The World’s Finest Wilderness Lies Beneath the Manila Ocean Park

It was 16 December 2010 when I first explored the Manila Ocean Park’s oceanarium. This is one of those activities that I would heart to do over and over again. As you know, I love nature and I immerse in its elements whenever there is a chance. The ocean park just gives that superb, magical feel of the world under the sea aside from the health benefits it gives. My gratitude to the Tuscano family who initiated the idea of this nature trip during my vacation last summer (April to May 2015). It also gave Ms. Wonderwall and me the opportunity to bond with the them more.


This activity was actually the third among the six that came in our promo ticket’s deals.


The Manila Ocean Park’s oceanarium is the first of its kind in the Philippines. It shelters 14,000 marine creatures from around 277 species. They are all indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The Oceanarium is an astonishing walkthrough of the watery depths featuring seven sections (Agos [Flow], Bahura [Reef], Laot [Fishing Ground], Buhay na Karagatan [Living Ocean], Kalaliman [The Deep], Pagi [Sting Ray], and Pating [Shark]) and containing 1,900 cubic meters of seawater.

Agos is a rainforest motif complete with 8 tanks of freshwater fishes.


Bahura showcases artificial corals in 48 tanks. These tanks have smaller viewports that enables a visitor to pause for a more intimate moment with the animals.





We could not get enough of each of the species that were just outrageously cute and stunning.





Watching the school of fishes swimming together is, without a doubt, a great sight to gander at.


Laot is the biggest among the six and it features big fish and Eagle-spotted rays in a long tank.


Buhay na Karagatan is at heart of the oceanarium and considered the main attraction. It is a 25-meter long walkway tunnel with 220-degree curved acrylic walls similarly seen in Ocean Park Hong KongUnderwater World in SingaporeSiam Ocean World in Thailand, and Aquaria KLCC in Malaysia.


This is where visitors congregate to watch more fishes in motion. It creates a spectacular underwater view of amazing sea animals swimming overhead.


Kalaliman displays marine animals found in the deepest parts of the Philippine waters.



Pagi showcases variety of stingrays fly over while you are under this unique Overhang Tank.


Pating features several species of shark. This part of the oceanarium is rather dark. It was extremely hard to take a good photo.


After exploring the oceanarium, we went straight to the Manila Ocean Park’s latest engaging interaction. The Sharks and Rays Encounter, which is located at the Acquatica area–a crystal clear outdoor pool divided into three zones filled with various species of friendly sharks, stingrays, and starfishes. There is only a stingray to show though in the picture.


This part certainly provided us with an amazing hands-on encounter with a lot of stingrays. We had the unique thrill of playing with them in a shallow lagoon. We ran out time to go beyond the aquarium walls to have an up-close engagement with them. Moreover, doing that means giving up the Symphony Fountain Show.

The kids and us, parents, are testaments to how worthwhile, therapeutic, and fun it is to spend some time at each of the seven sections of the oceanarium. The biodiversity and the kind of beauty each of the sea animals project are so disarming. I cannot help but exclaim that, indeed, the world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves–each time I look intently at these strange beauties.

In retrospect, the Manila Ocean Park is not only a place for recreational or educational purposes but a tool for inspiring the public to take care of the ocean and the animals in it.

(Visit manilaoceanpark.com for complete details of the park’s attractions, encounters, amenities, and promos and Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind and Life Beneath the Sea Waves  for more pictures.)

