20 April 2014

Peace, love, and sand between my toes

My friends and I grossly underestimated the number of people hoping for an exodus from the city for the long break that our supposed five-hour travel time to our destination was met with a lot of difficulties. Eventually, after almost nine hours on the road, we got to The Circle Hostel in Sitio Liwliwa, Zambales and it was amazing.

Truth be told, I've never heard of The Circle Hostel before. According to their website, their goal is "to create affordable lodging and create a positive and friendly community atmosphere amongst travelers." They also want to be "a sanctuary for the artsy and the adventurous where people can express themselves freely among each other and on our walls." My friend Ed who went there last year said the place is very relaxed and laidback, and based on the photos I imagined it has a very Jason Mraz-ish vibe to it.

I was right. Stepping in to The Circle Hostel was like stepping in to a Jason Mraz video where everything is light and breezy and wonderful.

For P350 a night, we stayed on the bunk beds. We were a little late in reserving so all the bottom bunks were already taken and we had to stay at the topmost bunks. It was a little challenging to climb all the way up especially if you're holding something but we easily got the hang of it.

Each bunk has its own mosquito net and curtains for privacy. Guests are given fresh linens, blankets, and pillow cases upon checking in.
I am showing you a photo of my toes so you can see how high up we were.
Locker area
You also have the options of staying in tents or renting a hammock. Hammocks are cheaper at P250 a night but I can just imagine how painful your back will be in the morning.
Shower area
Store within the hostel that also offers surfboard and padlock rentals

See those artworks and murals? They were all painted by guests! Everyone is welcome to borrow paint and brushes and paint away.

Whenever it was still too hot out to go to the beach, we either stayed in the hammocks or went up the common room. (Doesn't that just remind you of Harry Potter?)

The common room houses bean bags, a speaker, musical instruments, and more importantly, these:

Outlets for charging your gadgets!
I think it was very clever of the owners of The Circle Hostel not to put outlets in the bunk beds and put everything in the common room instead as a gentle nudge for everyone to meet there and "connect" while waiting for their gadgets to charge. :)

I never realized the extent of my dependence to a reliable Internet connection until I was forced to live without it for three days (no wifi, very weak data connection). I mean, without the security blanket offered by Facebook and Twitter whenever boredom strikes, what else was I supposed to do?

Turns out, there was a LOT. I could write, I could sing, I could read, I could swim, I could stroll by the beach, I could gaze up at the stars, I could talk to people. I'm not gonna lie, it felt very disconcerting at first and I had a massive case of the FOMO, but on the second day I became a lot more comfortable about it. Relished the thought of not having to check what everyone's up to or if any work emails are coming in, even. Thanks to my friends Ed and JV's outgoing personalities, we met a lot of new friends!

Halo-halo with Salve
Joy, Inad, Ed, and JV
Beachin' with Carlota
Categories and dares
Ed and Sasha, the wanna-be snowman

From The Circle Hostel, it's just a three-minute stroll to the beach strip. As expected, we spent our afternoons there until the sun set, and went back in the evenings to watch the stars.

I had a mini crush on one of the guys in the group behind me but I never had the courage to say hi and now I am regretting it a lot.

I just want to go on more adventures, be around good energy, connect with people, learn new things, grow, and I'm thankful I have friends who share these adventures with me.

We didn't realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun. Thanks for another memorable weekend, Ed and JV!
I'm glad Ed's friend recommended this place to him. The Circle Beach Hostel was an awesome host and I will definitely come back! I wish there were more showers and toilets though but yeah, I will definitely be back!

"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."
- Desiderata, Max Ehrmann
I am back in busy and fast-paced Manila but I don't mind as I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. My heart is grateful. Cheers to more adventures!

17 April 2014

Life needs more beaches and bonfires.

I just need some time in a beautiful place to clear my head.

This is a scheduled post. By the time this gets posted, I will have been on a bus on the way to Zambales to spend the long break there with my friends. My friend who also spent the Holy Week there last year said we shouldn't expect the place to be like Puerto Galera where parties abound - instead we should expect quiet and calm - and that's perfect for me. I am looking forward to early morning yoga, watching the sun rise and set, feeling the sand between my toes, and bonding with my friends. Most importantly, I am looking forward to the chance to clear my head and heart and write.

