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Night’s Muse

I’ve always loved the moon. There’s something so hauntingly beautiful about it as it becomes the bearer of light at night.

As a child, I even wished on a full moon. I also wrote many poems about it. At some point, I used Luna, which is Spanish for moon as part of my forum name.

It’s been so long since I saw a full moon, so I consider myself lucky to chance upon this when I stepped out for dinner.

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Since we had dinner by the beachfront, I was able to see tonight’s full moon up close.

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Isn’t it mesmerizing to look at a full moon casting its reflection?  It almost made me wish.  At the same time, it made me remember someone and ponder about something…

Photos taken at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

Singapore: Sentosa

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Sentosa is Singapore’s most popular island resort whose attractions include a man-made beach, golf courses, and of course, Universal Studios Singapore.  I had been here once, but unfortunately had to go back since all my photos from my 2007 trip went down the drain when my first laptop bugged down.

Getting Here

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I took the MRT in getting here and alighted at the HarbourFront Station.  From there, I transferred to Sentosa Express, which is located at the 3rd level of VivoCity.  Click HERE for the complete guide on getting to and around Sentosa.

My first stop was at the beachfront where these signs amused me.

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Lining the beachfront are some restaurants and because my tummy was already grumbling, decided to take brunch.

Brunch at Coastes
I found this restaurant inviting because of its laid-back ambience and proximity to the beach.

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I ordered French Toast ($14) and ever the dessert person, added Banofee Tart ($8) to my meal.

While waiting for my food, I took in the view of the beach and found this bird hopping from one table to another while looking for food.

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I couldn’t be sure, but this may be a blackbird.

Service was a little slow and from my beachfront seat, had to go the counter/cashier to follow up on my order.  When my food finally arrived, I happily dug in.  Though described in their menu as French bread coated in egg, served with crispy bacon, maple syrup and sunny side up egg, the bacon wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked and the egg was too well-done it tasted rubbery.

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Banofee Tart had a thumbs-up and a chef’s toque signs on the menu, but I found it disappointing despite its being highly recommended.  The crust/pastry tasted plain and the chocolate was too dark for my taste and too compact.  Their description was also misleading.  It says, “Caramelized banana and toffee served in sweet pastry,” but the bananas were not caramelized but fresh.

Good thing there was the view to compensate for my disappointing food.

Siloso Beach
This lies on the west portion of Sentosa and is known for its iconic Siloso signage as seen on the first photo of this post.

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It is a venue for beach volleyball and other outdoor activities like skim boarding, mountain biking, and canoeing.

Honestly, I found the beach too man-made, though it’s now bigger compared to what I saw in 2007.

Merlion Statue

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This is a replica of Singapore’s Merlion.  The lion depicts the folklore of Prince Sang Nila Utama’s rediscovery of lion (singa) and city (pura) while the fish tail symbolizes the ancient fishing village of Temasek, meaning sea in Javanese.

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At 37 meters, the Merlion in Sentosa is bigger than the one found in Merlion Park.

There’s a stretch of colorful stretch of fountains when I climbed up the Merlion and walked along the Merlion Walk.

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Images of Singapore

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This features Singapore’s history as told in multimedia displays, multi-screen theater presentations and life-sized tableaus.  As I was pressed for time, I did not get to linger here.

Sentosa Nature Discovery
This features interactive exhibits.  I did not see this in 2007 so I got curious but what I found here was something that will appeal to children, not adults like me.

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Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom

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I love butterflies and because I have fond memories of my previous visit here, I decided to come back.  There were more butterflies now than before.

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It’s difficult to photograph most of them though, since they kept on fluttering their wings.

These blue and green butterflies were the most active and elusive.  At the slightest movement, they would fly away thus the blurry shots of their wings.

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I don’t know what this is called, but it seemed the butterflies especially these orange and black species were especially attracted to it.

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On this particular visit, one memorable experience for me was of holding this butterfly.

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Compared to other species who would take flight at the slightest movement, this one settled on my fingers for quite sometime.

Aside from butterflies, there were birds too.

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I was actually wondering why there was a toucan and a hornbill in the Butterfly and Insect Kingdom.  Perhaps it was to further entertain their visitors since they even had this macaw that could perform tricks.

