the everyday exploits and bursts of ideas from a twenty-something beatnik

Archive for the category “Around the World”

what would Jeff Buckley do

I am bound to infinitely stare at this blank note given by a former lover who refused to tell me the meaning of such clean and crisp white paper crumpled by my frustration to interpret its ghostly writing. Maybe Jeff Buckley will sing me the answer, but then again I can’t rely too much on a dead guy.. . The message just like Mr. Buckley passed away even before I’ve come to know of its existence. ‘Oh, and the sting shall cease’, i can hear thy lover say.. .

PiLar Nereida (01/08/2009)

***photo by Marie Chiong (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California)


the evisceration of you

Writer’s bLock. Shit. I was supposed to write something about you today but thy words have betrayed me and have gone AWOL (hah!). Maybe there’s nothing to write about you anymore, I have grown out my interest in you. Sooo, goodbye horses.. . I’m fLying over you.. .

-PiLar Nereida (05/20/2009)

***photo by Stefanie Lipardo (New York City, USA)

Expeditions with Tao Philippines (Part Una)

I had the much-needed time to organize my thoughts for this blog on my one and a half month with Tao Philippines which consisted of 7 expeditions, and I’ve decided to dissect it in two parts (the El Nido section of the trip and the Coron part) since I wouldn’t want to drag you in a very long blog which you have to understand will consist a lot of photos so.. .

Let’s start off with bits of facts about the company, so Tao Philippines explores the remote islands between El Nido and Coron in Northern Palawan and it offers an ‘off the beaten path’ kind of adventure and we always tell the guests that ‘this is not a tour, it’s an expedition’ so don’t expect a 5-star accommodation on a remote island, it’s as rough as it gets. But anyway you’ll find a better description and all that about the company here, so let’s move on to  how I got involved with Tao Philippines – the main man responsible for taking me on a trip of a lifetime is my longtime friend Johann, we have known each other since college and I’ve always referred to him as my best and worst friend only because we’ve always tolerated each other’s bad habits (but let’s not get into that huh?) which always result in a ‘friendly’ banter. So one fine day Johann texted me (he was already with Tao since October 2011) and asked me if I wanted to join and work with him in the expeditions, I was free, had nothing to do and nowhere to go last summer so why the hell not???

Johann – Tao Buhay’s Expedition Leader with me as his ‘wingwoman’ on board

I arrived in El Nido on April 3rd and had to wait the day after to join Johann’s group who were already on their 3rd day of the 7-day expedition. I won’t write about each trip I had but will just write about it as a whole for practical reasons noh? So where were we? Yes, the El Nido part of the expedition.. .

the town between the limestones and the sea, El Nido

Tao office – everyone’s all ready to go!

On the first day of the trip we’re usually still on the tourist zone so we go to these beautiful but at most times crowded spots in the area like the Small Lagoon which is, like all the other places (and I’ll probably say this a lot) a very surreal place  because before entering the lagoon you have to pass this small opening and then let the sight inside take your breath away after. The rock formations, trees, and even the tiny cave that you can swim in are just picturesque, but too bad I wasn’t able to take photos inside though.

on the way to the small lagoon.. .

the small opening that you have to pass to get inside the lagoon

And at night we stay at our base camps, these are the places where only Tao is allowed and it’s either that Tao’s owner Eddie bought some part of the land or he knows the owner of the place (it should be noted by the way that Eddie along with Jack are the people behind Tao and both guys run the company). On our first night we usually stay in the Tao Village in Cadlao Island where Jack has a house with his tiny pet monkey. Plus if you’re really lucky then you might be able to see the very shy manatees who they say are present in Cadlao! And if we don’t get to stay in Cadlao, we take shelter in a place we fondly called ‘the Farm’ (and in a few months, true to its name it will become a real farm with all the organic stuff the guys at Tao have planted and will plant and raise there). The Farm is the biggest camp we have so far and it has one of the most beautiful sunsets ever and couples always do photo ops furing sunset.

Tao Village in Cadlao Island

fisherman’s wife whom Tao trained to be a masseuse for extra income

long stretch of white sand beach in Cadlao

the Farm in Pangaraykayan, El Nido

a luxury suite consists of a mattress, blanket and mosquito net.. .

picture perfect sunset in the Farm

coconut juice and meat in the morning with Redjie masterfully breaking it in half, yikes!!!