Related Articles

Manila Ocean Park Entrance Fee, Rates, Promos, Discounts (backpackingphilippines.com)

Manila Ocean Park Promo 2015 – Philippines Travel (philippinestravelhub.com)

The Cleanest Water in Manila Bay is in Manila Ocean Park (baratillo.net)

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall (visitdubai.com)

A visit to Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo (nina-travels.com)

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (thedubaiaquarium.com)

Asiatravel Manila Ocean Park Special Package (asiatravel.com)

Yexel’s Museum At Manila Ocean Park (tweenselmom.com)

Manila Ocean Park | Field Trip (stretchyourpeso.com)

The North Sea Oceanarium (toppenafdanmark.com)

Under the Ocean – Almost (thepinktarha.com)

Manila Ocean Park (mrjjguerrero.com)


Boys’ Night Out: Prologue

Long before the pack and I shifted to coffee and occasional eating out at casual dining restaurants, we feasted on what is considered national dish in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Kabsa.

Kabsa is a traditional food that is served originally in the kingdom and Jordan. It is made of chicken that is slowly simmered in a spicy broth of different spices and tomatoes that is mixed with long-grain rice. The chicken is then removed to be fried or grilled. The broth on the other hand is used to cook the rice. Thanks to one of the food blogs (yummytummyaarthi.com) I stumbled upon for sharing this special dish recipe.


During my first few weeks here, I was invited by a colleague/friend to try Kabsa at Chef Bukhari Restaurant located near the workplace. I was hesitant but gave in anyway. What I remember while I was in queue ordering for two barbecue flavored kabsa are the laborers and white-collar workers merrily catapulting the dish’s nibble into their mouths. I immediately understood why it is a national dish. On the contrary, I did not like it that much. I only ate a small portion of my meal. But being exposed to it almost every week changed my perspective. I gradually acquired  kabsa’s peculiar taste and smell. A few months more and I must say I was able to build maximum tolerance to it. The same story goes for the rest of the pack. We also tried other kabsa houses such as Shawaya House but we got too acquainted with the former’s so that chowing down there became a regular part of our then winter routine.


I was leafing through the pages of my photos last night when I saw a few pictures from one of our many visits to Chef Bukhari. My thoughts flashed back to the glory days of our stay in the villa most especially to our kind of night out right at Chef Bukhari.


That mouth-watering aromatic dish that smells lemony and tastes a little spicy served on our table. That ambrosial, moist rice that absorbed all the juices of vegetables and spices. Those chopped pieces of full grown chickens that were cooked to tenderness through manual grilling and later made love with the rice. That pure joy of mincing every morsel of the dish, fed slowly by the five fingers into our mouths. Those chuckles after finishing the last grain of rice and strand of chicken meat; it goes without saying we absolutely enjoyed the meal!


And, the face-to-face conversation that flows spontaneously, where we play with random ideas and allow ourselves to be fully present and vulnerable. The kind of conversation where we make eye contact, comfort  one another, challenge each other, and become aware of our tones and facial expressions. The one that starts with our social blunders to comments on political matters and whatnot. This is what I am missing the most. It is breaks my heart to witness how the unintended consequences of “being connected to social networking sites” is changing the course of a face-to-face conversation. It will require a little brutal austerity measure for us to remind and correct ourselves from that tendency to embrace the new way of social interaction.

At the end of the day, I am sure that all of us want our night out’s highlight to be an empathic conversation. We really need to revisit Chef Bukhari soon and discuss a lot about the latter, and the Kabsa, of course, that is now gaining popularity in a small town in Canada.

Related Articles

Kabsa: Saudi Rice at lynzrealcooking.com

Restaurant review: Ooh! Kabsa at truomega.ca

Saudi dish gains popularity in Canada at arabnews.com

Al Kabsa Recipe – Saudi Kabsa Recipe at yummytummyaarthi.com

Roasted Chicken Al-Kabsa (Saudi) (Gluten Free) at thecookbk.com

Ramadan Around the World Kabsa Recipe by Chef Faizan at 24newspk.com

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How I Visited Italy Straight from Riyadh by Car

The movie “Eat Pray Love” has always inspired me to globetrot but I only remained inspired, to date. The reason is financial constraints as usual for a commoner like me. Besides, yours truly is just a simple traveler who exploits ordinary, available places around him. That being said I will grab every opportunity to travel to Europe, Africa, Antarctica, or the United States. Until then, I will make use of the many wonders I can find in the ordinary.

