Survival Guide: 10 Tips for An Epic Sinulog Experience

Are you ready for the 2019 Sinulog Festival? Here are my tips to prepare you for the grandest celebration in Cebu.

Cebu is one of the most known city in the Philippines. Although it is generally laid back, the city transforms from quiet to crazy every third weekend of January. The Queen City of the South becomes remarkably vibrant celebrating the arrival Child Jesus locally called as Señor Santo Niño in the shores of Cebu. It is a commemoration of start of Christianity in the country. Despite the religious nature of the celebration, it includes various higlights such as Miss Cebu, Festival Queen Competition, Sinulog Idol, Photo and Film Competition, Fluvial and Solemn Procession, Grand Parade and Street Dancing and Grand Finale Fireworks display, you are sure to find something to suit your taste.

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Photo by Roland Pascua

Sinulog Festival is the grandest festival in the Philippines bringing in about 1 million visitors. As the weekend draws near, here are some tips to prepare you for the mother of all celebrations.

1. Plan your events well.

Here is a map of the Solemn Procession

If you are more on religious events and plan on going to the Basilica to see the image of the Child Jesus, make sure to be there as early as 5 a.m. because the queue is really long.

Check out the list of activities!

Map for Sinulog 2019 Festival Grand Parade Route Map

If you are more for dancing and parties, here are just some of the parties happening over the weekend.

2. Bring Cash.

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Avoid long queues to the ATM or worse running out of money when you need drink. Make sure you have enough cash on hand. It would be wise to keep them in different places, some could be hidden inside your bra (my mother’s advice). If you want to make the most out of your dollars, I recommend you head to Alco Credit and Foreign Exchange, Inc. they offer the best rates within the city, you can find them at Raintree Mall.

3. Prepare you Sinulog OOTD

Jover Alforque

You can buy cheap Sinulog shirts that you can cut and redesign. Opt for cotton and avoid wearing clothes with thick material. I discourage you from wearing jean pants, it can get heavy once it gets wet. You have endless options for accessories from feather to wooden beads. It is a great time to get your henna tattoo, you can easily find an artist along the street.The weather can get really hot and humid so do not be afraid to bare more skin. Unless you plan to go to the Basilica then you have to be covered. Do not wear expensive jewelries too unless you want to make friends with robbers. Also make sure that the bag you bring is always close to your body and waterproof.

4. Practice the Sinulog dance steps.

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Photo by Victor Kintanar

It would not be an authentic Sinulog celebration if you do not learn the steps. It is not that complicated, it is close to the basic one two step. All you have to do is move one foot forward and take two steps backward.

5. Think of Sinulog as a Marathon.

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I am not saying you have to wear your running shoes but it would be a good idea to wear your most comfortable footwear since the main streets in Cebu are closed specially on Sunday since parade starts as early as 6:00 a.m. People are forced to be more fit and you will not notice that you have been walking for hours because of the loud music, smiling dancers and happy people you meet in the road.

6. Embrace Extraversion.

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Photo by Erick John Cuevas

If you have problems with personal space, then you should forget about it for this weekend. Cebuanos are extra friendly during the festivities. You will get hugs, greetings and drinks from random strangers on the road. You will be a dot in a sea of humans. The massive crowd walking with you will test you on this too.

7. Bring Your Squad.

Any celebration would not be fun if you do it alone. Bring your awesome friends except for the one who always complains which I call as Negatron (no one wants a kill joy).

If you are a solo traveler, do not hesitate to talk to people, there l always be some group ready to adopt you. If you are a member of Couchsurfing like me, search for Sinulog events in the website.

Also remember that signals will be down on the following days so make sure to plan where to meet ahead.

Here is the schedule:

8. Must Haves for Sunday’s Grand Parade

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Celebrating Sinulog is like hitting the beach for summer. You must bring the following essentials: Water or any form of portable liquid for hydration, sunscreen, favorite pair of sunnies, fan to keep cool , small snacks for energy, camera for endless selfies/groufies, powerbank and extra shirt!

