Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Days and Summer Nights

This has got to be the longest summer break I've ever had in my entire life. Not only because I had no classes for four whole months, but because of the lack of things to do (and the resources to do them).
So I'm here to share a quick view of my summer with you!

Villa Escudero

My first summer stop was Villa Escudero. I really wasn't planning on going here, but my mom had a little out-of-town gathering with her office mates and she asked me to go with her. Of course, I needed a little girl bonding time with my mom (blame the sudden influx of busy schedules for both of us) and agreed to go with her.

We reached the place by bus after a few hours of road travel.
My mom and I at the reception area.
We first stayed in the reception area, where we were given refreshments as a welcome. We stayed there for a few minutes, took lots of photos and enjoyed the warm and sunny morning. It wasn't very long before the staff told us that we could go ahead and take a look at the museum.

We weren't allowed to bring our cameras and take photos inside the museum, so I don't have any photo to share but this photo of me in the front of it. The owner of the place really loves pink, as you can see. I think it's adorable.

Inside the museum, it's feels almost like you've stepped into a time machine. I felt as if I was transported back into the early eras of Philippine history, and I could almost hear my History professor's voice retelling heroic accounts.
We found an adorable train car outside the museum, and I couldn't resist not taking a photo on it.
I'm not gonna lie, walking around in Villa Escudero was quite the workout. The sun was high above my head, the roads weren't built for cars and my legs are lazy. So what's the best way to get yourself around this beautiful hotspot?

By carabao, of course.
The carabao ride took us to the main attraction in Villa Escudero. It's something like a restaurant with a Filipino buffet, and you eat with your feet submerged into cold, flowing water.

We didn't eat at the very foot of the waterfall because the sun was too high up and we don't want to end up cooked. Luckily, there was a small area with roofing by the side, and we opted to have lunch there to avoid roasting ourselves.
The food was served buffet-style and it was divine. Nothing really beats traditional Filipino home-cooked meals.
Me at our eating area.
The water rushing down the waterfall was so cold and refreshing! The rocks weren't very slippery and there were bits of moss here and there, but nevertheless easy to walk on with or without slippers. It was such a relief for me because it was really a scorching hot day and I desperately needed something to cool myself off.

After eating lunch, we changed into swimsuits and took a dip. We spent a few minutes lying down on the side of the waterfall before proceeding to the swimming pool.

After cooling ourselves off in the water, we watched a cultural presentation and bought loads of local goodies. I don't have photos of the cultural presentation because the lighting wasn't very good, but I guess a presentation like that would be better viewed live more than anything.

There's also river boating in the villa, but we were too chicken to try it out for ourselves. The boats were made of long bamboo poles tied together, and only two people can ride one boat. That alone scared me, and if it wasn't enough, the river was about thirty to forty feet deep. Eek.
Nevertheless, the view was absolutely lovely.
You can go fishing on that wooden landing, by the way. Super cool.
I can't resist anything pink.
The road trip back to Manila was calmer. We watched movies, slept, stopped over to buy takeouts for dinner and went all the way back to the city.

Laguna and Batangas

For our family trip, we chose to go to Batangas for the summer. I absolutely love the place! The people are nice, the food is heavenly, the beaches are beautiful. I have nothing but love and respect for this place.

Before we hit Batangas, we made a few tourist stops in Laguna first. Our first stop was the Underground Cemetery. I've been here for a school trip when I was in grade four, and the place looked very familiar to me.


My dad and I in front of the church.
The main thing about the Underground Cemetery is that it used to be a meeting place for revolutionary leaders in the height of war. It's not very scary to be in the cemetery because there's good lighting, and it's a little cooler down there too. It was a pretty interesting sight for history junkies like me.
Our next stop was Liliw. Honestly, I wanted to check it out because the place is a hotspot for really affordable foot wear!
We stopped by the church first. Anywhere we travel as a family, we always make it a point to stop by at least one or two churches to pray together. I guess you could call it our family tradition. When we arrived, there was a wedding on-going inside so we had to stay quiet to keep the ceremony solemn. After offering prayers and candles, we finally hit the streets.
The town looked really lively because there was an on-going festival. There were surprises waiting for us at each turn, and even though the weather was really warm, people were on the streets as well, enjoying the sun.
After buying myself two pairs, I walked around with my brother and my dad to see the sights. Apparently, they had a contest for making a super-sized pair of slippers and I couldn't resist these two pairs behind me in the photo above. They looked adorable, and the ribbon on it said they won second place!

