Tag Archives: travel

The Safe Kind of Trip


“Sometimes we are strangers to our own home.” – not a real quote, or someone might have said it before.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all have explored our own country first before we go to foreign places? Saying that there is a an awesome coffee shop beside the Louvre in Italy is grand, but saying there is an awesome coffee house in Lapaz Market, is thoughtful and kind of endearing. You get the gist. This brings me to a recent trip that Sneeze staffs had. In an endless pursuit of knowing thy country we set off to explore the busy, noisy and overpopulated Manila. And in the realization of the dream to be a travel writer like those lucky bastards from Lonely Planet, we are documenting a trip that may or may not have significance to you, reader.

Before the trip, we had a long list of places to visit. As fans of culture, arts and everything in between, we have all the bookstores, museums, bars and restaurants on the list. Little did we know that three days is a short, short time.  So just like Adrien Brody in that Wes Anderson film, Darjeeling Limited, we decided it was only reasonable to “fuck the itinerary” (this one is a real quote from the movie).

Day 1:

The first day was spent getting out of the chaotic Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Yes, one could get lost in that sea of baggage and white people and besides trying to get a cab relies on sheer luck. No wonder some tourists end up sleeping on the benches outside the gates. I swear, when white people sleep on public places, they don’t look like they’re homeless.

Travel tip: When taking a cab from NAIA, don’t take the airport cab because they’re kind of expensive but if you’re rich, then dammit donate some money to the poor.

The night of our first day was spent in Tower of Doom, where we had our own Tower Sessions. Our version includes more of fangirl screaming rather than singing. The owner, Mr. Eric Perlas was so gracious in showing us around while we giggled over Urbandub’s instruments. Well, we couldn’t giggle over them since we went on a Thursday and they record from Mondays till Wednesdays, so we settled with Gabby’s guitars, Janjan’s dums, etc. Anyway they have the band members DNAs on them.

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Life tip: When visiting a recording studio, check their schedule because you don’t know when one of your favorite bands may be recording.

Urbandub was recording that week, and they just finished their 12th track which means news for Urbandub fans, a new album is on its way. Too bad they won’t give us the album’s name even though we repeatedly tricked them into spilling exclusive information.

Now you might be wondering how Tower of Doom got its name, because yes, we have wondered about that a lot.  So we asked Mr. Perlas about it. And it was kind of a fun story. When Tower of Doom was just starting out, they were sort of a travelling studio that the owner and his friends would just set up from one place to another. And when they finally got a place, it was on the 8th floor of a building. Bands started coming in, to record and to hang out, and every time they do, someone loses something, like a lighter would mysteriously disappear. It always happened that people started calling it Tower of Doom, and then the name caught on. So it wasn’t named after Lord of the Rings or some video games although there are Sandman graphic novels lying around their receiving area.

A lot of cheers were made that night, a lot of conversations were done and a lot of laughs were given when Mr. Perlas showed us the Postal Service audition video. The one with Aimee Mann, Duff McKagan, Weird Al, etc on it. The video was a real laugh, but it’s the kind of joke which you have to see it to laugh about it. Yes, go and Google “Postal service Audition Tape”, but first, don’t you want to know what happened on the rest of our trip?

Day 2:

Day 2 was Comic Book Day! In which some of us who can afford to buy rare comic book finds bought some copies, and some of us who just would like to get lost around the four level Fully Booked in The Fort snooped around the conversation of hipsters holding LPs of The Beatles’ Abbey Road. The multitude of books that surrounded us was oddly comforting. It is some kind of a book heaven where all your favorite books and LPs are assembled into forts to keep you safe and wishing you can take photos with them.

Lifetip: When the crew of a bookstore tells you “no picture taking allowed”, follow them. Or not.

We had a fancy Italian dinner that night. The one that is so expensive and you all have to share but you still ended up not eating all of the food.

