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#Retreat2017: Day 1

As what Maya Angelou said, “each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” And for us, we didn’t only have a day, but three!

Last November 8th to 10th, we had a retreat at Caleruega Philippines, in Nasugbu, Batangas. It is a 3-day disconnection from the real world and reconnection to our friends and foes through allowing the dominance of our vulnerability and dormancy of our negative judgments towards each other. There was also a spiritual empowerment and a pause to see a bigger picture of our past decisions.

Our estimated departure time was 11 AM– but me being so excited about this I wasn’t even able to sleep— I arrived in UST at around 9:30 AM.  It was very sunny, it was almost difficult to walk around UST to get some last-minute *~retreat letters~*. Before we board the bus we had lunch at Jollibee Asturias first because we will no longer be having any stopover for lunch.

At around 11 AM, we started traveling to Nasugbu, Batangas. We traveled for roughly 3 hours, but I was never able to sit down because I  was very busy taking pictures, distributing retreat letters, asking payments for the mass offerings, and singing in the karaoke as well! In fact, I felt really honored to be a dispatcher– I even realized that I could be a good surfer because of my talent in balancing in a moving bus in a zigzag highway!

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At 2:30 PM we arrived in Caleruega Philippines and upon entering, I automatically felt bliss because this place has been my jar of good memories. And I am very excited to make new memories with new people in the same place.

When we arrived we were just oriented about the house rules and then they gave us the room assignments and we went to our room to fix our things. I was also tasked to become the bell ringer and key holder.

I was excited about our rooms this time because when I had a retreat 5 years ago in this place, we were in a room good for 4-8 people with one bathroom. But now, almost 30 girls are in a very big room in Catalina Hall with almost 40 bunk beds and there is also a huge bathroom that sheltered around 10 toilet and 10 shower cubicles.

It just made our experience way better because it felt like we were in a ladies’ dormitory and we don’t need to knock on someone’s door because we can just go barge into their beds.

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At 3:00 PM we had our snack: Spaghetti.

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While waiting for our first session we decided to take pictures first. Hoping to find a picture that is decent enough for a profile picture for the Social Media accounts. lol

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At around 4:15 PM we had our first session with Fr. Rafael “Pop” Lusuergo, OP. When we arrived in the Gazekubo there were envelopes with papers on our chair, and then after some talk, he told us to make an emblem describing ourselves, plot our life graph of happiness, and he also asked us to design the envelope where people can put the encouraging/kind notes and then we placed it on the panel board.

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Conceptualizing the emblem, writing and coloring them– I really found them therapeutic. I was really having fun and I was putting enough effort on them.

Although I know it’s not really noticeable because I am not very good at these forms of art.

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At around 6:30 PM we already had our dinner. Then, we took pictures and had some free time to read our retreat letters.

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Our last session started at 7:30 PM and it was more of a sharing. In fact, I felt like I am the retreat master because I was the one facilitating the sharing! So many dream jobs getting unlocked today! 

We formed a big circle, and we shared the reason why our emblem was designed that way and the story behind our life graph of happiness. We finished this until 12 midnight, and it was just relaxing because we were all just letting our emotions take over us, exhausting all the negativities that we have been concealing. We were very vulnerable and it’s just so beautiful how we are able to see the genuineness of each other because we are sincere with how we really feel.

The lights out was supposed to be at 11 PM but we were informed that it’s not really followed so we can just go on and finish the sharing. It was almost midnight when we were able to finish.

We finished with a group hug and a prayer, then we went back to our room (Catalina Hall) and we started preparing for sleep. But of course, no one slept until 2 AM.

Like me.

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National Library of Singapore

When I went to Singapore, part of my itinerary was to visit Libraries to satisfy my proactive soul and look for a possible undergraduate thesis topic. My goal was to even visit all, however, that would be far-fetched because aside from there are a lot of libraries, most of the libraries I’ve seen on the list are for children! Just imagine looking for a hardcore Linguistic book, and finding a colorful book of Red Riding Hood, instead?

Among the libraries I visited are Sports Hub Library, Toa Payoh Library, and National Library, but it was the National Library that enticed me to return several times– which led me to not visiting other anymore because I found the one.

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I can still remember the exact moment I visited this library the first time. I was shrinking, I wanted to know if I have to pay anything to get in. But I was alone, and I just felt so diffident just by looking at the lady at the information desk. She looked strict, reserved, and intimidating, like those nuns administering convents for young ladies– and then only God knows how my imagination led to an entire soap opera

I circled around the exhibit in the lobby, and honestly, I was already thinking about aborting my mission.

