BATANES: The Winds Up North – Part 2 [Solo Travel]

Following my north Batan tour from my recent blog post, the next day I decided to go to Sabtang island. I availed my solo Sabtang tour from Ysabelle Homestay for only Php1,300. It was quite reasonable because Kuya Mik, my tour guide, brought along his motorcycle withย him up to Sabtang Island but we’ll get to that later. The morning was frighteningly dark. From sunshine and clear skies the day I arrived, I finally saw the real Batanes weather. I thought that my Sabtang tour was going to get canceled because the sky looked like it was almost the end of the world. Ate Elma told me that it may still push through depending on the harshness of the waves we will be sailing through. Going to Sabtang, you need to start early in the morning because the boat going to the island leaves at around 7am everyday. After fresheningย up and eating the breakfast prepared by Ate Elma, me and Kuya Mik went on to our journey to the port.

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The motorbike ride to the port was one of the best things I have experienced. The cold breeze and the dark clouds made it such a surreal experience. The huge cliffs and the mountains we passed by were so scenic that I felt so small and insignificant against mother nature.

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It was still quite dark and rainy when we arrived at the port, but when they started giving out the life jackets, that’s when we knew the journey would push through. The boat ride to and from Sabtang island will cost about Php 200. Kuya Mik’s motorbike was then tied safely on the front part of the boat together with the other motorcycles. He told me not to sit on the front part if I didn’t want to get wet from the splashing waves.

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I can now say that I have experienced the real Batanes weather. It was so exciting for the waves were big and the skies were gloomy. The boat was kind of small and may tip over. It was awesome!

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We arrived the Port of Sabtang, a line of tricycles and vans were waiting there for their guests. We only had a few hours to tour Sabtang Island but before that, we needed to go to their municipal hall and pay their municipal fee of Php 200. Kuya Mik started our tour at Chavayan Village, it was on the farthest part of the island. He said it’s better to start there because the flock of tourists would most likely go there last.

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The ride to Chavayan village was indeed majestic. Cliffs and rough roads before you get to the village. On our way there, we spotted a very rare bird called the Black-faced Spoonbill. Kuya Mik quickly stopped the motorbike as he saw the bird in its peaceful endeavor. I couldn’t get a clearer picture though, but we were really lucky. I think we were the only ones who saw the bird that time.

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Chavayan consisted of cute little stone houses which endure the wrath of typhoons in Batanes. I also got to try on a “Vakul”, a head protection made by the Ivatan people to protect them from the rain and the heat of the sun. I was also shown how they clean the dry leaves used for the Vakul.

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King Kong vibes in here. Reminds me of Skull Island.

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Here in Batanes, the coconut crab is very common. I got to see one from a little shop that sells souvenirs. The coconut crabs are now actually endangered in Batanes as to why it’s not allowed to bring them home back to Manila. I didn’t tryย to eat one tho, for I didn’t want to contribute to the decline of the species.

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Next up, we headed to Chamantad-Tinyan viewpoint. I was out of words when I saw all the glory that is this place. It was so beautiful, it was a great place to have an existential crisis. One thing I was scared about though was the very very strong wind. It was literally blowing me away. Be careful when walking near cliffs while the winds are strong. Kuya Mik couldn’t take a proper photo of me because of the strong winds.

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We then went to Savidug Village. It was said that Yeng Constantino’s music video for “Ikaw” was also shot here.

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The very last stop of our Sabtang island tour was in Morong beach where we were scheduled to have lunch. In Morong beach, you will also find the Makabuang Arc.

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Since I was traveling alone, I was reserved a solo seat when we had our lunch in Sabtang. When touring Sabtang, you will most likely be with other tourists or groups that are on tour that day. Also, there is only one place where guests have lunch and that is the one in Morong beach. I was pretty hungry as I was waiting alone for my food. Kuya Mik and the other tour guides ate at another area. I was not informed that it was going to be a set meal. When the ‘Ate’ came in with my food, I asked “Ate, sa akin ba to lahat?” (Is this all mine?) and she said yes, laughing at my reaction. Maybe she was also surprised that I was alone traveling. For all Sabtang tours, you only have a choice of a set meal which costs Php 300.

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See the yellow rice right there? That’s Turmeric rice and it is my favorite. The Ivatan people love to put turmeric on their dishes and I have no problem with that.

