It’s been two months since I’ve posted anything, so for my first post this 2022, I want to share this picture of a colorful sea urchin shell I took a couple of years back, which feels like a totally different time than these last two years. Truly, in a blink of an eye things could change, and this quote from Henry David Thoreau really resonated with me –
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Even if people around me said that we should just learn to live with Covid, it still doesn’t feel right. Maybe because I’ve been cooped up at home for two years, and it’s been getting to me just now. I mean, I consider myself a homebody, and “peopling” really isn’t my favorite thing, so I thought I’d be okay but I also realized that it could get tiring. So here I am in 2022, feeling hopeful that this nightmare will soon be over.
There. I wanted to say more, but I am tired. Maybe tomorrow will be a different day. Oh, siya sige. Till next time!
I absolutely loved this edition of Binibining Pilipinas and it may actually be the one of the best editions for me. What’s freaking insane is that it is the first time it was actually televised in real-time! And with no live audience too well…because Covid. Ahem. So, I have to talk about a few things this edition has offered us.
The Binibining Pilipinas 2021 was supposed to be the year 2020 edition but due to the pandemic, it was moved a year later which is the very first time the pageant was not held since it’s inception in 1964. However, Samantha Mae Bernardo, Binibining Pilipinas 2019 Second Runner-up and was a contestant of the supposed 2020th edition was appointed the Philippines’ representative to the 2020-2021 Miss Grand International earlier this year making her the only title holder to wear a 2020th sash! So many fun facts!
Another first for this edition is its all-female hosts with two former Binibining Pilipinas queens – Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and 2016 Binibining Pilipinas Grand International and 2016 Miss Grand International First Runner-up, Nicole Cordoves. Catriona and Nicole not only made a Binibini history last night, they also did an incredible job that it’s hard to imagine them not doing this every single year moving forward!
The Stage: It looks amazing! It was simple and classy looking with its three gigantic led screens! Easier
The Opening: Donning yellow, orange and lime-green cocktails dresses, the girls dances a to a new Binibining Pilipinas song! It was catchy and they all looked absolutely amazing! The introduction was a sight to behold too, showing each Bibibini in their respective National Costumes! It was marvelous! The costumes are simply to die for! Why are we not seeing these kind of costumes in the international level though? Hmmm…
The board of judges are also a batch of impressive panel that includes Rajo Laurel, Maria Garcia, Dioceldo Sy, Benito Bengzon Jr, Pinky Webb, Enrique Gil, Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza and the ever-so-beautiful actress Liza Soberano! Can I just say that Liza looked like a goddess last night!
First two set of awards:
Miss Friendship: Tagum City, Lesley Anne Ticaro Miss Talent: Bocaue, Bulacan, Vianca Louise Marcelo Miss Photogenic: Manila, Patrizia Mariah Garcia Miss Alagang Silka: Angeles, Pampanga, Ma. Francesca Taruc Jag Denim Queen: Masbate, Hannah Arnold Miss World Balance: Olongapo, Alexandra Faith Garcia Miss Ever Bilena: Batangas, Maureen Montagne Miss Piza Hut: Iloilo, Karen Laurrie Mendoza Manila Bulleting Readers Choice Award: Batangas, Mica Rosal
Last batch and some major awards:
Bb. Araneta City: Angeles, Pampanga, Maria Francesca Taruc Miss Creamsilk: Batangas, Maureen Montagne
The proceedings was fast! The top 12 were announced right away plus a Top 13th people’s choice voted via the Binibining Pilipinas app, and they paraded in Swimsuit and their beautiful Evening gown! It was such a glorious sight!
My favorites for the swimsuit round are: Maureen Montagne, Hannah Arnold and Meiji Cruz.
As for the Evening Gown, it was obviously Gabrielle Basiano with that presentation that totally nailed the round! Another one of my favorite for this round is Hannah Arnold with her baby pink gown ensemble and Graciella Lehman with her effortless pasarela!
As each finalists is called into the top 12/13, she will deliver a short message about her pandemic experience (this is almost similar to the opening speech in the Miss Universe during its 2018 and 2019 edition)
Here are my on the spot notes last night for each finalists!
Eastern Samar, Gabrielle Basiano – too short, prolly got nervous but very beautiful face.
Manila, Patrizia Mariah Garcia – reminds me of Aya Abesamis. Very simple message. Challenging governance…
Iloilo, Karen Laurrie Mendoza – Loved her accent! talks about mental illness is not a sign of weakness, you are heard, you matter – a really thoughtful and relevant message.
Oriental Mindoro, Graciella Lehman – talked about being a cabin crew and to be in the service of fellow Filipinos.
