Tag Archives: travel

The story of Kagitingan: Looking back to the lessons of History in Corregidor


For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by war – the heroism, the sacrifice, the toll on the human spirit and the lessons behind it. Often times, I would consume copious amounts of books retelling the various stories of war in the Pacific and even in Europe during the First and Second World Wars — devouring page by page by page. One of my favorites was the novel, “Helmet for my Pillow,” written by the World War II veteran and military historian Robert Leckie. Leckie’s book, along with another favorite, “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa” provided vivid recollections about the war and how it took a toll on the life and spirit of the soldiers fighting for the islands, as well as the many people killed displaced and affected by war.  Both books were later on adapted for the small screen and were used as source material for the immensely successful war series, “The Pacific.”


The Philippines is not a stranger when it comes to the stories of heroism during the Second World War. All throughout the archipelago, men died fighting for their homeland. While numerous lives were lost — what remains true to this day is the deep sense of patriotism and the lessons learned from the past. Nowhere is this more celebrated than in Corregidor Island.

Both Bataan and Corregidor are legendary in the history of war. Despite relentless attacks by Japanese forces in 1942, and without reinforcements coming from the United States, Filipino and American troops fought back for several months, from January to April of 1942, after being overwhelmed by superior Japanese firepower and troop numbers.

Corregidor suffered heavy bombardment from the Japanese Imperial Army for five months. Until finally, on May 6, the leader of all US and Filipino Allied forces in Asia, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, led his men in their surrender to the Japanese. They fought as long and as hard as humanly possible. The surrender resulted in 80,000 Filipino and American troops walking more than 100 kilometers from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac where they were interned at Camp O’Donnell. This was the infamous Bataan Death March where out of  80,000 prisoners of war (POW), only 54,000 made it to camp alive.

Today, attractions like the Pacific War Memorial with its Dome of Peace, and the sculpture, Eternal Flame of Freedom can be found in Corregidor in commemoration of the sacrifices and heroism of those who fought there. There’s also the Pacific War Memorial Museum that houses World War 2 memorabilia.  It is now considered the world’s biggest war museum.

PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL. This was built to honor the valor of Filipino and American soldiers who fought side-by-side in WW2, as commemorated through a sculpture showing a Filipino and American soldier. The Philippines and US flags fly behind them, while the Peace Dome can be glimpsed at the back.
12-INCH (305mm) MORTAR on Battery Way.  This weighs 54 tons and fires a huge shell weighing 1,000 pounds. Battery Way has four 12-inch (305mm) mortars. The original mortars (already destroyed by Japanese bombs) effectively defended Bataan from invading Japanese forces. They pounded the enemy that tried to land on Bataan’s Southwest Coast.

As the Philippines celebrates its heroes –April 7th is Veterans Day, and April 9th is Araw ng Kagitingan or National Heroes’ Day — it is good to remember and revisit Corregidor. It has become synonymous with Filipino and American courage and determination in protecting our freedom.

Walking down history lane is made more engaging in Corregidor via the guided tram tour of the island.  Passing through the Malinta tunnel with lights and sounds show that simulates what it was like during the island’s darkest days during the second world war is something that visitors of the island should not miss.

MILE LONG BARRACKS.  Measuring 1, 520 feet, This is reportedly the longest military barracks in the world. During the American Commonwealth and before World War 2, this structure housed some 8,000 U.S. troops. These ruins are all that is left after Japanese forces bombarded the area



MALINTA TUNNEL. This tunnel is 831 feet (253 m) long, 24 feet (7.3 m) wide and 18 feet (5.5 m) high. It served as the residence of Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice-President Sergio Osmena along with their families after they fled Manila during the Japanese invasion. Quezon, Osmena, and their families were eventually brought to the U.S. along with Gen. Douglas McArthur via submarine. The tunnel also housed soldiers, medical personnel, and civilians left behind while Japanese forces laid siege to Corregidor.

Corregidor Island, which is a popular historical tourist attraction in the Philippines, is currently undergoing more improvements following a 10-month tourism masterplan by Palafox Associates.

Now categorized as an eco-tourism site, Corregidor is managed and operated by the Corregidor Foundation, Inc. (CFI) under its current chairperson and CEO, Ms. Cynthia Carrion.  It is strongly supported for development and marketing by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) under the aegis of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The DOT, TPB and CFI jointly manage Corregidor to remind us not so much of the horrors of war but rather, how high a price we must pay for our freedom and how we must all work to keep the peace.

