Wednesday, February 18, 2015

50 Strands of Grey

Check out the hottest love team of the season!
When forever means 50 Strands of Grey to the nth power!

My 70 Day Challenge

During the start of the year, I made a commitment to make myself better, financially and in health.
I started the 52 week money challenge and just recently my 70 day Workout challenge.

I have been doing the workout challenge for 2 years now.  The results were good, because I have maintained my BMI to normal levels the entire year.  This year, I want to push myself further on attaining my ideal body weight and fat percentage.

I have downloaded an app that documents my progress, but since they only keep for a week.  I'm also documenting my progress with this blog.

Here are my starting stats.

Dumbbell Lunges
15 x 10lbs
12 x 10lbs
10 x 10lbs
8 x 10lbs

15 x 10lbs
12 x 12.5lbs
10 x 12.5lbs
8 x 15lbs

15 x 12.5lbs
12 x 12.5lbs
10 x 12.5lbs
8 x 12.5lbs

Dumbbell Row
15 x 18lbs
12 x 18lbs
10 x 18lbs
8 x 20lbs

Dumbbell Bench Press
15 x 18lbs
12 x 18lbs
10 x 18lbs
8 x 18lbs

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
15 x 18lbs
12 x 14lbs
10 x 14lbs
8 x 14lbs

With Grip Lat Pulldown
15 x 35lbs
12 x 40lbs
10 x 40lbs
8 x 45lbs

Push Up

Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise
15 x 6lbs
12 x 6lbs
10 x 6lbs
8 x 6lbs

Dumbell rear Dealt Row
15 x 6lbs
12 x 6lbs
10 x 8lbs
8 x 8lbs

Barbell Seated Overhead Triceps Extension
15 x 8lbs
12 x 8lbs
10 x 8lbs
8 x 8lbs

Lying Barbell Triceps Extension
15 x 8lbs
12 x 8lbs
10 x 8lbs
8 x 8lbs

Alternate Dumbell Hammer Curl
15 x 10lbs
12 x 10lbs
10 x 10lbs
8 x 10lbs

Alternate Pro Curl
15 x 12lbs
12 x 12lbs
10 x 12lbs
8 x 12lbs

Monday, February 9, 2015

6th Week of My 52 Week Money Challenge

48 Weeks and 135,700 to go!

Our Batanes Adventure Day 2 : The Faluwa Ride to Sabtang

After exploring the many attractions in Batan Island, we are now hoping to explore Sabtang.

We were up as early as 4:30 AM to catch the boat that's supposed to leave at 6:30.  As the morning breaks, we can see that the sky is clearer compared to yesterday when passengers were allowed to cross.

The Church in Ivana.  God granted our request to visit Sabtang.
Not only that he let us arrive safely, he also made the journey exciting!

Our glimmer of hope, a Faluwa preparing to leave!
We left Villa Bella on foot to Radiwan Port, the Gateway to Sabtang Island. The small road led us to Ivana Church, where from the entrance, we can see a boat loading items in preparation.  We approached one of the crew, and found out that they are actually going to Sabtang.  We wrote our names on the manifesto, and were asked to wait as they secure clearance from the coast guard.  Although the weather improved, the waves were still strong as the docked boat sway from side to side.  Other passengers started arriving in hopes of getting across.
The breakwater of Radiwan.

A few minutes later, the boat crew broke the bad news that all trips are cancelled because of the strong waves.  We were all disappointed because for Ar. Allan, Eileen, Ryan and Me, this is our only opportunity to cross.  Our flight back to Manila is scheduled the next morning.  Ar. Ana and Mark still have 3 extra days to spare.

These looked like giant jack stones!

We stayed at the port a few minutes more hoping for a miracle.  Ar. Joseph, his wife Wendy and their son Jason went back to the house to prepare for our breakfast, since were not having them at Sabtang anymore.  Ar. Ana and Marc took the opportunity to explore the church and surroundings.  Ar. Allan and Ar. Eileen realized that the best place to ask for a miracle is right in front of us, the Church.  They went inside to offer prayers as I walk around the port area looking for cigarettes.  I went inside, what looked like a store not knowing it's the popular Honesty Coffeeshop.  Inside, I found other tourists drowning themselves in coffee to get over the disappointment of the cancelled trip.  They don't sell cigarettes though.  I guess smoking doesn't compliment honesty.

I went out and head towards the direction of the port again looking for small stands and to catch up with our group.  On my way back, I saw the crew who assisted us and I smiled at him.  By this time, I have gotten used to the Ivatan culture of everybody acknowledging everyone with a smile or a greeting.

