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Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

(Desiderata by Max Ehrmann)

Love is a many splendored thing, as the famous song and movie goes. Love makes the world go round, as simple as this phrase but it did mean a lot. The dictionary defines love as either a noun or a verb. The noun definition defines it as an intense feeling of deep affection and a great interest and pleasure in something. Another definition classifies it as a verb signifying to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone). The Meriam-Webster defines love as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. Many people have identified and described love, including all the poets, authors, artists and songwriters, philosophers, even scientists and politicians. But what really is love? Does our definition really reflect the real life situations of what love is? Is love a destination or is it a journey? What does the fairytale stories tell about ‘happy ever after’s? So let us all take a grip and find out more.


The dictionary defines FEELING as the (strong) emotional side of someone’s character and an especially vague or irrational belief.

On the other side COMMITMENT is defined as a willingness to give your time and energy to something that you believe in or a promise or strong decision to do something. Based on this definition, love is not a feeling because our feelings are in the short term language while love as a commitment emphasizes and points love as a long term goal and phenomenon.

“I am selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and, at times, hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best”

Marilyn Monroe

Commitment therefore is the core of every successful marriage. It is easy to say I love you today, next day, next week. But how about the consistency we all need which roots from true commitment?

Marriage is the union of both man and woman who are deeply in love with each other, who commit to stick together through a lifetime. Everything begins with a desire and a decision. Through marriage vows, the couples have decided to say to each other their promises through thick and thin, sickness and health, for better or for worse.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:22-24

There are three types of commitment that keeps marriages together.

 Moral commitment- The core of keeping the marriage and the commitment is out of a sense of duty to moral law. The person(s) has a strong religious belief that a commitment is highly valued in the moral law.

 Structural commitment- A deep commitment is rooted from a tie entangled with children, a family home, shared income or shared friends among others.

 Personal commitment- It is the deepest form of commitment wherein someone stays in the marriage because they want to, not out of necessity or a sense of responsibility. It must be at the bottom of the pyramid as a strong foundation for all relationships.

It is the combination of these two or three types of commitment that sets the fire of a relationship ablaze.

A commitment indeed is never easy. It is full of ups and downs, a roller coaster ride and filled with both dark and bright days. It is indeed a journey that either you will bring something positive or negative out of. So what are these challenges that couples face in a lifetime of marriages?

1. The children
2. Finances
3. Shared households
4. Legal contracts
5. Religious imperatives.


1. POSITIVITY. We all undergo through ups and downs. There’s laundry days, sick days, sleepless nights, and financial challenges but it is the power of positivity that will direct us to our dreams and goals and preserves good relationships.

2. SACRIFICES. Love is all about giving. In giving means sharing your time, material resources, services, love and affection without expecting for anything in return. Sacrifice means to prioritize your loved ones over you for some time.

3. COMPROMISE. The ability to talk, communicate and meet halfway is the key. Yes, it takes two to tango, love is a two way street. The ability to compromise your situation, your wants, your beliefs, and habits for the good and understanding of your relationships is very important.

4. SPONTANEITY. The universe loves spontaneity. Nature is spontaneous. Happiness is in the ability to be spontaneous in all terms. The ability to combine and balance between spontaneity and careful planning is the most beautiful thing that we could let our lives to be.

5. APPRECIATION. Everybody has the basic need to be appreciated. Our self-worth is enhanced and we grow more when we are well appreciated. The power of praise and appreciation goes a long way. It motivates and encourages the spirit. The relationship has more chances to grow because it focuses on the positive and thus more growth in the relationship.

6. EXPRESS AND SHOW. Love is not a noun. It is a verb. We need to show our love and expression, express it because it contributes to the growth of every relationship. We have what we call the ‘love bank’. We need to keep depositing on our loved ones’ love bank.

7. PRAY.PRAY.PRAY. Prayers keep our spirit and soul in tuned with the order of the universe and the cosmos. It works wonders and brings peace of mind and direction.