I wanted to go back to my comfort zone.

I wanted to go home.

But I reminded myself that I have no time to be hesitant because I’ve traveled so far, and it is embarrassing to fail at something just because I was shy. Myself, my family, my mom, my ancestors, my countrymen– they will all not be happy if I go home– just because I was shy.

So I took a deep breath and approached the lady. She politely smiled at me, and under my shaking smile I asked, “Hi, I am a tourist and I want to enter the library, do I have to pay anything?” She smiled more and then she shook her head, “No no, you can just go in, sit, and read.” She even swayed her hand, gesturing me to go in. So, I said thanks, and I went in.

And after that, I returned to the National Library several times, and I started smiling and greeting uncles around the place.

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National Library of Singapore, is also called Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. It occupies the 5th and 7th-13th levels of the National Library Building, at the Victoria Street, Singapore. It is located near Bras Basah Complex and Bugis. They are open Monday-Sunday from 10am-9pm (except on Public Holidays).

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But for me, I usually stayed at the 8th level because that is where the Social Science and Humanities Collection. In this section, I was able to find a lot of books in all the fields of Linguistics. They have such a huge collection and their books were really kept well. I was even fascinated to find books that are part of the references of the books I’ve read in the Philippines. I don’t know if I am normal but I felt like I am seeing a celebrity in person when I touched their books!

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The staffs are also very diligent in their jobs. They have a table on the sides, wherein they will ask you to put the books after you use it, instead of inserting it in any bookshelves. The staffs really make sure that that table will always be free of any books because they put it in their rightful places right away.

Although in using the Online Catalogues, it was quite stupid-eating because it’s different from what we have in the Philippines. In their catalog, if you search for one book they will all give you results even from other libraries. And the call card number is different, I don’t know how to use it. Seriously.

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They also have a cafe outside the library but I wasn’t able to check it out and eat there. But they always have a lot of clients, so I think the food there tastes good.

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With the rise of the internet, research, and the import/export of books, information has been at the tip of our thumbs. Thus, I don’t believe that ignorance is bliss. It was never, and will never be. At this age of technology, it is embarrassing to still be ignorant.

As anyone has noticed in the facade, facilities, and books at the National Library of Singapore, everyone will agree that it is a modernized library, and being a modernize library actually helped enticing more students, tourists, and people in general, to visit and spend time at the library.

That’s why I do hope that the Philippines would invest in these kinds of establishments. To encourage more students to study and to be able to entice more researchers in the country. Filipinos are already intelligent people, we just need more venue to hone our talents.

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Gardens by the Bay

Almost 3 years ago, just hours before we return to the Philippines, we visited Gardens by the Bay and watched the Supertree Grove‘s lights gracefully twinkle with the lullaby.

But this time, we went to 2 conservatories, which are the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.

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We first visited the Flower Dome, it is a conservatory housing different kinds of flowers and trees from different parts of the world. Although it was raining outside, I noticed that when we entered the conservatory, the temperature suddenly dropped in accordance to the needed temperature of the plants.

According to their website, Flower Dome was hailed by the 2015 Guinness World of Records as the largest columnless greenhouse in the world! It replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California, and parts of Spain and Italy.

While roaming around I found these unique-looking flowers. I am not sure if there are flowers like these in the Philippines or even those that are a little alike. But whatever, I like these flowers!

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After finishing wandering around the Flower Dome, we entered the Cloud Forest. As much as according to their website it has the same indoor temperature with the Flower Dome, I found it colder because of the water spritzing from the gigantic falls. Looking at the multileveled edifice behind the falls, I found myself cringing because it looked like a submerged ship covered with mosses– and I have Thalassophobia, so looking at this “submerged ship,” I am having thoughts about sharks and other only-in-Marianas-Trench-found creatures are dangling between the leaves. oh my god

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Basically, there is not much attraction in this conservatory aside from the gigantic waterfall and the abundance of green leaves masking the edifice holding the waterfall.

But there are these lego-constructed flowers.

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And they also boast the bridges that will make your legs wobble because the paths are not a hundred percent covered. So, the edges near the railings are transparent and you’ll see ant-sized heads below. To add more to that horror, once people are running, hopping, or jumping you’ll feel the bridge vibrate like your phone vibrating when the grim reaper is calling to pick you up.

