Coffee Pot in the Arab Culture

Arabs have tons of effusive symbols but there is one that kept me intrigued: the coffee pot (dallah in Arabic). The modern dossier says that dallah is a metal pot with a long spout designed specifically for making Arabic coffee. In particular, it is used in the coffee tradition of the Arabian peninsula and it was first made in Baghdad using brass or another alloy. Syrians made their own in Damascus by copying the Iraqi Dallah that was then used by most Arabs especially the Bedouin.

I had seen this coffee pot countless times during my travels within Riyadh and Dammam most particularly in and on the premises of the nearby mintaqahs. The pot seems to be all over the place, which made me think it must be a national symbol.


The Al Salem Museum, in the heart of the historical Ushaiger Village, is where I got to see different colors, designs, and sizes of dallah but I did not bother wringing out from the curator what these containers symbolize.


In my recent trip to Diriyah, I came across a massive coffee pot that made me ask my sapient Arab friend, Mohammed Al Obaidan, about what this thing signifies, finally.

photo 1

I learned that a coffee pot is indeed a national symbol for hospitality throughout the Arab world. Arab hospitality is incomplete without sharing a cup of coffee. It is served everyday at all gatherings. Further, the youngest person of the host should be the one to serve. Nowadays, that practice has already been obliterated by a coffee man or tea man.

Related Blog Posts

Arabic Coffee: A Symbol of Hospitality at peninsulaqatar.com

Ode to Coffee at longhornsandcamels.wordpress.com

Ask Ali: How National Symbols Help Our Country’s Image at thenational.ae

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers at agent909.wordpress.com


Wild Desert Flowers Could Make For a Good Day

Waking up every morning already makes for a good day. There are times though when you go live every minute of that day, you will find yourself submerged into a pit of disappointment. Things don’t turn out as you have hoped, expected, or planned. Eventually, you get consumed. This is where you usually begin to doubt. You begin to loathe the idea of a good day.

FullSizeRender (1)

I now live in a very busy city adorned with concrete-laden environments. Our office doesn’t have something green in it. When toxicity creeps in the walls of the workplace, stress has all the power to take over me. The latter is something that happens rarely, I admit, so when it does it totally beats the hell out of me. What I usually do to get back on track is I carve out some time away from the source of that stress. I go for a stroll through a place where I can see greens or flowers.

When I was in working in Philippines, our office is very near to a nature park. I do visit the park each time I feel the need to. It had greatly helped me cope with pressures of work (“A Hideaway Amid the Slaving Corporate World“). Back then, it was easy for me to bounce back after a slip-up. I also had mountains to climb and beaches to feast on when the going gets tougher (“Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel“).

Finding that kind of defense mechanism in my current state posed a real challenge during my first few months. Then I discovered a place called “Distinct Agricultural Ways Establishment”, which is approximately a hundred meters away from the office. The establishment is actually a nursery where different flower species are displayed for sale. This has become a sort of sanctuary for me (“The Flowers, The Greens, and The Bees“) ever since.


Today, I did a random visit to that nursery to stare plainly at the flowers in the middle of the scorching heat of the sun. As you know, summer here in Saudi is currently at its peak.

This time around, I didn’t focus on the common flowers that have been displayed there. What caught my optical organs were the two minuscule, wild flowers in the area.

The first one seems to have shot up from a piece of earth near the road. I’ve never seen anything like it. The vibrant colors of yellow and orange with a tinge of fuchsia are visually magnetizing.

The other one is equally enticing. It sprouted out from a cracked pavement. I’ve never seen this species before too. The flowers look like a shrunken version of sunflowers, without leaves.

The colors of the flower stimulated my senses particularly sight and smell. My world at that very moment stopped, for a good reason. For a short period of time these two little wonders of nature triggered my happy emotion and heightened my feelings of satisfaction. I never knew how therapeutic it is to watch these small wonders while they strike their beauty upon my senses.

On the spur of the moment, I felt delighted and grateful seeing both of them survive their unconventional environments. I realized that what I carried was not after all different from them yet they don’t falter. They continue to live. They push on doing their purpose: to remind us that each day is a good one by painting colors to the surroundings of these barren but productive lands. They are just there, underrated…waiting to be noticed.

I’m blessed to have found another kind of God’s handiworks that reinforce the idea of celebrating life’s gifts always and being thankful each day through these cute flowers.

I left the place with a positive mood and I can’t help but exclaimed “In spite of the things that didn’t turn out the way I expected, today was a good day!”

Related Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day at dailypost.wordpress.com

WordPress Photo challenge: Today was a good day at dawkinkster.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day at marichulambino.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was A Good Day at inspiringmax.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day at alexpavlova.com


A Haven for Chocoholics: “dip ‘n dip”

It was the start of winter last year when I and some friends went to Riyadh Gallery. That was when I first saw this chocolate store called “dip ‘n dip“. I was scouting around the food court for something to stuff in my sac after shopping when I passed by it. The store made quite an impression on me because of customers I saw patiently waiting in a long queue−not along the counter but outside. I then thought there must be something really special in there. As much as I want to know what it was, patience is something I do not have if I were to wait in long lines. That was exactly eight months ago.

Last 08 August 2015, I had to meet a blogger friend, Beth, the lovely author behind “Pixels For Four” that talks up Saudi life and things under the sun, for an unfinished business. I needed to hand some pictures, which I took during another friend’s special event, to her at the mall–Riyadh Gallery. I never knew said date was meant for me to discover the kind of craze that is now creeping into the heart of not only chocolate lovers but the whole of the main city’s people here in the kingdom.


After handing her the flash drive, they invited me to join them for a heavy snack. Since I was in a perfect mood for something saccharine, giving in to dip ‘n dip’s the esculent wonders was way too easy.


The ambiance of the place was now far inviting than the last time. There were no long lines but few available tables good for four people. While I and Beth’s family were busy leafing through the menu’s pages, I noticed the coziness blistering from the red paint covering the walls and cushiony chairs. The color of love just complements the brown tables around and each of them has a mini manual stove for the fondue. I guess the idea behind the red, black, white, and brown theme is to invoke people’s imagination of a world that is close, if not similar, to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. A world of chocolate!


If you add the estimable service crew to the aforementioned, the place will turn into a haven—chocolate haven—not a fondue house nor a chocolate heaven. The sleek and laid-back interiors are of a cafe but I really like the protruding dip ‘n dip graffiti on the entrance’s wall.


Deciding on what to order was a real challenge. All of what I saw in the menu made my mouth water. I could see the Palacios Family having the same dilemma. Then again the fit and healthy side of me took over so I ordered “dip n dip waffle”.


While we were waiting, we were offered to try Arabic Coffee which is a complimentary service. We humbly obliged of course. The coffee’s taste is something very different for a first timer. However, upon learning from Beth’s husband the kind of meticulous preparation the coffee boasts, my view of its, for lack of a better term, alien taste changed into something exquisite. I immediately emptied what is in the tiny cup.


A few minutes later, we were up for chow time. The view of the crew while they were laying our orders (Fettuccine Crepé, Classic Decadent dip n dip Brownie, and my dip n dip Waffle) down was a salivating treat. Our table instantly transformed into an autobot groaning toothsome comestibles.



Soon, I came face to face with my waffle. Staring at it making love with chunks of strawberries, kiwi, banana, and pineapple while they were being drizzled with pasty, succulent Belgian chocolate a meter up in the air was such a gaping experience. Nom nom nom for the chocolate fountains on display!


For some reason I was like transported to the time I was all crazy about sweets. (I was secretly wishing to share this wonder with my kids, who are now both at perfect age to relish this kind of experience, back home.)



