5/17-5/18/16; Last Days at Ateneo

On the night of the 17th, my friend and I ate our last meal at our favorite place in Katipunan, Roku sushi. We also walked around to reminisce the memories we had at the school. We didn’t get to make much of the night since we both had finals the next morning and ended up staying up pretty late to compensate.

On the 18th, I took my last final at 8am, which although my professor told us would take 2 hours, we all finished in less than an hour. Afterwards, I started packing my things because I’d be moving out of the dorm. I ended up accumulating a lot of stuff during my stay here, either from gifts from friends, my own shopping, or random school things.

My (very long) Review on Ateneo + Studying at Ateneo

While I was looking packing and looking through my things, I realized that I am going to miss this place. Although it was definitely not an easy stay, I definitely learned a lot of things about myself and I’m glad I had the opportunity to study here. Ateneo is for sure not a school for the weak of heart. It takes a lot of mental toughness to be able to survive at this school. Unlike most of the other exchange students, I chose to take a full course load here of 6 classes (which included a 3 hour lab class) instead of everyone else who took 2-4 max (and only had to go to class MWF or TTh). Even though I do wonder what it would be like if I didn’t take as many classes as I did as I would’ve been able to enjoy the Philippines as much as they did and they were able to travel to twice as many places with their more free time. However, I also felt like I was here to study at Ateneo was an adventure in of itself so it kind of compensated. Whenever someone here asked me how I liked Ateneo, I immediately say that it’s not an easy school. The amount of mental breakdowns the classes have caused me was more than I had ever had in a lifetime. No amount of stress that I felt at home compared to what I felt here. According to what students here have told me, they all have either an average of at least about 3 mental breakdowns a week, survive on less than 4 hours of sleep, on medication, and all visit their therapists weekly. I do admit that Ateneans really do love to procrastinate, it’s also not the fault of the students for this cause of anxiety. From my experience in these classes, a lot of it also falls on the teachers.  A lot of them assign a crazy amount of assignments to the point that it seems like they forget that students take at least 6 other classes too. I’ve also had teachers that assign homework last minute and I don’t mean like by the end of the class period. I mean that teachers will post on our class facebook page and tell us that we need to do readings for tomorrow morning’s class at 11:30pm. In one of my classes, my professor was adamant about having 3 tests for the class but didn’t compensate the class time well enough. As a result, she made the test a take home final but gave us the instructions for the exam orally, also assign more homework on top of it and turn it in on the day of finals, which the topics on the final aren’t related to the assignments. It isn’t the student’s fault that the professor doesn’t plan the time our wisely enough that we have to do more work on top of it. Also, because my professor gave out instructions orally, we don’t have a copy of her requirements but what we’ve written down. Then, the professor would get upset when it doesn’t meet everything but we have no proof that she didn’t tell it to us – even though she clearly didn’t. Another professor of mine told us a week before the final that those who got A’s in the class would be exempted from the final and then two days before the final, took back his statement. So, those who thought they were exempted had to pretty much cram what they could’ve been doing in a week. Now, I don’t want this to seem like all the professors are like this as I had three professors who were pretty much the greatest professors I had ever taken, which is why I was disappointed that some of the other teachers don’t meet their standard. I just want to point out that the majority of the professors, according to not only Ateneans, but also exchange students, are not the best they could be.

