Thursday, December 08, 2016

FIRSTS | Sun, sand, and a floating bar

I've been to Dumaguete so many times already, but I only recently got to go to Manjuyod Sandbar. I'm always on a backpacker budget when I'm in Dumaguete, and renting a boat by myself or with a small group would be expensive. But thanks to Boen, our friend from Dumaguete's City Tourism Office, I finally made it here! 

And the timing couldn't have been more perfect - Hope, Vida, Andrew, and Natalie could definitely use a quick getaway after the successful re-run of Scharon Mani. My roommate at the hostel, Daiva, invited our other hostel-mates Grace and Tom to join us, making our group bigger. This meant more money not just for the boat, but for food and booze! BOOM!

Dubbed "Maldives of the Philippines," the sandbar is a huge stretch of pristine white sand in the middle of the sea. To get there, we drove (Gino brought his pick-up while Nowell brought his van) from Dumaguete to Bais City's jetty port, where our boat was waiting for us. I'm sadly back to my old "bad tourist" ways so here's two of the few decent photos I took of the sandbar:
I want to live there forever.
We had a lot of beer and rum so naturally, we started drinking almost as soon as we left the port. HAHA! I had a lot of beer to make up for all those months of controlling my drinking in preparation for Artesuave Manila! I was seriously drunk before 2pm, but then again, I've always been a lightweight when it came to drinking. Good times, yo! 

Enting, a.k.a. MacGuyver, was in charge of cooking. We brought pork, chicken, and lamb to go with our puso (rice) and salad. Everything was yummy! It's a good thing I wasn't in charge of cooking - otherwise, the meats would either be raw or burnt. 
That's Cousin Mathieu with my friend Daiva
Good times!
When we docked at the sandbar, I of course went swimming right away so I could work on my tan! The last time I hit the beach was July (Zambales with Erika), so I've really grown pale since. I know my mother wouldn't approve, but I absolutely love being morena, albeit temporarily.

When we were all done eating, we all had even more drinks on the sandbar, with Nat's cooler serving as our floating bar (we lost the cover because we all got too distracted by arm wrestling, oopsie!). The beer was warm because we ran out of ice, but I didn't mind it at all - I was too busy living! In the sandbar drinking circle, I was seated beside JP who's also not (yet) a Dumaguete local, and he and I both agreed that back home (Quebec for him, Manila for me), we couldn't exactly do stuff like this - on a Wednesday, no less!
These guys make car trouble fun!
Poor Cousin Mathieu!
On the way back, we had some car trouble, but because I was with the craziest gang in the world, even THAT was freaking fun. Cousin Mathieu was knocked out, so of course we had to "look out" for him. HAHA!
The drinking didn't stop in Bais, though - when we got back to the city, they went to Enting's house for more. Haha! I stopped by the hostel to take a shower, so I just followed them at the next stop - 7-Eleven! I gave up after a few shots, though - I could already feel my entire being rejecting the alcohol. I got me a massage, and I got so sleepy that I ended up skipping Reggae Wednesday in Hayahay. Well, I think we all did.

I wonder where I'm going next with these guys. Anywhere's fun with them and a lot of beer! Haha! 


Monday, December 05, 2016


Just last month, I went to Dumaguete to watch Scharon Mani, a play co-directed by my friend Hope (that calls for a separate blog post). Since I have friends in all the right places here (hello, Natalie, Andy, and Vida! HAHA!), I got to watch the tech rehearsal. It was there that I met Hersley Casero, a phenomenally talented painter who recently wrapped up his solo exhibit, titled Sanctuary.
He had a copy of the brochure for Sanctuary, and of all the pieces there, there was one that really spoke to me: it's called Wanderer, and here's a photo of it:
(Photo from Hersley Casero's Facebook account, taken during the opening of his exhibit)
When Hersley shared with me the inspiration behind this painting, I got a sh*tload of goosebumps - I could have sworn he painted ME. I'm a wanderer - the type of person my friends would never see again except in photos if only travel were free. And I'm almost always in shorts, since I usually find myself in warm places. Haha!

The head is a hermit crab. To the unfamiliar, a hermit crab is a decapod crustacean that switches shells (its very home, which it brings everywhere until it's too big for it) as they grow in size. According to Hersley, wherever the wanderer goes is home - and that's exactly how I feel when I travel: I'm never homesick, because I am home wherever I am. In the words of the late great Prince, "I live in my own heart," which in this case is the proverbial shell of the metaphorical hermit crab.

This painting could be anyone, I know. But what really freaked me out a little (and amused Hersley) are the stars painted on the back of the subject. Hersley said they represent the constellations - and if you know me or if you've read it in this blog, you know that I have a Capricorn tattoo on my back. At that moment, I swore that when the time comes that I have a shitload of money, I will track down who bought this piece and beg him or her to sell it to me.
The artist's sanctuary
I visited Hersley's studio ("The Bakery" in Foundation University) the next day, and again I was floored at this young artist's vision. He's currently experimenting with new concepts and methods, and I'm sure that he will wow the art scene anew when his new collection comes out. I can't wait to see it! Congratulations, Hersley, and I hope that you continue creating - your work is a gift to the world.


