Grids in Las Casas Filipinas

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grid.”

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan, Philippines prides itself in its showcase of “Filipino talent, ingenuity and craftsmanship”. And
I was blown away by how beautiful this place is, and how the owner is able to preserve the past.

My family and I went to this place as part of our 3-day trip around Luzon, which I will write about in the succeeding blog posts. For this week’s photography inspiration, I have chosen this picture of the  Balanga Church replica in the Las Casas property.20150824_172959

Stay tuned for my posts about our travel adventure!

Endless open doors in Angkor Wat

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Door.”

Here are some of the photos from my Cambodia trip with my Dad and my younger brother. I went back home in December 2013, and we took a trip to Thailand and Cambodia.

These doors tell tourists and visitors the ancient and age-old stories that are forever embedded in them. It tells numerous stories of religion and deep-seated beliefs, of rulers and followers, of tradition and mystery. To me it was a story of fascination as we walked these paths of myths and wonders and it felt great that my brother and dad were there to experience it with me.

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The beauty of Grand Canyon

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Grand Canyon has always been in my bucket list. So when the opportunity to go to Las Vegas came up, I just had to put Grand Canyon in our itinerary.

We took a bus tour from Las Vegas (the bus picked us up from the Stratosphere Hotel) which took us to Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. For $80 each, it surely was a bargain! So here’s one of the best pictures I’ve taken using my camera, and definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen so far.

New Orleans for my birthday

IMG_7944In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Muse.”

For my birthday this year, I decided to pack my bags and go to New Orleans for the weekend. I enjoyed the culture, sightseeing, the food (especially the food! did anyone mention happy hour?), and the company of friends.

Here’s a picture of Jackson Square – taken while we were on our way to get the famous beignets. Yummy!

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park | Couch to 8K

Today, I woke up early again for a quick morning jog with my friends. The Vancouver marathon is exactly a week away, and I have not really been training for it.

Today, there was a lot of people and families in Central Park. A 3-mile run was scheduled this morning, and so we also ran with the participants to boost our energy and to keep moving forward. 

Here’s a lovely picture of the Bethesda fountains. Spring is really in tbe city!!!

Motion and Action in Frozen Lake George

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FROZEN LAKE GEORGE. Imagine stepping on this huge lake in upstate New York. Chris surprised me with a little weekend in Lake George for our anniversary. Mind you, winter this year was very brutal and it was very chilly in upstate NY.

I remember stepping on the lake, and I was filled with excitement because I’ve never set foot on a frozen lake before. There were activities for families, as there was a festival there in February. I’ve heard that Lake George is very beautiful during the summer and I hope to be back soon!

Here are other pictures from our trip:

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Imagine diving in such brutal temperatures!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Motion.”

To João: An early bird’s stroll in Copacobana

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Early morning light in Copacobana Beach in Rio de Janeiro

I took this photo during my morning stroll in the Copacobana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

The beach is beautiful, as well as the city. And who can forget about their very delicious cuisine? This more than trumps my unfavorable memories of Rio de Janeiro.

I only spent two days in Rio de Janeiro during my solo backpacking trip in South America back in October 2014 (too short, I know, since it was a layover). Even though I was aware that there are ATM scams in the city (I was prepared! I read numerous articles about it before my trip) or I was conscious of my every move or I took a lot of precautions, I still was made a victim to this crime. Never have I been robbed until I had gone to this city. It amazes me how fast people are to adapt to technology, both in good and bad ways. Fraud protection is the next best thing to sliced bread, if not the best thing in the world (props to Chase for saving my bank account).

It was about day three in my 11-day trip, and I was already feeling fatigued, tired and restless. As soon as I got into my hostel, which was about a good three blocks from the beach, I broke down and cried to the guy by the hostel’s reception. I was clearly disheveled, confused, lacked sleep, and I was in my worst mood (What was I doing in this place, alone?). My itinerary for this city already went down the drain. After I cleaned up and cried all the tears that I can cry, I summoned up all the courage that I can muster and braved this city. The lovely gentleman, João, tried to have a conversation as I was about to head out, probably to have a good second impression of this girl in distress. He spoke good English, too. To my surprise, he gave me a nice, warm hug and reassured me that everything will be okay and that the city is not entirely what I thought it was.