We then went to see the bands I never thought I still would see, Greyhoundz and Razorback. Being able to watch Greyhoundz live is something, being able to watch Greyhoundz back to back with Razorback is another. It was like the music gods gave us a gift because we’ve been very passionate about music. Did anyone ever think Reg Rubio is as small as he is? He seemed tall when he sings. Razorback started their set with a cover of a cover, The Beatle’s “Helter Skelter”. As a Beatles fan, the pieces of my brain scattered all over the wall of the small swanky bar. I was mindblown. They’re the kind of band which you only watch in awe and you only sing along when the vocalist signals you to do so. Kevin Roy is a commanding front man. And Razorback is a creative band as evident in the instruments that you see in their set which can’t be seen on the sets of other bands.

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Day 3:

We were all enthusiastic about our third day in Manila, by then we already grown accustomed to the survival of the fittest train rides and the cross or get killed roads. So off we went to pay our respect to the national hero, Jose Rizal. The Rizal Park is not what it seemed on textbooks, in real life it is pretty huge. Towering like he is the smartest man on the country is the statue of Jose Rizal, surrounded by his crew of fellow revolutionaries.

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We also went to Quaipo, a place so sacred, it is dangerous to visit. The crowd is as huge as a huge music festival. People flock the church in the hopes of their wishes being granted. Whoever permitted commercial establishment to be built around the holy house was not in his sane mind when they made the decision.

Travel tip: When visiting Quiapo consider your bags as parts of your body because half of the crowd has the possibility to snatch your property.

I have a secret addiction; I am addicted to watching shows. It started with Stone Temple Pilots’ reunion tour in Manila. I’m proud to tell everyone that I lost my concert virginity to a band with songs like Sex Type Thing. This year, we decided we need to end our extended teenage years by watching Motion City Soundtrack. The band has a good following in the US since they are always on the recent Warped Tour lineup. They’re sort of a watered down version of Blink 182 and Green Day. Plus, the venue is standing room, it’s time we show people to respect the queues on the ticket booths.

Life tip: If a band you like plays SM Sky Dome, just go ahead and reserve a ticket. For sure it’s going to be worth it.

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Everything about the venue screams true passion. Although most people would separate passion from punk, passion was clearly exhibited by the one-man road team of the band, the almost less than a hundred standing fans and the bands who kept the whole crowd jumping, screaming, singing and jumping, screaming and singing again. It was pretty small crowd for an international band but the magnitude of passion that rocked the venue was astounding. It is the kind that keeps you going to a show even though you know you’ll be broke for the next month.

The bonus part was She’s Only Sixteen opened the show. And man the vocalist’s chiseled jaw is chiseled. But in all seriousness, She’s Only Sixteen is a talented band. They’re a colored The Strokes/Arctic Monkeys. You should check out their songs.

The rest of the night was spent jumping from dinner to a few bottles of beer to more bottles of beer.

Travel tip: If you happen to find yourself in Cubao Expo, try to have lunch/dinner at Penpen’s Resto. An affordable restaurant owned by Ping Medina. The first time my taste buds met their liempo, it was love at first taste.

Day 4:

All trips always conclude into a tiring airplane ride home where everyone sleeps except those with high alcohol level in their system. I never won any of those games that they play during plane rides. Their games are so easy, if they ask out of this world trivia questions, I might have a chance of winning a keychain for my bag.

Travel tip: Do not drink before boarding a plane. You are going to thank me for reminding you of this.

It is good to explore places once in a while. Whether you take a trip alone or along with your friends, stepping into new experiences is always fun. If given a chance, I would take a trip every day of my life. Oh wait, I’m already doing that. I’m taking every day of my life as a trip. And hell, I am having much fun.

On the Road: Antique to Iloilo


Most of my life was spent travelling the roads that leads to the province of Iloilo, from my home province Antique, and vice versa.  When I was young my grandparents would take me to their trips.  One of my fondest memories was throwing up my whole supper right on the lap of the man next to us. I had a rough childhood. A huge portion of my conscious life was spent on roadtrips with my family. Sometimes my father would drive us and we would entertain hitchhikers.  Most of the time hitchhikers turned out knowing someone my father knows. It was pretty awesome.

