Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Death by Chocolate

Last night we had our monthly social activity with colleagues. It became a monthly ritual when we discovered our love for food and talk over the round table.

Anyway, after dinner, we chilled at Casa Verde for dessert. We ordered this ultimate chocolate ice cream, about 6 inches in height.

Death By Chocolate. That's the name of this 'to die for' dessert. Chocolate cake plus nutty rocky road ice cream rolled into one - who wouldn't die? :)

Well, I didn't. But surely my fats and calories did! hahaha!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ooooppsss! there we fly again!

I had a "merry-go-round" trip last Friday...

Two weeks ago, my boss told me that I shall fly down to Siargao for a meeting. Wow, didn't I just sound like a corporate executive? Wait 'til I finish this.

Apparently, the company I work for is venturing into travel and tourism. They are developing a first class resort in Siargao, the home of prominent surfing waves called cloud 9. As the opening date is getting closer, we're burdened with a lot of preparations that needed me to go there to meet up with the travel agent from Germany and the resort's General Manager as well. So the trip is all about work, work and work. NOT pleasure.

I wasn't excited when my boss broke the news to me. Four days in the island with lots of work waiting is not my idea of an idyllic scene. Anyhoo, I've been to this paradise ten years ago and I was truly amazed with their rich biodiversity, unspoiled nature and pristine beach. That was one of my biggest trip back then (when I was still a student and could hardly afford an out-of-town trip for three days).

With less anticipation for pleasure and more on the business side, I packed my things for an unusual trip. My mother was kinda worried because of the looming typhoon on that part of the world. I reasoned that if the weather won't cooperate the airline will surely cancel the flight, but seriously, I'm already bracing for a bumpy, turbulent ride.

At the airport, I met up with my travel companion - the travel agent from Germany and three of his friends which he invited to tag along, my colleague and the newly hired staff for the island. This 'newly hired staff' doesn't know what 8 o'clock sharp meant. He showed up at 8:30am when the counter is about to close. I was already pissed knowing I showed up early so I can still have breakfast and he is about to ruin it coz we're boarding in the next 10 minutes. I decided to swing by Dunkin Donuts to grab a sandwich and a cup of coffee when the paging system called out our names. Holy cow! For the first time in my whole darn life I became famous (insert sarcasm here). And when we went up inside the plane, all passengers we're staring at us. We'll who wouldn't? We were the last passengers to board. Damn that newly hired staff!!!

Forty-five minutes later the captain announced we're about to land. Ten minutes later I still couldn't catch a glimpse of the runway. It was cloudy and foggy all over. Then I saw the ground below kinda blurry because of the heavy rain that poured just as we descended. I felt the plane touched the ground, like 5 seconds in the runway when it suddenly revved up and went up again. I was bewildered. I was looking at the flight attendant searching for answers but she was calmly seated in the front like telling us there's nothing to be worried about. Some passengers we're looking at one another, wondering why we took off. Others we're scared, panicky but the good thing was everybody tried to be calm.

I wasn't scared though. But I was worried why the pilot made that maneuver. I'm playing possible reasons in my mind while trying to control my fear. I guess it helps when you travel a lot. I've had some of the worst travel experience... and that particular situation shall become part of the list.

A minute later we heard the captain speaking from the cabin. He said, the rain poured heavily on our way down and the visibility of the runway isn't favorable for safe landing that is why he had to took off immediately.

Okay, for a moment there the tension eased. I was about to ask the flight attendant if we landed at the wrong airport. Glad I did not ask about that or it would have made me look stupid haha!

We were circling above the thick clouds for the next 40, read that : f-o-r-t-y-m-i-n-u-t-e-s before the pilot attempted his second landing. I guess, some things aren't just meant to be because halfway through the attempt, we ascended again and I felt the plane turning to the right.

We headed back to Cebu as it is not safe to land due to bad weather condition. I commended the staff of this airline for not compromising our safety. I was frustrated that I was not able to get there. But yeah, it's better not getting to our destination than not getting back home.

Anyhoo, that was the longest I've gone - Cebu to Cebu in two hours!!! hahaha! Beat that!

Back in Cebu airport we were faced with a long queue coz everyone's trying to get the next possible flight to Siargao. My boss who was worried about our situation called up and told me he was at the airport and saw our plane touched down then flew again. All he could say was : "Oh there they go. Happened to me thrice." Hahaha! I'm glad we're not the only one who had experienced that kind of predicament.

