There’s all sorts of videos out there about El Nido that range from the humdrum to the self-absorbed but there are a couple of gems that stand out. They manage to capture the spirit and expansive beauty of Palawan. Forget about the humans that grace the landscape, it’s the scenery that steals the show. Humans simply give scale and context.
I still get that ‘wow’ feeling when I think back to the time ‘the Chef’ and I were there. If you visit El Nido and open your heart and mind to the experience you just might end up feeling the same way.
‘crazy fireworks here @ new years’ (photo credit: Jessica C)
December 31, 2011, Calamba City. – ‘Ka-BOOM!’ ‘Hiss’ ‘Pop, Pop, Pop’ – We were in my father’s hometown. It was early in the evening but the fireworks had already started. My Tita stuffed peso bills in our pockets and ‘the Chef’ and I scooted outside. We did not want to miss this. The sky was clear and a breeze blew over my skin and funny enough I got goose bumps even though it was a tropical 27-28 degrees. We walked to the back of the house and climbed the stairs to the empty balcony of the building next door. I was surprised we were the only ones out there.
The Filipino Tradition (photo credit: Paolo Dala)
The city was spread out in front of us in an almost unobstructed 180 degree view. Puffs of white smoke slowly dissipated in the black sky, the smell of sulfur lingered in our nostrils. – ‘BANG!’ ‘Crackle’ ‘Whiz’ – Fireworks from everywhere big and small exploded against the night sky. We didn’t know what time it was but I kept thinking it was midnight because the fireworks built to what I thought was a crescendo but kept going and going until our senses were satiated by sound and light. I thought to myself, ‘This is freaking awesome!” Satisfied, we finally called it quits and went back into the house.
My cousin gleefully eating Balut!
The table was set with a New Year’s meal – a big bowl of steaming soup, a dense, circular slab of puto (steamed rice cake), a pyramid of balut (boiled, fertilized duck egg), and a bowl of filled with grapes, longans and oranges – mostly round foods that would bring good fortune for the new year. Everyone wished each other a happy new year and we dug into the food.
As our heads hit the pillow I could still hear the distant ‘pop, pop, pop’ of distant fireworks as I drifted into happy sleep.
If you want to experience what it’s like in Manila just click on the YouTube video above. The next day we left on a plane for Palawan and marvelled at the haze and sulfur smell that still hung over Manila in the morning aftermath of the big celebration.
Slowly our friends and family are beginning to take notice. Back in 2012 when we started talking about moving to the Philippines we got a lot of “let’s just humour them” nods. I think most thought it was just a novel idea that would pass like a highschool crush. Now as we get ready for our next visit to Palawan we get another type of look, the slightly surprised “Oh, they’re serious” look.
I don’t blame them. It’s a pretty big lifestyle change we’re proposing. We’ll be going from Executive Chef and Designer to organic farmers. We’ve already begun to simplify our lives and shift our way of thinking.
‘The Chef’s’ cousin and wife dropped by the other day and as we talked about our ideas for the farm they told us we had to watch this TEDxTalk.
The speaker, Jon Jandai, talks about his journey from the rice fields of northeastern Thailand to the big city of Bangkok and back again to the rice fields. He talks about his hardship in the pursuit of success. What he concludes is so simple but so provocative.
It reminds me of ‘the tourist and fisherman parable’ a story about how an enterprising tourist tells a local fisherman how to improve his life (you can read the story here). The only difference is Jandai’s story is real. To watch his talk just click on the video above.
The Philippines is known for exporting nurses, domestic help and hotel employees but did you know they also supply the world with Filipino musical talent – over 120,000 musicians working overseas on cruise ships, in bars and in nightclubs.
It’s no secret Filipinos love to sing and play music and they’re pretty good at it. Although some Filipinos play their own music they excel at playing songs of other artists. They have an inherent ability to listen to something and copy it extremely well. That’s their talent.
CNN International recently asked some top Filipino cover bands to list of some of the most requested songs, that frankly, they’re a little tired of playing. Here are the top 10.
Have you ever visited a place that felt so right, a place that spoke to your heart? Palawan is that place for “the Chef” and I. It has intrigued me since the first time I read and saw photos of it in a National Geographic Magazine. It looked exotic and lush and unspoiled. I had only been to Manila with my family on visits from Canada and we didn’t stray far from there. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is the Philippines?” I dreamt about going there.
Life kept getting in the way so it took many years but we finally made it there. We travelled to Palawan in January of 2012 and the trip was everything we thought it would be and more. This video really captures our Palawan experience.
I have done so much research and been asked so many questions about our trip to Palawan I’d like to share this info with others so that they may discover their own path of exploration and plan their own trip. I’ll be working on adding another section to this blog called ‘Palawan Travel Guide.’
Sometimes we tend to romanticize our dreams. How many people have wanted to play in a rock band, open up their own restaurant or bar or live on an island paradise? Sounds good doesn’t it? We can imagine ourselves living the dream lifestyle but seem to gloss over the hard work and realities of these dreams. Read more…