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This blue bird fascinated me so much so I kept on following it.  As I write this post, I googled Blue Bird with Crown and identified this as a Victoria Crowned Pigeon.

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Some birds were perched high on tree branches so I just contented myself with taking zoomed-in shots of them.

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There was an Indian Star Tortoise too and an Iguana.  Some would even pet the iguana and have their pictures taken while they did so.
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To get to the exit, I had to pass by their creepy crawlies section.  I don’t remember these many live creepy crawlies from my past visit so these must be new additions.

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Scorpions, tarantulas, stick insects… there were many of them.

My most interesting find here is the Flower Mantis because it looked so dainty.

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Aside from live insects and whatnot, there were framed insects and butterflies too.

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After I exited the Butterfly and Insect Kingdom, I chanced on this beautiful peacock.  I once saw a peacock in Palawan, but it was caged, so it was nice to see this beautiful creature freely roaming Sentosa.

PhotoGrid_1416918693520Too bad it did not spread its fan despite the prodding of its eager audience.

I wanted to explore more and even ride the Tiger Sky to get a panoramic view of Sentosa, but it was closed because it rained.  Sigh.

Here are some random photos taken at Sentosa.

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As it was already 5 PM and I had to meet a friend and 7 PM, I had to leave Sentosa.  By this time, it was raining so hard.  Here’s a photo of my view when I rode the cable car back to Vivo City.

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I’ll end this post with photos of interesting flora that I found in Sentosa.

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I did my best to google their names but can only identify the palm tree with red fruits (center upper photo) and the Bengal Trumpet (lower right photo).

Lastly, here is my favorite photo from this set.

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My apologies, since I could not identify either the butterfly or the plant that it’s in.

PS:  There are more attractions to explore in Sentosa than what I covered on this blog.  Since this was my second visit, I chose only those that I liked to re-visit.  That and the fact that it rained, which kept me from discovering more of the place.  Also, I specifically skipped some attractions and even Universal Studios since when I went to the US, I already visited the Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Relief Operations in Daanbantayan, Cebu

Pardon the long hiatus.  So much has happened over the past weeks and I got busy volunteering to help the victims of super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

November 11, 2013. Over lunch, my friends and I discussed how Yolanda wreaked havoc in Visayas and claimed many lives.  Moved, we decided to help in our own little way by pooling some money and giving out some relief packs to our kababayans.

We did not want to just buy the goods then deliver them to government agencies, NGOs or private companies for packing/distribution.  We wanted to give them out ourselves to ensure that the truly needy gets it.  But since we received reports of some desperate people ransacking relief aid vehicles, we decided to join C.A.’s church group who had with them NGO volunteers and military/police escorts.

November 12-13, 2013.  On these days, some of our friends who are not here in Cebu learned of our cause and decided to help us by sending money so we can reach out to more families.  I was touched and at the same time, proud of them.  It gave me hope too because I realized that in today’s world of I-me-myself-and-mine, people still care.

November 14, 2013.  My friends and I shopped for the contents of our relief packs.  We decided to include rice, canned goods, noodles, 2 liter bottled water, milk, medicines, biscuits, soap, and matches per pack.  We also agreed to bring bread (picked up on the day itself to ensure freshness) so that they have something ready to eat.

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We spent an evening packing them.  Initially, we only had 75 packs, but this increased to 125 when more people pledged their help in the following days.

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November 17, 2013.  C.A. picked me up at 4:00 AM so we can proceed to our meeting place.  I was pleasantly surprised to see volunteers (easily recognizable by their Tabang Sugbo shirts) crowd McDonald’s Mandaue.  We were all looking bleary-eyed but inspired.

A little past 5:30 AM, we headed to Northern Cebu.  When we reached Sogod, we saw for ourselves children lined up on the road with signs asking for help though Yolanda’s damage was yet to be seen.  We did not stop for them though since one modus operandi that we were told of involved children on the road asking for help but when the car stopped, the adults would appear to hijack the relief goods.

Yolanda’s wrath and its effects started becoming prominent when we reached Bogo.  We passed by houses that were either totally demolished or broken.  Most were roofless.  Trees were uprooted and a couple of electrical posts were down.