Angeles Pampanga, Francesca Taruc – to be more grateful and appreciate little things in life. Quick. Message was okayish.
Valenzuela, Meiji Cruz (Cat said Venezuela – a cute mistake) – loved her Pinoy accent, very good message. Unity, compassion together we can heal!
Albay, Jashmin Dimaculangan – very on point message!!! talks about Typhoon Ulysses during the pandemic
Cavite, Samantha Panlilio – very good communication skills, her family are from the tourism industry and how in perseverance we can survive this pandemic.
Quezon Province, Patricia Babista – being a frontliner, aims to face a new world with a healthier, braver and kinder human
Rizal Province, Honey Cartasano – loved her styling! regain her purpose thru volunteering in helping her kababayan!
Masbate, Hannah Arnold – As a forensic science graduate she wanted the country to invest on science and prevent another pandemic. Very good.
Batangas, Maureen Montagne – I witness firsthand the true beauty and strength of community. Siargao community pantry, together we can overcome any obstacle. Lovely messaging too! People’s Choice / Fan Vote
Cagayan de Oro – Misamis Oriental – Cinderella Fae Obeñita very good messaging! With her personality, I wonder why she missed the first cut in the first place…
Another segment is an interview with Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago who’s battling a end-stage renal failure and she delivered a lovely message of hope to the girls and to us viewers! Get well soon, Bea!
Can I just talk about how amazing the Evening Gown presentation was? I mean, that’s international level of production! Each girl in the top 13 talks about their chosen gown and the symbolism it represents! So powerful!
Moving on to the ‘dreaded’ Q&A, it’s obvious that a lot of girls were nervous. Overall, I thought they all gave amazing answers! It just boils down to presentation and how confident they are with their answers!
The one that top this segment is surprisingly Miss Cagayan de Oro – Misamis Oriental Cinderella Fae Obeñita. She just sealed her win with that answer!
I loved Meiji. She’s such a stunner but I didn’t expect her to place this high after the Q&A but overall, she’s probably in the upper tier of the scoreboard to nab this title.
Her Q&A wasn’t that bad. I thought she gave an apt answer to the question even though she faltered a bit. It’s obvious that her performance there affected her overall placement. I thought she’d get one of the major titles if I’m being honest pegging her to win the Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental title.
I really thought that Maureen would either win the International or the Grand International title so I was very surprised that she got Globe! It’s still a crown after all and she very much deserved a crown, regardless of the title! She was unstoppable last night!
As I’ve mentioned above, her gift of gab is her major strength that none of the girls probably expected! She was such a revelation and she should thank her lucky stars that she won the fan vote! Tonight was her destiny fulfilled!
Samantha is definitely one of the best speakers in this batch and I was also on the lookout for her during the first few months of the competition but that excitement died down as the other girls started to peaked so I was very much surprised that she was named to follow suit Samantha Bernardo in Miss Grand International. Samantha reminded me of the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe prototypes of the early 2000’s. I’m excited to see her transformation on her quest to win the first ‘golden crown’ for the Philippines.
Binibining Pilipinas International 2021: With the Miss Universe pageant no longer affiliated with Binibini, Miss International takes center stage as the premier crown for the most prestigious pageant in the country! Hannah Arnold rightfully and deservedly won this major crown last night with her flawless performance emulating a doll and humble demeanor which the Japanese couldn’t seem to resist! She’d definitely do well in Japan later this year!
Overall, I am just in awe of the level of production, the girls, the hosts, the judges – they just set a new standard on how to stage a pageant in the new normal!
Congratulations, Binibining Pilipinas!
Watch the full show of the Binibining Pilipinas 2021 Grand Coronation Night on their official Youtube Channel.
Okay, so I’ve been posting these throwback blogs I’ve been meaning to share pre-pandemic and I know that we’ve just welcomed the new year but let me still share with you my very short Paris adventure when I welcomed 2020! I know, who knew that it would be a very eventful year!
After returning from my visit at the Auschwitz–Birkenau camp, I immediately took one hot shower at my hostel and booked for an Uber to take me to the Krakow Glowny where I will be heading back to Czech Republic for my flight to Paris. The FlixBus trip getting back to Prague took around six hours and from Prague Zličín, I had to take another Uber to take me to the Václav Havel Airport for my flight via Czech Airlines to France.
A little bathroom selfie at the Charles de Gaulle Airport lol
I’ve arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport around nine in the morning of the 31st of December, so I really had all the time in the world to make it to my hostel before the celebration begins in the evening. I was expecting a lot of people to be at the airport, but surprisingly it just about the usual amount of people I see inside some of the busiest airports I’ve been to, considering it’s a holiday. It was very easy for me to navigate it, and you can also ask for assistance particularly about which train is heading to Paris!