9. Eat. Party. Sleep. Repeat

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When I celebrated Sinulog 2018, I hanged out with a bunch of crazy guys so I ended up partying from Wednesday until Sunday. Make sure you get rest and nourishment in between. While you want to maximize your partying or events, make sure you will be okay on Monday and not in a hospital. There was a year when I missed out on the partying because I did not have enough sleep, my body gave in on Sunday. Also, remember to drink in moderation. It is easy to get carried away but you have to be responsible enough or at least be with a responsible friend. The past Sinulog parties have caused a major uproar from the conservative people as photos of teenagers sleeping unconscious along the streets went viral in social media sites. You do not want to leave traces of your partying in someone else’s Facebook account.

10. Be Ready For Everything and Anything.

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Photo by Restie Derigay

Make sure to agree on a meeting place with your friends. During the festival, the mobile networks normally suffer lags and some messages arrive hours later. While the weather reports say the weather will be fair, make sure that you are ready to embrace the rain as well as random showers of water, beer, alcohol and even paint. These tips should give you an idea on what to expect but nothing can be completely planned in life. Do not let this unpredictability stop you, this will make your Sinulog experience more memorable.

With all that said and done, I wish you the best for Sinulog 2019! May the force be with you as you brave the streets of Cebu! Prititit!!! Pit Señor!

Reginald James Lorico
Photo by: Reginald James Lorico
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Why Failing is Fine this 2019

Dancing to Bebot, I had the entire crowds attention when the candle on my head dropped. Read more on how I failed infront of a huge crowd.

When you hear the word “Failure”, do you cringe?

I am quite proud about my failures enough to regularly post it here and you might enjoy or be boggled why?

I know normal people usually do their best to hide everything (#filter) to give others the best picture of them. Well, failure has played a crucial part in my life.

Okay, I used to try my best to avoid it but I realised that it is what boring people do and I do not want to be like them. Kidding aside, what struck me is that after I failed, I learned and found my way up or at least be a bit better than where I was before the failure. I know all of us have failed at one point in our lives so why do we try to hide it when it is part of human nature?

One of the biggest failure I had was during Binibining Pilipinas. I failed in the talent show in front of a big crowd at a mall in Quezon City! See, I came up with a modern take of the Pandango sa Ilaw and I am no professional dancer. I thought that fake it til I make it would be enough and for a moment it did. During the preliminary selection, I convinced the judges that I knew what I was doing.

Day came for the presentation, it seemed to go quite well until the candle on my head fell. It was a split second when everyone pause and you could hear the crowd gasp.

Ooops!! Dropped the candle…

There are points in our life when you get all the attention and usually it’s for two things: winning and failing. Luckily, I have a quick mind and have always managed to find redemption for each failure.

What did I do? Picked up the candle and did the hush gesture with my finger and continued.

What I learned from this epic fail moment is that the whole time I thought failure would kill me, I realised that it is not as bad as our minds picture it out to be. Did anyone die from me dropping the candle? No, just had a bit of my ego bruised but that’s okay. What happened after was, the crowd were amused at how I dealt with it, even one beauty pageant blogger and former Miss Philippines Universe mentioned this in her recap.

What did I get out of this failure?

I learned to practice more, recognise my limitations and came up with a different routine which I used as talent in Miss SCUBA International 2013 which made me part of the top 5 for talent.

Failure is part of growth and realising weaknesses. It is not that bad as long as you learn and get better. As the cliché says, “There are no failures, just lessons.”

So stand up 2018 might have been a bad year but it is time to gather those lessons learned, dust off the bruised hearts and egos because the show goes on this 2019!

Speak Visayan: Greetings, Pronouns and Questions

When travelling to the Philippines, it pays to learn a bit of the local language despite the fact that most Filipinos can easily speak English. Visayan is one of the most spoken language in the Philippines being used both in Visayas and many parts of Mindanao.

Speak Visayan

Learning Visayan is not as easy, I have had several expat friends who already lived in Cebu for year but never got to speaking the language. Why you may ask? Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, most locals prefer to speak to foreign travelers in English as an effect of years being colonies of foreign countries. If you know a bit of Spanish then you already know a bit of Visayan because some of them have been mixed into the dialects along with some Malay and Chinese words.  I am writing this post to share our dialect and spread awareness, here are some words and phrases that you can use:

Greetings

  • good morning – maayong buntag
  • good noon – maayong udto
  • good afternoon – maayong hapon
  • good night – maayong gabii
  • goodbye – babye
  • thank you – salamat
  • thank you very much – Daghang Salamat
  • please – palihog
  • you’re welcome – walay sapayan
  • yes/no – o/di
  • yes/no (polite) – oo / dili
  • OK – sige
  • just a minute – kadali lang
  • only, merely, simply – lang
  • again, similarly – na pud
  • no problem – walay problema
  • how are you? – kamusta (na) ka?
  • how are you? (plural) – kamusta (na) kamo?
  • where have you been? – Asa ka gikan?
  • where are you going? – Asa ka paingon?
  • I’m coming from Mactan. – Gikan ko sa Mactan.
  • I’m going to Moalboal. – Adto ko sa Moalboal.
  • Good – Maayo
  • Good, thank you and you? – Maayo man, salamat, ug ikaw?
  • Also good – Maayo sab/pud
  • And – Ug

Pronouns

  • I – ako
  • You – ikaw
  • he, she – siya
  • they – sila
  • we (I and you) – kita
  • us ( I and others) – kami
  • you (plural) – kamo
  • this – kini
  • that – kana/kadto(farther)

Questions

  • who (singular) – kinsa
  • who (plural) – kinsa-kinsa
  • how – unsa’on
  • how many – pila kabuok
  • how much – tagpila
  • what – unsa
  • what did you say? – unsa to?
  • when – kanus-a
  • where – asa
  • why – ngano/ng
  • where is the port? – asa ang pier?
  • what is this/that? – unsa ni/na?
  • when is it ready? – kanus-a mahuman/matapos?
  • how far is it? – unsa kalayo (layo)?
  • who is this/that? – kinsa ni/na?
  • what is your name? – unsa may ngalan nimo/mo?
  • how old are you? – pila na may imong edad?
  • where do you come from? – asa ka gikan/ taga diing lugar ka?
  • which bus for the city? – unsang bus ang moadto sa siudad?
  • where is the bus stop? – asa ang hunungan/hulatanan ug bus?
  • where do I catch the jeepney? – asa ko musakay ug jeepney?
  • where does this bus go? – asa paingon/moadto kining bus?
  • where do i get off? – asa ko manaog?
  • how much is the fare? – pila ang plete?
  • what time is it? – unsang orasa na?
  • how much is this/that? – tagpila ni/na?
  • do you have air-con? – nabay air-con?
  • how much is a room? – pila ang usa ka kwarto?

Now you have learned a couple of basic Visayan words and phrases, do use them if you want to win over the hearts of the locals. Up next will be adjectives, numbers, commands and some conversational phrases!

 

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living

Life is a matter of choice and each day we make a choice between worrying and living.

Do not worry
“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Each day, we battle with ourselves, with expectations and with the world. We worry our lives away, seeking for certainty and forgetting what is in the present. When we think too much we paralyze ourselves and stop living. We push ourselves to hard to meet up with what others want and start living by other’s definition. Routines make us robotic and lifeless. We end up burdened and depressed. Worry robs you of your life.

  1. Do these three things: 1. Ask yourself: “What is the worst that can possibly happen?” 2. Prepare to accept it if you have to. 3. Then calmly try to improve on the worst.
  2. Whenever you worry, remind yourself that if you do my best and stay true to yourself there will be nothing left to worry about. You need to realize that power comes from things that you can change. Whenever we let our fears win we become slaves to it.
  3. Surround yourself with people who help you up.The company you keep influences your life. Choose your friends wisely.
  4. Meditate and take time to think. It is not easy to free your mind from all these. It is a struggle at first but when you learn to let go and fully jump into life, things become easier and lighter. Each day goes by like summer breeze.
  5. Focus on what you can change. Whenever we feel helpless, it becomes easier to just stay on beaten. When you start changing things you have control over, you realize that you are not a victim of circumstances.
  6. Focus on what is going right, if you focus on what is wrong you will never see the most that is going right.. Negativity is poison and nothing good ever comes out from it.
  7. Keep smiling and keep fighting. Changing simple physical gestures can make you feel better. None of us will ever live without going through struggles but it does not matter as long as you keep on standing up and striving for the best.
  8. Do not sweat the small stuff. There are bigger things in life to focus about, do not let petty things steal your time.
  9. Be good to yourself. Learn to forgive yourself of shortcomings and mistakes and grow from it.
  10. When we have accepted the worst, we have nothing more to lose but everything to gain.

