Woke up 5 in the morning today, to bid mum farewell. Mum was going back to Malaysia, leaving me here all alone. After saying our goodbyes, I went back to sleep as I was honestly really tired from pretty much all the walking we did.
I woke up back again at 8 and started packing and getting ready for my journey back to Cubao. I decided to walk to the Taft Avenue station as I felt it was much safer than using a tricycle (which mum and I had planned earlier). At the Taft Avenue, I had my Chow King lunch and went straight to the MRT. I had to pass 8 stops until I’ll reach my stop which was Aranata Cubao. There I bought a Tuna sandwich just in case I’ll get hungry afterwards. I took a grab to the hostel and thank God I reached there safely and unharmed. Met a few of the housemates and started unpacking. Now this is the beginning of my journey. Alone. Alone but never lonely 🙏🏻 I have always been alone actually. Going to high school I was alone. I didn’t know anyone in my class since I was enrolled to a school far from my town. It was the same in uni, I had to go to another state even, and I definitely felt out of place. However, although I was alone in the beginning, I knew life will always take its toll and soon I’ll be less alone as before. Still, I miss my mum, my dad, my sis, my bro, my home, my cat, my bed, the food, friends, CFC family and pretty much everything that makes me feel comfortable and at home. But you know what they say “Get out of your comfort zone”.
I can’t believe it has already been a week. Since the hotel didn’t provide complementary breakfast like Fersal Hotel did, we had to find food somewhere. We decided to go to Baclaran Church first to ask about the anticipated mass today. Apparently only Malaysia calls it Sunset mass. As we weren’t sure how far it would be, we decided to get a tricycle. The boy who rode us to the church had actually cheated us. Before we climb into the tricycle, he said it was 40peso. When we reached the place, he said it was 40peso per head! Yes, that’s actually counted as expensive for a very short ride. My mum was furious but well, what can we do right? Before going into the church, something caught my eyes and it was the “Inasal” signage! Yay food! The place was packed and service was slow, yet, we finally got to eat our Sisig Bangus and Halo-Halo, so whose the real winner here, aye? Anyway, after brunch we went to church and prayed a bit. Upholding the family and my journey here. After that, mum wanted me to experience other kinds of transportation (LRT/MRT) in the Philippines. So, we walked towards the Baclaran LRT station and decided to go EDSA and from EDSA walk towards Taft avenue MRT station and from there to Ayala Centre. Wow, it looked like I know what I’m talking about right? In fact, I didn’t at first and we actually got lost!! Mum wanted to go to Landmark. She was so sure Taft Avenue was a stone throw away from Landmark. Because she actually went there early January this year. But she was mistaken Taft Avenue with Ayala Centre. Not blaming mum though, it was quite confusing too. When we finally reached Ayala Centre, we did some window shopping and I couldn’t believe my eyes! I found a shop that sold some sort of fandom merchandise. They had Harry Potter Houses Quidditch Jerseys, Harry Potter Wands, Harry Potter Key chains and many more. I was really excited about it since I became a Harry Potter fan after recently watching Harry Potter (I’ll get into that later on). Anyways, what excite me more was they had RIVERDALE T-shirt as well as Archie’s jersey (what even, I know!!!). Unfortunately, I bought nothing there as I have already finish my cash on the sport shoe I mention yesterday 😭😭 we made our way to Landmark after that and went straight to the food court. It was marvellous, they had so many yummy looking food. Since we have just ate, we decided just to try some Filipino delicacies. Whilst paying for our food at the counter, God must have heard our prayers because just then we saw a signage that told us that there was a Chapel at the 5th floor. They had anticipated masses too. Praise the Lord! We didn’t need to rush back to Baclaran to attend mass, it was just right above us 🙏🏻 About 45 minutes before mass, we headed to the Chapel. It was beautiful and air-conditioned. Plus the mass was in English so that was great. After mass, we had our dinner and and went straight back to Ayala to run some errands as it was nearly 8pm and we didn’t want to reach back late. We first had to change our SIM, mum’s back to her Malaysian number, and mine to Philippine number. Then we headed to the supermarket to buy canned fish so I’ll not starve this month. Few minutes later and it’s nearly 9pm. The MRT closes at 10pm so we had to rush rush rush. However, us being us, decided to buy ourselves desserts on our way back. Sadly, we were stopped by the security because we weren’t allowed to bring drinks (or dessert for this matter) in a paper cup inside the MRT. We had to consume the dessert quickly and that made me quite unsatisfied. Despite all this, we were able to reach the hotel safely by 10pm.
