Cebu: Vacation and #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

Hello, WordPress followers! If you also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Litsy, then you would know that I was on vacation on Cebu for a few days. Cebu is one of the provinces in the Visayas region in the Philippines, and I went to Moalboal and Cebu City. It was my first time in Cebu and I had a great time! Also realized that the last time I traveled on a domestic flight was in 2011 when I went to Bohol. I’m hoping to be able to do more local travel in the near future. While I was in Cebu, I was able to do some #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy posts so I’m including those in this update.

In Moalboal, we stayed at the gorgeous Hale Manna resort, which is owned by Liana’s family. Liana blogs at Will Read for Feels and I met her through the circle of romance readers in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me at how I keep meeting awesome bookish people, both online and in real life. I was able to meet with Liana while in Cebu, first at Moalboal and then we traveled together back to Cebu City. Here are some pictures of Hale Manna in Moalboal, swipe left to see all of them:

In Cebu City, first stop was Liana’s book cafe called Books and Brews. I love book cafes and if I lived in Cebu, I would definitely be a regular in this one. The cafe has an extensive selection of books written by Filipino and foreign authors which you can read while hanging out at the place. It’s also cozy and comfortable and a good place to study or work in, if you would prefer not to read.

When I was researching on what places I’d like to visit in Cebu, I knew I would want to check out ancestral houses if there were any in the area. We got to visit two of them: Casa Gorordo and Yap-Sandiego House. I’m a sucker for historic places and these two were a pleasure to view. They’re both typical “balay na tisa” or “bahay na bato”, built in the 1800’s with a mix of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences.

We also got to see Museo Sugbo, which is Cebu’s provincial museum. It was previously a provincial jail but has been converted to showcase the history of the province.

Last, but certainly not the least was getting to try the food options in Cebu that aren’t available in Manila! I loved both The Chocolate Chamber and AA Barbecue, and I’m sure you’ll be able to tell why based on these pictures:

I hope you guys enjoyed this update post. I had an amazing time in Cebu but it’s always good to be home in Manila. 🙂 If you’ve been to Cebu, please feel free to share your own experience. Also, would be happy to hear suggestions on what ancestral houses in the country should be included in my bucket list. For those who haven’t been to Cebu, I hope I’ve made you more curious about the province, and that you’ll get to visit it eventually.

Snapshot From a Book: What You Wanted

Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. And interestingly, all of my posts so far have featured my lomography shots. Today’s feature is What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra. This Filipino romance is primarily set in Manila but the couple takes a trip to Anawangin in Zambales. I’ve been to Anawangin twice and it’s beautiful, which is why I’m choosing to share pictures of it.

I hope these snippets and pictures make you more curious about the book!

lomo Anawangin boat

“Have you ever been to Anawangin?” I’d asked, suddenly.

Hours later, we were there. It was a bright, beautiful day. The drive north felt effortless, even if we had little sleep. We checked into a resort along the beach in Zambales, left the car and our heavier things there, and then hired a small boat to take us to the island.

This was something I did, by the way. Take off, no plans, do something crazy. Not everyone was up for it; my sister had long since asked to be left out of the invite list, my parents only requested that wherever it was, it should have phones or a decent signal. Damon didn’t even blink when he said yes, and he packed like a pro. I had the advantage of having been there before, but with a group of friends.


We couldn’t spend the night on the island, although that was what other people did. No tent, no other supplies, so we asked our boat guy to pick us up later that afternoon. There were a few other groups of people there, mostly friends setting up camp, and we had to find a spot near the water where we could be as broody as we wanted. The view was spectacular – a wonderfully confused cove of pine trees, green hills, and white-gray sand. Perfect for reflecting on our sins.



Anawangin, Zambales, Philippines
October 2011
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia and Fuji Sensia

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief

Sola Musica: Growing Up on the Beach by Ines Bautista-Yao

SOLA MUSICA will be released on August 28. To celebrate, I’m hosting guest posts from the authors throughout this week.

A beach cove, a hot summer weekend… SOLA MUSICA is where everyone’s going, to enjoy the best new music from all over. Bestselling Filipino YA/chick lit authors Mina V. Esguerra, Marla Miniano, Chinggay Labrador, and Ines Bautista-Yao each tell a story about this festival: the music, the people, the hearts that will soar (or break).

Sola Musica

A CAPTURED DREAM, Ines Bautista-Yao
Gem has the chance to make her dreams come true and perform at Sola Musica, with one crippling problem: all her talent left her six years ago when a boy kissed her.

Author links:


Ines beach baby

Diving equipment behind me and socks on my feet because I didn’t like walking barefoot on the sand.