He asked me the whereabouts of my companions.  I told him that they're still around taking photos of the church.  He told me to ask them to wait a bit more, because the Mayor of Sabtang arrived trying to convince the coast guard to let us cross.  It turned out that he himself is a passenger.  I alerted the group of the news and we found ourselves at the port again.

The other passengers who stayed in the vicinity came back, as the boat crew hands out our life jackets confirming our departure.  I immediately called Ar. Joseph informing him that they allowed us to leave.  They arrived just in time for boarding.

The boat, called locally as Faluwa is large fiber class boat with the bow designed higher than normal for rising waves.  Cargoes and motorbikes are placed in front while passengers occupy the stern and the sides around the steering section where the captain maneuvers the boat.  The boat is roofed, leaving an opening above the captain's seat, so he can stand to see above the bow in cases when the boat tilts upward.

The Faluwa!

As soon as everyone was boarded, the Captain maneuvered our way out of the breakwater.  We know we're in for a rough ride as the boat sways to exit the opening.  I've heard stories on how hellish Faluwa rides can be, and this was a trip originally (and might still be) cancelled.  How can you describe something worst than hellish?

The ride was the longest 30 minutes of our lives.  The waves were huge as we move further away from Ivana.  They even got bigger, (as high as our boat) as we approach Sabtang.    It reminded me of Anchors Away, the theme park ride at that rocks you forward and backwards sending cramps to your stomach.  At this point, we were questioning our decision to push through, but there's no turning back now, and were not leaving Batanes without setting foot on this island.

The passengers including me applauded the boat driver as we enter the breakwater in Sabtang, in gratitude of having reached the destination safely.  I was relieved to finally set foot on stable ground.  We thanked the Captain and the Mayor for making the trip possible and boarded the van waiting for us at the port.
Land! Finally!

What's ironic, is that right across the port is Sabtang's Church just like the one in Ivana.  Those waters are really treacherous, and I think, especially in times like this, you really need divine intervention to guide you safely.  You really need to offer prayers every trip and be thankful for every safe docking.

Once in Sabtang, all tourists are asked to pay a Tourism Fee of 200 pesos that allows you access to the many attractions in the Island.  In front of the tourism office is a beautiful stone house with bright green doors and windows.  We were taking photos when the owner showed up and invited us in so some of us can look out the window for that perfect shot.

The lovely house in front of the Municipal Tourism Office.  While they're busy registering our names, some of us went busy coming up with a perfect FB cover photo!

Also, unique to the island are their Cogon roofed tricycles.  It's their way of adapting tradition with modern transportation.

Before the tour, we went to a locale eatery near the port to have breakfast, but since most of the stores are still closed because people are attending the morning Sunday mass, we settled on what's available, coffee.

To be continued....

This is now the 4th of Our Batanes Adventure Series
Our Batanes Adventure Day 1 (Batan Island)
Our Batanes Adventure: The Preparation
Our Batanes Adventure: Helpful Tips

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Guilt Free Eating at Enchanted Farm Cafe

No matter how hard we delay it, age has it way of catching up on us.  My partners sudden surge of blood pressure recently made us re-think our eating habits.

Now were more careful on the food we eat and is in the lookout for healthy establishments.  This weekend, my morning errand took me to Quezon City and took the opportunity to visit Enchanted Farm Cafe in Commonwealth Ave.

Google maps pointed us to Feria St., but its actually right pass that corner in the same building of Human Nature where natural personal care products are sold.  

I have been to Enchanted Farm in Bulacan, but they don't offer the same menu as what they have at the cafe.  Maybe they do, but during my visit, they have a set buffet.

The cafe is located on the upper floor of the building.  The interior was charming with wooden tables and chairs, and accents made from bamboo and other natural materials.  Shelves displaying products made from the Bulacan farm occupies two large walls.  

For this visit, we tried the Farm Fresh Salad, because my partner is really serious on the low fat diet, and I'm having the Tomato and Basil Pasta.  We also ordered the Crispy Mushroom as recommended by the cafe manager.

Photo grabbed form EF Cafe FB Page
Click on the photo to visit their EF Cafe's FB Page

Our meals arrived after a few minutes. 