After checking out from Fersal Hotel, we made our way to Pinoy Pamilya Hotel which was located in Pasay. Mum wanted to stay here as it was nearer to the airport (she’s going back this Sunday). We went straight to SM Mall of Asia after checking in as it was already after lunch. We used a jeepney which only costed us 8peso! What a save! After circling around and getting lost a bit, we found “House of Lasagna”. We contemplated a bit whether or not we should eat there as it was quite pricey, but decided lastly we should give it a go. The interior was really pretty and the food presentation was also pleasing. Although the food was delicious, it was just way to pricey. After lunch, we did window shopping and a little haul at the SM department store. I got myself a sport shoe, and I’m kind of slowly regretting (hehe, I’m kidding). Hours later, after we have done shopping, we decided to have dinner before going back to the hotel. Mum wanted something different (not the choices I gave), she wanted a place that sold pinoy cooking and fish. So we decide on “Inasal”, as it has Sisig Bangus as well as Halo-Halo. Unfortunately, they were so many people at the restaurant. To the point where there was even a queue. A long queue I might add. We decided we weren’t going to wait so we search for another restaurant that had delicious pinoy food. Finally we had dinner at “Congo Grille”. We ordered a bowl of sour soup with fish and a plate of grilled fish (tbh, I’m not really sure what’s it called even, but I know it was two different kind of fish and it was delicious).
Thursday, the last day in Cubao and the last day we (my mum) could go to CFC Centre to collect the RFIDs because apparently due to the ASEAN Summit organised in the Philippines, they have declared Friday a holiday. Saturday and Sunday was closing day and Monday was Labor’s day. After having breakfast, we decided to send our clothes to the laundry, which was just a few steps away from the hotel. As we were walking towards the Laundry, we found a saloon. And just like that, I decided to get a haircut. I told the hairstylist that I wanted a trim only, but I guess he didn’t really understand what I said because as for now, I have really unflattering short hair. Once again mum and I headed to Ali mall and then to SM to get the pillow and bed set we wanted. Remember what I said in Day 4? Declaring no more Ube for me? Well that can be flush to the drain because we found Ube doughnuts and how can we say no, right? Got ourselves two Ube doughnuts, and let’s just say it was delicious but not as tasty as it looked. After finally purchasing the bed set and pillow, we decided to head back to the hotel. But right before that, we had Sbarro Pizzas and can I just say it was also not as tasty as it seemed? Hmm, well, don’t judge a book by its cover. Reached the hotel, cleaned up a bit and headed straight to CFC Centre. After getting the RFIDs, we spent quite some time going through their merchandise in the Ablaze Store. There were so many pretty T-shirts. We bought a bunch of stuff and .., you know what, let’s just skip to dinner where we had an amazing Pasta meal. Delicious! I came to the realisation that my appetite has increased to the max when I’m here, I can’t stop eating. I’m currently eating right now too while typing this down.
