Ride The Tides

It felt like a flashback from when I first arrived at the island in 2016, a total wreck who lost her job with a failing relationship that wanted nothing but to escape reality. Nothing was going right.

”Home, it is nice to be back!”, I pondered to myself as I gazed out the window. The van cruised through concrete roads bordered by old mango trees, green rice paddies and tall coconut trees. Infrequently, the pristine view would be blocked by huge political or advertisement banners, but I was too excited to let the sporadic growth gall over my love for Siargao. Two months since I left the island with a beaten ego after Jing told me that there were no weak surfers.


“Jing’s Place!’’, the van driver declared as he handed over my backpack. Jing owned one of the first fully all local homestays in General Luna. Already in his fifties, he was still rocking surfer abs. A surfing legend to most, he was the surfer dad that I never had.

I marched into the homestay, Jojo welcomed me, “You’re home Paula! Let’s go surfing! Uncle Jing is already at Secret Spot.’’ Itching to surf again, I speedily unpacked my bag onto the bed to change. I clutched my favourite 8-foot long board and strapped it to onto the motorbike board rack. I sensed a bit of self-doubt and worry raced in, ”Was it too soon to surf again after a bad reef cut?”, I questioned myself. ”You have booties on Paula.”, I reassured myself as I revved the motorbike engine.

Forty-five minutes until I reached the not-so-secret Secret Spot because of the countless motorbikes parked along the roadside, I wandered 300 meters from the parking before I finally heard the rustling waves.

With a waxed surfboard and a Zinc cream covered face, I got on the board and paddled out. “Nice to see you again Tin!”, jested Jing as he summoned his student over. I felt great to be in the water again after having been partially immobile for a full month after a minor surfing accident.

The first wave arrived, I attempted to seize it but missed then struggled to get back on the board. As the sun rays radiated stronger, so did my impatience. The only reason I signed up for the gym was to surf better. Yet there I was plopping miserably like an absolute amateur.

It felt like a flashback from when I first arrived at the island in 2016, a total wreck who lost her job with a failing relationship that wanted nothing but to escape reality. Nothing was going right.

With jelly arms, annoyance grew as I waited for waves. I had to deal with my inner demons called patience and trust. I turned to Jing seeking assurance of which he responded with a smile.

Surfing is definitely not for people who loved full control, there are just too many external factors to this sport. The sense of helplessness slowly crept into my nerves being a person who relished in predictability.

‘’Yew!’’, jeered one local surfer as another set of waves showed up over the horizon. Keep legs together, paddle deeper with clasped hands, wait for the push, stand up with knees bent and look far towards the shore, I told myself.

‘’This one Tin! Paddle now, paddle hard!’’, coaxed Jing. I paddled, I felt the push and the flow got to me.

With a sigh of relief, I finally caught a wave, my first long ride after a long time. The next hours, I rode one wave after the other with much enthusiasm until I could not paddle anymore.

“Good session today! Great to have you back again Tin.”, said Jing as he patted my right shoulder as I looked at him with a stoked face. I felt elated that he was proud of me, but I was just happy to be back and ride the tides again.

A supportive surfing family living on a gorgeous island also struggling to find balance over contentment and growth. ”Progress over perfection, be ready to ride the tides.”, Jing would constantly quip. The Siargaonons and the island not only taught me acceptance over my flaws but also of trusting life despite the unwanted changes.

As I turned the engine off and laid the board on the rack, there was a sense of peace and security, the very essence of home.


The Taming of the Fox: Thoughts About Being Single, Dating and Relationships

Why are you single? Where is your boyfriend? Are you married? These questions I hear often and it is getting worse the older I get. I am not an AFAM hunter and nor am I desperate. I am just a fox that needs taming!

One only understands the things that one tames….Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Why are you single? Where is your boyfriend? Are you married? These questions I hear often and it is getting worse the older I get. I am certain it will only get much worse by December because my younger sister is getting married! Living in a country where most women are expected to marry by 24, I am far beyond the deadline. At one point in time, I did say I would get married by 26. Well, deadlines are flexible so now I have moved it to 35. While on a casual chat with my German friend Yasha about love life and men, he told me that I was just a fox waiting to be tamed. It then hit me, perhaps he is right.

I thought that it would be fitting to write about my relationship status and dating while we are still in the Love month even it is technically the last day of it. I had my first attempt at a relationship when I was 17 years old and it did not end well, in fact, it gave me a period of post-traumatic stress disorder but I will leave this story in the air as I do not think it can be good for me or the ones reading my blog and I know, now you want to know about it.

Anyhow, I dated a couple of men and for the past five years, I have been more inclined to dating foreign ones. Do not get me wrong, I am not one of those for lack of a better word ”AFAM hunters”. Now back to the fox. What about the fox? Well, anyone who has heard of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which is also one of my favourite books of all time, would know much about the fox. Although the fox was just one of the characters in the story, he played an important role. He reminded the prince about what is essential and about responsibilities in relationships.

When Looks Get In The Way

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This is quite relatable as for me, I have gotten a lot of interests from men based on how I look. I cannot count the times I have been told how my skin colour looks nice, how pretty or cute I am and how nice it is that I am tall. Sure, I am not a hypocrite, I do agree that one of the first things we notice is how good a person looks like but it should not be what they are only about. I find this quite frustrating when meeting men as most of them, in my opinion, are only motivated to get in my pants. Having a past in pageantry and modelling does not make things easier. Often than not, people can easily like someone based on their physical traits. I find this too common with most travellers I meet and of course, I do understand them, the whole idea of a taller tanned Asian girl is something just not to be missed thanks to the whole exoticism concept. This is quite evident when you try out Tinder, Bumble and all the other dating apps. I did a social experiment where I put out my modelling photo as the main profile photo and without a doubt, men are visual creatures but I also found out that I found more interesting people with the Darth Vader photo.

