Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alice's Rabbit?


Today while I was walking toward home with a friend coming from a nearby department store, I can't believe my eyes with what  I saw - a stray white baby rabbit running along the side of the street, right in front of my apartment building. It was so elusive and was obviously afraid of me. It tried to run away from me and eventually it found a small hole that leads inside the perimeter of our building where I cornered it by the wall. It's now inside my apartment in a small box eating slices of apples and carrot. 

This was so Alice in Wonderland. Of the legions of cats in the streets of Jeddah, I ended up chasing down a rabbit. Wow, this could really be Alice's rabbit! By the way, I decided to name it, 'Ginger' The Conejo (though I'm not sure yet as to its gender), which sounds  rather familiar to Kapamilyas.

My dilemma is I already have 8 cats at home so I run the risk of finding it one day from work in a gruesome state. Not to mention those 8 eating machines find almost everything else edible. So I decided to give Ginger away, where I'm sure she can be properly taken cared of. She will not be staying with me for more than 12 hours so I've prepared a video of hers and hopefully I will be keeping track of her progress.




Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good News On Camera Ni Cabrera!

Recently, I added a new feature in my 'Camera Ni Cabrera'. I know this would sound corny or perhaps even cheesy to some of you, but  I incorporated Bible verses on every post on my photoblog. This new feature came about as my way of giving back the glory to Jesus Christ who did amazing things for me  more than 5 months ago, just weeks after that life changing circumstances that happened to me during my vacation in the Philippines in May - June 2011.

I realized that in everything I do, I should do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10: 31), and that I should take away the "Me" factor (Pride) in the equation because it is the Lord who made it all possible for me.  He is the wind beneath my wings, the light that lights my way and without Him I'm nothing and I can do nothing.

This is also a way for me to share and spread the word of God to those who haven't got a personal relationship with Jesus yet. I know that not a lot of people would understand this, most especially the unbelievers, and actually, I already had one visitor who questioned me about the Bible verse in one of my posts and that's quite alright. So, every time you pass by my photoblog, expect some Good News to make (or break) your day. God bless you all! :-)

But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 
~ 2 Corinthians 10: 17


Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Justin Ng's Photo Contest Entry


This is my entry on Justin Ng's Thousand Dollar International Photo Competition. October's theme is Sunrise/ Sunset. You can show your support by liking this photo on Facebook, click HERE. God bless!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

She's Wicked (But Love Is A Healer)


See the black & white version of 'Wicked' on 'Camera Ni Cabrera'.

Way back in August when I first heard through the bathroom window of our apartment what seems to be a crying kitten and sure enough, when I looked at the window, I saw a little black kitten looking back at me and it seemed to be asking for food. The kitten has no way of getting out from a cave-like basement storeroom because the door of that small space which is under the staircase of our building is always locked, so it must have been born there and  neither have any interactions with other kittens nor people (aside from hearing them while they go up and down the stairs). It was basically a 'cave kitten'.

After a few weeks, my friend and I decided to rescue the kitten by climbing over the door (it has a wide open space above it where you could climb to get to the other side). When my friend got there, he just couldn't find the kitten because it was dark and the room was full of clutters. There is also a small door that leads to an open space which is the back of our bathroom where I first saw the kitten; he can't find it there either. And so we decided to stop the search and call it a day. The cat was just too scared to show itself. 

From that day on, for it to be able to survive, everyday we give the kitten water and cat food placed inside a loose plastic bag, by way of the small (bigger than a fist size) hole at the side of the stairs. We've been doing that for weeks, until the caretaker of the building called and said that he had found the key to the small room. That evening we decided to give it a second try and search for it again.

A few minutes after we opened the door, the terrified kitten just leaped out of nowhere and ran frantically  without direction until I cornered it by the door of my neighbor. I can't even touch the kitten for it was so fierce and I was scared that it might scratch my hands. I asked my friend to get me the rag and I used it to cover the entire body of the kitten so that it doesn't scratch me and then I quickly took it to my apartment.

For three days I can't even touch the cat. I have to feed it cautiously and quietly or else it might freak out, but then as the days passed, the kitten learned to trust me eventually. While feeding it, I always sneak my other hand towards its back and gently pet it. It was during that time also that I realized that it's a she and I thought it's also appropriate to give her a name. Since she's entirely black and fierce, I thought why not call her 'Wicked', like the witch in The Wizard of Oz.

Now I think she's already settled-in in my apartment with 8 other similarly curious cats and two weird-looking people (at least in her perspective). What can I say? There's nothing in this world that love can't change. She's Wicked, but love is a healer. Thank you Lord Jesus that we were able to save her. The only question now is, how long can we keep it up with them? They will not be kittens forever, you know, not to mention that their subsistence costs dwarf that of our own (green peas thankfully make us get by, lol). I know it's sad and heartbreaking but one of these days, some of them will have to go. We simply can't handle them all. So sad really.


Our daily routine with all 9 of them (cats)!