Once again we headed to the CFC Centre because mum had to settle the RFID. However, the Uncle who was in charge of my schedule and pretty much everything there, wasn’t around again as he was busy. Not knowing what to do, I went to look for the Ates I was introduced to yesterday. Alas, they too weren’t around. Apparently, many were not around that day as they had meetings and trainings to attend. Plus, the Family Conference in Baguio is just around the corner. So after mum had dealt with the RFID, which hasn’t been finalise yet, we decided to head back to Ali Mall and get our late lunch there. It was an all-you-can-eat dinner, however, the chosen wasn’t much though. They had noodles, meat, and a bunch of Filipino delicacies. After dinner, we decided to walk to Farmers Plaza to continue looking for my pillow and bed set, as the ones in SM was quite pricey. Farmers Plaza reminded me a bit of Centre Point as they both have the same tiles and walls. One thing that gave me a shock was they actually have a church inside the mall. It wasn’t really like a church, but more like a hall. Get this, I actually saw a mass being celebrated just that moment with a priest too. Plus it was open air!! Mum told me it was normal in Philippines, and Farmers Plaza wasn’t the only mall that does that. Interesting I must say. Instead of looking for what we actually came for, we ended up looking for Ube ice cream. It was actually since yesterday I was looking high and low for that sweet dessert, however, there were only sold in huge bucket. No signs of Ube popsicles anywhere. As I was about to give up, we finally found one in an 7/11 store. It didn’t taste as good as the ones I tasted before, but I guess it’ll suffice. After spending about three hours there, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel as it was getting dark. Walking along the road side, legs started aching and tummy started grumbling. Mum suggested we go for a reflexology. I was thrilled. We quickly rush back, took a shower, get ready and head to the massaging place. It felt good of course, however, I can’t help to mention that my grumbling stomach kind of ruin my experience a bit. Apparently I was hungry again. After the massage and dinner, we went to the 7/11 to buy bottled water. You’ll never guess what we found, yes, Ube ice cream again. It was a bucket one, one half was Ube and the other was coconut flavour. Since the bucket wasn’t as big as the ones before, we decided to buy it. Later that night, I had declared no more Ube for me.
The third day of our stay here, we went to the CFC centre to settle my stay in the Philippines for the next 4 months as well as the RFIDs for the members back home. We said our goodbyes to our lovely host, uncle Manny and aunty Ditas and made our way to Fersal Hotel, Cubao, which apparently was a 30peso worth of tricycle ride from the CFC centre. At the CFC Centre, I was first introduced to the YFC International Coordinator, Kuya Lawrence. He brief me a bit on what I was going to do and then he moved along introducing me to Ate Laleng. After attending mass there, Ate Laleng brought my mum and I to see the hostel that I was going to stay. Although it was quite far from the Centre, it does look safe. It had around 4 rooms inside that can fit around 15 people, there were also a kitchen, dining area, laundry area and a living room. Although, It wasn’t that clean or neat, it was still liveable. After all of that was done, mum and I headed to our hotel, check-in, went out again and made our way to Ali Mall, which was just a stone throw away from our hotel. We had our dinner there and after that tried looking for a pillow and a bed set at the SM department store.