Do not chose the easy way. Sometimes it is tempting to let problems suck the life out of us, to let problems win over us but we were given will for a reason. I lost a lot of personal battles too and I for one am not immune from worrying. Roadblocks are there not to stop you but to test you on how much belief you have on yourself. When life knocks you out, you sometimes end up sleeping on the floor and you let losing fester in. There were times where I questioned my choices and regret doing things. Just remind yourself that you are born a champion.

Do not worry and fear kill you. Take risks. Break boundaries. Travel to unknown places. Defy norms. Redefine things. Do not accept everything as they are. Fall in love.

Life is for living. Dying is much certain and easier. Living is for the brave.

Get more tips by reading How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.

What is keeping you from living? What are you willing to change? Let me know in the comments below.

My Miss SCUBA Philippines 2014 Farewell Speech

Back in 2014, I relinquished my crown. My journey ended as Miss SCUBA Philippines 2013. Here is my farewell speech!

Back in 2014, I relinquished my crown. My journey ended as Miss SCUBA Philippines 2013. I got to meet the lucky woman who represented the country in the Miss SCUBA International Finals in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia that November.

For those who weren’t able to witness, here is the farewell speech that I wrote on a whim.

During Ms. Cebu
During Ms. Cebu

For as long as I can remember, I always had a love for the ocean but I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. It was through Facebook where I first heard of Miss SCUBA and without second thoughts, I went to the screening alone with the dream of finally getting a dive license. However, I did not win Miss SCUBA Philippines 2012, instead, I won as a runner-up, Miss SCUBA Philippines Marine Tourism 2012.

Losing however did not stop me from what I wanted, I was lucky enough to have met the international organizer, Mr. Robert Lo and before 2012 ended, I was appointed to represent the country for Miss SCUBA International 2013. At first, I hesitated, thinking that it was unfair for the rest who would want to represent the country but I eventually knew that it was the opportunity that I have been waiting for.

Just like a ship on a grand journey, I went against several waves to be Miss SCUBA Philippines 2013. I had to sacrifice time and put effort to find sponsors and supporters on my own. On December 8, 2013, I left Manila to with a wallet that was almost empty, a luggage bag filled with thrifted clothes and my borrowed dive equipment. I knew that my life will never be the same once I board the plane. I was worrying about how my stay would be and what would become of me after. I left my country with only a handful of people knew what I was about to do.

With little support, I felt like an unarmed dwarf forging a battle against giants.  The next day after arriving in Kota Kinabalu while I was patiently waiting for another flight, yellow rays started creeping in, slowly taking over the gray clouds which hovered the skyline and just right out of the glass window of the airport, Mt. Kinabalu greeted me with her grandiosity. It reminded me to think big, that very view gave me courage and made ready me for the start of competition.

I opened both heart and mind and got rid of my fear. Each day was filled with laughter shared not only among candidates, but with everyone involved with the pageant. The whole competition seemed like a long vacation.

Fast-forward, I found myself standing together with three other finalists. It was the announcement of winners, I was the only one with no special award of which worried me a lot. In a split second, my name was called.  It was a surreal unexpected moment of triumph. They called me, “Miss SCUBA International First Runner-up”.

Since then, I was able to help communities and contribute in the protection of the marine environment. To my mother Noemi and sister Carrie for the unfailing love, to Sir George for helping me with my dive license, to Aquamundo Sports for providing my dive gears and to Edwin Uy for letting me don his creations for the MSI competition, to my Miss SCUBA International Family, SERALHCO, SAV Hospitality and to everyone who was with me during this journey, I am forever grateful.

I am walking in front of you now as a proof that failure is a natural part of success, road blocks are meant to test you and passion always gets you through. To the next Miss SCUBA Philippines, the dream is yours for the taking, be brave.

I was sad and happy that night because I was giving up familiarity but I also knew a new doors of opportunities were on my way. After that night, I became a co-host for Miss SCUBA International 2014 and in 2015, I became the second national director for Miss SCUBA Philippines and ended up chosing the lady who would become Miss SCUBA International 2015 and the year after the next lady I chose won another First Runner up place for the country.

Cliche as it sounds but every ending is indeed just the beginning of something else.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to an opportunity or someone? How did it go?

