Flowers in her hair,
Photography by Stef + Naomi Photography
Hair and Make up by Alain Adeva
– Frederic Lawrence Knowles
Love is a choice.
We often believe that falling in love is all that it takes to maintain a good relationship. But maintaining a mature and loving relationship takes so much more effort than falling helplessly in love with someone.
I read an article today that made so much sense to me. This man wrote about his lost love and how he failed to choose this woman every single day. Instead, he was fixated on their differences and the “what-ifs” he had about other women out there, the freedom that he thought he was missing. With that said, instead of focusing on the good that this woman was bringing into his life and the happiness they had together, all he could mostly see was the life he could have had, without her.
He further shared that love is a choice and to be exact – love is a choice you make every single day. When I read this line, it brought me back to the first date I had with the guy I’m with.
Of course at that point of the relationship, we were seeing everything through rose-colored glasses, as is the case with every new relationship. What was odd about that first date was as we were so giddy and all over each other, this man in a shiny shimmery blazer who we had casually met as we were seated next to each other, said “Don’t give up on each other.” We looked at him as he said, “In relationships, there will be things you won’t like about each other, people give up too quickly nowadays and I see how connected you two are, don’t give up on that quickly and see beyond your differences.”
It was quite unusual to get that piece of advice on the first date, but three months into the relationship, this piece of advice is proving to be quite helpful.
Finding someone you like and you’re connected to can be easy these days, but keeping that connection alive is what proves to be challenging. Sometimes people these days forget the hard work that needs to be put into relationships, due to how easy it is to find yourselves in one. With how online dating is now, finding a person to love is as easy as swiping to the right.
I end this day with a reminder, thanks to that article and thanks to that serendipitous moment with the shiny shimmery dressed man three months ago.
See the good in the person you’re with, the good traits, the irresistible smile you had first noticed about him/her, how beautiful/handsome he or she is, how he/she looks at you. See how he/she makes you laugh. See how he/she is able to be the person in your life that you can constantly talk to and be honest with. See how he/she is able to bring out the best in you, or the bliss in your day-to-day routine, how every day seems a little different, a little more pleasant with him or her around. See that, instead of looking for the answers for the what-ifs and instead of magnifying the differences, you can focus on the good.
Know how you can make a difference in his/her life. Know how you can make him/her happy. Know how you can make his/her life better. Know how you can be the person he/she can talk to and be honest with. Know how you can be the person he/she adores, by always trying to be the best you can be individually. Know how you can bring more good into his/her life, rather than complications. Know how you can make his/her heart feel secure and cared for. Know how to show him/her how much he/she means to you every day.
At the end of the day, the writer of that article is right and the man I met three months ago does have a valid point. Love is a choice you make every single day, yes.
So each day you wake up, ask yourself that question and whatever your answer may be, know it and live it.
It’s easy to make your mind up about something. Sometimes, unconsciously, we shut an idea, a person, or a place out due to certain triggers out there.
I’ll be honest, though the abduction of the tourists in Dos Palmas happened when I was only 17 years old, I’ve never quite forgotten about it.
Maybe that’s why I never gave this place a chance. I never once added this to my list of resorts to go to.
I’m glad that I was inspired to change that this month as I would never have discovered the perfect quiet getaway for those weekends wherein you long for a lil less of the craziness, and more of you…well you (and the special person or people you travel with), and nature.
Some things, or places in this case, deserve a second chance.
I’ll list my reasons for eventually, throughout the weekend, falling in love w this place.
But first, here’s a collage of what my weekend was like over there:
Special thanks to Trio for the wonderful app which I now use for my mash-ups(to download, here’s the link: http://tap.trioapp.co/jamiefournier).
Now, back to my reasons:
1. It’s Easy!
They make everything so easy. We booked through Globe Trek Holidays, Inc. (A big thanks to them too) and all we practically had to do was confirm and pay for our room. Once we were done with that, all we really had left to do was make sure we’d make it to our ridiculously early flight (5:20 am). We were picked up at the PPS airport, brought to the wharf for our one hour journey to Dos Palmas and all the facilities, kayaking, snorkeling, and the like were for free. All we really had to pay for was our food and, ahem, drinks.
