Not your typical Bakasyonista in Aklan

The thought of going back to my parents’ hometown AKLAN caused a stir in me for two things: I’m raring to embark on a new adventure and to get some inspiration for my stories and to have a breath of fresh air I’ve been dreaming for so long.

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Boracay Island is part of Malay municipality in Aklan province. Photo credit to Phillip Kimpo Jr.

Though been there several times, I only managed to go to Boracay Island and the province capital Kalibo. I was young and penniless back then and I just go along with my parents’ itinerary. But unforntunately staying at home to reconnect with their long lost relatives and childhood friends is their thing. (But what is a vacation after all if you will just stay at home) Our stay is also short-lived, the longest I can remember is just for five days because my parents work demands them to go back.

But everything is different now.

Before our trip, I spent sleepless nights searching for good places to visit in Aklan. I made a promise that this will be one of the best vacations of my life since money is not a problem! I will go to undiscovered places known only by the locals, indulge to a wonderful experience of motorcycle ride as I tour around the province, taste local cuisine and join in the dance parade of the very popular Ati-atihan festival.

I’ll write all my travel stories here.

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Tracing My Root: An Untold Story

He is known to some as a carefree man, a hardworking and dedicated person in workplace. He is a kind of friend that will stick closer than a brother. His friendly aura and amusing personality never fails to make his ‘kumpare’ and ‘amigo’ laugh with his silly jokes, witty retorts and funny stories but I was left wondering why I never heard him talk about his childhood. It was like a part of him that he just wanted to forget forever, a part of him that he just wanted to bury.

Going Back to Where it All Started

Going back to my parents’ hometown “Aklan” would perhaps feed my curiosity and answer my long been overdue questions of my father’s untold story, words that were supposed to be told long ago but were left unspoken.

His neighbors said that a bright and beautiful future awaits him before he was born. His father was a known politician and a rich haciendero in their barangay; his mother though didn’t study college and poor was a very attractive and fine looking woman. They were madly in love with each other and a night of passion brought forth my father’s existence. She got pregnant out of wedlock. But a twist of fate happened.

A Tale of Two Lovers

His father was also pregnant with another woman. A promise of forever was not only kept to one woman but to two. But only one has the right for his name and his heart. His father though loves her mother more based on hearsay married the other out of convenience and guilt because she threatened to kill herself. That made my father an illegitimate child.

Two lives set apart by a decision, a fate that was sealed and no one can alter. One living in abundance while other in scarcity and scrutiny. One is clothed with love and affection while the other lives under other people’s mercy and sympathy. One was raised in a good and positive environment while the other was early exposed in life’s harsh relity.  One has bright and secure future while the other is filled with uncertainty and fear. One has something he calls his home, while the other tries to rebuild what was deprived of him.

For his mother, seeing him is a dark past she didn’t want be revealed. The gloomiest chapter of her life she wished didn’t happen. He is an unwanted child, a mistake she shouldn’t have done.

For his father, perhaps a product of a night of passion with his so called “love of his life” but was soon forgotten. A responsibility he wanted to escape, a son he didn’t care about.

Not repeating the same mistake

He was a victim of his past, but he didn’t allow himself to be a prisoner of it. He married my mom and bore them three children two sons and one daughter (that’s me). Though was a product of broken family, he never, not even once mention about his dark past to his children (I know he has his own reasons why). He strived not to repeat the same mistakes and be a responsible father to us. We grew up in strict discipline and strong value for education. After years of hard work and wearisome labor we all graduated in Universities and got our own job.

Love found in someone else

He is love not by the people who supposed to be overjoyed by his birth but by his many friends and relatives. He is wanted not by the people who are the reason for his existence but by his neighbors and the strangers he met. He is value not by the people who gave him life but by us whose life we owe to him.

Everything happens f or a reason

I tried to imagine different scenarios. How could our lives changed if only his father married his mother and not other woman? He might have experienced a completely different life, far from the tough life he lived when he was young. Is there a chance that he would meet my mother? Would he feel the same way and ask his hand in marriage? If not, would we ever come into existence? Would I be alive right now? Well, my father said that everything is part of an intricate plan. If only one part was changed in his story, I wont be who I am right now. Truly, God has an amazing plan for each one of us long before we were born. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 29:11)”

A Good Name is Better than  Great Riches

I remembered when I was young my father used to tell me and my brothers that a good name is better than great riches. He instilled in our hearts that we should never put our family name to shame or do anything that would put it in disgrace. But surprisingly I learned that the family name we’re carrying right now was actually his mother’s maiden name and not his father’s name. Well, I guess it is written in my story that I am a born Feliciano and not Mersed.