I would like to think of a relationship and marriage as climbing up a mountain. Before you set out for a climb you prepare for it. You prepare physically, emotionally, and mentally. You may go through challenges of extreme heat exposure or extreme cold, steep trails, easy and comfortable trails, thin airs, or mushy terrains. You may be caught in the rain and really get tired but there is always one thing that will stick to your mind above all, that everything will be worth it. That the view and experience is worth dying for, everything will now matter to you because overall your happiness is not a destination but the journey itself. Love therefore is a commitment to stay together in that challenging yet beautiful journey.


Hugging Boulders

One of the mountaineers mantra and dream is to finally scale the roof of ones country.

Fear crumpled in on my first ascend. I vividly remembered we were still about two kilometers from the jump-off point of mount Apo and I was already asking many questions ( ha ha ha! the perks of a “newbie” ) .

Mountains bring great friendships.

What can I say?

Mount Apo

It is friendship that brings us closer to our goals.

There are many trails that lead to one summit. Currently, there are six trails that lead to the peak of mount Apo.
1. Santa Cruz trail
2. Bansalan trail
3. Kidapawan trail
4. Magpit Bongulanon trail
5. Digos, Kapatagan trail
6. Makilala, South Cotabato trail

Mount Apo is an active stratovolcano in south central Mindanao, just 20 miles west of Davao City.
It is the highest point in the Philippines, rising to 2, 954 meters above sea level.
It is part of the Cordillera Central, it is covered by a forest of tall, tropical hardwoods; two subsidiary peaks nearly match its height.
(According to encyclopedia Britannica)

There are three major trails on our way to this mountain summit. First, is the vegetation trail. Since, the mountain offers the most fertile land, it is the home of rich fauna and flora.
I did witnessed a rich vegetation of carrots, lettuces, among others. This mountain is considered sacred especially to the native Bagobo tribe.

Second is the forest trail. It was my first time to have a close encounter with a rain forest trail and shall I say it was one of the many fulfilling and awe-inspired moments of my journey. I saw huge ferns, orchids, mossy and a dense forest.

In the heart of the forest trail, we were able to pitched our tents in the well known “Tinikaran campsite”. There is a stable ground to pitch our tents and off course to proceed with “the socials”. We were able to cook our sumptuous lunch and dinner. Thanks to our approachable and friendly porter and guides. Thank you also to our chef team member who loves to cook meals for us. It is the best feeling in the world.

We retired early on our tents that day so as to catch a lovely view of sunrise for the next day.

We arose early at four in the morning, drank our coffee and had our preparations for the summit. We prepared our minds to be tough, our bodies, well rested and sound and our soul and spirit we offered a fervent prayer for our Creator and Almighty.

I could vividly remember a two kilometer trudge towards the forest and the already dried riverbeds. We walked past the ‘monkey trail’ and passed under the huge logs of trees. I remembered beaming to myself, “Is this a mountain trek or a well thought of obstacle course” (laughed out loud) Well, despite all the odds, we were able to overcome and as a matter of fact, still enjoyed the climb.

Not long enough, we came across the sign that says “The Boulder Face”. (It is called so because there are massive boulder rocks that could literally mashed your face under a wrong move along the boulders.

One of the many challenges to take note of in the world of mountaineering are hypogycemia (low sugar levels or energy gap), hypokalemia (low potassium level in the blood) and hypothermia (low body temperature levels), and hyponatremia (a condition of low body salt supply). That is why it is important to replenish ourselves every now and then. I had personally experienced hypoglycemia. I just have to munch on a source of immediate energy or sugar. Good thing I had some carbohydrate gel (nutrition) along with me. A few minutes later, my energy level went high back again and renewed.