Ah, except for the smell of books, maybe. Hee.
I am so excited. I will be back in Manila on Saturday. May you guys have a blessed and meaningful Holy Week as well. Ciao for now!

"At the beach, life is different. A day moves not from hour to hour but leaps from mood to moment. We go with the currents, plan around the tides, follow the sun. We measure happiness by nothing we can hold, nothing we can catch. Everywhere, life is jumping and elusive and momentously momentary."
- Sandy Gingras

16 April 2014

The Writer Tag

I don't even remember how I first came across Bea's beauty blog, all I know is that it was love at first read. I enjoyed her beauty reviews not only because they're succinctly written but also because her writing style is so fresh and crisp. You should also totally check her Luxola articles out, too! I wish she updates her blog more frequently but hey, readers can't be whiners. Anyway, I excitedly clicked on her post The Writer Tag because it's something that spoke directly to *me* as an aspiring writer when what do you know, I reached the end and saw she tagged me! Me! ME! Eeeek! That was a whoah moment for me because as I said, I am a fan and, well, I didn't think my current posts are at par with my old posts I liked. Anyway, blabber babbler, here are my answers to The Writer Tag.

1. What type of writing do you do?

Fiction and non-fiction in the form of this blog. I also used to dabble with poetry although I can't do that anymore now and I don't know why. I am also currently trying to write a romance novella.

2. What genres and/or topics do you write about?

This blog is filled with personal, beauty and fashion, and lifestyle posts mostly, although even when I post press releases I try to inject as much of my own voice as I can into them. As for fiction, I prefer romance and YA, but I would also like to try my hands on fantasy/ mythology.

3. How long have you been writing?

Does constructing entire fantasy worlds in my head count? If so, for as long as I could remember. As a child I had kingdoms, mystical worlds, jungles, and cities ruled by my Barbie dolls. I also really enjoyed my English and Filipino classes especially whenever we were asked to write on our formal theme notebooks and wrote a lot of poems when I was in high school. 

4. Are you published?

Only on our school folio and online (I used to write for a women's website based in Singapore). I never got the courage to submit articles to local newspapers and magazines. :(

5. What was the first story you ever wrote?

This is horrible of me, but I don't remember. o_0

6. Why do you write?

I write because I feel everything too much. I write because the world is full of stories. I write because the world needs more stories.

7. How do you find time to write?

I just do. I almost always carry a notebook with me, but if there's no pen and paper around I make do by typing it down on my phone. Sometimes I repeat a line in my head over and over again just to make sure I commit it to memory and then write it down the first chance I get.

8. When and where are the best times to write?

Any time is the best time, although I have a day job so I only get to take care of this blog and/ or do some serious writing when I get home. I can also stay home all weekend and just write.

9. Favorite food/ drinks while writing?

Nothing in particular. Depends on what I feel like eating in that moment. I'm a moody eater.

10. Your writing playlist?

None. This is weird of me, but I find my thoughts really noisy as it is so when there's music I get really distracted. Playing music makes me sing along and forget what I originally wanted to write in the first place, so sometimes I just put my earphones on just to block everything out and listen to nothing.

11. What do family/ friends/ loved ones think of you writing?

I haven't really checked, although I know that they're happy I'm doing what I love doing. Some of those I rarely see because of distance and circumstance even tell me they read my blog to check out what's up with me these days. I have a friend who's so enthusiastic about my decision to write my first novella that he has begun pushing me every chance he gets. "Why are you texting? You should be writing your book. Get to it!" was the reply I got earlier ha ha.

12. Parts of writing you enjoy the most?

That feeling you get when you see and feel everything coming together. ♡  

13. Parts of writing you find challenging?

Technical writing. Ask me to write a formal business letter and I'll look back at you with a blank look.

14. What do you use to write with and on?

I type directly on Blogspot when I'm writing new blog posts. For my notes, I have a stash of notebooks on hand and I just pluck any of them when inspiration strikes. For my romance novella, I am using a rust-orange notebook given to me by a friend. It's not my favorite color but I hope it's bright enough to goad me when I'm feeling like procrastinating.