My father’s dark past has already ended. Gone was the tears, heartache and rejection. It will just remain a story in the past, a part of history that happens for a reason. His new beginning has long been started.

P.S Its been awhile since I last updated my blog. Well, I’m enjoying my stay here in my parents’ hometown AKLAN and internet connection is not very stable. Watch out for my next post that would tell you more about this beautiful place.

When the feeling is gone..

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Is it really possible that a love so beautiful could end up so horrible? I remember what my mom told me when I was still a teenager that once the spark is gone in a relationship there must be something long lasting to take its place.

5 years ago I gave my heart to a man. I know what I felt at that time was real. It was true and pure. But slowly my love changed and diminishes with each passing day. The passion that had been so pervasive in the beginning gradually lessen. The excitement that each new day used to bring becomes just a dull routine. Slowly, I found myself falling out of love.

It’s not Him. Perhaps its me. My heart grew cold. A sheer of familiarity overwhelmed me, a slow growing apart make it even worse, bit by bit I’m taking him for granted. I became too preoccupied with so many things until I slowly found myself longing for other things and not Him.

What my mom said echoed through my ears. Perhaps it was the start. The ‘spark’ was gone, the ‘passion’ fades, my feelings vanished and my heart becomes numb. I asked myself so many times why it should end up this way? I didn’t  imagine that a love so beautiful could really end up so horrible. What I have is not a passionate relationship a wife has to her husband, neither  a romantic love of a girl to his long time boyfriend. Mine is a relationship with God.

I wondered where the spark has gone in our relationship? I was once on a spiritual high with all these spiritual endorphin shooting through my heart and mind, but after some time the high goes away. I felt weary spending time with Him. From a passionate and devoted follower to a lukewarm believer. It didn’t happened overnight. It was gradual, I didn’t wake up one day and just want to call it a quit. It’s the result of my day to day apathetic respond to God.

But I was won back by his perfect love, I was captivated by his relentless grace. His love is so unmoving and unwavering. He remains faithful, though I’m faithless. And most importantly He loves me anyway. If you found yourself on the same situation I once had. Here are the things that you can do to get back to that sweet spot in your relationship with God:

1. Spend time with Him

It doesn’t mean you know Him that you will stop seeking Him. Over familiarity kills any relationships. It is a disease of the heart and a dangerous spirit that must be avoided. The strongest battle is not fought outside but within. Don’t just act and look religious in public, but your attitude and respond to God is hostile and apathetic.

He doesn’t demand much from you. If you can finish a book in one sitting or check your Facebook or other social accounts from time to time. You can also set aside time daily to just be with Him to talk with Him and find out more about Him. Why not Give God what he deserves? “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty (Malachi 1:6)

2. Go back to where you started.

When you lost your way, just go back to where you came from and you will surely find your way. Being believer doesn’t mean that you don’t have any single doubt in your mind. Time will come that your faith will be tested. As Jesus was also tested in all points (Matthew 4:1-11) but he overcome because he has “it is written” imprinted in his heart.

Go back to where you started. Back in the day that you first fell in love with Him. You read His Word constantly, you were always talking to Him. You long for his Word.

3. Remind yourself of ‘WHY’

Going back at the foot of the cross will always remind you of your why. That was the first time I fell in love with Him. Not because of guilt but I was so overwhelmed that such ‘love’ can really exist. To this world that is so corrupt and lost He gave all He could give to show us the reason to live  A person unworthy as me, a sinner and hopeless was loved by God. That brought down me to my knees. After years of just existing, I finally found the reason to live.

4. Protect you relationship

The thief comes only to steal, to kill and destroy (John 10:10). Fight a good fight of faith.  Just like how we find special ways to maintain and protect relationships with important people in our lives, we need to be purposeful in protecting our relationship with God. Let no one separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

5. Ask for a new heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26). We’re the ones whose hearts stray which is why we must continually recommit ourselves to the relationship. We must continually keep repenting of our straying hearts and go back to the God we first loved.

My Adventure in Mt. Balagbag

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It was love at first climb. I didn’t know that climbing a mountain could be so thrilling, captivating and awe-inspiring not until I had my first climb in the Mountain of Gethsemane years ago. Since then, I always find myself dreaming to be on mountain top again, I missed the gentle touch of the wind as it caresses my skin, the deafening sound of silence while I’m savoring few hours of freedom and solitude.