I have been frequenting casual dining restaurants since the current year started. This is because of the uniform suggestion from this blog’s subscribers, critics, and readers since last year, which is to decorate the site with foods if not talk about them. I decided to do both when I noticed the blog’s traffic continuous spike. As of today, I already shared a few (sort of) food reviews and garnished the blog with some exotic and common fruits as well as Japanese, American, and Italian cuisine. Sorry to burst your bubble though this time.


Going back to the movie, one of the many things about it that really made a mark on my wandering feet and mind was the setting of the main character’s first unusual spiritual journey when she indulged into the pleasures of eating. Italy’s idyllic streets and restaurants in the countryside are simply charming and literally appetite rousing. Italian foods particularly pasta dishes, which I saw from the movie, can make anyone succumb to the temptation of ordering a table over and over again. This explains why I and my friends, at the very division I belong to now, keep on coming back to Piatto in Al Masif, which is near our workplace in Al Izdihar, whenever we want to eat out for special occasions. A couple of weeks ago, I was with two connoisseurs (Randy and Clemen) who have already frequented the place countless times.

Piatto projects a swanky impression from the outside.


What awaits a guest upon setting foot on in front of Piatto are quarterly pruned shrubs, at the left side, that provides an aesthetic appeal and a fountain, in the middle, that is something seen in castles of medieval times. The former makes up for a tempting al fresco dining which is typically European.


Seeing that in a “desert city” just leaves a different feel.


The Vespa scooter is what will hug your optical organs upon opening the main door. Vespa is famous for their painted, pressed steel unibody  which combines a prominent front fairing (providing wind protection) into a structural unit, a flat floorboard (providing foot protection), and a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease).

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This kind of display is a guaranteed original Italian concept.


No wonder the scooter still looks shiny, sexy, and new like a virgin touched at the reception area. Let me stop there.


Opening the door of the singles section made me feel like I was entering an old but beautiful house in Italy. The interior states a feel of old and modern Italian restaurant bedecked with traces of European flare, like the exceedingly shiny, antique looking manual espresso maker parked next to a big glass bowl flaunting two “empty” bottles of wine.


The ornamentation is a little multifarious yet relevant and eye-catching.


Some Piatto products are displayed around and pictures of old and narrow Italian city streets gild the walls.


Seeing the bulletin board that informs guests of their awesome amenities (free high-speed Wi-Fi Internet service, fax, and copier) is simply cheering at least for me.


I fell in love with the restaurant’s open concept. Piatto brags it on their ground floor. This is the compelling 360° ambiance of a revered scenic Italy via the piazza area located just behind the cobblestone wall where the Vespa scooter leans. The catch is, the piazza is open but covered. The rationale is not to disrupt the guests from gorging on the views when sandstorm pays an unexpected visit. The whole place has enough space to make the concept of a covered courtyard dining possible. No wonder this eating place also holds business events such as a meeting, training session, client presentation, etc. Add to that hosting get togethers like a birthday or family or class reunion.


Photo Credit: piatto.com.sa

Bad news: The whole view of the piazza is only for the eyes of families. Good news: I got a photo of it from their website. The atmosphere just looks gorgeous because it mottles with lights that register exquisitely at night.

Photo Credit: piatto.com.sa

Photo Credit: piatto.com.sa

Nevertheless, the photos I snapped in plain sight made me quickly feel that breathtaking Italian countryside vistas. According to their website, the restaurant also has a second floor but it is only for families too.

Photo Credit: piatto.com.sa

Photo Credit: piatto.com.sa

From there, you can find playrooms that are equipped with fun rides and games and a Gelato shop that gives a complimentary ice cream.


