2019
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
...if you compete to prove to others that you are better, you may fail; but if you compete because you want to prove yourself that you could do more, then you're winning.

► While I don't really compete with fellow travel bloggers, we have to admit that many bloggers these days give their best shot. If you do not level-up your game, your blog will go unnoticed.

► For the past two years, my emotion and mind were battlegrounds until I made up my mind to set aside blogging in the meantime.

[Special Feature]
NASUGBU, BATANGAS
| 1 | [NASUGBU] ► BLOGGING IS BOTH FUN AND TIRING, EVEN YOUR BIG SELFIE BECOMES AN ISSUE FOR OTHERS.
Lately, I've been more interested in writing personal experiences and moments in my life than writing the adventurous travel tales. Having written hundreds of stories that highlight my probably cutting-edge and unique travel experiences (that I'm sure, every traveler possesses), I've come to the point of becoming thirsty of writing random light moments without the YOLO and buwis-buhay travel plots.

To begin this random musing, the blogosphere is an awesome but a competitive space. While I don't really compete with fellow travel bloggers, we have to admit that many bloggers these days give their best shot. If you do not level-up your game, your blog will go unnoticed. While some bloggers who do it "because of passion" may not care about the metrics or the opportunities blogging could put to the table, I think it would be safe to say that when people notice your blogs, that's a validation that you're passionate about it; and that you're giving your best shot.

Speaking for myself, I have always been a competitive person; but for the right reasons. I compete not to be recognized but to trigger my inner drive to give its best shot. In the long run, it's not the prize nor the recognition that I'm after to, but the self-improvement and the motivation to be the better version of my self that I am looking forward. As a conclusion, if you compete to prove to others that you are better, you may fail; but if you compete because you want to prove yourself that you could do more, then you're winning; because it's your old self whom you are competing with.

When it comes to blogging, the stories and experiences of fellow travel bloggers are really mind-blowing. Did I experience pressure to write? The answer is yes. Many bloggers use the best cameras or drone footage to capture the best view, offer their out-of-this-world writing skills worthy of a magazine gig, bring out their natural charisma that's worth a TV show, and name them all. The blogosphere is full of bad-ass super-talented individuals. Because of these, I looked down to my self. I didn't have the best gadgets. I didn't have a huge travel fund to afford an adventure to unconventional travel destinations. I didn't have the English degree to be able to write stories flawlessly without grammatical or punctuation errors. I had many limitations. I'm a nobody in this space saturated with somebodies.


When I started blogging



I started from scratch. I didn't even have a personal computer when I started blogging. After my work from the hospital, I spent my hard-earned money at the computer shop where I could rent a computer to blog. To be honest, a huge chunk of my meager salary goes to the computer shop where I stayed until closing time.

When I started my travel blog, it wasn't about being a blogger. I used this free platform to make my life easier. You know, I have a personal diary that I update every day. I realized, writing manually was very time-consuming for me; aside from that, the speed of my manual writing cannot cope up with the speed of the ideas that come out my mind. I thought doing an online diary would make my life easier, hence, this blog you are reading.

Having that interest for travel, I became curious if there are "travel bloggers" out there. That time I was not yet familiar of the basics of blogging. I didn't even know about these so-called blog niches. I wasn't even aware there were existing blogging communities. These curiosities led me to discover these "travel bloggers" who took my breath away. Gahhh! They looked so cool. They looked so rich. They looked so hip. They looked so awesome! I instantly became an avid follower. I was constantly 'fanboy-ing' of their existence.

You know, my mindset that time was, these cool travel bloggers were the rich kids of my generation and I was amazed on how they could maintain a lifestyle like that. As I browsed their blogs, they've been everywhere! I was mind-blown of these possibilities—that you could make traveling constantly as your lifestyle. I was a HUGE fan because I know I couldn't do what they were doing.

Being a fanboy would lead me to stalking their profiles. I yearned to know more about them personally. I stalked their Facebook profiles and other social media accounts. Until one day, there was a trend going on in the travel blogosphere. From writing the luxurious and seemingly unending stress-free life of these bloggers, the tone turned more personal. I didn't know how it started but there was a point where bloggers became more open of the realities they were facing. The travel blogosphere became a little personal.

I started to learn that not all of these bloggers were born heirs (although some are "legit" hipsters and born privileged). I found out that some of them were also like me. I learned about their stories that motivated me to do the same, to be the same. Armed with a childhood motto of "If others can, why can't I?", I confidently registered a subdomain under a free blogging platform and started writing my travel stories.

Fast forward, I gained some followers and readers (not too much, sakto lang). Random people popping out from my inbox would surprise me with their words of admiration and gratitude.


How Blogging Affected Me Negatively?



