Shopping in Legaspi, Albay!

After one of my aunt’s saw the purses my cousins bought for me on my first trip to Legaspi, she decided she just had to have one of her own! This time, we didn’t have the luxury of having our own car to make the trip. We took one of the many commuter vans from the bus/van terminal in Naga. This cost less than 100 pesos per person. I can’t remember the exact amount. The van doesn’t make any stops which is very convenient if you are wanting to make a day trip to Legaspi. You could take a bus but those do make stops and take longer.

When we arrived in Legaspi’s van/bus terminal, we immediately asked where we could purchase native products. We didn’t have to walk far because the stand were set up right across the street!

Native handicrafts in Legaspi, Albay Native slippers Native bags Hats and bags

Each of the little shops had a good variety of things. There were some things also made of volcanic ash/rock from Mayon volcano. I didn’t take pictures of those, unfortunately. Buying handicrafts like these are always cheaper to buy in the province than in Manila. For one, these items are made in Albay. From what I’ve heard, a lot of the nicer native handbags are made in Albay.

Here are pics of other items:

Native placemats

I believe these were table placemats and runners.

You need a fan

Of course, a must for everyone! Colorful and handmade fans! These are large and I brought one back home tho it wasn’t as colorful as this. Comes in handy during those really hot days when you’re at a holiday picnic or ballgame!

Handmade flowers

These are so neat! They are made of abaca, I think! Plus, they were coated with with lacquer to harden them so they wouldn’t get destroyed. I convinced my mom to buy just about all of them pictured here. It was all the shopkeeper had. They were 17 pesos/flower.

Native baskets

So many baskets to choose from!

Handmade colorful balls

These were neat! I would have loved to get some but they would be impossible to bring back to the US. They were larger than a basketball and some were mega-huge in another little shop!

Colorful hats

Handwoven hats in bright colors!

It pretty much was raining off and on while we shopped. In the end, my mom bought a huge magazine basket set for 200 pesos (OMG, SO CHEAP!…US$5!), those flowers and a trio of small purses. My aunt bought 3 purses.

It was a little hard to haul all this stuff around. We piled into a tricycle and headed off to the Pacific Mall to eat lunch. Good thing we could leave our stuffs at the package booth. We walked around the mall, then ate at the same food court I went to before. We walked around more for a couple more hours.

By the time we realized it was time to go, my aunt suggested we eat merienda now than wait till we got home. It’s a long drive back to Naga so we decided to eat at Graceland. It was my first time eating in a Graceland so I opted for the small pizza. I thought it would be really small but to my surprise, it was actually too big for snacking:

Graceland pizza in Legaspi, Albay

It was pretty good for a filipino pizza! LOL!

Graceland pancit canton

My aunt ordered the pancit canton which was INCREDIBLY CHEAP! Less than 70 pesos and this could feed 4 people! Oh man, if I had known she was ordering it, I wouldn’t have gotten the pizza! It was soooooo good, I stuffed myself shamelessly with it! You don’t get good pancit canton like this back in the US! My mom thinks it’s the noodles they use. We can’t get this brand they use. They have some of the best pancit noodles in Bicol!

The ride was long due to the rain. It felt good to get home and stretch out on my bed after being cramped in the commuter van! LOL!

OH, and I never got a shot of Mayon! IT WAS RAINING and the clouds obscured it completely! DAMN YOU, MAYON!

CamSur aventure: Caramoan Part 6

Originally published at is it Friday yet?. Please leave any comments there.

We landed at some small sleepy fishing barrio in the barangay of Oroc Osoc, I think. I just love that name! It’s so native! Many of the names in Caramoan are really old and haven’t been changed to spanish ones after the Spainards converted the area to Catholicism centuries ago.

Wild orchids in Caramoan

I noticed these orchids growing as we walked to the village.

We stood around while Ate Felly went to find out where she could get us a jeepney or tricycle to take back to her hotel. I sat on these little wooden benches built in front of a sari-sari store to get out of the sun. Lord knows I caught up on all my suntanning for the rest of the year in the 2 days I went swimming in the Philippines. I am now 4 shades darker AND I have finally rid myself of the “farmer’s tan” I’ve had for more than a decade! My chest/neck are the same color as my face! My feet/ankles are the same color as the rest of my legs! Wheeee! *sprays more SPF 50*

Ok, back to the pictures!

These 2 boys were walking past me when they saw that I was taking pictures with my camera. They stopped right in front of me and asked in Bicol, “Take our picture, please?” I didn’t need anyone to translate that for me as it was obvious what they wanted to I snapped a quick portrait of them. They were happy with that and just walked on! LOL! Later, my mom asked me why I didn’t ask them what their names were. I told her, I didn’t think about it at the time and I was too busy taking pictures of other things. On top of that, I was dying of thirst and just had to buy a cold soda! Something COLD cuz it was soooo hot in that morning sun!

Life in a fishing barrio Need a roof?