It was still very dark when we ascended the steep slopes of the boulders plus the wind was getting extra cold. It was getting around 6AM when the sun managed to have a lovely peak over the horizon. It was the sweet sunrise that somehow re energized me. We slowly climbed and assaulted the boulders. It was around four kilometers of assault in the boulders till we reached the summit. One of our guides assisted me using a rope technique to help me to ascend faster.

Sunrise at Mount Apo

But the sight of the boulder is just overwhelming. I can remember the scene over the movie “The Lord of the Rings”. Such a uniue sight to hold. I knew then that was the moment I started to fell in love with the great outdoors. I knew then… It is just the beginning.

Another relief for me was when I meet a few mountaineers along the way, then they cheered me up saying “You are almost there”.

I managed to catch a rest in the “white sand campsite”. There I found myself pleasing me with the goodness of mountain wild berries. We waited for the rest of our team and pack before we summit. I was getting so excited that I wanted to go almost immediately towards the crater and finally to the summit.

But….good thing I waited…

Because the next few steps were the most crucial…

The way to the crater, I remember was the hardest part. At first it seemed easy just following the path that leads… But one of our guides reckoned me that I went through the crucial path/trail. And so, I was like I almost cried because for me it was the hardest part re adjusting your pacing and direction. Yet, I had to trust our guides. I had to learn and relearn some things. Not quite long I managed to have those deep breathes and finally entered a kind of a transforming trance. I was slowly getting by…

But it didn’t stop there…

I came to a point of 87 degree incline that I found it hard to step up. I didn’t have enough trust in me then. I froze for five minutes. I thought to myself I wouldn’t be able to make it further to the summit. Yet, one of our guides (Sir DK) managed to grasp my arm as I managed to took deep breathes. (Yes, indeed deep breathing are very essential). Indeed, I was able to step up closer and closer. I was able to step up with the help of a hand. I wouldn’t forget that moment. I was just a few inches off a cliff. I was also a few inches to giving up…

But one thing’s great about mountaineering…

It strengthens your willpower, your calmness and your character, and friendships.

I will never forget that moment…

The moment that you feel almost giving up should have been the moment you have held tighter.

That will be your defining moment…

That became my first major summit.

And as I look back…

It is the journey that is beautiful…all along…

A picturesque summit with my team
Sea of clouds
Mount Apo summit

Thank you for joining me.

The Great Teacher

Some things may change in a moment.

Guest photographer: Chris Datan

Adventures, hikers, trekkers and climbers can all connect with this. As our escapades carefully unfold we become fully aware of the truth that we occupy a tiny part of this beautiful universe.

We accept the fact that our might is nothing compared to the force of the universe and our mother nature.

When I set foot on that grandfather of Philippine mountains, I thought to myself that how little am I compared to the might of this grand volcano. I almost backed out as fear crippled my mind and spirit. How I, a “newbie” climber would be able to reach the top of this mountain. I packed with me my sleeping bag, head lamp, foods and water, including all my necessary things with every bit of trust, faith, dreams and strength I could get in. I learned to unpacked doubt and fear little by little. We were to go there in a pack of nine. So the best part was we didnt succumbed alone, it didnt matter who went first or last. What matters most is that we ALL assaulted and summited IN TIME.

I long understood the terms we used in mountaineering. Including the languages of pacing, leading, middle packing, and sweeping.

We each have a different pace, in our lives and in each of our journey. Since we do have varying experiences, lessons learned, talents and abilities. One may take five minutes to cross a river while the other one may take double of the previous time. So we need to respect each and every ones pace or maybe we have to learn to meet half way as much as we can.

In the language of mountaineering we also have a term and we call it, the lead pack. This refers to the team members who guide or lead and goes ahead of the others.

The lead pack sets the pace of the whole team, they give direction, strength and courage to the succeeding members. The lead pack is important in that without proper leading, the whole team may get lost along the way. They also give and leave trail signs along the path.

Followed by the lead pack is the middle pack. The middle pack sees to it that everything went well between the other two packs (the one that leads and the one behind). This pack has a way of knowing that the whole team is carrying on and is still intact.

