New years and that bend in the road

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In November, I quit a career that sustained me pretty well for 15 years. I had a splendid run but I thought I’m ready for the next sprint. I quit it to explore a life of creativity, adventure and pretty much unknown things (or like what others actually said, an irrational and stupid choice).

The clarity and the decision arrived in February while I was descending the northern mountains back to Manila. Completely awake and stirring in the 10-hour bus ride from Sagada and perhaps the afterglow of a trip in the mountains, my mind was traveling faster than a bullet train, feeling so free that I can afford the new life I dreamed and scared at the same time at this rush of courage. The road ahead looked freshly exhilarating.

I didn’t necessarily plan the plot twist at the start of 2017. I began the year with a modest set of goals, with no hint of the rollercoaster year ahead. Inside my former apartment in the quiet neighborhood of Kapitolyo, the last of the few incense sticks from Hanoi burning and scenting the late afternoon light, I set myself up with a new Bullet Journal (a goal in itself of documenting my year with bullet points, a less-daunting journaling format) and planned the then upcoming year. I thought I’d share my review of some of my 2017 goals.

First, the habits and goals with relative success (good enough for me):

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Romblon, queen of unspoilt

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It’s not one of the first places that come to mind when you think of summer destinations. Considered the marble capital, Romblon is the RO in MIMAROPA, which I’m now convinced is the better looking sister of CALABARZON. I mean, who beats Palawan here, right? Our friend Rob invited us to take this trip. Cebu Pacific just opened flights this year to this archipelago. See, that it was an archipelago in itself was a pleasant surprise!

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Elisa and the salvation of Batad

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The bus terminal in Banaue stood at a cliff with a view of the just-rising sun. Local men huddled outside the terminal, their lips red with nga nga, a mixture of betel nut fruit and leaf and apog, lime powder. A middle-aged man wearing a down dark jacket spat on the sidewalk. Elisa, our guide in Batad later that day, said chewing betel nut is like smoking. The fruit, along with caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, is a stimulating substance. “Pampainit din daw ‘pag malamig,” she was told it can help add warmth to the body when it’s cold. And most days are cold in the mountains.

The morning air was crisp when we stepped out of the bus. Not as cold as I imagined but enough to know you are 5,000 feet above sea level. From the terminal, you will be taken to a restaurant where you will wait for at least 2 hours and while at it, choose your breakfast from the menu quickly waved at you by a staff. “Let’s wait for other passengers to arrive,” someone commanded. I sniffed it: tourist trap.

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Scenes from Art Fair Philippines

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Updated Feb 23, 2017

I was looking at the Perfection installation when the lights flickered and in a few seconds, the guards streamed in the booth and started announcing that the show was over. It was 9pm and I barely covered half of the 7th and last floor. Not surprising was the audible, collective gasp from the weary and thick Saturday night crowd.

I had not seen that much people in this city so interested in art. The fair features galleries spread across three floors of the The Link parking building across the Ayala Museum. For students of Makati, that’s a massive collection of free art; other students pay P50. For regular folks, that’s P250. One movie ticket, one unusual weekend. Why not.

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Lunar New Year and dumplings in Binondo

The Binondo district turns into an exhilarating cultural destination on Chinese New Year’s Day, even for locals. It was likely the best day to visit for a full Chinatown effect. The crowd was thick and the lines were long at popular spots . It took us more than two hours at Dong Bei just to sample their dimsum. It was very good, yes.

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