The next thing I know was I was mincing the waffle on my white, shiny plate. I just could not get enough of it after taking a slice in my mouth.


Simultaneous with sipping from my all-time favorite fruit shake (strawberry banana) was chewing the softness of the waffle coupled with the superb blend of Belgian chocolate. Oh, it was simply perfection!


I gradually swung to the delectable fruits. I never knew strawberry, kiwi, banana, and pineapple, and chocolate go together in perfect harmony. Trust me when I say, they do! For the first time, I learned not to gobble down something special as this food. I realized it is indeed hard to enjoy a food at its fullest if it goes by too quickly not to mention if it is extra special. I could not be more convinced that I made the right choice (i.e., spending extra for very special desserts) not only by the indulging delight from every fruit chunk or waffle slice but by looking at the faces of the Palacios family. They obviously displayed that much needed body languages to revel in Dip ‘n Dip’s creations all the more.


For me, this gastronomic pleasure would not be complete if I (make that we) will not conclude it with the scrumptious, beyond question, dip ‘n dip (Belgian) Hot Chocolate. With this and all the things I have said, I must have gotten infected with a disease called “chocoholic“. All I can think of now is coming back to that haven…for chocoholics! I smile each time I do that. :-) Yey!


One impressive thing about their array of products is none of them is overly sweet. No wonder, foodies and even ordinary people of the main city are flocking to the place at the third floor of Riyadh Gallery. Here is a hot of the press news from the very store’s manager: A week from now, two new branches will open at Hayat Mall and Tahalia Street near Chili’s..


To date, dip ‘n dip has a multitude of branches in Armenia, Canada, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi, Syria, Turkey, the U.A.E., and counting. Please visit their website and follow/like their social media platforms appearing in the above photo for more information (complete list of their menus, news, franchise, history, etc.) about this rising name.

Related Articles

Chocolate Lovers Delight @ Dip n Dip at tetaadventurer.blogpspot.com

Dip Deep Into Chocolate at the pinktarha.com

dip n dip: A Chocoholic’s Delight at pixelsforfour.blogspot.com


Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up

Once upon a time, I started this series titled “Little Wonders”. My fascination with the kind of beauty that small creatures raise–when they are captured by way of a macro lens–is the reason.

Each time I look through my camera’s viewfinder, I still feel mesmerized at how these little organisms transmogrify into a beautiful, statuesque…new face…new form.


Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (lonelytraveloge.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (purpleviolas.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (ouchmybackhurts.wordpress.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (thechangingpallete.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (oliteahouse.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (dailypost.wordpress.com)


The New Kind of Technocracy To Be Learned

My interest in the standard usage of English has become somewhat espousal since I entered the academe and the stenographer’s world in 2009. The interest and the espousal spiked up when I started working outside my home country in 2012. It was there that I noticed the nuances, subtleties, unique lunacy (‘English Is Crazy’ Poem Proves The English Language Makes No Sense Whatsoever and “Linguistic Humor, The English Lesson”), and the seductive power of the English language even more.

Photo Credit: grammarly.com

I never got more hooked into digging the language until I interacted with the Definitely Filipino blog’s subscribers and commenters and the blog’s fans (2.9 million and counting) on their Facebook page. I got such an overwhelming reception from them when my first three articles got published. Gleaning from their reactions on the articles, I realized one thing. We, Filipinos, are indeed sensitive to articles that compromise the validity of our very own Philippine English. The views, likes, shares, and comments found on the blog and their Facebook page though proved that we take them as mere constructive criticisms at the end of the day. Moreover, their questions and corrections are without a doubt informative not only to the attentive public but to me. To prove my point, there were actually new grammar rules (e.g., like does not introduce examples and when using “such as” to introduce examples—always precede the last item with “and” or “or”; never end the list with “etc.’ or “and so forth”) that I learned from them. Click here if you want to read the whole discussion thread.

See, all the articles in this, I may say, series were inspired by the readers’ suggestions and thought-provoking questions and the common grammar pet peeves I hear and see around of course. So I would like to give time to answer two stirring questions from Ms. Joy in the comment section of the article “’Masteral’ and Some Very Common Filipino Concoctions.”

1. In a different perspective, how can we translate our English competency into the economic status of our country?

2. Is it the English proficiency of the Japanese people that sets them where they are economically?

Let me start by saying our competency in Business English has persuaded BPO companies to move their base from India to the Philippines. In an article titled “The Philippines has become the call-center capital of the world” published on the Los Angeles Times’ website last 01 February 2015, experts estimate that the country’s BPO industry will generate an astounding $25 billion in revenue, accounting for about 10% of the Philippines’ economy and as much as the total amount expected to be sent home by 11 million Filipinos working overseas. The industry has helped boost our country’s economy into one of the region’s fastest-growing. The outsourcing boom has, beyond question, spawned the bustling business districts in the metropolis with skyscrapers and 24-hour buffets and condos that sell for $500,000. I am no economist but I could see those figures mentioned sending massive thanks to our English competency.

As to the second question, I do not believe that English proficiency can set any country economically as English is definitely not the only essential key to economic prosperity. Most of the first world countries such as China and Russia are not English-speaking but their peoples have strong commitment to their national integrity systems (e.g., anti-corruption), advanced technology, well-managed resources, among other things that propel their respective economic statuses. It does not guarantee progress for a country but it would be useful—and helpful like in the current state of our country’s economy as explained earlier.


It should be noted that the main reason why I (and the rest of the English language’s concerned citizens) write articles like this is to just let the attentive and inattentive public know the differences between Standard English, Non-Standard English, and Philippine English.

It is true that there is a place and time for everything. However, when it comes to professionalism, there should be no substitute for proper grammar there.

Just like what I said in the article titled “Filipino Concoctions, Philippine English, and Standard American English“, most of the grammar pet peeves I have presented in this humble series are accepted in Philippine English regardless of their grammatical quirks. In the end though, they will remain as mere parts of this English variant in the region. When it comes to the three major English proficiency exams (Test of English as a Foreign Language [TOEFL], International English Language Testing System [IELTS], and the hot of the press Pearson Test of English, Academic [PTEA]), Standard English sets the record straight not the English variants nor the Non-Standard English. Therefore, the grammatical pet peeves on the list remain incorrect and should be really avoided, especially by those who aspire to join the global workforce.

Always remember, knowledge of the English language (i.e., good grammar) is necessary no matter what your career is. A number of studies have been conducted to validate probable career advancement for those who have superior knowledge of the English language. These studies have also demonstrated that a strong command of the English language will lead to higher paying jobs, more social mobility, and a great deal of social success. I am not saying though that it is an absolute prerequisite for a successful career. I know that there are people who are very good in grammar but when it comes to dexterity in practical works, they are incompetent.

I would like to reiterate that for us Filipinos, it takes a certain amount of determination to be exceptionally good in English because it is just our second language. It is a given that not all Filipinos can speak and write English correctly. Learning Englishas a subject in school is definitely not enough. We need to accept related corrections and treat English as a working language and a means of communication on a global scale (i.e., in accordance with Standard English). We should also consider better ways to learn it because, whether we like it or not, English is now the new kind of technocracy to be learned; one reason it has become an international standard.

I am fervently hoping that all the readers who followed the four articles published on this site almost a month ago will get to read this one, for them to understand better where I am coming from.