Sunday, October 9, 2011

Three Days With PEBA And TFC


Recently, I had an amazing week with some amazing people of  PEBA (Pinoy Expat/ OFW Blog Awards). I went to 3 different occasions - some of them included the interviews of my friends and of myself which will be shown on 'Balitang Middle East on ABS-CBN (The Filipino Channel). I feel bad though that I will never be able to watch them, now that we've shifted from TFC to GMA Pinoy TV, but that's alright, I took a lot of photos from those events and that's enough for me, but it would be cool to see myself on TV though.



September 23, 2011, Seminar With Patnubay 

Last September 23 (Friday), we had a mini seminar with Patnubay, an NGO headed by Mr. Joseph Espiritu which helps Filipino OFWs with their labor problems  in Saudi Arabia. I really learned a lot that day especially about our rights as an expat in this country. I also became aware of the plight of the not-so-lucky Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia.

Together with us in the seminar were Charles Tabbu, the TV reporter of TFC Jeddah, Delia Sevandra of 'Ganap Guardians', blogger and journalist of Saudi Gazette, Casiano Mayor, Nereus Jethro Abad, the  president of PEBA, one of the winners of PEBA last year, Nelson Bedayo  and Kenjie Solis, the founder of PEBA. If you want to know more about Patnubay, you can go to their website HERE.



September 27, 2011, NPC (Robian) Filipino Cultural Presentation in Al Laith, KSA.

This was one of the most exciting highlights of my week because I became a cameraman for a night for TFC in lieu of Charles Tabbu, the TFC reporter for Jeddah who wasn't able to make it because he had to fly to Riyadh that day. He was supposed to come with us to cover an event hosted by the town of Al Laith, but because he couldn't come, he just gave me a quick lesson on how to handle the camera before leaving for Riyadh. Regarding the interviews,  I told him that I will just ask the help of my colleagues from PEBA who were with me. He left me his camera and all the accessories that go with it, and mind you even his ABS-CBN (TFC) Identification Card.

Mr. NJ sent us a 4x4 car to fetch the 4 of us (Nel, Kenjie, Mhel and I) from Jeddah. It took us more than 2 hours to get to Al Laith, I never thought it was that far though. When we arrived at the venue, the Filipino employees of NPC were already in their costumes and so we took that opportunity to interview some of them. And when they took to the stage, I was there at the side of the auditorium to shoot some of their performances. Their cultural presentation was magnificent, it was a summarized history of the Philippines, from its pre-colonial era to the modern times.

After the presentation, we interviewed 3 of the high ranking officials of NPC, the Managing Director and one of the stockholders, Engineer Ahmed R. Al Balla, the head of HRD Ali Muhammed Al Shaiki and the Corporate Head - Social Responsibility Mr. Khalid Al Adhal. After that we went to the Planetarium and watched a 3D movie in a small theater all in the same building with the auditorium. It was great, but my head ached after that 3D movie though.



Then we went to a restaurant. All the Filipino employees of NPC who were there at the event were already waiting for their order when we arrived. I can tell they were all hungry and so were we, but they were not just hungry for food, they were also hungry for photo ops. Kenji and Mhel took their pictures and I took  more video clips while we were waiting. And after we had eaten, we rested  a moment, and headed straight back to Jeddah with the same car and driver. We arrived home at around 2AM. It was an awesome experience, something that I will never forget. You can also read a more 'gruesome' account of this trip on my friend's blog, ¡SOY NEGRENSE!



September 30, 2011, TFC Interviews PEBA and the Jeddah Bloggers.

When Nel and I arrived at Kudu restaurant on Paletine street where the  interview was to take place, most of the invited people were already there except for Charles and Mr. NJ, who had a problem with the tire of his car. By the moment Charles and Mr. NJ arrived separately, that was my last feel of a journalist's camera, the one I used for the interview in Al Laith. Good thing I didn't forget to charge the cam's battery a night before because it'll be the same camera that he will be using on that interview . 

Kenji was the first to be interviewed, then Mr. NJ, followed by Nelson and then me the last. On my part of the interview, it was nerve-wracking, I don't know what to say and I feel awkward, may be it's because I 've never been interviewed ever before. I was like talking without knowing what I'm saying. I felt stupid with that interview and I can't even remember now what the question was. LOL!  I'm just hoping now that I will not look stupid when it goes on air. And then after our interviews, Charles asked me to hold the camera for him as he says something for closing remarks about the PEBA interview. Watch the videos below!






It was a great experience with PEBA and Charles Tabbu of TFC. I will never forget it for the rest of my life. I would like to say thank you Lord Jesus for everything and thank you to Kenji and Mr. Nereus Jethro for that wonderful experience with TFC. If not for them there wouldn't be any interviews at all, they are the ones who facilitated it. Thank you also to Charles Tabbu who entrusted me his camera and ID. Thanks PEBA!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Isang Litro ng Liwanag (A Liter Of Light)


"Isang Litro ng Liwanag" (A Liter of Light), is a sustainable lighting project which aims to bring the eco-friendly Solar Bottle Bulb to disprivileged communities nationwide. Designed and developed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Solar Bottle Bulb is based on the principles of Appropriate Technologies – a concept that provides simple and easily replicable technologies that address basic needs in developing communities.