Now, the last pack or the last member of the team is the sweeper. His role is like a marshal of the whole team. He is the last or the ‘tail’ of the team. He must be well knowledgeable of the area and responsible enough to keep watch that the whole members are safe and sound. Among all else, the sweeper is the mightiest since he sacrifices his own pacing and he consider and prioritizes the safety of everyone else. Indeed, it is the role of each and everyone to watch out for each others safety during the climb.

I was able to appreciate this set-up in that I saw in it something I have never seen before. I never knew that I could learn a lot of lessons from mountaineering. One thing that really struck and awed me the most is understanding that I am not alone in this journey. You set foot on the jump-off point together, and you will finish it together. That is certainty as long as you respect each others pacing, you are good!

I appreciated that we helped and pulled each other to the top, and that is the best feeling there is. Knowing that somebody got your back no matter what happens. Knowing that all your efforts and trainings, hardships will never go in vain. I am happy that I had this madness- to climb mountains. I am happy because in a world where we tend to pull each other down, we devour each other of successes and triumphs (and that is saddening, isn’t it?), still there is a world that exist to teach us life’s most important lessons. Why cant politics be like climbing a mountain, you help each other up? Why do some professionals slander each other. Why do we love talking behind each others back. There is no breaking to this crab mentality chain. I understood that maybe this is all just part of nature that we are all in a living reality jungle and that we struggle with each other for survival. But we couldn’t last like this forever. We didn’t belong to the lower class of animals. We were placed in the highest of classifications. And even all part of the animal kingdom understood that we all belong to one ecosystem only. We all exist so that each and everyone learns how to value each other. We wouldn’t survive without each other.

And again, this is just a wishful thinking. After all, isn’t it lonely standing alone at the top?

Mount Apo summit

Anyone who reached their summit will always live with this words. “It is never about reaching the top but how you have journeyed.”

This is not a race nor a contest. In the end it wouldn’t matter how many summits you have reached but how it made other people feel. How you respected each and everyone along the way. How you paved the way to discover and make new paths. How you see your purpose. Now, that, is TRUE CONQUER.

I’m Coming Home…

There is no place like home. And I do miss my home. - Malala Yousafzai
Campfires burning by the beach with good company.
Photo credits by Destination Dream

I have many thoughts lately. I had been traveling in all places in my country, the Philippines with 7, 107 islands, off course I didn’t visited them all! (laughs). Maybe only when these islands we can all live or inhabit ha ha ha! But I had been to quite a few islands already including sandbars, beaches, coves, resorts, road-trips, motorcycle and boat adventures and misadventures. I had been to mountains, hills, campsites, different trails of rain forests, open trails, boulders, difficult terrains, muddy trails, sulfur vents and wild berries. Experienced both hot and cold climate and the in betweens while traveling. Wherever I go, I will always have a piece of my heart left in a that place. The warmest welcome, the kind words, the heartwarming smiles, the gestures of help not to mention the chats and pep talks either over a cup of beer or not.

I personally experienced this in a campsite in mount Manunggal. It was almost midnight when we were having a camp jam. I felt terrible with my stomach plus the terrible cold breeze of the mountainside. I looked by the nearby “Seven Eleven store”(for hikers we use the term seven eleven referring to any a one-stop shop/store where you can specially grab a soda drink). I was looking for a liniment to relieve my stomach cramps and discomfort. My lesson learned to always bring first aid medicine and treatments. Anyways I got more than what I asked for, for that “lola” took care of me (I felt I was her adopted grandchild during that time LOL). She gave me one of her concoction for me to apply together with a warm drink and it did brought a warm feeling to my pain. She even offered her humble bed for me because she figured out that I might be terribly cold outside. I hesitated but she insisted on. The following morning I woke up from a sound sleep and feeling warmed.

