a bus and a tricyle to catch up a boat going to Marinduque. At 11:30PM, am sailing through the seas of CALABARZON and MIMAROPA. Before that though, my swiss knife was confiscated by the Port Police. I was unaware it was prohibited in there. Last time I was on a ferry terminal was 5 years ago going home and they are not as tight as they are now. Interestingly though, I was allowed to check it in the airport, but that’s a long time ago. 🙂

Going back to my story, the trip in the sea was cold! It was a 3-hour cold sail but the scenery few minutes after docking was incredible!

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Shortly after that, I was on my way to Boac, the capital of Marinduque. After a 30-minute jeepney ride, I reached Boac. It was a quiet town, just like the rest of the towns in this province, but mind you, the architectural designs of the buildings and houses are stunning. Laid back, yet superb!

I headed to Lucky 7 Pension House where I had my reservation for the night. I was initially offered a bunk-bed for 300 pesos over the phone, but got a single standard room for 250. Thanks a lot! 🙂

At 5PM, I decided to explore the town and looked for a place to eat. I was amazed by how easy it is go find the restos, grocery stores and hotels in the area. It seems to me they are all strategically placed within 4 to 5 blocks inside this town.

As per Google’s suggestion, I went to Kusina sa Plaza. The place is cozy and the food is all worth it. I had Marinduqueños’ version of Kare-kare for dinner which seems to be a mixture of ground pork mixed with coconut milk and pig blood. In short, it tasted like Giniling na Dinuguan. Well, I ordered 2 cup of rice for that!

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Since it’s already dark and I have not seen any signs of night life brewing in this place, or it could be that I am aware of it, I decided to call it a night.

At 7AM, I hailed a tricycle to Laylay for a morning stroll on one of their beaches. The tricycle driver led me to A&A Beach Resort. One thing immediately popped on my mind upon seeing the beachfront- Home. I spent almost an hour their, just contemplating about everything that is happening to my life then went back to my hotel.

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Starving at 9AM, I freshened up then looked for another food spot. Mr. Policeman walked me to Good Chow Food Express, just at the side of Kusina ng Bayan (told you they are all in one place, evenly distributed). It’s like a one stop food shop. One thing these establishments got in common is pizza, unfortunately I am not a fan of it so was not able to try them.

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On the other hand, I ordered the one on my to list, Sisig! It was okay. Upon having a nice meal, I planned to visit their National Musuem but it was under construction so maybe on my next visit.

It’s already 10AM and I need to retrieve the item that got confiscated so I decided to take an early trip back to the mainland. As the boat made its way off Marinduque, the weather started to get gloomy, as if it knows what I feel inside me. One thing is for sure, I am going back to this little paradise.

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Out of Town presents… Lucban, Quezon – A Foodtrip for Belly and Soul

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2016 was a great year for travel.I earned a lot of awareness and experiences, as well as gained a lot of acquaintances. This year, I plan to make it greater!

For the first month of 2017, what could be better than feeding my soul, more than anything else. And so, I am heading to Lucban in the Quezon Province.

At 2AM, armed with my backpack and Google Maps, I hopped on the JAC Liner bus and had a roughly 4 hour drive to Lucena City.

Around 5:30AM, I reached Lucena City Grand Terminal. I caught a ride in a jeepney bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and jumped in Lucban, after a 30-minute ride. The smell of poultry and coconuts was spreading in the air that whole time, and it reminded me og home. I got sentimental in there for a bit. Oh, mind you, it was cold!

I got to Lucban and the dawn was starting to break, plus there was rain showers. Quite a heavenly welcome if you might think. And there it was, Kamay ni Hesus, the almighty statue and its holy church.

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Since their Sunday Mass starts at 7:30AM, I decided to hike around the area (it was huge!) and discover a lot of things than I expected.

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A miniature of the entire vicinity from the main entrance up to the hill.

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It’s pretty much gratifying to reach the top of the hill. 🙂

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Noah’s Ark. It’s also a hotel and restaurant.