I grew up near the beach. Most weekends were spent driving to the water, pitching a tent, and hunting hermit crabs.

I still remember getting all excited about finding those perfect little holes in the sand that were built sideways. I would squat down next to them and wait for the hermit crab to come out. Then I would try to catch it and put it in my little plastic pail. It would always scurry away of course, but I can’t forget my elation on chancing upon another diagonally built hole.

I also remember my dad’s fishing boat. It wasn’t a yacht by any means, but it wasn’t a banca either. It was a big fishing boat that my fun-loving parents and their friends converted into a floating party. We got on when the sun was still making its way up in the sky and got off when we were surrounded by darkness from above and below. It was named Ines. I found it very weird, especially when my dad joked that he named me after the boat. It was only later that I realized it must have been the other way around.

Ines beach toddler

All I needed was my green plastic bucket and I was all set!

One of my favorite memories on that boat was eating freshly grilled fish while trying to keep my balance as we gently rocked on the waves. I loved eating anything sugba or inihaw because that meant we were outdoors and the fish was swimming in the water just a few minutes before. In fact, when the fishermen pulled the dark green net bursting with fish onboard, I was right there watching. They teased me that they had caught a mermaid. I wished with all my heart that they had so I could finally meet one, jump into the water, and swim next to her. My excited little eyes were glued to the coils of the net, looking for a dark green tail—or anything that resembled a mermaid. But all I saw were little silver fish glistening in the sun and frantically flopping around on the boat’s wooden deck.

There was one night when the grownups pitched tents along the shore and sent all the kids into a house to sleep. I wasn’t too sure about sleeping away from my parents, but I wanted to sleep with the other kids. So I bravely agreed. I recall staring up at the ceiling fan, studying the long-legged spiders crawling across the beams, wondering if one would fall on me. Eventually, I got up and made my way out the house and to the beach. I stared at the different tents (there were many of them) and counted the third tent from the left—which was most probably where my mom told me their tent would be—and zipped down the flap. I remember saying, “Mama?”, breathing a huge sigh of relief that I had found the right tent, and crawling in next to them, finally falling asleep.

I have loads of beach memories because it was so easy for my parents and their friends to make the drive. It didn’t matter that the sand wasn’t powdery white like Boracay’s (my city-born-and-bred husband only likes white sand!), that there were no air-conditioned rooms and we had to sleep in tents, and that our food was whatever we caught in the sea. I cannot imagine doing that today or taking my daughters to a beach without running water and an air-conditioned room to escape the heat, but when I was growing up, that was how it was. And I happen to have great beach memories. But come to think of it, if that mermaid had showed up, they would be even better!

I cannot believe I found this photo of the tents and the house! I wrote this post before looking for photos. The yellow and blue one was ours.

I cannot believe I found this photo of the tents and the house! I wrote this post before looking for photos. The yellow and blue one was ours.


Salamat, Ines! Seems like the beach was your playground when you were a child, I’m jealous. 😛

Beach Lomo Shots

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you’re aware that I enjoy posting lomography photos here on the blog from time to time. I love how vibrant colors are in lomo shots and how they always look old school. It’s getting harder to have rolls of film processed here in Manila so I don’t know how long I can keep this up. Anyway, my most recent trip was in Zambales a couple of weeks ago – in the town of Pundaquit, Capones island and Anawangin cove. Here are some shots from that trip (click to embiggen):

Can you see what’s written in the sand? Here’s a closer look:

And more shots:

Anawangin Again

Sorry if the blog has been pretty quiet lately. I went to the beach this weekend because Monday and Tuesday are holidays over here. I wasn’t able to schedule any posts and I haven’t even replied to the comments here the past couple of days. I’ll try to do better this week! In the meantime, I want to share some photos. I believe I’ve already posted this picture of me reading in Anawangin (taken back in 2009):

I went to the same place this weekend and I tried to recreate the shot. Here’s what we came up with:

The place looks different and the colors are muted because we used the Toy Camera effect in a Canon digicam. I’ll upload more pictures once my rolls of slide film are processed and when my friend shares pictures because I didn’t bring a digital camera with me. For those in the Philippines, hope you’re enjoying the long weekend! And for those in other parts of the world, hope you’re all having fun with Halloween.


I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like because traveling is expensive but when there are budget flights and friends willing to go with me, I’m always game. It was my first time to go to Bohol and I really enjoyed the trip. We were able to eat at several good restaurants, visit the local tourist sites, go snorkeling and of course, hang out and relax by the beach. As promised, here are more pictures.

