UP Diliman University Graduation v2.0

Yesterday afternoon was foreboding. After the sunny day during the early morning college graduation, it rained really hard that it made me worried about the fate of today’s weather. There was even a report of tornado and hail stones and somebody also sent me a message that there was a Low Pressure Area forming in Luzon. As the University-wide graduation would happen in an open area, the prospect of a bad weather will literally dampen our spirits. Looking back at my first University Graduation, I remember that it was so hot that I had been sweating a lot both from the influence of the direct sunlight and the uncomfortable barong that I was wearing. But for today, leaving our house at exactly 2:00 PM, the sky was gray and I was eagerly  praying for another chance with the sun. LOL The sunflowers were not-so-perky that I had to hold a couple of them upright   Our first itinerary upon reaching UP was to take pictures with the sunflowers along the University Avenue. My family was particularly excited about this as they kept on seeing news feature this entire week about the graduation in UP Diliman, and how the sunflowers were finally in full bloom just in time for the event. But frankly, I was disappointed to see that the sunflowers were no longer that perky because of the bad weather yesterday. The petals were no longer as nice-looking as the ones I’ve seen last Friday. =/ Anyway, that did not prevent my family, along with Mon, Lot and Lay to take lots of photos with the sunflowers. But the photo-op was cut short — it sporadically rained and we had to run for cover.

Mandatory picture with Oble   So proud of the three UP Pep captains   I was carefully evaluating the weather and I thought that it would eventually stop, with an overcast sky  as the worst that could happen. I was right. Around fifteen minutes before the start of the program, the weather had sort of ‘stabilized’ and I was confident that it will no longer rain. When Erin and I went looking for the designated meeting place for our college, I chanced upon this small group of people: the UP Pep Squad captains for the school year. I was really happy to see them and who would have thought I would be finishing my graduate degree, the same time as these kids finished their undergrads. I suddenly felt old. I even remember my very last halftime (as an alumnus, because I was one of the ‘babysitters’) with Irish in 2007, when she was still a freshman.

Goofing around before the university graduation

I still have mad skills in taking a picture of a group with me as the 'photographer'

Finding our line, I was happy to know that we were situated at the back, giving us more freedom to move and just budge when we were to finally go inside the Amphitheater. We even managed to buy a cone of ice cream each!

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight - UP Diliman, 2013 Commencement Exercises

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight

Mon and I in the University Graduation

Our Sablay now officially transferred from right to left

To be honest, it was tedious hearing the speech of the Guest Speaker. Apart from the low volume, it did not help that the speech he was delivering was written exactly on the pamphlets distributed on top of our chairs prior to occupying our seats. Why listen when I can always read it later? Just kidding. There was also, I think, a slight error in the sequence of the program. By the time we have already transferred our Sablay from right to left, majority of the graduates were no longer paying attention to the valedictory address. Poor kid. I could not even remember a lot of the things he said, apart from comparisons with national heroes and jokes that took me a moment to digest.  But I’m happy to remember him saying about his advocacy to give back to the community by teaching along with a couple of students. I’m extremely happy to hear that. Gomz, though, asked me about my experience with my previous university graduation, and whether it was this unruly (he did not attend his university graduation in 2008).  From what I can recall, everybody was quiet and intently listening to the valedictory address of Mikaela Fudolig, the Wunderkind who finished summa cum laude at 16 years old (Yikes!). I still remember about the “take not the road less traveled” from her speech. The whole event was festive but not unruly as the one we just had last Sunday. Oh well.

I did not know that I brought along UP Pep fans with me!

Yihee!

Family picture after graduation

After the graduation — time to take photos! I have taken lots of photos with friends, classmates, family, etc. But I did not realize that I brought along UP Pep fans with me! Same as yesterday, some UP Pep drummers were present and I dropped by to take a picture of the drummers playing. I saw Kiko and Irish again, and the next thing I knew, Lot and Lay were begging me to ask the captains if it was okay to take a picture with them. LOL Same as the afternoon, I had little chance taking a photo with Oble. There was a very long queue of people waiting for their few seconds to have their picture taken, that I did not bother having one at all, except fpr a quick shot with Mon. I was too hungry for dinner.

Famished in A VenetoA Veneto dinner in Trinoma - chicken, pizza and pasta galore

Already well-fed --- family picture after dinner

I was really worried about getting a decent place to eat in. We did not have any reservation placed and when we reached Trinoma after rushing away from Diliman, we still did not know where to eat. We first thought of A Veneto but there were groups waiting outside, so we transferred to the seafood resto next to it (I forgot the name, was it Seafood Island?). But ‘lo and behold, we had to wait longer as we were the third in line, so we went back to A Veneto. By the time we finally made up our mind, we were seated within five minutes! =D Chicken, pizza and pasta galore, all of us were hungry that it took us less than thirty minutes as soon as all the dishes arrived to get our fill. Monday awaits all of us, and Mon, Lay, Lot, Kuya and Ate Ja had to leave to go home to Cavite and Makati. I can’t be thankful enough that they shared that special day with me.

