First Antsybeersary!

A year ago, I had nothing better to do but revisit my old online presence elsewhere and immediately felt the urge to get back into blogging.
A year ago, I wrote about the first thing that came into my mind... summits and how I hate the feeling of gasping for breath while on the trail but loving the climb anyway
A year ago, I decided to self-medicate with writing as a cure to my short-attention span and proved that it did help me keep my focus for at least a few minutes a day.
What I'm trying to say is that it has been a year! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the lovely year that was. 
The Year That Was - 2011 Collage

One of the few posts where
I feel the need to post a photo of myself! 

I am celebrating because that, for me, is a real feat. Having started (and eventually forgetting!) a couple of blogs before, See.Hear.Explore. has been the only one that I have stayed with and kept, providing faithful (at least monthly) updates like that of a long-distance lover.

After sharing 47 posts, experiencing more than 10 major destinations, having 1 published article, and meeting friends on the road (and online), I know that this one could only get better. I am looking forward to more years of experiencing the world, to having more opportunities of sharing and exchanging stories, to learning more, to continue meeting inspiring people on the road, and gaining more insight on the things that define me. 
A year later, my conviction to see, hear, and explore is stronger than ever.


Now, I'll quit the drama and get back to my drink! 🙂


Fang-Od, The Art of Traditional Inking, and Chickening Out

We all thought it rained throughout the night. That's what happens when you stay at a lovely inn right beside the river. After a few hours of refreshing sleep, it was time to go on our way to finally meet Fang-Od. We bid the ladies of the Sleeping Beauty Inn goodbye and said thank you to the gracious owner, the town mayor, who in return sent us his well-wishes.

Our guide, Francis, hailed a jeep to take us to Bugnay, the jump-off point to Buscalan. Thirty minutes later, we stood in the middle of the town with the lying-in clinic to the left and the trail to Buscalan on the right.

It was a leisurely trek from Bugnay to Buscalan, with the views of Mt. Patukan (aka Sleeping Beauty) and the Chico river keeping us company. Francis entertained us with stories of the Kalinga culture and belted out to a few country songs for an added flair. We spotted several water falls on the mountain sides which I thought were probably nameless, so I took the liberty of naming the largest falls I saw as Ruby falls. No-brainer 'no?

By the time we walked along the rice terraces and saw people harvesting the grains, we knew we were nearing the village. It took us two hours to reach Buscalan, picture-taking and slacking included.

The moment we step foot on the other side of the fence, we were greeted by the people who were seating on the silong for some midday snacks. As it turned out, we were just in time to watch Fang-od and Grace tattooing 2 guests from Manila.

Imagine our astonished faces when we saw the art of traditional tattooing.

For a 92-year old woman, Fang-od has the eyes of a pilot. Her lines were straight and precise. First she draws the pattern using a stick dipped in a mixture of soot and water, then she takes a pomelo thorn, uses it like a nail, and starts hammering away.

Pomelo thorn transforms into a needle
Fang-Od hammering away

I came to Buscalan thinking that I was game enough to have myself inked, but seeing the blood dripping on the girl's arm and the dazed look on her face, I had to think twice. Did I mention that she already has several machine-made tattoos on her body? And despite of that she said that the traditional tattoo hurt even more? Her words were, "Parang injection ng maraming beses." Uh-oh. But I knew that if ever I was going to get myself a tattoo, it has to be really significant to me and it has to be made by someone like Fang-od. Never mind the pain.

The problem was: I tried my best to come up with something that means so much to me that I would actually want to put it in my body permanently, but unfortunately, I could not think of any. And so did my friends. You should have seen our designs of curly Qs and dots.

Francis was convincing us to get a small tattoo, but when he realized that not anyone from us is willing to have one, he quickly decided to have his Sleeping Beauty tattoo retouched! Not only that, he asked us to redraw his chest tattoo.

The retouch expert
Fang-od doing her magic on Francis

I don't think Francis will forget us, the group who actually made his Sleeping Beauty chest tattoo look like the mountain it was named after!

After the session, Fang-Od was still convincing us to get a tattoo so we girls could get married real soon. It would have been believable if Fang-od herself was married, but she never tied the knot. We joked that she must have not married because she had a hard time choosing. With her body covered in tattoos, she must have had men at her beck and call!

The best part of the trip? Staying at her house and spending the night with her family.