Thursday, December 01, 2016

FIRSTS | I'm not made of glass

Last October, I decided to try competing in jiu-jitsu (I joined Artesuave Manila, which I also co-organized). I'm turning 30 this month, so I figured I had to do it before I hit a milestone year (in other words, before I have to join the Masters Division, haha!). There were only two of us in our weight class, and in our best of three battle, my opponent, Denice Zamboanga, won two matches straight, both via armbar. 
#FightTitaFight HAHA! I love this photo!
(Photo by Torogi MMA)
Since I didn't win, my friends and teammates naturally gave their respective versions of the "feel better" pep talks. While I appreciated their words a lot, I also didn't really need consoling because all I really felt after the matches was sheer, unadulterated happiness.
"Silver Lining" HAHA! Congrats, Denice!
I didn't win, but I sure as hell didn't feel like I lost. I walked away with a silver medal ("silver lining," according to one of my advertising bosses, John Tan. LOL!), a super cute Commercenter X WeWillDoodle goodie bag (which had passes to Commercenter Cinemas, a GC for one month unlimited yoga at Evolve Yoga and Fitness, and a can of Old Spice deodorant spray, whaddup!), and the affirmation that I am not made of glass.
I hated doing this drill at training, but it sure as hell came in handy at comp.
(Photo by The Food Grappler, Third Guevara)
No excuses - Denice was the better fighter, and that's why she won. But my journey isn't about beating her or any other opponent on the mats - it has always been about me fighting my own demons. And on that day, even when it was her hand that was raised at the end of our matches and not mine, I felt incredibly empowered. I conquered a daunting opponent: the voice in my head that tells me I can't do it.
Why do I get the feeling that Franco's fighting the urge to coach me? Haha!
(Photo by The Food Grappler, Third Guevara)
In the words of Toffy, it takes a lot of guts to fight, and stepping up to the challenge is, in itself, a win.
Partial fam photo
Dunno where to look!
(Photo by Sofia del Carmen)
The journey to my first competition was far from easy, but I'm lucky because I had a lot of help. Coach Myron and the rest of the gang at Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Manila (#MDS, bitchezzz) top that list - they really put in a lot of effort to help me prepare. From my old home court, Deftac Makati, I have Bryan (pre-training drills, yo!), Boks, Omai, Aris, and Lino (we did it, bro!) to thank, and of course, the rest of DEFTAC Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Philippines. I couldn't have done it without them backing me up.
#EverydayStrong, yo!
Kirk, Coach Barbie, and Coach Bryan of Functional Fitness Makati whipped my old ass into shape with the baddest conditioning routine - thank you for making me stronger and better.
The Core Team. :)
My Triumvirate Fighting family - Franco, Alfred, and Jeboy, plus Kuya Jay - took care of most of the tournament requirements so I can spend more quality time on the mats. And for the production side, I have my Stratminds Events family - Lendro, Clark, Iris, JC, Ian, and the rest of the crew. They all made it possible for me to sign on and compete, and I'm grateful to them for it.

I'll definitely compete in jiu-jitsu again, although I'm not sure when as I've set my sights on another goal (involving knives, haha!) and on joining Duelo (a tourney for arnis organized by my brothers in Carlos Hermanos). For now, I'll relish in this personal victory as I take a swig of my ice-cold beer.


Monday, November 28, 2016

CREATIVITY | The Duma tradition continues

Since the first time I flew to Dumaguete back in 2011, I've been getting at least one tattoo per visit. Except for the Capricorn on my left shoulder and the Fire Tiger on my right leg, all my Dumaguete tattoos were done by my go-to artist, Karla Rosales. I flew to Cebu and then headed to Dumaguete last November 16 to watch Scharon Mani, a play that my friend Hope co-directed. And because it's tradition, I contacted Karla for another tattoo.
Painfully worth it
This time, I got a modified version of the DEFTAC Manila logo, sans the team name. I loved the skull since I first saw it; at that moment, I decided I wanted it tattooed on me. I remember thinking that I would want that exact skull on my skin even if I were from a different team, haha! Our teammate Trolls is the mastermind behind it. The detail is just amazing, and I knew that I could trust only Karla with such an intricate design.

When we discussed the design over Facebook Messenger, I told her that I wanted to change it up a bit, so it wouldn't only be about the team. I loved the design because it represented a warrior, and I like to think of myself as one as I've weathered through much in my lifetime. I have a specific set of weapons - my mind, represented by the skull, itself; the fountain pen, which is my writing instrument of choice; and the knife.

Tita Margie, my friend Andrew's mom, pointed out that the earring, too, is a "weapon," and I suppose she's right. It may be an afterthought, but I think the earring is a representation of my strengths as a woman.