For me, the stress was not only from schoolwork, or the professors, but also the school itself. It really bothered me that the level of organization at the school was really subpar. For instance, I had been asking about when to pay the tuition for weeks and the exchange student coordinator assured me that he would let me know. He let me know I the day before it was due. He texted me to meet him at his office and told me I had to pay asap and I had until the next day and it had to be all in cash. Now, it was really frustrating and stressful for not only me but also my relatives as I thought I could pay with a credit card and had to ask them to exchange my cash so I could pay. Once I have my cash, I go to the cashier and she tells me I could’ve paid with a credit card. I was upset because I bothered my family just to get the cash and the student coordinator should be the one to know how to pay tuition. There were further instances at the OIR (office of internal relations) that they didn’t know the answers to things they should know or don’t follow through with our requests until the very. last. minute. They didn’t have our school ID’s ready a week after school had already started, none of the students were registered for their classes when they told us we all were (I had to introduce myself in all of my classes as all my professors thought I was in the wrong class or something), and keeping urging that any forms we had to fill out were needed asap. I also experienced this with the office for dormitory where they didn’t contact me about needing to pay until two days before it was due. I had already been staying there for 3 months and no one approached me about how to pay or the rules or the works about the dorms. All the exchange students basically had to fend for themselves. Now I don’t mind that there wasn’t a dorm orientation or something but I would’ve appreciated someone letting me know where the bathroom was or where the cafeterias were in the dorms or how the laundry system works. Also, no one told me how to obtain internet or that I had to pay for my electricity (there was a fine per electronic device, charger, etc). I just wish I had known so I could’ve been more prepared. My experience then hasn’t improved until now. While most of the ladies at the front desk are very nice to me, they either don’t really know much about what goes on in the dorms or their dorm rules aren’t very consistent. They would give us a paper that said move out day was the 21st and when we asked the front desk, they would be firm about the date but then a few days later, they’d give us another paper saying that move out is the 23rd but still tell us in person that it’s the 21st. Another inconsistency is that the dorm cafeterias would say that they’re open on certain hours depending on the day but sometimes, if you go there during the hours they claim it is open, it’s closed without any notice. So then you’d have to get creative on where to get food because delivery here still takes a long time due to traffic.

I think exchange students would enjoy their stay more if Ateneo’s regulations reflected more leniently on exchange students because Ateneo has a strict code of only 9 cuts for MWF classes and 6 cuts for TTh. While that’s reasonable for Ateneo students, exchange students don’t have any time to explore the Philippines especially if the workload is heavy enough to make it feel like you took an extra two classes. My fellow exchange students who did get to travel around more either just didn’t care if they cut class and didn’t care about school in general (to the point that they’d miss more than 9 or 6 and be forced to withdraw). In the States, only a few professors care about how many cuts you take in a class but the majority don’t care for the responsibility to learn is on you. Another thing is that Ateneo is pretty much a stricter version of  high school, where most of the professors are always down your throat about your work or they always have the need to assert authority over their students to the point that it’s abusive. One of my professors made us study 6 chapters of a textbook equating to about 200 full pages in a week for a the possibility of a pop-exam and ended up telling us that we don’t need to learn it but just wanted to see if we had the work ethic.

It was also a little disappointing to hear that a of the exchange students felt isolated during their stay at Ateneo. I did experience it during the first few weeks of school and in some classes, the first few months because the students here are too shy – yes, shier than I am which I didn’t think was possible- to approach new students. It wasn’t until I attended school events or approached them myself did I make friends in my classes. A lot of it actually  was the fact that they don’t want to speak English, which confused me since they speak English in their classes. Once I told them that I understood Tagalog, then they were more open to being friends with me. Also, if it wasn’t for ASEC (the Ateneo Student Exchange Committee) I wouldn’t have been able to feel as comfortable as I did during my stay here as a lot of the local friends I made here were also through ASEC. However, when I spoke to the Director of the exchange programs, he told me that exchange students have complained to him before about this problem, which is can be disheartening for foreigners when all they here about is “filipino hospitality” but don’t find it when they get there and don’t have as enjoyable of an experience. The director also explained that since Ateneo is one of the top schools, most of the students are pretty well-off and are “snobbish” when it comes to making new friends. It was really those who were scholars at the school that were friendlier towards others.

Even though I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to study in the Philippines, I must honestly say that transitioning from a pretty good school in the states to Ateneo was a really difficult one. I sincerely made an effort to think optimistically and review the school fairly by not comparing it to the States and through that there were a lot of positives about my studies in Ateneo. However reflecting on my entire study abroad experience, I was happiest when I wasn’t at school. I thought it was my privileges getting in the way of my enjoyment of the school but from talking to other exchange students, their thoughts can be best supported with a quote from one of my exchange student friends: “I loved the Philippines, just not studying at Ateneo.” While I didn’t expect my study here to be flawless, I still wish that Ateneo could have met some more of the basic expectations of mine.