"Isang Litro ng Liwanag" campaign headed by philanthropist Illac Diaz (the nephew of 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz) turns plastic soda bottles into nifty light bulbs in small homes, which absorbs sunlight and spreads it out inside a house.




A man from San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines shows how to make an alternative light bulb to be used inside the house. For more information on how to help, click to their website below.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And Three Became Eight (The Rescued Kittens)


I've found 7 cute kittens under a car near the garbage bin in the street just outside our apartment the other day. They turned out to be the kittens of the tabby cat owned by the Indonesian expats from the second floor. The cat regularly waits for us every morning outside the door of our apartment for weeks now, seemingly begging for food, and ever since I see to it that I gave her some cat food whenever I see her by the main door. I even gave her a bath once and shampooed her because she stank and looked underfed. We knew that she has kittens somewhere in the building judging by her rows of teats that sagged, but we never thought that we will see those kittens out in the street and under a flat-tired car. 

We talked to the owner of the cats and they said  they threw those kittens because there were too many of them and that they didn't have any choice but to evict them out of their apartment. They could have kept them outside of their apartment or let them  roam freely through flights of stairs but the building watchman does not see it possible for hygienic reason. The owners however took back one of the kittens to be with its mother. So after 2 days of feeding those kittens under the car, we decided to take them all inside our apartment and take care of them 'till they get a little bigger. Seeing them lying on a very hot surface, their tongues sticking out  due to extreme heat and thirst is just not right. Unfortunately, when we were scampering around to catch them, one of the kittens had run like hell it thought it just had a great escape. And we lost sight of it, three days now into our search and rescue episode to no avail, it must have gone with other bigger alley cats. 

Just this afternoon after work, we bought them a few cans of cat foods and a small litter box. I've already bathed and blow-dried all of them and now they are all clean, smelling good and comfortable like little kings and queens. Just a few hours ago before I decided to write this blog, they were all playing like crazy just like  normal healthy kittens do and I don't think they have any idea of what's going on or what  kind  of future will they have. So sad. 

I can't help but wonder how come here in Saudi Arabia they don't have any government programs/agencies or NGOs that  take care of these poor creatures? Seeing them on the street every single day, some flattened and buried under car tires, really breaks my heart. If only I'm as rich as some people here, I would probably buy a patch of land somewhere and rescue all the cats that I see on the street and educate pet owners to neuter or spay their cats, and be responsible pet owners. They should think of these animals as integral part of their families and not as toys like dolls and toy robots that they give to their kids. These are living animals that need TLC. Feline population in Saudi Arabia has soared unabated in the streets because of lack of education  on the part of  pet owners who readily dump them in the streets when confronted with incapabilities to keep them any longer. Lack of compassion is also obvious here for people or citizens who could have thought of something humane for these animals.

Now we have a total of 8 rescued cats (3 of which came from our previous rescues) in our small apartment and they are taking a huge bite out of our monthly salary. Cat foods and cat litters are getting more expensive here in Saudi Arabia. And if anyone out there happens to be an animal lover especially those who live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, we would appreciate it much if you could share a little in any way you can for us to be able to keep them much longer. Please free to leave your comment below if the predicament of these cute cats moves you. And if it appeals to you that adopting one of them does not bother you that much, feel free to do so. You may send a word by my email at pepecabrera1972@yahoo.com. God bless you all!







Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm Reading: 'The Nine Lives Of Montezuma' by Michael Morpurgo

I wasn't actually looking for something to read when I was at the bookstore yesterday. I was just there to help my friend because he wanted to buy an MP3 player, but when I went up to the second floor to just look around, (that's where all the books are,) I can't help myself but to get closer to a certain book I saw from a distance. The cover of this book really caught my attention, it was an orange cat with green eyes surrounded by bright green leaves. Most of you guys know that I'm an animal lover, especially of cats (and dogs too), and that's one of the reasons why I was attracted to this book aside from it's beautiful bright cover. The title of the book is'The Nine Lives Of Montezuma' by Michael Morpurgo, ooooohh! It was obvious to me that it's a children's book and I was right when I opened it. The prints are much larger and it has drawings inside that depict the characters of the story in some of its pages. It's a story about the dangerous and exciting life of a farmyard cat, from a fiery kitten to a tired old Tom (that's the book description from the net).

I didn't think twice to buy it. It doesn't matter if it's a children's book or an adult book (not the one you think of course you dirty minds), a book is a book, it doesn't matter if the person reading it is 9 or 39 (not my age!). I love children's book. If you can remember I posted here last year about'The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz' by L.Frank Baum after reading it, I never thought it  was so different from the Victor Fleming's 1939 film version starring Judy Garland, amazing!; and'Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat That Change The World'  by Vicki Myron, that book made me cry (but don't tell!).