As an eco-tourism site, Corregidor is not just a repository of history but an island full of fun and excitement.  A fully functional beach resort and campsites are available for families and friends to relive history, relax and unwind. Indeed, history is made more fun in the Philippines!

Like always, April 9 is a Holiday – what could be an even better way to celebrate it by setting foot in one of the places where the men and women before us truly sacrificed for the motherland? Going to Corregidor is easy. Head to the ferry terminal located from the Esplanade Seaside Terminal at the SM Mall of Asia Complex.

For more information, go to www.corregidorisland.com.ph 



Singapore Airlines celebrates 50 years in the Philippines; unveils premium economy class 

Singapore Airlines, a consistent top notcher on SkyTrax World Airline Awards, celebrates its 50th year in the Philippines in a star-studded glittery affair held recently at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati.

 The event was graced by notable names both in Manila and Singapore, headed by Her Excellency Kok Li Pen, Ambassador of Singapore to the Philippines; Mr. Mah Swee Wah, Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President for Commercial; Jose Emilio Abaya, DOTC secretary as well as top officials from The Philippine and Singapore governments and executives from Singapore Airlines and its trade partners. 
The highlight of the program was the unveiling of the spacious and luxurious Premium Economy seating, as well as a massive sale for all Singapore Airlines destinations. 

Guests on the activity was treated to a trip down memory line as SIA displays some of its enduring brand iconography, including a recreation of a section of a SIA plane body which was a hit for guests who used it a Sa backdrop on the many selfies during the event. There was also various versions of the famous “Sarong Kebaya” worn by the graceful and iconic “Singapore Girls” (the often endearing name used to refer to SIA flight attendants) 


Taking the time to showcase the best of Singapore, the event also highlighted the glorious and yummy Singaporean cuisine starting off with my favorite satay which was Also complemented by chicken rice, dumplings, the Singaporean carrot cake and topped off my delicious desserts like the ubiquitous mango sago. 

In his message, Mr. Mak Swee Wah highlighted that SIA’s service to Filipino travelers began in 1968 and has since then flourished to accommodate the growing and discerning needs of Filipino travelers. He also underscored that as Singapore Airlines reaches its golden anniversary milestone, the company remains committed in providing reliable and world-class service that is distinctively SIA. 


Ms. Kok Li Peng, the Singapore Ambassador to the Philippines welcomed the continuous and strengthening bi-lateral trade relations between the two countries. 

Singapore, the most progressive country in the region, remains a favorite destination to many Filipinos. Yhe Philippines is the city-state’s top sixth international market for 2010 and 2011 with  678,000 Filipinos visited Singapore that year. Meanwhile, Singaporeans placed sixth among our top visitors here in the country in 2015. 

Adding to the allure of traveling via SIA, aside from its spotless safety record and unparalleled customer service, is the launch of its new premium economy class. 

The premium economy class showcases a 2-4-2 configuration as opposed to the 3-4-3 for economy, with WIFI access and total relaxation since the seat reclines by 8′ 

Get more information about SIA premium economy here 

Well, my world didn’t exactly end (A quick look on my 2012)

It’s two days before we welcome 2013. As expected, the world didn’t go exactly kaput in 2012 — much to the dismay of the doomsayers and “end of the world opportunists”. So what do we do? We dust ourselves from the battles and scars of the past year and soldier on to new opportunities and challenges of the incoming one.

In retrospect, I consider 2012 my very own annus horribilis — for those with dirty minds, annus horribilis means “horrible year” or “year of horrors” in Latin and is complementary to “annus mirabilis” (wonderful year). It DOES NOT mean that I have a horrible ass — with so many frustrations and challenges experienced this year. Whether personal, financial or health-wise, this year challenged every bit of my core and every personal values that I hold dear to my heart. The good thing is that I came out a lot stronger and wiser after the ordeals I have been through this year. I became more focused, more mature and cultured a better relationship with God.

In the interest of positive thinking, I also experienced a lot of good things this year: went to new places, met a lot of new friends and made small steps to make my life better.

I began the year catching up with old friends, while trying to bring enthusiasm to my work, considering how boring the Grindhouse can be. The highlight of the month is taking a leap, throwing caution to the wind and just saying “yes” to the opportunity to go to South Korea with my sister. While it’s not my dream destination, South Korea has always been on top of my go-to list. When my sister’s travel plans with her friend fell through, I was of course, the quick and more viable replacement. So, I threw caution to the wind and applied for a visa.