And because we needed to be at the resort this weekend, and the next flight to the island is on Monday, the only option we had was to go on chartered flight. Few minutes later I was talking to someone who charters flight to Siargao. But since it's a 5-seater plane, and there were 7 of us, my colleague and I volunteered to step out. I mean, that kind of weather and a small plane doesn't appeal to me. Besides, the pilot told us that it's still raining in Siargao but he can possibly land because the sky is clearing. On my part, I don't want to take chances. Not this time. I've been up in the air for two solid hours thinking if we can land or not. That's pretty tiring already and I don't wanna go through the same situation again.

By 2PM the small plane departed from the hangar. An hour after I was told they were able to land safely. Thank God.

Back home I was effing tired and sleepy. It was a veeeeery long day for me. But you know the perks of that trip? I saw this heart-shaped island en route Siargao. It was sooooo lovely! The sad part is, I was not able to take a pic coz my camera was on my bag which I obligely dropped at the baggage counter. Grrrrr...!!! Anyway, the next time I'll go there I'll make sure to take a snapshot.

And that was the only thing that made my trip worthwhile... :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

in the height of the 6.9 magnitude earthquake...

It does take a strong tremor to make me write about something...

Yesterday, I was on my desk when suddenly I noticed the floor shaking. I thought there was some construction going on downstairs. But then in just a matter of split seconds the floor beneath me violently shook, window glasses clashed like they're ready to go down anytime. I did not waste a single moment and bolted through the door.

It was a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was just 100kms away from where we are and that was the strongest I've experienced so far.

Almost a year ago Japan had it's worst temblor. Aryt, 6.9 compared to the 8-point-something-magnitude earthquake they had is not totally the same. But man, this is the PI and we don't experience as many earthquakes as our neighboring countries do and yesterday was one hell of a shock.

This morning, my colleague told me that I should join the next 42K marathon in the city. The thing is, when the tremor happened I ran past through him like a flash.

Me : ohmygod, earthquake???? meeeehhhh.... stairs! stairs!

It was like an instinct :
First, I realized there's an earthquake.
Second, I stood up.
Third, I ran through the door and sprinted outside.

Believe me, I was already outside before half of the population managed to go out of the building. Tsk!

That's right! I'm not exaggerating. I was halfway through the hallway when my colleagues realized to follow suit. They first ducked below their tables, mumbling "Lord, have mercy." But the frightening sound of the windows made them think otherwise.

I've always been terrified of earthquakes. When I was a child, I would close my eyes, say a little prayer and wait for the trembling to subside. In school, we're taught what to do in case of things like this and I knew it was a smart idea to go out when there's a way out. My adrenalin rush yesterday proved that I could still think clear even in life threatening situation (haha!)

After the quake, we were all advised to go home because they have to check the building for cracks and damages. Mid-day I was home, surfing the net for news when I read about the tsunami warning alert issued by PHIVOLCS.

PHIVOLCS issued alert level 2, which means that citizens should stay away from shores as there might be unusual waves following the shock. The funny thing about filipinos is that we easily believe in unconfirmed news, the word of mouth. I can't believe that in this time and age, with the sophistication of technology and the amount of information we could gather, we are still gullible. I'm not talking about the warning issued by PHIVOLCS... I'm talking about the irresponsible text messages that circulated which heightened the panic.

At 2PM yesterday, you could see people running around the streets from all direction. It was chaotic. The traffic was so heavy that it stopped moving. It's like in a movie scene - the ones with the apocalyptic theme where cars had stopped and people were running for dear life. These all happened for just one irresponsible text from a fucking demented person, who said that the waters were rising and there's a tsunami on the way.

Seriously? A tsunami in the heart of the city? Where did that fucking idea come from?

And these people... about 80% of them ignorant, believed the word to be true.

But where the hell was I?

In my room. Sound asleep.

But really, THAT.WAS.NOT.A.FUNNY.EXPERIENCE. It's alarming to know that a lot of people nowadays lack the basic knowledge. What's sad is that we immediately take the information presented to us without validating it. And what's even more alarming is that we forgot there is someone more powerful than this tsunami. Than this earthquake. We exchanged our faith in Him for one irresponsible text message.

While I was riding the bus on my way home after we're dismissed in the office, a song from Def Leppard played in the air while we're seated quietly pondering on what just happened.

♫♫ walk away..if you want to...

A smile puckered on my lips. I didn't just walk away...



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