See, I almost forgot to talk about the food. The pulchritude of the place during our visit is far more engaging I must say. Anyway, the three of us ordered the succulent best seller among their lunch special choices: breaded chicken breast topped with mozzarella and marinara sauce, which was served with a side of quatto formaggio penne, coupled with refillable iced tea.


While waiting, we were offered appetizers in the form of a free fresh garden garden salad with garlic bread.


We had such a delight indulging in our respective meals and this has been the case with whatever we order ever since. The empty plate says it all. Now you know why I almost forgot to talk about he food. Add to that taking photos. All because the food really makes you focused on consuming it once you tasted it. It was that good. It is that good!

The Piatto experience would not be complete without the fast,  light, creamy, multi-flavored, and free Piatto Gelato that is purely home-made! As for the restaurant staff, I have nothing but good adjectives, like efficient or friendly, for them.

When I was reading reviews about Piatto, I learned that this restaurant is one of very few pizza houses in the world that carry the actual VPN approval, meaning they make a true Naples pizza made from fresh ingredients and cooked in a wood fired oven. I vowed to try their pizza the next time around.

I can sum up our Piatto experience in a combination of great gastronomic pleasure and free tour to one of Europe’s most visited countries. Funny how a place can transport a guest like me to the rustic city streets of Italy just by their well-conceptualized decoration.


That is how I visited Italy and dined therein straight from Al Izdihar, Riyadh by car.


The featured Piatto branch’s business hours are from 11:00am to 1:00am (Saturday-Wednesday), 11:00am to 2:00am (Thursday), and 1:00pm to 2:00am (Friday). It is located at Al Masif, Exit 5, Beside Steak House North Ring Road, Riyadh and can be contacted at 011-200-6868 or via email here. Visit their website at piatto.com.sa for more information.

Related Articles

Kabsa at adventuress.com

A Pleasant Piatto at thepinktarha.com

Saudi Kabsa With Chicken at halamagazine.com

Kid friendly restaurants- Piatto at lostinriyadh.blogspot.com


Piatto (fresh italian dining) in Riyadh City at rorikarose.blogspot.com

Kiwi In Saudi: Dining in Riyadh: Piatto at riyadhdining.nzpounamu.com

6 Dining Places In Riyadh You’ve Got To Go With Your Children at destination.com


Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

My entry for this week’s challenge was framed at the Manila Ocean Park’s walkway during my last vacation to the Philippines in April 2015. I was meekly waiting on the walkway, whose boundaries are marked with railings, for the revered Manila Bay sunset (blog post is in the works) when I noticed the metal grid showcasing an unconventional vista.


The view gives an illusion of continuity where the ocean and the sky are confined in a series of rectangles.

Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid  at thephotoseye.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid  at ohtheplaceswesee.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid  at witchwithaview.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid  at mirthandmotivation.com


Boys’ Night Out Reloaded

A payday is probably the most important day for every Filipino working overseas. This is the time when we do our major monetary obligation for our families and the home country. Thanks to the remittance arm of Bank Abilad for providing the international remittance service we need.

By practice, when that day falls on a Thursday, that important day will mutate into a boys’ night out. Last January 2015, I published a post titled “Boys’ Night Out Redefined & Reworded” to give those people, who are interested in working here, back home a heads up on the title’s first three words. Saudi Arabia is a prohibition state; therefore, drinking alcohol or yeast-fermented beverages and doing “other things” that are allowed in the place I come from are out of the equation.

Last Thursday, September 17, my chum and I saw some of our very good friends at the favorite mall, Hayat Mall, after sending money at Enjaz. That was around 7:00 PM. Since this opportune time does not happen so often, we decided to reload the kind of boys’ night out we do. Let us blame the unpredictable, forgotten family day policy. The original plan was to dine at the food court where there are value meals. But like I said, the food court became limited to families. We had to satisfy our hunger though so we were compelled to go for casual dinner. Besides, we only do this once in a blue moon. I was really glad our friends did not hesitate more so when they gave in to my suggestion: Applebee’s.

