Tagum City: Of Tests and Side Trips

Let me just start this off by saying that the past week has been A LOT!!! I was neck-deep with stress. It was unexpected, the kind you want and hate at the same time. And it was truly, truly worth it. So worth it that no matter how everything turns out, I’d still look back at it with a smile.

So a few months back, I enrolled to study the Japanese language and finally the dreaded Japanese Language Proficiency Test has come and it was time to head Davao City where the exam will be held. My classmates and I, along with our Sensei, hopped on a van to drive for hours to Davao City. But instead of staying in Davao City, we opted to drive further to Tagum City to stay and visit at our Sensei’s place.

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Tagum is a city and the capital of Davao del Norte. It is about two hours away from Davao City itself, give or take. For some crazy reason, I pictured Tagum to be a “small” city. But then again, I have wonky, unreliable imaginations, so forgive me. 😀

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The looming horror of the much awaited and equally dreaded exam did not stop us from going out for a sight-seeing with the very little time we had. Mesmerized and intrigued. That’s how I felt the entire time I was there. I don’t know whether it was because of the breezy, cloudy afternoon (a welcome balm from the heat in CDO), the fact that I was in the company of great friends, or it was purely Tagum’s charm.

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One of the stops we made was to their city hall, a magnificent thing of beauty. It was wide and spacious, exuding a sense of power and might with its grandeur. I especially loved the long stretch of paved road, lined with towering palm trees that led to the city hall. Definitely Instagram-worthy. And if I hadn’t been afraid of getting hit by a vehicle and embarrassing myself in the process, I would’ve asked for my photo be taken there.

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The other place we visited was Energy Park. A huge area with lots of trees, perfect for afternoons with family, friends hanging out, and couples on a date. The park also rents out bicycles which one could use to ride around the park. You could walk around, of course, but it’s twice the fun when you’re on a bike, riding around pretending like you’re a worry-free eight-year-old again.

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Tagum is also home to the world’s largest holy rosary, which we didn’t have a chance to see as apparently the place only opens on Sundays and we were there on a Saturday. Bummer. But hey, next time maybe? 😀 Anyway, it was getting dark and was just about time for dinner so we headed to The Palm City Food Park. I’m not a fan of food parks mostly because I’m a very indecisive person and I get dizzy trying to decide what I want to eat. I loved it there though! It was indoors so the occasional unexpected rains are a non-issue, yet it was also open air so it still that outdoor vibe, which was terrific. Its ambiance was cozy and very welcoming. And hey, they had these light-up chairs which were pretty cool. 😉

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Overall, the whole trip was fun and memorable. The only sad part about it was we had to cancel the side trip we planned to Samal Island as we had to be in Cebu shortly after the JLPT exam. I loved Tagum and how spacious it seemed and I felt like I was so near the skies there. I will cherish the time I got to spend with classmates turned friends. Also, the van moments were simply one of the best. On the way back, somebody suddenly started singing with a portable microphone karaoke-style. Hey, you can’t help but sing along. Of course, I’d also never forget my first-time ever taking an exam without a word of English in the test itself and the headache I had after and during the test. 😀

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The couple days prior to the trip were somewhat insane and it was as if the universe wanted me to move heaven and hell to make this happen. And so by the time I got on that van, I was just like, “Whatever, let’s get this over with.” Surprisingly, I had fun. Really had fun. I guess it was just nice to get away for a teeny, tiny second. To discover and learn about a new place, to laugh as if you’re beyond all your worries. To realize that some things are not there anymore, in a good way. Very good way. 🙂 So all in all, I’d say it was an unexpectedly wonderful trip. That is why I’ve decided to no longer stress about this. (Well, I won’t stress about it for as long as I can. Knowing myself, I will stress about it. Eventually. But I’ll save that for another day). So pass or fail, life is great. 😀 I’m leaving it all up to a higher power.

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Dog Café: A piece of Heaven on Earth

Feeling stressed out? Go pet a dog. Overwhelmed? Hug a dog. Whatever it is, a dog can make it better. So last Tuesday, I went to a dog cafe with a friend to pet and hug as many dogs as I can. I’ve seen and heard about dog cafes from the YouTubers I watch and thankfully there’s one in our city.

