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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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!!! 😀

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.

My Happy Project | Vol. 02

Hello everyone. Yay! I finally got around to making another entry on My Happy Project series. I was inspired to do this by The Happy List tag (?). Last July has been hella crazy month for me. I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad it happened, too. It was hectic and fun at the same time. 😀 Without further delay, here’s my list of things that made me happy recently.

*Got Ears Pierced Again…

I’m not talking about another set of piercings though! 🙂 I got my ears pieced when I was a kid but since I’m not a fan of wearing earrings, it just closed as time passed. After so many years, I decided to get them ears pierced again. No photo for proof though. Sorry. Can’t take decent ear photos. 😦

*Fun Beach Activity

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As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m currently taking classes right now. Our class had an event at the beach for our Personality Development module. It was a super long and stressful day because it was all short notice so we went insane with the preparations. I volunteered to make the program for the event and ended up having to volunteer myself to do the opening speech for the program, too.

We spent the whole day at the beach but didn’t really go swimming, which is totally ironic. We just spent the rest of the afternoon after our program singing karaoke and dancing, me swaying 😀 It was a public resort so there were quite a lot of people around the area, who probably thought we were all drunk but we didn’t have a drop of alcohol on us.

Some of my classmates and I didn’t go home until it started raining, so we had to walk under the rain for a couple minutes. It ended up raining soooo hard that there was a power outage by the time I got back to the city. I had agreed to meeting my family that night so they picked me up from somewhere and we went to the mall. That was the first time I went to the mall drenched in rain. The lady guard looked at me funny when she gave me a pat-down. 😀

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*Formal Dinner

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In another one of our modules, we had a fine dining event where we had to dress up and doll up. The stress I had leading up to this event was beyond me mainly because I hate looking for a dress. Hours prior to the photos above, I had a mini meltdown because I hated the dress I got. Haha 😀 But! It all worked out.

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Here’s me getting my hair and makeup done. The MUA put on pink lipstick on me at first. I loved it but somehow I didn’t feel me looking at the mirror so I asked him to change it. Out of all the mirrors in the venue, silly me went ahead to take an OOTD photo in the dark area of the venue. By the way, this is my first OOTD photo, believe it or not. 😉

*Bargain Sandals

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A few days before my formal event, I went to look for the perfect footwear for that said day. It was an awesome timing when we went to the mall because there was a huge sale. Huge as in BUY 1 GET 1 huge. Two pairs of sandals for just 600 pesos, which is around US $12 give or take. Cool, right?!? I got four pairs even though I only needed one. I gave one pair to my cousin (not in the photo) and I gave the gray one to my mom.

I wore the white one to the event which was probably one of the best decisions in my life. JK. Seriously, it was not a mistake choosing that pair. It was comfy and it made a clumsy person like me pretty steady. I was able to dance and run around without tripping over in it.

*Clubbing

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The first and last time I went to a club, I was 16. Ssshhh… That moment I knew I hated it and didn’t bother to go back. However, not wanting to waste my dress and makeup after our formal dinner, my classmates and I went clubbing. It was fun! And I felt free after a long time. I never thought I’d one day dance in public sober but I did!!! And I congratulate myself for that. 🙂

*Socializing

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Class ended earlier last Saturday so we got pizza! I’m not a very sociable person so it’s nice to go out with new people once in a while to bond over pizza, small talks, and laughter. Had a fun afternoon with these people.

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Well, that concludes My Happy Project for now! Those are the recent events in my life. It’s been fun and I had fun writing about it, too. 🙂 Until next time!!! Oh! If you’re interested, here’s a link to my previous My Happy Project entry. Thanks for reading. Bye! 🙂

Know Thyself 3 | A personal growth exercise

Hey! Hey! Hey! I’m back with the third and final part of the personal growth exercise I’m doing. Part 1 and Part 2 are here. As I’ve said, I got this from Pinterest from Misty Sansom. So here are my responses for Questions 18 through 25.

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18. What do you love to do for, or give to others (not an object – something from you personally)?

For someone who likes being alone most of the time, I’d say I love giving others my time. I love it when I actually look for other people’s company because it rarely happens. So when it happens I make sure to make the most out of it to reconnect with people in my life.

19. What excites you?

Pens, books, and booze. And taking top spot on the list would be lipsticks!

20. What do you wish you did more of?

Adventures and travel. I liked being safe too much when I was younger. I wish I had been a bit more open to adventures before.

21. Pretend money is no object. What would you do?

Pack my bags and go where my feet take me.

22. What area of your life right now makes you feel the best? Which area makes you feel worst? Why?

The truth is, there are a lot of areas in my life that make me feel worse right now but I can’t really talk about it yet. The area that makes me feel best would be is the fact that I feel like I’m on track to making problematic areas of my life better. I feel best right now because I feel like I’m headed somewhere. A feeling I haven’t had in years.

