After more than sixteen years! Pangasinan!

Earlier this week, there were rough talks between Papa and his siblings whether we would be going to Pangasinan for All Saints Day. It was not only until a couple of days later that the plan was finalized, but the exact time of departure had been uncertain. October 31 was not declared  a holiday, and it meant that we (Mon and I) would have to come all the way from Makati after work because I thought that we would be leaving at 4:00 AM.

On our way to Marikina on a cab, we were eventually told that we won’t be off until 9:00 AM the following morning. When they said 9:00 AM, I knew that it meant 10:00 AM, which I did not mind at all because I was hoping to sleep longer. I had already prepared myself to sleep during the long ride to Pangasinan, but to lie down on a bed will always be way better.

Hello Mt. Arayat!

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Out to Taal Lake! (Club Balai Isabel)

It was our first night to sleep in our apartment after having bought the sofa bed last Tuesday. As we had to be at the meeting place by 6:30 AM, we woke up at quarter to six because we still had to fix the clothes we had to bring. I had no difficulty sleeping in our new apartment, and I normally have a hard time sleeping in an unfamiliar place. I consider that as a good sign, then.

A lot of people who registered and agreed to attend bailed out at the last minute and I was really happy to hear that. It means less people to deal with (i.e. the unbearable noise), and I was looking forward to a relaxing day. Plus, as there were about 50 absentees, it meant that we had more chances of winning cool prizes from the raffle. Again, I do not have the biggest luck in games of luck, but as there were 100 plus prizes for less than a hundred participants, I highly doubt I wouldn’t be picked even once!

Entrance-slash-gate of Club Balai IsabelAfter an uneventful hour and a half ride (though it was fun because I was with my friends/officemates with me, having a laugh over the silliest things), we finally arrived in Club Balai Isabel, a resort located at the edge of Taal Lake in Talisay Batangas. The last time I was near the waters was in 2004 (February 15, 2004, to be exact) during a field trip for our Geology 1 class. And as far as I can remember, it was my first ever banca ride and it was a really scary experience, seeing the kelp (or whatever you call them) swaying in the dark waters below. Rumor has it that thatShake, Rattle and Roll” film, with the infamous undin, was shot in Taal Lake. I took that fact to heart, so even if I am a capable swimmer, I was (or am) still scared of the lake.

The famous 'façade' of Taal Volcano - Binintiang Malaki

A floating house in Taal Lake

That was the time I became aware that the famous view of Taal Volcano was not the real crater. “Binintian Malaki” and its dormant crater is the face of Taal, but the real crater was located somewhere else in the near middle of the Crater Island. I actually got to go inside the real crater and we were even allowed to bathe inside. Of course, I did not but I remember a courageous lady from another section, who willingly took the plunge in her cut-out swimsuit (to the delight of the boys in the group). It was nevertheless nice to be back in a familiar place after almost a decade.

Nice native details on the ceiling

With my officemates!

Very nice shot of Mon and I by Faye

On a different note, it has been quite a while since Mon and I joined a team outing. The last time was unfortunate because Mon has acquired amoebiasis from Clearwater in Clark, Pampanga and we vowed to never join any of the future outings. But as we were in desperate need of kitchen and household appliances for our new apartment, we were eager to join so that we no longer have to buy some of them. LOL Again, given that there were far fewer people who attended, the succeeding events were a breeze, with only two games to boot. A far cry from the HOURS of games conducted before. Sporadic raffles in between eventually brought us three things: an oven toaster, a rice cooker and a digital camera! It was my first time to win a raffle!

And we won a rice cooker, an oven toaster and a digital camera

Club Balai Isabel was a nice place, but we had high hopes with the food because when we were still in Makati earleir, Mon and I spoked with a random guy in the elevator, commending thir food and service. So imagine that come lunch time, the roast beef was like rubber, the pork still had a lot of hair on the skin, and the soup was a macaroni short of being a macaroni soup. It was really unappetizing and it did not help that when we were about to be served snacks at around 3:00 PM, we saw that the delivery truck had accidentally dropped the trays of sandwiches on the lawn. I did not bother eating a sandwich, because it was a station away from being a soil-wich (corny, LOL).

However, make no mistake because the environment itself was beautiful. There were a lot of fruit-bearing trees, but the signboards were very explicit in warning us with bold “NO PICKING OF FRUITS”. What do they dowith them? We had no idea because the ground was littered with overripe fruits. What a pity. =(

The biggest pool in Club Balai Isabel

Somebody's irritated =D

Yes, I had to sit on the grass

As we were given a lot of free time to roam around the area, we had to visit the lakeside and see the bigger pool. There were few people swimming but I assume it would have been full if only the other company were done with their teambuilding activities. It was difficult to get a closer shot of the ‘volcano’ because my camera was not skilled enough, all of us had a great time taking pictures, particularly jump shots under the sun.

Slayin' them all with my cheerleader jump!