If I were to rate it:

academic advising:✮✮☆☆☆

orientation:✮✮☆☆☆

access to resources (library, bookstore): ✮✮✮✮☆

variety of class options to take: ✮✮☆☆☆

professors: ✮✮✮☆☆

easiness of classes: ✮☆☆☆☆

facilities: ✮✮☆☆☆

food: ✮✮☆☆☆

housing: ✮✮✮✮☆

cost: ✮✮✮✮✮

social experience: ✮✮☆☆☆

overall experience: ✮✮✮☆☆

Even though Ateneo wasn’t for me, the memories and experiences that I had there has changed me as a person to be emotionally stronger and more patient, especially. Not only that, I also am physically stronger as I was able to survive in 100 degree weather without an air-conditioned bedroom, classroom, or in general for the most part, as the only air-conditioned places at Ateneo were the library (but only in certain rooms), the lab buildings, and 3 classroom buildings (there are like 3 fans, but trust me, that’s not enough for a classroom). Nonetheless, I still had a lot of fun in the Philippines overall and have really enjoyed my stay. 🙂

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5/11-5/17 ; Sweet Memories

Although it was finals week for me, most of the friends I made at Ateneo were seniors and they got to end school a week earlier. As a result, most of them were all pretty much free to hang out. It was nice to be able to celebrate our “birthdays” (it was Kim’s birthday the day after mine) with them and catch up before our days at Ateneo come to an end. I’m really greatful for the friends I made here because without them, Ateneo would’ve been completely miserable. It was really only when I spent time with these friends that I was able to keep my mind of off the stress that Ateneo would give me.

5/11/16: For Kim’s birthday, we went to her favorite restaurant, Mom and Tina’s for dinner. Afterwards, we went to a dog cafe where when you purchase a drink, you get 2 full hours of unlimited dog time. Most of the dogs were really cuddly but the big ones were pretty sleepy since we went at around 9pm.

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5/12/16: Some of our friends were free on Thursday to go out with us to BGC. It was a really fun night to catch up and we actually met some of our other friends while we were there. However, since it was a Thursday it was also pretty dead but it was cool for a chill night out.

 

5/17/16: I said goodbye to my closest friends at Ateneo this day. They were the ones who showed me the truest of filipino hospitality during my stay here. 🙂 They’re both seniors so they’re already done with school but I’m moving out of dorms this wednesday so I would no longer be at Ateneo the next time I’d get to see them.

5/10/16 ; Birthday

I stayed with my relatives over the weekend of my birthday because on May 9th was considered at holiday at our school for it being  election day. Election day was pretty hectic as my cousin was running for Councilor in Bulacan and everyone was anticipating the results or voting. Thankfully, he won. 🙂 As for the president, we didn’t know who won until a few days later and the VP wasn’t announced until a week later because they all tally the votes manually. Most of my relatives were upset that Duterte won for president as apparently he’s the equivalent of Donald Trump in the States.

On the day of my actual birthday, I was greeted with a Happy Birthday from my nephews and a lovely chocolate cake. Then, we all got ready and headed for Fontana. On the way we ate a chinese restaurant, where I actually ate chicken feet as peer pressured by my cousins. Fontana is known for being a kid’s waterpark and while it was cold, it was relaxing to just not have to worry about school for once. It was also nice to see my nephews enjoying it. After swimming, my aunt’s side relatives came over to the villa and they all greeted me and we had dinner. I hung out with the cousins for a little bit but they brought their dog, who gave birth to four puppies and I spent most of my time playing with them. Kim and I had to leave the next day as we had our final days of school right after. It would’ve been nice to stay an extra day as we woke up early the next day at around 6am to go back to school but it was a nice break.

4/29-5/1 ; Hong Kong Weekend

Day 1; Our flight was delayed by a few hours so we didn’t get to do everything that we had planned beforehand. We got to the hotel by 10pm where the guy at the front desk upgraded us to the top floor. 🙂 The hotel, Hyatt Regency hotel, also gave us a complimentary smart phone with unlimited data which ended up being a lifesaver for us to walk around the streets. It took us a while to find the restaurant still, but we ended up eating at Din Tai Fung, which was amazing. By the time we finished eating it was 11pm and everything but small shops on the streets were open. So, we decided to just walk around and see the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, but that was closed too. Although the streets were incredibly clean and safe, we didn’t feel like being out too late so we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the next day.