Getting on the right train could be a bit tricky!
Ugh. Paris! I’ve been dreaming of visiting this place for so long and I was just very anxious and excited to explore the city since I’ll be spending four days in it! Too short, I know but I’m pretty sure that there’ll be a next time. I booked my accommodation at the Perfect Hotel & Hostel located at Rue Rodier. Making sure that I won’t get lost, I opted to walk there from the Gare du Nord station. It wasn’t that far and I was able to easily navigate the Google Maps streets of that part of Paris. You see, I really do prefer walking when going overseas! Hah!
Outside the Gard Du Nord station
The hostel was very quaint and clean and the room isn’t so bad. After spending days with other people at night, I was already used sharing space. After lying down for a bit, I decided to walk around the neighborhood first while the sun is out. It is still very cold, mind you but the day is just beautiful!
Perfect Hotel & Hostel 4-male dormitory.
That night, I’ve introduced myself to one of my room mates, a guy from Spain teaching English in Colombia who’s spending the holiday in Paris and asked him if he’d like to go out together. He and I decided to head near the Eiffel Tower site to celebrate New Year’s Eve but unfortunately, the traffic was terrible and it’d take us forever to get there so we decided to celebrate it at the Arc di Triomphe. It was a very exciting and unforgettable experience to say the least. I had a blast waiting along with everyone for the clock to chime in at 12midnight, the dawn of the year 2020.
My first time celebrating the new year’s eve without my family and in another country!
A little photo op at the famed Moulin Rouge on the way back to our hostel! It was so freaking cold!
On my next post… I’ll be posting my little walking tour in Paris. I didn’t get to see everything because it was cloudy, wet and cold but it’s still an experience that I’d treasure forever.
I’ve never learned what theHolocaust meant in school. History lessons were very much compressed at my public elementary and high schools. My first exposure about the Nazi genocide against the Jews in Europe was the film Schindler’s List which I accidentally watched around 1997-1998. I’m not particular about the exact date but during that time, I was at the cusp of puberty. I was a very sensitive and emotional child and that film just touched something in me that stayed with me into adulthood.
I’ve tried learning more about it in high school, but the inept teaching and inadequate resources made me thirst for more until I went to uni where I finally got the scope of this terrible part of our history. I’ve read books, articles, news reels, film archives and tried to absorb as many information as possible. There were so many questions that I wanted to get answered but until this day, some of them remains unanswered, rather unanswerable. The whys and the hows are just too much and just unfathomable.
That is why this trip was extra special for me. To have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, a couple of places amongst the thousands of Nazi concentration camps feels like a blessing somehow. It felt like it would answer some of the questions that I’ve had since I was a teenager and I feel that I’d be able to somehow connect with the victims of this horrifying human tragedy and most importantly, pay my respect by never forgetting about them.
For the record, I do not personally know a single Jewish individual but I do believe that as human beings, we have to acknowledge what transpired here and the rest of the concentrations camps around Europe because I believe that we owe it to the victims to keep their memories alive for all the time we have to be reminded what is at stake and what should be done to avoid such humongous tragedy in the human history ever happening again.
The tour started very early in the morning. It was freezing that day. I thought I was already accustomed to the cold but the weather that day made me lethargic for some reason.
Auschwitz is located in Oświęcim which is 66 kilometers west of Krakow or around 2 hours from Krakow.
The Museum collections include:
• about 40.000 m3 of shoes;
• about 3,800 suitcases, 2,100 of which bear the names of their owners;
• over 12 thousand kitchen utensils;
• 470 prostheses and orthoses;
• 397 striped camp garments;
• 246 tallisim;
• about 4,100 works of art (including about 2 thousand of which were made by prisoners). Source
Our group tour around Auschwitz took about 2 hours and we had a little break before heading to its adjacent camp, the Birkenau concentration camp.
It took me a while to share these pictures that I’ve taken when I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps last December 2019 because I didn’t think that it’s proper to post them at all. I posted the pictures of the exterior of the camps instead on my Instagram page instead but not these images because they just felt too personal then, but I realized that I wanted people to know, especially the young ones who have not heard or read about the Holocaust to be aware of this tragedy, to know its history and to see a glimpse of a dark past in human history that should never happen again and must never be forgotten. We should forever honor their memories for they’re a constant reminder for us to always treat each other with dignity, respect each other’s differences, learn not just to tolerate but to accept and view life as a gift. The victims – those who perished and alive up to these day gave their lives to be our social conscience and may we never forget that.