Shocking news? Well as you might or might not know, September last year I decided to be a Vegetarian. It was hard at times, especially when you’re surrounded with friends and family that are not vegetarian. The hardest part I would say was explaining to them why I had chose this path. It wasn’t because I’m against animal slaughter, it was more towards my health. Well, all of that went away on the first of January when I decided to eat seafood again. This was mostly because it was hard to survive in College where I wasn’t able to prepare my own “vegetarian meal”. However, I still don’t consume chicken, beef, pork or whatnot. So I called myself a pescatarian. I was told by my dad that Philippines really love their pork and they have really so many chickens here. The amount of seafood aren’t many and even their vegetables are not as how my dad would say “appetising and how normally I would eat it”. I was indeed skeptical and didn’t really think much about it. Alas, when I was having a conversation with our host this morning, he told me that if I were to join the “mission volunteer”, which was one of the option I had here, I will be sent to provinces and do mission volunteer work there. Which means, I had to stay with the people in the provinces, and what they eat, I had to eat. As said before, they love their meat. A little advice by our host, “you can’t be “healthy” there”. There goes my pescatarian life 👋🏻🙃 Day 2 we had the chance to go around Cainta and TayTay town to run some errands in the mall. This is actually my fourth time in the Philippines and my views towards this country changes every time. This could be because it was ages ago since I last came here, so my understanding now is definitely different from back then. What I have observe today was they have really colourful houses, it was all bright and vibrant. I saw a turquoise, blue, orange and pink one. Funny thing is, the whole building had one colour only, it wasn’t a mixture. So imagine a whole building being bright turquoise only. Their roads too were very narrow, like a one way street but there are cars coming from different sides. Did I mention the cars there (including their jeepneys and tricycle) drives very fast and so close to each other? Fun fact, they have less road accidents than in Malaysia and I’m at shock. It is a known fact that Philippines is over populated, so apparently they have this rule where only certain vehicle can drive around Manila on certain days. For our host, they weren’t able to drive in Manila every Monday since it appears that both their cars’ plate number says so. I find it interesting that they try to ease road traffic with this method. So in day one I have mention about they’re sky traffic and apparently the host’s son works in the airport. He told us the sky traffic was because they had only one runway. The arrival and the departure had to use the same runway and this had cause so many delays. No wonder my flight yesterday had a great deal of delay 😌
Cainta, Rizal. The place I stayed for two nights:
Before I begin telling you this new journey of mine, let’s just rewind to a few months back when my dad decided to send me to the Philippines so I could get exposure and gain knowledge regarding the course of study I am taking. It all started when my university decided to change the school system. Instead of June and December as the start of a new semester, they changed it to March and September. This means, after finishing my fourth semester in April, I’ll be having a 5 months break before continuing my final semester in September. Though I’m grateful for my parents on getting in touch with the people from the Philippines and settling my stay and my objectives there, for some reason I wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea. It could be because I don’t really find myself as a rather proactive and outspoken person or it could be because I’ll be alone for about 4 months there? 🤷🏻♀️ Whatever it was, I knew I had to put that aside and get out of my comfort zone to actually achieve my goals. Now that’s settle, let’s get back to journey. Day 1, it started out slightly bad frankly. That night before the flight, the airline emailed stating our flight got delayed for 2hrs. The next day when we went to the airport, it was apparently delayed again!! Our flight was suppose to last about 1hr40mins but because of the sky traffic, it ended up being 3hrs!! This was literally my first time experiencing this. I was already able to see all the buildings, but for some reason, they weren’t landing. The plane kept going round and round, circling the country. To top that off, there were actually another plane doing the same thing! Seriously, how bad was the traffic? Despite all this, we were able to land safely and that’s all that matters anyways. We were fetched by a family friend from our CFC community and we headed to their place as they were going to host us for a couple of days. We discussed over dinner on my stay there and my objectives. I was also given options on what I wanted to do there for the next 4 months. I haven’t finalise my decision yet, but I’ll get there.
Sandakan the East Coast of Sabah. Stunningly Beautiful. Fun filled trip of gorgeous scenery, friendly orang-utans and proboscis monkey, seafood, seafood and more seafood!
It was my first time to the east of Sabah. Yes, I’m a 19 yr old Sabahan who was just given the privilege to visit this magnificent place. I’ll admit, I’m glad that only now was I given the opportunity to go, because if it was say 10 years ago? Well, I don’t think I would appreciate it that much. Now that I’m much older, I have grown to appreciate nature more. Which is what this trip was all about, Nature. From the bottom of my heart, I say this place is truly amazing. Just a 7 hours drive (if you’re driving super fast) from Kota Kinabalu. But trust me, it is all worth it. You can even stop by Kundasang, which is a 2 hour drive from KK, have lunch there maybe? and continue your journey to the east. Can’t really express my feelings through words but lets just say the trip has given me the chance to reconnect to nature to recreate myself.