Our salad is served with Calamansi Vinaigrette and Camote Fries on the side.
My pasta is topped with Feta cheese with side salad in Calamansi Vinaigrette
I would have wanted to try more of the items in the menu, but were late for another appointment.  We are definitely coming back.  Where else can you eat something healthy, at the same time help local farmers and activities of Gawad Kalinga.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Our Batanes Adventure Day 1: Batan Island

At the pre-departure area, we were interrupted with an announcement that our flight is slightly delayed due to Haze above Basco airport affecting the visibility of the runway.  Well, at least its not cancelled!

A sigh of relief came in to us when they finally made the call for boarding.  We were ushered to the bus, and then taken to the plane. I took the opportunity to catch up on sleep the entire ride.  I was so tired that I didn't even notice the biscuits being distributed.  I was awakened by the announcement alerting everyone that we are about to land.  I can see portions of Sabtang Island from my window.

As the plane moves forward, we entered a cluster of clouds experiencing a slight turbulence.  Now, I'm awake.  All I see from the window is my side of the wing with the landing wheel lowered.  I can feel the plane turning around as the clouds cleared.

The captain announced that we have to go around due to poor visibility and that they will update us in a few minutes.  After circling around the open sea, I saw the familiar coastline below; this would now be our 2nd attempt to land.  We were again engulfed in clouds as we descend.  We were shaken a bit as the plane makes another turn, but as we escape the clouds, the runway showed itself behind us.  There's no turning back now.  If I can see it from my window, I'm sure the captain did too.

We circled again taking the same path as the 2 previous attempts, we slowly descended until we were below the cloud cover and the runway was in view.  I was so thankful the moment the wheel touched the ground.  The passengers can't help but applaud the captain for landing us safely.

Basco Airport was small, simple and uncomplicated.  Porters were polite and would not impose.

Just as I opened my phone, I received a text fro Ar. Alan confirming our arrival.  They were actually expecting us on the 2nd flight, but there's only one scheduled that day.

With a few minutes to spare, Ar. Marc, Ar. Ana and me played with the displays in the arrival area, taking photos of anything that speaks Batanes.

It didn't take long until we were united with the group, all 7 of us including Ar. Joseph.  As soon as we settled ourselves in the Van, we were off to our first destination.

1. Tukon Chapel

It was drizzling that morning, contrary to the previous day.  Armed with our hoodies and jackets, we went up a flight of stairs leading us to the Tukon also referred to as Mt. Carmel Chapel.  In spite of the rain, and overcast sky, the mountain views of Batanes were just so amazing.  I can't help but continuously say "wow" the entire ride.  Everywhere you look seemed like a painting for your eyes to feast on.

Beautiful Batanes, Rain or Shine!

2. Radar Station

After a few photos, we were off to our next stop, the PAG-ASA, DOST Radar Station.  What started as a drizzle became stronger when we reached the area.  We were forced to take shelter on their covered porch.  When the rain subsided a bit, we took photos and proceeded with the tour.

Imagine us landing over this thick haze over Sabtang!

What looked like a giant golf ball from a distance is actually is the northernmost weather station n the country.

3. Fundacion Pacita 

Our next stop is Fundacion Pacita, a private mountain resort dedicated to the world renowned Batanes artist, Pacita Abad.  Our access was limited because of a wedding reception scheduled the same day.  Just the same, we were able to see the beautiful gardens the resort is known for.

A Private Mountain Resort Honoring the late artist Pacita Abad.

The resort is known for their beautiful gardens and topiaries, complimented with a beautiful scenery.
4. Japanese Tunnel

Our guide and host then took us to see, and actually go inside the Japanese Tunnel.  The narrow corridors leads to different exits.  There's one that would steep downwards that we did not explore, instead, we continued our way being led by the light from an opening on another end.

Entrance of the Japanese Tunnel
5. Vulugan Beach

The wind was cold and blowing hard when we reach Vulugan or Boulder Beach.  The entire stretch was covered with the same boulders used in building their stone houses.  Making your way to the water can be a challenge as you hop from one steady stone to another.

Valugan Beach

It was past noon when we went back near the Airport to have lunch at Ivatan Pension.  They specialise in grilled seafood and meat.  Try to order in advance to avoid the long wait especially during lunch hours.

Chicken Tinola in Yellow Ginger abundant in the island

The Filipino Platter that easily serves 6 people, even more.

6. Capitol Park and Basco Church

After lunch, we took off to see the rest of the attractions North of Batan.  While still in Basco, we made a stop to see the Capitol Park and the Church.

Basco Church

7. Rolling Hills

We continued the tour taking the narrow roads leading to the Rolling Hills.  As we move higher, the winds became stronger and stronger, to the point that we have to close the windows of the van to avoid getting swept of the road. As we tried to take the narrow trail on foot leading to our destination, standing becomes a challenge that we contented ourselves behind mounds that sheltered us from the gust.