This weekend I went home to my parents house to have myself pampered by my mother. She tucked me in before I sleep, she served real food, and she gave me extra money.  My parents are very protective.  It is partly the reason why, I’ve been trying to get away from them. But I fail all the time, I always come home unconsciously begging for attention.  I was their typical rebellious middle child.  The one who likes to runaway from family problems to create my own individual problems. The one who doesnt want to settle in one place.  The one who wants to live on the road like Jack fucking Kerouac.

Yes. Blame those Beatnik writers for the lifestyle I’m trying to live.  You can also blame National Geographic Adventure for it.   They made me took this photos while I was on my way back to Iloilo City.

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Alright, there the name Antique. (If only WordPress didnt blur it)

Antique is kilometers and kilometers(or miles for you Americans) away from Iloilo. I did not research the distance I have travelled but it is enough to make your butt burn.

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Shores of Hamtic, Antique. Alright, more of skies of Hamtic, Antique. But yeah the stones and pebbles you can see, there’s a sea beside that.

Perhaps the thing that would make you stay awake when you travel is the sight of the “thousand diamonds sewn across the blue blanket” that is the sea.  And for this travel, I made a goal, to follow the outline of the sea. I want to never loose the sight of it’s calm water.  I want to watch it.  The sea is so blue. It must be very sad.  I want to watch it to drown my own sadness.

I tell you, travel makes you wonder about things. Wandering and wondering, a little difference, there is.

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Another, attempt to capture the shore of Hamtic. There’s the sea, playing peek-a-boo behind the coco trees.

For a good 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself zig-zagging along to a bus that is trekking a zig-zag road. Which stirs the hell out of your stomach. Hence, the gross story from my childhood.  You’ll enjoy the ride if 1.) you’re asleep 2.) on a travel induced high 3.) trying to locate the shoreline of Antique.

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My thumb had a little cameo on this. You can’t see how the road is as curvy as those mountain peaks.

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Oh hello, river. Another metaphor for the curvy road in this travel and in life, generally.

Opening your eyes to everything you see beside the road is a little bit of a mind exercise.  When you see an object an idea springs into your mind.  Thoughts like “wow the mountain is still green and why do we still have global warming?” or “if someone throws their trash off of the bus window, who will pick them up to throw them properly?” or the worst thought “what if the bus crashes off the cliff, can I stop it from falling?”.  I actually had thought of that a few times. Okay, oftentimes.

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Hello White Fluffy Clouds! (How many Brandon Boyd references am I going to make in this blog?)

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I have always wondered what is the purpose of those yellow tin things. Later when I was already old enough to understand, it’s a warning sign that there is a cliff behind it. As we travel, we discover answers to our own questions.

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I don’t know what’s going on with this plants.

The mountains will surely make you forget about the sea. When a beautiful thing pass by even for a minute and our attention is being stolen by an equally beautiful thing, we focus our admiration on the latter.  Momentarily, but I am still having fun waiting for the blue sea to peek from the mountains. Meanwhile:

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That rock right there is the boundary. The datus from the past might have agreed that “Hey, Datu from Antique your territory begins from that big ass rock right there.” Maybe the conversation didnt go that way, but maybe sort of.

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So many signs like this.

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When I was a kid, I read somewhere that in order to avoid motion sickness, do not loose stare at that white lines beside the road. Which I still do every time.

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There the sea, can you see it? No you can’t. But almost.

It is refreshing to see a place not crowded by houses and people.  It makes you think that the world is still doing fine. We still have space for more people to live.  But it also makes you think, where would this trees live if the people will take their home away.  It is a little bit sad.  It is hard to find balance in this world. Try to stand inside moving bus.

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There’s a bird and there’s the sea.