I actually have a lot of memories with Applebee’s. During my stint as a divisional errand boy of a major department in the company where I work for, I frequented the place to pick up telephone-ordered food and drinks for the big guns attending this monthly executive meeting. Applebee’s here in Riyadh City do not do delivery. Taking those corporate victuals from the restaurant entitled me for a free meal of my choosing. This explains why Chipotle Lime Salmon became my favorite, and I have talked it up in one ( “Heaven On A Plate“) of my food stories.

We usually imagine a boys’ night out as a group of men dressed in corporate attires or denims talking about sports, barber stories, women, frustrations, and bathroom humor with the presence of “prohibited drinks” on the table. Forget the last item in the series. The truth is we also do cerebral conversations such as discussing politics, religion, UFOs, and aliens. The kind of boys’ night out I am going to talk about again is something appropriate to the kind of place we are at, Riyadh City. 

The most interesting part of our version is tucking into some special food and drink and doing a lot of grunting to indicate pleasure. It was a payday and we have all the reasons to give ourselves a tasty treat.


The usual ambiance of Applebee’s is not festooned with sleek interiors but busy walls full of photos and sports paraphernalia that evoke a feeling of enthusiasm for sports. There is also a TV so one can watch international or local sport events. (I usually see football.) I am guessing the restaurant’s somewhat sporty concept gives a feeling of being fit and healthy thereby translating it positively into his appetite and food choices.

The effect of the motley of lights illuminating subtly in the crepuscular interior provide an irresistible contrasts, which makes the ambiance insanely cozy and romantic.


But it was a mall day so we did not make it inside the restaurant. Families were the priority. We were then asked to occupy two tables in the harlequin patio adjacent to its front door. This part of the mall gives an authentic Middle Eastern vibe with its colorful and elaborate wall designs, almost ethereal in my book.


The wait staff were very friendly and helpful (i.e., always ready to take photographs for guests) and our food was served quickly.


With what we have ordered, I could say we were in the mood for pasta and burgers.


John and I ordered Southwest Fettuccine Steak.


Onel preferred Chipotle Lime Salmon.

photo 1

RJ, Keys, and Bults chose burgers with fries.



We, of course, paired them with succulent beverages served in huge glasses.

Applebee's Patio

You could see bigger smiles on our faces upon diving into the food. Six hungry white-collar workers wanting to forget the frustration of not having more economical meals. Kidding! That should have been wanting to splurge on the edible wonders of the world’s largest casual dining restaurant company.

After chowing down, the guffaws, topics that go from one place to another, and window shopping are what concluded the night out. It was fun loosening up from a week of elbow grease on the other side of the fence. Whatever the culture is, it is primal for us to find some time sipping from a cappuccino or cafe latte cup. Oh, make that sitting down at a restaurant for some decent food or beverage and window shopping.

Our innate pursuit for bromance is not just something cultural but scientific as evidenced in the following articles: “Simple Steps to Increase Your Life Expectancy“, “Men need nights out with the lads, scientists say“, “Boys’ night out may be key to happy marriage“, and “Why Men Need A Guys’ Night Out With Their Friends“. Having said that, I would like to reiterate that we are generally content with our respective relationships.

Related Articles
 Boys’ night out at askmen.com
September just got better at Que Pasa Naga at handpaintedsky.wordpress.com

The Privileged Interview on Expats Blog

Interview with Sonyboy” (Originally published on Expats Blog last 07 September 2015; Filed under Interviews, Saudi Arabia)

The blogger behind Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind is Sonyboy Fugaban. He worked as a stenographer and part-time instructor in the capital city of the Philippines before he became an expat in April 2012. He is a simple traveler who is keen at finding something beautiful out of the mundane. He believes that one doesn’t need to travel the world to be called a traveler. For him, a traveler is someone who can find stories and lessons from his experiences and beautiful photographs around him—those that could inspire people to embark on a new endeavor (e.g., climb mountains, brave the wilderness, skydive, take pictures of countless nature wonders, etc.) or make a difference in someone or something. Sonyboy’s expat blog is called Stories of The Wandering Feet & Mind (see listing here).

