Books

Tsukuru’s Colorful Life

I have always been a Murakami fan ever since reading Norwegian Wood back in 2013. I asked the same question with Sumire in Sputnik Sweetheart, followed the love story of Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, and experienced the adventure of Kafka Takamura in Kafka on the Shore.  While I hate open endings (which is a always a case in his writings) I never seems to hate it whenever I read a Murakami book that has that type of ending. There is always something in Murakami-sensei that makes a reader (or me) coming back for more.

Colorless Tsukuru Takazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage comes the story of Tsukuru Takazaki whose life has been thrown off course when his close circle of friends cut him off without any explanation . Thus, this event convinced him that he was really meant to be alone and frequently toyed with the idea of suicide. Tsukuru eventually managed to rise from the depths of his despair, however, he was still unable to make any fulfilling relationships. It was by the probing of his girlfriend, Sara, that he was forced to confront the event that cause the tumble in his life if he wants to have a long term relationship with her. By finding the present address of each of his four colorful former friends from Sara, Tsukuru eventually learned the reason for his expulsion. The story ended without us knowing if Tsukuru truly ended up with Sara or not. As usual, Murakami-sensei left the ending open.

Readers have different opinion to this novel. Some says it’s wonderful, other says its a failure as compared to the previous works of Haruku Murakami. As for me, I don’t make it a point to compare his previous writings with the present one. While some themes are recurring, I believe that its pointless to compare two different novel. Each has its own beauty, story to tell, and message to convey.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of Tsukuru, his struggles and determination to overcome his past. There was never a single moment of boredom when reading this book. I find it quite relatable in real life, of course, removing all the magical realism we read throughout. It’s easy to imagine a college student suddenly being cut off by the people he count as best friends without knowing why and the devastating aftermath of it which is something that can happen in real life. It makes one think ‘How will you deal if the same thing happen with you and your friends? Will you be able to make it or not? Will you give in to despair and end it all?’ Those were the thoughts that were running in my mind as I read through. Murakami-sensei forces people to confront their most deepest fears.

 

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Adventure · Travel

Experiencing PubCrawl at Boracay

One of the things you must try when you are in Boracay is Pubcrawl (even if you’re not the partying type of tourist. Trust me, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.)

The concept of Pubcrawl is barhopping (so expect that there is drinking involve) on the island while meeting new people. It is, after all, famous for its tagline “Turn strangers into friends”. BUT! don’t be afraid to drink even for just for a bit because the Captains (that’s what they call their moderators) will check up on you every now and then. No one will also force you to drink if you don’t feel like it. But then again, what’s the point in joining when you’re not even going to drink? What I suggest is drink at your own pace for you to enjoy it thoroughly.

The meeting place is different for each night. Upon arriving at the designated place for registration, each will be given their own shot glass, baler, and pubcrawl t-shirt (which you can customize to your own liking!), and drinks coupon (one free drink for each bar). There will be 5 different bars to visit throughout the night.

Here are some of the photos of that night:

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All in all, we enjoyed every bit of it. It was definitely a night to remember! Those who are not the partying type will surely enjoy this as well.

While you can register when you land in Boracay, it’s also advisable to do early booking on their website as there are times they are fully booked. Early birds are also given discount.

Pubcrawl: https://www.pubcrawl.ph/

Adventure · Hotel · Travel

Our Stay at Astoria Boracay

As I have mentioned in my previous post, for our first day at Boracay, we decided to splurge a bit and stay at an high-end hotel. Astoria became our top choice because of its pool. Astoria Boracay is located at Station 1 of the island. On the main road, Astoria was not really visible in the eye and if the tricycle driver did not stop and told us were already  reached Astoria, we would not even notice it.

Checking in to Astoria Boracay was a breeze. The staffs were accommodating and welcoming . We were also given complementary drinks, that tasted like Sago, upon arrival and subsequently, assisted into our room. We stayed in their Deluxe room that can accommodate 4 guests. As expected of it, everything was comfortable and relaxing.

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Complimentary drinks

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Soft, comfy bed
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The bathroom
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What a treat lying in a tub after a day of partying

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One of the reasons we loved Astoria was their pool. At night, the light changes to different color, giving a stunning sight.

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Our booking also included a buffet breakfast good for 4 pax. Another thing I love staying at high-end resorts is that their buffet breakfast. The assortment of food and beverages available makes the splurge worth it.

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Details matter. Don’t you just love the fish?

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When bacon iz life

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Excuse our faces. We only had 3 hours sleep.