I’ve arrived in Krakow at the crack of dawn and and I was still feeling a bit hazy from lack of sleep inside the bus. It took more or less nine hours from Vienna to Krakow, and I was just too giddy to sleep right away even though I was very tired from my day tour in Vienna. Who could sleep comfortably inside a bus though? Haha!
Arriving at the Krakow (Kraków) Dworzec Autobusowy MDA, I opted to use Uber to take me to the city center right where I made a booking for a couple of nights, after exchanging about 100 euros at the station for some Polish złoty. Just a little FYI – although Poland is a European Union member, they still use their own currency.
As mentioned above, I’ve booked two nights at the Ametyst Hostel and let me tell you that it is absolutely my favorite hostel during my whole trip. For one, the guy at the reception allowed me to check-in right away, thank goodness because I still need a couple or more hour of sleep. I stayed at a six-mixed dorm room and everything was just perfect! I’ve got my own locker, the bed was warm and comfy and it doesn’t feel cramp at all and their bathrooms are always clean! And the most wonderful thing about it is that, it is just five minutes away from the main square! Like seriously, it’s smack dab in the heart of the city! I just know that I’d definitely go back to Krakow and will stay with them again!
After getting some sleep for a few hours and feeling refreshed, I embarked on my very first winter in Poland! Haha!
Eros Bendato’ (Eros Bound) or The Head is the work of Polish artist Igor Mitoraj (1944 – 2014). This sculpture in the western corner of the market square is a popular meeting place and is one of the most popular landmarks in the city.
After the Wawel Cathedral, St. Mary’s Basilica is the most important church in Krakow. It’s construction was started in late 13th century on the foundations of a former Romanesque church. The new temple was consecrated around the year 1320. Over the centuries, the church underwent numerous reconstructions of both its exterior and interior.
I think I went back to the hostel past 11, I still need to wake up early the following day for the Auschwitz-Birkenau tour I availed via Klook!
Krakow will always have a special place in my heart. Ugh. Writing this part of the trip made me emotional for some reason. I hope to come back here real soon.
I was very excited to finally set foot in Europe and with Berlin being one of my must-visit cities before I die. Haha! I’m really beyond thrilled! The immigration officials weren’t as stern as I expected them to be, due to the horror stories I’ve read and heard from some people. They just asked the purpose of my trip, the countries I’ll be visiting and it took less than a minute I think and I finally got my entry in Germany!
After planning this trip for almost a year, you would think that I was able to cover all of the bases already but no – my Qatar Airways flight landed in Berlin Tegel Airport around 10 – or past 10 in the evening. Lo and behold, most if not all of the stores are already closed! And stupid me was expecting there will be stores open 24 hours where I could buy a SIM card! I even bought a new phone for this trip! LOL. So my only option was to asked the airport staff on how to go about getting to my hostel for my four days in the city! There were buses that will take you anywhere in the cities, and tram too. I mean, this is Germany after all, but I was still totally clueless since I’ve not internet to Google where I am – so I just checked my accommodations booking and prayed to the gods that I got off the right station. Apparently I did not. Haha. I was literally lost and walking aimlessly. And there are only a few people out and about. Remember, this was winter time and I think it’s already past eleven in the evening.
Thank goodness though, because I bumped into Norah – a local from Berlin who helped me find my hostel. She’s truly a godsend because I was just getting really cold by the time I bumped into her. I told her the whole thing of me not able to get a new SIM card at the airport and I just showed her my booking and she took me to my hostel right then and there.
I had my Berlin accommodation at the St. Christopher Inn Berlin-Mitte. They were very gracious and the hostel was actually kind of nice for a solo traveler like myself. One of the guy manning the reception asked me where I was from and I told her that I’m from the Philippines and he smiled and said that his mom is Filipina! Instant connection! LOL. I absolutely loved the location of the hostel! It’s perfect because it ‘s all walking distance to all the tourist traps!!! I swear, I never had to use any transportation system within my 4 days in Berlin.
The following day was not as eventful as I’d like it to be because I was still getting used to the cold! I just went our first to familiarize myself – saw the Berlin Cathedral where I went in for a mass on Day 3, Altes Museum, Humboldt University, Alexanderplatz etc… It was just me being very fascinated and I still cannot believe that I made it here! For some people, this may just be nothing but from someone like me who grew up in the country – this is definitely a whole new world! A feat by itself!
Here are some of the pictures I took on my first foray in Berlin.