I've already finished reading the first chapter of ...Montezuma last night which is called The Beginning, tonight I'll start with the second chapter called The Second Life. The book only has 9 chapters. I'm so excited, can't wait to read it! (I only read before going to bed at night, that's the only time I have.) 


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Gospel According To Oprah

I was a fan of The Oprah Show and Oprah Winfrey, until a friend of mine told me of an old Oprah Winfrey Show video clip where she was having a 'religious arguments' (as she calls it) with a woman in the audience, about a little more than an hour ago. There's also this article that he found on the same site about Oprah and this new age religion, The article is called the 'Gospel According to Oprah'. I was so shocked to learn about her not truly believing in Jesus Christ. Her knowledge of Jesus and His purpose are so twisted. She even thinks that "God" is jealous of her. Jealous of what? Her wealth and popularity that The God himself gave her?

She believes that the only reason why Jesus came is to show us Christ's consciousness and she also believes that there are multiple ways to get to heaven, not just through Jesus or Christianity; so I was thinking, where did she get that, from a bubble of many colors? How about the Bible? She just totally disregarded what's written in the bible about Jesus and His teachings. If she only reads her bible, she'll learn how much God loves us. She's just following all those things that are running inside her brain. The bible says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)." Oh Oprah, you had a chance to use your God-given popularity and wealth to get lots of people to know Jesus Christ, but instead you let yourself be used to send millions to hell. I'm totally disappointed on you Oprah. Goodbye.





"There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved." ~ Act 4:12


This is a re-post from an entry I posted last August 2, 2011 in my other blog, 'Snatched From The Pit'

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Kathy Griffin's "Suck It Jesus" Joke At The Emmys 2007 (Video)


I just can't believe the video I watched on You Tube the other night of Kathy Griffin givving her acceptance speech at the Emmy awards 2007. This was the first time I've seen or heard about this video, even if it was 4 years ago. (wow, probably I haven't been paying much attention to the news during that time). 

This video shocked me so much. It really did. It was so disturbing to me that I have to write a short post here on my blog about it, just to let others know how I feel about it. The way she talks about Jesus like He's a nobody just breaks my heart. And what's worst are those people who I saw in the video laughing with her. She didn't just offend Jesus, but also a lot of peace-loving Christian people around the world who love Him. What she said was not a joke. I mean, she can joke about other people, about a certain thing, an animal or even a cactus for all I care, but not Jesus. 


kathy griffin with her new found god.


Here's her blasphemous acceptance speech: 

"Now, a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. He didn't help me a bit. If it was up to him, Cesar Millan would be up here with that damn dog. So all I can say is suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now!"

video
Kathy Griffin on Larry King Live.

Kathy Griffin, if you wanted to poke fun at anything, then this one is nothing but a blasphemy of the highest order of the Son of God who nonetheless is willing to forgive you. You might have not realized that the air you breathe is something you should thank Jesus for. And if ever you told it to someone like the prophet of the Other religion, you probably would have not come out alive of the auditorium. But because Jesus is all about love and forgiveness, you had the most plausible excuse to trample on the name that is above every name. It's not too late Kathy Griffin, the love of Christ abounds for those who seek Him. The grace of God still extends to anyone that seeks Him even at some point in your life, you tell Him that He sucks. He still loves you and wished that you avail of His salvation even if that Savior had less to do with your award that has become your god. Jesus loves you Kathy Griffin!



Note: the last paragraph courtesy of ¡Soy Negrense!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Entries On The PEBA 'Where The Heart Is' International Photo Contest 2011!


Please 'LIKE' my entries on PEBA (Pinoy Expat/OFW Blog Award) 'Where The Heart Is' International Photo Contest 2011 on 3 Facebook pages, they are PEBA, The Pink Tarha & Globe Kabayan. I've got 2 entries ("In Silence" & "Arabian Siesta") and I need your help and support for it to win the 'Most Liked Photo' in the contest. The most liked photo on Facebook doesn't necessarily mean that it will be the all-around winner of the contest. Read the mechanics and rules of the photo contest by clicking  here.

Please follow these instructions to 'LIKE' my entry photos on Facebook.

1. First you have to 'LIKE' the PEBA or The Pink Tarha or Globe Kabayan pages (or all of them) on Facebook, (but if you've previously LIKED those pages, go to instruction #2).

2. After you LIKED the page(s), return to this site and click the following links below that correspond to my entry photos and then LIKE the photo there (on that Facebook page). Very easy, I know you can do it. 

 A) "In Silence" (A Tourist At Abu Dhabi Airport)
B) "Arabian Siesta"

 Thank you all & God bless!

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Vacation 2011: #3 Pinto Art Museum & The Silangan Gardens




Entrance to Silangan Gardens/ Pinto Art Museum.