Just recently when we went to Guintacan also known as Kinatarcan island in Cebu I had lost my left slipper because of night swimming and strong waves. To my dismay until the following morning, I still couldn’t find my flip flop pair. I roamed the island before the sun was up to look for stores where I can buy a foot wear. But to my dismay again, “uncle” told me that I still have to look to the other baranggay to get one. And that is quite far. I was just shocked and humbled that “uncle” asked me to stay put so that “auntie” can look for a pair of footwear for me. I was deeply touched by this simple gesture of hospitality. Indeed I can see it in the locals in every place.

Those are just some of my concrete stories. I am proud of my fellowmen. Once again my lost faith and trust in humanity has been restored. Thank you for this kind citizens.

Home is not a place…

It’s a feeling.


Sometimes we may feel terrible at leaving home or going to new places or exploring new seas or jungles. We fear the unknown, the out-of-our-comfort zones. But, is home really a place?

I didn’t see this coming but if you got people who makes you feel at home. Then stick with them. I have been to different islands. I believe I left a piece of my heart in all places, and that made me unafraid to travel more.

Home is not a place, but a feeling where you are embraced by a sentiment of profound joy, peace and love.

Can you be home to somebody today? Will you?

Thank you for joining me!

See you tomorrow!

The Island Of Sinkholes

People don’t take trips, trips take people.

John Steinbeck
Photo by Destination Dream

When you think of emerald waters and immaculate sands in an archipelago, what do you usually have in mind? For sure the Philippines is one of the countries that is endowed with great and marvelous works of nature. I know what is on your mind. Yes, Boracay island is one of my favorite islands here in the Philippines. It was in the year 2017 when I first visited the island and true enough unexpectedly it became one of my favorites. I fell in love with the warmth and hospitality of the locals and at the same time, the place has a distinct positive vibe and energy in it. I could vividly remember my closest friend who is a traveler and an adventurer answered me when I raised her the question “Of all the places you have visited in the Philippines, what is your most favorite?.” She firmly answered. “It is the sunset of Boracay.”

When I first came to Cebu, eleven years ago I only knew a few famous and well traveled islands. Little did I know that there are actually additional 167 islands as part of the Cebu peninsula. Imagine! But what is a chance that you are actually going to discover one or better yet, each of its “isla de paradisos”? We, together with my travel team, the Destination Dream team set for an adventure just 112 kilometers from Cebu city.

Guintacan island as or Kinatarcan island as known from the locals is an island of the province of Cebu in the Philippines. It lies about 25 kilometres off the west coast of Cebu and 12 kilometres northeast from Bantayan Island. The island is within the municipality of Santa Fe and comprises three barangays: Hagdan, Kinatarkan and Langub. Offshore are numerous coral reefs and seagrass beds.

We left Cebu city at around seven in the morning. We rode a bus from the North bus terminal to Daanbantayan port. From the port you can ride public ferries or you can hire pump-boats from the locals. The island is just an hour ride from the port.

We were welcomed by clear and pristine beaches and a serene island vibe. We waited for the misty rain to subside so we could have a land survey of the surrounding area. We settled and pitched our tents along the beach. Good thing that the good weather cooperated with us. Before this trip we made sure that there isn’t any upcoming storm or any peculiarities in the forecast.

Before the sun set, we had a chance to have a glimpse of this islands hidden gem. We walked around the surrounding area and interacted with the community. The locals here are very friendly and welcoming. We rediscovered that there is an altar with a grotto overlooking the sea just a few steps north of the beach. This is for the religious devotees to reflect and express their faith. I felt stillness embraced me as I witnessed the panoramic seascape.

Just when the sun is about to leave the horizon (Langub beach, Kinatarcan)

Langub beach, Kinatarcan sunset

We were able to catch the very picturesque sunset of Langub beach, 10 minute ride via “habal habal” (the local motorcycle/tricycle ride) or 15-20 minute walk southward. I could fully say this a mirror image of Boracay shore and sunset. Just come and see!