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Day 2: After eating breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Ocean Park. The hotel offered us discount tickets which was nice and it helped beat the crowd of people. The first thing we did was go see the giant pandas, of course. There was no trash in sight and it was really nice for a place that was supposed to be a zoo. We ate lunch at the panda cafe, which I wish was more panda-themed and the food wasn’t that great. If you were to go, I’d recommend eating at the Old Hong Kong place in Ocean Park as it was much better when we stopped by for a snack. After Ocean Park,we went to Victoria Peak or The Peak, the most recommended thing for a tourist to do in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy when we went there so it wasn’t as great of a view. The weather for today was perfect though. I completely forgot what it was like to not be sweating the entire time and to feel cold for once. It was suggested online that one takes the tram to go to the peak but the line to even ride the tram was insane. Kim and I couldn’t even see the end of the line while walking towards it. We decided to just take a taxi to the top which was enough for us. We ate dinner at Duddell’s which was supposed to be a really nice restaurant as it got two Michelin stars but it ended up being pretty disappointing for the price. After dinner, we went to the Night Market and I actually learned how to bargain really well – probably also thanks to seeing my mom do it so many times. 🙂

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Day 3: We were super tired after our day so we chose to sleep in. Afterwards we walked around the mall area but it turns out the malls don’t open until 12pm so we did some serious window shopping. We just went to Ladies’ Market early and did more souvenir shopping and but our bargaining skills to the test again. We pretty much needed to finish up most of our HK dollars and kept the rest as a souvenir. It was a good thing we kept our spending under control as we almost forgot to leave some for our taxi to the hotel and the airport. Afterwards, we ate lunch at the airport by the time we got to the gate when it was the final Final call because we assumed that it wasn’t going to be on time for the first time. There was a thunderstorm so we were delayed landing for an hour. Once we landed, we were welcomed back by the 100 degree weather once again.

For Hong Kong, I think 4-5 days would’ve been the perfect amount of time for a relaxing vacation but 3 days is great for a taste of Hong Kong.

4/27/16 : One month left – Update

I have exactly one month left here in the Philippines and as much as I’ve loved my experience here and I’ve grown so much overall, I’m feeling really eager and ready to go home.

Since school ends this May, all of my classes are doing last minute tests and projects before finals so I haven’t had much of a break from it and it’s been pretty overwhelming.

The weather has gotten hotter since it’s now Summer time. And the fact that there’s no air conditioning in most of the school buildings, my classes, and my dorm room has made it quite hard for me to want to go out. Not only is the sun directly on you, but the humidity also makes it hard to breath and makes it feel hotter than it actually is. Since this is the first time Ateneo has changed the school calendar to have school during this time, no one including the teachers is used to having to be in school during such hot weather. The drastic weather change has also caused a lot of my classmates to get sick. As a result, I got sick from them and I’m still recovering from it.

The average weather trend for the past month:

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Other events:

4/8/16 ~ Reunion

Because of Facebook, I got to be rein-touch with one of my old classmates from when I studied in the Philippines in 5th grade. We met up at the mall and it was crazy how it felt like no time had passed. It was nice to reminisce and catch up. I also got to know how my other friends from my old school were doing.

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4/9/16 ~ Little Italy

Kim and I decided to check out the newest project happening in the Philippines – Little Italy. Apparently it was were the best restaurants were. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of our meal, which was a large oven-baked pizza and croquettes with Italian sodas and it was one of the best meals we had in a while. The buildings are still being renovated but within the end of this year, everything will be shops and restaurants. They also gave gondola rides but we didn’t have enough time to wait in the line.

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4/16/16~ Shindig

Last last weekend, however, I did manage to go out to the last school party hosted by Ateneo called Shindig. My friend and I booked a hotel for the party which was nice because we got to have air conditioning for a weekend which was nice and relaxing. We also got to see a lot of our friends that we hadn’t gotten a chance to see in a while and it was a nice break from the overwhelming stress of school. It was pretty funny that the event only played oldies music and the DJ’s especially loved to play disco music. Everyone wanted to make the last school party last so everyone stayed out until around 3am. I didn’t get to take any pictures but there were photographers at the event.

Pictures taken by Shindig Photographers:

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4/22-24/16 

World Trade Center Exhibit

My relatives were part of the Exhibitor event at the World Trade Center in Pasay. It was nicely air-conditioned and they were a lot of foreigners scouting the new Philippine products. There were a lot of amazing artworks and crafts but I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of most of it unfortunately.

