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. 🙂

Through a Daughter’s Eyes: Letter + Stories about Dad

It’s Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there! Most especially, Happy Father’s Day to my very own amazing dad. With this, I’d like to share with everyone little stories or memories I have with my father. I’m also sharing my short letter to him.

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As a kid, whenever I was scared or nervous about something, my dad always tells me to hug him as tight as I could and transfer all my fears to him. And that he’d swim in the ocean for me and wash all my fears away.

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Dad took me to his hometown a lot as a kid. Zamboanga City is about 300 miles away where we lived so we took a lot of bus rides together. I loved how he knew all the places we passed by from years and years of traveling the route. I’d always ask him where we were whenever we were passing a remote area without signs, he’d always have an answer, and it’d be right when I checked the next sign I see.

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My dad drinks. A lot. But when I was younger, I never saw him throw a fit when he was drunk. He rarely goes out drinking with friends. He just drinks by himself in our house and he goes to sleep.

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There was one time when he took me with him to a friend’s house. They were drinking and it was totally fine with me because of all the food. We were sitting on tall benches then. I was a short kid (I still am, by the way) so my feet couldn’t reach the ground. On top of being short, I was also clumsy (still am, too) so I fell off the bench and landed straight on the ground with rocks. Went home with a huge wound on my knee.

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It was dad who taught me how to swim. When I was still learning, he’d tell me to start at one point and swim towards him. As I did that, he’d always move backwards a little bit. I’d always feel cheated. But I truly am grateful that he did that because that taught me to not be afraid of the water.

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Dad also taught me how to ride a bike. He spent hours and hours with me, teaching me, holding the bike while I was finding my balance. I remember vividly the feeling I had when he first let go and I was pedaling on my own.

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I remember the first (?) fight we had. I accused him of not believing in me. He went in my room that night and told me he was sorry for whatever he said.

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I remember the phone call I made to him when I told him I might not graduate as expected on my fourth year of college. I was crying like the world was about to end. He told me it was okay but he did not tell me that when I called, he was already confined at a hospital.

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I think my dad and I have this special connection because sometimes I’d hear him calling me. I’d run to wherever he was in our house and I’d asked him what it is. He’d say he didn’t call me but he was just thinking of me. Weird, I know.

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Dear Dad,

Thank you for everything you did for me and for everything you continue to do for me even if you didn’t have to. I’ve broken your heart a hundred different times in a hundred different ways. I am sorry. I promise I will never stop trying to be a better daughter to you and mom. I’ll make you happy one day and someday you will stop worrying about me. I love you more than I can ever imagine.

Love,

Christie

 

You and I

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One day, we’ll sit together, beer in our hands and smiles on our faces. We’ll talk about how we used to be. You’d tell me about all the adventures you’ve had, the loves you’ve loved, and the life you’ve had.

I’d tell you about all the stories I haven’t told you, the crazy things I never thought I’d do, the beautiful views I’ve seen, and all the loves I’ve loved. I’d ask you more questions than I ever had the chance before. I’d get to know you again. Heck, I’d get to know more.

I always wonder about how it will be when we see each other. Will it be the same us with just a different you and I? Will it be like not a decade passed between us? Will having you beside me be familiar?

Or will we be strangers? Mere faces in both our distant memories. We’ll share the same stories but the people in our stories are different from the ones beside us. Will we share the same awkward hello as the first time we met? Or will we hug each other as tight as we did when we said goodbye?

All these things I have yet to know. And I will continue to wonder until we meet again.

Two Important Things I Learned from a Blogging Seminar

“What did you do over the weekend?”

“I joined a seminar” is not what someone I know would expect as my response. But I really did join a seminar! Anyway, so I attended a Blogging for Beginners seminar by Vic Madriaga of VICMADZ.com held last Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Giuseppe, The Nest.

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A few nights ago, I saw the photo above posted on Sir Vic’s Facebook page on my timeline. Vic Madriaga, by the way, is a multi-awarded blogger, social media strategist, lifestyle columnist, and is one of Cagayan de Oro’s social media influencers.

I immediately thought of joining but, as with everything else in my life, I debated with myself whether or not I should do it. Thank God I was able to cast my second thoughts aside and just went ahead and did it, because while some of things discussed I already kind of knew, I learned two important points I never would’ve learned had I not had a chance to listen to someone who has successfully done it for years.

Share It

I created this blog a year ago in hopes of developing how I write and finding my voice in writing. I wrote on it almost consistently for two months and left it to rut. But here’s the thing. Apart from three people in my life, I haven’t actually shared the existence of this blog. Only the WordPress world knows about this. Well, at least the few people who bother to click on my posts.

Sir Vic emphasized the importance of sharing your blog and not keeping it to yourself, which is what I’ve been doing. In his words, “If you want to keep it to yourself, you can but you have to share it eventually,” (probably not the exact words but you get the idea). I don’t know when eventually will come for me but it will. I promise myself it will.

Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy

Sir Vic openly talked about his struggles as a newbie blogger 10 years ago back when social media still wasn’t a thing and blogging was a relatively new concept. He was so generous to share his blunders and pointed out to us what we should and shouldn’t do as bloggers. (Naks! Claim it!).

Listening to his story has reminded me that indeed nothing worth having comes easy, a construct that is easily forgotten. His success didn’t happen overnight yet he still went for it knowing it is what he wants.

Proof that this happened.

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Photo with Sir Vic. Yay! Certificate!

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Photo with everyone else in the seminar. Both photos are from Sir Vic by the way.

And here’s a photo from my point of view.

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I learned a lot of technical stuff for blogging, too, an area I don’t feel confident talking about just yet, so I opt just sharing these two things. For now maybe?

Attending this event was definitely worth it. Although I’m more into shaping my site as a personal blog, this seminar definitely opened my eyes to possibilities. A new world made possible by blogging.