My official graduation 'self-portrait' LOL - UP Diliman Sablay and CSSP master's degree token/medal

Bye, Bye March!

It’s Easter today and my mother was very kind enough to give me a rack for my bags. She thought my room could have a bit of organization with all of my bags in a single place. Well, it was very sweet but I still have some of my bags inside a plastic container. The rack just won’t hold up all of them. I’m in the process of selling some of them off on Ebay, together with the other things I managed to sell internationally.

My bag rack, given by my mother - Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Coach, Prada, Burberry, J. Peterman Mailbag

After lunch, I went to the Marikina Public Market to buy materials I would be needing to ship the items. I found everything perfectly fine, except for some bubble wrap. The ones I found were on a ready-made padded envelope, and I was thinking more of the ones sold per yard. I will most probably be going to National Bookstore tomorrow to buy them, before heading to the Makati Post Office.

When I got home, I was really cautious not to further wrinkle the felt cloth that I’ve bought. I managed to get two kinds of cloth: the white one for the Ebay items and the black one for my own bags. I’ve been hoping to make dust bags for some of them, because they had none when I first bought them online. I was really happy I bought my mother a sewing machine because, ahem, I would no longer have to hand sew a lot of things, which I painstakingly did for a dust bag of an extra large tote bag. =D

DIY felt cloth clothes and bag dustbag

Save for minor interruptions, I had no trouble with the Brother BM-2600 sewing machine and I was able to sew eight white felt cloth containers in just an hour. I was only able to use about half of the three yards I bought and I have honestly miscalculated because two of the garments need dust bags with the same capacity as the others. I still don’t know how they would hold up during the shipping, so I really need to buy bubble wrap to make sure they will arrive fine to the buyers. The last time I have shipped internationally, it was for two Gucci bags bound for Australia and the buyer got them within four working days. I am honestly very nervous of this new venture but I know deep inside that I have to get over my fear of international shipping if I were to successfully sell globally.

Sold items on Ebay ready for shipping tomorrow

As for the black ones, they took a much longer time to be made because I had to attach velcro to make sure they would snugly close. I only managed to make two, which were for the ‘quite sensitive’ to humidity bags. The one for the Mulberry was not perfect, but it was still acceptable; but for the Coach one, the dust bag fits like a glove. =D If I have more time next week, I will be doing more for my other bags.

DIY felt cloth dustbag for my Mulberry and Coach messenger bags

On a different note, it was bittersweet seeing the buyers send the payment to my PayPal account. A lot of them has sent payment within the day, but since I’m a new seller on Ebay.com, PayPal would have to hold my funds for 21 days. What does it mean to me? It means that I would have to shoulder first the shipping of all the items tomorrow and hope to the highest heavens that the buyers will like the item because I don’t want to be traumatized this early. Oh well, at least most of the items got sold and I will hopefully get a good selling history soon. Patience. Be good to me April, my birthday month! =D

Hello! Ilocos Norte! – Day 2

Following the previous day’s madness, I was able to get a very good night sleep and recuperated enough energy for the day ahead. But since we did not have anything special for the day, except for the graduation party of Mon’s cousin later that afternoon, it was the perfect opportunity to drop by the public market to buy a few things Ilocos was famous for.

Bagnet for sale at 440 a kilo - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Longganisa from Ilocos Norte

So after a quick breakfast, Mon and I took the trike to the market and went straight to the second floor and looked for his grandma’s suki. I was excited to finally see a pile of bagnet on the table, but it was a bit pricey. At Php 440 a kilo, I only bought half a kilo. LOL On the other hand, I bought a kilo and a half of longganisa, which was still a bit few because I was worried to carry heavy items on our way back to Manila.

Kitty in the market - Laoag, Ilocos NorteI also spotted this little kitty, lurking beneath the table and she immediately reminded us of our Miso. =D We also had to buy a bouquet of flowers and a lanyard for the graduate.

Orchid lanyard for the graduate

We went home around 12:00 noon just to eat some food because we had to go to the graduation party of Mon’s cousin. The party started late, though, because the graduation rites finished almost two hours overdue. Nevertheless, we headed to the third floor of a building somewhere in the city centre, and I was happy to see people arriving one by one. I took lots of photos of their friends and relatives that I had little picture of myself. I even had no picture with Mon and I together. 

With Mon's beautiful cousin

Mon's cousin and siblings

After the party, before dinner time, Mon and I went to the supermarket just to buy snacks for the following day’s activities! Lots and lots of junk food and juice drinks were shoved into our mini-cart, but I was still comforted by the idea that there will be about nine of us eating them. Going home, we did not take the trike but a kalesa instead — it was my first kalesa ride ever!

Looking over the road from the kalesa ride - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

My first ever kalesa ride, blinded by the flash though

After resting for an hour, Mon took me to the the plaza to see the city center at night. When I first saw the place yesterday, I was in awe of how beautifully landscaped it was. But at night, it was amazing! The lights gave it a very dramatic vibe and immediately asked myself: “Am I really in the Philippines?