The Rolling Hills.  The strong wind can literally swept you rolling down if you come close to the edge.

8. Basco Lighthouse

Our next destination would have to be the most popular attraction in Batanes, and in Basco.  It's the lighthouse. It overlooks the ocean and the town.

The Basco Lighthouse and bay.

Inside, is a souvenir stand that sells the cheapest items.
Buy here, because it will just get more expensive on other stops.

9. Pasalubong Shopping

A few jump shots later, we went back to the Town of Basco to get souvenirs.  A tip to would be visitors, located inside the Lighthouse tower is a small souvenir stand.  They make the small stone house models on site and items here are cheaper than those you will find at bigger shops and stops.

10. Chanarian Viewdeck

After the town, we headed southbound making a stop at the Chanarian Viewdeck.  We would have wanted reach the end of the stairs to the water level below, but the waves crashing hard on the cliffs scared us.

I only reached that landing, because this scared me!
11. White Beach

Our last stop for the day was white beach.  During the summer months, it's a nice place to go swimming white white crushed coral sand bordered by limestone cliffs on both ends.  During our visit, the waves would set you rolling just by sitting on the shore.

11. Kidpidan Beach

By this time, all the activities during the day is taking its toll on us.  I can't help but doze off every time were in the Van.  It was just timely that our host Ar. Joseph brought us to their beach house at Kidpidan Beach to rest just before dinner to meet their family.

The main hut has beds and extra mattress and hammocks below.  Beside it is a shed that houses a videoke machine and a store that operates similar to the Honesty Store.  I think i still owe them a bottle of coke and 2 San Mig Lights.

The toilet comes with a bidet hose.  Something you would not expect in a place like this.

My view from the hammock!

Kidpidan Beach

I was so tired that afternoon, that I fell asleep the moment i laid my back on the bed.  I didn't even notice the family of our host arriving.

The Barsana's! Our gracious host.

We were humbled by the graciousness and generosity of the Barsana family.  We were so surprised with amount of preparation they exerted for our dinner.  The steamed Lapu-lapu looks too good to eat!  I kept coming back for serving s of their version of Adobo.

Nana, at 92 years old, the matriarch of the family was also present sharing her secret to staying and feeling young, a shot of Brandy daily!  I guess that explains why some people act immaturely when they had too much to drink.  I honestly think, its living a happy life.  Nana, laughs a lot sharing her stories.  We wanted to hear her sing, but unfortunately, she had to leave early for her medicines.

Ar. Joseph's mom belted out popular female songs, garnering the highest score at the Videoke machine.  Joseph's wife Wendy also came, but it was their 3 year old son Jason's antics that kept us entertained throughout the evening.

We would have wanted to stay longer, but we need to prepare for an early trip to Sabtang, hoping that the waves, weather and coast guard permits the trip.

We retired at Villa Bella for the night.  Villa Bella, is the Barsana's ancestral house built in 1898.  Two rooms are being rented out for tourists.  The Living areas are filled with photographs providing a glimpse of history and heritage of the Barsana.  The first Ivatan Governor of the province is their great grandfather.

I t was a long day for us.  I fell asleep waiting for my turn to shower.  Actually, I really have no intensions on taking a bath that night because of the cold weather.  Also, I needed to recharge, because I only have one full day to explore the province.

If you think our flight going to Basco was scary, wait for the entry about or trip to Sabtang!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Our Batanes Adventure: The Preparation

Our chapter, the United Architects of the Philippines, Manila Corinthian have been yearning to go on a Batanes trip ever since we found out that one of our members, Ar. Joseph Barsana came from the province and is a part of the prominent families in the town of Ivana where his father Hon. Anastacio Barsana served as the Municipal Mayor for years.
Our gracious host, Ar. Joseph Barsana with his adorable 3 yr old son Jason.
The bigger challenge however, started on finding the right schedule for the trip. A lot of factors have to be considered, like the cost of airfare, availability of members and the weather condition.

We all agreed that the ideal time would have to be February, but in order to accommodate the National Events for the organization, and that airfares are more expensive during the summer months, I was forced to take an earlier schedule on the last week of January.

Since June of 2014, I was in the lookout for on-line promo sales for airfares, but it was only in September, when I heard the announcement for the Philippine Travelmart after having travelled with newfound friends who works for Philippine Airlines in Baler.

