Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Greatest Romance

I read this book as a reference to this new thing I am working on.The Sketching Backpacker. What a nice concept. This book was published in 2007, way before I even had the tiniest idea that I will experience backpacking someday. 2008 was the last time I experienced backpacking and I didn't even have a decent camera then. What I had are a hundred misadventures with a fellow traveler Jerik and meeting so many people from around the world.

I salute this book for a very simple and solitary activity while traveling - sketching. Seriously, one has those spells of just staring at nothingness and listening to music. But sometimes one must be able to stretch not only his creativity but his muscles as well, right? But Robert captures his experience through his sketches. To each his own.Robert had romance with his charcoal and paper. I have romance with meeting people along the way and sharing bottles of beer with them.

Okay so if I were to make a story out of this, Robert would have sketched a beautiful face who will become his soulmate. Haha. Actually I am brewing the best travel romance yet...inspired by my November 2008 travel to Singapore-Malaysia.And through listening to fellow travelers about travel romance. And that new romance flick from Star Cinema? I have this feeling that it is a travel romance flick. Hmmmm. Not to be fazed.

But seriously, I'm even more inspired to go to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Beijing because of the book.

Dream Destinations in 2010
1. Visayas Region Philippines
2. Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos

3. Beijing
4. India-Sri Lanka-Nepal
5. Batanes

Top Destinations in this lifetime

1. Egypt
2. Morocco
3. Prague
4. Japan
5. Europe (France, UK, Italy, Spain, the works)
6. Mexico
7. South America )Machhu Picchu, Peru

and basically what consists of the 7 wonders of the world, or 7 natural wonders. anything with history. anything that will keep me high.

i want to be high by seeing the world. its the greatest romance i'll have with the world. to travel it. i owe the world that much.

i want to be a seafarer or flight attendant. maybe ive chosen a wrong career path? i want to rob a bank.or sell my soul. or my body. we're daydreaming remember?


Ermita was founded in the late 16th century. The name was taken from the Spanish word for "hermitage", after the fact that on this site was built a hermitage housing an image of the Virgin Mary known as the Nuestra SeƱora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance). The hermitage has since evolved into Ermita Church, which has been rebuilt several times since the early 17th century.

Ermita gained renewed prominence during the American colonial period. It became known as the university district, containing the campuses of the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila, the Assumption College and the St. Paul College for girls. Dormitories for students also flourished in the area. The residential portion of Ermita was populated by American residents, who set up such establishments as the Army and Navy Club, and the University Club.

I vividly remember a book I read back in college, written by a favorite author, F. Sionil Jose called Ermita. The heroine Ermita Rojo, used to study in Assumption college. They used to have a house with durable blue tiles. And when Malate became a bohemian town in the 90's, I used to search for Ermita's mansion.

Wonder why Old Manila's "Forbes Park" became a seedy sex tourist spot that it is now? 

 During the 1945 Battle of Manila, Ermita was the scene of some of the most horrific massacres that occurred during the month of February, 1945. The wife and four children of future President Elpidio Quirino were murdered in Ermita, as was Supreme Court Associate Justice Anacleto Diaz. Between 68% to 85% of Ermita was destroyed during the Battle of Manila, with an estimated total of 100,000 Filipino civilians killed in the city itself. 

 And since then, affluent Pinoys left Ermita in shambles. Some chose to stay, while others fleed to Makati...a burgeoning business and affluent center. 

What happened to Ermita, is a microcosm of history. Time flies and some places get destroyed while new places are being built. 

(some photos from

El Nino

It's February a month shy  from official summer season, which is March but already we are sweating like pigs. News on TV and virtually everywhere say it's because of El Nino Phenomenon.

Though not yet "the worst" El Nino said the PAGASA bureau director Frisco Nilo, our body temperature and the unbearable heat in the air scream otherwise.

(photo from

In Manila, where I'm at, it's hotter than usual. But as I observed, the nights are actually a little colder, which seemed to make this hot season a little bearable. However, this makes one a little lazier to do some outdoor activities because of the humidity. We are more inclined to stay cool during free days at the mall to watch the latest romance flick.

However, because of the hot climate, isn't El Nino the best reason to gear up for a spontaneous quick beach trip in Batangas or Zambales?

However, on a larger scale, if the El Nino has been unkind to us city dwellers, the damage is worse in key agricultural provinces like Cagayan Valley and Isabela.  The irrigation has dried up in those provinces and the once rich and fertile lands have been replaced by arid soil. Corn and rice production will be close to impossible the next few months and this will affect the livelihood of our kababayans.

Other areas affected by El Nino are Benguet, Batanes, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Pampanga, Batangas, Iloilo, Guimaras, Antique, Mindoro, Negros Occidental and Capiz.

It is sad to note that some of the provinces affected by El Nino now were the same provinces greatly affected by typhoon Pepeng last year. Sad how nature cruelly subjects the country to an extreme seesaw of climates. Our fault? It's time to think of the environment. We've seen how she gets mad.