A few days before my flight back to Jeddah, on Fathers Day, me and my daughter Maria went to the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo City, which is basically a stone throw away from where we live. We didn't even know that the place even existed until that day. I only heard about this place when I was watching a travel program on TFC when I was here in Saudi Arabia before I went on my vacation. We searched the internet about this place and how to get there. It turned out that getting there is as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

The entrance fee is 100 Pesos per person, but students get discount. From the entrance they will give you a pamphlet  which tells about the place, its history and that it officially opened on December 5, 2010, just late last year. So it's fairly new. The place is owned by Dr.Joven Cuanang and the arts displayed in the museum are all part of his collections.

I've noticed that most of the buildings inside were Mexican-inspired and go so well with their surroundings and while walking down the main concrete stair to the main art gallery, I've also noticed how beautiful their well maintained garden was. It just rained that morning so everything around was wet and the air smelled so fresh with all those plants, grass and trees (sigh.). We were also hearing a lot of low pitch sounds, more like the moo of a cow, and we later learned that they were frogs having "you know what" with their partners. And we thought it's part of the exhibit.LOL!

"Karnabal" by Salingpusa (click picture to enlarge).

Anyway, upon entering the art gallery, a very huge painting sort of welcomed us. It was called "Karnabal", it was painted by several artists collectively called "Salingpusa", a group of successful newbie artists in the world of art. Some of them are Emmanuel Garibay, Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Ronald Ventura, Karen Flores, Winner Jumalon and more. It's a mind-boggling depiction of a carnival in your dream (or nightmare). At the center, you'll see a carousel, although you're not gonna notice it at first. You really have to sit down and contemplate on the bench in front of it to see it. Believe me you'll see more than just a carousel.

There were also paintings by those individual painters, but I really love Emmanuel Garibay's paintings the most. His paintings usually depict everyday scenes from a poor man's point of view. A sort of  dark satire of typical Filipino life. Maria and I really enjoyed the gallery. I even told her to write the names of the artists so that when get back home, we could look them up on the internet.

After walking around and seeing the  paintings that led us to the museum shop, we proceeded to the restaurant which was located at yet another gallery. I must say, the food and the service there was amazing, even the chef came to us and asked us if we loved the food. The ambiance was perfect, my eyes cannot stop wandering around while having lunch because of the wonderful and amazing paintings that were displayed there. The name of the restaurant is (Laya) Earth Cafe.

After wolfing down our lunch, Maria and I went to roam around the garden. It was as amazing as the gallery. There's a lot of trails that lead to a place that really surprised us, almost like a secret garden. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I told Maria to refrain from talking loud because others might hear us and ruin our peaceful moments there. There were a lot of ponds (with quite a lot of frogs I must say!) The place was incredible.

Then we went to the house where the owner lives. It's like an open house, everybody can take a peek into it. But we hesitated to really venture inside because we could sense  people are abuzz that time, there was the owner  Dr. Cuanang with his foreign guests, so we decided not to get in.

Maria and I just can't stop taking pictures where ever we go. It's a shame we didn't have a picture of the two of us. It was a great and amazing experience  to be there especially with my daughter. I will always cherish that special day with my daughter. Too bad my other daughter Celina can't go with us that day.

I really recommend this place to all art lovers, but please do not bring small, noisy  and unruly children that don't know anything about art, unless you can control them from doing something stupid like touching the exhibits. The place is not a playground.



The Mexican inspired chapel inside Silangan Gardens.

Pinto Art Museum
Silangan Gardens,
 #1 Sierra Madre Street,
Grandheights Subdivision,
Antipolo City, 1870 Rizal,
The Philippines.

Tel. # (0063) 632-697-1015


Click map to enlarge.


Pinto Art Museum on Facebook.

My Vacation 2011: #2 Cebu City.

My Vacation 2011: #1 Cavite.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Vacation 2011: #2 Cebu City



The Cross of Magellan

I really didn't plan this trip to Cebu, but I was thinking that if I did not push through with this trip, I might never set foot on Cebu ever in my lifetime, so I went on with it. My trip to Cebu was only my second trip outside the island of Luzon domestically, the first one was in Negros Occidental. By the way, Philippine Airlines is amazing! You can book and pay online, you just need to have a credit card or an ATM and you can get your ticket before you fly to your destination from their office at the airport. You just have to book ahead of time to get a much nicer deal. But I know you already know about that, right?

Anyway, I went to Cebu alone. It's hard being alone when you travel in a new place sometimes, obviously because it's hard to have fun if you don't know anyone around, not to mention the difficulty of taking your own picture, although you can always ask for someone else's help, just make sure he's not gonna run with your camera. LOL!

Ayala Center Cebu

The First Day, June 11, 2011.

When I arrived at about 2 PM on Cebu-Mactan International Airport, I was so excited, it felt like I'm going on a foreign trip knowing that most of the people I will meet speaks Visayan or Cebuano, a language that I don't have any knowledge about and a few of them don't even speak Tagalog, English would be the alternative. Then there's also the fear that they might take advantage of me if they learned that I'm not one of them. So you see, this trip has that foreign element in it, you'll never always know what will happen next and that's what made it so exciting. 