I especially adore the lighting of Laoag City Capitol - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Lovely fountain in the plaza, in front of Ilocos Norte's capitol

 

One of the sculptures in Laoag City Capitol - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

 

Hello fountain - Laoag City Capitol, Laoag, Ilocos Norte

 

 

 

As we were still relatively full from the party, we just bought a couple of empanadas from a corner of food stalls near the city capitol. They were nice but not as good as the bunch we bought from Batac the previous day. Tomorrow will be our last day in Ilocos and I cannot wait to finally see the Bangui WIndmills and swim in Pagudpud.

Hello! Ilocos Norte! – Day 1

I have never been to Ilocos Norte and I was very happy to be invited by Mon to stay in the place where he grew up. According to him, it was approximately a 9-hour night trip and I knew that Bonamine would be my best friend again. We arrived in Fariñas Bus Transit near UST, Manila because our bus was scheduled to leave in exactly 9:00 PM. We were seated directly behind the driver and we had enough leg room to even put our bags on the floor. It was at Php 750 per person because they had an on-board comfort room! No more waiting for the stop over. It was difficult to sleep, though, because I was really suspicious of the people getting in and out of the bus. I fear for the sake of the duffle bag on the overhead compartment.

Laoag Bound - Fariñas Bus Transit

Around quarter to 6:00 AM, we arrived in Fariñas Terminal in Laoag City, where we were met by Mon’s aunt, who will be accompanying us to the house. The air was so cold and FRESH that the difference between city and rural atmosphere could not be starker. Reaching their house, Mon’s mother greeted us from the veranda and the next thing I know, I was being finally introduced to his grandmother. =D She was still full of energy at her age, and I was really delighted to see her. One by one, within the next hour, most of the people in the house began waking up. We had to eat breakfast before going to the cemetery to visit their grandfather’s grave (Mon was the first-ever grandchild), which was followed by a mass because it was Palm Sunday.

Mangoes directly from the tree

Mon visiting his late grandfather's grave in the cemetery

The mass was delivered in Ilocano and I could not understand a single thing. LOL There was also a sinking bell tower right across the street. They say that one can make a wish whenever visiting a church for the first time — I just did that as well. =P After the mass, Mon and I separated from the group to buy things from the market. I also needed my quick fix of coffee and we found one near PureGold, Laoag City.

Palm Sunday mass in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag city center

Before lunch time, we went home to fix our things because we will be going to the river! I forgot the name of the river but it only took us around 30 minutes to get there. As soon as I saw the rows of nipa huts, I knew I was in for a treat. =D

A view of the river directly from the water's surface

Look how clear the water was? Amazing!

River from Ilocos Norte

But before anything else, we had to eat our lunch and I was surprised to see that the watermelon we bought from the market did not have a red flesh inside. LOL A lot of Ilocano dishes on the table as well, and I was particularly pleased with the longganisa and pinakbet. I think bathing in a river was an ingenious way to start the summer season!

Colorful watermelons! I never thought there were yellow-fleshed watermelons

LOL

I think after the lunch was over, I was one of the first people to jump right away to the water and was also the last one to get out. LOL That was how river-deprived I was. The water was not that deep, though, as the deepest part was barely above my waist. It was a good thing especially the place was packed with families with little kids.

Enjoying the cold river water

Mon's sister, Anne, striking a pose

I think these girls were looking for fish and shells to play with

Then at around half past 3:00 PM, we decided on a whim to head to Batac and visit Ferdinand Marcos’ body preserved in a mausoleum. We were not allowed to use our cameras inside and the guard was watching our every move, trying to catch people violating the rule. We were inside for less than two minutes as we only had to walk around the casket.

In Batac, Ilocos Norte after visiting Ferdinand Marcos' body on display

Then for a late merienda, it was a perfect opportunity to eat empanada! After a five-minute drive, we reached this area, with rows of stalls selling food. We sat down in Glory’s Empanada and I finally  had my first ever empanada from Ilocos. LOL

Finally! Got to taste empanada from Ilocos Norte - Glory's Empanada

 

After that quick snack, we went to Paoay to visit St. Augustine Church a.k.a. Paoay Church (“Paoay! Kumakaway!”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site built primarily with coral blocks. We got there late in the afternoon, so naturally, we were not able to see the church lit-up. which was too bad because I was sure it would have looked heavenly in person.

Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church), Ilocos Norte

 

Peculiar material of the structure - coral bricks

 

Tourists in Paoay - Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

 

 

And in the nick time, just before sunset, we went to Fort Ilocandia’s beach just to literally take pictures. There were also a lot of people and the beach itself was quite OK. We would have loved to swim as well, but we were not to go to the beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday.

Dropped by Fort Ilocandia beach

 

Literally dropped by to take photos

 

Getting our feet wet, but no beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday

 

This amazing race in a day made me love Ilocos Norte very much. =D It made me realize I should be really going around the country more than outside because we have an amazing share of wonderful spots — without breaking the bank. Tomorrow would be a less eventfuly day because Mon and I still haven’t properly slept because of the bus ride! One regret: I should have bought at least two more empanadas to take home with me!