Dear Siargao

Indeed, there is beauty in simplicity, but it has never been so apparent to me than in the last five days I spent in Siargao. This captivating remote island is bereft of materilisim, commercialism, and pretense. And while Instagram has painted a pretty reputation for Siargao, this no-filter-needed beach is actually a very modest, unassuming place that perfectly epitomizes simple island living.

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Siargao is known for its waves and people from all over the world have been coming here to surf. But for non-surfers like myself, it’s a place to really get off the grid and just absorb the beach life. Without other more popular water activities, like parasailing, jet skiing, or riding a banana boat, or commercialized recreation spots, we filled our days with island hopping, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and the best of them all, just lying on the beach and basking under the sun. There was also one afternoon that we spent quietly sitting by the beach front, a book in hand, getting lost in the pages and the sounds of the waves. I can’t recall the last time I sat outdoors to read. Days were slow and filled with many hours in the water or in the comfort of silence.

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Top to bottom: Daku Island, Naked Island, Sugba Lagoon, Naked Island

We also spent time going around General Luna and Cloud 9, and that’s when I was even more drawn to the island. Locals don’t own cars and people get around via tricycles, motor bikes, or even just bikes. Most of the food, if not all, is locally made, too. The absence of any fast food chain was a good thing, forcing us to really try as much of the nearby restaurants as we could. My personal favorite is the burger from Barrel– it was juicy, and surprisingly, so tasty! Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the burger because I devoured it as soon as it came–can you blame me?

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Top to bottom: Tacos and gambas from Bravo Beach Resort,Β mango graham shake from Daku Island, burrata pizza from Harana.

Siargao revealed the joys of a modest living. I was imagining myself in the shoes of a shop owner we came across who sold handmade accessories. A typical day would be tending to the store, catching some waves, a quick swim perhaps, and ending the day with a hearty, homemade meal. Nikka and I were contemplating about how this kind of life would be a 180 degree turn from everything we know but it sounded so, so inviting. A roof over your head, a means to earn a simple living, and a beach at your disposal. That’s all?! I ended up reflecting on all the many things that maybe I can actually do without–not only things, but also habits, activities, expectations, and more. So naturally, this got me thinking: in true KonMari style, I might as well declutter my life, not only my closet!

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Photos: Also from Naked Island, Daku Island, and rooms from Bravo Beach Resort.

For all the five days spent on the island, I will confess that I didn’t give much thought about the city life I left behind. The only thing on my to-do list was to eat well, explore, and make the most of the time I had with Poch. Back home we’re usually too caught up in work, errands, and family obligations to just you know, be. There are many times when I’d find myself missing him despite living under the same roof and seeing each other every single day. In this fast-paced world, we really do tend to turn into drones that just do and forget to be.

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For a beach trip that I booked on a whim last December, I didn’t think it would turn out to be an introspective and reflective escape. But, I’m so thankful for the new perspective this island has lent me for even just a few days.Β And so my wish for you, dear Siargao, is to stay the same. Live the same slow life that we all need to be reminded of. Thank you for showing me how much more there can be in a life without.

Trip Details
Accommodations: Bravo Beach ResortΒ (Double Room, Php3,900 per night)
Flights: Cebu Pacific Air (via Cebu, est. Php 10,000 round trip fare)
Airport Transfers and Tours: Siargao Island Tour
For more details about the trip, feel free to get in touch! Email me at mickijosue@gmail.com

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Patience

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At the brink of dawn
The silence stares at me
Challenging my patience
Not yet, she says
For you are restless
You feel uneasy
Surrender to the stillness
Listen to the rising sun
And find peace in what will be done
All in due time
Only He knows when

First of Summer: Coron

The last time I was in Coron was in 2008, over ten years ago. That time, Coron was not that popular. We arrived via a ship that took us first to Bohol then Boracay, with Coron as the culminating destination. My fond memories of that trip included a beautiful set of islands, untouched and absolutely breathtaking.

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Coming back was something I had looked forward to because one, I love the beach and couldn’t wait to be reunited with the sea. And two, Coron was one of the locations at the top of my list of favorite beaches. Pocholo and I had been eyeing it for some time but had never been able to actually book a trip. Luckily, the Perreras family decided that this year’s annual trip would be in Coron–finally, it happened!