Someone had left chopped wood in front of their house. Many of the homes in this village still burned wood to cook their meals in the back of their houses. Also, the nipa shingles or whatever you want to call them were on display for anyone that was needing to mend their thatch roof.

Sari-sari store, remote style

My cousins went across the street to buy some cigs. I love the whole primitive and native looking that sari-sari store was.

Nature's dryer

Caramoan has only had electricity in the last,…10 years? Hell, maybe even way less! There is a road to Caramoan as I’ve said before but it’s a very rocky one. No paved roads to this place! So, that would mean, if you wash your clothing, it’s the old way with just your hands and a washing board. To dry, you just hang them out in the sun,…like these in front of some house.

Sundresses

My favorite picture of that day! Sweet little frilly dresses that were hung out to dry in the sun!

Getting back to the hotel was kind of a nightmare for some of us. We had to split into 2 groups since there were 14 of us. The first group (with me in it) took the first tricycle that Ate Felly could find. I didn’t take a picture of it because I was too tired by then. What we didn’t realize was just how far away we were from the hotel. The road was very rocky and at some points, very steep! On top of that, a motorist behind us told our driver his back tire was flat!

Sure enough, when we all got off the tricycle, it was flat. He had only some of us (older people) up the hill while the rest of us had to walk up the hill. OMG, it was bad enough having to move around in the lush humidity but to walk uphill? ARGH! I thought I was going to pass out at one point! After a couple times of this (getting off the tricycle and walking), we finally made it past the hills and we could sit down and catch our breathe while the tricycle slowly got us back to the hotel.

Little did we know a feast was waiting for us! After a short rest in our rooms, we came downstairs to a heavy meal:

Fried pork

Roasted pork! YUMMY! Since it was the first day of the fiesta of Caramoan, they just had to cook some kind of pork! This was a HUGE slab of pork too! Danny and me were salivating after it! We cut into it and steam came out! The meat was sooo tender and juicy!

Fried fish Fresh fish with mayonaise

Both are fish. One is slathered with mayo and the other was fried. I don’t know what kind of fish had the mayo on it tho I know it was fresh fish. The fried fish, I was told, was red snapper.

Squid dish

Some kind of squid dish which I didn’t try. Danny tried it and said the squid was too chewy. The squids were pretty large ones so that might be why.

After this heavy meal, we sat around and rested up for our journey back home to Naga City.

Who got postcards?

Originally published at is it Friday yet?. Please leave any comments there.

I mailed out the last batch of postcards from the Philippines more than 2 weeks ago so I’m wondering who got theirs. I know that Girlcreeture, Cassiel and Leigh have received theirs as they have told me. Jenny, did you tell me you got yours? I can’t remember!

Anyhow, please leave a comment here and let me know if you received your postcard! Philippine post can be really bad sometimes!

P.S. Helene, I will be sending out Puni’s shells soon!

CamSur adventure: Caramoan Part 5

Originally published at is it Friday yet?. Please leave any comments there.

I hope y’all aren’t tired of seeing these beach/island pictures! I’m almost done showing them!

We tried to go to Gota beach and had actually “landed” the beach but there were workers from the crew of “Survivor France” that were still pulling down the set. They told us we couldn’t disembark as the beach was closed until May 15. ARGH! It was May 7th! We were told the beach had already opened! Grrrr!

Caramoan Caramoan Gota Beach Gota Beach Island hopping at Caramoan, Camarines Sur One of the many beaches at Caramoan

So, I just snapped some pictures and we headed off to another island instead. When we got off the boat of this next island, I knew I had found paradise!

Paradise definitely FOUND!

This island is called “Lahos” or “Bichara” Island. It’s a privately owned island. From what I’ve heard/read, it’s owned by the Bichara family of Naga City. They own a movie theater/building in downtown Naga. It’s been around for years! My mom used to watch movies in that theater.

Anyways, they apparently own this island but people can go and swim at the beach. It’s a very narrow island as there are 2 beaches on each side you can just walk over to. The other side is barely a stone’s throw,…ok, it’s 3 stone’s throw far away! You just walk up this tall mound of sand and you’re on the other side!

Lahos or Bichara Island in Caramoan, Camarines Sur A perfect afternoon Can you see the coral reefs? The most beautiful beach I've been to yet Claim your space Prinstine waters

The sand is all crushed coral, just like Aguarangan Island! There was a TON of large pieces of broken coral on both sides of the island. I picked up some. When I dug deeper into the sand, more coral pieces would pop up. I did find lots of smaller shells on both sides of the island, including a piece from a giant clam. I knew you could find giant clams on these beaches as our hotel had a lot of them on display in the hallway and living room that they picked up off the beaches of the various islands. Sadly, I wasn’t able to bring the giant clam shell home with me cuz that sucker had to have weighed around 15lbs and like HELL AM I going to pay an extra $25/lb or whatever they charge you if your luggage goes overweight! The giant clam sits in our vacation home in Naga City now.