Gardens by the Bay occupies such a huge area so it will be tiring to walk here and there. But worry no more, they expected tiresome (and/or lazy) tourists, so they offer unlimited shuttle services. For only SGD3, you will have an unlimited access to their shuttle that will transit you from the conservatories to the ticketing office/main entrance. For everyone’s information, the nearest MRT is Bayfront, and it’s accessible near the main entrance.

So there you have it if you want to visit Gardens by the Bay, please buy your tickets on their website.

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Villa Prescilla Resort (Novaliches)

I have blest my first weekend of “Ber” months with an overnight at Villa Prescilla Resort. Is this a premonition of how I am going to spend most of my ber-months-weekends? Hope not, or else my mother will chop my legs for being so lakwatsera (like Dora the Explorer). lol

Last September 3, Reina (a highschool closest friend), invited me to her debut at the Villa Prescilla Resort in Novaliches. It wasn’t really part of the plan to stay overnight, but since I don’t want to go home at dawn (since it’s not safe), my mom allowed me to stay overnight. Besides, she knows Reina. (#1 proven and tested trick for your parents to allow you stay overnight, let them know your friends.)

I’m already aware of this kind of resort that you can find somewhere near Manila that has an event place, swimming pool, and amenities that people will really enjoy! And it’s really advisable for big family reunions! Villa Prescilla resort is located on a decent subdivision of Forest Hills in Novaliches. It’s not also difficult to find because Waze knows where it is.

For the event place, it is not an air-conditioned function hall but it has high ceilings and electric fans that sprinkle mists. It also has huge columns and beams so the air from the outside goes in the function hall. The space is also big enough for 8-10 tables. So it’s not really that warm.

For the swimming pool, they have 2 pools: 1 for the kids, 1 for the adults. I wasn’t able to go swimming because they swam after the party and that’s like after midnight. And, I don’t want to be cold and have colds. lol But as I have observed the adult pool was deep in the middle.

For the bedroom, the one we stayed at has 2 single beds and it also has bathroom inside. The beds are cozy enough, the aircon is working well, the TV has good reception, but the bathroom’s shower is not working well. I think it would’ve been better to take a bath at the swimming pool than to wait for the light rain showers.

Downstairs, there is a room with living room, kitchen, dining, and another bedroom. There, they have a karaoke and the sound system passed the quality control. Although the remote was not working so we cannot reserve songs and we have to wait for the song to end before we encode the numbers for the song we want to sing next. The other mic is not also working.

Okay, so the party started at around 7pm. Merry and I, went to the photo booth first. Update: I lost the hard copy. As far as I remember I inserted it in one of the pages of my ring-bound-readings but I cannot find it anymore! 😦 But life must go on, same with this post so I cannot break down now and cry. I have to continue writing.

The party started with a prayer, the debutante’s entrance, and then dinner! The catering was terrific! I’ve read on the website of Villa Prescilla Resort that they have catering service, although I am not sure if my friend got the catering service from them. But, if ever we’ll be going to a family reunion at Villa Prescilla Resort I swear that is the catering service that I will really get!

Before the 18 candles started and our tears add to the depth of the swimming pool. I was once again asked to sing, and I ended up singing my Tawag ng Tanghalan piece which is Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain.” And I must say that it is really difficult to sing when your stomach is full! Cannot even breathe properly.

The program proper ended after the 18 candles, and she didn’t have all the 18’s so it didn’t really take too much time. She only had 18 roses, 18 candles, and blew her candles. Then, rave!! But despite finishing at around 11-12 midnight, I still went to sleep at 3am! #TonightWithMerryVitug. Love you too Merry! Thank you for keeping up with my kaartehans and whims.

Reina being Reina

This is Reina. Reina Nakamura. Or sometimes we call her Queen Savemore. (I supposed you understand how it happened. lol) I met her when I was 3rd-year high school, and she’s also an August baby. When I first met her I thought she has a dual personality, because she acts so opinionated in class but very frantic when she’s with her friends. But later on, I realized that it was just her. Her true self. She can be competitive yet lie low with her friends. There’s nothing wrong with that because that’s her. Years from now, I hope we’ll still be in touch with each other because she inspires me to be more independent and smart with my choices. I love this girl. ughh

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But of course, despite the fact that I am at an overnight/party. I still have to #prioritize. So, I brought my readings with me– a shortened version of Iliad for my Literature class.

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So yeah, here’s me kissing you thanks for reading my mini adventure!

For more inquiries about Villa Prescilla Resort head into their websites!

http://www.villaprescilla.org/index.php

https://www.facebook.com/villaprescillaresort/