Two days before New Year kicks in, I decided to climb Mt. Balagbag. I just wanted to be far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, to have some quiet time to clear my mind, to reflect and to think about the year that is about to end so I can start 2016 fresh and new without any excess and unwanted baggage.

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Enjoying my quiet time while admiring the captivating view on top.

For a beginner like me, Mt. Balagbag is the best option to start off. They say it’s the easiest trail that one can try before trying out other mountains that require expert mountain climbing skills because its trail is wide and long. But my journey going up was not that easy for the road is a bit steep and rocky (things are really easier said than done).

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Just keep on going! Difficult road often leads to beautiful destination.

Mt. Balagbag becomes a haven for many mountain bikers because of its trail.  It is also a popular hiking destination favored for its proximity to Metro Manila since its only located in Rodriguez Rizal.

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Enjoying my journey. It’s long and tiring but everything will be worth it when I reach the top.

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Expect the unexpected. Although it had a forested past. Mt Balagbag has now deforested area.

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The shade of this small, lone tree became my temporary refuge from the scorching sun

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Every cloud has a silver lining. I’m almost there!

The peak of the mountain is a plus factor why many mountain bikers are attracted to go there. At the peak of the mountain is where the “helipad” can be seen. A helipad at the peak of a mountain is literally like a helipad where helos can easily land.

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The Helipad. The gigantic stage on the summit!

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I conquered Mt. Balagbag! Kudos to me! But the dark clouds that cover the sky are not so welcoming!

Being part of the Sierra Madre range, Mt. Balagbag stands in the middle of Central and Southern Luzon and boasts a summit that offers a spectacular view of different horizons: From Malabon stretching to Manila and Makati’s cityline and extending as far as Parañaque and Baywalk.

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The view is just simply breathtaking

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Overlooking the city!

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Mountains are everywhere! Sierra Mader, Mt. Arayat, Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Tagapo, Mt. Maranat

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I’m on top of the world!

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Yours truly and my brother who made this climb possible and the man behind all my pictures.

After enjoying the breathtaking view, sweet serenity and moment of tranquility all good things must come to an end, my adventure here must also end. I wasn’t able to explore the whole place more because I need to go back home for I have piles of work waiting for me. I’m looking forward to go back to this place to stay overnight and enjoy star gazing and discover the hidden beauty of Mt. Maranat and the other neighboring mountains.

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Going back to where it all started. I’m going home!

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Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, keep nothing but memories.

What other things to do here?

Mt. Balagbag doesn’t only boast its beautiful mountain range but also its waterfalls and rivers that pave way for the possibility to traverse to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan or other barangays of Rodriguez, Rizal. You also have an option to stay overnight to see the dazzling city lights, the millions of stars the light up the sky at night, wait for shooting stars, and witness the great view during sunset and sunrise.

How to get there?
Ride a bus bound to SM Fairview Tungko then alight at Jollibee Tungko. At the back of BDO bank in Tungko, there is a jeepney terminal going to Licao-Licao; ride that jeep to Licao-Licao. From Licao-Licao, you may start your trek up to the summit or you may wish to ride tricycle going to the registration area which is actually a 30-minute walk from Licao-Licao.

Registration/Others
First Registration Fee: Php 10.00
Second Registration Fee: Php 20.00
Tour Guide: 400-500 pesos (but not required)

Thanks for reading! Follow me to keep updated of my next adventure!

 

Writing is Sharing

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I often hear people say “A Writer is a Reader”. Well, I guess for me, it’s the other way around “A Reader is a Writer”. If you’re a reader you can’t stop yourself from sharing the wisdom you received from books you read so writing is an avenue to let it flow. That’s why every writer’s dream is to write a book so they can share their expertise to greater public.

Writing is sharing. You don’t want to hoard the information and ideas to yourself so you just wanted to share it. I remembered the story about Dead Sea, a sea where life does not exist. Why? Because the sea just keeps everything, shares nothing and it has no outlet. Every drop it gets, it keeps. That’s why it becomes DEAD. Read the full story here.

From the abundance of your heart you can create a masterpiece. You can only write what you hold in your heart to be true, from the deepest thoughts of your mind lies what your hand can create. From the quietness of your soul you can bring words into life.

For several years, I stopped writing, I just keep my ideas in me, I concealed my thoughts and I didn’t let my voice be heard because the pain of rejection becomes greater than joy writing brings me. I didn’t have courage to face failures, disappointments, defeat and distress so instead I play it safe. But it’s really true, that you will always be where you really meant to be and you will always be what you’re created to be. Read the full story here.

