What it is like living in Quezon City- A Cebuana Perspective

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It was August 18, last year, when i moved in to Quezon City after my two month solo backpacking in Southeast Asia. I dreaded it and was feeling uneasy coming over and staying here for a couple of months in the capital due to the bad impressions formulated over the years that life here is not ideal. One way or another, i can say things aren’t similar as how i expected them. And here i will tell you why.

1. It is not true that rallies are everywhere, and happening ALL THE TIME.
No, and i promise you when it does happen, people would be like “if i were them i’d use my vote wisely” or like “these people are so out of their mind, why don’t they just follow guidelines?”. Here in Quezon City, instead of rallies, i see parades and more like a celebration most of the time rather than the bloody battle between civilians and the government.

2. Malls are everywhere. Literally.
They’re like giant mushrooms. However here at QC, we have places like Maginhawa Street, Malingap Street or even Timog Street. These places are food haven. What makes them a point of interest in my opinion is that they give you the ambience of being in the place, not in an artificial location like malls where everything is up for grabs and no place for being still, where time is always running. My favorite is at Z Compound in Malingap Street. I like it so much there, i always make sure my visitors get to visit and eat.

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3. The air is very polluted.
Okay, that is an understatement. There are other cities more polluted than this. But the traffic really is congested, and drivers honks in a way outsiders wouldn’t understand. But i think i found refuge and solace in places like Quezon City Circle and the University of the Philippines Diliman. I happen to live nearby, so i jog daily inside Oble’s territory. I would recommend you to drink the all-naturelle fruit shake inside the campus’ shopping center after jogging.

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4. Lastly, we are not a city of skyscrapers, and it feels more like HOME.
I grew up in Cebu City and have been used to having the best of both worlds, laidback life- with all the nice beaches and mountain thrills within reach, and city life- having all the benefits of “civilization” taking place in our communities. Here in QC, it feels almost like the same. Though mountains and seas are out of question, but the fact that almost 50% of the land in this city is residential, and small-time restaurants and shops are highly encouraged, that is sexy. Living here for awhile doesnt make it a lot strange for an outsider. I feel at home.

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My five months here has a lot of good memories. I learned that a secret to a good life living in a new place is being open-minded to the people you live around and letting the city take you by surprise. This February, i am heading to another city far different than ours here in the Philippines. With my experience here in Quezon City, i can look forward to spending a really good time and surviving Warsaw, Poland very soon!

Top 7 Cheap Places To Visit In Indonesia

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When we arrived at Soekarno Hatta Airport, the main air hub of the Republic of Indonesia, our drive for adventure soared. This archipelago of 17,000 islands is too many that would turn your two weeks as if a couple of days. We travelled the main island from west to east and discovered these amazing places that were worth the money we saved for this adventure. The following are our top 7 cheap places that we think you guys should check out too:

1- Jakarta Kota and Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta 

I think i won’t have to give further explanations if i’ll say there is no entrance fee at all here.

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The first thing you’ll notice in Jakarta Kota are these Dutch architectural inspired buildings all over the place. But what makes it interesting to note are the people you see around, they’re Asians!

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You would surely enjoy lurking around when you have local friends to enjoy it with!

Then the Masjid Istiqlal, the biggest mosque in Indonesia

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Wear the appropriate hijab or head covering if you decide to get in and take a look. Everyone is welcome, but specifics among women needs to be considered, like if you have your monthly period don’t force yourself coming in.

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I didn’t know my scarf could be this helpful.

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These two places were very interesting, aside from they didn’t collect entrance fees. Jakarta Kota is a preserved area of old buildings used during the Dutch colony now turned into restaurants, cafes, and museum. The architectures were a combination of Moorish, Chinese, Javanese and Dutch style architecture. Masjid Isitqlal on the other hand is their biggest mosque. It was the first day of Eid Mubarak when we went there, and a lot of Muslims came to pray including women. For girls visiting the mosque, bring a headscarf to cover your hair, and don’t get in if you have your period.

2- Masjid Agung of Semarang

Guess what, no entrance fee again!

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Let Indonesia take you to Saudi Arabia instantly, without airfare and visa needed.

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Enjoy a hot summer day in the shade.

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Or bask in the pool just like these kids outside did.

This place’s literal English translation is biggest mosque of Semarang. What makes this very unique among other mosques in the whole country is the foldable umbrella outside the edifice, and its Moorish architectural design that will take your imagination to Middle East. Peculiar on this place is their tower. Like the Eiffel Tower or any tallest buildings over the world, this tower also has restaurants at the top. You do not have to pay any entrance fees to visit this mosque.