Spent the month doing the usual: posting about my cats, about my fashion choices, how little I have been eating. But the highlight definitely was getting approved for a South Korean visa! The whirlwind planning commences! (Whirlwind planning automatically transformed to a research fiend and a super travel agent picking out lodging and even clothing choices for the trip)


A lot of things happened: got invited to a fashion show launch and spent a weekend acting like teenagers playing hooky with my college friends, but the highlight definitely is the week-long stay in Seoul. (Read more about it here)




Anyeong Haseyo! - Much Love, from Korea
Anyeong Haseyo! – Much Love, from Korea

April is the month where I started getting busy (with what? I have no idea) and posts have become far and farther in between for this blog site. I was also affected with a series of setbacks with work and with my health. Things were on a downward spiral, especially with my weight, which came to bite me back in the ass each time I enter a fitting room. I started shunning social activities with friends, fearing the usual reprisal of me being fat and still being childless. The month was capped with the passing of my paternal grandmother. Thus, my annus horribilis officially began.

After we buried our grandmother, the family and I decided to celebrate my 33rd birthday
in Baguio
and in Benguet with my sister is based. It was an opportunity to get away from the challenging and sad month that was April and a chance for the family to bond over the exasperation of travel.

God's greatest birthday gift
God’s greatest birthday gift


stolen moments
stolen moments

Money was pretty tight and I started seriously toying with the idea of freelancing — an idea I have come to actually dread the months after due to my busy schedule and constant trips to the doctors. For the rest of the month, I was seriously depressed. I guess it was another of my mid-life crisis hitting me: imagine being in your 30s, financially-distressed and with just a lot of hang-ups to deal with. It was just to much. Meanwhile, the hubby’s gallstone was acting up making him lose sleep and appetite in the process. The pressures I had from his side of the family didn’t help in the situation at all. There are days when I just want to hide in my room and sleep.

The despair about the hubby’s health, the lack of money and the pressures I got from his family continued. It was so bad, I was depressed and sad most days. There were silver lining against the deep, dark clouds like the chance to bond with good friends and reconnect with my paternal side of the family following grandma’s death. I just wanted the month to over and for things to finally pick-up.

Meanwhile, the sister decided to book tickets for the whole family to Hong Kong. Finally, something to look forward to.

The inevitable finally happened — rushed the husband to the hospital after he experienced excruciating pain in his abdomen. The prognosis was not good, he had to be operated on. With just whatever little savings that we had, pure guts from my end and the faith that my health insurance will cover his treatment, I said yes and hired the best surgeon I could find. My company pulled me out of the mess — with health insurance covering all his treatment and operations expenses, plus government health insurance supplementing the remaining operations cost.

in sickness. and in health,

Over all, his treatment reached up to PHP150,000.00 with payment settled by my HMO (PhilCare) and the government’s health insurance. I had to pay like PHP57.00 for some incidentals, but imagine the weight being lifted from my shoulders when I saw the final bill. It was in that moment that I realized that the husband and I pretty only had each other for situations like these. I learned that I had to be a lot stronger — to not rely on the help of anyone. My family was my only source of strength during these trying times as they were with me from the time hubby was brought to the hospital to the time that he was discharged.

Because he had to take a prolonged absence for the operation and to recuperate, the hubby lost his call center job.

Buoyed by my love for travel, I decided to begin a travel blog where I can write about the things that I love about traveling.

The husband did well in his recuperation and on his way to recovery. Meanwhile, in my part of the world, things remained the same. The world continued to play its cruel game on me and I had no choice but just grit my teeth and just soldier on.

After a prolonged absence in blogging, got a nice surprise by being featured again on WordPress’ FRESHLY PRESSED — my second time during my three years of blogging. The feature was a nice surprise, hooked on my desperation to see Japan. Earlier in June, my sister told me that she was able to book cheap tickets to Tokyo and was asking me to join. Knowing that I was broke and with a sick husband to tend to, I told her “no” much to my chagrin and heartache. I tended to my broken heart and toyed with Google Maps in order to see the sights she will get to visit in Tokyo. Posted about it here and got a nice surprise with a FRESHLY PRESSED feature. (Read it here)

tokyo tower, minato
A quick visit to the Tokyo Tower
a nice surprise
a nice surprise

I also discovered my love for Big Bang and bought tickets to their first concert in Manila. On a last ditch effort to bring life to my job, I arranged for a media junket which turned to be heavily-criticized by the powers-that-be including my own boss! I was just so fed up with work! Good thing that there was an upcoming family trip to HK coming up in October.