Related Articles

Accent’ matters: Philippines acquiring 70% of India call centers  at philstar.com

Global Business Speaks English at hbr.org

Does Grammar Matter in the Workplace? at dictionary.com


A Totally Different Kind of Spa

My recent visit to the Manila Ocean Park with the Tuscano Family last 11 April 2015 made me experience a very different kind of relaxation. It was something that wrung the child-like mirth out of me and the rest of those who were with me on that day.IMG_6205

The very first time I visited the park, I was only able to check the oceanarium (“Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”). This time around, I, Ms. Wonderwall, and the Tuscanos availed of the promo ticket that included several deals. Fish Spa is one of them.


This kind of service has been in operation for a few years now and is guaranteed to bring your pampering to a whole new level. Imagine a relaxing time while the dead skin of your toes are being gormandized by hungry-piranha-like fishes. That is exactly how the spa works. A bit scary in pictures but once you dip your feet in the pool, the reason behind the irony is unfolded. There is quite a challenge though before we were able to get ourselves settled: grappling with the tingling sensation as soon as the fishes start nibbling on our toes and legs.


When I put my feet in the pool, smaller fishes were the ones that came swimming and swarming over. It felt really weird at first. I was shaking but tried hard to drown my feet. It was a relief that I noticed the kids and adults around showing the same reactions.


After a few minutes of letting the fishes feast on their food, the discomfort in the muscles of my feet and calves (which I got from waiting in queue for almost 30 minutes and strolling through the Birds of Prey Kingdom) dissipated. It then felt as if my feet have instantly developed countless acupuncture sites, like they suddenly have various nerve endings.


A piece of unsolicited advice: It is okay to twitch your feet, hips, or body if you cannot stand the tingle these hungry-piranha-like fishes give. Do not fight it. Let the sensation take over.


The 20-minute experience really left a mark on me, which is why I made it as the first of my Manila Ocean Park Adventure Series. It was truly a rejuvenating experience. It was indeed a good, gentle massage. It was beyond question a totally different spa service. The wandering feet ‘s very photo below can attest to that.

IMG_6146The tiny fishes responsible for this unique treat comprise three different species (Doctorfishen, Kangal Fish, and Nibble Fish). These fishes are found in the rivers running through the Middle East, Turkey, and the country who adores the Philippine seas, China.


I recently read an interesting factoid about one of the species (i.e., Kanga Fish). A common way to treat psoriasis in Turkey is by bathing in a spring, with 37 degrees Celsius heat, while Kangal fish nibble the infected parts of the skin. The catch is, this kind of treatment has to go on for 21 days in order to get a positive result.


I actually thought there is only one fish spa in the country. I was surprised to learn about ten other upon looking for some references on the internet: Tibiao Health Resort, Calawag, Tibiao, AntiqueTibiao Fish Spa , SM City, PampangaTibiao Fish Spa, SM City, IloiloTibiao Fish Spa , SM City, General SantosFish Spa, SM City, North EDSA, Quezon CityStar City, ManilaDat’s Pet Shop, Fish Foot Spa, Baguio CityAll About Fish, Tagaytay Picnic Grove, TagaytayErnest &Cath Nails & Spa, Marikina City; and Soulstice Spa, Greenhills Town Center, Granada Street, Quezon City.

So what are you waiting for?

Go to Manila Ocean Park and buy a ticket for only 120 pesos and go straight to its top floor in the main building. Click here for directions. Do not forget to inform the cashier and gatekeepers that you are to go directly to the Fish Spa if you want to shrink from paying the entrance fee.

If the Manila Ocean Park is far from your place, just choose among the above-mentioned spas near your area.

Related Posts

Manila Ocean Park: On Meeting Doctor Fish  (travelwishlists.com)

Manila Ocean Park – Shoot First Eat Later (shootfirsteatlater.com)

Fish Spa at Manila Ocean Park (animetricsworld.blogspot.com)

Manila Ocean Park Promo 2015 (philippinestravelhub.com)

Manila Ocean Park (mommykay.com)

Hotel H2O Manila Ocean Park Weekend (jaysantos.ph)

my manila ocean park trip & 2015 summer promo (allaboutjamesepp.com)

The 3 Best Fish Spa in Manila (makeitmanila.com)

Manila Ocean Park visitors enjoy the fish foot spa (gmanetwork.com)

Manila Ocean Park: The Underwater World (vigattintourism.com)

Manila Ocean Park. SEAL-ed with a Kiss! (sugargospice.com)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Door

One of the two highlights of my visit to Ushaiger a couple of years ago was probing the unstinting, old doors of a traditional Saudi architecture that are mud-built houses in the heritage village. These designy doors truly reflect the local artisans’ talents on decorating and designing doors.


It is interesting to note that the reason behind the elaborate doors is a familiar word in the Philippines: hospitality. Arabs and Filipinos are kindred spirits afterall. Let it be known that the very essence of the Arabian culture is hospitality. To come up with the kind of door you see in the picture, the artisan has to pitch in hard work and dedication. There is no better way to start hospitality than opening your door to visitors or people in need.


The doors are usually decorated with circles, disks, and geometric designs burned with branding irons.


“Modern architects and city planners in the Kingdom recognize the cultural and historical value of old doors. They adapt these unique styles into modern design projects for residences and businesses. Preservation projects also exist throughout the Kingdom to maintain these irreplaceable treasures of the past. In Riyadh and Jeddah, where there is such an outstanding selection of traditional doors, there is an on-going effort to preserve and maintain the traditional character and architecture of the city. In other areas of the Kingdom, cities and towns are making efforts to preserve their past for future generations to learn from and enjoy,” (Doors to the Past, Saudi Arabia, Summer 1998, Volume 15, No. 2).

Related Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Door (dailypost.wordpress.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Door (byswav.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Door (frenchtouchedincebu.wordpress.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Door (cxianliu.wordpress.com)

Doors Around the World (anewlifewandering.com)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

As long as there are mountains to climb, flowers to osculate, beaches to frolick on, rivers to cross, sunsets to watch, sunrises to catch, trees to hug, deserts to tread, escarpments to lay eyes on, historical caverns to feel, places less traveled by, little wonders to magnify, and anything mundane or extraordinary that attracts the optical organs….my muse will continue to sail.

Mayon Volcano

The Playground of Demigods and Nephilims

A Glimpse of Kennon's Scenic Views

Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag

photo 1

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring


The Flowers, The Greens, and The Bees


Urban Spelunking (First Episode: Water & Fire)


Revisiting the Most Famous Cave in Cagayan Valley On A Whim

photo 2 (2)

First Taste of a Virgin Beach


Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking in Natural Scenery

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between


Embraced by the Labyrinth’s Trail of Mount Marami


The Camel Corral in the Desert



The Doors and Mud-Built Houses of Ushaiger Heritage Village


The Exhibit Archive

photo 2 (5)

The Place Less Traveled By Tourists in the North

Little Wonder in Washington Syccip Park

Little Wonders Series’ First Episode


A Perfect Estival Treat


What Is The Name Of This Plant?


Creating Something Beautiful Out of the Mundane


Weekly Photo Challenge: One

Applebee's Interior Light 1

I Am a Moth and So Are You!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

photo 3

Heaven On A Plate

Al Faisaliah Tower

Colossal Wonders of Olaya


Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top


Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

The hours I had spent trekking mountains, dipping in seawaters, kissing flowers, crossing rivers, watching sunsets, catching sunrises, hugging trees, treading scalding deserts, laying eyes on tweiqs, experiencing exhibits archive, braving places off the beaten track, and feasting on small or colossal wonders of nature as well as in concrete jungles of a metropolis have undoubtedly fueled my muse. My convergence with nature and the citified jungles in all seasons of the year, most especially summer, has brought me ineffable raptures. The wonderful experiences do run along those places.

As long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, there will always be new images to see and stories to share.