After a night of partying at PubCrawl, waking up to a sumptuous breakfast was simply divine. What I particularly liked in their buffet was the bacon strips, yogurt mix with kiwi and their brewed coffee! As a coffee lover I am very particular about how it taste but with Astoria’s, I found it quite delicious.

The only problem we had at Astoria was that the drainage in the tub was not working properly. We had to call the front desk twice to have it fix. Nonetheless, everything went smoothly afterwards. Staying at Astoria was definitely the best decision we made. I’d be glad to return here again if given the chance.

PS. This booking was, again, arrange by travelpod. If you want hassle free accommodation arrangements, mytravelpod is the way to go. You’d be surely have your money’s worth!

TRAVELPOD

Website: https://mytravelpod.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mytravelpodph/

ASTORIA BORACAY

Website: http://www.astoriaboracay.com/

Adventure · Travel

LaBoracay

With its pristine beaches and fine sand, Boracay became the country’s top tourist destination. Of course, we didn’t want to miss the chance to experience what made Boracay among the best.

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PAL’s carrier
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Up, up, and away

Due to Philippine Airline opening domestic flights directly to Caticlan from Clark International Airport, we immediately grabbed the opportunity to visit the island. However, there are no direct flights to Boracay island itself. All must either fly to Kalibo Airport (preferred by many due to its cheaper fair but has a longer travel period) or to Caticlan Airport (nearest airport to the island but the airfare costs a lot). From there we took a boat ride to the island for about 10-20 minutes, depending the speed of the boat.

Boracay is divided into 3 stations. Station 1 has the best view of the island’s white sands. Most of the high end hotels and bar for night life are located there.  Station 2 is the center of the island where D’mall and D’talipapa are situated. Meanwhile, station 3 is the least developed part of the island. Most of budget type hotels is located there. For visitors looking for peace and quiet, station 3 is the most ideal since it is less likely to be jam packed with tourist.

Arrival

Luckily, there were no delayed flights and we arrived at Caticlan, Aklan at around 1pm. From the airport, we rode a van to transport us at the port where, in turn, rode boat to transfer us to the island. I estimate that the transfer from the airport to the island is approximately 30 minutes since the place is already crowded with tourist (BUT I am told that the number of people we were seeing is not even close to when it is peak season. Can you imagine the number of visitors when summer has officially began?).

For our first day, we decided to splurge a little and chose a high-end hotel to stay. Astoria Boracay is located in station 1 which was perfect for relaxation. We decided not to do any island activities yet, except for PubCrawl that night, to maximize our stay.

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View-tiful Bora

Since our late arrival, we were already famished! We decided to take a late lunch at Paradiso Grill. I highly recommend it since the food was absolutely delicious and affordable too! The one we ordered was Lover’s Sharing which was good enough for he four hungry us.

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When you’re hungry and food has come
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Do you sea food?

ACTIVITIES

There are quite a number of island activities you can choose from to make your Boracay stay memorable. A lot of tourist guide roam around the island that offers packages.  I would recommend the one we got for cheaper rates, Kuya Lee. The package that we decided upon were island hopping, cliff diving, parasailing, helmet diving, and paddle boat for the water activity on our second day and ATV ride, zipline, and cable car ride for the land activities on the third day.

Helmet Diving

First on top of the list! When we came, the line was quite a long one that we had to come back after lunch when there were fewer people. This activity is safe even for kids so no worries there. There will be instructions given prior to going down. The helmet is heavy, weighing 50 kilos but weightless when you’re down the sea. It uses pressurize air to keep the water from coming inside. We were given a piece of bread to attract the fishes.

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Under the sea

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Jet Ski

Another fun activity you can do at Boracay for those looking for adrenaline rush! It last for 30 minutes and there are flag points scattered around the sea as  your guide. This was an additional activity my couple friends added. The personnel who were overseeing this activity were kind enough to allow all of us to ride one to be able to experience it. I do recommend trying it for the experience and kick!

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Parasailing

One word: Bonamin. If you get sea-sick easily then it is best to drink one beforehand. While waiting for our turn, we had to wait in a constructed raft that you can feel the waves underneath it. Needless to say, I got dizzy and nauseated before our turn came up/ I didn’t even attempt it because without a doubt, I’d just vomit. But my friends told me it was enjoyable going up in the sky.

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CLIFF DIVING

One of the highlights of my Boracay trip was diving from a 7ft cliff without a life-vest and into the open waters. How scary can that be? But, I did it and it was certainly one for the books.