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3-  Sempuh Island of Malang

It is Indonesia’s Maldives. It is also their version of Krabi, Thailand. But you only have to pay 10,000 IDR for the boat ride to Sempuh Island. You will have to do a one hour trek before reaching its lagoon inside. You will not see any restaurants, cafes or toilet in the island. No electricity too.

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With so much land in Indonesia, water is seventh heaven.

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Beyond these rocks is the Indian Ocean.

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No, you can’t possibly wear bikinis here. Please restrain yourself being the outsider we all are.

We spent one night there with our rented tent and and some cooking materials and food enough for five meals. Finding a place like this in the vast land of Java is seventh heaven. Usually local people go there and the girls wear like overalls- they wear their hijab, jacket or long sleeves, and jeans. If you intend to wear your bikini, you are really going to attract attention and wreck havoc. After our trip there, our local friend told us that on the other side of the island are the den for wild animals like panther and endangered snakes. Sounds fun, eh?

4- Kawah Putih in Bandung

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How could sulfur look so not scary at all?

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With 30,000 IDR (less than a dollar), you can visit this volcanic crater of sulfur in Bandung. When i posted a photo of Kawah Putih on my facebook, everyone thought i went to a beach. The literal English translation of Kawah Putih is white crater. However because of its sulfuric nature, we are only allowed to stay within the crater for 5- 10minutes. Bring a mask with you if you decide to visit this place. You will be astounded when you discover how much that cheap mask costs over there.

5- Lawang Sewuh of Semarang

This Dutch colonial building used to be the scariest place in Semarang six years ago. In English it means a thousand doors building. This used to be the train station of Semarang with its offices and convention areas. A thousand doors because of its several doors per room. It was an abandoned building with ghost stories lurking around, now turned into a tourism attraction. Functions such as wedding photo-shoots, dinner events, etc are being held on this area this time. You pay 60,000 IDR per person, relatively cheap still.

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Come and visit this attraction before the sun sets, you’ll get the best view and the best time to spook your friend.

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6- Borobodur of Magelang

We paid 200,000 IDR because we were not Indonesians, but if we compare it to the entrance fee of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, this one here is really affordable. Amidst the big Muslim population, this is one of the four Buddhist temple in the country. Do not pronounce Borobodur as borodobur for it would mean ass or butt. Our local friend told us that if you chance to have touched the bell inside the biggest bell on top, then your wish would come true. No, we didn’t get to touch it.

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This Buddha is watching over those who come to the temple. Each visitor is requested to be in their proper behaviour.

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7- The House of Raminten in Jogjakarta

This number 7 is so interesting to know that this particular city of Indonesia has recognized the ability of Raminten. This person is the first and only gay personality to be acknowledged by the king of Jogjakarta. He now owns a big souvenir shop showcasing all local arts and crafts from all over Indonesia. He also owns a theatre house and his restaurant has turned to be a success. They said that all employees of Raminten are gays and or lesbians like him.

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See that beautiful batik dress?

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This is Raminten, the Madamme Tussaud of Indonesia.

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One of her restaurants that is full-housed. Delicious food, excellent service and very Jogjakartan ambience.

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We have listed here our top 7, maybe you can add more? Comment and make suggestions.

5 ways to transit Manila the local way; but i don’t really recommend point #1

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I know that Manila is a beautiful city.  In fact the glory that was Spain and America is so evident here. The Intramuros, the Cathedral, etc, are here to let you experience the glory that was the Philippines, and the reigning Manila in the present such as the one in Makati CBD.

But when you are in transit, this place could turn out worst without planning ahead. These are the things you just have to remember to avoid hassle or unpleasant first encounters starting from the airport.

1. Use the taxi from the departure area when in NAIA3.

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Taxis in manila can turn out unpleasant especially when you seemed a little lost in the world here. Based on experience, taxis from the departure area  are generally fair. Besides that, the route at the departure area to the main city is shorter compared to the route in the arrival area. You will pay less, and there is a lesser chance that you will be taken advantage.

 

2. Utilize the shuttle bus service from the arrival area.

imageThere is a white shuttle bus service made available for commuters in the airport at the arrival area. Pay Php20.00 and it will take you to EDSA LRT/MRT station where you could easily get to other interesting places and cheaper. Just look for this white shuttle bus or ask the guards to point out to you the direction of these buses outside.