Relatives’ Booth of their handcrafts:

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Most popularly sold were handbags:

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The venue: IMG_0633.jpgIMG_0632.jpgIMG_0635.jpg

 

4/2-4/4 Weekend; Surprises

On Saturday, my ASEC buddy, Kim, and I went out for shopping, dinner, and Mystery Manila at Eastwood. Mystery Manila is basically an activity where you and your friends are trapped in a room and you use the clues given to you to find a way to escape. There are several themes for Mystery Manila but my buddy decided to choose the scariest one called Rebecca’s Revenge, where there’s a possessed girl haunting the room and you try to find the clues to perform an exorcist and you’re given 60 minutes to complete this. The eery sounds, the screaming, and door banging playlist they played really messed with your head as you were trapped in a totally dark room. As a result my friends were scared out of their minds and we gave up within 10 minutes. The workers kept giving us more chances to try to complete it but it was too much. So, we failed but it was a really funny experience. Apparently we chose the scariest course so we’re determined to go back but with a different course this time and actually beat the time.

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12919388_10207485156861350_1159515534_o.jpg Above: Kim, Me, and my buddy failing out mission. 🙂

4/4/16;

On Monday, it was one of my friend’s birthday. So some of my other friends and I met up at the Starbucks near her condo at around 11:30pm to surprise her with a cake. Together we walked to her condo and called her down at midnight. We pretended she had something to sign in the lobby and when she came down she was so surprised. (I wish I could include the video but WordPress doesn’t allow videos). Unfortunately we all had tests or homework due the next day so we couldn’t stay long but we all made plans to celebrate her birthday Wednesday night when we’re all not busy. 🙂

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3/28/16 ; Ateneo on Lockdown

I guess I wasn’t the only one dreading going back to school today as on my way to my first class, it was announced that there had been a bomb threat on campus. They were having all the students evacuate the building and go to the field that was just right next to campus. It made no sense to me to stay there so I just walked back to my dorm. The dormers were advised to just stay in the dorms as it was considered safe for now but we were all advised to pack emergency bags but they didn’t announce anything at all or update us in anyway until about 2 hours after they evacuated campus. Also, the main method of communication is through facebook, which I found really funny.

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They reopened campus at around 5pm. Before then, no cars were allowed on campus and if people were to leave, it had to be on foot and they weren’t allowed to return. If they were dormers, they weren’t allowed to leave campus until the investigation was complete. I wasn’t scared because according to my classmates, this wasn’t the first time Ateneo received bomb threats. Everything is okay now and school is pretty much back to normal.

It received national coverage as my cousin texted me asking if I was okay.

Here’s the news article: http://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/metro-manila/03/28/16/bomb-scare-forces-evacuation-at-admu

Official memo:

Memo on bomb threat

3/24/16-3/17/16; Cebu

Day 1: Thursday

We had to ride a boat going from Bohol to Cebu which took about an hour and a half. Our lucky boat number:

Once we got there, we went straight to our hotel to drop our things off. We ended up eating at a restaurant right next to our hotel called House of Lechon, where they served cebu lechon straight from carcar. We tried both the regular and spicy lechon. It was true that you don’t need any sauce for lechon in Cebu. (I guess I was too hungry that I forgot to take a picture).

Tabo-An Market~ it is known for their dried fish and other known foods like Otap, dried mangoes, etc.

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We decided to visit all the historical places in Cebu City since we only had half of the day left. Luckily they were all walkable for us, about a 10 minute walk in between places.

We walked down Colon Street, which is known as the oldest street in the country but it no longer looks like how it did before and is very modernized and just looks like an average street now so we didn’t even recognize we were walking on it and unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to take a picture (but these are from the internet to get an idea).

Cebu Heritage Monument~ The monument depicts scenes from the baptism of Rajah Humabon, a procession of the Santo Niño, a Roman Catholic mass, and the Battle of Mactan between Lapu-Lapu and Ferdinand Magellan.