The Langub beach is my personal favorite. It is because of its finest and immaculate sand plus the majestic view of its sunset minus the hassle of a mob. You could enjoy your solitary time with just nature and you or with your loved ones.

The lifestyle here` is very laidback and simple yet peaceful and fun. The locals needed to be supported so that their economy will grow. The island is starting to recover from the damages of the super typhoon Haiyan. Currently the community is using Solar power to support their daily needs and activities and to optimize power consumption. The island is innovative and resourceful in that they are using rainwater mostly as their water source and is contained in their reservoirs.` The locals also friendly and helpful. They can help you look for a room to stay here if you did not intend to camp. The accommodation is very cheap and affordable. As low as 200 pesos per head per stay and you’re good to go!

The social organization SPFTC (Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center) initially developed the Kinatarcan total Wellness resort. The resort will provide total wellness and tranqulity to tourists. It also boasts of a healing garden, two earth domes and other wellness offerings in addition to the clear and emerald waters and white beach. (Ehda Dagooc , April 07, 2018, 12AM)

But wait! There’s more!

Another site to be awed is the hidden Laaw lagoon just north of the island. You could hire a vehicle going to the lagoon and then then a 20 minute trek. This lagoon offers a livelihood to the locals especially during off seasons of fishing, they get their seaweeds from the lagoon as a source of food and livelihood.

The Lesson That I Forgot…

Photo by Chris Datan

It has been a year since I started climbing mountains as a hobby. I didn’t know how it quite all started. All I knew is that It all started with a “bucket list”. Your bucket list originated from a certain desire or a burning  dream. I once dreamed of witnessing the warmth of a lovely sunrise or sunset and watching   the ray of light break in awesome colors as it kisses the horizon. Not anyone could have a view like that! I just saw that moving picture as a remembrance from one of my preceptor in college. From then on I said to myself “I will climb that mountain no matter what happens”. That was the picture of mount Kitanglad as it was embraced by the lovely sunrise.

So, when my high-school friend, ten years later invited me for a major climb I NEVER hesitated and I accepted the challenge with the much anticipation of excitement and fear at the same time.  Thus began my unending quest for hugging boulders, crossing streams, kissing walls and chasing summits.

It is not always an easy journey! I can still vividly remember how I hesitated to summit Mount Apo – the highest mountain of the Philippines. I felt my back in pain and in agony of lifting my backpack while I fought against gravity as I trek every assault. I could hear my every breath and my heart beat pounding so hard. But It didn’t stop there. One of our guides offered to unload me and offered to carry my backpack instead. I felt shame and at the same time compassion for him. We didn’t have any other choice. When you are on top of a mountain, all you could ever think of is anything but essential and survival musings. On a mountain the past didn’t matter anymore nor is your future of great concern. All you can think of is the present moment.  The present is all you’ve got.  Your priorities shift from the petty concerns of daily drills and arguments to just today.  At this time, your timely bills, projects or any requirements or daily humdrum existence will not matter anymore. You will ponder on this one, the moment when you are just a few inches off a cliff. You realize that nothing really matters but your life and the many little blessings that you have got.

A moment will you realize that your journey wouldn’t be complete without those moments of doubt. Those moments of doubt when you have learned to bring on faith and trust in yourself and in a Greater Power- Much greater than this mountain or mightier than all of nature’s power combined!

That moment when you have realized it is not the summit after all. The view is just the bonus of it all! But what matters most is the realization that everything started with a single step. It will all flash in front of your very eyes, how did you started! All the struggles will be worth it in the end of your journey.

You wouldn’t reach your destination without going through bad days or moments of dark clouds, rainy days or being parched under the sun. We all go through these moments. And this will be the time that we shouldn’t forget the lesson, that we will not reach our destination without going  through all seasons. We just have to hold on and keep moving! Remember that dark and rainy days are all part of a beautiful journey!

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow!

Photography by Chris Datan