Here’s the interview with Sonyboy…

Where are you originally from? I’m originally from the rustic county of Isabela—the biggest province in the northern part of the Philippines.


In which country and city are you living now? I now live in the central of Islam: Riyadh City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

How long have you lived in Saudi Arabia and how long are you planning to stay? Three years and four months as of now. I’ve been based here since April 2012, and I see myself living here for the next five years, or more, hopefully.

Why did you move to Saudi Arabia and what do you do? Greener pasture as we call it! I did two jobs in the Philippines for almost seven years but none of my long-term goals was realized. That’s when I considered taking Plan B. So when this opportunity to work abroad knocked, I immediately opened my door.

Al Faisaliah Tower
I’m currently one of the executive secretaries in the most reputable dairy company in the world. That position is actually known as “everybody’s bitch” in the office jargon. So when I newly learned about the metaphor, I thought I landed at the wrong place. Soon, I discovered that my boss and colleagues are just like my former immediate supervisor and office mates. They turned out to be the coolest people in the corporate world. The metaphor is just for fun after all. I’m having a real, good time in the office I must say.
Did you bring family with you? I didn’t. My position doesn’t cover that privilege. I’m doing my best to get a higher position so I can bring them. (fingers crossed)
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country? Deciding to work overseas was easy. Coping with the kind of life expats have here is another story. The presence of fellow Filipinos did help with the smooth transition. During the first few weeks, it was hard to sleep at night and it was harder to set aside loved ones I left back home. But when I found people, who eventually became friends and, who share the same kind of sentiments, things got a lot better. Talking with them during leisure times changed my perspective of homesickness and boredom (“Boys’ Night Out Redefined & Reworded).
 I started visiting different places in the city whenever there’s an invitation.

The desert I once regarded as boring turned out to be an exciting place. It’s not as barren (pun intended) as I thought. My view of the current world around me became wider and more interesting. Every place I visited creates a story. Every picture I framed or snapped makes me look at Saudi Arabia in a different but beautiful way.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats? Yes, I find it easy making friends and meeting people. My line of work allows me to be in touch with different people, not to mention nationalities, in the office. It’s a factor why meeting different races outside the office has become easier. It really pays to be in a multicultural working environment as it allows me to know their cultures.I do socialize with other expats—Saudis, the British, Kiwis, Americans, and Asians—primarily in the office. I don’t see doing the same outside given the chance.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats? There are actually so many things to do in the main city of the kingdom. But I’ll just give two so you’ll visit my blog for the “other recommendations”. (Please do. I meant that.)The first on the list would be visiting the nearby historical places such as the world heritage site at the Old Diriyah Village (“In Search of A Rebound“) and the Ushaiger Heritage Village (“The Doors and Mud-Built Houses of Ushaiger Heritage Village“).

You’ll be surprised at how interesting the Arabian history is. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many historical sites across the kingdom. Only a few of them though are publicized.