 

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Their mini-museum. Unfortunately, it’s currently close for public when I got there.

At 7AM, the hike up to the statue of Jesus Christ was opened to the public. It was situated on the top of the hill and you need to hike for they said 300 steps. It will be a great exercise for me, I said to myself. Man, for a person who has not climb for a while, it was quite piece of work, but all was worth it. The view above was magnificent! It was a serene climb I would say. And it was still cold and raining, a bit.

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A wonderful view from above.

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The Statue of Jesus Christ up on the hill.

Once I got back on the ground, I fixed myself and looked for a tricycle going to the town proper of Lucban to, what else, look for a place to eat.

I got quite a few choices of restos in mind, well, based on Google’s suggestions really when I got there. Alas! Most of them are still close. I am an optimistic person, O keep on reminding myself that so I went for a troll. And there I found, the Dealo Koffee Klatch. It was primarily a bakeshop, given all am seeing are bread, cookies and pastries, but they have breakfast too, Silogs to be exact.

Since I am in Lucban, what else to order than their famous Pancit Habhab and Longganisang Lucban. Ummm… got nothing bad to say. I need to bring them home, but not today. 🙂

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Pancit Habhab. It’s definitely worth it!

 

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Longganisang Lucban. Another must-try!

After that bountiful meal, I hopped on a bus going back to Lucena City and immediately headed to Dalahican Ferry Terminal to catch an 11:30AM boat. That’s the reason why I cannot buy pasalubongs today, ‘cos the day has not ended yet.

Out of Town presents… Birthday Adventures – Part 3: All Hail- Davao City!

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Last stop, but definitely not the least, Davao City!

I arrived at around 1PM from Cebu and the first thing that I thought of was, to eat! Yeah, I was so freaking hungry during that time. And so, I hailed a cab from the airport to Hotel Uno and immediately looked for a place to eat. Since I am in Davao, what else to try better than their infamous Tuna and Durian. There, I found myself heading to Marina Tuna Restaurant in SM Lanang.

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Their grilled tuna was superb! I’ve eaten durian-flavored and commercialized foods before, but not freshly mafrom the durian fruit itself. Boy, the smell really stinks! But the taste, simply delicious. Although, unconsciously, it became my perfume until one of the security personnel approached me asking if I brought durian with me (a big no as per hotel policy). Then I decided to take a shower and wear a real perfume.

Since I am trying to catch the remaining time I have left in this city, I went to visit the museums and the parks that were just near my hotel. Good thing, Museo Dabawenyo was a few miles away, so I headed there.

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One of the good things about Davao City, they have their own private police that maintains the peace and order, and protect the people in the city.

By the way, below is a portrait of now President Rodrigo Duterte, created by the Japanese painter, Ayumi Endo when he was still the Mayor of Davao City.

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Click here to see the video on how it was made.

Oh, I forgot to mention, my younger brother, Ramy Leo, was assigned here for a few months by his company so we decided to meet and celebrate his birthday. (Yes, he is just a day away from my special day. A couple of years apart though.)

We headed to Jack Ridge’s Hilltop for dinner and went downtown to meet some of his friends and colleagues for a couple of beers. Another good thing here, the city goes silent comes 10PM, even the bars. And smoking is strictly forbidden in public places. A great city to live. 🙂

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The next day, I checked out and went to his hotel cos’ we decided to spend his birthday to someplace peaceful and laid-back. So, we rode on a ferry-boat to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talikud Island, a small island that is part of the Island Garden City of Samal.

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It took  us an hour or two to reach the place and good heavens, the place was beautiful! Blue sky, white beach and sparkling water. What else will you look for?

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The electricity in the island runs through a generator so they have a cut off time for everything electric. We ate our lunch and went to sleep, then plunged into the clear waters at 5 in the afternoon just before sunset. Unfortunately, its view was on the other side of the island so we haven’t got a nice photo of that. It doesn’t mean we did not enjoy though.