You may ask why is eating a set meal the only option? Why can’t I eat at other eateries? What if I don’t have a tour guide? You will most definitely have a tour guide. Unfortunately, doing a DIY solo trip and visiting sites in Batanes on your own is quite impossible now. They require visitors to have a tour guide. Yes, it’s REQUIRED. If you’re on a tour, everyone goes on the same exact tour and everyone eats at the same place. I’ll get more to that later.

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Thus concludes the end of our Sabtang tour. The boat ride back to Batan was quite bouncy. Much harsher than the ride to Sabtang. The waves were pretty high but the sun was already smiling at us.

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When we arrived back to Batan, I still had hours to spare. I decided to go back to Fundacion Pacita and just spend the afternoon there. Cafe du Tukon is a little quaint cafe and restaurant with gorgeous views. Food prices are quite expensive because you are kind of paying for the view. I had pasta and an iced tea for a total of Php558.

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On my last day in Batanes, I went on the South Batan tour. This time I wanted to get a feel of those little hut tricycles so I availed of a tricycle tour to avoid the heat of the sun. Again, I arranged my tour with Ysabelle Homestay. Kuya Tino was once again my tour guide for the day.

We started the South Batan tour at Chawa view deck. It was a view spot facing the ocean but the highlight of this place is the staircase down. Strong waves were crashing against huge rocks. I suddenly wanted to sing “The Winner Takes It All” just like Meryl Streep from Mamma Mia haha.

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Kuya Tino mentioned that there were locals who already died here. They went down that rock platform unsupervised, not knowing that the strong waves could take them away. Please be do careful, those waves aren’t weak.

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Next, we went to Mahatao Boat Shelter Port. This is where fishermen boats are parked, as well as the coastal guard. I also got a chance to buy Taho from a very nice kuya.

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We then went to Tayid Lighthouse. It was so beautiful that I wanted to spend like a few more hours there just sitting down and pondering about life.

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Look at those cows there just chilling and living the life.

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After the lighthouse, my most favorite part of the tour was Racuh a Payaman or the Marlboro Country. Vast rolling hills make me a happy child. The views are amazing as always! It was hard to take proper photos though because of the harsh wind. You can definitely sing “The Sound of Music” here.

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After a very long tricycle ride down the hills, we arrived at the famous Alapad rock formation. It was saddening that I saw trash just right by the sea. Please keep your trash with you as you tour around.

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You can see the famous “BLOW UR HORN” sign everywhere in Batanes where there’s a sharp blind turn.

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Next up, the famous Honesty Coffee shop. Now there was a word going on around that Honesty Coffee shop required an entrance fee before you can go in, but when I went there, no entrance fee was paid for I can assure that. I bought a few snacks to bring home such as the Bukayo.

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From food to clothes and other souvenirs you can find them here in Honesty Coffee shop. You just need to write down the stuff you bought on the little notebook they have inside. This is for their inventory purposes. You pay by inserting your money on one of the boxes there. They do not have change so you really need to pay the exact amount.

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We then on traveled to the House of Dakay. It is the oldest house in Batanes. You can see from the structure that it is the traditional Ivatan house that needed to endure the harsh weather.

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Before we go to our last stop and end the day with lunch, we passed by the Spanish Bridge. It was built during the Spanish era and is still being used today by the Ivatan people.

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Our last stop for the South Batan tour is the Homoron White Beach. It was a quiet beach with shallow waters perfect for swimming! We didn’t get to go to the Spanish Lagoon because construction was ongoing.

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Alas, we ended the day with lunch at Paulvanas. I ate with Kuya Tino because I couldn’t possibly finish everything on the set meal. Everything was delicious or maybe I really was just hungry from all the touring.

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I also loved the Nilagang Baka with seaweed. I’m not quite sure what kind of seaweed it was but it tasted really good and resembled a Miso soup.

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Thus that ends my South Batan tour. I spent the rest of my night packing and chatting with Ate Elma back at the homestay. Getting back to requiring a tour guide in Batanes. Yes, unfortunately, it was recently approved by their municipality to require all visitors with tour guides. So to those wanting to go to Batanes and doing a DIY trip, you can’t go alone for you need have a tour guide with you. There are several tour agencies around Batan which can help you with touring around. Though if you are a solo traveler like me, I highly recommend doing an “angkas” tour (motorbike tour) because it is cheaper and you can talk to your kuya tour guide on which places you want to go to first.

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A short funny story just when I was about to leave Batanes. The morning of my flight was rainy. I woke up to the sound of harsh winds outside the homestay. The powerlines were also out. The winds were very strong and I feared that my flight might get cancelled. I ate my last breakfast at Ate Elma’s with only a lamp infront of me. I started to get nervous that I might not be able to go back to Manila because I had work the next day. As always, the weather in Batanes is quite bipolar. I still went to the airport and the Skyjet people still pushed through with the flight, thank god!

