Apo Island

The Philippines consists of 7641 islands, many disappear in high tide. So if you are on one of those, forget about the multiplication tables, memorize your tide tables. Apo island doesn’t disappear in high tide despite being very small. It’s basically a couple of pointy rocks jutting out of the ocean, with a village on each side between which one can walk in 30 minutes. There are no rivers here and therefore no drinking water. That has to be brought from the neighboring island, Negros. There are a couple of wells that fill up in the rainy season and people use their water for washing and bathing. No plumbing here; there’s a big bucket of sea water by the toilet, and a big bucket of well water by the sink. Each bucket has scoopers. After using the toilet, you scoop sea water and dump it in the toilet until it’s flushed. Want to shower? scoop and dump. That’s when you wish you had 3 hands (… besides masturbating 😜). The island has no electricity except from 6-10 PM. Otherwise, sunshine and battery power save the day. Everyone has chicken and dogs (I have a suspicion that chicken and dogs raise people here). Unlike textbook roosters who crow only at dawn, real life roosters actually crow at all times of day and night, whenever the heck they want.
There are no sandy beaches in Apo island, it’s all rocks and coral. The only reasons people come here are snorkeling and diving. The underwater life is rich and fascinating with coral reefs as far as the eyes could see (visibility is typically 15 meters). There are several Marine sanctuaries to guarantee the continuity of tourism income. One may also go hiking to the top of the two rocks, which is mostly climbing up and down stairs. The views from the top are totally worth it. Apo village is the busy commercial center with accommodation, restaurants, schools and shops, Cogon is a tiny village where pigs, chicken, dogs and cats keep some humans to feed them but no commerce of any kind. Even in this tiny spit of an island, people speak very good English.
To get to and from Apo island, prepare to get wet. The fishing boats that carry people and cargo back and forth have no docks on either side of their route. You pull up your clothes, carry your luggage on your head (local boys will help), walk to the boat and climb on the wooden plank. Waves are unavoidable and will often be up to your hips. Even if you pull a Jesus trick and get on and off without getting too wet, the boat ride will definitely get you as the waves splash onboard the shallow deck. Luckily they stow away the luggage and goods in the hull so they stay dry. If you’re going to be on a tiny little island with nothing to do but snorkel and dive, you better be fit and willing to get wet. Getting there is the fitness and endurance test. Welcome to Apo!

#travel #travelblog #apo #apoisland #philippines #unconditionallove #westandinlove

On top of the south rock

Apo Village

The south rock

The north rock.

Hiking in Apo

One of the neighborhoods

Typical house

Are the stairs going up or down?

Sunset in Apo

The coconut tree embryo tastes like healthy cotton candy, coconut flavored!

The old woman and the sea

Cogon resident

The mayor of Cogon

Prestine beach, unfortunately, no sand.

Apo sunsets are spectacular!

Sunset with the tide in

Apo island, Philippines.

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Traveling Sola

“Are you traveling alone? Why?” “Where’s your husband?” “Why isn’t he with you?”… are some of the questions people keep asking me in the Philippines. They might as well be saying:”Where’s your owner? How come you’re not on leash?” The concept of a free unattached woman traveling by herself seems to be alien to them. They look puzzled when I say that I chose not to have children. I don’t even mention polyamory. I’ve experienced the same sentiments in Egypt, India and most third world countries. The traditional thinking is that the main purpose of a woman is to reproduce. If a woman chooses otherwise, then she’s not normal. Unfortunately “normal” comes from our human heritage of fear and scarcity. In a culture of love and abundance, everyone is free to choose their path and follow their bliss without any pressure or coersion. Every person is sovereign with full autonomy over their own body. This basic right is, unfortunately, still a foreign concept in most of the world. Hence a solo woman traveler is often seen as a disturbance to the calm stagnant waters of conformity and fear. In my long history of solo travel, I acquired habits that help me navigate potentially hostile attitudes. Here are some:
1. Posture and attitude: (all my dance students practice those from day one) Walk with confidence and pride. If needs be, put on your “don’t mess with me” attitude, otherwise, a confident smile works great. Pretend that you just aced a hard exam. If you believe for a second that you’re weak and need protection, you’ll attract energies to confirm your beliefs. Do NOT travel alone if that’s how you see yourself.
2. Humanize your interactions. Look people in the eye. Nod. Show interest and curiosity. Initiate a conversation, even if it’s just asking about the time. When you connect with another being on a human level, it’s hard for them to see you as a piece of meat. Someone makes you feel nervous? Go over and say ‘Hi’ and watch the nervousness dissolve instantaneously.
3. Own your Yeses and Nos. If you want something, don’t be shy to ask explicitly. Don’t drop hints expecting others to get you. Likewise, when you don’t want something, don’t be afraid to say no; a hundred times if needs be. Peddlers can give you a great practice. Look them in the eye and say no confidently, as many times as you need to make them go away. If your ‘no’ is weak, they’ll keep pushing.
4. Stare back. I was on a beach in India and a man kept looking at me. No matter what I did, he kept staring. I turned around, faced him and stared back. He immediately looked away and went about his business. Don’t be shy to assert your needs, otherwise, don’t be disappointed when people don’t get you.
5. Take a compliment. Don’t jump into stories if someone smiles at you. Smile back. Say thank you to a compliment and move on. Not everyone wants to jump in your pants. And those who do, cannot touch you without your “Hell Yes”. Trust yourself, because if you don’t, you cannot trust anyone else.
6. Ask the locals. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Even when you stick out, if you befriend and follow the locals, they will respect and protect you if needed.
7. Trust your instincts. If your gut feeling says no, listen to it. Sometimes our logical mind isn’t as smart as our intuition. Develop your intuition by feeling and taking care of your body, meditating and cultivating your higher self. Solo travel is a great way to do just that!
Happy trails!