3.  LRT and MRT can take you anywhere in the city

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LRT can take you back and forth Manila City, the commercial and historical area, while MRT can take you to Makati, the financial and business district of Luzon. There are certain cities i miss out on this generalization, but this is the easiest comparison i can picture out. The airport bus can take you to the Taft Avenue Station, the first station of both LRT and MRT.

4. Decide now, historical places or malls?

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As i mentioned above, the great Manila is the best place to see Spanish colonial evidences in the country. You can choose to go to the Intramuros, called the walled city of Manila; the Luneta Park, a very significant area in the history of the Philippines; or the National Museum. But if you want to just eat out, try the local food somewhere decent, and shop. You can go to Greenbelt, Shangri-la Mall, Gateway Mall in Cubao or any SM stores. You bet one day isn’t even enough if you want to explore Greenbelt. Watch out, you might end up saying that Filipinos are obsessed with malls. Though not really.

 

5. Regardless, trust the local food and savor it.

upvendorStreet foods are definitely a must try wherever you go. And you may reluctantly eat one once in a while. But regardless, try sometime the local food. There are street foods that may not lure your appetite, but definitely try this local ice cream found in UP Dilliman’s Shopping Centre.  Its clean, real fruit flavor, and especially delightful!

 

Where was your last transit experience? Have you been to Manila?

Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo (Omotesando, Harajuku and Shibuya) Part 3

Even while we were waiting for the train, i was already excited to finally be able to step on the famous Shibuya-ku! At this time, a lot of commuters were already lining up. We were told beforehand that if we ride the train in Tokyo, do not be loud, or else you’ll blow their personal bubble space. So you’ll see us very well behave in our photo inside the train.

Shibuya train passing by

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trainOne of the things i was excited about Tokyo is seeing her youths wearing all these unique fashion and some unique items. I’m glad i saw some of them. But we didn’t photograph them, we didn’t want to be rude. So we saw some girls who wore these kind of fashion.

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newest vending machineMom said this is the newest vending machine in Tokyo. Ooohhhh… we can tell! Ha!

And then finally, we saw Hachiko, the famous dog. I won’t tell the story anymore, i guess everybody knows already about it. No? Well, Hachiko waited for his master to come everyday in front of the train station as he often does even when his master was alive. He continued to wait for him despite his master’s death, believing that the master will come back again. Because of this, after Hachiko’s death, the people built a statue in honor of the dog. Everybody loves Hachiko and everyone wanted to have a Hachiko dog.hachiko

Standing from where we’re at, we saw the famous intersection. Our monumental crossing did happen in just two minutes after we decided to move on from Hachiko. We had tons of selfie photos and videos, but to save our faces, i’ll just post a few photos here. Ha!

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crossing the intersection

selfie at shinjuku intersectionAs soon as we crossed to the other side, we saw this billboard saying “Mama I want to Sing”. Oh! Its like a shout for freedom! I want to sinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggg!!!!!! Me tooooooooooo!!!!

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shinjuku3 We decided to ride the train back to Omotesando, where Hotel New Otani is just a walking distance. A friend i met years back was waiting for us to meet me finally in Tokyo. So we were rushing to come back to the hotel as fast as possible.

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Finally meeting Mr. Don!

finally meeting himHe waited for like probably 20mins for us at the hotel lobby, but we had to go up to our hotel room because we had a contingent meeting to hop in to. So i only got to meet him for like 5mins, and it felt awful because i didn’t want to go asap. Thanks a lot Mama Miwako and sissy Natsuko for making this night extremely awesome! Thanks so much also Mr. Don for giving me your time and get to see you in your city for the first time! I hope to come back and spend more time with everybody. And i really hope i will get back to Tokyo again.

Indeed our trip to Tokyo was fated. We came to Japan to represent the Philippines as youth ambassadors for the 40th Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program, a cultural exchange program sponsored by the Japanese government and the ASEAN governments including Philippines. We stayed in Japan for about 2weeks. We were sent to different prefectures. I will talk about the prefecture i went to in my next post. Guess where i went? F U K U I !

Read Part 1 Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo

Read Part 2 Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo

Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo (Omotesando, Harajuku and Shibuya) Part 2

After walking around Omotesando district, my travel buddy Sherisse and I, together with our host mom Miwako and sister Natsuko went to Harajuku district to see where young Tokyo-ites spend most of their shopping.

