One thing I love about working in UIC is the opportunity of traveling around the Philippines. Yeah! I've been to different tourist spots in the country because of our side trip adventure after our annual retreat.

Retreat is one of the institutional spiritual activities in the university organized every year and most of the time  it is held outside Davao City and the school administration is kind enough to allow us to have a side trip near the retreat venue.

Our retreat and side trip adventures brought us to Cagayan de Oro City, Camiguin, Baguio City, Cebu City and Bohol (unfortunately I was not able to join the group in Cebu and Bohol), Bukidnon, Digos City in Davao del Sur and Lirib in North Cotabato.


In April 2008 our annual retreat was held in Baguio City. It was my first time to travel via air and it happened on my birthday, April 3!So nice and memorable.

We left Davao at 7:30 in the morning via Philippine airlines and touched down at NAIA at 9:15. We were fetched at the airport by the Maynilad bus (Maynilad is a travel agency based in Manila that annually took charge of the educational trip of the engineering students of UIC). We had a stop over at Nayon Pilipino but I could not recall anything from this stop over because I was very sleepy. I took two bonamines to prevent purging while traveling on air. It felt like I overshoot the recommended dosage so I felt woozy seemed like I was floating in the air and oblivious on what happened around.

At 12:00 noon we're on our way to Baguio City but had a stop over again at Bulacan for our lunch. I was so tired that I did not enjoy the sight seeing, I was more concerned with the feeling of vomiting I slept most of the time during our seven hour travel.

When we reached the provinces of Pangasinan and Tarlac, a heavy traffic greeted us making our journey very slow, so taxing! I woke up occasionally to check what's going on then drowse to sleep again.

When we reached La Union, my appetite in sleeping was gone. I darted my stare outside. The high mountain, the rolling hills and fog and all the scallop vistas, it was beautiful!

We reached Betania retreat house at 7:00 o'clock in the evening and the cold environment made me so sleepy again! It was very frosty! I did not experience such cold temperature in my life. I went to bed early and covered my body with three layers of blanket and had to stack everything I could find in the room to keep me warm.

Oh hell! I really declared I would never come to Baguio again, I hate the cold temperature and narrow road, it triggered my nausea. I don't like a very cold environment.

with best friends and university colleagues, Rowie and Helen 
at the back of Betania Retreat House

We stayed for five days in Baguio city, despite my disdain in the cold environment, I was happy with the outcome of our retreat because our retreat master was a Jesuit priest from Ateneo de Manila University and he was so hilarious, our sessions were full of fun and laughter and we spent the whole day giggling and laughing!

During the last night of our retreat, we went to SM Baguio and amused to find out the mall has no air-con.


Our day tour started at day break on the 8th day of April, we left the retreat house at 5:00 in the morning and our first destination was at the Strawberry Farm in Trinidad, Benguet. We spent 30 minutes touring around the farm and marvelling at the majestic landscape of the Benguet province then proceeded to Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

At the Strawberry Farm

You see, I am a certified Acrophobic where I have this unexplained great fear in heights. When I am in the high rising building I would never look down because it feels like I am about to fall and when I am climbing up the stairs it's a total agony because I have to intensely grip my hands in the staircase to prevent myself from swaying because it feels like somebody is pulling me down.

So this strange feeling became a concern when we reached the Grotto. It was around 250 steps and I was so worried if I could make it. I have no choice but to climb otherwise I would be left behind downstairs, the thought was more horrifying! I really pulled my strength and courage to climb up and discard my fears, thank God it worked and I was able to reach the top of the grotto successfully.

There were lots of souvenir's shop around the grotto but I did not buy anything because we would still go to other places and I might find more interesting items there :-)

We went back to Betania retreat house for our breakfast then went out again at 8:00 in the morning and  proceeded to Wright Park and the Mansion, the official summer residence of an incumbent Philippine president. I got a chance to straddle a white horse just for picture taking! Then we posed around the neatly-trimmed lawn of the Mansion.

