Action-packed, adventurous, daring, caffeinated, ambitious memoir.

Action-packed, adventurous, daring, caffeinated, ambitious memoir.
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Friday, September 30, 2016

It's Not Just About the Grassy Hillocks: What Else Bohol?


The mystifying beauty of the Province of Bohol and the benevolence of its people were the reasons why it's one of my favorites in the South. It boasts of a thousand plus cone-shaped, chocolate colored hills; home to the smallest primates, and of course, the stretch of undeniably pristine beaches. The bounty of nature wonders here makes it so irresistible!

Today I'm wrapping up my Bohol travel series by featuring the famous Loboc river, the historical Blood Compact site, the second oldest stone church in the Philippines - Baclayon, the man-made forest, and the postcard-worthy chocolate hills!


Whether you've book your flight directly or will be coming from Cebu via ferry boat, you're first stop will always be in Tagbilaran. This capital city of Bohol is just one to two hours ferry ride from Cebu Island, and has the only airport terminal in the province. This is your starting point whether you decide to do a city tour first or island hop. If you're thinking of buying a pasalubong, I believe the city stores have the cheapest prices compared to those selling near the tourist attractions.


If you picked to do a city tour first and have rented a car and a tour guide, your first stop will be the Sandugo historical Blood Compact site. Do not expect so much from this spot though, because the only thing you can see here is the monument and a viewing deck overlooking the port of Tagbilaran. But it's an interesting place to visit whether you're a history geek or not. This site commemorates the treaty between Spanish explorer Miguel L√≥pez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol, in 1565. Blood compact, or Pacto de sangre in Spanish and Sandugo in Filipino, was an ancient ritual in the Philippines intended to seal a friendship or treaty and was done by contracting parties by cutting their wrists and pouring their blood into a cup filled with liquid and drink the mixture.

Afterwards, your guide may take you next to La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Parish Church commonly known as Baclayon Roman Catholic Church. This century old church, the second oldest stone church in the Philippines, is the most famous among other iconic churches in Bohol. It also holds the title as the oldest coral stone church in the region, and one of the oldest in Asia and foremost among the best-preserved Jesuit-built churches in the Philippines. 


Honestly, I'm not really a fan of visiting old churches as they usually have a vintage collection of saints sculptured in wood and encased in rather strange looking display cabinets. It really is creepy to me, to say the least. Well, I guessed it right, Baclayon church has many of these and one I cannot forget was the sculpture of the Archangel Michael defeating Satan. Credits to the artist, it was probably the most strangely alive sculpture I've seen in a church.

The structure of the church have an obvious touch of Spanish architecture with its painted tiles, and high carved ceiling dome. It also housed an 1824 pipe organ, an example of baroque instrument, the only one of its kind in the Philippines. 


After Baclayon church, instead of heading to the Butterfly farm we opted to visit the zoo in Agape, Loay. What can you expect here? Well, aside from the usual animals you can see in Philippine zoos, a huge bat that eats a fresh bouquet of leaves even at noon time can be found here which name I cannot recall. Also, a photograph with a tamed Burmese python is encouraged by the zookeepers here. 


After checking the zoo, we proceeded to Loboc to have our lunch and river cruise at the same time. Captivating, serene, may not be the best description to sum up the beauty of this another pride of Bohol. 


The river, swank in abundant lush tropical vegetation such as Palm trees, banana groves and bushes. It's one of the cleanest bluish-green river I’ve ever seen in the Philippines. 


The river cruise starts from the Loay Bridge which is 20 kilometers away from Tagbilaran. The floating restaurants serves Filipino cuisines and with an added perk of being serenaded by an in-boat band. There is also a cruise stop where a group of local residents showcase folk dancing in complete traditional costume.  The end point of the river cruise offers a good view of small waterfalls. 




After a pleasurable lunch, the next spot we visited was the Tarsier Conservation Area. During our visit, there's a long line of tourists waiting to be entertained. Each group of tourists were required to be assisted by a licensed tour guide of the place. The little primates were mostly sleeping since they're nocturnal, some were wide-awake eating (what I mean by wide is with big, bulgy eyes).