At the airport (which is in the island of Mactan at Lapu-Lapu City), I took a fixed rate taxi (which cost around 450 Pesos) to Cebu City. It took  us about 20 minutes from the airport to the city center of Cebu. I told the taxi driver to take me to a cheap yet accessible hotel. He took me to Regal Hotel. And yes it was cheap as well as accessible to any place. Their single bed rate was just below 1000 Pesos with breakfast. It's clean, safe and the hotel is just in front of Ayala Center Cebu and the Jeepney terminal which goes about anywhere in the city. The only problem was they almost never had an unoccupied single bed room, so I took the next best thing, the double bed room which was a little over 1,4000 Pesos, and a little over my budget. 

After I checked in, I decided to walk around the vicinity of the hotel and familiarized myself with the surroundings. I went to the mall at the Ayala Center to look for something to eat. I was already starving. I ate at Kenny Roger's inside the mall and  I went back to the hotel after that. And that was about it, that concluded the  first of my five long days in Cebu City.


Basilica Minore del Santo Niño

The Second Day, June 12, 2011.

The next day, I woke up early, took a bath, had my breakfast, took the taxi and went to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño and the famous Cross of Magellan just right beside the basilica's rear gate. It was Sunday and very hot. There were 2 consecutive masses that were held one in English and the other in Cebuano, the first was just about to start when I came. There were a lot of locals, and also domestic and foreign tourists. Most of the foreign tourists were Japanese (or Koreans may be?)

I went inside the basilica. There were already a lot of people. I took some snap shots of the images and fixtures on the wall. It was amazing inside. I sat down for a moment to admire the basilica's interior. The mass was not held inside the basilica, it was held outside in front of it because there were  lots of people and the basilica can't possibly hold that many people. It was like a fiesta outside, there were lots of vendors selling different kinds of things like flowers, candles, food, balloons etc.

(When you are here and there's a mass going on, do not take pictures inside or outside the basilica or else the guard will  come to you, just like what happened to me.) 

After a brief stint at the basilica, I went to see the famous cross of Magellan. Funny, I didn't expect it would be just that. I was expecting more than just a cross inside a kiosk. I mean it's basically Cebu. Ferdinand Magellan traveled a great deal from Spain in 1521 to plant that cross there and there's not even a guard to protect it.  I used to see it only on TV even when I was a child and then suddenly there it was in front of me.  Cool.

Anyway, I asked a guy there to take some pictures of me beside the great cross of Magellan, it was not actually a great shot, but it's OK,  as long as I have my face near the cross that's fine with me.

Then I went to another church which I saw when I was in the taxi. It was just a walking distance from the Basilica. It's called the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. It looks as old but with a different architectural style compared to the Basilica del Santo Niًño. I didn't enter inside because there was a mass and it was full of people. After that I went back to the hotel and take rest. 

In the afternoon, I went back to the mall for lunch and then watched "Super 8" at the cinema. It was great! After which I ate at Chowking and  have a few beer a restaurant there. I remember calling and having a long talk with Bim, (one of my friends back home) while drinking there. At around 7PM, I went to Infinity KTV, just a block away from my hotel and had a few rounds of beer before retiring for the day.


The Taoist Temple

The Third day, June 13, 2011.

On my third day, after having my breakfast, I decided to check out of the hotel and transferred to a  new one. I went to Metro Park Hotel. I called the hotel first before I checked out. The rate for a single room was a little higher compared to Regal at 1,100 Pesos and it was available. I later realized that the reason why it was cheaper is because it's far from the main road. I stayed there for just one night.

After checking in to the hotel, I went to the Taoist Temple. It's located inside the Beverly Hills subdivision and just a few minutes away from my new hotel. The taxi driver said that Beverly Hills subdivision used to be the place where the very rich people of Cebu City live. When I arrived there, the guard gave me a piece of paper containing a few things to observe while inside the vicinity of the temple like no taking photo of the saints, observing silence etc.

The place was not that big at all when you see it personally, that's why most of the tourists didn't stay there for more than an hour, unless they wanted to take photos of themselves in every part of the temple just like what I did. I was really amazed on how cheap most of the souvenirs on their shop were. I was not supposed to buy anything, I was just gonna buy a bottle of water, but they didn't have change for my 5oo Pesos, so I bought a bracelet made of red corals for just 100 Pesos. But something's bothering me. I was thinking that maybe I'm helping those bad people destroy our coral reefs by simply buying the coral bracelet? I hope not. And sorry if I did.

After more than 2 hours, I decided to return to the hotel, but because there was no taxi available outside the Taoist Temple, I just walked towards the gate of the subdivision while enjoying the scenery. I took the taxi when I got beyond the guarded gate. By the way, some of my photos that was taken here was by a local tourist, a Chavacano from Zamboanga City. I didn't quite get her name. Thank you to her!