I've come to a point where my "blogging" became my priority in life. I used to be stuck inside my room creating contents all day. I even skipped meals and utilized my "time for sleep" just to improve my blog. I was like a zombie—but a happy and fulfilled zombie. I was very hooked. Even my personal life was affected. I didn't even join the family meal because I was busy. I went to work sleepy because I stayed wide awake until dawn just to blog. Yes, this is very embarrassing to admit but it really happened to me.

The reason why I've come to that point was because I was enjoying all the attention and the positive feedback I was receiving. I loved it when people tell they admire me. It was a great feeling when people see you as extraordinary. With all these accolades, I was addicted with the attention and the positive feedback I was receiving. My ego was soaring high. I got several TV guesting and appearances. I worked and chilled with government officials. I saw my works exhibited in a museum. I saw my photos as a cover of a magazine abroad. I appeared in the local news. People in my place started identifying me as a "blogger" and no longer that dark, skinny, poor boy from Brgy Ayusan Sur who came from a humble beginning. From scratch, the opportunities opened so fast that I didn't have time to self-reflect. It was very quick and overwhelming for me who never expected these things; mostly happened in the innocence of my early to mid 20s.

People thought I was very rich (no I'm not) because I used to post travel photos daily and they expected more. I was pressured by the demands of the people, so I gave in—because the attention I was receiving was addicting (lakas maka-artista, feeling lang! haha). I didn't know I was already on that crucial point because no one re-oriented me to reality. I was just enjoying the moment until one day, I realized my professional career (nurse) was not moving forward. Yes, once in my life, I wanted to become that "successful blogger" who would rake fortunes and opportunities. I kept pushing for that goal. I made my self believe that "I was happy" doing this. Just a clarification, I was indeed happy and contented with my life when I was hooked to blogging. I was genuinely happy, but behind the happiness is a feeling of fear and uncertainty. I wasn't sure where would this happiness lead me.

PIKKANG FALLS, SAN JUAN, ILOCOS SUR
| 2 | [SAN JUAN] ► THIS IS A PHOTO TAKEN AT PIKKANG FALLS (FROM MY MOST RECENT TOWN EXPLORATION PRIOR TO THIS BLOG POST).
Fast forward (this was actually in 2017), my father turned 60, now a senior citizen. That was the turning point in my life. I woke up from a long delusional dream that I would become successful in the path that I wanted to take. I started blogging in 2011 and 6 years has passed (in reference to year 2011-2016), I realized I was already left behind (as a nurse). Although I cannot deny the fact that blogging gave me a lot of opportunities to bring out the best in me and to do the things I never imagined I could do, the blogging career that I wanted to have was probably not yet for me. I think I was deluded by social media posts like "quit your job and travel the world." While it worked for some people, it surely will not work for everybody because each of us has different callings.

Now I've learned a lot. For the past two years, my emotion and mind were battlegrounds until I made up my mind to set aside blogging in the meantime. The passion is still there. You know, it is still burning. Writing my stories online is always in my mind but I'm wiser now. I've learned to balance everything. Two years ago, after my father turned 60, I decided to grow my professional career. I took a leap of faith, took the risk, and changed my previous perspective.

EDMARATION
| 3 | [TAGUIG] ► I TOOK A LEAP OF FAITH TO GROW MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER.
I left the hospital and ventured on other opportunities. I'm no longer wearing that white uniform but still, I landed on a nursing job. I now work for an American health care company based in Nashville as a medical necessity analyst/reviewer after I became a US-registered nurse (a basic requirement for the job), a title I worked hard a lot while giving the internet the less attention it deserves so I could focus on more important matters. While growing my professional career, I am also venturing into the world of modeling and showbiz.

My obsession for social media and the online world no longer ruled my life. I now learned to rule it instead. I learned how to use it wisely. When I started to distance myself from social media and internet (and lessen its use) for more than 2 years now, I accomplished a lot more than I ever imagined.

EDMARATION
| 4 | [METRO MANILA] ► I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BECOME A MODEL OR AN ACTOR. I THINK IT'S NOT YET TOO LATE. THIS IS THE REAL 'YOLO', IT'S A MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZED IT'S NOT ABOUT QUITTING YOUR JOB. IT'S ABOUT WORKING FOR YOUR DREAMS AND EMBRACING THE OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE 'YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE'.
The false hope that I gravitated to achieve in the world of blogging actually stopped me from expanding my territories. Somehow, my social media and online territory did expand but it was only limited to that niche. I realized, I could do more. From being self-centered, I've transformed myself to becoming a provider for my family. My parents are not obliging me to give, but I'm making my family as my motivation to become the better version of me. Being the eldest, I grab opportunities to give back. During the peak of my activity in blogging, I didn't have that sense of responsibility. I only cared about the likes and shares, and on the fortune blogging could give me. However, after that turning point, I realized that it's more meaningful to have a sense of responsibility. For me my family is now my greatest responsibility. It's no longer my blog readers whom I've always wanted to please.