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We reached Daanbantayan at a little past 10:00 AM.  C.A.’s church was right in front of Daanbantayan National High School.  The building where their church was was also roofless.  So was the school and other buildings in the area.

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We distributed the bread while waiting for church service.

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Some random, stolen shots:

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Afterwards, we had lunch.  We then distributed the relief packs.

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And then decided to go to a barrio where the locals said the damage was severe and people were not yet given aid.

While there, we saw for ourselves how the super typhoon flattened houses made of light materials and rendered some people homeless.  It was heartbreaking.

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When the last relief pack was given, we decided to head home, but we promised to ourselves that we will be back.  Soon.

PS: I wrote this post for documentation purposes.  Thank you to those who helped our cause. You know who you are. God bless your good hearts.

Oh how many times can a heart break :(

October 15, 2013.  It’s my mom’s birthday.  I just woke up and was about to call and greet her when the earth shook.  It was the longest, hardest, and most terrifying earthquake of my life.  Thankfully, I and my loved ones were okay.  But my heart bled for those who were affected, especially for the people of Bohol who were hit the hardest by that day’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake.  

In the succeeding days, we had to endure thousands of aftershock.   The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported over 3,000 aftershocks.  Two hundred twenty-two (222) people were reported dead, 8 were missing, and 976 were injured.  Seventy-three thousand (73,000) structures were damaged or destroyed.

November 04, 2013.  A tornado hit Cebu province’s Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue cities.  I was in Aklan when this happened and found out the following day.  I immediately asked my Cebu-based friends how they’re doing and thankfully, everyone was fine.  But we couldn’t help but shiver at the thought of one of our hangouts (Park Mall) being struck, given that our favorite spot there was outdoors and that the St. James amusement park right in front of our usual table was damaged.

November 08, 2013Super typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda), dubbed one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, struck the Philippines.  I was already back in Cebu when it struck.  I stayed indoors while it was wreaking havoc, but I could still hear the howling wind.  When I went out for lunch, the strong winds hammered my umbrella and I swayed as I fought control over it.  It was that strong, and this was already when it was at its weakest!

Back home in Aklan, my loved ones experienced the same thing.  I was really thankful that my brothers were home when this happened as it meant they were there to take care of mommy.

The aftermath.  Again, thank heavens that I and my loved ones are safe and well.  Our ancestral house sustained minimal damage (a piece of sun roof was blown away and a neighbor’s star apple tree fell and struck our kitchen), but as I was telling a friend whose kitchen was destroyed and rendered roofless, we have to look at the greatest gift of all during this hard times: we’re alive.  We can rebuild our houses, but we cannot bring back a lost life.

Which is why what happened in Tacloban, northern Cebu, some parts of Aklan and Iloilo, etc., – the areas that were hit the hardest by Typhoon Yolanda – brought me to tears and to my knees.  I cried at seeing the devastation, at the news of people going hungry, even crazy with grief…

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It was reported that as many as 10,000 are feared dead, and I can only hope that this figure will become an erroneous estimate…   

As of this writing, some of my friends and colleagues are still looking for their loved ones, whom they haven’t heard from since the tragedy struck on Friday…   

While I believe in the resilience of the Filipino spirit and appreciate the thoughts and prayers, I also believe that WE MUST DO SOMETHING to help the victims and their loved ones.  Social News Network Rappler has laid out the many ways that we can be of help.  Please click on this link: #ReliefPH

Please help.  Our kababayans need us.

Palawan Cherry

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It’s Cherry Blossom season in Japan right now but few people know that here in the Philippines, we have our own Palawan Cherry that looks so much like Cherry Blossoms.  Most Filipinos are also unaware of this because when I posted this in my Facebook page, my friends thought it was taken in Japan.  I admit that I too did not know about us having such a beautiful tree until I saw the tree in full bloom here at Plantation Bay.

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And the flowers look even more beautiful up close.

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I was so mesmerized that I did some research and thankfully came across this site where I finally confirmed its name.  Further, I learned that Palawan Cherry or Cassia nodosa is a species that is native to the island of Java, in Indonesia.  As observed, this too blooms only during summer.

Here are vivid shots of these lovely blossoms, with the edges blurred.

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Aren’t they so dainty and pretty?

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