October was like a piece of oasis in a very dry and patchy desert. Started the month with an adventurous and memorable (in so many ways!) trip to Hong Kong with the whole family. In between teaching mom and dad to use the MTR and single handedly planning the whole trip on my own, it was a blast. The look of happiness from my parents’ face when they entered HK Disneyland for the first time was simply priceless. In spite the hassles and all the heartaches I had to go through for the trip alone, it was something I’d do over and over again for my parents.

the family that travels together, stays together
the family that travels together, stays together

Decided to finally take care of my body and of my health by signing up to FitFil. Enjoyed the experience so much that it has become a passion. To date, this remains one of the best experiences and one of the best investments that I made.

The legendary Team Six Pack
The legendary Team Six Pack

Had a lot of new experiences courtesy of the fitness boot camp that is FitFil: I experiences boxing and dragon boat. This renewed enthusiasm in losing weight brought in good results – lose 8.8 lbs and 4 cms off my waist. I feel better and healthier, and with a renewed purpose as I welcome the New Year.

...after a great paddle!
…after a great paddle!

When I look back, it doesn’t seem like a really bad year at all. Challenges, problems and obstacles will always be there — but I guess, what’s important is courage and hope. And with all these hardships, I’ve become more mature and positive in life. So whatever 2013 may bring, I am all up for it.

The world is a few Google Map clicks away

Technology is a wondrous, wondrous thing.

I spent the day touring the streets of Ginza, Shibuya and then had a quick jaunt at Mt. Fuji. When I grew bored salivating the many amazing sights of Japan, I made a quick jump at Namsan in Seoul, and revisited my old neighborhood in Myeongdong. I made a quick stop at Nature Republic, trawled the streets of the Myeongdong Market then changed my mind again and strolled the pleasantly chaotic Nathan Road in HK, checked where we will be staying in October then made a quick jaunt at Chungking Mansions before ending the trip at the Avenue of Stars.

Amazing, I know. And impossible to do in one day unless you have Harry Potter’s Firebolt.

I was actually doing all these through good old Google Maps.

tokyo tower, minato
A quick visit to the Tokyo Tower

I was actually doing research for my sister, who is Tokyo-bound this September for a seven-day vacay. She wanted to have an idea on how the hotel would look like and its surrounding neighborhood and I had the brilliant idea to look for it via Google Maps. After I managed to find her hotel, I thought about visiting my sister’s future neighborhood and boy—was I crushed and envious that I am not going with her.

From there, I just followed the many streets and little alleys around Ginza and had fun looking at the quaint restaurants and the people crossing the street. Before I knew it, I already had a look around Shibuya, Harajuku and Keio University neighboring areas. I also managed to lose track of time.

It amazes me how technology allows us to see the places we want to see, “to visit” them and enjoy the view while thinking what would it be like being there for real.

HK Nathan Road
Our little hostel is located here, Nathan Road between Bowring and Pilkhem Street

Of course, nothing comes close to being there and soaking the view for real, feeling the vibe of the place and the energy of the people. When I saw the places in Tokyo, the more I wanted to go. I knew that the reason why I can’t go this time is because I am penniless and I am afraid to go broke in the city I loved most. A part of me kept on telling me how pathetic it looked–seeing the places you’ve always wanted to see through Google Maps.

But then again, why not? It was never wrong to dream or hope or even yearn about things, people or places. Deep in my heart, I know, that the next time I’ll post a picture of Tokyo Tower here–it’ll be the one with me standing next to it — grinning from ear to ear.

Northern Escape

I celebrated my birthday the best way I know how: by escaping the chaos of Metro Manila and heading up where the air is cleaner and the sky is clearer.

We’ve always have a preference to going up Baguio, the so-called Summer Capital of the Philippines. And now that my sister has decided to relocate to Padcal, Benguet (45 minutes to an hour from Baguio City), we have more reasons to go up.