Related Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse at impossiblebebong.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse at rododovris.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse at thoughtsandentanglments.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse at marantophotography.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse at dailypost.wordpress.com


Bagolatao’s Pebble Beaches: For Your Information

1.There are no eateries in the area so you should bring food. The sari-sari stores could only provide for sodas, liquors, and junk food.


2. The terminal serving jeepneys bound to Bagolatao Pebble Beaches including White Pebbles Beach Resort is located beside the biggest LCC Mall in Naga City. There are also jeepneys going to Minalabac but this option requires another ride (i.e., tricycles, motorcycles, or habal-habal) to get to the pebble beaches. The former is just a single ride.

3. White Pebbles Beach Resort


Brgy. Bagolatao, Minalabac, Camarines Sur

Contact Numbers:

+62 (054) 472-9606 (landline) and +639052806366 or +639395869147 (mobile number)




The Resthouse costs P3,000.00 during regular days and P3,500.00 during peak season. Amenities include billiard table, two bedrooms with single bed each, five sofa beds, and videoke.



The four native houses cost P750.00 & P1,000.00 (i.e., one single bed/two people) and P500.00 & P1,800.00 (three single bed/six people—P50.00 each for additional person) during regular days and peak season respectively. There is an additional P50.00 for every excess hour.



The nine cottages (capacity is 12 people each) cost P500.00 during regular days and P700.00 during peak season. An additional P50.00 charge is required for every excess of one hour.





Operating Hours:

Daytime is from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM while Overnight begins at 5:00 PM and ends at 7:00 AM.



4. If you are staying in any of the hotels (e.g., Eurotel) in Naga City, you can request a rented van going to Bagulatao at the front desk.

Related Articles

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking in the Natural Scenery (yobynos.wordpress.com)

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 3: Dipping in the Seawaters  (yobynos.wordpress.com)


Guide to Bagolatao Minalabac ~ Naga City Deck (nagacitydeck.com)

Sino Sasama?: Anniversary @Bagolatao’s White Pebble (sinosama.blogspot.com)

Beach in Camarines Sur, Philippines – Mygola (mygola.com)

The Pebble Beach in Bagolatao, Minilabac (maxtermind.com)

White Pebble Beach near Naga City | Travel Up (traveling-up.com)

White Pebble Beach BEACH in Bagolatao (happytrips.com)

It’s more fun in Bicol: Bagolatao Pebble Beach in Minalabac (itsmorefuninbicol.blogspot.com)

White Pebbles Beach Resort | TOOVIA (toovia.com)


Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 3: Dipping in the Seawaters


Amidst my now urban life’s constant uproar, I refuse to forget how nature nourishes me. There is a big difference between watching the azure waters and plunging into it. Did you ever wonder why you do not want to leave the seawater that easy especially when you were a lot younger?  This explains why swimming in the sea is something I and Ms. Wonderwall must do every summer getaway. I could not be any happier knowing that she was influenced by my notion of nature therapy. Thank heavens the weather was perfect!



We could not deny the cleansed feeling each time we emerge from the waters.

As soon as we were done swimming, a young boy approached us and asked if we would want to go boating (for P20.00) to explore the rock shelter in the vicinity and the Bagolatao coastline or sipped from a freshly picked coconut (P10.00 each). We replied we will do both on the condition that we have to do the latter first as swimming for about two hours drained our energy.



The coconut’s healthy water and gelatinous meat are instantly thirst-quenching and re-energizing.


Before we bade adieu to White Pebbles Beach, we again rolled around on its fine pebbles for another rejuvenating treat just like the sands’ natural exfoliating qualities.


Paying a brief visit to the Bicol Shell Museum, which is opposite the resort’s entrance, became our final side trip. Inside the museum are hundreds of different shells guaranteed to catch your interest. In contrast, I would rather see shellfishes in their habitat.


This immersion in nature did not only put the juggling things inside my head into perspective and recharged my (and, of course, Ms. Wonderwall’s) batteries, it also put me at my happiest. Furthermore, the experience reminded me exactly of what we are trying to enhance: protect and preserve when we turn off that unnecessary light or fix that dripping tap literally and in our day-to-day lives.




The unadulterated bounties of White Pebbles Beach and its surroundings are testaments to a graceful and symbiotic relationship between man and nature. No wonder, summer has always been the best season for me, and I see nature as absolute fuel for the body and soul.

Related Articles

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking in the Natural Scenery (yobynos.wordpress.com)


Guide to Bagolatao Minalabac ~ Naga City Deck (nagacitydeck.com)

Sino Sasama?: Anniversary @Bagolatao’s White Pebble (sinosama.blogspot.com)

Beach in Camarines Sur, Philippines – Mygola (mygola.com)

The Pebble Beach in Bagolatao, Minilabac (maxtermind.com)

White Pebble Beach near Naga City | Travel Up (traveling-up.com)

White Pebble Beach BEACH in Bagolatao (happytrips.com)

It’s more fun in Bicol: Bagolatao Pebble Beach in Minalabac (itsmorefuninbicol.blogspot.com)

White Pebbles Beach Resort | TOOVIA (toovia.com)

A Swift Journey to Paguriran Island and Sorsogon City (thechroniclesofmariane.blogspot.com)


Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 2: Stargazing By The Beach

FullSizeRender (2)In the evening, while Ms. Wonderwall and I were resting on the veranda, the clouds that were covering the skies earlier were clearing away. Without a doubt, it was a clear night away from city lights.

This paved the way for the so-called diamonds in the sky to swagger their ethereal sparkles. Both of us were mesmerized by the heavens’ fine spectacle. Those tiny specks transformed into very awe-inspiring out of the blue. You cannot, for sure, fail to recognize God’s work through them. It has been a while since we saw stars as thick as what we saw that fateful night.


Photo Credit: bradscottvisuals.com

Since the night was still young, we decided to bring our dark blanket on the beach and spread it. Of course, it is not for sunbathing but stargazing—looking up at the stars together for the first time! It is worth stressing that the beach is not infested by mosquitoes even during nighttime.

At that very moment, the ambiance metamorphosed into a world of our own. Every point of the scene became inveigling. Everything that was taking place became inviting. And the sky became an ultimate art gallery. We were all the more compelled to look upward tirelessly.

Looking at the stars is like choosing your diamond, for free. So many sizes and shapes twinkling to catch your attention but you will always pick the one beside you in the end.

FullSizeRender (1)The things that were incomprehensible to me before were now making sense. I realized that the night sky is indeed made for lovers. I got to be in the dark with the one I love; it is where I added the value of stars in the distance flickering endlessly. I did perceive that romance formed this way is forever embedded in my memory.

One good thing about those flickering gleams strewn on the horizon is that it make this remote place free from total darkness–in hindsight.

The biggest realization that came from this activity though is, there is no room for sweating the small stuff. The vastness of the universe showed me the relative insignificance of my problems. Somehow, I was comforted; it made me look at life a lot better.

Everything that took place that night molded our one of the most fun and memorable nights.

Related Articles

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking in the Natural Scenery (yobynos.wordpress.com)

Guide to Bagolatao Minalabac ~ Naga City Deck (nagacitydeck.com)

Sino Sasama?: Anniversary @Bagolatao’s White Pebble (sinosama.blogspot.com)

Beach in Camarines Sur, Philippines – Mygola (mygola.com)

The Pebble Beach in Bagolatao, Minilabac (maxtermind.com)

White Pebble Beach near Naga City | Travel Up (traveling-up.com)

White Pebble Beach BEACH in Bagolatao (happytrips.com)

It’s more fun in Bicol: Bagolatao Pebble Beach in Minalabac (itsmorefuninbicol.blogspot.com)

White Pebbles Beach Resort | TOOVIA (toovia.com)


Pronunciation and Some Local Grammar Pet Peeves

For the past few months, I have been mingling with different Filipino communities here in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, which paved the way for me to identify another set of grammar pet peeves. Let me make it clear that these pet peeves are actually under the umbrella of Taglish. For our foreign readers out there, Taglish is a category of Philippine language that is mixed with Tagalog and English. It is used primarily by us, Filipinos, by mixing Tagalog words up with English words or sentences.