Everyone can be a writer because everyone can share but not everyone can be great writer. Because to be great requires a higher level of passion, training and experiences.

I realized to know the reason why you write is more important than the thought that you can write.

Follow me as I share valuable lesson from books, real life experiences, travels, and the wisdom from the Bible I acquired through the years.

SUNDAY’S BEST: Three Reasons Why I love Sunday!

It’s my most awaited day of the week. Like a kid so happy in the candy store. Like a teenager so excited to see the boy he likes. I guess, I’m more than that. It’s my most awaited day not because it’s a holiday, but my HOLYDAY.  Check out the three reasons why I love Sunday:

  1. I love to be in the House of God

Every Sunday I always have a choice to work and earn more money, stay at home (to sleep, watch TV, or just relax), go to the mall or go to Church but I always choose to be in the house of God. It’s non negotiable for me. The value of be in the House of God is priceless. I would never exchange it for anything in the world! I love to be in House of God because its my home.

one thingOne thing I ask from the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. –Psalm 27:4

 

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Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. –Psalm 84:10

 

2. I love to be with God’s people!

As iron sharpens iron we sharpen one another. I always love to be with these great women of God, more than just pretty face they have big heart for people. They are selfless, compassionate and have the heart to serve. Coming from different walks of life, we come together as one to establish God’s kingdom here on earth. This is our time, we will make an impact to this generation!

3. I love listening to the Word of God

“Faith comes from hearing and hearing the word of God and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” -Romans 10:17

I’m so blessed that God planted me in Doulos for Christ, my dearest Church. God’s presence and anointing is evident to the life of my leaders.  They don’t just speak empty words, they speak life, faith and they speak the truth. They always teach us to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to also love other people in the same way that we want to be loved. They practice what they preach. Their family is a model to this nation. They are God’s instrument to save the lost. They are the epitome of love, humility and servanthood. They serve people tirelessly and they love them unconditionally. They gave their lives, their time and their service not for selfish gain but for others so that more and more people will come to know the Lord. I’m proud to say that I’m a product of their faithfulness to God. I love my leaders!

 

P.S. I will share all the preaching I have learned in this blog. You can check them out in my Sunday’s Best Category. Follow me to keep updated. God bless and happy Sunday!

 

How to Experience Upgrade this 2016

People all over the world welcomed New Year with parties and awesome celebrations with dazzling fireworks that colored and lighted up the sky, fun-filled music, fantastic performance and impressive light shows and wonderful celebrations across many time zones.

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Everyone wants to end the year right and start fresh and new! As the clock tick twelve, everyone was in great joy as it marks a new beginning for all of us. New Year is indeed all about looking forward, and celebrating all the good times yet to come! Gone with the old and in with the new! With hopes and optimism in each man’s heart is the aspiration of bright and beautiful year ahead. All desire for a bountiful and wonderful 2016. And who doesn’t want to make 2016 the best year ever?

It was a magical and enchanting night but all good things must come to an end. We are now a normal person again. Back to our work, regular routine, and to the life we used to live. It’s now time to make our resolutions happened, and start writing a new chapter of our life for 2016 and make it the best year ever filled with promotion, upgrade and best things. Our new beginning is now beginning. Let me share you some helpful tips to experience upgrade this 2016:

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  1. Forget the Past

Forget the past and forget what is behind. Leave behind all your failures and your success (Yes! Including your success because it will make you conceited and complacent). Just bring with you all the lessons and principles that those experiences have taught you. Have teachable and humble heart, alert and open mind and quenching spirit to embrace what lies ahead to experience upgrade.

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2. Strain Towards What is Ahead

It requires Vision to see what is ahead. Make your Vision clear and tangible. Going to the next level requires action, desiring growth demands hard work, experiencing upgrade calls for consistency. Eliminate all excuses, you are not meant to be stagnant. In your greatest burden comes your greatest potential. There’s no growth and promotion in comfort. In life, you wont get what you want, you will get what you deserve.

3. Press on Towards the Goal

We all made resolutions and goals before the New Year kicks off, we enthusiastically planned and list down our target for our new beginning. Well, our new beginning is now beginning. It’s time to put those goals into action.  Planning is  just the first step. Difficulties and problems may arise during the process but its just normal. Just keep on doing it. I know you have your own reason why you want to do it.  Difficult road often leads to beautiful destination so just keep on pushing. You have 365 days to upgrade your life.

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Thanks for reading! Have an awesome and blessed year! Cheers to 2016!

Disclaimer: Pictures are not mine. Credit to the owner.