Straddling horse at the Wright Park :-)
At the Mansion. The official summer residence of the incumbent
Philippine president

Then up to Camp John Hay to visit the PMA school and training camp. At that time, the entrance was free not sure if it is still free today. I detested the road going to Camp John Hay, my stomach swirled terribly and my nausea worsened, it was hell and I threw up when we're on our way to Burnham Park.

At the beautiful ground of PMA

We reached Burnham Park at 12:30 noon and we spent lunch there but I was not in good condition  to eat my lunch because of the wooziness I felt. I just seated at the park bench and ate Corn in a cob. I could not remember anymore what are other activities we did here. The only recollection I had was when we went to the market and bought a linen blanket and T-Shirts.

We went also to Mine's View Park and bought some delicacies like peanut brittle, biscuits and Strawberry jam. I bought a beautiful netted blouse for my mother worth P250.00.

At the Mine's View Park

We got back to Betania house at 5:30 in the afternoon and did not join the group when they went to Botanical garden.

If you gonna ask me on the expenses touring Baguio City, I could not provide an exact costing because our tour was free, it was part of our side trip.

On the following morning we left Baguio and stayed in Manila for another two days.


If there's one area in the Philippines I did not want to live, it's NCR (national capital region composed of Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Caloocan, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Taguig etcetera), aside from the worst traffic scenes, the pollution and the fast-paced life, NCR is nothing but an unwanted region in my mind due to mess and stress.

Mall of Asia leisure with my sister
Against the backdrop of Ice Rink in Mall of Asia

Everyday you have to race with time, endure the awful weather, high expenses on travelling and the distance it takes to reach your destination. I hate this kind of life, I don't want to race with time I want to enjoy my journey, live in a place where I could experience serenity and calmness of the environment, in a place where I don't have to worry if I could reach home before midnight, that's why I stayed in Davao City because of its quiet surroundings, peace and order and less than expensive cost of living. It won't take eternity also to travel from your house to the workplace. Davao city is just so ideal in many aspects.

I thought I could never visit NCR in my lifetime because I never had any plan to go there! But in 2008 I was given a chance only because of our Baguio city retreat. The moment I arrived in Quezon city my worries started to pick up.

My sister fetched me and my three colleagues at the general house of RVM sisters in Cubao where we dropped by upon our arrival. I was so shocked upon learning that we had to commute three times before we arrived at Caloocan City gosh!!

I was shocked even more when I learned that there was no minimum pay when we rode PUJ because of the long distance travel, argggh! That moment I wanted to return to Davao right away.

After resting a while, we went to Mall of Asia. Aside from its sprawling ground and spacious tenant's areas, there's nothing extraordinary at MOA, so after taking our dinner at Jerry's Grill, we went outside and walked around. We'd gone home at 12:00 midnight.

I was forced to stay for another two days even though I really wanted to go home because our scheduled flight back to Davao was on the 12th, so I endured few more days absorbing dust, disgust and torment.

My sister brought me to ABS-CBN compound the next day and had a picture taking outside the Pinoy Big Brother house then we went to Makati visiting Greenbelt, Rockwell and Trinoma in Quezon City. I was stunned with the beautiful design of Trinoma's hanging garden. It was amazing!

I was able to meet my college friend, Armila Balonon, who was working at the time in Makati, she stayed with us overnight in Caloocan. On the following day, they accompanied me to the airport for my 5:30 pm flight back to Davao. I took a very deep breath because at last I can go back to a quiet place hehe.

Our flight back to Davao was really terrifying because it was raining and Jesus!The plane felt like swaying up,  for the next one a half hour I did not move and kept glancing behind the window, I prayed hardly and felt my body trembled intensely. I kept looking at my friend beside me then darted my eyes to the monitor in front of us which did not display anything other than those creepy "turbulence" signal. We're advised to keep our belt fastened and should not leave our seat, goshhh!So scary!! I didn't close my eyes in case of whatever event that might unfold, kept looking on the emergency instruction how to wear a life vest or something like that hehe! I was only relieved when I saw the Samal island far below indicating that we're in Davao finally!

Wohhhhh what an experience!!

(update: Fast forward 2013 July: I ate all my words of not coming to Manila again, much more live haha! Right now, I am living and working here and had to endure the long hours of commuting from the house to the work place)