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It’s called the CGY Dog Cuddle Cafe here in Cagayan de Oro. For just 70 pesos, you can play with their dogs for an hour. Good deal, right? Totally!!! Since we went on a weekday, we were the only ones there so we had the dogs all to ourselves. No competition. 🙂

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And, of course, because it’s a cafe, you can order food. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, which I wasn’t too crazy about but hey, I went there for the dogs so I guess it’s okay. Oh, if your order sums to at least 200 pesos, you get to spend an additional half hour there.

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If you’re a Kagay-anon by any chance, you should absolutely visit them. They’re located in Kauswagan. You could also check out their page here. But wherever you may be, you should totally make some time for dogs, whether in a cafe or not. Anyway, too much blabbering, here’s a dose of cuteness for this crazy world to see.

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I think the staff said they had about 30 dogs there. But because I’m not a very good photographer (haha!) and I only used my phone, it was a bit difficult to get decent photos of all of them. With them running around and all. 😀 Some dogs were in their kennels when we went though, I think it was their quiet time.

Overall, I’d give the cafe an 8 out of 10. It could use some improvements here and there but I think it’s really great that the owners, whoever they are, put up something like that. It was a nice place to de-stress and, you know, let a dog’s unconditional love, even for a stranger, heal you. That’s it. Bye!!!

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Something Random

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I’m the kind of girl who prefers planned things, so I very rarely do something out of the moment.

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Last Sunday, about a week ago, K and and I went on a random morning hike. Well, more like a walkathon. The plan was only to go visit our dead relatives in the cemetery, but somehow we ended up X kilometers away from civilization. And being almost devoid of any sense of direction, I started getting pissed because it started feeling toooo far away.

You know that feeling where you still have a long, long way to go but it’s equally as far to go back? The sun was already so high up, I could feel it pricking my skin. I was wearing the wrong shoes so it was a nightmare stepping on rocks. But it felt good!

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The view of the sky and mountains were amazing though my phone camera would never do justice to it. It was a pleasant change of scenery compared to the malls and buildings we’re used to.

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Officially promising myself to do more of this at the right time of the day and with proper shoes. 🙂

Life Lately: Finally Freed Myself

Hello there! It’s me again! 🙂 So I’ve broken the promise I made to myself of keeping my blog active for the whole year, but as it is, the last entry I made was last October. Sorry, self. 😦

Aaanyways… life for me has been somewhat craaay. I’ve recently graduated from the TESDA NC II Caregiver course I took. Well, not recently, last October. Hahaha!

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Since then, I’ve been pretty busy juggling my regular job and doing the required OJT or training for the course. We’re required to train at four different institutions. I’m done with two so I still have two more to go.

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And on another note, I had my birthday on the 5th of this month so yaaaaaay!!! I’m officially 29 and just less than a year before I turn 30. Not so thrilled about that part though! 😀 I spent the whole day that day in an orphanage, which I think was probably one of the best ways I spent my birthday. And of course, as expected of me, I spent the night drinking away. Sadly, I don’t have decent enough photos on that night except for this bowl of peanuts. 😦

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Last and most important update of all, I finally did what I’ve long wanted to do: confront the past and talk to the one person who haunts me. The thought process and events leading to it has been kind of insane and involved a couple meltdowns from yours truly, finally I took everything as a sign from the universe to just do it.

It wasn’t easy. You know that feeling of being so nervous you can feel your heart beating? It was more than that. I could feel my heart beat, my hands shake, and it felt like I was about to faint. And I had to stare at a note I wrote before I just closed my eyes and did it.

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Two things I realized on this experience. One is that God answers prayers but not without a huge leap of faith from you. Imagine, I’ve asked this for a long, long time and when the opportunity came, I seriously thought of letting the chance go just because I was too scared. Two is that sometimes the most terrifying experience can turn out to be the most liberating one.

It’s nice to be free. 🙂

Well… That’s it for now! Until next time! Bye!!! 😀

Days Like This

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I long for days like this

Sky covered up in clouds

Cold breeze on my skin

 

I long for days like this

Knowing life isn’t perfect

Yet I’m not falling apart

 

I long for days like this

Keeping my anxiety at bay

And not losing myself

 

I long for days like this

Where life’s uncertain

Yet there’s burning hope in me

 

I long for days like this

Where I may not be happy

Yet I’m not in a pool of tears

Here’s to more days like this

***

 

 

First Time Visiting an Elderly Home

“Some students get emotional and cry when they visit.”