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Yap Sandiego Ancestral House~ This place is known as one of the oldest houses in the Philippines and one of the first ones owned by a Chinese. The current generation of the Yap family still lives in the home on the weekends. It’s a cool place to visit because you are allowed to sit in the chairs and freely touch everything. I mostly videoed the house because it was easier that way but here’s a few photos.

video links: house view 1, house view 2, house view 3, house 4

Basilica Minore del Sto Nino~ Since it was Holy Thursday, there was a lot of people at the church. There was also a mass going on when we got there, so I didn’t want to take a picture of the inside and disturb the mass.

video: outside church

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Magellan’s Cross~ Ferdinand Magellan he had a cross planted to mark his arrival in Cebu.  The original wood is encased in this cross.

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Fort San Pedro~ This was closed because of Holy Thursday but we just walked around the area.

Day 2: Friday 

It was pretty hard to find places that were open on Good Friday.

We just ate breakfast at the 7-11 right next to our hotel and went directly on the way to the Daoist Temple, which was a must see apparently. There was surprisingly a lot of people there for it being 11am. You could ask to make a wish at the altar of the temple, but unfortunately I couldn’t go inside because I had only packed shorts for this trip and there was a strict dress code for the altar.

video: temple 1, temple 2, holy shrine

Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary~ This was also one of the few places that were open on Good Friday. Unfortunately, they said it wasn’t a good season for the butterflies as most of them die during this time due to the heat. As a result, we didn’t get a chance to take pictures of them as the only ones that we could see were pretty small. There is, however, a museum of all the butterflies collected and the scientist that founded the museum actually created artwork using only the damaged wings of butterflies. In the pictures below, all the artwork is made from the wings. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of it close up but it was really amazing. Even his signature was made out of the wings. (You can also see the progression of my insane tan :)).

We ate lunch at Lantaw Native Restaurant because it was that or Jollibee or McDonalds that were open on Good Friday. I ordered garlic butter shrimp since I can’t eat meat and it was actually amazing. Marco ordered Bacolod chicken.

My sister’s 18th Birthday~

I’m really glad I had internet in my hotel so that I was able to call my sister. Although the connection wasn’t the greatest, it was still nice to be able to greet her at the right time. I realized that I’m starting to miss home a lot more.

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My sister with my part 2 of her bday gift.

Crown Regency Hotel & Towers~ 

For our final spot for the day was going to the 38th floor of the Crown Regency Hotel, where they had things that would satisfy any adrenaline junkie. My friend, although he insisted on going, is afraid of heights. For some reason he though he would probably get over it when we got there, but he didn’t. As a result, he asked for the rollercoaster not to be tilted and to go slowly. It wasn’t the adrenaline pumping for me but the view was nice at least.

For the rollercoaster, it’s supposed to be tilted like this to be fun video: tilted version. But it was too much for Marco. As you can see from our photo, it was leveled so it just felt like a kid’s ride to me.

Day 3: Saturday 

Kawasan Falls~ It was pretty crowded when we went. There was no room for parking so our driver had to just drop us off and come back later. We had to wait a few minutes for our turn on the raft. The rafting activity let us basically go under and through the waterfall. We got soaked. At first it felt like a massage but then it felt like water was pelting your back when we were getting out of it. Marco volunteered his phone for this, so I don’t have most of the pictures yet (so, more pics to come). You could also hike up the four tiers of the waterfall, but it was so crowded hiking up after the 2nd tier we went back down and there wasn’t much a view afterwards anyway.

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Moalboal Beach~ By the time we left Kawasan, Moalboal was packed. Everyone was tenting overnight there. When finished eating lunch there wasn’t much room to stay around for long. Marco and I just ate lunch there and he swam for a bit. I was already pretty tired and I didn’t feel like getting any darker so I stayed in the shade and relaxed on the sand.

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We ended the day eating dinner at the Ayala Shopping Center which was right across from our hotel. Afterwards Marco said he wanted to watch a movie so we watched Batman Vs. Superman and the theater was surprisingly packed as well. They also make you sing the national anthem before the movie starts which I thought was interesting. For the movie itself, I give it a C-.

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Day 4: Sunday – Going Home 

Our check out of our hotel was 12pm but our flight was at 8pm, so we asked if we could just leave our luggage in the lobby. We decided to just stay close by and went shopping at SM City Cebu which is the biggest mall in the Philippines. It was a really nice place to go shopping but I didn’t bring a luggage big enough to fit it all. So we just bought a few souvenirs. Marco wanted to leave for the airport super early because he was afraid of the traffic so we left at around 4pm. It turns out, it wasn’t traffic at all and our uber driver said it’s usually Mondays after Easter when it’s traffic and not Sundays. Either way, we stayed at the airport for a good 5 hours because our flight was delayed. The flight made up for lost time and we got home at around 11:30. I was welcomed back to Manila by feeling the wondrous heat that was not so apparent in the provinces.

