What My 2013 Looked Like

I skipped a year.

At least that’s how I feel now that 2013 is coming to a close.  I have a vague memory of doing awesome stuff for the first time during the first half of the year, but after super typhoon Haiyan/ Yolanda devastated Eastern Visayas, the region I call home, those things suddenly felt distant. It feels like I surfed, visited Calaguas, and brought Simone to Bohol more than a year ago. It feels like I skipped a year, yet I feel I aged a lot in 2013.

Haiyan made me feel older, and its aftermath stripped me of my ability to be cheeky for a little while.  I was heartbroken. From time to time, The Lonely Island and  the Flight of the Conchords  would take my mind off the situation in our region, but for more than a month it felt as if my lover left me. I was in disbelief and was trying to convince myself that  it was REALLY happening.

The title of Pat Califia’s vampiric short story describes me now-  I’m Not Well, But I’m Better.  I’m hoping that that’s how things really are in my region too – better.

On a lighter note, in part, I am better because of …. What Does the Fox Say. Sorry, the antidote to my loneliness isn’t more profound or “secrets of the universe-y”, but I think for Ylvis to bravely ask what the fox says is quite genius (Ring-ding-ding-ding-ding). It was a question we all had in our minds, but no one dared ask.

Aside from The Fox, here some things that SHOULD ring-ding-di.. resonate with me from 2013:

JANUARY- An Unexpected Journey

After watching the first installation of The Hobbit towards the end of 2012, we knew we just had to … gather different kinds of cheese from the supermarket so that our media noche would have a little semblance to Bilbo’s dining table.
Still inspired by Bilbo’s journey to the unknown, a couple of friends and I skipped town right after media noche to head to Tagaytay. It was the first time we went to there on public transportation and David’s first time in the city EVER.
‘Didn’t realize it could get seriously cold and foggy in Tagaytay. Read my posts about our January 1st trip to Tagaytay here and here

FEBRUARY: Point Break

I gathered several friends from different circles to try surfing in Baler, Aurora. It was my first time to surf, but the highlight of the trip was seeing Ditumabo falls and climbing giant Balete tree in Maria Aurora, Aurora.
Heading to Baler? Check out my Baler, Aurora Travel Expenses and Tips post. Image credit: Paul Tamisin Garcia


MARCH: The Beach

During the holy week,  I found myself surfing in Daet and fulfilling my longtime dream of seeing Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas. The latter is known for its long stretch of white sand beach and crystal clear waters. Since it was holy week, we found the island too crowded to our liking. Also, the trip from the island back to mainland Camarines Norte was one hell of a boat ride.

Photos courtesy of Paul Tamisin Garcia

APRIL-MAY: Sideways

On Valentine’s Day, Nuffang Philippines announced that I had won the San Miguel Lifestyle Brews Good Taste, Great Pairings Blogger contest. It was only two months after when everyone’s schedules lined up for the awarding of prizes. What I expected to be a very quick meet-up turned out to be an elaborate five-course meal.

Well, it was not a plethora of wine, like in the movie Sideways, but of beer.I did not realize that like with wine, there’s a science to what food goes best with a certain beer. We learned that the fun way from Pino Chef Ed Bugia and Brew Master Alan Sienes.

Photo by Des Feliciano. Check out the complete set

Here’s what I won, by the way:

  • Two-night stay in a superior room with breakfast for two at Sofitel Manila
  • Lunch/dinner for two at Spiral
  •  Two Power Deal vouchers which include an hour of massage, a haircut, and lunch buffet at Spiral
A month after getting the prizes, Jeff and I headed to Sofitel to use the Power Deal vouchers, but we got there too late for the lunch buffet. Nevertheless, we had the best hour of massage of our lives, and I got me some haircut.



JUNE: The Craft

I saw the weirdest (in an awesome kind of way weird) shade of blue in the waters of Siquijor. And as the place is infamous for witchcraft and sorcery, I felt quite competitive, and so in a blog post talk about how badass the witches and monsters of Samar are too.

We also spent some time in Dumaguete since the city is the gateway to Siquijor if you’re flying in. 
‘Saw these people near Dumaguete’s public market waiting for I really have no clue what. 

JULY-AUGUST: School of Rock

Our little girl, Simone, started attending a proper school in July. 🙂
Simone in her first baro’t saya (traditional Filipiniana costume) during her first school presentation.

OCTOBER: Baby’s Day Out’

Since 2007, I have tried to go of town for my birthday. This year, we decided to bring the little girl to Panglao in Bohol. The beaches in Bohol are not too shabby considering they’re only about a 15-minute drive from the airport. This is why they’re recommended by/for parents who are bringing along little kids.
The family at Dumaluan Beach Resort in Panglao, Bohol. 


I started to write what would turn out to be a lengthy and incoherent piece the day after Haiyan hit. I later realized that it was me trying to make sense of the feeling of loss and disbelief.
It has been two months  since Haiyan, so I can at least start to find the words for this now, even if the scale will probably take years to process.
I was born and raised in Catbalogan, Samar  – a city about two hours north of Tacloban. Catbalogan was not officially declared a city until 2011, so before I moved out to Manila for college and to eventually work, Tacloban was THE city. In my mind, it was the city that my hometown should strive to be, the hope of what our town could become. Although I would later realize that Tacloban lacked a lot of things you’d find in Manila and Cebu (like decent bookstores and cinemas), when I was young, Tacloban was where we went for things we didn’t have in my hometown.
And although Calbayog City was closer and only an hour away from Catbalogan, Tacloban was just … bigger and better. They had Gaisano. They had Orange Brutus and Cindy’s (the food places to be in then, unheard of and unknown to the younger generation now).  They had better equipped hospitals, better schools, and an airport.
Seeing that big town anchor flattened by Haiyan hit me hard. Sorry if this sticks out like a sore thumb next to pictures of great food, surfing, and underwater shots. The transition is just as jarring in real life.

DECEMBER: Chocolat

With the holiday break, we finally had the chance to use the Sofitel and Spiral vouchers.

We had to, actually, since they were only good till the end of this year. But the timing was perfect, since my younger sister, Phoebe was here. (she goes to the University of the Philippines in Tacloban and classes there aren’t scheduled to resume “supposedly” till January 13th.)

Four Spiral buffets in one week you say? Challenge accepted! 
Before December, I had not eaten at Spiral, and I’m closing the year having eaten there four times. That’s either the most awesome fattening thing I’ve experienced, or the most fattening awesome thing I’ve done. I haven’t decided yet. Eating at Spiral four times in a row is “hedonistic” in the same sense that driving into a tree is “dangerous.” The words do not convey how mind-numbingly cool it had been, nor how high my cholesterol intake must have been.

Still, it’s worth a shot. Picture this. Spiral is 21 “ateliers” (fancy word for “shop types,” in a food-ish sense, but I’m too bloated to complain) of French, Indian, Filipino, Chinese, Korean … Djibouti-an, Messopotamian, Neanderthal etc. food types. 🙂 I mean, they have a room just for cheese, and several ateliers just dedicated to just snacks. Now, picture going there four times within shouting distance of each other. As you may have guessed, the results are not pretty, but that’s a whole entry by itself.

Jeff and Sim, just hanging out at Sofitel.
 The same shot as the one in May. I’m less blurry, so Jeff’s hands are getting steadier. I told him this, and he says it’s all about “self discipline.” 🙂
This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers‘ December 2013 Carnival with the theme: “Let the Curtains Close on 2013. A Year-End Post.” This month’s host is Brenna Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue.

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