ISLAND HOPING

There are various islands that can be explored around Boracay. Unfortunately, the waves were strong that afternoon so the boatman told us we could not go to Puka Beach. We were able to visit Crystal Cove Island though.

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Crystal Cove Island

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Isn’t it neat, being by the sea?

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Paddle Board

The last activity we did was paddle board. It’s usually done late in the afternoon when the sun is not scorching hot and the waves are much calm. It’s not easy standing up in the paddle board and extreme balance on your legs is a must. After a lot of struggle, we gave up and simply made our way by kneeling.

256274I’ve been to a lot of beaches but sunset at Boracay easily beats them off. The sun slowly setting, creating a soft orange hue in the horizon can make one easily fall in love.

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Breathtaking sunset

LAND ACTIVITIES

ATV RIDE and ZIPLINE

Another activity we did was riding an ATV. What we thought as an easy activity turned out to be a buwis buhay one. The tract consists of zigzag rodes and parts ascending and descending ones.  Most certainly, an adventure packed one. Don’t worry though, a guide will be with you all the time.

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I’d like to call this Team PowerRangers

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Feeling super

Coming back to the starting point, we rode a cable car back. Which certainly a nice way to calm our pounding hearts due to the zipline.

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The crew

and that concludes our nerve-racking adventure filled Boracay experience. Will we come back? Definitely a yes! Boracay has a lot more to offer be it do those seeking adventure or peace and relaxation.

PS. I suggest having a travel agency arrange your land and boat transfer so you don’t have to stress yourself lining up for tickets! If you have the budget, include hotel accomodations too! Ours were taken care by Travelpod so our stay was nothing less than excellent. You can find her on Instagram at mytravelpodph!

Movie

Movie Review: Heneral Luna

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Promotional poster

I first saw Heneral Luna being premiered around 2 weeks ago, the same time the movie Ex with Benefits was being shown. Naturally, we chose to watch the latter as it was more famous and I’ve never heard of Heneral Luna before. Besides, I thought that the former was another one of those boring, cliche historical films. The actors and actresses were famous and already veterans but not the stars of this generation. Besides, what was the point of watching a movie about history when we already knew it by heart? (I am assuming that everyone that can access the internet has at least basic knowledge of our history)

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How wrong I was.

Fast forward to two days ago, I hurried to the cinema with the hopes I could still catch Heneral Luna. I read reviews online how great this movie was and that it is being regard as one of the best movie in Philippine history. Indeed, after watching the movie, I can attest that calling it one of the best is not merely an exaggeration. It is a fact. Heneral Luna was in no way boring as I previously thought. It shed light to the life led by General Antonio Luna; his brilliance in the battlefield, strict military discipline, patriotism, courage and, selflessness. However, it also showcased the hot-hotheadedness and sharp tongued Luna was also famous for (there was an instance in the film where they reminisced the argument Luna had with Dr. Rizal over a lady).
The script was well made, it delivers funny punch lines, but never over the top. Curses are prolific in the film, courtesy of our General, but I didn’t mind it since they were used to make the audience laugh.

It is informative as it gives the audience a realistic view of how our bayani’s lived during the war, their sacrifices, perseverance, and determination. It shows how corruption and conspiracy to remain in power was already present even during the war. Even then, politics was played dirty. Self-interest was already a driving factor to those who are in power as seen during the cabinet meeting of Aguinaldo. Self survival versus the survival of the nation.

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The cinematography was not a bit crude considering that it is a Filipino film. It is as realistic as it can get. The bloodshed, injuries received by the soldier were wonderfully done.

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The cast’s performance was also note worthy. From John Arcilla who brought the genius general to life to the calm and intellectual Mabini that is played by Epy Quizon, every bit of acting by the cast was spectacular.

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From left to right: Archie Alemania as Capt. Eduardo Rusca; Nonie Buencamino as Felipe Buencamino; Mon Confiado as President Emilio Aguinaldo; Epi Quizon as Prime Minister Apolinario Mabini; Joem Bascon as Col. Francisco “Paco” Román

All in all, Heneral Luna is a masterpiece. History lessons that were taught to us during our elementary and high school years only gave facts that were approved by the winners of the war. This movie explores possibilities and theories of what caused the death of the General, even it it means bringing to light the dark side of our heroes.

If you haven’t watch Heneral Luna, you must absolutely watch it now. We at least owe that much to the heroes who gave up their lives and future just so we could have ours.

Disclaimer: All photos above are not mine.