The conservation management discourage, or shall I say, strictly prohibited visitors to use their camera's flash-light when taking photos. Also they warn tourists to avoid loud noises and touching the tarsiers. Even if no one is looking, you should abide to these rules because these primates were highly suicidal. When they're stressed, they commit suicide by bashing their heads against trees or holding their breath. With its body covered with chocolate-brown colored hair and a very long tail, one can mistake them as a rodent (I certainly did at first). But they're really cute once you see their face with those big eyes!


On our way to our last city tour destination, we traveled the two-kilometer stretch of the so-called 'Man-made Forest' of Bohol. We had a quick stop there took some photos and then headed to our last spot to visit. There's nothing to do here really, except to behold the beauty of the first and only man-made forest in the Philippines, mainly composed of Mahogany trees. 

And the last but certainly not the least spot you must visit when in Bohol - the grassy hillocks most commonly called, the 'Chocolate Hills'. With an estimate of 1,776 hills; it is declared as the third National Geological Monument of the Philippines, a UNESCO World Heritage entry, and the main attraction of Bohol. It’s an example of conical karst topography, made up of marine limestone covered in green grass which turned into chocolate brown color during dry season. These cone-shaped hills were named such because it looks like mould of chocolate kisses. I wasn't really excited seeing these hills before because when I looked at it in postcards and books, it doesn't look appealing to me. But when I was able to see it in person, my jaw dropped in astonishment. It's simply amazing.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Purpose Driven Life: A Test and A Trust and Our Five Deepest Needs


Over the years, I have deliberately made it a habit to re-read books that were not only well-written but also tremendously helped me to stay motivated and inspired.

One of these book is the "Purpose Driven Life" written by Rick Warren. The first time I read it, in its original cover, was in high school when a stranger gave this book as a gift to my sister during one of her commute to the office.The second was in College, and re-read it after graduating but this time with the new cover and foreword because I bought my personal copy. I did read it last year too and then re-visited this year on mid-June finishing it last July.

Being that it's a bestseller with over 30 million copies sold, I won't be surprised if you have heard about it, saw it featured in a book store, or have read it personally. I'd like to make myself clear, however, that this post is not intended to be a review rather it's about ideas and biblical truths which impacted me on a level so deep it changed my perceptions. 

"Knowing your purpose motivates your life. Purpose always produces passion. Nothing energizes like a clear purpose." You and I had a time in our lives when life seems dull, full of activities but not really going anywhere, like a hamster running on its wheel. Not only once did we asked nor it crossed our mind if there's more to life than passive emotional defeat, unanswered questions, untapped potential, and the frustration of not being where and who we wanted to be.

"What is your life?" The answer to this question was explored by Rick Warren through observation, digging deep into the Word of God, examining the desires and motives of other people, studying norms and lore, and interpreting history in different angles. Realizing ultimately that "the way you see your life shapes your life."

Much has been written about time management and learning its art of leverage. Most self-help books tells us to be as efficient as possible but with a frail sense of value. Today's productivity and time management systems were so effective in making us believe that squeezing more tasks in our to-do list is the best way to determine our productivity, indirectly telling us that quantity is more important than quality. The PDL book explains vividly that "your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships."


Encouragingly, it also tackled how "character is both developed and revealed by tests." One of the best example of these tests were about handling our finances. "Most people fail to realize that money is both a test and a trust from God. God uses finances to teach us to trust him, and for many people, money is the greatest test of all. God watches how we use money to test how trustworthy we are." Most people interpret money as evil, but the Bible clearly says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And to give my two cents about this, I think that this love of money enslaved us instead of the other way around. "Life is a test and a trust, and the more God gives you, the more responsible he expects you to be."

The quintessence of this book was in finding your purpose in a holistic approach and suggests to arrive into a conclusion that "God deeply loves you and desire your love in return. He longs for you to know him and spend time with him."

In today's information overload, the exposure and broadening understanding of religious differences; it's ironically easy to fall into the pit of forgetful amity with our beliefs. Because not only that it breeds contempt but "familiarity also breeds complacency." Rick Warren reminds us to contemplate and know thy self by deeply searching the purpose of our lives and examining our hidden motives.

In our attempt to find our purpose in life, we need to consciously make an effort to scrutinize ourselves and give an honest account of our deliberation. "The importance of things can be measured by how much time we are willing to invest in them. The more time you give to something, the more you reveal its importance and value to you. If you want to know a person's priorities, just look at how they use their time."