I am specifically talking about pluralizing Filipino nouns by adding “s” (e.g., kuyas, ates, titos, titas, parols, agimats, etc.) and adding the Filipino superlative prefix pinaka to the English word in its already superlative degree “latest” (i.e., pinaka-latest).
ates kuyasPlease note that when we include pet peeves in the list, it means they are considerably common. Before gnashing your teeth, guilty party, let me remind you that this is not a matter of personal hate campaign. It is just sharing what is correct in the now era of compromised language beauty. If you are guilty of these pet peeves, just charge it to your lack of curiosity about language and its proper construction. Besides, all of us have committed grammar mistakes one way or another.

First, the Philippine Style Guide prohibits the adding of s to pluralize Filipino words because it is not grammatically correct. You can find the details here: The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office(PCDSPO) Style Guide: XVII. Filipino Terms.

One thing that we, Filipinos, have forgotten is that when we use the word mga followed by a noun (e.g., mga kuya or mga bagay), the concept of pluralization is already met. Or, just use the English equivalents of those Filipino words.

Yes, language is evolving but that does not mean outright grammar mistakes like this are excused, even in Filipino.


Image via Google Images

Second, pinaka-latest is definitely redundant because its exact translation is “most latest’.  “Latest” is already in its superlative degree, meaning there is nothing “later” than it.

A cautionary advice, drop pinaka and just say “latest” or pinakabago (the exact translation in Filipino). Local journalists themselves on TV, news, and radio are using the word pinaka-latest unconsciously. That does not mean it is correct.


Image via Google Images

On the other side of the coin, one very common mistake committed in English is mispronouncing the word pronunciation as pronounciation (pruhnoun-see-ey-shuh n). My English instructors back in college adore the word. The problem is, they were mispronouncing it. I hope that is no longer the case now.

You can hear pronunciation being pronounced, by analogy with pronounce, as if the second syllable rhymed with bounce. This explains why the word pronounciation surfaces in google search box like it is an existing word. Fortunately, dictionaries renounce the existence of such.

Standard English recommends pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuh n as the standard pronunciation of the subject word. The second syllable should sound exactly as the word nun–not noun. And, the correct spelling is pronunciation

I did ask the super modern dossier, Google, about why the spelling of the word became pronunciation instead of its most commonly considered version, pronounciation. Trisyllabic laxing holds the answers. In Middle and Old Englishes, tense vowels became lax before two syllables. That is why /aʊ/  (or any other pre-great vowel shift vowels), for the digraph < ou >, became /ʌ/. This pronunciation subsequently forced the change in spelling to < u >.

In this day and age, it pays to know that misspelling is no longer a big deal. Mispronunciation is.

That is all for this episode and I hope you learned something. Feel free to share your favorite grammar pet peeves, especially the ones that are not yet on the list.

Related Articles

Top 10 Grammatical Mistakes by Filipinos (writista.wordpress.com)

Using Filipinisms: A Native English Speakers Pet Peeve (americanenglish.ph)

Common Filipinisms (asianfanfics.com) 

Filipinism – Simple English for IELTS, TOEFL, NPTE, PT (simpleenglishielts.blogspot.com)

Words you’ve been taught are Filipinisms but are actually not (linkedin.com)

When I Hear Filipinos Speaking English (idreamedofthis.com)


Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking in the Natural Scenery

When we hear the word “beach”, what usually comes to mind is an expanse of sand along a shore. Until I came across White “Pebbles” Beach at Brgy. Bagolatao in Minalabac, Camarines Norte. I had been to several beaches in the Bicol Region but it is only when I had my vacation a month ago that I heard of that pebble beach, from my sister who had been there in 2013. According to her and google, it is still considered less frequented, to date, given its proximity to Naga City.

The Wandering Feet in me is always driveling on setting foot in less visited places. There is something special about it. My exposure to the hurly-burlies of a modern citied life transcended my appreciation of discovering places off the beaten track, somewhere less world-beating but quieter. It was there that I started to object to following the herd and prefer places from tourist clichés, which are often the case. That being said, I am, of course and still, eager to explore touristy places if there is a chance.

Those information really banged my curiosity. I then thought that it will be a perfect place for nature therapy (which I do religiously), backpacking experience, and advance-romantic-anniversary celebration. I immediately stretched the budget at hand just to include it in my itinerary.

In the early morning of April 17, my travel buddy, Ms. Wonderwall, and I travelled to Bagolatao via a jeepney from Naga City, which is just a fifteen minute drive from our abode. The terminal for jeepneys going to said place is located beside the biggest, first ever LCC Mall in city. We failed to catch the first trip so we had to wait for four hours (i.e., up to 8:45 AM) to trap the second. I seized the opportunity to converse with a woman, who is apparently from the place, beside me. Our conversation ended up informative. She warned me that returning from Bagolatao is quite a challenge. I had to make a note of it.

Cruising the provincial road for approximately two hours signifies remonstrance on the part of the driver. It entails passing a declivitous terrain not to mention the 200-meter ridge two kilometers before capturing a glimpse of the deep blue Ragay Gulf. This marks reaching the area of Bagolatao proper. We saw a signage bearing “White Pebbles Beach Resort” a few minutes later.


An hour before midday, we checked in to one of their five native houses made of native bamboo and nipa. Since it was a weekday, the beach was literally ours—thank God! I could induce Ms. Wonderwall to dance with the camera. I can no longer remember the last time she posed for a primary photo. I am glad she did.


The picturesque pebbles beach and its glorious natural scenery are just too silken to ignore. We needed to feast on them before we had our lunch. For a moment, we had a piece of something to call ours–even though transitorily.

The sky looked like a blue still life stippled with white, fine clouds.


When we were having lunch, the stupendous view of the cerulean waters and clear sky made us pause and throw a gander at each of them every once in a while.



One thing that makes the whole of Bagolatao a standout for me is the absence of fancy real estate developments like hotels or air-conditioned resorts in the area. Laid-back is the word. I believe that should be the way nature is—not exorbitant.

We took a nap after stuffing some food in our sacs then lounged on our tavern’s veranda while resting our feet on the porch railing—simultaneous with harking to the purring waves and cantillating birds. This is one of those rare moments that will really force you to put your phone down.


When the scorching heat of the sun slackened, we explored more of what the place has to offer.

We were enamored with the mini waterfall at the foot of the nearby forest, which is just a short walk from White Pebbles Beach’s huts. I tried to capture its charm.


What made us truly knuckle under by then are the smooth and round pebbles forming a bevy of instant gemstones. We needed to traipse the wide expanse of pebbles barefoot. The product was a free, rejuvenating massage to our soles.


Looking intently at the pebbles in the photos later on led me to consulting the modern dossier. I learned that a beach made up of pebbles is very young. This kind of beach is formed gradually over time as the ocean water washes over loose rock particles. Such process gives the pebbles their smooth, rounded appearance.




Much later, we hiked our way to the hilltop. We stayed there for a while to fully appreciate the almost circumambient view of the whole Bagolatao shoreline.



Our plan to dip in the waters was postponed. We decided to swim in the morning.