Ending Thoughts



I've actually written this piece a month ago; because I procrastinate a lot, it took me a month before I decided to publish this. It's now 12:58 AM as of this writing and I'm here on my bed writing these ending thoughts. I'm currently here in Makati while writing this post. With my green hangers, I made it to the last paragraph! I'm on my "bed mode" while writing this which explains the real time photo below.

EDMARATION BLOG
| 5 | [MAKATI] ► REAL TIME: THIS WAS ME WITH MY GREEN HANGERS, AT THE MOMENT I WAS WRITING THIS POST. I THINK THERE'S NO NEED TO PRETEND THAT I HAVE A POSH ROOM BY REMOVING THOSE HANGERS. I'M ONE ORDINARY GUY LIKE MOST OF US.
To those who became successful in blogging, I salute you guys! I believe IT WAS FOR YOU, and I encourage you to expand your territories more in this niche because the harvest is ripe. You're lucky in this field! As the saying goes, "Many were called, but few were chosen." I think I was one of those who were not chosen. This may sound a little bitter though, for not achieving the online career I dreamed and expected. Haha.

My journey in blogging was colorful and meaningful. I never regretted being a blogger, I only learned life lessons from it. Should I continue blogging? The answer is a BIG YES! I will continue blogging because I am excited for the new lessons it may teach me today, and in the future—the same life lessons it taught me in the past that molded who I am today. The exciting part is, I've become more responsible of my decisions and I could probably balance my personal, spiritual, professional, social, and social media life now. Happy blogging! 💚 | end of story |

I value your thoughts! The comment box is located at the most bottom part of this section. :)



► UPDATE HISTORY FOR THIS BLOG POST
|2| 04-November-2019: Additional ideas added. Photos 3 and 4 added.
|1| 03-November-2019: This post was published.


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Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
You have infinite reasons to make anyone else cry but you also have unending reasons to be loved sharply.

► That night, I call it a double-edged sword because the contrast was sharp.

► You know there's something wrong but at the same time, there's nothing wrong with it.

[Manila, National Capital Region, Luzon Island, Philippines]
ONGPIN STREET, BINONDO
| 1 | [MANILA] ► YOU CAN STAND OUT WITHOUT PULLING OTHERS DOWN.
Hey Manila!

My old self has always thought that walking on your streets at night would creep me out. Heck, the media has always branded you as such—kidnapping here and there, buy-bust operations, and poverty among others. But you've always been that double-edged sword. You have infinite reasons to make anyone else cry but you also have unending reasons to be loved sharply.


Last January, I saw you once again wearing both the glamorous and unromantic faces of yours. The streets that kept your heart beating were struggling to find its way to your peace of mind. Your sons and daughters had no choice but to be resilient. You know, they indeed are resilient. How come many of them are still energetic and motivated to work and make a difference?

The sampaguita vendors near the Santa Cruz Church were unshaken. Is it fulfilling to sell sampaguita? Why I've been seeing them here all these years? They never made a change of heart. Is there no other choice for them? The fishball vendors at Ongpin Street seems to enjoy what they were doing. The young man out there several years ago has now his kids with him in tow selling street food. Would I say life is hard? Your sons and daughters were still there, still doing what they [probably] love doing.

SANTA CRUZ CHURCH, MANILA
| 2 | [MANILA] ► IF YOU WANT TO STAND OUT, MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
The barker never lost his voice. How come he is louder now and appears more passionate? As I walked along Ongpin Street, the sugarcane vendor appears like he has no plans yet to go home and watch his favorite teleserye. By the way, I saw people watching Coco Martin's 'Ang Probinsiyano' inside a Chinese-owned store—and yes, they were Chinese!

Everyone seemed energetic except this tired lady who was excited to go home after her shift from that well-lighted Mercury Drug Store that's illuminating the post of a fruit stall owner in front of it. The lady made its way through the street that has become narrower than ever because of the expensive-looking cars parked alongside with the sidewalk. Near these posh cars are expensive-looking restaurants too. Everyone seemed to enjoy the great ambiance inside.

So these are some of my observations in Binondo and Santa Cruz at night. That night, I call it a double-edged sword because the contrast was sharp. Both ends could either create a wound or sharpen a diamond. You know there's something wrong but at the same time, there's nothing wrong with it.