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We saw H&M, and mom decided to buy us sweaters and scarves there. We got this photo at the staircase instead. They told us that this is where they shop a lot too. The naive me, who have never known H&M actually thought everything here is just splendid!

inside H&MAfter this we started looking for food shops. We found this famous Cafe Crepe in Harajuku. We just took a photo instead and walked around to THE FAMOUS Takeshita Street till we saw this tiny noodle house and had our first authentic Tokyo noodle 😀

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cafe crepe

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noodle shop in HarajukuYou could tell we were like kids, right? Ha! And because the temperature was really getting into me, i decided to wear the sweater we just bought. And realized it still is not enough, while we were walking around. Then we caught the next train for Shibuya-ku.

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walking around Takeshita

train stationWith this temperature, i am stunned with my host sister Natsuko for donning a skirt that night. And so almost all of the young Tokyoites! Wow two claps for them la! Our next destination? Shibuya!

Read Part 1 Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo

Read Part 3 Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo

Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo (Omotesando, Harajuku and Shinjuku) Part 1

Arriving to Narita Airport for the first time was a dream come true. Its nostalgic now to recall how cold it was on that day. It felt like there were invisible air-conditioner all over the place! These are the words coming from a girl who’ve never been to a land of ice.

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yesfightingWe saw all these neat parking areas and apartments just outside the airport.

parking areashousesIt was already dark when we arrived at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo. So me and my travel buddy for this trip Sherisse started our Three-T as soon as possible with our Mama Miwako and our sissy Natsuko.

hotelotaniWe first came to visit the famous Omotesando-ku of Tokyo. I never heard of Omotesando in my whole life. But i saw this free magazine at the airport and took it with me. Omotesando district was featured. So when Mama Miwako took us in for our first night, we went to see it for ourselves.

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kukuruza2Us having photo-op with our sister outside Kukuruza. People line up just to eat their popcorn. Must be very very yummy, yah? But for us, just seeing Tokyo was enough to fill our travel craving.

kukuruzaI saw that locals wore really great clothes. I mean, seeing them wear all these different styles was just magnanimous! Thought the people back home would be put to shame if they see these locals wearing signature clothes daily in their face! Ha! And the architectural designs of the buildings, so crazily beautiful in my eyes!

omotesando like new yorktokyo plazaWalking around with winter season being just around the corner, was freakingly cold for us,coming from a tropical country where we only know wet and dry. So thankful to mom for buying us some sweater and scarf at H&M as soon as we arrived in Harajuku-ku.

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Omotesando was really an eye-opener for me when it comes to fashion. Being there made me want to see for myself other fashion cities like New York, Berlin, Italy, and even London. Hmmm…. well, with my travel buddy, we have just checked Tokyo on our list. Thank you Mama Miwako and sissy Natsuko! See you around again!

Read Part 2 Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo

Read Part 3 Three-T Triple Treat of Tokyo

 

If I could trek all my life, I would!

There’s nothing worth the walk than walking with friends. Isn’t that right?    stunning feet

In this post today, let me show you some proof of great times where i got to lead a few  friends to this enticing river just within my city!

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river trekking

We only need to sweat out for 30 minutes so we can get to the “basin” of the Tin-aw (clear in Visayan dialect) River. Prior to this day, rain poured in so the water weren’t able to live up to its name. It takes another day to make it really “tin-aw”. Regardless of the color, what we were so happy about was that it was all ours to enjoy when we came.

We enjoyed our brunch when we finally got to the first “basin”. We’ve lead several treks here together with my climb-mate Ingrid. The water was freaking cold!

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Just a few walks above the first basin is this second falls which we call the “pitcher”. I guess we just want to remember how important kitchen utensils are in preparing and serving food. One could literally jump off from those stones and not get hurt at all! Promise.

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river

After crossing rivers and mountain borders, we got in to a cave called Igotan, one used by the Filipino natives during World War II to hide from the Japanese soldiers at that time. Today, the cave is officially owned by a family who bought the property and turned it to an attraction only known through word of mouth. Get past the gates, and look forward for a surprise inside!

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cave tunnel

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Yes! There’s a waterfall inside the cave! Awesome. But i had to use a photo we took when we first came in here with another group of friends because the flashlights we bought couldn’t lit up the whole cave at all.

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And what better surprise is it than to bid goodbye to a lovely fellow a long the road as you wait for a jifney to send you back to the city proper? And then get ready for a lechon to grab to satisfy your rattled stomachs!

As you see, Cebu City’s total land area is only about 112.4 sq.km., in which 75% of it is rural, the rest 25% is urban. So, are you up for a trek? Wanting exercise? Cebu can definitely give you one, plus a bonus of surprises!

PS: Click on the links to see what i’m talking about.