But it’s not always swimming, snorkeling and lazing under the sun everyday because for those who’d like an adrenaline rush even for a very brief moment then there’s always cliff jumping (I know it’s nothing like skydiving or base jumping but the rush still gets you, I promise). We have spots like Pinagbuyutan Island where you have to climb past a bird’s nest guard’s house which look like it’s made of sticks and ready to collapse anytime you put much weight on it and having passed that you’re now in a deciding moment of whether to jump 12 meters down in the water (which may not seem much but trust me, when you’re there at the edge it’s a pretty scary height) and which you wouldn’t have a choice of course because you wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of climbing down those rocks rather than a 3-5 second jump huh? And if you want an 8-10 meter jump then there’s always Brother Island which has a view deck that you can hike from shore and get to jump on the rocks below the view deck. It’s where I had my unfortunate accident, all for the love of cliff jumping (and again that’s another story to tell.. .).

Pinagbuyutan cliff jumping, notice the house of sticks on the left?

Ryan, one of the craziest guest we had wanted to do a back flip but it was too dangerous with all the rocks below, so he settled for this jump instead.

Aside from chatting with guests or clowning around the boat, a really fun part about the trip (and this happens a lot) is when the crew starts to show off their singing when there’s nothing left to do on the boat or while it’s cruising to the next destination. Hand them a guitar and they’re good to go, plus some of them can really carry a tune like Mak whom we tease as a ‘ladyboy’ because he’ so good at acting as one!

Redjie, Wasuy, Mak and Chance

An international doll collection they say with two Filipino hunks – Den2x and Captain Bogart plus a Filipina beauty of course, ahem! ;-)

I have too many favorite spots in the El Nido area of the expedition including our Tapiotan camp which I failed to take a photo from the inside because it’s like enclosed (almost) by these rock formations and only small boats can get inside but are not allowed because it’s our private camp (it was bought by Eddie a year ago or two). There’s also Daracuton where Tao built a school as one of their social welfare projects, it’s also a great snorkeling spot especially the wreck from the 2nd World War which is not far from shore.. .

photo from the inside of Tapiotan camp

climbing up and down the rocks in Daracuton – destination nowhere!

Diapila is also one of my early favorites, it’s a small town which consists mainly of families from Bantayan, Cebu  and imagine my delight when I got to speak my local dialect again (Cebuano/Bisaya) when we get to roam around the town  and interact with the locals. The beach there is like Boracay, white sand stretches far enough beneath the very clear waters but without the flocking tourists of course.

the beautiful seaside town of Diapila

I know that El Nido has flocks and flocks of tourist who come and go, let’s just all hope that it won’t be turned into a circus soon and that they’ll still be able to keep that small town charm. And with that I’ll probably end part one of the trip here, will be writing the Coron adventure real soon!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

the sea nymph is baaack!

So I’ve been back since last week from my stint with Tao Philippines for the summer and I’ve been having a hard time writing a blog about it since there are too many stories to tell and a lot of gorgeous gorgeous photos to show during my month and a half stay with them. I need not reiterate what Tao Philippines is all about since you can just easily click on the link and check it out (plus the site will ‘wow’ you for sure!). Much to your dismay, this is not the blog about my whole experience there, let’s just say that it’s a ‘teaser’ and that a more in-depth blog on it shall be posted soon because I have to gather my thoughts first since countless beautiful and crazy memories are all over my head and much time is needed to put everything in order. And I leave you now with a collage of some of the places that we went to on our 5-7 days expeditions on Northern Palawan. Just keep posted for the coming blog!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

Off to see the wizard.. .

I’ll be leaving Cebu today to work in another island paradise, it wasn’t an easy decision but with my numerous dreams – well, I had follow one of ’em. It will be hard leaving my comfort zone where there’s always an easy access to my family and friends but being away to an unfamiliar place just rouses my sense of adventure even more. I’m excited and all ready to face this new chapter in my life and hey it’s still comforting to know that I’m just a plane ride away anyway. And although I may be very busy nowadays, I will try my best to give updates and find time to write, so just keep posted. Cheers!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