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3/20/16-3/23/16; Bohol Trip

** I don’t have enough disk space to upload all the pictures onto my laptop but here are the highlight pictures of my trip! Will post the rest soon!

Day 1: Sunday

We arrived at the Tagbilaran airport in Bohol at around 10:30. It was the smallest airport I have ever seen. Inside is just a single baggage carousel and nothing else. We stayed at my friend’s insanely beautiful home for the 4 days we were there (not pictures for privacy). We ate her mom’s home cooked meal for lunch, which consisted of a seaweed salad, grilled fish, garlic shrimp, and rice. We sat around my friend’s living room for a while and then took a quick nap before dinner time. For dinner we ate at a beach resort, where we went night swimming. It was so peaceful and relaxing because we had the pool to ourselves. You could also see the full moon and the stars in the sky clearly from the pool.

Boffo Resort~

Day 2: Monday 

Tarsier sanctuary ~ This was the place I was the most excited for. Tarsiers are known as the “smallest monkeys in the world” and they can only be found in the Philippines. When we went it was around 10, so it was their nap time so most of the tarsiers were sleeping. Thankfully, there were some that were awake because they’re known for their huge eyes and for being one of the few that are exclusively carnivorous. They’re no bigger than the size of a person’s hand and they look so fragile and adorable. Apparently, Prince Harry bought a tarsier from bohol but it died on the way due to stress. The tarsiers are actually prone to suicide by wrapping their tails around their neck, which is why the sanctuaries no longer let tourists hold the tarsiers like times before in order to keep them from going extinct.  

ATV riding through the Chocolate Hills~ I was surprised at how easy it is to actually operate an ATV. Although getting sand in your eyes is inevitable, it was so much fun to be able to speed as fast as you wanted as there was no traffic whatsoever. We had the whole road to ourselves and with an amazing view of the hills.  

Actual Climb to Chocolate Hills ~ The hills got this nickname because they used to look like Hershey’s kisses – not because they’re actually made of chocolate or are growing cocoa trees. Bohol experienced a 7.2 magnitude earthquake around 3 years ago and not only did it damage most of the buildings, it also affected the shape of the hills. Nonetheless, it’s still an amazing view and it can be seen after going through a 217 steps long climb. 

Man-Made Forest This man-made forest can be seen on the way back from the Chocolate Hills. It was made a reforestation project because of the kaingin aka “slash and burn” farming system during WW2. As a result, the Bilar man-made forest became a part of Loboc Watershed Reforestation Project. It was a fun place to take pictures because we had to keep dodging cars that were on the road in order to do so. 

Loboc River & Lunch Cruise ~ There was basically a large bamboo boat/raft that took a tour around the Loboc River while also being able to eat lunch on it. The view was nice, the food was all you can eat, and the weather was perfect. We ended up having a late lunch (around 2pm) so not a lot of people were on the boat which was nice so we could have it all to ourselves.  

video links: boat tour, the view, performers

Prony- The Largest captive Python in the Philippines  ~ We went to a snake sanctuary afterwards, where it held the largest python in the Philippines. Apparently Prony, the largest, died but its skeleton is still displayed at the sanctuary. Its offspring known as Prony 2, which isn’t as big but the 2nd biggest. took her place and is shown as pictured. We were allowed to touch the snakes and be in the cage with them. *(More pictures to follow) 

video link: Yasmin and the snakes

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Baclayon Church ~ It was currently under renovation from the earthquake so there wasn’t much to picture but it was Bohol’s the second oldest stone church in the Philippines (the oldest is San Agustin Church in Manila). 

Blood Compact Shrine ~  This was where the first treaties made by the Spanish, Legazpi, and Filipinos, Datu Sikatuna. It’s called a blood compact or Sandugo (“one blood”) because they would slit their arms with a dagger and pour their blood into a cup of wine and they would both drink it as a sign of friendship.