Whenever I see this picture, I’m reminded of the good people by the beach who took time out of their busy schedule to tell me directions to where I was headed or where I can find cheap but yummy eats. In my travels, I always keep in mind that there are good people out there that I’ll meet – people are generally helpful, especially to tourists… and solo women travelers. I may never have known their names, or remember their faces, or  shared my experiences with them, but they’ve surely left footprints in my memory. Without them, I may never have these beautiful stories to tell.

This blog entry is dedicated to all the João’s in this world. It was very refreshing that in a foreign land full of unknown wonders and unfamiliar faces, someone made me remember why I love traveling in the first place. I give back and pay forward by being gracious to tourists in my own city…especially in Times Square. Each and every one of us is going through something, so the least we can do is to be nice to people.

Perhaps someday I’ll find myself back in the welcoming arms of Rio de Janeiro, and give the city a second chance.

Paragliding in Pattaya

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Pattaya, Thailand in December 2013

This week’s photo challenge is “Afloat”, and what better photo to post than this picture that my dad took during our brief vacation in Thailand & Cambodia back in December 2013. I think it costs around $10 per person, which isn’t bad (my brother and I thought that it could be one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, so why not do it while we’re there). My dad, of course, stayed behind as we went flying around.

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I remember waking up early to ride a boat close to the beach to do paragliding. Here’s a photo of me and my brother as we await our turn 🙂

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/afloat/”>Afloat</a&gt;

Small fish in a Big Pond

Alas, after almost three years, I find myself in the same black hole that I was trying to escape from. There it is again – the feeling of of the familiar, the feeling of being a small fish in a big pond.

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Frozen Lake George in February 2015

Malcom Gladwell posed a very interesting question in his book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” – would you be better off being a small fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond? We base our judgments based on those in proximity to us. There are times that I catch myself comparing myself and what I’ve accomplished to the people around me, to my colleagues, and my batchmates from college. And this leads to a very poor self-concept and can be very dangerous.

New York City is a very competitive pond that I’ve chosen to swim at and to grow up with. There are questions like, how are they able to get that job, and not me? I have the same abilities (and maybe better skilled), but why didn’t I get that job? Sometimes, I feel very much overwhelmed and pressured (but mostly pressured) to succeed and to get ahead in terms of my career. At this point in my life, I am an underdog, I am an outsider – the only way to get ahead would be to do what the Goliaths of this world refuse to do.

A very wise man once told me that people are different, and so there cannot be agreements in the absolute sense. We’re bombarded with ideas of uniqueness, of setting ourselves apart from the crowd, and of being successful at a very young age. But to what end?

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Lanterns in Lake George

Success, then, depends on how you define it. It can be in monetary terms, or in terms of being able to help others or bringing smiles to the faces of underprivileged. This definition is something that I grapple with – what do I want out of life? What do I want to do in the future? These are questions that I still seek an answer to. These are the questions that I also had three years ago.

I am but a small fish in a big pond called New York City. I am an even smaller fish in the sea of finance, where everyone is aggressive and very much eager to beat the next person. In this journey of transition, I hope that I won’t lose touch with what I hold dear and to not lose sight of what’s more important.

I am a small fish with nothing but my dreams – all I need is an opportunity to translate my potential into something concrete and real. I find hope in the knowledge that better things are yet to come, and that some things are withheld from us since we are better placed in situations where we can grow the most.

2014 in review: toronto, ca

It’s been a while since I posted pictures from my adventures. 2014 has been a very good year, travel-wise. So in this post and in the ones that follow, I’ll be posting some pictures from my travels during the year that was.