Many moons ago when I was practicing karate.

Sunset in Siquijor Philippines.

Tree and Sky. Dumaguete, Philippines.

That ship has sailed…

Edible dildo 😀. Sticky sweet rice called “Budbud”.

Dear My Fear

Dear my Fear,
Our relationship hasn’t been the smoothest or the most amiable. You’re either controlling me, often paralyzing me, I’m ignoring you or following you then hating myself and your guts. Admittedly, sometimes you make me laugh with the ridiculous crazy thoughts you have. When you act up, you deprive us of living in, and fully enjoying the present moment. You’re always stuck in the past or running horrible scenarios of the future. Can we just rest in the present moment and enjoy? I’m tired of the painful dynamics and I want to make peace. Our disfuncional relationship is not healthy and I apologise for my share in it. I will stop blindly following you then hating you for it. I acknowledge your role in my life. I will stop pretending that you don’t exist. You’re too powerful to ignore.
I embrace you as part of me. You’re trying to keep me safe and alive. You have succeeded and I thank you for my wonderful life. You’re also my link to my ancestors who passed you down to me one generation after the next. You’re my history and my heritage. Your mere existence is proof that, at some point in the far or near past, you had saved one or more of my ancestors and therefore, you are directly responsible for my existence. Thank you! You’ve been working super hard to protect me, all my life. I want you to know that I am good now. You may retire and rest. I learnt to love all of me, including you and I’m safe.
I assure you that I will always remember and consider your words of caution. They’re etched in my brain. But you can let go of control because I am a loving being now and can take care of myself.
I love you and I release you.
Yours truly,
We

Choose Love!

The world is a mirror; it reflects back what we believe inside our heads!
Once I clued in to this simple, yet profound fact, I realized that I have the power to create my reality and live whatever life I want. There is never one reality. There are always many ways to see and interpret our experiences. Why not choose ways that empower us and elevate our spirits?
We’re faced with hundreds of choices every day. Some are trivial, others are pivotal. What to wear, eat, read, consume, tune to, which job to take, where to live, which relationships to invest in,…etc. Our time, attention, money and resources are our life energy. Every day we’re faced with thousands of ways to use it. Most of the time our choices are out of habit or inertia. “I drink my coffee the same way while reading/listening to the same news channel every morning”. Who wants to waste time choosing a new routine every day? But every now and then, it’s worth examining our choices, including the habitual and unconscious ones, to make sure we don’t become slaves to our habits and waste our life energy in things that drain us or at the very least, don’t serve us. I have been practicing “Choosing Love” and it greatly improved my quality of life. Let me explain:

At the root of every decision, there are two main choices, or branches: one motivated by love and abundance, and one motivated by fear and scarcity. When faced with any decision, I invite you to take a moment and ask yourself: “if I were living in total love and abundance, what would I do?”. You may still choose not to follow through with that option, but at least give it a fighting chance. It’s like practicing a new muscle; the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. The more you practice envisioning and choosing love and abundance, the more the universe will reflect it back at you.

The fear and scarcity branch encompasses all negative emotions; frustration, judgement, anger, sadness…etc. For most of us, choices based in fear are so instinctive and automatic. Not because they’re easy or better for us, but because they’re familiar; we’ve been practicing choosing fear ALL OUR LIVES. Actually, choices motivated by fear may give us a quick relief, an easy fix, an instant high, but they are rarely in our best interest on the long run. Contrarily, love choices can be like a bitter pill, they’re difficult to take, but they always serve us down the road.
When you choose love, make sure you start with yourself. This is not selfishness, this is the seed that will grow into your love tree which will shower everyone in your life with love and abundance. If your self love is not strong enough, your love tree will not grow or bear fruit.
Love is an infinite resource: the More you give, the More you have.