In the Land of Mao

I have always been very vocal in my dismay of the Chinese government in relation to conflicts in Tibet and other humanitarian matters, China no matter how powerful a nation it has become has always set aside issues on human rights. But even if how hostile my views on China may be, I can’t deny the fact that I have always been amazed with the country’s history on civilization along with it’s magnificent ancient structures plus the inventions of gunpowder and fireworks, paper making, the compass and to everyone’s surprise – the pasta (since pasta has always been synonymous with Italy or so we thought). And as good fortune may have it, I had the chance to visit Beijing, China for a few days last March 2011 with my Maaa and her friends and dealing with the cold (since it was still winter, although it didn’t snow that year) was mostly what we had to battle with the whole time we were there because coming from a tropical country like the Philippines where it was so sunny before we left, an almost 0°C temperature slapped us in the face the moment we got out from the airport at 1am in the morning. And to think I was just wearing a grey tank top over my coat while the cold still managed to sneak in my feet even with my thick socks and Chuck Taylor’s. So we managed to stay at this very affordable family-owned one-storey hostel within the city, it was a very old place reminiscent of those houses in old Chinese movies where they fight kung fu and break all sorts of things, the place was really neat and they even have a cafe in the middle which the guests who were mostly young backpackers from Europe hung out to check their email and other businesses (oh yeah, Facebook is banned in China by the way, much to my companions’ dismay). I definitely preferred staying there than some other swanky hotel which would have never fit in our budget anyway, and did I mention that the cafe had this really cool roof deck which I only got to know of the morning after, I bet it would have been a great hangout place during the summer. The only problem I had during my trip there was that Indica 1, my ancient Canon350D refused to function but good thing I brought with me a Lomo Fisheye and a roll of film, thus I had very few pictures to document my trip to Beijing (thank God for my companions’ functional cameras and their camera phones!).

it's a blurrr but you could tell how our hostel looked like

the roof deck I was raving about but it was too cold to hangout in

So we went to see a lot of the tourist attractions that there was to see but I’ll just mainly focus on the ones that are of top interest to me plus the lack of photographs was very disheartening while making this, I could have showed more photos of the different but equally beautiful places there. So first up would be the very famous and definitely one of the ancient wonders of the world, the 2,000 year old Great Wall of China! I just had to tell that the moment that I saw it I had goosebumps all over and it wasn’t because of the cold, it was just so surreal setting foot in one of the places that has awed me since I was young and being a history buff, it was impossible to wipe off the smile in my face.

Well you probably have your facts already about this great structure but let me just pass on to you some few quick facts – 1.) It is true despite all the arguments and controversies, the Great Wall is visible in space but not at all times to the naked eye (think telescopes), 2.) It took more than 20 dynasties to built it (that’s an awful long time!) and 3.) It is the longest fortification ever built, the structure over 6,000km long.

According to BBC News, the Great Wall receives about 10 million visitors per year

The Ming Tombs was very grand considering that it houses the mausoleums of the 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. It was such a huge and very peaceful place and I had to refrain myself from running around like a kid who had just discovered a new playground but it was very tempting. Although it was very far from being a playground and only 2 tombs are open to the public (with one of it 27 meters under the earth), but it never had the feel of a mausoleum when we entered. I won’t get much into details of the Ming Tombs and the other structures since the internet can well provide you with more accurate and fascinating facts but what I can say is that the entire construction was just splendid!

the walk back to the main gate - and that structure right there isn't the main gate yet!

Another site that we visited was the Temple of Heaven and we only got to stroll around the vicinity outside the temple because there was an additional entrance fee to go to the temple itself although it can be seen from the outside, my companions just weren’t keen on paying another fee. But I can tell that it was very beautiful from afar and how much more if we got to go inside.. .

Belle and what seems to be a part of the temple in the background

Since I didn’t arrange this in the order of how we visited the places, we actually went to the Summer Palace before going to the Temple of Heaven and describing the place as beautiful would be an understatement. The Palace was so perfectly gorgeous and grandiose that if it were not for the cold, I never would have wanted to leave the place. They say that the Kunming Lake which overlooked the palace was usually frozen during the winter but that year it didn’t (sign of the changing times huh?), I also had the chance to climb a Cherry Blossom tree to everyone’s amusement, I just had the urge to climb it and I didn’t care much what the Chinese people thought or said to each other when they saw me, I didn’t understand a word that they were saying anyway.

Pilar and Maaa, smiling but cold!

The last and probably the most jaw-droppingly massive and tiring of all the places that we went to was the Forbidden City, I have to say that these ancient Chinese structures wouldn’t have been as amazing if it weren’t for the megalomaniac emperors that they had. Everything had to made in such huge and colossal manner, anything less than that I don’t think they would’ve approved. You’ve noticed that for sure. One of the symbols of Beijing and perhaps China, the Forbidden City was an imperial palace and located exactly in the middle of Beijing, more quick facts – 1.) It consists of 980 buildings and covers 720,000 m2, 2.) It houses the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world as listed by UNESCO, and 3.) It was the home of emperors and their households for 500 years. I still can’t believe I walked the whole 961 meters from north to south of the entire place!

you'll have to go through Chairman Mao before you can enter the city.. . love him or hate him, I feel both.