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Day 3: Tuesday 

Hinagdanan Cave~ 

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Shell Museum: *no pictures yet

Alona Beach: *pictures to come

Bohol Bee Farm~We ate here for lunch. It is an actual bee farm but we didn’t take the tour and only ate lunch. They served a homegrown honey spread which was amazing. I had the honey glazed chicken which was also delicious (I also finished it before remembering to take a picture). Right below the restaurant was also a small waterfront area, as shown in the pictures. *more pictures to come

 Dauis church, which was also under reconstruction so I couldn’t get a nice picture of the inside. Inside there’s a miraculous well but was covered to keep from getting the debris from the renovations from getting inside. According to the legend, the people of Dauis were being invaded by pirates and sough refuge in the church. They were running out of water supply and a well appeared miraculously at the foot of the altar and the water is said to have healing powers.

video: reconstruction work

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 * (the well photo below is not mine; just for visual aid)

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Day 4: Wednesday 

Balicasag Island ~ An insanely beautiful island just an hour boat ride to get there. Here, we went snorkeling for a good three hours. We saw the giant clams, the sea turtles, and fish sanctuary. 

Virgin Islands: Another 30 minutes from Balicasag was the Virgin Islands. It has a new nickname now because a new politician owns the island but it’s still commonly known as the virgin islands. It’s known for it’s white sand bar, which felt like walking on flour. It was the softest sand in the world. You could swim in the water but it was pretty shallow and you could easily find starfish and other small fishes in the water.

video: reaching the end of the sandbar

 

 

 

3/9/16; Recovery day

I woke up today with enough energy to actually go to my morning class. I woke up earlier than my alarm and I got ready just in time. It’s extremely hot now since it’s the Philippine’s “summer” season. So naturally I’m sweating from the heat and semi from being sick. Everyone in class kept complaining how hot it was but I’ve been hot since January so now it’s extra hot. Basically, it’s hot when pretty much all of your classmates are posting this on Facebook:

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I sat in my first class, cooling down in the delightfully air-conditioned room only to find out 10 minutes later that we had a “free-cut” as they call it here or pretty much class was cancelled because my professor was stuck in traffic. I thought I had a nice break already until I found out I had another “free-cut” in my next class. I had time to order jolibee delivery to my dorm and it was the best Php200 I ever spent – I got a whole container of spaghetti, large fries, and three peach mango pies (which I later shared with friends obviously) delivered right to my dorm lobby for the price of about $4. Anyway, I only had one class today which was nice. However it’s my four hour lab class which is my least favorite class of the whole week not only because it’s once a week for 4 hours but because my professor isn’t the best. She was a strange professor in general but today she decided to make me a victim to her craziness. I had finished my part of my lab and having to listen to her 3 hour lecture beforehand nonstop, deal with the heat that I hadn’t dealt with for a couple of days and having to wear pants, still having a stomach ache, and all those factors I was getting a headache. Since I was done with my part and my lab group was all just conversing with one another about unrelated class things, I thought it would be okay if I just leaned my head on my hand and checked my phone because everyone else who was done was. However, she decided to think that I was being “unparticipative” (yes, I know it’s not a real word) and began to scold me for a good minute about it. After letting her rant, I explained to her that I finished all my work and I wasn’t feeling well. She began to scold me about how I would have to have a doctor’s note if I wasn’t “feeling well” and I immediately took out my hospital note as she was still talking. She stared at me and asked, “you were confined?” I nodded and she began to blame me for her scolding me because I didn’t present it to her beforehand even though she started class right away and she never had time for me to even go up to her. She just walked away after that and my headache grew. There are a lot more things wrong with her like she has misogynistic tendencies and she says a lot of insanely politically incorrect things and for the most part I just dealt with her “dark age” mentality but today I was really done with her.

As a result. I left immediately when she dismissed class and apparently Kim was having a bad day at school too so we decided to go out to eat at Earth Kitchen where we ordered jasmine tea, shrimp spring rolls, fish tacos, and the beef kabob which were their most favorite dishes and had every reason to be. It was nice to eat a place that actually clean, tasted good and was healthy. While it was traffic to get there (it’s a 7min drive without traffic but took 20 minutes with it), it was worth it.

Afterwards we decided to continue with the pampering and we got a pedicure (only hands because it was closing soon). It took longer than expected though because they got new polish and it took longer to dry apparently but it came out nicely and it was all somewhat worth the stress of today.