23. Let’s jump forward a year. What would you like to have achieved in the past year?

I hope I’d be an NC II certified caregiver by then and that I’m already processing things to go work abroad. I hope this blog would still be alive and perhaps bigger. I don’t know about bigger but I hope I’d be putting better content by then. Haha! 😀

24. What piece of advice would you give to five-year-old you? Sixteen-year-old you? Twenty one-year-old you? Right now?

To 5-year-old me: “Go outside more. Play like it’s the last day on Earth. Sleep early, drink milk. Brush your teeth. Don’t be afraid. Cry less.”

To 16-year-old me: “A boy you like will ask you to stay and change your college plans, have the courage to ask him why he’s asking that of you. Explain to him why you can’t. Don’t shrug it off, you scaredy-cat.” “Listen to Mom about taking care of your skin. She won’t push you about it and you’d regret it.” “Don’t listen to Mom when she tells you something on your cab ride when you’re about to go to Dumaguete. Stand your ground.”

To 21-year-old: “Don’t be too hard on yourself. Forgive yourself. For the love of God, stop punishing yourself.”

25. How do you want to be remembered in life?

Someone who conquered her greatest obstacle: herself.

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Aaaand… it’s a wrap! I loved answering these questions. Sure enough, I feel like I know myself a little more. I did have a harder time answering this part though that I pushed it to the very end of my self-imposed deadline. I think Question 25 was the toughest, evidenced by my one-sentence answer. 😀 But I love, love Question 24. It allowed me to really look back on what life was then and reflect on things I needed to hear then. If someone told me those things, would I have listened? Hmmm. I’ll never know. Now, while I can’t turn back time, there’s still so much to look forward to.

If you would like to answer these questions, feel free to do so. And tag me if you’d like! It’d be awesome to see your answers. 🙂 Thank you for reading!

P.S.

How would you answer Question 24? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Know Thyself 2 | A Personal Growth Exercise

Hey! Hey! Hey! I’m back with Part 2 of this personal growth exercise that I’m doing. If anyone’s interested, Part 1 is here. 🙂 As I’ve said, I got this from Pinterest from Misty Sansom. So here are my responses for Questions 10 through 17.

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10. What are you most afraid of?

I would say I’m most afraid of losing people I love, most especially my family. I don’t know if I have the strength to go through grief if/when it happens. The last time I lost someone really close to me, I didn’t deal with it very well and it wasn’t pretty. I’m terrified of being in this world without the constant people in my life.

11. If life stopped today, what would you regret not doing?

A lot of things. 😀 I’d regret not making more mistakes, not having more fun. I’d regret not living my life to the fullest.

12. Who would you like to connect (or reconnect) with? Why?

I would like to reconnect with Nugget. Not for anything else, just… I want a chance for us to talk again. See what it’s like. Perhaps get some of my questions answered, my what ifs put to rest. And finally, finally close that chapter?

13. What qualities do you admire in others?

I admire one’s strong faith in God. I admire others who believe God’s purpose without a doubt. I also admire spirit and determination. Kindness and selflessness. Those are qualities I would like to have. Of course, I also love and admire one’s sense of humor or ability to make others laugh because it’s really nice to be able to put a smile on people’s faces or just brighten up someone’s day.

14. What practical skills do you wish you had?

I guess it wouldn’t really be considered as a practical skill but I would love to have singing skills up my sleeve. Maybe just enough that I could sing in a karaoke without being conscious about it. I also wish I could cook better. I probably would eventually with tons of practice. I would love it if I could whip up an awesome dinner and people would be all over how great the food was. Haha! 😀

15. Imagine you’re in your 90s. What memories would you like to have? What stories do you want to tell?

I would like lots and lots of memories of beach trips, memories underwater hopefully of me scuba diving. I want wonderful memories from trekking adventures, of majestic mountaintops, lovely sunrises and sunsets.

Of course, I would like to have fun stories like, “I was sooo drunk I <insert crazy thing here>,” or “That insane ride we had in <insert name of country here>.” But one story I would really like to have is the story of how I overcame everything, how I felt so lost in my 20s and then I figured it out and everything made sense. I want stories that would inspire my grand-kids (if I ever have any) to be good people.

16. What is your favorite book/movie/song? Why?

How Could An Angel Break My Heart by Toni Braxton. I love this song because for some odd reason it helps me concentrate. I have an unbelievably short attention span. I jump from one thing to another but this song somehow settles my mind and I could focus on one thing for several minutes longer than I normally would. I just really wish I had discovered this little fact about my brain back in college.

17. If you could make one change in the world, what would it be?

With all the bloodshed that’s going on right now, in a city not too far away from mine, in different parts of my country, in other countries, my heart weeps for all the wasted lives, for children who lost their parents and parents who lost sons and daughters. I wish for the whole world to have peace but peace is such an elusive state. So if I could change one thing in this world, maybe it would be to give every single human being a sense of kindness. I don’t know if it would change everything but I know it would be something.

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So the first part of the questions were all fun but I must say I had somewhat a tough time answering this second set of the questions as it required a little more reflection into what’s in my heart. I especially love Question 15 because it made me realize that there’s still so much I have to do and I want to do. Anyway, that’s it for now. Part 3 will be up soon!

Thank you for reading! 😉