You can now buy your own copy of Catriona Gray’s first printed magazine cover as Miss Universe through PeopleAsia’s Special Collector’s Issue this month.
The inside stories will include her preparation for the pageant, her thoughts and analysis on why she won and PeopleAsia’s front-view observation during the coronation night!
This collector’s issue will also feature Catriona’s long-time collaborator – the Kapampangan designer Mak Tumang and our three previous Misses Universe – Pia Wurtzbach (2015), Margie Moran (1973) and Gloria Diaz (1969).
I’m an amateur mountain climber. I’ve climbed a few in the past, yes, but my health and time didn’t allow me to really get into it. This year, as part of my new year’s resolution, I promised to climb more mountains.
I found myself already on my second climb this year at the highest peak in Luzon, the Mount Pulag which also happened to be the third highest peak in the whole archipelago of the Philippines (next to Mt. Apo and Mt. Dulang-Dulang – both situated in Mindanao).
I even trained for this because I was told that it’s going to be strenuous. I’ve tried strengthening my legs for about three weeks since I just started working out around the same time this Mt. Pulag climb came about.
I joined the Bokal Extreme event along with with my officemates – the Kaladkarins – for this little “expedition” lol.
Travel time from Manila to Baguio was very smooth and fast – thank you SCTEX! At least around 5 hours inclusive of a couple of stopovers.
We got picked up at the Baguio Victory Liner terminal by what they call the “Monster Jeep,” I don’t have the foggiest idea why they call it like that since it looks like a regular passenger jeepney to me, though a bit bigger (ding!) . From there, we went to the DENR office for the registration and orientation. The travel time here is about 3 hours. We had a 30-minutes stopover for breakfast and a little photo-ops.
(Side note: You can also buy hiking gears here which I thought are way cheaper! ‘Bought my mess kit here!)
Before you’re allowed to climb Mt. Pulag, you have got to present a “Fit to Climb ” medical certificate and attend the 30-40 minutes orientation regarding Mt. Pulag, a bit of its history and the know-how of climbing it.
After the informative lecture, we went to the jump off site to set up camp for the night.
We woke up at around 130 in the morning and started the trek at 2AM. It was really muddy since it rained the night before and it’s still drizzling throughout our hike.
My number one advise for newbie climbers of this great mountain is to wear appropriate clothing. I was stupid enough to think that I could endure the cold by wearing my favorite football jersey so I was freezing by the time we arrived at the “first summit.” It was such a foolish move on my part so please, just please, wear something warm during your climb here.
For amateurs like myself, Ambangeg is the preferred trail. The hike wasn’t that hard even if it’s all muddy so I think if the weather was real good at the time, I thought it’d be a way easier trekking for us. It’s a good thing we waited for the weather to clear up and saw the beautiful mossy plains at the summit and the sea of clouds which is the summit’s main attraction. Watching it is like being one with nature – just beautiful! I think the whole hike ascending and descending took us close to 12 hours. Yes, it was that long but it was all worth it.
I cannot wait to revisit this majestic mountain in the future!
(This was a long overdue post. Since most of my blog posts are pre-scheduled, I didn’t realize that this one didn’t make it to my published posts. It’s still on my draft folder which I’ve only seen today! Ugh! Anyway – here’s my adventure at Mt. Pulag)
Still not over the #BritneySpearsMNL high? Then join us for an afternoon bonding with your fellow Britney Army! Let’s talk about Britney Spears and anything else under the sun! We have also prepared fun games, souvenirs, and prizes for some lucky fans!
Hurry up! Send us a private message to reserve your slots and for more information about the event!
All clothes by SM Youth Smyth. Photos courtesy of SM YOUTH
I was lurking around my Liked pages on Facebook and I stumbled upon what seems to be another “fake news” because there’s no way that Troye Sivan was actually in Manila! I mean, there was no publicity, not even a tiny bit of announcement from Troye himself but when pictures started to surface on the net – I was literally beside myself! It’s true!!! Troye was actually in Manila that day – I still have no idea how long he actually stayed here but it’s safe to say that it wasn’t that long!
See that first tweet from the the screen-grab of his twitter page – this article from CNN might be IT. Apparently, Daddy Bean did a campaign shoot with SM Youth’s newest clothing line called SMYTH. Nicely done there SM!
I’m actually ready to go shopping in SM!!! Also, pretty please SM! Bring Troye back in Manila for a concert!!!!!
All clothes by SM Youth Smyth. Photos courtesy of SM YOUTH
SMYTH will be at the SM Youth section of all branches of The SM Store starting July 24. Follow SM Youth on Instagram and Facebook for more updates.
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