Malling would be the second. Doing it just reminds so much of my home country. The malls (e.g., Granada Center, Hayat Mall, Azizia Mall, & Sahara Mall) are usually massive. There are also state-of-the art architectures with malls inside them such as Kingdom Center (“Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece“and Al Faisaliyah Tower (“Colossal Wonders of Olaya“).
Each of them has an array of low-end or high-end boutiques. Filipinos will sure feel like they are in SM and Ayala Malls respectively. They just bring instant comfort whenever I need it.
What do you enjoy most about living in Saudi Arabia? The salary—without tax! Seriously, the uniqueness of the place. One of the things that I find most interesting about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is its fairly barren terrain. It’s something truly pulchritudinous to someone rising from the Far East like me. Philippines has a completely different surface features.
The kingdom boasts countless free-for-the-eyes rock formations so my camera will have all the panoramic views, among other subjects, to feast on (“Hidden Valley: An Ancient Arabian Treasure In Its Own Right“).
And, of course, the presence of friends around. Though my senior colleagues (fellow Filipinos) usually warn a newcomer not to trust anyone or make friends but at the end of the day, no man is an island. I still find it necessary to have someone to laugh with during good times or have someone who gives you a tap on the shoulder when the going gets tough (“Weekend Swim: A Perfect Disport for White-Collar Workers“).
I’m blessed for catching a few good ones who are as dedicated and desperate for companionship as I am (“Urban Spelunking (Second Episode: Earth & Air”).
How does the cost of living in Saudi Arabia compare to home? In general, I find the cost of living here and back home to be the same. I don’t think I have a problem with that because I live by my means.


On the flip side, dairy products are so affordable here in Saudi. And, the gold compared to other countries’. I hope I get to buy more and more items made from the precious Saudi gold. A lot of people here say they are a very, very good form of investment.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Saudi Arabia? Separating singles from family in public places. There were countless times when that kind of practice made me bear with my hunger because I can’t enter food courts after 6:00 PM.
I remember the first time when I and friends planned to go on a meat-sweet diet at the food court of our favorite mall (Hayat Mall) since it was a Tuesday. It didn’t happen when the food court turned into a “family only” place just before the gloaming. We thought that’s only up for Thursdays & Fridays (also known as family days). But we really had to give in to our sacs’ plead for vittles. We were then forced to go for casual dining instead. It means we had to spend more than what we allotted for food.

Their concept of family days is a bit weird. Bizarre if you may. Why can’t we enter the malls during those days?

I would also say the prayer times—which is really the hardest to get used to. Eateries, restaurants, and boutiques close five times a day for prayer. I can no longer remember how many times I endured waiting for 30 minutes or more just because I arrived 10 or 15 minutes in those places before prayer time. I wasn’t even late. I can’t comprehend why they will stop people from entering public places a few minutes before the actual prayer time. Should it not be when you’re late?

Furthermore, there are references for prayer times but those indicated times usually exceed. Worst, the stop entry policy’s times aren’t consistent. Some shops closes 20 minutes before a prayer time while others close a lot earlier or later than that.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Saudi Arabia, what would it be? The not so good stories you heard and read about Saudi Arabia are just but isolated cases. Come here so you can prove that Aldous Huxley’s famous travel quote is true: “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”


It’s one thing to read and hear about Saudi Arabia, and another to actually live in it.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far? Learning the Arabic language. I’m a bit particular with grammar so if I can’t learn the language through a formal class, I’d rather not speak it.

There were times when I do though but whenever my Saudi colleagues laugh at the way I speak Arabic, I hesitate the next time around. They even told me once that I sounded ridiculous because I’m speaking the way their, for lack of a better term, uneducated counterparts speak. As a result, I’m struggling in putting my thoughts across whenever I converse with the majority of the locals as well as expats who are unable to comprehend English.

When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation? At this point, I don’t think I’m in the best position to answer the question…But if I were, I would say by thinking of the pain I had to endure the very first time I left. It’s true that there are things from the kingdom that were already embedded in my system, but the thought of being reunited with my two boys and wife, my precious family, is enough reason to take up where I left off and move on.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

1. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” (Saint Augustine). The world is indeed bigger than you could imagine. Go explore it.
2. There will always be someone who is smarter, more handsome, or better than you. What usually happens is that you unconsciously make yourself to be a copy of that someone. Turn that someone into an inspiration instead.
3. Don’t be afraid to meet new people. If you want to gain a new perspective, seek new opportunities, or learn about new ideas, interact with other people. The benefits of welcoming new people into your life far exceed being home all the time. The former is the only way to grow past your current level.
4. The modern world is borderless; bigger opportunities are out there. Grab yours. Don’t hesitate about leaving your comfort zone for better opportunities. It’s no longer a matter of choice nowadays.
5. Never forget to immerse in nature once in a while amid your busy life. This is a requirement especially if you’re someone from the city where constant uproar is a given. Climb a mountain, watch the sun as it sets or rises, swim in the sea or simply enjoy nature’s bounties and your connection to them. Immersion in nature is a fuel for the body and soul. Doing that, through traveling, in this day and age is a necessity.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog. “Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind” is about the stories I created from the things I see around and the places I visited. When I learned about that famous travel quote by St. Augustine, my hunger to share the stories grew exponentially. I then vowed to read not just a page but several pages of that proverbial book.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area? This is the easiest question so far. Visit my blog: “Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind”!


IMG_2249Sonyboy is a Filipino expat living in Saudi Arabia. Blog description:“Not all who wander are aimless, especially those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond the image” (M.L.S., 2003).

  • Blog Listing on Expats Blog (Expats Blog was born to serve the expat community. Created by expats for expats, our researchers travel the globe looking for stories that would interest their fellow expatriates.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

Trees are very important in balancing the ecosystem, even in a place that does not have much of a vegetation.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the number of tree species is only 97, which is about 4% of the total floristic elements. Out of these, more than 80% are present in the southwestern and western regions, including Taif region (plantdiversityofsaudiarabia.info).

Acacia trees here in the capital city and the nearby towns play probably the most important role in whole region’s environmental balance and stability.


Among the tree genera of the whole kingdom, Acacia has the highest number of species (Acacia abyssinic, Acacia asak, Acacia etbaica, Acacia gerrardii, Acacia hamulosa,  Acacia latea, Acacia mellifera, Acacia origena, and Acacia raddiana). This explains why all of the places I visited outside the walls of the main city brandish those trees (“The Alpha Dogs’ Typical Day Out at Kamsa Ashra Park“).

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The most common species in my area though is the Acacia asak.

The most interesting thing about Acacia trees is their ability to resist drought and cope with arid environments through conserving water (“Effects of drought stress on the growth of Acacia asak by Ibrahim M. Aref and Loutfy I. El-Juhany).


Their bright yellow flowers and green leaves are what is dotting the landscape of the Arabian deserts (“A Series of Unfortunate Events”). According to what I read, the trees, like date palms (“A Day with Dates at Kamsa Kamsa Park“) have very long roots that can reach water from subterranean sources. This is way beyond the grasp of other plants.


The intricate connections of their branches when being captured underneath or closer is something to lay eyes on. Beauty is truly in every creation of God if you choose to see it.


Displaying these pictures is one way of showing that each of the things we see around are connected. Every thing we see has a role in the preservation of the ecosystem.

Related Posts

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected at retiredtotravel.com

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected at laraelkhoury.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.

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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 minute flowers.

I left the place with a positive mood. 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

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

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

Top 5 Flowers For Spring at thepinktarha.com

RED SANDS FLOWER FIELDS at blueabaya.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.


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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 articles published on this blog site 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.

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.

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

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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).

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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)

photo 2 (2)

First Taste of a Virgin Beach


Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking in Natural Scenery


Embraced by the Labyrinth’s Trail of Mount Marami


The Camel Corral in the Desert



The Exhibit Archive

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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!

photo 3

Heaven On A Plate


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.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse at impossiblebebong.wordpress.com

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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.

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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)

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

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

White Pebbles Beach Resort | TOOVIA (toovia.com)

Going Back To Zero: The Year Travel Broke Me Apart, Then Helped Me Start Over (iamtravelinglight.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)

What are your biggest grammar pet peeves? (poynter.org)


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

Lantangan: The Beach that Sings in Caramoan (iamtravelinglight.com)

The Pebble Beach in Bagolatao, Minilabac (maxtermind.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)

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)