She does not speak Tagalog and Francis translated for us, but one look in her eyes and I could see a happy, wise woman with a hint of mischief. 😉 She is strong for a 92-year-old, walking around her house not needing any assistance from her family. She is the embodiment of aging gracefully. She might have the lines of her age showing on her face but no amount of anti-aging cream can give off the same glow.

Photos by Aaron Manila.

Silay City Walking Tour

Travelling on foot is still the best way to explore and move around a place, with the added benefit of toning your leg muscles while you're at it. It can be a guided tour, one with specific stops in mind, or just wandering aimlessly and seeing where your feet will take you.
When PTB came up with the Blog Carnival topic for this month, I thought of the best walking tours I had this year. Of course the Walk this Way Tour of Intramuros with Carlos Celdran was a contender but the Paris of Negros, again, won the battle.
You see, I'm a sucker for all things quaint.
Silay is a small, walkable city in Negros Occidental known for its ancestral houses and good food. Before heading off, I luckily found this convenient map on the internet. Thanks to Project 7107, planning for a walking tour in Silay was a breeze. 
Photo from Project7107

Here are the essentials for an enjoyable walking tour: An umbrella to protect you from the scorching sun or sudden rain, Google Maps for directionally challenged individuals like me, some loose change for buying drinks, and a satisfied tummy.

Since we were spending the night in Silay, our first stop was Hotel Baldevia, right in the heart of the town.

First Stop: Hotel Baldevia in Rizal cor. Burgos Sts. 

Staying in an old building like this never fails to liven up my imagination. The ghost stories safely tucked in the back of my mind slowly came out to the surface. The great thing about Hotel Baldevia though is that the place was clean and properly oiled, thus, there were no creaking stairs and doors. It's so easy to imagine things when I hear creaking noises.

Photo from Backpackboy
Right across Hotel Baldevia
It was after lunch when we reached Silay and in order to prepare ourselves for an afternoon stroll in the town, we headed off to El Ideal to stuff ourselves with some guapple pie goodness. On our way to Ledesma St., I noticed how every little nook in Silay exudes the vibe of the olden days. Surprisingly, the buildings are still fully functional.
An old-fashioned coffee shop and salon

Second Stop: El Ideal along Rizal St.

Perfect stop for a late lunch. I have read so many things about this bakery that has been serving good food since 1920s. Other things in the menu were forgettable but the guapple pie surely lived up to my expectations.

Ditch everything else but the guapple pie!
With full tummies, we slowly made our way to the Hofileña Ancestral House and saw some lovely old houses along Ledesma street. The houses, just like the old functional buildings in Rizal St., are all inhabited.

Third Stop: Ramon Hofileña Ancestral House along Cinco de Noviembre St. 

We rang the doorbell and met the most interesting man in Silay who graciously let us into his house, entertained us with glorious stories of the past, and gave  us a visual feast with the wide array of his painting collections. It was great to know that he was convincing other homeowners to open up their houses for a cultural tour of Silay.

We stayed for a couple of hours with Ramon and by the time we went back to the streets, it was late afternoon. We decided to visit one last ancestral home before we headed for some snacks.

Hofileña Ancestral House is located in 14 Cinco de Noviembre, Silay City.  Call (034) 495 4651 to set an appointment before visiting the house.   

Fourth Stop: Balay Negrense along Cinco de Noviembre St. 

Comparing Balay Negrense and Ramon's ancestral house, one can clearly see the difference between a house lovingly maintained by the owner and one managed by the government. Balay Negrense is almost bare save for some key pieces which were strategically positioned to make the place actually feel like a home. We should have heeded Ramon's advice and chose Jalandoni Ancestral House along Rizal St. instead.

The hot afternoon sun and the hours we spent walking around the town was enough for us to crave for cold drinks.

Last Stop: Cafe 1925 along Ledesma St.

Cafe 1925 maybe small but its colorful, funky interior made it a perfect place for winding down.

We finished the day's Silay City tour with an order of chocolate shake, mango sans rival, and a brownie ala mode.

In traveling, walking around is the best way to immerse yourself in the newness in front of you. Friedrich Nietzsche hit it spot on when he said: "All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking."

This is my entry for the PTB Blog Carnival for the month of October 2012, 
dubbed as "Memorable Walking Tour", 
hosted by Glenn Martinez of Traveler on Foot.

To view all the previous Carnival posts,click on the logo below.