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Climbing Up Mt. Sinai

When I found out that we were going to hike up Mt. Sinai during our Holy Land tour, I was undeniably ecstatic. I knew this was something I would probably never be able to do again! Mt. Sinai was where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It was definitely a valuable historical and religious site that I wanted to go to.

We were briefed about the trip before the tour group flew outΒ  from Manila, and I have to admit, after all the advice and precautionary tips mentioned, climbing up this mountain started to feel very daunting–most especially because I’m not a regular hiker.

Here are some of the things they mentioned.

  • It takes a total of nine hours to climb–this is the average for beginners or non-hikers.
  • There are no decent toilets.
  • There are a total of seven pit stops going up where people who feel like they can no longer hike can rest and wait until the group passes for them on the way down. (You can’t go down on your own, for safety reasons.)
  • Each pit stop serves coffee, hot chocolate, and snacks, so the group can always take a break there as well before resuming the climb.
  • There’s an option to ride a camel for about 3/4 of the journey, but the last leg consists of 750 steps up to the peak. Camels are no longer allowed up this last leg.
  • If any of us lived a sedentary life, our tour organizers highly recommended that we start exercising and getting our bodies physically prepared.

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I wasn’t completely inactive, so I prepared by mainly altering my workout making sure I included leg strengthening and stamina building. I did a lot of squats, lunges, weighted step-ups, and running. I also bought entry level hiking shoes for better grip and compression leggings to help with the cold weather.

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3 Small Changes That Are Helping Me Develop Healthier Eating Habits

When the year began, I was determined to start eating healthier. For years, I have been able to incorporate working out into my lifestyle, but somehow, I had never been able to eat healthy.

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One, I don’t enjoy cooking, so I naturally will go for what is convenient if there’s no food at home–fast food more often than not. I also never really watched out for the amount of sweets I ate even if I knew sugar is the culprit for many diseases that show up later on in life. It has been a few months since I started making some effort to correct this, and through small, gradual adjustments and being mindful of my body’s needs, I have been able to sustain small changes that have led to positive impacts on my overall eating habits. Allow me to share them with you.

(1) Becoming a Cold Brew Coffee Convert
Before: My regular order used to be an iced caramel macchiato.
Now: I drink cold brew coffee.

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I liked my coffee milky and sweet. I liked caramel. But, I realized how much sugar intake this equated to. Initially, didn’t like black coffee, so I first switched to iced lattes with less sugar. Eventually, I was able to transition to drinking iced lattes without sugar. Then I discovered cold brew. My first introduction to cold brew came when I tried the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks–I loved it! But since I needed to be more realistic with my expenses, I decided to try buying cold brew concentrate from Type A, and Slurp. I would order in bulk and and just prepare my own coffee at home. It turned out to be the best thing ever! I now drink coffee sans the milk and sugar.

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Returning

There she was sitting at the cobblestone steps,

Familiar but foreign.

When was the last time she was here?

The creak of the door and approaching footsteps.

That smile. A smile that she hadn’t seen in so long.

After all these years,

It still had that warmth, that tenderness,

That silent beckoning whisper to come closer.

Welling up inside, pounding chest,

Into those arms that opened to her.

Some things really will always be.

She was home.

Our Pilgrimage to The Holy Land

I find it very hard to put into words what this trip was like. Whenever people ask me about it, I say it was an eye-opening experience, but I always find myself short of words, unable to fully express what the trip really meant to me. And though words may never be enough, I will now narrate, to the best of my abilities, what transpired during our two-week long journey to Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. Such a trip is definitely worth sharing with all of you. Here goes.

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Jordan

Jordan was our first stop and I came to Jordan with zero expectations, not because of disinterest, but because of lack of knowledge about the country. I was not aware that this place had a lot to offer. I only had Petra in mind as a place to look forward to, but I was proven wrong the moment we alighted from the plane and headed to our first two stops, Madaba and Mt. Nebo.

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St. George’s Church

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Mosaic at St. George’s Church

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