I experienced Basilan and it was a splendor of sumptuous seafood and flavorful halal dishes, uncrowded natural wonders and a melting pot of culture from people brimming with hope and promise. I think more than a decade a apart since my first visit was enough to see how Basilan has changed. I’m not here to erase the stigma that has attached to the province (as in with any other places) but to highlight the other side which not many people have seen yet. If you’re willing and have an open mind, a couple of cities in Basilan, namely Isabela de Basilan and Lamitan, are ripe and ready for tourism.
Traveling to the beach has been rare these days. The pandemic made it more complicated and costly especially if you live in the city. Not to mention the threat of contracting the COVID19 virus in transit. That’s why when I got invited to by group from our yoga community to join for a day trip to Stilts Calatagan, Batangas I decided to join. It would be my second beach trip this year after Coron and couldn’t spend it much better than with people passionate about yoga.
For a coffee-lover like me, riding to the coffee capital of the Philippines, Amadeo, Cavite was more than just a trivial endeavor. Just being at one of the country’s largest coffee producer and tasting it’s famous “pahimis” blend was enough to pedal my way to Amadeo. Besides, it’s just short of 30km from Biñan where I’m staying. For this ride, I took the Davilan road to Silang, Cavite to Amadeo then a sidetrip to Tagaytay on my way back.
I catch my breath as it escapes me. It’s getting shallow. I knew I’m almost at the edge of my capacity to pedal. So I stop. They call this stretch “2 kilometers of Pain”, now I know why. First time I passed through REVPAL was coming from Tagaytay side. I was screaming with exhilaration as I descend these slopes from Mt Sungai. Going the “reverse” way and negotiating up to 15% gradient (9 degrees) incline was a different experience altogether. But hey, we’re here for the thrill right? Like any other cyclist, we’re always trying to test our mettle. Am I? I’m really here for the sightseeing.
The heat was overwhelming upon my first taste of Kuwaiti air in the 3rd quarter of the year. Even at night, the blowing wind felt like it was coming from the oven. During day, the sun intensifies the heat, reaching higher than 40°C. The only respite is the shade. But even under the shadows, I found myself still sweating buckets. It took a while for me to get used to this weather. Even if there are several malls with air-conditioners functioning at full capacity, I was looking for some green, cool, and open spaces. I found the recently open and on-going development of Al Shaheed Park fascinating. A modern city development to what seemed to be an oasis in the city.
For many culture, a broken mirror means bad luck in the unforeseeable future. But for Italian-born contemporary artist Lidia Qattan, seeing her daughter with scattered glass shards on the floor sparked a creative idea. To minimize her daughter’s wall doodling, Lidia started to place the mirror pieces on the wall with artistic patterns. This was the start of decades of work to transform her humble home in Kuwait as the only house in the world covered in mirror mosaic – the Mirror House.
Setting off to a distant island across rough seas and under intermittent weather in the wee hours of the morning aboard a large fishing vessel may sound like a romanticized adventure. But that’s exactly how our journey to Seco Island began. Well not exactly, it’s actually a clumsy ride on a flat boat that held everyone’s breath as we grope for balance to transfer from the shore to the big boat. I’ve only seen flat boats used here heavily in Antique, but these outrigger-less, flat surfaced geometrical boat is a challenge to balance on water especially with a number of people inside. But it did wake us up under the starry night sky and kept us alert as we boarded the shipping vessel for a 2-3 hour ride.