15. How do you overcome writer's block?

I try to write around it, but if nothing really comes I just don't force it and watch or read instead.

16. How do you motivate yourself to write?

I don't really *need* motivation because it's something I really love doing and it's something that comes naturally to me heh. However, I do get intimidated especially after reading a great book and thinking I will never be able to create something close to that, so I just tell myself that it's not a race and that I should use them as inspiration, not hurdles.

17. Authors who inspire you as a writer?

A LOT. I try to take away a little from every author whose work I enjoyed immensely, but off the top of my head I would say Neil Gaiman, Allie Brosh, David Levithan, Marla Miniano, and Mina V. Esguerra.

18. Books that inspire you as a writer?

Gaiman's Neverwhere, Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Manix Abrera's Kikomachine Komix series, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, and a lot more. Can I also include movies? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Before trilogy.

19. Best advice you’ve gotten as a writer?

20. Writing goals this year?

I would like to write and publish book after book after book, but first things first - I need to churn out 30,000 words and finish my romance novella by July. As I said in that post, I'd like my novella to be an easy and comforting read, like a nice movie in your head, or like something you'll come back to every time you just want to read something that almost feels like a friend. I want to write something that makes the reader want to soak it all in and then lend to as many of his/ her friends after. I want to write something that sticks with the reader long after the book has gathered dust and the pages yellowed mostly because I can say that about a lot of books I've loved. Such high and mighty goals, I know. But writing without dreaming of these things? Where's the fun in that?

Thanks for tagging me, Bea! I rarely answer blog memes and tags nowadays but I sure enjoyed answering this! Now this is where I get corny and say I won't be tagging anyone. Instead, anyone who wants to do this Writer Tag can go ahead and answer it! Put your links below because I would like to read your answers, too!

14 April 2014

Experience summer with Banana Peel

Wherever you're bound this summer, a comfortable pair of flip flops should always be in your list of travel essentials!

I'm planning to go out of town this Holy Week, and Banana Peel's got me covered with their newest summer collections and line of foot sprays and foot blush! Just look at these pretty little things:

I got a pair each from the Navajo, Gold Rush, and Department of Tourism collections. While my sister has already claimed the Bohol pair as hers, I'm okay because the other two are equally pretty and more suitable for a girly girl like me.

When I first encountered this flip flops brand, I admit I dismissed it as just another footwear brand. But now, oh wow, look at how much it has grown! There are so many designs available that it's so difficult to choose which one to get. Whether funky, trendy, or plains and prints, there's one for every personality! Here's a closer look at the individual pairs and their "siblings" under the same collection:


Bohol from the Department of Tourism collection

Gold Rush

Aside from the wide range of designs available for each collection, I love that all Banana Peel flip flops are comfortable to wear because they're made of 100% rubber! It's also a proudly homegrown brand and very, very affordable.

"Green" stamp
Here are other collections I wish I can add to my personal stash of flip flops (because you can never have enough!):

Great news for all environment-lovers out there! Did you know that Banana Peel has released its first collection of flip flops for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - Philippines?

World Wide Fund for Nature is one of the world’s largest and most effective independent organization dedicated to the conservation of nature. With bases in over 100 countries and supported by nearly five million people worldwide, their aim is to build a future where humans and animals live together in harmony.

The statement flip flops Banana Peel has designed in collaboration with WWF are designed not just to make people aware of the current environmental situations present but actually enable citizens to participate in WWF’s advocacy. For every pair of flip flops sold from the Men’s and Ladies’ Marine Life collection, part of the proceeds go into funding marine conservation programs to help save our seas! Here are the designs available from this collection:

What a wonderful advocacy! Make your summer extra meaningful by purchasing a pair of two!

Are you ready for summer? I am!

Share your Banana Peel experience with these hashtags: #ExperienceBananaPeel and #EveryonesFavoriteFlipFlops! Connect with Banana Peel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You may also visit their website here. What about you, what are your summer plans? Share them below!

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