Once we are willing to make a personal inventory, the PDL book intends to help us find the answer to our "five deepest needs: a purpose to live for, people to live with, principles to live by, a profession to live out, and power to live on."

The moment we found answers in our contemplation we then must be quick to pursue the path of changing our minds. "To change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior  is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude. Change always starts first in your mind. The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel influences the way you act." I have expounded this in my previous posts "What Makes Our Thoughts Powerful and Sometimes Dangerous?" and "These Can Elevate You To Success Or Draw You Deep To Failure!"

In your walk into the path of a purpose driven life, it helps to remember that "only you can be you" and that "God put you where you are for a purpose." In this life-changing journey, "at some point... you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people." To "live for an audience of one."

I hope you have been blessed by this post. If you haven't read the book, may I suggest you do so? It may have the answers you've been looking for a long time.

P.S. Got questions? Connect with me on Twitter & Instagram -> @gizandcheese

Previous posts you may like:
Astounding Life Lessons I've Learned From Catherine Called 'Birdy'
Just So Stories: A Classic Work of English Literature Aimed for Children But Not for Children?
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

How To Tell If Freelancing Is Right For You?


For the past four years of my freelancing career I've received more than a handful of questions about it from several professionals. Questions about how to do it, what things to consider, and if it's actually worth the risk.

Currently, I can say that it turned out just what I wanted it to be. It's awesome to be your own boss, choose how much time and when you want to work, and of course being able to work in bed, in the beach, or just anywhere as long as there's an internet connection. I have maintained good-paying loyal clients, I've been consistently recognized as top-rated, I'm able to pay my bills, worked on flexible schedules, etcetera. I have no regrets taking the leap from the corporate world to being a nomadic freelancer. 

But where I am now, as a freelancer, is the result of the prices I've paid. Because honestly, freelancing is not all about backpacking and chasing sunsets. Every (successful) freelancer has a story to tell about handwork, perseverance, determination, and a lot of detours and misadventures along the way.

So here's some things to consider before jumping in.

Find Out If You Have Larger-Than-Life Reasons Why

Sorry to pop your bubbles but freelancing is not for the faint-hearted. I had my share of disappointments, rejection, and discouragement (from friends and families) during my first year. And I'm sure almost all freelancers had experienced it too. But what will help you stick around is your larger than life reasons to stay and make it work. 

I quitted the corporate world because I'm that type who can't stand routine. I wanted to do creative work and establish also a business I can call my own. At the same time, I wanted to travel as often as opportunity knocks on my door. I know I cannot do it if I'm employed with a fixed schedule and a limited number of vacation leave. I also wanted to recover from my OC kind of "disorder" or should I say, hardworking perfectionism. I just couldn't stop working until the job is done and with the best result as possible. But the truth is, when you're employed the work doesn't stop when you send that EOD report. It just keeps on piling and it's very exhausting. Unlike freelancing, you have the ability to control when and what is the end result and stop there and get paid.

So make sure you have a reason big enough to make your freelancing career a success and not just because you like the idea of it.

Are You Independent Enough To Work Alone?

Some clients provides training to new freelancers, but most of the time they don't. This is because clients have an expectation that you are an expert or have an experience doing the job. Some clients do some minimum supervision, but again, most of it you have to do it alone. 

Besides this, are you comfortable enough working alone? I mean physically alone? If you're a highly socialized individual or if you thrive working in a team, then this setup may not be right for you. Unless you find a way to counter this dilemma.

Do You Have Enough Savings?

It's an utmost importance to honestly answer this question. You need to have a plan B, C and D when the money isn't coming in regularly. You need to know how your bills will be paid and make sure you have enough food to keep your mind working and buy yourself a cup of good coffee.

The truth is, if you're starting out - not all clients will risk to have a taste of your work. You are still building your portfolio and reputation so it's an illusion to think that money will come in pouring to the brim.

Do You Have An Expertise That Will Land You A Job?

While it may look like anyone can do freelance work, the reality is there's a real tough competition in this business. Not only your price should be right but you have to be really good at something. An expert. A master. 

Clients wants experts not just workers. If you want to survive as a freelancer you need to know what work you love to do, and then be VERY GOOD doing it.

That's it! This may be a short list, I assure you there are other things to consider too! Nonetheless, I'm confident these four considerations are best to start with. :)

P.S. Got questions? Connect with me on Twitter & Instagram -> @gizandcheese

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