2. Excellent Customer Service
And I mean the-going-beyond-what-is-expected-consistently kind of deal. All smiles from our first minute there to our last. This applies specifically to their servers at the restaurant. We didn’t really get to explore much as we had built a routine during those three days: Room-Pool in the morning (aka Sun Time) – Lunch at the resto – Beach time (aka Sand and Music time) – Dinner time (aka Grown-Up drinks time – Room time ( aka Movie and/or Balcony w A Wonderful View time). The point is the staff members we got to interact with were so accommodating!
Erik from the midshift, yes you, we love you!:p
3. The Food
Prawns. Crabs. Delicious Grilled Chicken. A good buffet for breakfast. Best part? All reasonably priced! Well, may I just add, the buffet breakfast comes with the room package. Free, yes.
And, yes, I’m awful. Why? I didn’t get to take pictures of the food. We were following a strict no-phone-on-the-dining-table rule.
If you go, try their Inasal (Grilled Chicken), Gambas, Prawns, and their Crab with either Coconut Milk or Sweet Chili Sauce. And, yes, we had both. We are now about 5 lbs heavier but who cares when it comes with priceless holiday memories. Okay, we do. Pilates and gym time this week, yep. 🙆😋
4. For its Stillness
Throughout the weekend, we kept wondering where the other guests were. There were times when we felt we were the only ones there, apart from the times we spent at the restaurant.
This place is perfect for couples and families.
My Overall Experience
Because of the specific reasons listed above, I came out of that weekend trip feeling rejuvinated and a lil more ready for the hectic week ahead.
Although it was a quick getaway, it was enough to give us beautiful memories, badly needed for individuals like us who are mostly stuck in the metro. And yes, it was enough for me to conclude that someday, maybe even sooner than expected, I’d find myself there again.
I meant what I said, I have discovered the perfect hideaway!
Thanks GLOBE Trek Holidays, Inc and Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa for making this amazing weekend possible!
You can contact GLOBE Trek Holidays, Inc.:
GLOBE Trek Holidays, Inc.
Unit -B 322 Villareal St.
Pasay City 1304
Tel: (63-2) 8816558/8335388/8339349
Telefax: (63-2) 8335388
Mobile: (63) 917-8991648
Or contact Dos Palmas Island Resort & Spa:
Contact details are found on their website – dospalmas.com.ph
Sometimes it happens. I’m reminded of them and I feel an immense feeling of longing. When it happens, triggered by the most random experiences, my eyes start feeling heavy and my heart begins to long for having them around. When this happens, I tell myself to look away, “Breathe, Jamie… Breathe.” There’s no point in crying for something that most people won’t even get.
It takes a whole lot of effort to remain okay when this happens. It takes a whole lot to carry on, with the day, like I’m not reminded of the two biggest heroes of my life.
Today, it was an old couple, probably in their late 60s to early 70s, in the dining area of a beach resort that I’m currently spending my weekend in. It was the man’s plaid shirt, carefully tucked into his khaki pants, dark brown belt, slightly protruding healthy tummy (the kind that tells you that he’s lived a long healthy and happy — and interesting — life) that did it for me.
“That’s exactly how my grandfather used to dress up,” I told the person I was with. “If you met, you two would have gotten along.”
I often feel that way, I often wish that the people who matter to me were given a chance to get to know who this man was… and why I always am reminded of his goodness and his heart.
I wrote about it before, I said there are some kinds of love that prove to be everlasting, and death can’t even be in the way of it. I’ve grown to know that through the years. I was 14/15 years old when I lost my grandmother, 17 when I lost my grandfather and yet now at 30, at a random beach resort, I try oh-so-hard to stop myself from crying because I miss them, because I’m reminded of them, and because I wish that they were still part of my life.
“He’d like you, I’m sure.” I said, as I looked away. Little things, litte things, little things bring me back to you, bring me back to days with both of them, and I wish, just wish I could be with them again.
It’s inevitable I guess, and there’s no way out of it… You just have to carry on.
But I will do so knowing, I once had these two angels with me, and they have made me who I am. Every thing about me stems from how they raised me and I am eternally grateful.