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That concluded my stay in Batanes. It was indeed something new for me. Traveling alone in my own country and immersing myself with the locals. The Ivatan people are genuinely nice. I’ve never felt more welcomed. I have nothing but nice things to say about my stay with Ysabelle Homestay. Ate Elma’s family made me feel like I had a family in Batanes as well. Saying goodbye to this marvelous place is heartbreaking. If only I could stay a few more weeks or months just getting along with nature. I couldn’t go to Itbayat Island anymore due to limited time. They say people get stranded there for a few days if the weather becomes bad.

Me with the ever amazing and nice Ate Elma

If there was a place I’d like to live in here in my home country, it would be Batanes. Never mind the no internet part and the part where there are no commercialized areas. I would love to immerse myself in this kind of environment. I hope I could visit Batanes again soon. Hopefully to visit Itbayat this time. I still can’t believe I went here alone. Just a dream once, a dream that someday you would be coming with your loved ones. But when people you once cared about start to leave you, that’s when you’ll have the drive to go. I still have my dream, even if I was left with nothing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Until we meet again Batanes!

Total expenses:

  • Skyjet Roundtrip Flight- Php 12,260
  • Ysabelle Homestay 4 days and 3 nights with Breakfast- Php 1,350
  • Batanes Eco Tourism Fee- Php 350
  • Beehan Lunch Meal- Php 120
  • North Batan Tour- Php 1000
  • Beehan Dinner- Php 140
  • Sabtang Tour- Php 1,300
  • Boat ride to and from Sabtang- ย Php 200
  • Sabtang Municipal Fee- Php 200
  • Set Meal Morong Beach, Sabtang- Php 300
  • Cafe Du Tukon Meal- Php 558
  • South Batan Tricycle Tour- Php 1500
  • Paulvana Set Meal- Php 300
  • Beehan Dinner- Php- 100

TOTAL: Php 19, 678

 

If you would like to stay with Ysabelle Homestay in Batanes, check out their facebook page below. You may also contact them using the number below.

Ysabelle Homestay
Santana St. Brgy. Kaychanarianan Basco, Batanes
https://www.facebook.com/YsabelleHomestayBasco/
(+63) 928 234 2542

 

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Waiting For A Home

I just had the opportunity to finally volunteer at a dog pound this morning. Seeing more and more dogs left abandoned by their past owners, I chose to volunteer for Justice for Dogs at the Pasig City Pound. There were about 80+ dogs currently in the pound. The moment we arrived everyone of them started barking. I brought with me my one sack donation of dog food and wish I had bought more because we finished almost all of it when we fed the dogs. They eat only once a day because of the lack of volunteers and people to take care of the pound. Food is also quickly running low. Imagine having to feed 80+ dogs everyday, equivalent to almost one sack of dog food. I provided links by the end of this post if you’re interested in donating ๐Ÿ™‚

As I was taking photos, I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. Just seeing these poor dogs wait for someone to adopt them made me quite emotional. I have dogs of my own too, and I promise you that you’d want to hug yours when you get home.

Some of these dogs were surrendered by their past owners and some were left abandoned. If only I had a huge house and was capable of accommodating more dogs into our family, i’d save them by adopting.

All of these dogs are up for adoption! They are also capable of the same love and loyalty like the dogs you get from pet stores if you give them the proper guidance and be a responsible owner. I hope this post also raises awareness. I’m looking forward to volunteer again and to spend more time with the dogs!

If you are interested in helping or adopting, you can contact Justice for Dogs on their….
>Facebook page
>Instagram

They are open to volunteers and donations (Paypal and Bank deposit). You too can save these dogs! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Internship

“Photograph, remembering the summer….”

When you think of internship, the idea of work experience pops into mind. To me, the past few months have been so much more than just gaining work experience. I’ve met a lot of great people who taught me so much, I’ve seen people come and go, I’ve felt degraded and worthless, and I did things i’ve never done before.

To tell you the truth I wasn’t really supposed to be here. I tried out for the establishment, got interviewed, but originally got rejected. But one faithful day, I got an email saying I got reconsidered. I had no idea what kind of game fate was playing on me. After the hellish processing of the visa (which i’m still thankful that got approved) and the sudden booking of flights, it all came to me that I was leaving.