Well, it was one hell of a historical but rather very fun trip for me, I would’ve never appreciated those places as much if I never had a liking to history and an interest in Mao Tse Tung. I promised myself that I would without doubt go back in a few years or so, I trust China when it comes to preserving their ancient structures (and I wish that the Philippines could do the same too – but whatever is left of our ancient structures?). Me and my boys will climb the Great Wall and ‘stroll around’ the Forbidden City while I lecture them on it’s history for sure.. .

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

Dubai Clock Tower

Dubai's Clock Tower

The Clock Tower was built over 40 years ago and is Dubai’s oldest monument, although today it’s just another roundabout in Dubai’s increasing traffic.The Clock is located in eastern Dubai in Diera and was constructed by Overseas AST. The enormous clock was actually a gift from Sheikh Ahmed of Qatar who was also Dubai’s Sheikh Rashid’s son-in-law. The Sheikh did not know what to do with such a large clock, so a certain Mr. Bulard who also had just completed building the Sheikh’s Zabeel Palace made a sketch for his idea on a clock tower. In the early 1960s, the area where the Clock Tower is located today had become an important road intersection so this was a suitable site and Mr. Bulard also suggested that it be placed on a traffic roundabout to protect the tower. It was also one of the first roundabouts in Dubai.

A lot has assumed that the most proper name for it would be the Diera Clock Tower since it was after all located in Diera, but the fact was that the clock was presented to Sheikh Rashid as the ruler of Dubai and not specifically to Diera. It was only chosen because it was an important access point to Dubai in those days and the first significant structure seen upon arriving overland. Unfortunately in 1972, the Clock Tower began to crack and disintegrate so repairs were necessary. Defective material must be removed and the structure to be completely encased in a new ‘skin’, so the Clock was refurbished (said to have been Seiko who did the work) and is back to its former glory.

Coordinates: 25° 15′ 31″ N, 55° 19′ 35″ E


***photo by Rica Uy (Dubai Clock Tower, Diera, Dubai)

References: http://www.dubaiasitusedtobe.com, http://www.wikipedia.com

Paper Flight stories?

          Consequent to the Paper Flight exhibit, I wanted to still make use of the photographs that our friends have sent. I didn’t like the idea that it was only used for that one night event, after all they put in so much effort and time in participating that I felt like I owe it to them and the world to showcase such photos. So I decided to make use of the photos by incorporating personally composed short stories and poetry into it, and if at times I may lose my creative will to write, I may just add some information and facts about the place that may be useful if ever you decide to take flight there. So how’s that? Interesting enough? Expect the first ‘Paper Flight story’ in the coming blogs and tell me what you think about it.


Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

***photo by Phaye Alvar (Sta. Clarita, California)

the Paper Flight exhibit

           We all have that one childhood memory of making paper planes, even annoying our teachers by flying them in class. But gone are the days when you compared paper planes with friends and attempting to ‘ out-fly’ each other by making it fly higher or last longer in the air. Today, paper planes are replaced with those high-tech gadgets that I’ve always find hard to get acquainted with, and the friends? Already mapped all over the globe. So how do we bring back those good ol’ days? That exactly is the main goal of the exhibit. So we asked our friends from all over (unfortunately, we couldn’t find a contact from the Arctic or Antarctica) to take us with them to their place by taking photos of interesting spots in their area with an object that would represent us – this is where the paper planes come in.. .

          The diversity in the photos is just raddd, from the differently made paperplanes (the Origami paperplanes from Japan are a fave!) to the unusual spots where the photos were taken. It just shows that we’ve got a bunch of creative friends! And we couldn’t thank them enough for the time that they took from their busy lives to participate in this little project of ours. This exhibit is for them and by them, it is their exhibit, we are just the fortunate ones to execute it.

Setting up the exhibit - photos and other materials were everywhere, chocolates anyone?

Paperplanes greet the guests at the entrance

We made it to Paris, France

Roamed around Venice, Italy

Skinny dipped in the Bahamas and made love with the sun in Gibraltar

The early bird awardees that night

The place was packed!

Performance art by Kidlat and Bart

Pilar, El and Miranda

         All the love to our contributors, like I said this exhibit is by all of you and we just merely executed it. We hope this wouldn’t be the last and you won’t get tired of participating in our little projects. I’m already racking my brains for the next one, I’m sure another great idea will pop out soon. Let’s just all cross our fingers for next year.. .

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

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