It was already dusking when we descended—just in time to catch another exquisite feat of nature: sunset. But before that, the sight of golden seagrass that emerged because of low tide did trap our attention.


Sunsets never fail to infuse wonder into this kind of routine. Gazing out into that color-soaked sky brings every sightseer into the present moment and empowers him to regain control of the clock. It did bring us to the present moment but, I bet, I was the one who experienced the regaining of the clock control more.

P1070052 P1070058

The unhampered view of the sunset was a wonderful way to end the day. There is something more inherently powerful and spiritual in watching the sun forming an intense effusion of its reflected light from a mountain rather than a skyscraper. This is one of God’s handiworks that reinforce the idea of celebrating life’s gifts always and being thankful each day.

Related Articles

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 3: Dipping in the Seawaters  (yobynos.wordpress.com)


The Pebble Beach in Bagolatao, Minilabac (maxtermind.com)

White Pebble Beach near Naga City | Travel Up (traveling-up.com)

White Pebble Beach BEACH in Bagolatao (happytrips.com)

It’s more fun in Bicol: Bagolatao Pebble Beach in Minalabac (itsmorefuninbicol.blogspot.com)

bagolatao: the pebble beach of bicol – traveling balance (balance31.com)

Bagolatao, Camarines Sur (wikipedia.org)

White Pebbles Beach Resort | TOOVIA (toovia.com)

Guide to Bagolatao Minalabac ~ Naga City Deck (nagacitydeck.com)

Sino Sasama?: Anniversary @Bagolatao’s White Pebble (sinosama.blogspot.com)

Beach in Camarines Sur, Philippines – Mygola (mygola.com)

Cooling Off at Hoyop Hoyopan Cave, Albay (thechroniclesofmariane.blogspot.com)


Moment of Impact

Being part of the first-ever Amputee Climb in November 2009, which was featured on GMA’s “Born to be Wild“, was my perfect moment of impact as a mountain climber and travel blogger. The experience, with the four amputees and all those who made it to the summit of Mt. Batulao that fateful day, has indeed changed me.

Looking back now, I could say that the ripple effects of this life-changing experience did reach far beyond what I had predicted.

Without a doubt, we all have the potential to inspire.

Related Articles

Photoessay: The First Annual Amputee Climb at pinoymountaineer.com

One foot at the summit, and the other foot up in the air: The First Annual Amputee Climb! at pinoymountaineer.com

First Taste of the Summit at Mount Batulao at yobynos.wordpress.com

Batangas (en.wikipedia.org)


Sands On My Feet

I can no longer remember the last time I freed my wandering feet. I am talking about that time when I kicked off my suffocating shoes, peeled off my sweaty socks, and just started walking on the beach in bare feet.


Oh summer…you are making me remember how those millions of loose tiny grain rocks massage my feet at once. They osculate, hug, and make love to my tired, sore soles. That feeling of scrunching sand on my feet when I walk on the beach is crazily disarming. It gives me such a sensation to revel in.

Related Posts

Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel to The Most Famous Cove In Luzon

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Water Tower and Revolving Restaurant (2)

Al Kharj’s Most Prominent Functional Landmark

My last visit to Al Kharj (“Almarai’s Central Processing Plant in Al Kharj“) in July 2014 gave me one of the best architectural pictures in my memory card. I have been seeing and capturing this high riser but I never knew what it is called. I had asked fellow Filipinos about its name but all I got is the word “tower”, so I just kept it there for months. I finally learned about its name only last week through a colleague, a native of Saudi Arabia.

Water Tower and Revolving Restaurant (2)

Apparently, it is called the Water Tower & Revolving Restaurant and it is actually the most prominent functional landmark of Al Kharj City, which has developed into a modern center of agriculture and industry over the past two decades. It does not only serve as the backbone of the city’s fire and potable water system but it is also designed to function as a place for unique recreation and entertainment as well as social center for the inhabitants of Al Kharj that extends to Riyadh areas. From downtown Riyadh this landmark is only about 90 kilometers.

The Tower stands up to 105 meters high with 57 meters maximum diameter of the tower structure. The storage capacity of the water tank is 7800m³. The super structure has six main levels. The basement, located about seven meters below the ground level comprises the offices, electro-mechanical room, and storage space. The concourse level located about two meters below the ground serves as the main activity center on the ground. It contains an Exhibition Hall, an auditorium, a number of shops and a separate cafeteria for families and singles.

Above the observation level is  the 400 seat-revolving restaurant, which completes one full turn in one and half hours. Seats are located along with outer periphery of the restaurant whereas kitchen and other services are placed around the core. The architectural form of the water tank appears like a drop of water supported on a number of ribs. The shape and form of the reinforced concrete incites inspiration from Arabic Calligraphic forms. Tourists and travelers of this landmark can stroll around the water tank within the annular space between the tank and the ribs. This also allows them to appreciate the green fields of Al Kharj oasis from that height.

The podium, which is raised about two meters above the ground level, can be accessed by a series of stairs from all the four sides and corners. The water tower imposingly rises from the center of the podium. The observation level, which is about 45 meters above the ground level, affords a unique view of Al Kharj City surrounded by lush vegetation.

It is indeed difficult to picture farming in them middle of a desert. However, the booming dairy farms in the city challenge the imagination even more. There is more than 120,000 heads of cattle being raised therein and 80 percent of the dairy products produced in Saudi Arabia emanates from the area. Today, the locals have named the road that leads to many of the dairies as “Milk Road”. One of them, Almarai Dairy Farm, holds the distinction of being the largest integrated dairy operation in the world.

For centuries, Al-Kharj has stood out. In utter contrast to the behemothic desert land that surrounds it, the Ad Dahna with its reddish sand to the north (“Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon“), and to the southeast, the Rub Al-Khali, the largest sand desert in the world, Al-Kharj’s small verdurous farms and groves of date palm trees have flourished in the fecund soil.

Al-Kharj’s secret and its promise lie in its abundant fresh water supply. For thousands of years, a lot of deep ponds and a network of natural aquifers have been continuously fed by three major wadis–Wadi Sahba, Wadi Hanifah (“In Search of A Rebound“) and Wadi Nisah–and several smaller ones, which drain rainwater from the Tuwaiq escarpment to the west.

It is a no brainer now why Al Kharj is considered the center of agriculture and industry and why the Water Tower & Revolving Restaurant has to be cobbled up at the very heart of the city.

Related Posts and References

Outside Riyadh at simba.com

Dairy Farms of Al Kharj at riyadh-ksa-me.blogspot.com

Old Dir’iyyah at riyadh-ksa-me.blogspot.com

Places to visit in The City of Al-Kharj ~ Life in Saudi Arabia at saudiarabia.blogspot.com

Places to Visit in Al Kharj, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Tour Guide at naumankhan.blogspot.com

latin plurals

Anglicized Latin Plural Forms and Those That Survived Their Singular Forms Respectively

Our topic for this episode is a bit different from the ones we usually exscind; nevertheless, their evolving forms can potentially cause confusion to both non-native and native English speakers. It was a suggestion from one of my colleagues who has been hooked into the series.

The most important thing that we should know about Latin nouns is they are subject to vicissitude. It means they have the privilege to evolve from time to time. “The distinctions between Latin singulars and plurals is still observed for some English words in some contexts–scientific or academic–but for the most part, either the singular or the plural Latin form, depending upon which sounds less English, tends to be dropped” (dailywritingtips.com).

