Merry Christmas!

I wish all of you a warm Christmas and a fabulous 2010!

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Yultide surf trip to the Philippines

Ahhhh....just reminiscing what I had been doing the past few Christmases. Mostly, I have been traveling or taking trips back to the Philippines where I was born and raised. Most of my family still lives there. I tell you, Christmas in Manila is the best! Filipinos love to have a good time and that means a lot of eating, drinking and karaoke!

So for Christmas 2007, I went on a surf trip to one of our 7,107 islands- solo. Yeah that is how I roll! If you are in a beautiful tropical island the options are limitless. December is also perfect beach weather- not too cold and not too hot. The sun is always out!

The Philippines is a very beautiful country and it's a shame that I had to make the realization only after moving away from it. Warm weather, warmer people, spectacular white sand beaches and world class dive sites! If you ever do a Southeast Asian tour do not skip the Philippines!!!

Below are some of the highlights of my trip which I am reposting off an old blog. Enjoy!


It was wet and humid at 5am in the morning when I got up. Manila was in a drizzle and I was anxious that the weather was going to ruin my trip to the island of Siargao. I got to the domestic airport with more than enough time to battle thru traffic and the long line outside the building. It had stopped raining. GOOD. However, some people just do not have the discipline to wait for their turn. BAD. My blood pressure skyrocketed as I saw a few people trying to cut through. "Welcome home" was what I could sarcastically think of.

I realized I have been extremely gentrified and domesticated during my almost 3 year stay in the US. But not today because my "third world" survival instincts kicked in. I was suddenly alert and a bit coffee needed. Geesh...I spoke up and stared down those who dare cut in front of me. It seemed to work. Two segregated (meaning there were seperate lines for males and females???!!) security checks later I was IN! My gbff, Rob, happened to also be there and I got to chat him up and his latest fag hag Iris. Of course he was adamant that I follow them to Boracay to party! I said I'll think about it. I'm not in the mood for a hedonistic vacation. I decided to go solo for a lot of reasons- surfing one of them. Honestly, I wanted time to be with myself in the Philippines. The past few days had been hectic with reunions and shopping and eating out! I tried to tell them that going on "crazy pilgrimages" really help to cure my nomadic itch. It was time for another Mt. Fuji.

My family also didn't seem to understand why I wanted to push thru with the trip. They were extremely worried so I was forced to text my mom status updates every other hour. Dude, I'm almost thirty!

It took about a total of 8 hours to get to the hotel. First there was the almost 2 hour flight out of Manila with delay. We landed on a small airstrip beside rice paddies and I was tripping on the sight of it! Then there was the short ride to the ferry dock and a four hour ride in what seemed like a barge. I really didn't mind since we were entertained with 2 new Steven Segal movies (yes I secretly am a fan). Moreover, I was discreetly people watching. There were certainly a lot of Yoko-Johns aboard. I was previously a "Yoko" myself so I am careful not to pass judgement on interracial relationships (is this the proper term for it?). Honestly though some Yoko-Johns were downright shady! I'm just being real when I say that I feel sad for all the impoverished women out there who are willing pawns to the thriving flesh trade in the Philippines. I also feel enraged that some people willingly exploit this!!!

Moving on...

The last leg of my 18 hour journey was a van ride to Ocean 101 . I thought I would be too tired and hungry to enjoy the scenery but my mind was actually processing the very eclectic scenery. Let me outline how eclectic they were. I saw:

1. children loittering in the middle of the street without a care for their safety

2. an old woman half naked bathing and doing her laundry in the middle of a small river

3. black pigs tied to a tree in front of homes as if they were pet dogs (I'm really starting to like this island)

4. beautiful green rice paddies

When I finally got to where I was staying it was time for the spectacular sunset (pictures soon to follow). I had a rush just by looking at the sky and the waves. I'm really home. This is what feels like to be free. I'm beginning to fall in love with Siargao. I can't wait for tomorrow! Surf's truly up!!!

12/28/07 UPDATE:

Just finished my two hour surf session. It was raining at 7am here but my local guide, Yok, said it was fine to surf. When we went out to the jacking horse (reef break) the water was so deliciously clean and warm (no strong currents despite the very early am earthquake!)! I had a 9 ft board and I was crusin! I friggin turned! I kept turning! I just had the best surf session to date. I may secretly be a longboarder (shhhh don't tell Optimus but he might get traded in for a 9 footer). We will see how I fare tomorrow. Yok is going to take me and my Brazillian neighbors to another island tomorrow for a whole day surf extragavanza! Whopeeeee!!!!!


Taken during my first day in the island. It was breathtaking!