I waited in line for four hours without lunch just to get a ticket. I would have wanted to buy as many as I can for my officers at least, but I don’t have the cash or credit cards to make the purchase. Also, since it’s the last day, the promo slots are almost filled out, but I was still lucky to get my Manila-Basco at 1,299 pesos. My mistake is booking my return flight on the third day without checking the schedule of the flight. It was only after I checked the ticket that I found out that the return flies early morning leaving me with just 2 full days to explore the province.

After securing myself of tickets, I posted the event invite hoping that more would join. I said to myself, if in case no one would join, I would just go to ocular to better prepare for a bigger group on our next visit.

15 people signified their interest but only 6 actually went!
A lot confirmed their interests but it was only Ar. Alan Co, his wife Ar. Eileen and Ar. Ryan Fajardo who actually purchased their tickets. I was so relieved to find out I was not travelling alone. They were smart enough to book an earlier flight that allows them 3 full days to tour Batanes.

As the day nears, and with 4 confirmed participants, I made contact with Ar. Joseph to coordinate the details of the trip. It was then that I found out that he actually scheduled his annual vacation during the same week to accommodate us. He’s coming four days ahead of us. We were updating each other on what to expect thru Facebook. After a few days, I received a message that Ar. Ana Carangan – Valencia, and Ar. Marc Valencia (who came straight from Dubai) is also joining us.

We scheduled a meeting a week before our flight to finalize everything. Ar. Joseph presented options on where to stay and tour itinerary. We assured him that he need not exert so much effort with the group, and that we are flexible and are very much willing to adjust to anything, even the expenses. I have been to other adventurous destinations with Arch’s Alan, Eileen and Ryan and have seen them get dirty, sleep on the ground and get wet, so adjusting to any situations would not be hard for them.

We were updated by Ar. Joseph days before the arrival of the 1st batch on our final itinerary.

January 26, 2015
Ar. Joseph Barsana's arrival in Batanes
Arrival of Ar. Alan, Ar. Eileen, and Ar. Ryan with our Host Ar. Joseph and Jason
(Photo grabbed from Ar. Eileen's Album)

January 30, 2015
Arrival of Ar. Alan Co, Ar. Eileen Co, and Ar. Ryan Fajardo
Tour of Basco and Batan Island
ETA 9:35 AM
Airport to Villa Bella
Lunch at Vatang Grill
1:00 PM South Tour
Rock Formation
Marlborro Country
Tayid Light House
6:00 PM Back to Villa Bella
7:00 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Bedtime
Estimated budget: 6000php
Approximately 2000/pax

January 31, 2015
7:00 AM Breakfast for 3
7:45 AM Arrival of Ar. Omar Palero, Ar. Marc Valencia, and Ar. Ana Valencia
Tour of Sabtang Island
9:00 AM Start of North Tour
Tukon Chapel
Radar Station
Fundacion Pacita
Japanese Tunnel
Valugan Boulder Beach
12:00 Lunch at Octagon 350/head
1:30 Light House at Basco
2:15 Vayang, Souvenir Shops, Capitol Park
4:00 PM Back to Ivana (free time)
Dinner at Barsana Beach House in Kidpidan Beach
Estimated budget: 7250 php
Approximately 1208/pax

February 1, 2015
Sabtang Tour
6:00 AM Radiwan port
Boatride to Sabtang
Tour of Sabtang
11:30 AM lunch at Sabtang Beach
1:30 PM Back to Ivana (free time)
7:00 PM Dinner at Villa Bella
Estimated Budget: 13900 php
Approximately 2316.70/pax

February 2, 2015
Departure of Ar. Alan, Eileen, Ryan and Omar
Optional tour of Itbayat Island for Ar. Ana and Ar. Marc.

Tour Package Total: Approx 27,300
Estimated 3.5k - 5.5k/pax

February 4, 2015
Departure of Ar. Ana and Marc.

I was still at work on the day that Ar. Alan and company was scheduled to arrive. I was checking their social media accounts for updates, but no Batanes related news was posted. I figured, that probably there's no internet signal in the province.

I still have a party to attend to the evening prior, but was so excited of the trip that not even the lack of sleep nor the hangover would stop me from going to the airport.

I was able to catch up with Ar. Marc and Ar. Ana at the check-in counter.

I would have to continue with the story of our flight and my Day 1 adventure on my next entry.

Please stay tuned, because my 2 day stay in Island might be short but its filled with unexpected challenges and the unpredictability Batanes is known for.

Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home. We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the ...