To date, here are the Latin plural forms that have been anglicized (i.e., accepted in standard usage) per the information I got from dailywritingtips.com as of last year:

1. data/datum

Although the singular form datum is correct, it has long been rejected by most English speakers as not sounding right. Hence, data is now used as either singular or plural. (When the study of Latin was standard in the curriculum of English- speaking children, no one thought twice about using datum as the singular form of data. Now that Latin is a rarity in American education, datum sounds foreign and has been abandoned in general usage.)

2. appendix/appendices

The Latin plural is still in use, but one also hears appendixes (√).


The Latin plural persists in scientific contexts, but one often hears formulas (√).

4. encyclopedia/encyclopediae

The English plural encyclopedias (√) is more common than the Latin.

5. index/indices

The Latin plural is used in academic contexts, but one commonly hears indexes (√).

6. agendum/agenda

Here, the singular form has dropped out and people speak of both an agenda and agendas (√).

7. memorandum/memoranda

Both of these forms are still in use, but I’ve heard memorandums or memos (√).

8. cactus/cacti

Some people still use the Latin plural, but one hears cactuses (√).

9. fungus/fungi

Both forms are in use, but one also hears funguses (√).

10. hippopotamus/hippopotami

Since most people now call them hippos (√), the Latin plural is not much in use. The plural hippopotamuses is a mouthful and when used tends to sound humorous.

11. dogma/dogmata

The original plural was dogmata, but dogmas (√) has prevailed. The older plural, however, gives us the adjective dogmatic.

However it may be, put in mind that there were also those that survived their singular and plural forms respectively in standard usage such as axis/axes, crisis/crises, and criterion/criteria. The latter is what we are going to weave into a side dish.

latin plurals

The usage of criteria as singular is painfully common; however, Standard English prohibits such for it is considered grammatically nonstandard. The standard singular form is criterion and the standard plural form is criteria.

Allow me to substantiate the foregoing statements.

First of all, Grammar Nazis at grammarist.com and chronicle.com concur with the inaccurateness of criteria being singular.

Secondly, leading publications in the United States still use criterion for the singular noun meaning a standard by which something can be judged.  Take a look at the following examples taken from well-known publishing companies in the United States:

criterion functions as singular noun

1. Williamson implies that is so, rendering this a meaningless criterion. [Washington Post]

2. Perhaps one such criterion was for mortgages to have a loan-to-value ratio of 100%. [The Atlantic]

3. If comfort were the top criterion for selling womenswear, Jimmy Choo would be out of business. [New York Magazine]

criteria functions as a plural noun

1. We’ll look for help today with today’s screen from Morningstar CPMS, which has set up a conservative screen using seven criteria. [The Globe and Mail]

2. The new criteria have been attacked by many in the industry as being too onerous. [Financial Times]

Lastly, dictionary.com and thefreedictionary.com both say that although criteria is sometimes used as singular, most often in speech and rather infrequently in edited prose, it continues strongly in use as a plural in standard English, with criterion  as the singular.

In the future, if the universe will conspire to make you a host for a competition where you will have to enumerate the judging criteria, I hope you will say “The first criterion for judging is …

Related Posts

Confusing Words: Criteria and Criterion at gingersoftware.com

Criteria vs. Criterion at englishstackexchange.com

Criteria vs. Criterion at forum.wordreference.com

Photo From Budget Travel Website

The Highlight of My Summer in 2007

When I was working in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seven years ago, I had set foot on one of the country’s pride when it comes to pulchritudinous beaches.

It was a fine Saturday morning when our team arrived at the gates of the Philippines’ biggest coal-fired power station, the Sual Power Station, which generates more than 1,000 megawatts and was built in 1996 to supply electricity to the whole of Luzon. One of the many good things about being with the OSG is its established ties with Team Energy. For every company outing sponsored by them, we were privileged to get free board and lodging.

Team Energy has two power plants: The Pagbilao Power Station in Quezon and our featured point of entry for our featured place, Sual Power Station in Pangasinan. We actually had our first company outing sponsored by them only a few months before this one and you can view it via this post: “First Taste of a Virgin Beach at Lukang Island in Pagbilao, Quezon”.

The day started with a sumptuous early meal at the plant’s exclusive first-class cafeteria where an array of mouthwatering seafood swamps the dining tables. After that we spent several hours of sightseeing though the moorings a few meters away from the cafeteria.


Seeing the vastness of the ocean and hearing the swooshing of its waters against the bulkhead and the yatchs’ bows and sterns gave me such a summer indulgence to the sense of sight. We then checked in our respective rooms after and did the same thing during lunchtime. The night was full of fun, music, cards, and some soft and hard drinks. Did I include massage there?



The following day, 25 May 2007, at around 8:00 o’clock in the morning, the plant let us used one of their gorgeous yachts to get to Alaminos City for our major destination: The Hundred Islands National Park. Funny how I cannot forget the rough sailing we experienced on our way until we were getting closer to the park. Nevertheless, everybody got excited to get off from the yacht as soon as we were seeing some of the islands. We navigated along the area enjoying the fine scenery.  We were able to count a few small and big islands. Like us, each island has a unique characteristic of its own and each deserves appreciation.
Soon, we had to dock, and this is how we got to the Governor’s Island for our lunch. The Governor’s Island is one of the three most developed islands in the national park and it is the most popular among the islands. After filling our sacs with another batch of esculent seafood, we explored the island and in doing so we discovered more than the craggy terrain, there are coves in it that has fine white sand beaches ideal for swimming. We did not swim though. Our guide led us to a hiking trail atop a hill-like rock formation to feast on a 360 degree panoramic view of the whole Hundred Islands National Park. I took mental pictures of the exquisite views, and I am sure my colleagues and friends around did the same. It was just unfortunate that I do not have a super camera during that time. I had to borrow a couple of images from Asian Journal and The Pinay Travel Junkie to make a point. The views atop will surely leave you breathless!
From Asian Journal Website

Photo Credit: Asian Journal

The sky was blue, the birds were singing, and the sun that accentuated the solid blue contours of the sea was eye-squintingly bright. I felt so insanely peaceful.

Photo From Budget Travel Website

Photo Credit: The Pinay Travel Junkie

Our visit to Governor’s Island did not only cover sightseeing atop but peregrinating the cave at the back of the island. The cave is big enough for people to enter but has a very narrow body. There is nothing extra special inside it but I got fascinated by the petrology of its rock formations. This point marked the end our our island adventure to the Hundred Islands. We all returned to Sual by 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon and washed up as soon as we got to our rooms.

Processed with Moldiv

Seeing about a hundred of the Philippines’ 7, 107 islands is an accomplishment for me. The beautiful views and fun memories from this team building highlighted my summer in 2007. They will be forever etched in my memory.

Related Posts/References

Bolinao Hundred Islands Tour Package (Updated as of January 2015) at 8wonderstravel.com

Pangasinan: Hundred Islands National Park, Entrance Fee, Boat Ride Rates, HOW TO GET THERE at  backpackingphilippines.com

Hundred Islands National Park: Rates and Rental Fees at asensopangasinan.com

100 Islands at travel.pangasinan.com

Hundred Islands Tour Package for a minimum of 4 pax at lovekoanawangin.wordpress.com

Hundred Islands National Park (en.wikipedia.org)


“Trainings or Courses” and “Out of Office or Back to the Office”

Last February 24 of the current year, one of my articles, “Stop Saying ‘Thanks God’ When…“, about common grammar pet peeves in 2014 gained almost 2,000 Facebook shares and 4,310 page views in a matter of two days. It drastically outpaced my old masterpiece “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions” that, although frequently viewed still, has only 633 Facebook shares after three years. Times like this make me feel really proud. For a struggling blogger, it feels good to know that people read his posts. The best feeling though comes from knowing they spend time to share those posts on social platforms especially Facebook and Twitter. This is the trend.