Ocean 101

My home away from home. I had a beach front view and it was awesome to just sit on the "patio" and space out.


Is an island with two surf spots which were mostly for beginners (2-3 ft). One was on the eastern end of the island where most of the inner waves break on a reef which was in front of a rock cliff. That was a good long smooth ride. That other one is the spot behind me which was basically a channel of continuos waves that run parallel to the shore. It makes a final left to the western end of the small island. I must admit that the waves felt pretty strong (carrying you to the left end) and the paddle back to the line up was soooooo longggg. Gawd I sucked at paddling. But it was probably one of my best rides ever.

There was this time when I was watching someone (Khalua- a Filipino Hawaiin ex pro surfer) take off and my guide, Yok, suddenly pushed my board off to an incoming wave that I didn't even notice. Sneaky bastard. I had no choice but to get my wits together and ride it. It was fast and long! I couldn't believe I did it afterwards! It was so cool! I thought that it wouldn't stop and I had to bail on the board because I didn't know how to stop it. There was also something about being in the middle of the ocean without any land in sight (the shore was probably 1 km away) that freaked me out a bit. But yeah it felt really really good. We had so much fun!

Surfer Chicks

Me, Abi and Michelle
Me, Abi (first time surfer from Manila) and Michelle (bad-ass longboarder from Long Beach)...we were together at Daku. Also, fellow guests at Ocean 101. I miss them already!

Surfer Dudes

On the left is Yok my local surf buddy! On the right, Khalua, the chillest person I have ever met. He is a bad ass surfer! I also met a couple of other surfer dudes (some were really hot!) in the island who were a hoot...for some reason they were predominantly Aussies and Kiwis. Of course they were there only to surf the big waves.

Cloud Nine

One of the most famous world class breaks of Siargao. "It is a high quality wave for experienced surfers only. It is predominantly a right-hander but does have a small left as well. The wave itself is hollow and extremely powerful reef break, if you get it wrong you will land on the shallow reef. Cloud Nine can get to over three metres." Basically, where the big boys played. I was scared shit just by looking at it.


Taken during my last day in the island. *sniff*. I wish I could have stayed longer. I love the people and the place. I certainly would go back next year.

Other interesting places (pictures soon to follow)
1. The Disco- located in the middle of the town, they have the latest crunk but its a trip how its made up of basically wooden tables and benches, a dirt floor, no walls (just thick jungle like foliage around the perimeter) and a make shift ceiling from an old parachute.
2. Nine Bar- really cool dive bar where surfers sit down and chill, they even play Johnny Cash and they project surf films on one of their walls. This is where I met Hippie an English girl who decided to camp out in the island for a time. She's been there six years now...married to a local with a child. She speaks tagalog and the local dialect which was so weird to hear. She was crazy cool fun and gave me advice on how I can have more fun on the longboard. Her first time out surfing was in Fiji!!!!! where she allegedly ate it big time!

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Finding Humor in Foul Play

I was queuing up some movies in my Xbox via their Netflix application when this movie poster of Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn caught my eye. As I read the synopsis, one of the things I noticed was the year it was released: 1978. My first thought was "Whoa, they're THAT old?!" 1978 also happens to be the year I was born so I figured it was a sign for me to watch it. I didn't regret my decision.

The scene opens up to an outdoor party along the coast of Northern California. Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn catch each others eye from across the room. There was instant attraction. Chevy then tries to pull a suave hello but ends up clumsily rearranging the bar counter next to him. It was slapstick without looking forced so I found myself laughing. No lines were exchanged at this point but I knew that it was going to be a good film.

I also think that what made this movie good is its simple solid plot. It was back when all you needed was a good story- no stunts, no fancy cgi's and no skimpily clad starlets that can't act. Moreover, once the story progresses there were a lot of witty lines and some pretty hilarious characters thrown into the mix. One of them being Stella who plays Goldie Hawn's (Gloria) feisty friend. A memorable quote would be:[giving Gloria a rape alarm, a can of MACE and a knuckleduster] Stella: "Take these. Without them, you are a walking light-bulb... waiting to be screwed". Waahaha!

Special mention also goes to Dudley Moore for providing comic relief and oh! Barry Manilow for providing the soundtrack Ready to Take a Chance(so that's where the song came from!). In fact you can watch a sample clip from the film here:

I am putting this on my favorite list of films under the mystery/comedy/romance genre. It has some Hitchcockesque elements to it specifically with how they scored the music (Manilow aside). Some parts do drag out a bit but it builds up enough suspense to become enjoyable to watch. In fact, it won an Oscar and was nominated for a couple of awards. Go see it!

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