I'm really loving this new tattoo! Thanks again, Karla, and see you on my next Duma trippy! :)


Monday, October 24, 2016

WELLNESS | Sh*t just got real

It was competition season when I first enrolled in DEFTAC Makati back in January 2015, which meant I inadvertently signed up for comp training. I'll be honest - it was AWFUL. At the time, I was grossly out of shape and I smoked a lot, so I wasn't exactly cut out for a rigorous training routine. Our coaches, Joel and Boks, were considerate of newbies.

Despite that, however, I still tried to push myself to do what my teammates are doing (I didn't always succeed, but whatever). It's not about pride, but rather about being one with the rest of the team, specifically the competitors. They're working their asses off to get ready, and as their teammate, it's my responsibility to help them out.
Poppin' my comp cherry.
Now that it's my turn to prep for comp (YUP), I appreciate that my teammates are all pitching in to give me a hard time. HAHA! But seriously, I'm grateful that Coach Myron and the guys go out of their way to help me get ready - not just by handing me my ass every time we train, but by giving me pointers as well as encouragement.

I also love that Kim from BAMF HQ and Tania from AIC also cross-train with us, because I learn a lot from them. And of course, there's Bryan from Makati - the best drill partner ever! And speaking of Makati, I'm also doing strength training and conditioning in Functional Fitness Performance Center with the super awesome Coach Barbie!
Coach Barbie! :)
We didn't really have a lot of time to get me in shape, but Coach Barbie and Kirk designed an awesome program that makes the most of the limited time. We focused mostly on improving my core strength, but the circuits also got me working on my endurance, agility, and power. I die a little after each session, but it's all worth it! The program is specific to the sport and to my body type (deformities included, haha!).

Although this side training is primarily intended to help me out in the competition, I have to say that I'm also reaping the benefits of a stronger, healthier physique beyond the mats: I can walk longer distances (with heavy bags of groceries to boot!) without getting tired, I actually am able to focus more when I'm working on cerebral tasks, and I make healthier food choices (maybe because I don't want to put my workout to waste!).

I'm not closing my doors to competitive BJJ after Artesuave Manila, but at the moment, I'm not really thinking about the next BJJ comp as I've already set my sights in joining a tournament for another martial art in December. But I'm really considering continuing my personal training program to help me prepare for that, too. And I'd love to keep working with Coach Barbie.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

CREATIVITY | A new go-to playlist

We haven't seen our teammate Matt (Coach Myron's brother) at all since he started his OJT waaaaay up north a couple of months back, so when Myron told me that he's in the city and they were gonna have a few beers at home, I asked if I could tag along. Haha! He said yes, so we got beers and chips from Mini Stop and shared a sh*tload of stories and laughs for a few hours.
(image from the internet)
Matt was in charge of the evening's background music. At first, I didn't really pay much attention to what was playing - we were all so busy catching up. But OHD's "Priorities" came on, we had to stop talking to appreciate the music. Yup, it was that good. And that's when we started to really listen. The YouTube channel is Holy Chill.

As the name of the channel implies, the playlists assembled there are perfect for chillout sessions. My favorite playlist is Jazzy / Soul, which has now become my go-to playlist for anything and everything I'm doing - whether I'm working, writing (like right now), picking up groceries, or doing my laundry, this is my jam!

Have a listen, folks!


Monday, October 17, 2016

LIFE | Fighting the stigma

Last September, I got a random tweet from my college blockmate, Ceres. Her friend, Janella Lacson, was looking for tattooed women to be part of a campaign for Tribal Gear, a local apparel brand. I tweeted back to ask how I can help, and they said they needed to sit me down for a quick interview about my tattoos and how society perceives marked people.

I was supposed to be in Zambales on the day of the shoot, but I had to scrap my beach getaway plans because of the flood situation in my condo. But I guess my mini-misfortune led to something good in the end, so I'm not all too sore about it now despite the major inconvenience. :)
Thanks, Direk!
When I got to the studio (Shooting Gallery in Zapote, Makati - love the place!), I got to chat with Direk Janella and her Production Manager, Carmela, before the interview started. They asked me about my tattoos, naturally, and I told them about how my friend messaged me after she read my Facebook post about answered prayers to say, "Ang bait mo pala kahit ang dami mong tattoo." They told me that I had to repeat that story when the cameras were rolling, so I did. Haha!

On the surface, a remark like that should be offensive, but because it came from a friend who's kinda old school, I didn't take it personally. Besides, her statement is an indication of a much bigger problem, which is society's perception that tattooed people are up to no good. While I can't exactly claim that I'm a good person (I will give myself credit for trying), I'm sure that I'm not a bad one, either (at least not thoroughly).

But whether or not I'm a good or bad person has nothing to do with my tattoos. My inked skin does not make me a bad person, just as another person's immaculate skin makes him or her a good one. What makes us good or bad people are our actions and our choices.

I'm glad to be part of this campaign, and I do hope that in lending my voice to Direk Janella and the rest of the Tribal Gear team, I get to help break the stigma that society has on people like me. Can't wait for the videos to come out! :)