Those were the words of one of my instructors in the caregiver training course that I’m currently taking. I laughed it off at that time not knowing I’d be one of those students.

“Grabe pud ni si Ma’am,” I said to myself.

It was a few weeks ago when our Care for the Elderly module came and our teacher decided to bring us to St. Joseph’s Golden Home Foundation, Inc. SJGH is a non-profitable foundation serving as a home for indigent and abandoned Filipino men and women aged 65 and up. It is, I believe, the only elderly home in the city of Cagayan de Oro.

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Up until then, my only knowledge about elderly homes was based on what I see on movies and TV. I’ve never been to one. And if I hadn’t taken this course, I wouldn’t have known about there being one in our city. #CluelessGirl

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Before we could walk through their doors, we were greeted enthusiastically by a very sweet and jolly lady, one of the residents there. Upon seeing the joy on her face, the genuine welcome she extended to us, I could feel my heart swell up for some unknown reason and I started to tear up. I tried controlling myself. I really did.

But before I knew it, the first of my tears fell as I desperately made my way to the back of our bunch. Luckily, I was not alone in taking refuge in the back while wiping tears away. A classmate, who upon seeing the Lola, remembered her own grandmother also made her way to the back in hiding.

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Lola in the middle was the one who greeted us (Hate myself for forgetting her name)

Honestly, I don’t know what it was that made me cry. I had grandparents but, unlike my classmate, I was never super close to them. I went in there completely emotionless. I came out feeling like a different person.

Maybe it was because I expected to see grumpy old people who would love nothing else but for us to leave. Maybe I saw my grandparents and saw how much I missed and how much effort I didn’t make to get to know them. Maybe I saw my parents and my fear of them growing old and leaving me just overwhelmed me.

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And… maybe I saw myself in them.

Old. Alone. No family.

I always tell myself that it’s totally fine to be alone. And a good part of me genuinely believes that. However, that day, I realized that I’m also terrified to spend the rest of my life alone.

Filipinos have a tight-knit, family-oriented culture. I grew up hearing people say that one should have kids so you won’t be alone. I get raised eyebrows whenever I tell people that I’m not sure if I want the package, husband and kids. Parents break their backs raising their children. Yet we have people like the lolos and lolas of SJGH who were abandoned by family and probably by their own kids. Really, this is a sore topic that has no exact and concrete solution.

I guess it was everything. All the reasons written above were what made me cry. You’d think that you’ve accepted the inevitability of old age until you see yourself in the eyes of the very warm lola who greeted you like you were her long lost grandchild. It’s truly heartwarming.

That day, I looked at my parents as if with a whole new set of eyes and I thanked God for them and prayed fervently for more time with them, for a chance to make them happy, for a chance to be a better daughter to them. And that night… I also prayed that maybe, just maybe, somewhere in this huge, chaotic world someone out there is waiting and praying for me.

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 30

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Day 30 – A Song That Reminds You of Yourself

Unpretty by TLC

Year Released: 1999

So this song is about trying to change oneself for someone or society’s standard of beauty. And really… it’s sad and just so wrong. I guess I see myself in this song because my whole life I’ve been told that I’d be prettier if I lost a few pounds or the classic “You’re beautiful but…” And honestly? It’s a nightmare I haven’t gotten away from. But it’s all up to me, right?

My outsides look cool
My insides are blue
Every time I think I’m through
It’s because of you
I’ve tried different ways but it’s all the same
At the end of the day I have myself to blame

***

Aaaand… it’s a wrap! I’ve done it! 30 straight days of blogging for this song challenge. As much as it stressed me out having to post every day, I loved doing this challenge as it made me do a little reflecting and a ton of reminiscing. 🙂 Most of my songs in the challenge are on the old side because for the life of me, I could never keep up with all the trendy and hip stuff in music. Nevertheless, I had fun sharing with you guys the songs that mean something to me! To all those who spent time to read my entries, thank you!!!