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There’s a bridge over troubled water that leads to the sea.

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Green grasses growing.

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There it is, the horizon. I have always wondered what’s beyond that.

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Finally, the sea has surfaced. The calm and seemingly dangerous sea of San Juaquin, Iloilo.

I did not wanna sleep specifically during this travel, sometimes sleeping during trips will leave you even more exhausted.  Ironically waking up and admiring the scene beside the road is more relaxing.  I rarely have this moments.  I only have this moments when I try to stray my mind from thinking about something or someone.  Nature is indeed a gift.  It has the ability to make you giddy with excitement thus making you forget about the bad things in life.

Life is a travel, hold your phone up, stretch your arm outside the bus window, let your hair get tangled all over, snap, snap, snap.  Enjoy the ride.

Five Coolest Hang Outs in Iloilo City


Well it depends on how you define your kind of cool.

Iloilo City is the most laid back city in the Philippines. It’s a fairly developed city that didn’t lose its old traditions. If you want to experience a regular Ilonggo afternoon, you might want to enter the doors of these places.

For clarification, I didn’t spend my whole youth sitting on these havens.

Lumpiga

The word ‘lumpiga’ means “to sit, specifically on the floor”. Needless to say, there are no chairs inside, only huge throw pillows and really low tables. Think Japanese restaurant with a Rastafarian twist. Though the bands don’t necessarily sing Bob Marley songs, they sing more acoustic songs. The food and drinks also complements the ambience. Just order rice and buttered chicken and you’d be good, anyway people go there for beer.

Sit with the band so you can dictate their setlist.

Knocked out. If you feel like sleeping, feel fee.

JAQ’S

It’s “where every hour is a happy hour”. If you’re a fan of mainstream rock and wants to hear Iloilo talents then definitely this is the place to sit down, have a drink, and smoke (or inhale other people’s smoke). It’s not really a place where you can effectively converse with people but the beer and the bands will satisfy your empty Thursday evenings. They’re open every night but I choose to go there on Thursdays.

This place will go down in history as the home of Ilonggo music.

See you on a Thursday evening.

Crammer’s

If you want a reminiscence of your student life, take a seat at this little piece of coolness. It’s relatively small for a bar, but it’s not really a bar. It’s a small resto that reminds you of everything scholarly including alcohol shots. There’s a shelf of books from The Little Prince to Illusions: The Adventures of A Reluctant Messiah. You can choose to sit on a bean bag on a corner and read or weep. Check out the menu and smile at how witty they name their food and mixes. The place just wants to take you back to that night you went somewhere peaceful hoping to digest your lessons only to end up chucking alcohol at someone’s place. That by the way isn’t based on personal experience.

I haven't took a photo during one of the times I was there. So here their logo instead.

Freddy’s

If you’re wondering how to waste your money, then its worthwhile to go to Freddy’s. It’s pretty swanky since it’s inside Sarabia Manor Hotel. What is nicest about the place is it is smoke free. It’s a cross of a cowboy salon, sports bar and a classy resto. The food would sweep a meatlover off his feet. If you want to impress your friends with a dinner or if you just want to share a pizza and a bucket of beer with them, it is the perfect place.

She just wants me to take a photo of her under her name.

The place is a perfect setting for thought provoking conversations.

Mellow Mangrove
Want to spend a romantic evening with someone? Mellow mangrove is the perfect place. The name might have originated from the feeling you get when you’re inside the place. It sits along the banks of Iloilo River where the sun sets behind the mangroves on the other side of the river. The lighting is minimal, thus creating a very mellow yet calming atmosphere. They serve typical drinks and food but for someone who cares a lot about how the place makes you feel, definitely its a nice place to sit down, drink a few bottle and contemplate about life. Also when you go there, bring a jacket but if you’re with a date just nevermind.

Red Horse is the traditional beer. It does kicks hard.

The Camerawalls made the walls of mellow Mangrove sway to The Smiths songs. It is good venue for indie music.