The tarsier, the smallest primate in the world:

Chocolate Hills, which are named as such because they’re brown during summertime:

Mahogany man-made forest and yes, that is me, fooling around:

Up close and personal with the fishes in Balicasag, I can only tell that this is me because my mask looks familiar:

The sandbar in Virgin Island:

Reading, as always and trying to imitate the cover of the book that I’m holding, The Family Fortune:

Back from Bohol!

Hey everyone, I’m back in Manila! I haven’t had time to post anything here on the blog and I still need to catch up on my Google Reader. My flight wasn’t canceled and I really enjoyed my vacation. 😀 To those who’re curious about the weather situation because of my previous post, here’s a picture:

Virgin Island, Bohol

I’ll try to post something within the week but follow me on Twitter or Tumblr if you want updates. I’ll probably do a more detailed post about the vacation when I’ve had the chance to transfer all the pictures.

Summer Reads

It’s summer here in the Philippines and it’s really HOT! I wonder if that has anything to do with why I haven’t been reading that much lately? The long weekend care of Holy Week has come and gone and I wasn’t even able to finish a book. Then again, I’m feeling a bit under the weather so I mostly slept, hoping that what I have won’t develop into a full-blown sickness. When it comes to summer reading, I think it’s a good idea to read light and fluffy books. People usually go out of town during the summer months and when you’re on vacation like that, you wouldn’t be able to concentrate on heavy reads. Plus, light reads are perfect for the beach, which is the common destination for vacation-goers in the Philippines. My idea of summer reads include Julie James, Jennifer Crusie and contemporary YA books that are easy to fall into. If you have suggestions similar to what I mentioned, feel free to recommend them. I’m always looking for books like these.

Aside from the books that I mentioned above, I also like rereading old favorites while on vacation because it feels like hanging out with old friends. There isn’t much of an effort involved when it comes to rereads because I’m already familiar with the story and I can just let myself be swept away. In the image above, I’m reading Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith in Anawangin Cove in Zambales.

I know it’s only summer here in the Philippines and the rest of the world is experiencing other seasons but I’m interested in knowing what the rest of you enjoy reading during summer. Do you also feel like it’s a great season to just have fun and read light, fluffy books or do you have something different in mind?

Of Blogs and Books

It’s June already! It’s funny because June marks the start of summer in the States but it’s the start of the rainy season here. It’s been a couple of months since I started this book blog so I thought I’d write about my book blogging experience so far. I’ve been blogging since 2003 but I only started to blog about books at the beginning of this year. My blog used to be in LiveJournal but I decided to move to WordPress a couple of months ago. WordPress has better blogging features for me and I like my current layout. I still cross-post some of my entries in case my LJ contacts want to read my post.

My biggest frustration has to be availability. We don’t have libraries here in the Philippines and I’ve never received an ARC for review although that’s probably because I’m still pretty new at this. And I keep saying that I don’t do this to get free ARCs, I just want to write about the books that I read. The books that I feature here were either bought or received as gifts. We do have several bookstores (I made a post about them before: bookstores in Manila) but it’s still hard to find certain books. Off the top of my head, some of the books that I want but are not available here are: the Kate Daniels books, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Ellen Emerson White’s books, Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles, Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, etc. I could go on but it might take me the whole day.

Sorry for the rant there, I realized that availability is not really a blogging problem but a reader problem. So on to more positive things! I already did a YA Thanksgiving post last April and I think it sums up all the positive things about book blogging but I still want to mention that I love being able to connect to other book lovers out there. 🙂 I only have a handful of friends who love the same books that I do so it’s a lot of fun to find other people who feel the same way about the books that I like. My blogroll and Google Reader list has grown so much the past few months. I keep adding book bloggers that I want to follow. It’s a good thing I signed up for Twitter already because it makes things much easier. I don’t know why I put it off for so long.

I know I’ve said this before but I really love the YA community and how friendly everyone is – from the authors to the bloggers – and it’s such a great feeling to talk to them. It really is amazing how the internet can bring people from all over the world together. I also want to say that I’m thankful for my readers. I’m not very confident when it comes to my writing but I try to do my best whenever I post something. I know that I don’t have a lot of followers in my blog but I really appreciate those who read my reviews and those who comment. Comments make me happy. ♥ I also love it when someone reads a book that I recommended. I like persuading other people to read the books that I love (I call this “book pushing”) and this is one of the main reasons why I started a book blog. Whenever I recommend a book, I’ll just give the link of my review to that person so he/she can check it out.

So that’s it, that’s what I have for now. I’ll do another post if I think of more things to say. 🙂 So far, I’m having fun and it looks like that will be the case for some time to come. What about you, care to share your blogging experience? Do you have comments or suggestions about my blog in general? Any particular thing that you’d like to see more of? I’d love to get feedback of any sort.