Hope all is well, guys. NYC, be safe and keep warm during this snow storm!

TORONTO, CANADA

In September 2014, Chris and I embarked on a road trip from NYC to Montreal, then Toronto, then Niagara Falls.

Here are some pictures of the Toronto skyline viewed from the CN Tower. Chris and I took my mom to lunch in the CN Tower – if you happen to be in Toronto, I think that CN Tower is not to be missed. Sure lunch is overpriced, but what you’re paying for is really the views of the city. They have very yummy chocolate lava cake!

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Here’s the Harbourfront, viewed from the little ferry tour that we had:

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As much as possible, I refrain from posting pictures of people. But this next photo is dedicated to Chris, who earlier today wondered if he’ll ever make it to my blog. Here you go my love:

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Stay tuned for my next posts!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

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Because memories are all I have.

Memories as a form of escape from the present.

Memories, I’ve found out, are two-edged swords. Memories are fragile, yet powerful – powerful enough to either make or break you (the choice always presents itself). Call me sentimental, but I greatly hold on to the memories I have especially the ones I know I could tell to my future kids/grandkids.

Above all, I treasure the memories I’ve made during my travels. Here are some of the fridge magnets and other trinkets I’ve collected since 2012 – some from my adventures and some generously given to me by my close friends. Noteworthy ones include:

  1. Guatemalan worry dolls (bottom left) – You’re supposed your share your worries to these dolls, place them beneath your pillow before you sleep, and they will take your worries away.
  2. Mercedes-Benz 190SL (center, top) – From the fascinating Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
  3. Innsbruck (below Edinburgh Castle) – What I believe is the most magical old town there is.
  4. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (top right) – The geek in me was happy. Amelia Earhart’s bright red Lockheed 5B Vega is on display (it’s the same plane she used to fly nonstop across Atlantic Ocean).
  5. Boston – I instantly fell in love with Boston! Also, it’s the first road trip I had with friends this year. Funny how we spent St. Patty’s Day in this beautiful city…without drinking beer. I remember having lunch in Chinatown instead (we all agreed that Chinese food in Boston tastes much better than Chinese food in NYC).

P.S. I should buy an NYC fridge magnet soon.

DC iPhoneography

This particular trip down to DC is one of the most exciting things I’ve done this March. After a series of unfortunate events like missing our bus (because apparently we were waiting at the wrong stop indicated on our tickets), we had a welcome change of plans by going to Baltimore Inner Harbor where we had lunch.

Although my friends and I went to DC to go see the cherry blossoms (and apparently the time just wasn’t ripe for them to come out), I had a great time strolling around the National Mall, basking in the sun and enjoying the company of my friends.

I’m quite new to phoneography, so I hope you like these shots I took and edited with Instagram!

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

Yes, the second week of 2013 has just closed in and this post’s two weeks due, but let me take this opportunity to reflect about 2012 and to share how I’ve grown this past year. There were a lot of things to be grateful for – even missed chances and missed trains, bitter tears, and failures – and I’m glad to have shared it with people who understood and mattered the most.

The overarching emotion that I had for 2012 was one of excitement, as I braved and welcomed the uncertainty that was What happens after graduation? I knew what I wanted to do but had no concrete plans of achieving that goal. I guess the intrinsic problem was well within me: procrastination and shortsightedness. Being a control freak, I tend to become apprehensive when faced with things that I cannot control.

I guess history has a funny way of repeating itself until you learn from your mistakes. So I learned, little by little, to just let go and let God.  Attempting to control the situation is but a futile, fruitless effort but I can always change my perceptions and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. 2013 is ridden with more uncertainty as I have no idea where I’ll be come February. I know I’m not yet ready to go back home (that’s for sure), but I have faith that wherever I find myself in the future, I know I’ll be at my best and will continue to be the cheerful person that I am.

As Virgil aptly puts it, “Perhaps someday we will look upon these things with joy.” This 2013, let us be bold and take chances.