After resting for a few hours, I went to SM Cebu. I rode the Jeepney at the Ayala Center Jeepney terminal. The fare from Ayala to SM was 8 Pesos. I didn't really enjoy it there, I just walked around and tired myself. There's nothing special there that I haven't seen at other SM malls in Manila or Cavite. I just wanna say that "I've been there!".



The Fourth Day, June 14, 2011.

I transferred to a new hotel called Castle Peak Hotel at F. Cabahug street. I love this hotel because it's near the main street, unlike my previous hotel (Metro Park Hotelwhich I really don't recommend. When I transferred, they didn't have a single room either, but it's cheaper than my first hotel. I paid 1,388 Pesos for the superior which is a 2-bed room.

After I checked in, I went to Fort San Pedro beside La Plaza Independencia and near the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. I really thought that Fort San Pedro was as huge as Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. It was rather small, it will not take you 30 minutes to explore the whole place. I can tell that the place was poorly maintained and the exhibit inside the museum was just disappointing. You have to pay 30 Pesos entrance fee for this.

After this I went to Crown Regency Hotel for the famous Sky Experience Adventure. This place was awesome! I first went straight to the 19th floor (as I was told by the guard), and from there you have to get the tickets for whatever you want to experience like Sky walk adventure or the Edge Coaster Experience or the Zip line Adventure. I took the first two, I didn't think I can take the zip line that high. To be honest, I was scared.

Then I went up using the elevator to the 38th floor of the building. When I got there, they told me to take off all my accessories and put it inside my bag and then leave the bag at the check in counter. Then someone asked me to follow him to the deck where the coasters were. The coaster is not the same as a roller coaster which is connected to each other. Each of the coaster seats only two people at a time and there were several of them there.

When I sat inside the coaster, I just can't stop laughing because I was so nervous after seeing the view and how high I was, (I laugh sometimes whenever I'm nervous). I felt like I was going to die even though the ride hasn't started yet. And when the ride started and went to the corner of the building it automatically started to tip to a 90 degree angle, I couldn't do anything but to close my eyes and pray. I remember seeing how small the cars were from up there.

My eyes were still closed when I heard the ride photographer somewhere behind me and asked me to pose for a picture. I can't do anything but to pretend that I was enjoying the ride just for the sake of the picture. She took several photos of me so that I will have choices later if ever I wanted to buy them. After the ride was over I claimed my bag and chose the photos that I would like to buy. In some of the photos I really look stupid and ridiculous, good thing there's one that looks good enough. By the way, the picture costs 230 Pesos each. So expensive huh!

Then I went to the 37th floor for the Sky Walk Adventure. It's as simple as just walking on a platform around the building wearing a jumper with a harness but at a dizzying height. Good thing I was not alone. There's two of us walking with the personnel who told us what to do and of course the photographer. The photographer asked me to pose for a picture in some scary position like sitting at the edge of the platform, standing at the edge with one foot etc. It was so scary but when I completed the walk, I felt proud of myself. That walk somehow made me strong somewhere. I don't know where, but somewhere inside.

I was amazed on how beautiful the photos turned out to be and how good I look in them unlike the one in the Edge Coaster. I bought 2 photos, also at 230 Pesos each. It was almost 6 PM when I went down the building and I went straight to the hotel.

At around 8PM, I went at a bar in front of the hotel called Jazz. I had a pleasure of talking to the owner of the place who is a Japanese lady named Yuko. I first thought she has a Filipino husband but it turned out she has none. She just loves the Philippines, stayed there and opened a business, that's it. I even bought a T-shirt and asked her to write her name in Japanese at the back of it. She willingly obliged. The place indeed was amazing - live jazz music, good food and good ambiance. I really love the place.



The Fifth Day, June 15, 2011

I woke up early at around 7 AM. After breakfast I checked out of the hotel and went straight to the airport. My flight to Manila was 11 AM. Cebu was awesome, even if I went there alone, I can say I enjoyed every moment of it. For those would be tourists (especially those living in Asia), if you want to go somewhere in Latin America and you find it expensive and far, the Philippines is your alternative. There's a lot of places to go in the country that are so Hispanic. Zamboanga City, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Cavite or Cebu are great places to start. I'm hoping you could all come to the Philippines.



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Vacation 2011: #1 Cavite

The first 2 weeks of this vacation was the worst of all my experiences here, but I don't want to dwell on that because I don't want to remind myself of the hell that I've been through with POEA. I just want to focus on some of the beautiful and positive things, like the time when I went to Noveleta and Cavite City, my trip to Cebu City (that was the highlight) and when I went to Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo City with my eldest daughter Maria.

My first trip to Cavite last May 29, 2011 was a nostalgic one because it reminds me of the good old days. Seeing my parents, some of the places and things there conjured up my childhood memories. I was so caught up by my nostalgia that I've forgotten to snap some photos of my folks in Noveleta and I guess it's too late for that now. The only photos of Noveleta that I have are some snap shots of the now flooded salt flats near the boundary of Cavite City which looks like a lake because of the rain. 