White sands, blue sky

This is the middle part of the island, looking up! Yup, white sand and blue skies! I wasn’t even lying on the sand to take this picture! I told you it’s a high hill you have to climb to walk to the other side!

Rocks/water/sky Secret cove The perfect spot More of the limestone Neat rocks Rocky edges Rocks/water/sky

More of that same rocky limestone formations from the other islands. It’s really neat to see how the water and wind have shaped them.

Claim your space Tree by the beach Water meets sky

We swam in the waters and watched a thunderstorm crackle and pound an island in the distance! I didn’t get pictures of that because I had already gotten wet and I didn’t want to pull out my camera with sticky salty hands.

After swimming for a half an hour, we called it a day as we were going home after lunch. So we all reluctantly piled into the banca and headed back to the hotel. That was an adventure too, I might add but I’m saving it for the next installment!

Sick once again

Originally published at is it Friday yet?. Please leave any comments there.

The very day after I return home to the US, I get sick AGAIN! Oh, the cough I had in the Philippines was lingering for a bit but almost completely gone. Now I have a very bad cold that’s draining into my throat and making my cough even worse than before! I have no health insurance but a whole family in the field of medicine.

My mom had been giving me antibiotics while we were in the Philippines and those had made my very sore throat magically disappear within 3 days. Problem with that, she stopped giving them to me after 5 days! Yes, even I know you should stop taking antibiotics too soon. I guess she was afraid she would run out of them before we were able to come back to the US.

So, here I am now, back on antibiotics. I’ve had 2 nights without much sleep because I cannot go 15 minutes without waking up and coughing up a storm. Regular cold/cough medicine is either not strong enough or I’m just not using the right stuff. I don’t know, I’ve already tried 4 different brands (2 are generic ones).

I certainly can’t go to job interviews in this state so it’s just frustrating that I have this damn cold/cough and it’s the beginning of summer. Ugh. At least I can retreat to the coolness of our air conditioned house as opposed to suffering in the humidity as I did back in the Philippines.

Either way, I just hope that I can FINALLY kick the cold/cough bucket soon. Poor Sam is prolly getting annoyed at me waking him up in the middle of the night when I come downstairs to watch tv when I can’t go back to sleep!

CamSur adventure: Caramoan Part 4

Originally published at is it Friday yet?. Please leave any comments there.

First beach! Sabitan-laya Beach!

Our first beach!!! This beach is called “Sabitan-Laya”! We were the only ones at the beach the entire time we were there. Danny said we would stay for 15 minutes but that ended up being almost an hour! They decided to eat lunch so that’s why we stayed longer. I reaaaaaaaaally don’t like my relatives’ tradition of eating before swimming! Dude, you are not supposed to do that! Full belly when swimming is bad! I wouldn’t eat despite their numerous attempts at coaxing me to. I just drank cold coke and took pictures before getting in the water.

Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach

The water at the beach is soooo clear and clean! It was warm enough to sit and let the waves lap over you.

Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach

The boys spent their time swimming in this cove. When my cousin Jeff found jellyfish swimming around and caught them, I couldn’t bring myself to go into the water and go sit on the rocks with them. Our cousin, Oman, had warned us about the stinging jellyfish and I DID NOT want to get stung! We are far from everything and what if I get an allergic reaction or something? Eeek! So, I stayed on the shoreline and let the waves come to me.

Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach

Sabitan-laya Beach

Our boat waiting for us!

Sabitan-laya Beach Sabitan-laya Beach Caramoan

Alas, we couldn’t stay for too long as we had other beaches calling us! So, we headed out to Gota beach! That’s for the next installment!

Chikka: Sending free text messages to the Philippines

Originally published at is it Friday yet?. Please leave any comments there.

While I was in the Philippines and now back home here in the US, I have been using the Chikka service online to send free text messages to my relatives/friends. Ate Ruth, our next door neighbor in Naga City (and whom I’ve known since my first visit to the Philippines) had told me about the service when she came over to the house for a chat.

At first, I used the website version but soon downloaded the actual messenger program. Here are the pros/cons to using their service.

Pros:

  • It’s free to send/receive messages!
  • You can have the messages forward to your phone if you are not logged in online

Cons:

  • Service is spotty sometimes!
  • Their customer support is DOESN’T REPLY BACK! I have emailed them 3 times for 3 separate issues and they NEVER reply back.
  • Both the website and messenger versions will NEVER remember my settings so I have to set them each time I log in
  • I sometimes would not receive any messages for a whole day because the damn system would eat them when I wasn’t logged in!

Chikka is a filipino company so I’m not surprised they haven’t gotten their shit together. This service has been around for a year now and from what I’ve read, they haven’t made any updates to it.

Still I use it until I find a better service. I’m going to keep my Philippine cell phone number active so it’s easier for my relatives/friends to contact me when they can’t get online.