 

My Wardrobe Checklist for 5 Months of Backpacking

Planning to go on a month-long trip? Here is my wardrobe checklist for 5 months of backpacking!

I always worry about my luggage when traveling. My obsessive-compulsive side always want to make sure I do not bring too much and most of the time, I barely reach half of my luggage limit.

“The old school of thought would have you believe that you'd be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn't what being in nature is all about. Rather, it's about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.” ― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail
“The old school of thought would have you believe that you’d be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn’t what being in nature is all about. Rather, it’s about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.”
― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail

I am lucky to be gifted with the talent of travelling light. When I went for Malaysia for Ms. SCUBA International 2013, I managed to fit in 25 kilograms two pairs of heels, national costume and with all my dive gears.

The problem most ladies face when doing long-term travel is trying to fit everything into a small luggage. I can recall the sight of my Bb. Pilipinas 2013  co-candidates during our three-day stay in Shangri-La. I felt that I barely brought stuff since I only carried a medium-sized duffel bag while the rest brought ones as huge as dive equipment bags (TBH I will never know what was inside those bags).

Back in 2015, I went to Tacloban and packed for a month of volunteer work which turned out to be longer. It became a 5 month-long wardrobe in a 50 L backpack?

How did I survive?

Here is my list:

TOPS

You can try to have 2 of these in bright colours to add more life to your usual neutrals.

If you are doing PR work, best to have some dressy tops.

4 Tank Tops

4 Shirts – 2 short-sleeved and 2 long-sleeved

Choose ones made from light materials.

1 Windbreaker

Jeans can be heavy though.

You can mix both to create a juxtaposition of sophisticated and casual.

3 Pair of shorts

2 Long Pants/Trousers

1 Pair of Leggings

A-line is safest.

1 Long Skirt

3 Brassieres

You can also choose to bring Nubra (silicone adhesive bras), they are easy to wash and wear.

Basic Undies

4 Pairs of Underwear

1 Sarong/ Cover-up (30 Ways to Use Your Sarong)

Less space consumed by microfiber towels compared to standard cotton ones.

1Towel (Microfiber is best)

1 Pair of Sneakers or Rubber Shoes (Hiking shoes are not as good-looking but they do their job well)

1 Pair of Flip-Flop

1 Pair of Ballerina Flats (For sophisticated moments.)

These are my basics and you can choose to add clothing items depending on where you will be doing volunteer work. If you are backpacking in the Philippines, I suggest you bring ones made of cotton because the humidity will make you sweat like a pig and a pair of joggers and long sleeve shirt will help fend off mosquitoes at night.

Having a hard time deciding which to take? Let George Clooney inspire you or check out this Pinterest Board.

Postcard Stories: Rebel Life

The world tells you to follow but the world do not celebrate those who fit in. Rebels always win! Are you one?

Hi! I am the endangered monkey called Paula. On rare sightings you will see me randomly climbing trees like in this photo while visiting Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija (I still need to blog about my experience).

Anyhow, we were laughing a lot when I was monkeying around. People often mistake me to be arrogant when they first meet me because of my natural resting bitch face and my introvert nature but those who end up befriending me know how crazy I can be which leads me to the thought of how many people are really crazy but think that being predictable is better.

The world is a funny place to live in.

First they tell you to follow, be like everyone else so you spend a lot of years being one with the crowd.

You go to university then you get a job. Next thing you know you have a husband/wife plus kid/s and you plan out retirement.

The plot twist though, the world rarely rewards the ones who blend in. It is always the rebels and the crazy ones who are celebrated.

So why blend in?

I tried blending in for 22 years but miserably failed. I got the course my mother thought was practical, I tried working as a nurse for half a year and just broke down. I used to follow everything despite questioning those asked from me. In the end, I could not continue lying to myself and this is why I moved to Manila.

I cannot embrace the stereotypical life and never will, it is never the easiest path to go on your own route. A lot will question your life choices and think you are being irresponsible but in the end it is your life and you are the only person you have to live with. It is far more irresponsible to live unhappy and project this to others. There are already tons of zombies living the typical 9-5 life. It us after all called living not dying.

I do not know about you but I will always be a rebel by birth, by blood and by choice.

Are you a rebel too?