After having lunch at a restaurant (which took us hours because of terrible service), we finally hit the road and crashed at the resort we booked in Batangas.

For some reason, my brother and I were up before dawn the next day. All the others were still taking their beauty rest but I didn't feel like falling back to sleep, so I urged my brother to take a walk by the beach side.
I've always wondered what it's like to live by the beach, where the sunrise and sunset greets you every day along with the sound of crashing waves. As soon as we stepped on the sand, barefoot, I was not disappointed. The sea was calm, the wind was cool, the sun was barely coming out and there was nothing but fishing boats for miles. It was a spectacular sight, and I would give anything to see it again.
We passed by this really cool tree with pretty lights. Haha.
My cousins and I. Sexy swimwear shot before we look grilled!
We took a wade into the sea together with my brother, my mom and my younger cousin. The waves were calmer in the morning, but when afternoon came, the waves were larger and stronger. It was pretty fun to take a dip and it's not scary at all (save for the sharp rocks and little fish).
Sometimes, fishing and tourist boats would dock to the beach so we had to move away. There were plastic markers floating on the water to mark where the boats will pass through so as long as we keep away from that area, we're cool.
When it was late afternoon, we walked around the beach to see the sights and took lots of photos. It was pretty peaceful, even though there were a lot of people.

I also found this little guy washed up at the beach!
Hello, little starfish! It's so adorable. Even though I wanted to take it home, I settled on letting the little cutie go because I think it's better if it was in its natural habitat, regardless if it's dead or alive. I was pretty freaked out to find an actual starfish, and I was almost too scared to hold it out of fear that I might hurt it. But we settled for a few photos with it before letting it go back to sea.

After much fun and mayhem for another day, we went back home and caught up on sleep while on the road. I went back to Manila about a shade darker than my original skin tone, but there's nothing that whitening lotion can't fix!

To a more serious note, this summer was quite life-changing for me in a way. It all really started with a simple and irrational fear (of which, I will not mention).

The problem with my mind is that when it's not busy, it wires itself differently. During the course of the summer, I started to have anxiety attacks and severe insomnia. I just stayed in bed all day, thinking about all the negative things and wrong ideas and I just forced myself to eat and bathe and struggle to continue living a normal life. I was wide awake at 3am and I just waited for sunrise so I can pretend to sleep when my parents wake up. It was terrible for me that this fear was slowly eating away at me and I really felt powerless to stop it.

Luckily, I have great friends who helped me get through. Even though we could only meet almost once a week, I always had a great time and slowly, I was recovering from my anxiety. I decided to put my foot down and make bigger steps in changing my negative way of thinking.

Ever since then, I started to discover myself again. Dancing found its way back to me and even just a good sweat for about 30 minutes of dancing to my favorite song really lifted my spirits up. Watching laughs on YouTube and downloading new anime to watch really helped me a lot. I went back to living a healthier and more optimistic lifestyle and it really worked out for me. I'm not as lethargic anymore and when I wake up in the morning, I feel energized and ready to start the day.

As I was slowly healing myself, I have found love along the way.
Lately, loom bands have become a really popular trend here in the Philippines and I am absolutely in love with them! I started with a Monster Tail kit and worked my way from there and my collection has expanded generously. Even my Mom's office mates buy bracelets from me and I think it's amazing.

Making loom bands have become my therapy. For me, the best kind of therapies are creative ones that allow you to create works of art. Whenever I felt down, I would grab my kit and search up new designs on YouTube. As soon as I finish a complicated design or find a really awesome color scheme, I felt really happy. Nothing feels better when I can feel my creative juices flowing.

Here are a couple more of my works:
 
My Mom told me that her office mates are envious of her because she wears a different loom band bracelet every day and the designs are really unique. Because of that, they started buying from me and I always crack jokes about my Mom being my endorser.

Another update is that I have caved in and finally made my own Instagram account! I love seeing and taking photos and Instagram is a really fun network for sharing beautiful moments. Even though I think that their photo-editing features could be better, I love seeing awesome photos and videos in the app. Also, I would very much appreciate it if you follow me :)

Before I close this long and photo-heavy blog post, I want to share an update that I am currently busy because I am working on a very special event that only comes once in a lifetime. I don't want to go into specific details yet but I assure you that you'll all hear about it soon.

Basically, it was a roller coaster ride of a summer and now, I am so ready to hit the books and get back to university life. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping that it's going to be an amazing school year. (If it's not, then I'll make it an awesome year on my own! :D)

Bye bye and thank you for reading!
Love,
Aki 
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