I took these photos while I was riding a local transportation we called the "Baby Bus" to Cavite City. It looks like an elaborately decorated coaster, just like it's cousin the Jeepney. It looks very similar to the "Colectivo", the popular Latin American (Argentina & Paraguay) public transportation.

The Baby Bus (not my photo)

Cavite City, known as the other Chavacano speaking city, Sangley Point (the old American military base) and made famous by Efren Peñaflorida, the CNN Hero of the year 2009. This is also the "other" place where I grew up. This is where I studied in Kindergarten at St. Joseph College (just behind the church of Nuestra Señora dela Soledad de Porta Vaga).

The city seems to have lost something that is irreplaceable, I don't know what it is, but it's not there anymore. Maybe it's my Nanay Tita (my Aunt), who died in 2008 in California. How I miss her so much. I actually went to where she used to live, but the gate was not there anymore. Not a trace. The cemetery in front of their house at the other side of the street of Blvd. Cresini is still there and I don't think it will go anywhere. I also passed by our old Methodist church in San Antonio where we used to go every Sunday.  





I've made several trips to Noveleta but only once in Cavite City. It's nice to see Cavite City again. Even though it has changed a lot, the memories are still there. Hasta la Vista!


See more of Cavite City on my Flickr


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thank You!




First of all I want to thank Jesus Christ for all the blessings He has given me in the past 39 years of my life. Without Him I'm nothing. To all my FB friends who greeted me on my birthday last May 24, I want to say Thank you from the bottom of my heart, especially to Maxine, Moona and their guitarist (on that video) who made a short video singing "Maligayang Bati" (Happy Birthday) in Tagalog especially for me and posted it on You Tube. You made me feel so special. It was so touching. Their happy birthday video really lifted me up during those moments when I was feeling so low. It was that moment when I was having problem with my papers which I needed to return to my job in Jeddah. God bless you guys! Anyway, for those who haven't seen the video yet, watch this!



Moona is from Vigo, Spain and 'Shiny' Max, a writer & a singer from Bordeaux, France. They have a band called "Sweetest Bomb" which is based in Bordeaux, France. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My 'Bully' Neighbor




This morning while I was in the bathroom preparing myself to go to work, my mobile phone rang, I quickly ran to the room (where the phone was) to see who it was. It was 'Chupacabra' (not his real name of course), my neighbor, a Filipino, who I almost never see. He's like an urban legend to me now. You can almost call it a 'sighting' whenever you accidentally see him somewhere out there, and that's just one of the many reasons why I call him so. 

Anyway, I was perplexed why he wanted to call me (ehem! I mean, missed call me). He never calls me unless he needs help on something that would benefit himself alone. Then suddenly it struck me, that maybe there's something happened to my poor little car? I always position my car near the apartment's gate (if it's available) and he can easily see my car whenever he comes out of his apartment building which is just in front of mine.

And sure enough, that was exactly what I saw when I went out, but not as what I imagined it would be. Thank God! I saw the bumper of the white Toyota 4x4 truck of my Saudi neighbor who is living in the apartment building next to mine, stuck on the front of my poor helpless little Suzuki city car. I ran inside my car and backed the car a few feet so that I could see the severity of the damage. A small part of my car's bumper had folded inward which I immediately undid using just my bare hand. 

What had happened this morning bothered me a lot because I believe it was intentional. I think my neighbor is trying to bully me. This was not the first time it happened. Late last year, around 10 PM, while I was having a conversation with 'Chupacabra' near my car that was parked at my favorite spot, he came driving his white Toyota 4x4 truck and was looking for a space to park it. Instead of parking his car in front of mine, he backed a little bit to talk to me. He told me something in Arabic which I didn't understand. I can sense his anger. But then I realized he wanted me to transfer my car somewhere else and give the space to him. I didn't give him the space, but I moved my car  just a little bit. 

Since then, every time I see him in the morning or in the afternoon, he would often look at me with hate in his eyes. He is obviously jealous of the parking space which is in front of my apartment. I often come home a lot earlier than him everyday from work and that's the reason why most of the time I have the privilege of choosing my parking space. That space is supposed to be the parking space for the tenants of my apartment building. Why doesn't he park in front of his apartment building, that would make sense, right?

I bet he can't do that to his fellow Arabs. He's bullying me because he knows that I'm a Filipino, that he thinks he can easily intimidate me, and that my car is just a cheap little old running piece of shit to him (sorry for the word). I really have a lot of things to say right now, but I would rather not go on with it, I might just say something that is against my principle and against my Christian upbringing. 

Even though what he did was not right, I'll just have to be wise about it, shut up and understand what had transpired this morning.  I think it would be better that way. 



*The picture above (which I got from the net) is from Judith Caseley's book "BULLY"