 

I still have it, I guess LOL

 

We also had a dip in the smaller but nearest pool to us, and I think we were inside for more than an hour. An officemate unfortunately had a mishap as she stopped swimming in the middle of the pool, not knowing that it was the deeper part. It was scary and funny at the same time because Mon and I had to rush and help her get out of the water. I knew that she would drag me in the matter, had I tried swimming to get her, so I just went below her and walked her to the gutter.

 

Synchronized swimming LOL

 

Before leaving, somebody made us fill papers for a raffle, and it was for a free stay in their place for some days and nights. As it was a raflle, I definitely have a small chance. It was a free trip so I should not be complaining, but the food was really a letdown. I even heard that they are charging about a thousand pesos for a sinigang dish in the executive restaurant, yikes! We also highly doubt that they have prepared food enough for about a hundred people. If none were absent and backed out at the last minute, alas, we needed a miracle to have enough food for all os us. =D

Going home from Club Balai Isabel

*(Some photos were grabbed from Faye and Dale) =D

 

2013 Travel Plans: PHILIPPINES!

Contrary to past years when we planned our travels outside the country, Mon and I have already worked on our trips within the Philippines until November. It might be long overdue but it is time to go around the country more frequently than before. =D

2013 travel plans in the Philippines

For the end of this month, I will be going with Mon’s family to Laoag, Ilocos Norte and I look forward seeing the Bangui Windmills, swimming in Pagudpud and, most of all, bathing in a river since I haven’t done such activity in almost two decades. When I was still young and we just moved in Marikina in early 90s, we had to chance to bathe in the river for several summers. It was a highlight of our summer vacation and we, little kids in the area, had a blast chasing each other in the clear water of the Marikina River. Well, due to the increasing number of subdivisions upstream (e.g. Montalban), as well as population explosion, our waters became murky and muddy. And to experience swimming in a river again, I have to go to Ilocos Norte and I will surely be taking lots of photos.

Then in July, I will finally bring Mama to Puerto Princesa because she had been hinting how much she wanted to visit the Underground River. Well, the original plan was to bring Mon’s mother to Hong Kong with us, but as his youngest sister would definitely throw a fit within those few days, the most feasible thing to do was just go somewhere here in the Philippines and tag her along. Everyone, then, will be happy!

But October, well, is a different story. Last Tuesday, Faye and I had been talking over plans to travel together outside company-initiated trips because we were hoping we could at least go somewhere before we leave the company soon. LOL Then on a whim, we booked tickets to Kalibo via Zest Air, along with Mon and seven other officemates for a few days in Boracay.

I never thought there would be a problem with this arrangement but apparently, this Friday morning had its dose of surprises. Last Monday, my sister informed me that my brother’s wedding will be slated on October 26 as it was aligned with the day of their (brother and fiancée) anniversary. So I was then confident with booking on an October 12 trip with my friends on the seat sale. Then over breakfast this morning, I was informed that it was moved to October 12 instead, because there were no available/good schedules for the 26th. O_O

The wedding will be at 4:00 PM in October 12 and there’s no way we can go to the airport  before our 5:45 PM flight. Mon and I’s Plan B will be just to rebook our flight on the earliest schedule the following day at almost 5:00 AM. LOL The catch is, we had to pay the rebooking fee and other possible fees, which might amount to more than what we paid for the original ticket. If thaw will be the case, then we might as well rebook anew and save a couple of pesos. =/

I was furious with my brother because it was difficult to plot our personal plans with the everchanging wedding schedule. They supposed to get married this May, then moved to January 2014, then on October 26, 2013. I did my best to contain my disappointment, though, and was relatively calm with the text messages I had sent him. When I eventually collected myself an hour after, I just looked at the positive side of things. As Faye correctly prophesied while we were booking, if something will happen, then the cost of the ticket will be relatively less heartbreaking. Who would have thought that that something will happen three days after. LOL I was thinking more of erratic weather conditions, because Octobers should no longer be rainy. Anyway, I just hope that the wedding’s schedule will definitely be FINAL because I would no longer know how to react if they were to change it again, with all the hassle of rebooking from Zest Air.

Lunch was on them: “HEAT” EDSA Shangri-La Manila!

Almost two weeks ago, our officemate Kat had been vigorously messaging ang campaigning for all of us to “Like” the comment she left in this advertisement from EDSA Shangri-la Manila’s Facebook page. I would normally NOT give in to such requests because I am not a fan of popularity contests, but since she was one of the people I like in the office as she was beyond hilarious, I liked the page and commented anyway.

‘Lo and behold, just when she initially thought that she lost the contest, EDSA Shangri-la contacted her saying that the the first and second place winners were disqualified (or ‘was disqualified’ because it was just the same person, who was a professional ‘liker’ in Facebook, making a living out of promos online) and she was bumped to the top spot. Imagine the hilarity of it all. Girl was very giddy and I can’t blame her. To my amusement, I was included in the 19! Ho ho ho! Faye was supposedly included but as she was still on vacation in Palawan, another person took her spot.

EDSA Shangri-La Manila exterior - Manila, Philippines

EDSA Shangri-La Manila exterior

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