Filiplish

Filipino guy:”You ride me. We go wonderful. Eat the bitch. Then we come back 5″.
Me:”Yes! Let’s go!”.
Translation: “You ride with me. We go to the waterfalls. Eat at the beach. Then come back at 5 pm.”
My fellow travelers and I were in stitches before we explained to the guy the importance of prepositions in the English language.
Most Filipinos understand English. Makes it easy to communicate and travel. Prepositions aside, I’d take broken English any day over Google Translate. There’s a new law mandating teaching the local languages in schools. Children were learning English and Tagalog but not their mother tongue. While this improved their chances of finding jobs in the global market, it disconnected them from their tribal heritage. Hence the effort to mend this gap.
Singing is a favorite pastime here. In most countries, people dance for stress relief, in the Philippines, they sing. They sing karaoke in restaurants, malls, streets, resorts…etc. Beggers walk around with portable microphones singing and asking for money. When they sing, their English is typically impeccable. Cover bands here are excellent. Another popular entertainment is cock fighting.
85% of the population is Roman Catholic. Sex education and family planning are almost non existent; large families are the norm. Monty Python’s “The meaning of life” scene of the Catholic family is pretty descriptive of life here. Families live behind trees in cardboard houses, under bridges and in cemeteries. Just like cats and dogs. Eating Balut, a boiled chicken fetus, doesn’t even register as harsh. It’s all relative.

Ingkumhan Falls. Bohol, Philippines

Soaking it up at Ingkumhan waterfalls.

Twin waterfalls. Bohol Philippines.

In the flow at the twin waterfalls.

One of the twin waterfalls.

One of the Twin waterfalls.

Drying the rice on the streets.

Rice fields in Bohol Philippines.

Rice, rice and more rice.

More rice…

Dam-agan Falls. Bohol, Philippines.

Swimming in Dam-agan falls.

In the flow at Dam-agan Falls.

Fields of Rice. Bohol Philippines.

With the rice.

Sinigang with shrimp. Yummy!

After a fun day frolicking in the waterfalls.

“No Smoking” is the law!

“No Smoking” is not just a sign in the Philippines, it’s national law. You’re allowed to smoke in your private property but not in public. Unfortunately, there are lots of European tourists here and they ALL smoke. I have to run to the street to escape their stink. The alcohol tax (aka sin tax) is used to pay for universal health care. So the more people “sin”, the better it is for their health 😜. The red light district in Manila is one of the safest places to be at night. Police is everywhere to protect the foreigners. One of the delicacies is Balut, a boiled fertilized egg at 14-19 weeks, basically a chicken fetus in utero. The bones are still forming so it tastes like egg with a cartilage; yummy!
#travel #travelblog #philippines #westandinlove

Panglao, Bohol, Philippines.

Manila, Philippines

Pork sisig. Traditional Filipino dish.

War memorial in Manila

Fried squid vendor. Popular street food.

Manila. University area.

Chinese garden in Manila

Rizal park in Manila.

Rizal memorial in Manila.

Balut, boiled fertilized egg.

Watching the sunset in Manila

Sunset in Manila.

Delicious fish soup by my wonderful hostess Marissa.

Manila skyline at night from behind a glass window.

Halo Halo, my favorite dessert!

“Comfort room” is the toilet. بيت الراحة

Hammock. Not very comfortable.

Panglao, Bohol, Philippines

Panglao, Bohol, Philippines.

My idea of an umbrella drink.

Mangosteen. Yummy!

Change, Almighty!

Routine kills me. If I believed in a Goddess/God, it would be “Change”. Just like traditional Gods, Change saves me from painful experiences because I know they don’t last. However, unlike traditional Gods, Change can be felt and recognized by all living beings. No dogma or proselytizing necessary. It’s real. When I am in pain, my belief in Change alleviates the suffering. When I am happy, I thank Change and enjoy every second because I know it won’t last. When I feel neutral, I don’t sink in the dark abyss of boredom because I know Change will take care of it. Change will “save” you from the dark times and reward you with relief and joy. If you want to feel proactive, pray to Change and take some credit when it (inevitably) happens. In the happy moments, be grateful and thank Change that brought you joy and be humble as it doesn’t last. As you go about life, ask Change for what you want, thereby directing and influencing the outcome. If it happens, thank Change. If not, keep trying. Change will eventually happen. It may not look like what you had in mind, but it will always be different and your mind will make stories to make it fit your beliefs. Change, the Almighty is omnipotent, omniscient and real.