Since we’ve been pretty much regular visitors of the city, we didn’t go around and do all the tourist-y stuff that we’ve been doing for the past few years. Instead, for my birthday, we just bought groceries and headed back home to Le Chateau, this charming place I discovered over the net. Will write about it in a separate post. My family cooked my birthday dinner and we just spent the evening hanging out.

Anyway, before that — we had my pre-birthday lunch at Cafe by the Ruins, a place which I haven’t been to in spite the repeated visits to the city. Do I feel like I missed out? Not really. I mean, the place is beyond pretty and it represents a unique dining experience but maybe I was just expecting too much for the food?

There were stand outs but there were also a lot of dishes that, in my opinion, failed to spectacularly deliver. Stand-outs for me include:

I particularly liked this herbed bread with cheese spread. I am sure the name indicated in the menu is fancier that this, but I don’t have the initiative to remember what it actually was. Anyway, the bread is soft and warm, with the undertone of fresh breads while the spread is both salty and creamy.

the family’s drinks of choice
cheese stick with herbs – with a very yum dip

We ordered these two appetizers, then followed it up with an order of Sinigang na Baka, Baguio Bagnet and Vegetarian Kare-Kare.

Sinigang na Baka
the disappointing kare-kare 😦

Otherwise, Cafe at the Ruins is a pleasant experience, especially for a Baguio first timer. I recommend that you give the Baguio Bagnet and the cheese stick a try, cos it’s worth the dining the experience. Inside the restaurant, I asked my sister (The Queen) why it was called Cafe at the Ruins. Apparently, the restaurant is standing on the exact ruins of the house of the first ever governor of Baguio. What remained is a tall pockmarked wall serving as the focal point of the restaurant. Also displayed in the area are some of the works of talented Baguio visual artists. I didn’t asked the restaurant if they were for sale but it was labeled and framed, so I had the impression that they can be purchased.

We spent a day in Baguio before moving to Padcal, Benguet where Philex Mining is located. The Queen works for Philex as their media relations officer. I was expecting to find a sleepy, mining town but the community was abuzz with activity and a sense of belongingness. People were nice and always smiling. And definitely very hospitable. And the view? It was simply breathtaking!

this tree reminded me of the tree in an “alien scene” in “My Sassy Girl”
God’s greatest birthday gift
the happy, peaceful community of Padcal
hitching a ride!

the sign is telling citizens that chewing and spitting of the red betel nut “mama or momma” is prohibited within the premises. i love signs like these 🙂

Here are more amazing photos of Baguio and Benguet:

graffiti a Tam-awan Village

stolen moments

Weekend photos (Day 60-61 of Project 365)

it's gonna be co---o---oooold!
Day 60

Do you wanna know how I look like when I am stressed with work?
Day 61

Still with last minute preparations for the great Seoul Searching trip happening this Wednesday.
These pictures were taken Thursday and Friday while I was working non-stop. Thursday, on a last minute event that made me cry out of frustration and Friday–where I had to be stuck in a whole day meeting while answering e-mails in between. (Yes, my strategy was to sneak out of the meeting by pretending to be on a “pee break” then head straight to my desk where I will answer emails in between).

Yes, I am such a freaking good employee.

As you can see on my picture for Thursday, weather in Seoul is between 10 degrees to a negative 2, thus I am planning to visit my friendly neighborhood ukay-ukay to look for cold-weather clothes. As much as I love to stay in Seoul on a long-term basis, being stuck frozen on the banks of the Han River is not included in my agenda.

Let’s ROK!

picture NOT my property

I have the opportunity to go to this place with my sister come March.
But, in order for me to do that — I have to buy my plane tickets AND apply for a visa cos this place requires a visa for Filipinos.

Friends know me as someone who is no nonsense when it comes to taking risks. I have gambled a lot in my life — both personal and professional. I’ve always believed that we won’t be able to achieve anything in this life if we don’t take risks.

I have been called a lot of names in the past: careless, gambler, worry-free, child-like and a risk-taker. And I rarely let what other people frigging think stop me from what I want to do. So what the freaking hell am I waiting for right?

The price of a freaking plane ticket, that’s what! Plane tickets in a budget airline cost PHP8,000 (that’s about 200USD) and I am just being paranoid that if I don’t get the visa then there goes my 200USD!

Also, I feel that it’s too irresponsible for me to even spend that kind of money for that “trip” when I am also despairing on how I will save money for my masteral tuition.

Anyway, let’s see. I am waiting for some kind of sign from Above for me to throw caution to the wind and Just Do It!