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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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.

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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)


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


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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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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 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.

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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:

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.

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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).

atesPlease 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 Good 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Dairy Farms of Al Kharj at

Old Dir’iyyah at

Places to visit in The City of Al-Kharj ~ Life in Saudi Arabia at

Places to Visit in Al Kharj, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Tour Guide at

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” (

To date, here are the Latin plural forms that have been anglicized (i.e., accepted in standard usage) per the information I got from 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 and 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, and 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 …

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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.

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Bolinao Hundred Islands Tour Package (Updated as of January 2015) at

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“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 (,,, & 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 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:, &

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

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

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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 fascinated 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!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

Appreciating the warmth of summer, exalting the rigors of natural movements and exercise, keeping personal life under one’s hat, and blogging are some of the things that primarily identify the author behind Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind. These explain why he claims to be a summer person, a health buff, a parent, and a traveler who will forever crave outdoor adventures, workout, quality time, and traveling. IMG_4870

He will never use limited space, equipment, money, nor time as an excuse for not succumbing to what primarily defines him.

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Boys’ Night Out Redefined & Reworded

Coffee breaks have become an important part of our routine in the office and we (colleagues and friends) usually do it before settling to our workstations in the morning and a few minutes after lunchtime. The picture of the blathers that come from this break make it more fun; it adds social value to the group’s bond.

IMG_5402After quite some time, one of us suggested the idea of having a boys’ night out at a café. Since that was a payday, every one simply gave in. The truth is sipping a cup of coffee at a café is a fancy thing for us—commoners. However it may be, there was a huge excitement radiating from all of us before we left the office later that day. The thing that made it extra special is the pack was in full force.

We first took part in doing our monetary obligation for our families back home. Java Time is the only decent café near Enjaz (a money remittance arm of Bank  Abilad) in Exit 5 so we unanimously picked it.

Upon stepping on Java Time’s door, the aromas of the dark, shiny, minuscule coffee beans drifting around made us feel that much needed time to unwind and escape the busy corporate world. The smell of that crushed black beans is just heavenly. It was so calming. And welcoming the sweet smell of pastries for our sweet sooth will just yield more magic. The unique lighting at the second floor is a bonus.


It is true, we will always be fascinated by beer and college days can sure attest to that. But here in Saudi Arabia, the yeast-fermented malt drink cannot be the option for the kind of night out we wish to feast on in pursuit of bromance. We are generally content with our respective relationships of course. Nonetheless, it is primal for us to find some time to crack open a beer with the pack. Make that drink a cup of cappuccino, latte, or macchiato in the current setting.


You see, a boys’ night out is not just about prowling the streets, beer indulgence, or disastrous debauchery. It is about camaraderie to a considerable degree.


One thing I learned is that we can still dutifully ridicule each others’ social blunders if not marital bliss and have frank, unedited discussions on matters large or small just by a cup of coffee or any beverage with the black bean’s touch.


The beer and peanut–which primarily drives a boys’ night out back home–has now evolved into coffee and pastries. As for the boys’ night out, I guess we should now change it into “coffee with the boys” to mean a laid-back time to gather the pack to bask in our new favorite beverage and make for a good conversation.

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A Gustatory New Year at Tokyo Restaurant

Christmas or New Year is something I never celebrated since I got to Saudi Arabia in April 2012—until I broke the monotony last 31 December 2014. Out of the blue, I felt the need to go outside the cubbyhole. The first thing that came to mind when I thought of how to celebrate it is to have dinner with whoever is available in my circle, to any of the economic restaurants in the city. I just really felt it is a must to put a lid on the wistfulness enveloping me (and, I believe, the Christian OFWs around the globe) this time of the year. I was so determined that I dragged some buds with me that night. Two (Onel and Ronnie) emerged and Tokyo Restaurant became the option after an hour of deliberation.


Tokyo Restaurant, which is only a twenty-minute drive from our place (Exit 7), is located along Al Orouba Street in Exit 11. It offers only the finest of Japanese cuisine in the city at reasonable prices. The catch is, the foods’ tastes are not sacrificed.


The restaurant is the first Japanese restaurant in the concrete jungle of Riyadh and probably the most successful, gleaning from how people flock in. This was actually my and Onel’s second time to be here, and the nth time for Ronnie who also asseverated that reputation. The service crew is predominantly Filipinos so it does not only make us, Filipino guests, feel like we are in the streets of Tokyo but in Manila as well.

The Tokyo Restaurant underwent a major renovation last year. This explains why the place’s simple, hygienic, and modish ambiance is easily noticed. The reception area boasts a glass floor and a display of antique samurai armor paired with an old, framed Japanese letter on the wall. The latter is what balances the hip atmosphere. Once inside, we felt all the more Japan-ish with the paper walls, kanji, paper lanterns, wooden tables and chairs, teppanyaki grills, and, of course, chopsticks.

This Japanese restaurant combines tradition and exceptional presentation to excite guests. The menu has a variety of choices with just the right prices. Makanouchi Bento became an instant favorite because it offers just so much of the major dishes. The reasonable price is a plus factor. Before diving into the main course, each of us had a couple of the palatable, free miso soup.



Makanouchi Bento comprise the basics of bento (fish and chicken teriyaki; shrimp, fish, and vegetable tempura; sashimi; potato balls; omelette; tofu; rice; sauces; and pickles). I adore salmon sashimi. The fish is fresh and it consistently melts in the mouth like a cotton candy. I also became a fan of raw salmon and chicken teriyaki—which is perfection at least for me–because of this bento. The shiny appearance just made me salivate and ask for three extra cups of rice. I could say the tidbits of the dishes are all stellar to a degree.



It is assumed that a New Year celebration with loved ones, in this case, with friends is always special and fun. But I never knew that it can turn out more fun and memorable because of Tokyo Restaurant’s commendable foods, service crew, and the establishment as a whole. They exude that hospitality and affability we all adore back home. Truth be told, I am not fond of eating out in Japanese restaurants because I usually leave with a headache from their sauces loaded with mono sodium glutamate. Tokyo Restaurant seems to be the exception. I did not have a headache the first time. The only thing that is loaded now is my sac. These are what I really liked most from the experience.


In sum, this is by far my most memorable gastronomic adventure in the Middle East and a New Year celebration to cherish. A Cyclopean thanks to Ronnie and Onel for sharing their time and for bearing with me.

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