I remember that day when I bid goodbye to my family and friends. That grueling flight to get to Lake Tahoe (Manila > Hong Kong > Los Angeles > Las Vegas > Reno) and my first day at work I didn’t have any idea what to do.

I will miss the long walks every morning, when the chilly wind hits me as I listen to Mayday Parade on the way down the steep hill we use as a short cut. Believe it or not I enjoy those walks. Everyday I look forward to having some time alone walking back and forth from work.

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Remember when they said you’ll meet all sorts of people in college? Well, you’ll definitely meet more at work. I was exposed to what reality is. I learned that you can’t immediately get what you want, you have to work for it. You don’t always start at your desired position, you work your way to the top. Of course, working your way to the top has its obstacles. No matter what you do there will be people trying to pull you down.

I’ve felt depressed during the first few weeks. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I was unsure, and scared that I might not meet their expectations, but I learned to strive. I wanted to show them that I wasn’t gonna give up so easily. I tried my best to be what they never thought I could be. I started out prepping for the beach and pool. It was boring at first, then asked myself “studied french cuisine for almost three years for this?” but like what I said, you don’t start anywhere you want. One day I got to help during the fourth of July on the hot line. A few more days after that, I oftentimes got to man the beach and pool alone. I tried to be as fast as I could, making burgers and fish tacos. I loved the pressure, I wanted to be in the hotline for the rest of the summer.

I was told that they’d be transferring me to the pool. During this time, I learned not to get my hopes up too high. Turns out it was a lie and I was still stuck in prepping. I was disappointed of course, thought that I was still not good enough. Whenever I had time, I’d help out garde manger. They became my second family next to the beach and pool department. I’ve been getting motivation whenever I hear praises from my supervisors and co-workers. Those simple words can go a long way. I got transferred to LEG, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. I got to man the pantry, which made me somewhat happy because it was definitely a notch higher than what I used to do before. Though I miss my beach and pool family eitherway, they still taught me a lot.

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I’ve met a lot of great people during my stay here. Some I already considered family that the thought of not seeing them anymore really saddens me. I’ve seen people come in and leave. Most of the people i’ve met are ridiculously nice that I feel like my silence bothered them. My housemates were the only people I could be myself there, for we were the only filipinos in this so-called town. We still had our own misunderstandings, but just have to realize that everyone is different. I will miss the weekly trips to the laundromat, grocery shopping, drinking outside our patio and talking about work.

I will miss the unexpected road trips to nowhere. Blasting loud music, windows down and the wind blowing in our faces. When we drove to Emerald bay and grabbed Taco Bell along the way, when we star gazed in Mount Rose, literally lying down the road and when we went to Reno or Carson just to eat at Five Guys and watch a movie. The good stuff, it’s what we should remember.

The late night drinking games would always be a funny memory. That time we played “Asshole” (courtesy of Sean) and “King’s Cup”, that time we took vinegar shots at the fourth of July, when we stayed up until 5am just talking about life and those nights when the alcohol just penetrated our minds.

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Here’s to those nights when your friends just couldn’t walk straight anymore, when the exact words are lost in a blurry slur, and to the nights that we learned our differences.

If there’s anything I could share to upcoming interns, is that you should open your eyes to reality as early as possible. There’s so many things left to find out, so don’t waste an opportunity to learn something. Make the most out of every moment you have with people that make you happy. You never know when you’ll see them again. It may take a long time or god forbid, never again.

A few more days from now, I will be back to my old life. My school life. I will be back to the same old routine, not expecting the unexpected anymore. If I could, I would repeat these moments over and over again. I rarely say this but i’ve never felt so infinitely happy and not caring about anything.

This experience is definitely a life changer. I don’t know if i’m ever gonna be the same old me when I get back home. It won’t be just a mere memory, it’s something that i’d remember and then laugh at the same time cherish the good times. It’s amazing that i’ve met people from different parts of the world, the number of firsts and the lasts, the lessons that opened my mind and the nights we felt like kings. It would most definitely not be forgotten.

Until we meet again Tahoe.

“Photograph, oh give me something to remember…”

 

You are what you love, not who loves you

I’m sorry for being MIA for the past few months. Summer has been crazy and I didn’t have time to write a proper blog post (more like I don’t have anything to write about anyway). I’ve been wanting to go to Fall Out Boy’s concert in San Francisco even before I started with my internship, so me and my friends planned our trip to fog city.

We stayed at the downtown part of San Francisco, Union City as they call it. Quite a scary place to stay in if you don’t know where to go. My suggestion if you ever get to this part of town is to not look so much of a tourist. As much as possible don’t keep your cameras dangling around your neck. Just look like you know the place.