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We slept through the night with a bountiful meal ( I got no pictures of it cos’ we were drained from all day’s work, err-play). The next morning, we headed back to the city, bought some pasalubong’s that nearly cost me an extra charge for excess baggage (thank you Air Asia for your consideration, although I need to be reminded in buying a handful of presents versus a hand full of presents, which are waaay different from each other).

Before we split, I insisted on taking a last taste of tuna in Davao, so we headed to Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant and had a hearty lunch, this time, no durian shake. Not that I don’t like it, I just want to make sure I’ll be allowed to enter the plane and make my way back to Manila. 🙂

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One last thing, our plane was the last one allowed to take off before they canceled all the flights to and fro Manila. I felt sorry for the passengers stuck on the airports for the whole night, but I absolutely thank heavens for a safe and continuous flight.

Thank you Cebu Pacific for this purse. It’s fun to have games in a flight. 🙂

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Overall, the trip was life-changing! I did not know I can do it all by myself, and I learned more than what I expected. Certainly going to do it in 2017.

Where to go? What to do? Just keep moving.

Cheers everyone! And Happy Birthday to me!!!

(This is a continuation of my last post 3 months ago. Due to unforeseen events and laziness, I just finish this one today. Finally! 🙂 )

Out of Town presents… Birthday Adventures – Part 2: What To Do, What To Do in- Cebu?!

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It’s nearly six in the evening and I touched down… Cebu!

The heavens welcomed me, pouring its blessings, but I still can’t keep the smile off my face. First thing, people who say Cebu City has the worst traffic never been to Metro Manila during 5AMs to 9AMs and then 5PMs to 10PMs, Mondays through Fridays. I love MyBus in there! It saved me from all the worries of hailing cabs and arm-wrestling with the commuters to and fro the airport. My judgment so far, great solution to vehicle congestion. I arrived at my hotel at around 8PM. Since am all drained and exhausted, I decided to sleep my way through the cold rainy night.

It’s day four now and my first morning in this city, so I decided to pack my things up and walk my way for another solo exploration. It was a great advantage booking a place at the Sampaguita Suites in Plaza Garcia cos’ it’s near the iconic and historical places in Cebu, starting with the Magellan’s Cross Shrine, which I first seen on my elementary history books.

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It was followed by the Basilica Del Santo Nino, which is the Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines.

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The Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Malacanang sa Sugbo and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. It was a history overload in a matter of hours!

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Oh, by the way, this photo below is not really majestic, but rather historic. That’s Colon Street, the oldest servicing street in the Philippines.

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Since I was able to cover those spots in a short (walking) distance, I went to the upper-part of Cebu City and hire a “habal-habal” to bring me to these picturesque places:

Sirao Flower Farm (Little Amsterdam) – I think these pictures below will explain why it was called that way.

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Temple of Leah – the things we do for love!

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Mountain View Nature’s Park – where you can see the rest of Cebu City from above.

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And to end these wonderful day, a bountiful meal at Rico’s Lechon! #LechonIsLife

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Well, my bad, my day has not ended yet, cos’ I just found out that another cousin of mine, Vivian, is working in Cebu. It’s a great thing to find your relatives all over the country. We met and had another dinner in Larsian sa Fuente, a place where street foods are fresh and affordable.

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It was just few hours before my birthday so I decided to throw it a party; hence, we hopped through bars in Mango Square Avenue until they all closed and had a movie marathon at 3AM/killing time until the morning comes.

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It’s now my fifth day traveling and it’s my birthday. Tired and was having a hangover, I slept until 3PM, then drag my sleepy ass to this amazing resto – KKD STK + BBQ, just a couple of minutes away from my hotel. I sincerely did not regret going there. Linarang na Tasik is a must-try.

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I spent the rest of my special day roaming around. Man, that was a fun day!

The morning after, at 10AM, was my flight to another city. And so, the adventure continues…

(This is a continuation of my last post 2 months ago. Due to unforeseen events and laziness, I just finish this one today. 🙂 )