There will be endless moments like this when little random things remind me of them…the yellow flowers my grandmother used to love, the plaid shirts my grandfather used to wear, butterflies, and all the little things that used to make up their life, and I will continue to feel that tinge of longing, but instead of crying, I’ll remind myself to smile.
Once upon a time, I had these angels in my life, and that makes me one of the luckiest girls out there.
Lolo and lola,
A couple reminded me of both of you today, and I hope you can feel all the love I feel right now all the way up there in heaven. I hope you’re having Tanduay in a cottage somewhere up in the clouds, as lola prepares your dinner for you.
I love you both, without an end.
-Your lil Jamie
When one of my best friends asked if I could travel with her after her residency, I said yes right away. Best friends for more than 15 years and this was to be our first trip together, other than our educational tour of asylums during our uni days. It was definitely easy to say yes!
“Where?,” She asked. Well after three trips to Thailand, that was off my list. Indonesia was far too much of a hassle for a quick getaway and brought about slightly unpleasant memories so that was off the list too. Cambodia will always be one of my favorites, but I wanted to see something new. Cambodia off the list as well. I’ve never been a fan of busy cities for holidays so places like Singapore and Hong Kong were off the list too.
“How about Vietnam?” It felt like that was the best option for a quick getaway after the narrowed down list.
And so there we were, with a trip to Vietnam to plan. We had 4 days, 3 nights. After some research, we opted to head over to Ha Long Bay.
Beautiful Ha Long Bay, yes.
1,960-2000 islets, mostly made of limestone. An unknown territory for me. A UNESCO world heritage site; was there even anything else left to consider?
We booked a family room to be shared by my best friend, her sister, and I with Paloma Cruise.
That was all we needed to do, aside from the airline tickets to Hanoi, of course, and our hotel for the night in the said city. Post that, we were counting the days to our trip away.
The Trip to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay
From Manila, we took a Cebu Pacific flight to Hanoi. If my memory serves me right (which normally isn’t the case), it took us three hours to get to Hanoi. Since we got there at midnight and our trip to Ha Long Bay was at 8 am, we had to book a room with Serenity Hotel in the Old Quarters area in Hanoi.
The trip to Ha Long Bay took 3 hours as well from Hanoi. We were happy with the comfortable van ride, especially since I claimed the front seat right away.
Once at the port, we checked in at Paloma Cruise and our beautiful journey began.
A Quick Stop in Hanoi
We really had nothing to see, considering we only had a few hours in the city and we were dead set on resting before our 3-hour van ride.
Filled with bikes and busy roads. That pretty much sums up my experience of the city.
I have to say, though, that staff members at Serenity Hotel were extremely helpful and friendly.
Paloma Cruise: Exploring Ha Long Bay
The minute we caught a glimpse of Paloma Cruise, we knew we had booked with one of the nicest cruises out there. 4 decks, 22 cabins. Beautiful interior design.
Day 1 – Checking in Paloma Cruise
The cruise’s car picked us up at our hotel in Hanoi. Stayed at the Paloma Cruise office by the port to wait for us to get onboard. Took a quick small boat ride to the cruise. Delicious lunch. Trip to the floating village. Sunset party. Vietnamese cooking demonstration. Dinner. And squid fishing (for those who wanted; obviously this list did not include us).
Breakfast on the boat. Transfer to the smaller boat for Lan Ha Bay excursion. Three Peaches beach. Lunch (supposedly on the beach) but we ended up having lunch on the boat that day. Visited a quaint fishing village. Kayaking to find colored jellyfish (where I bid my iPhone goodbye, thanks to my oh-so-efficient waterproof bag). Swimming. Back to the big boat. Sunset Party. Dinner.
Breakfast. Trip to The Amazing Cave. Check out. Back to the wharf. Back to Hanoi.
My Overall Experience
I fell in love with the place. Initially, it was more like a hmm-I’ve-never-been-there-so-why-not kind of mindset towards the place. But that way of thinking was thrown out the window the minute I saw Ha Long Bay. Even more so, when I went onboard Paloma Cruise.
Beautiful. Magical. Romantic (of course when with your SO).