We got to meet with our dear friend from school, Angela, who’s taking her internship in SF. Luckily, we had someone to show us around. I once read an article about the top 10 best burgers in america, and we got to try Super Duper Burger which runs top 3 on that list. The place was packed and the line was long so we decided to just eat at the nearby park, yes, on the ground. People were already giving us weird looks. Don’t care because we’re having the best burger of our lives.

What’s a San Francisco trip without visiting FIsherman’s wharf? Just like last year, we feasted on seafood! If you ever get yourself in Fisherman’s Wharf, you have to try clam chowder. YOU NEED TO. The clam chowder is served in a sourdough bread bowl which makes it more enjoyable to eat.

Before heading to the concert, we got to see the sea lions. I loved how foggy and gloomy that day was. Tip: If you’re walking along this area, do not carry food with you if you don’t want the seagulls to attack you lol

We arrived at the concert venue early, and the line already reached outside. I was ecstatic of course! This was Fall Out Boy. The band that saved me from the shit I’ve been through during high school. We secured a good spot by the bleachers. It was my first time watching a concert in another country, so I was somehow cautious of my actions. I still don’t know how they roll. SLRs weren’t allowed that time so I borrowed my friend’s camera. I’m sorry for the not-so-HQ photos ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Twenty One Pilots started off the concert, getting all people hyped up. I don’t really listen to them but after seeing them live, I might do.

Next up, Panic! At the DIsco. Now, I’ve been a fan of P!ATD for so long and I haven’t seen them live before. Brendon Urie sings beautifully live. My feelings exploded when they played “Nine In The Afternoon” because I seriously had my Pretty.Odd. phase when Ryan and Jon were still with the band. “Miss Jackson” live was also great and upbeat. Then of course, everyone sang along when they finished with “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies”.

Alas, Fall Out Boy! I was already feeling the euphoria after P!ATD performed, but the rush of excitement continued when the lights dimmed and the intro for “The Phoenix” started.

I loved it when they played “Alone Together” with pictures of unusual young couples in the background. It goes to show that no matter how different you are, love is still love.

I felt so infinitely happy that I cannot explicate my emotions further anymore. They played an acoustic set for “I’m Like a Lawyer…..” and “Grand Theft Autumn” it was magnificent.

I wanted to cry during “What A Catch, Donnie” (Yes, that’s where I got my blog name), followed by “20 Dollar Nosebleed” in which Brendon Urie showed up. You can imagine me going vdasfyegvybhasegyuahjbwvgesfhdbf because it was just like my highschool days when I listened to both of these bands and i’m now seeing them together on stage.

I’ve been also wanting to hear “Save Rock & Roll” live and it was hands down the best part of the concert. Everyone was singing along as they also show notable musicians in the background.

As always, they ended their set with “Saturday”, and it was depressing for I knew it was the last song, and I knew the fun also had to end. After the show I tried to battle my way in the merch table and I bought the tour shirt. I tried waiting for them outside the venue but I was with my friend so ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

In summary, it was awesome going back to San Francisco, this time with friends and just exploring the city doing whatever you want. Now it’s back to reality. I still have one more month before I go back to Manila.

Title: “Save Rock & Roll”- Fall Out Boy

Lost Things We Can’t Replace

I’m currently reading Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifestoย to kill time on this boring summer. Another thing I did to ‘kill time’ is to go rummaging through my parents’ old stuff. I found casette tapes such as Air Supply and The Carpenters, but I got giddy when I saw a Beatles tape. It was really dusty and I was afraid it won’t play anymore. I tried playing it and hallelujah it still works! but the quality of course wasn’t that good anymore. I also loaded my 2nd film to my Diana though i’m still looking for a place to get my last film printed.

I also rummaged through my stuff and found old (well not so old) photos. The first one (top left) was when I met wrestler Mick Foley, next is just a random baby picture and then the two at the bottom are shots from my film camera when WWE raw came to Manila.

I also stumbled upon my diaries and journals from 2nd grade til sophomore high school. I was laughing so hard at some of my entries, I got nostalgic after that. I promise to read them to you someday in a vlog.ย 

I’ve been hunting for good music for weeks and found Royal Teeth and General Ghost. They are A+ bands. I listened to Royal Teeth’s “Wild” and it is a perfect summer jam. I got to check out General Ghost’s If Then EP and immediately loved it.

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[cr: Royal Teeth & General Ghost]

Check them out guys!


Title: “Wild”– Royal Teeth