Binondo at Night



Hey Binondo, why are you so lovely? I had a taste of your best dishes and it blew my mind away. But you know what? You never failed to give me many options because I can still have that cheap, dirty (they say) 'palamig' that I'm accustomed with just across the street. I could hardly do that in BGC or in Eastwood. You're so versatile. I paid a lot of money from that restaurant yet you proved me that my 10 pesos were able to bridge my childhood cravings to my present self. I was satisfied! How cool is that? You're linking my past when I still had no money to buy expensive food and to my present where I could now afford to shell out some extra hard-earned money for a single meal.

Tall buildings have made their room in the home you created for centuries and it's so fascinating to see that you still preserved your homey traditions in spite of these newcomers. They looked awesome at night because as I looked up to decipher their towering height, Chinese lanterns hovered with grace stealing the spotlight of the night.

It's glad to see that the fruit stalls never left your side. They are truly homegrown and they seemed to stay forever in your care. One thing more, the Chinese merchants never left you all this time. They have made your home foundation strong. They fortified your existence. You see? You couldn't be shaken. Your identity as a family of diversity was never wiped out by pop culture.

ONGPIN STREET, BINONDO
| 3 | [MANILA] ► THE 'BASIC' WILL NEVER LOSE ITS RELEVANCE.
ONGPIN STREET, BINONDO
| 4 | [MANILA] ► IF PEOPLE PAUSE FOR A BREAK JUST TO LISTEN TO YOU, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'RE RELEVANT TO THEM.
I just felt sad that your historical canals were still struggling to find their way to sanity as they've been congested by garbage. The waters are murky. I didn't like the smell too. I just feel mad that there are people who wanted to mar your glory and beauty.


Santa Cruz District at Night



Hey Santa Cruz! We meet again at night. I've seen you several times at night and you've never changed. Santa Cruz Church is just very near your neighbor Binondo so it's hard to ignore an old friend. I'd be rude if I wouldn't get to visit you whenever I visit your neighbor. You'd probably call me a snob.

SANTA CRUZ DISTRICT, MANILA
| 5 | [MANILA] ► BE LIKE A SHINY SILVER JEWELRY THAT COULD STAND OUT EFFORTLESSLY IN THE MIDST OF CONFUSING COLORS.
SANTA CRUZ CHURCH, MANILA
| 6 | [MANILA] ► DON'T BE AFRAID TO LOVE BECAUSE THERE'S TIME FOR EVERYTHING. IF YOU GET HURT, MOVE ON. THE UNIVERSE IS SELF-HEALING.
SANTA CRUZ CHURCH, MANILA
| 7 | [MANILA] ► DON'T BE AFRAID TO BE ALONE BECAUSE THERE'S A TIME FOR EVERYTHING, INCLUDING LONELINESS. THE UNIVERSE IS CONSPIRING FOR YOUR UPCOMING HAPPINESS.
I love how your playground Carriedo Fountain maintained its poise in the middle of the busy road. I would applaud the work of your maintenance team. They're doing great. Same with your church facade, you seemed to be well-taken care of your team.

By the way, I do not have a lot of things to say because unlike your neighbor Binondo, you've always been boring for me because you've never brought me to your backyard. I still have to see your true color. But well, congratulations for surviving the dark smoke around, the facade of your church speaks a lot.


Ending Notes



You know what Manila, it has always been good to talk to you. It's now 05:53 in the morning and I'm about to finish this letter for you. Your edges are both a danger and a savior, if you know what I mean.

SANTA CRUZ CHURCH, MANILA
| 8 | [QUEZON CITY] ► I TOOK THIS SELFIE FEW MINUTES BEFORE I FINISHED THIS BLOG ARTICLE.
It's Sunday and I'm going to the dentist later. I'm going to sleep in a bit after I publish you. I will have a quick breakfast too. I hope to discover you more Manila. 💚 | end of story |

| ► MORE POSTS COVERING MY BINONDO-SANTA CRUZ VISIT (JANUARY 2019)
| ▼ BINONDO AND SANTA CRUZ VISIT 2019

[Manila] ► Binondo & Sta Cruz Visit 2019



| ▼ SINCERITY RESTAURANT, BINONDO: THOUGHTS, REVIEW, AND NARRATIVES

[Manila] ► Sincerity Restaurant, Binondo: Thoughts, Review & Narratives





Maps Showing the Location of #MANILA

MAP OF MANILA
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ This post was filed under the categories "Night Explorations" and "Night Life". See more posts related to this below.

✈ The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

✈ All photos are mine.

✈ The insights, condition and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try the activities or see the properties/places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time.

UPDATE HISTORY FOR THIS BLOG POST
► 01-April-2019: This post was published.


LATEST STORIES COVERING #MANILA | SEE ALL IN A SEPARATE WINDOW


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