It felt like I was in a place where I’d be forgiven for forgetting the rest of the world. And that is exactly what I did while I was there.
Note to self: I must go back someday!
I hope you fellow Nomads will find your way there, if you haven’t already, someday soon.
I had always known about it; there’s so much beauty up in the northern part of the Philippines. One place I’d always think about was Ilocos, particularly Vigan.
I’ve always been in love with charming old towns and that is definitely the perfect description for Vigan. Before having seen the place, I would often find myself in awe of all the Vigan posts I’d see online.
Cobblestone streets with colonial European architecture. It is no wonder that it has been included in the New7Wonder cities in the world.
With that said, I’d always known I’d go someday given the right opportunity.
That happened over the weekend.
Triple 8 Travel & Tours invited me over to see Vigan and so much more. On their Ilocos package, the route was to be Laoag, Pagudpod, and Vigan.
I immediately said yes and scheduled my weekend getaway to finally see a piece of time in our Philippine history frozen for us to revisit, relive, and enjoy.
It isn’t for the faint-hearted. A tour like this requires an individual willing to be in a very comfortable (dependent on your height of course – lol) van for hours on end.
Here’s the breakdown: 9 hours en route to Vigan. Hours exploring different tourist spots throughout the whole tour. And another 9 hours en route to Manila.
The beauty of it, though, is being able to fit in all the beautiful places you want to see in Ilocos in a span of three days!
The drivers of Triple 8 Travel and Tours are oh-so-friendly and entertaining too!
Oh and for those who are obssessed with Karaoke sessions, may I just share that some vans have karaoke systems built in so make sure to ask for a van that has this, if you want to sing the hours of transit away! Given all passengers give their consent of course.;)
There is sooooo much to see in Ilocos.
Vigan – Calle Crisologo. Hidden Garden. Ruby Jar Factory. Bantay Church Bell Tower. Saint Augustine of Hippo Parish Church/Bantay Church. Chapel by The Ruins. Paoay Church. Malacañang of The North. Paoay Sand Dunes.
It was such a treat to come home to a pretty room like this. Spacious and with customized notes everywhere.
With all that we did on Day 1, I automatically passed out as soon as I found myself in bed.
So what happened on Day 2? Some of my favorite stops, yes!
Pagudpod! Hannah’s Beach Resort/The Blue Lagoon. Kabigan Falls. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Bantay Abot Cave. White Rock Formation. Bangui Windmills.
We ended day 2 making one of my dreams come true! I’ve always wanted to send some lanterns up in the sky and Raisa and Mark of Triple 8 made it happen for me when they found out! I can’t wait to witness the real lantern festival in Ilocos!
Lanterns up in the sky. Wishes made. That was such a beautiful way to end Day 2.
We left Subli Subli resort at about 8 am and headed to Vigan where we were given 3 hours to explore and have our lunch. Post that we we started our journey back to Manila.
9 hours on the road, yes.
It was quite an adventure to see all the tourist spots in 3 days! For most of us who only have a short period of time to get away though, this is the perfect tour package. You get to witness and experience all that you need to in Ilocos in one quick getaway.
I am so happy to have finally seen part of what makes the northern part of our counrtry beautiful and a peek of what the Philippines was like back in the olden days, a place that shares so much about who we are as Filipinos and how we got here.
Some may frown upon being stuck on the road for hours, but I will have to say that it is worth it at the end of the day.
Beautiful historical and scenic sights, priceless memories.
Thank you Triple 8 Travel and Tours for a wonderful weekend getaway!
Are you ready for your Ilocos adventure?
Spend P2,999 and you get to experience the best that Ilocos has to offer!
Triple 8 Travel and Tours FB: http://www.facebook.com/Triple8Travel
Their site: http://www.triple8travel.com
Their contact numbers:
(0906) 281 6578; (0918) 669 9578; (02) 512 0337 (Manila landline number); (077) 677 1448 (Ilocos landline number)
Oh and when you go, bring loads of sunblock, comfortable travel outfits, swimwear, cameras for all the scenic places, and lots of patience for the long rides in between!
I hope you’ll go for this adventure soon!