To those people who made me me reach that milestone, my biggest thanks! Your support has always been the lifeblood of my inspiration.

Suffice to say the milestone instantly fueled my muse. It’s been six months since I published a blog post pertinent to grammar pet peeves. We’ll be wrestling with the word “trainings” and “two common nonstandard phrases found in out-of-office replies” for this episode.

Three months ago, I did apply for a different position in the company where I am working for. Before sending my résumé to recruitment division, I did a thorough proofreading. (e.g., includes removing every period at the end of each of my bullet point statements, ensuring that a period appears after an abbreviation unless the item is an academic degree or certificate, eliminating the career objective section, and so forth). The thing is, there is this section (i.e., TRAININGS) of the résumé that I always find specious even though I know several corporate trainers who use “trainings” as a plural. The last time I checked Google did not show hints of grammar bugbear that points to our subject in dispute: trainings. I then revisited some of the reliable grammar sites (dictionary.com, dailywritingtips.com, pongororesume.com, & josecarilloforum.com) on my list that time. Thank God I did.

Apparently, trainings is not the plural form (was never in fact) of training. It just doesn’t fit right on the tongue as a countable noun. I couldn’t help shrinking as I was thinking of the times I forwarded the résumé for job application or reference purposes.

Those grammar sites affirm that when training is used as a noun, it is uncountable or mass noun. Therefore, there’s no need to attach “s” to it. Training is training in its plural form. That isn’t how I used the word in that section of my résumé. See, I also slip. I need some more training in English.


The nuts and bolts of this entrée is, trainings is nonstandard. It’s a grammar pet peeve. Grammar Nazis and reliable grammar sites say that if you want to pluralize it, you might as well use coursesshort courses, training course, or  training sessions most especially in the context of résumé components.

The two common phrases “out of office” and “back to the office” have been quite visible in our workplace so that I also thought they are grammatically correct. If not because of their respective off sounds–brought about by the absence of article “the” in the first phrase and the preposition “to” in the second one–I would have not bothered to probe.

English Language Learners Stack Exchange’s website says that, “out of office” has a completely different meaning of office, which is an appointed government position. For example, “After a series of unpopular decisions, the entire board of education was voted out of office.” Without the article “the” in the phrase in red, it will not make sense by itself since it refers to a specific office that is countable. However, if used with uncountable nouns it will work as in these examples: “I am out of coins.” and “This product is out of stock.” The phrase in red will also work if used as a compound adjective/modifier as in, “Google can give you a multitude of examples of out-of-office replies“.

Remember to include the article “the” in the phrase “out of office” as in “out of the office” when you are implying that you are on vacation or  in training and will be back soon (e.g., “I am out of the office from April 12 to May 16.”)

back to the office

On the other hand, the phrase “back to the office emphasizes one’s physical presence back to the office; it indicates motion (e.g., “After the meeting I will not come to the pub, I will go back to the office.”)

If you are to write an out-of-office reply where you will indicate your return in it, you should not use “back to the office“. The correct phrase in that sense is back in the office as in the example below.

Thank you for your email.

I am out of the office from April 12 to May 16, and I have intermittent internet access during said period.

I will be back in the office on May 17.

Please contact Jason Statham at thetransporter@office.com for exigent matters.

So remember, training is a mass noun, out of the office is the correct phrase to use when you imply being on vacation or in training, and back in the office means resuming to work in the office after a leave or holiday.

Major References: englishforums.com, senseira.de & dailywritingtips.com

Related Posts

Little Wonder in Washington Syccip Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

Like the host of this week’s photo challenge, I love achieving the bokeh effect when I shoot small subjects like flowers.

Little Wonder in Washington Syccip Park

I am not a fan of putting a subject at the center of the image. I usually apply the rule of thirds.

Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at kardzbykris.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at (kilatalkingstory.wordpress.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at suyashchopra.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at thepetalpusher.wordpress.com

Applebee's Interior Light 5

I Am a Moth and So Are You!

There are many different ways that lights can be used. They can set a relaxing mood on your porches and decks, illuminate your gardens, or brighten driveways, walkways, steps and the other areas of your home or establishments.

Holiday Inn Izdihar Hall Back

They can also provide safety. Lighted driveways and walk ways give a safe passage to those entering and exiting your property at night. This can prevent some small accidents from happening like tripping over things.

Holiday Inn Izdihar Hall Facade

Lights at home also give the impression that someone is always inside as there are very limited dark places for trespassers to feel like they can be unseen. So they increase the security of our houses. The same is true for other property types.

Chapel Chandelier

Above all these architectural lighting design benefits, lights have always mesmerize me because of their very special and unique appeal. They never fail to fascinate my optical organs whenever I catch them boast that visual quality like no other.

Cabalen Aesthetics

No wonder, the aesthetic appeal of lights is the first focus among the three fundamental aspects of architectural lighting design based on what I read.

BK's Blade Lights

I have always marveled at lights when I have the chance to even when I was younger. It is only now though that I was able to comprehend where that exquisite pull comes from. There is, of course, science behind it. And behind the science is a lighting designer who does most of the technical works—from measuring whether or not a particular light should be subtly blended into the background or whether or not it should stand out and assess what kind of emotions the lighting should evoke. If I were to give an answer to the latter, I would say relaxation. I feel that form of mild ecstasy each time I am in a place seeing lights illuminating a place or when I see them flickering  in the night.

Applebee's Illuminated Wall

The most attractive ambiance, as an example with how visually captivating lights are, I could think if is that of the restaurants’ interior. Their visual quality has always intrigued me. For years, I have noticed one enchanting physical characteristic of these places: the dimness, which provides drama and appeal. There is this study that was done in 2012 by Cornell University pertinent to the relaxed mood we get from such kind of ambiance. The results postulate that restaurants’ lighting indeed affects our moods…The catch is definitely good news for those who love eating out at casual dining restaurants and the like.

Applebee's Interior Light's The Four

The meat of the study says that dim lights cause us to eat less because a relaxed atmosphere, brought about by dim lights, affects the appetite.

Applebee's Interior Light 3 Applebee's Interior Light 4
Applebee's Interior Light2

Applebee's PatioA softened lighting leads people to eat less, to rate the food as more enjoyable, and to spend just as much. This postulates that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption.

But I digress. Let us go back to the main point—which is trying to understand the engaging visual appeal of lights.

The lighting designers in the University of Minnesota have answers. Their research titled “Lighting: Its Effect on People and Spaces” concluded that (1) basically people are like moths—attracted to brightness—and (2) they prefer spaces where walls are illuminated. We are bound to follow the brightest path when navigating. When it comes to restaurants or hotspots environment though, we do not like to sit in brightness but love to see brightness. So we tend to face walls that are illuminated.

Applebee's Interior Light 1

I now understand why I am pulled by the lights. I am a moth in that sense.

Applebee's Interior Light 5

With all the readings and observation I did regarding the magnetism lights possess, I gained a whole new level of appreciation for lights. I no longer see them as just a piece of valuable architecture that provides light to be able to walk safely through the office corridors at night, to allow the whole property to be on show during night time, or simply to provide for safe circulation within available spaces or so I could recognize a flake on my black shirt. I now see them as something that adds a touch of magic and something that pushes my “visual interest button”. Lights have never been these much of an exciting subject for me. I would not mind being a moth as long as what I go after are similar to the photographs. I am a moth and so are you!

Related Blog Posts

Paris, The City of Lights, Really Lights Up at Christmas at seattletimes.com

 Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts at yobynos.wordpress.com