Month: January 2015

Manila Mania: Architecture, religion, and history galore

I confess, Manila has always intimidated me. It, with its jeepneys and pedestrians and ever-present buzz of activity. And the traffic. I’m used to EDSA and C5, but Manila is a whole different ballgame. Thing is, Manila’s the capital of the Philippines. It’s steeped in history. If I wanted to learn more about my heritage, this was the place to start. Plus I really, really wanted to go to San Sebastian Church. So I enlisted the help of my architect friend Macy. We spent last Sunday walking and commuting around Manila, and that was the day I learned to love this city. I finally realized what I’d been missing out on. There’s so much beauty amongst its chaos, so many stories in its worn-down buildings. One day was far from enough time to explore everything it has to offer, but it’s a start. Here are some of the places we visited—and I wholeheartedly recommend you visit them too! San Sebastian Church This right here made the commute worthwhile. San Sebastian Church’s towering spires and bright façade looks so out of place among the …

Meet Celine Reyes, (Fellow) Wanderer and Writer

You know how there are some people whom you instantly have a connection with? That was how I felt when I met Celine Reyes. One early Monday morning, I showed up at the meeting place for the Vamos a Malolos press launch, only to find that I wasn’t on the list of confirmed attendees. Luckily, there was a free spot on the bus. The organizers introduced me to Celine; I sat beside her; and our shared lust for travel quickly brought us past that “awkward strangers” phase. I found that Celine and I have plenty of similarities. Aside from our itch to explore the world, we’re both writers and bloggers. She contributes articles on local travel and food trips to When In Manila and shares her personal adventures on her blog Celineism. We both traded in our steady office jobs to pursue our dream careers, never mind that said careers probably won’t fill our bank accounts. And like me, she aspires to be a published author. Talk about coincidences! “Travel will heal you, one way or another. Indeed, it …

Shake your groove thing at the Malasimbo Festival—now on its 5th year!

If you’re a fan of music, dance, art, and straight-up fun, I’m sure Malasimbo needs no further introduction. But just in case, here’s what you need to know about this epic festival:  1. “Malasimbo” isn’t some random made-up name. It’s the name of the mountain in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, where the festival is held. You don’t have to worry about bringing your hiking gear, though. The revelries take place on the foot of Mt. Malasimbo overlooking the bay. Check out that photo above. That right there is where the magic happens—and it also happens to be outside the home of the D’Aboville family, who spearheads this yearly event. 2. It’s been drawing locals and foreigners alike since 2011. In 2011, some 1,500 people trooped over to Puerto Galera to witness the debut of the Malasimbo Festival. Last year, the count exceeded 5,000 attendees. And we’re not just talking about Filipinos—more than 30 countries were represented! I’m sure they’ll hit a new record this year with all the cool things they have prepared. Catch music acts such as Ky-Mani Marley (Bob Marley’s son), …

Vamos a Malolos: Celebrate Philippine heritage in Bulacan

For the past few weeks, my country has been buzzing with excitement. Why, you ask? Oh, only because the Pope was coming to town. Yesterday marked his arrival and the start of a long—count ’em, five days—weekend. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s the Pope or the vacation that has people in higher spirits. (Okay, it’s probably the Pope). But there’s something else that the Philippines is celebrating this January. I’ll give you a high-five if you can guess what it is based on the photos above and below. It’s the anniversary of the First Philippine Republic, better known as the Malolos Republic. Every year, this Renaissance city of Bulacan comes alive in January to commemorate that time when our ancestors took control of our own country after the long Spanish rule. Did you know that the Philippines was the first country to have a democratic constitution in the whole of Asia and Africa? It was founded here in Malolos, Bulacan! The Fiesta Republica traditionally starts on the 17th and ends with a bang on the 23rd, the day the Republic was …

Starbucks Espresso Confections

I don’t know about you, but I’m always excited whenever Starbucks launches their seasonal drinks. I love the thought of going to a coffee shop that’s so familiar to me and being able to try something different. Last holidays, they changed their traditional red-cup offerings by jazzing up the whip and sprinkles on their Toffee Nut Latte and Peppermint Mocha and introducing the Christmas Cookie Latte, which I really enjoyed. This year, they’re starting on a sweet note with their Espresso Confections—the Chestnut Praline Latte and Raspberry Truffle Mocha. This official photo from Starbucks is so gorgeous, I just had to post it. Check out that cheesecake. Mmm, I can almost taste its rich, creamy goodness. I had the chance to drop by Starbucks after my spa date with my BFF last Sunday. I knew that I had to try the Chestnut Praline Latte. Luckily for me, my friend ordered the Raspberry Truffle Mocha—mostly because she was drawn to the cotton candy-colored whip—so I got to try both drinks in one go.   First, let’s talk about the …

Meet Smarla Angtuaco, Foodie and Cultural Explorer

Like me, Smarla is a twentysomething Filipina with an appetite for travel. You could say that she’s made a living out of it as the food connoisseur of Culture Shock PH, a local travel group that shines the spotlight on the culture and heritage of the Philippines. Despite all the eating she does—which she documents on her blog, Everyday Sweet Notes—she never seems to gain weight. I like to think it’s because she’s so energetic. I’ve known her since our elementary days, and she’s always been such a bubbly, enthusiastic person. And though I’ve never traveled with her, it’s easy to imagine her bursting with excitement whenever she takes off on a new adventure. “[Traveling] exposes you to new ways of looking at things, new cultures, new languages, and a perspective of your life from a distant location, allowing room to see the bigger picture.” If there’s one thing I admire most about Smarla, it’s how passionate she is about exploring our country. This woman doesn’t just travel to see sights. No, she immerses herself in each place she visits and gets …

15 for 2015

I always think twice about putting my resolutions out there, because I never really know if I’ll be able to do them. Case in point, my 25 for 2013, a lot of which I wasn’t able to tick off—such as saving up for my 2015 Eurotrip. But then, I realized that wasn’t the right mindset to have. It’s just another way of limiting myself, and really, that negates the whole point of making resolutions. So here they are. My goals for 2015. No Eurotrip aside, this is my year. I’m claiming it. 1. Establish myself as a writer. Whether I become employed or carry on being a full-time freelancer, I’ve got to build my cred, and that means having an accessible portfolio, giving away business cards, and networking. 2. Take my blogging seriously. I’ve started by finally shelling out money for a custom domain (hello, Wander Write Now!) and a premium theme. I need to keep it up by updating it regularly—i.e., at least twice a week—and putting out interesting, curated content. 3. Share the book love. I’d planned …