The exact profile photo I had over Tinder before they banned me from pissing off many men.

It is not just with dating that looks get in the way even in work. There are several times I wished that people would take me seriously but because of the whole beauty queen branding they do not take you seriously or worse they do not think you have a brain. Beyond the face, people should seek more what is in the soul. I wished that people saw me as more than just a face or a taller Filipina.

Just A Different Mindset

One only understands the things that one tames…. Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I do not have preference over foreign men, however, I found that they understand my Western mind far easier than most Filipinos. I did date a couple of Filipinos but I found them stuck in the patriarchal and not so ambitious mindset. Again, perhaps it is just me. I remember dating one who was from an almost traditional Filipino-Chinese family and I did my best to adapt to his lifestyle but in the end. it almost drove me nuts as well and when we were in our third year into the relationship, I decided to move to Manila to pursue my interest in business and startups. I think some men are bothered by the whole independent thinking that I have. I still do try to let them pull the chair, open the door and pay for the bill for me at times but again I prefer not to always.

I do not share the typical ideal most Filipinos are accustomed to, the whole get a good degree, find a good job, get married and have kids. Though do not take it differently I do still want to have kids but I think the whole concept of what most Filipinos think of marriage is too overrated.

I do not need much formality or lavish celebrations to celebrate love and the relationship. Heck, if I got married, I would save the money more for decent flat and more flights to see the world. When it comes to who has more say in the relationship, I am all for equality but in the Philippines or in the world in general, more emphasis has been put on letting men have the final say which is unfair because to me relationships mean both have equal rights. The problem is that some men never bother to understand my mindset and I also may be guilty of the same thing.

Complexity Can Kill Interest

To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you….But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered;…because it is she that I have listened to when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I have dated a couple of men who thought my life was too random and unstructured but for a late bloomer like me, I am just in the phase of getting to know which interests pursue and a part of me believes in multipotentiality. So yeah perhaps I am too complex for some who have their whole lives too planned out. I just think that there is a huge world out there beyond the typical work and desk jobs. It also does not help now that I am a digital nomad, having the freedom to be anywhere requires that I should also date someone with the same flexibility. I could be surfing in Siargao on one day and be in the jungles the next week that it would kill people who thrive with structure and predictability.

Again, I am not opposed to having structure, I do work in the field of project management so I know why it is necessary, however, I do think that in order to grow, you need new experiences and challenges. If you have never tried something and just keep it like that for the rest of your life, perhaps you are missing out on something that you could be great at. It is human nature to seek security and go for things that can be controlled, however, this does not necessarily help you grow as much. It is in unfamiliarity that one learns and discovers. Some people love reading adventures while I prefer to be the one writing about it. No one is wrong in this, just different strokes for different folks.

Again with the taming part, I am open to working with people who are not as crazy as I am with multiple interests but first I just need to know if it is worth giving up certain freedoms. I have done this before, I can adapt to another person but again it has to be equal otherwise, it will just feel like a fox having her tail or a foot cut-off.

So What Now Fox?

You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.

I do not worry that no one has tamed me despite my family and friends worry that I will waste good genes and join the crazy cat lady organisation even though cats are cute (I love dogs more.). My aunt tried to set me up with a guy in the US and this was with my mom’s approval. In fact, she even suggested that I should perhaps consider. Just recently the trip in Siargao where I ran into a former colleague who also ended up thinking which guy friend would fit me. Again, I do not have problems meeting people, I organise events, travel places and use dating apps. I am just not focused on the whole romanticism of finding the one. I am currently busy loving life and improving myself or at least that is what I think I am doing but it could also be escapism and having the Peter Pan complex. I do not worry much even if I end up as a single cougar. I already have arranged sperm donations from men I have met along the way who seemed to have good genes so I could have a baby if I still do not meet someone who is worth marrying or getting serious by the time I hit 35. Kidding!

I can always adopt too, there are a lot of forsaken kids that need all the love in the world. Lastly, I am still in the process of loving myself more. Coming from some life-changing relationships, I know the responsibility and time you need to be committed. Maybe I just need to find the right fit or it is just not the right time. Maybe I will be single forever or maybe I will settle down. Either way, I am not closing myself off to possibilities but I am also not in a rush and just enjoying the single life. So just let me be! But I appreciate that my family and friends worry, despite that a part of my plan is to make my marriage a surprise, I will invite you when the time comes and I will post in social media to make it official.

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Most Eco-Friendly Whaleshark Interaction in the Philippines: Pintuyan, Southern Leyte

Planning to go to Oslob? Visit Pintuyan instead! The most eco-friendly whale shark interaction in the Philippines.

When it comes to whale shark watching in the Philippines, Oslob comes first in the mind of most Filipinos and foreigners but people should stop supporting this exploitation!

It is really not surprising with all the Instagram and Facebook posts about it getting crazy popular if not viral, it has been the known circus. I one article it has been said that during the tourist season, more than 1,500 sightseers descend each day on Oslob, a town of 30,000 on the island of Cebu. If you want to watch real whale sharks and not puppies being fed, your best option in the Philippines is found in a lesser known site called Pintuyan.
Pintuyan is a fifth class municipality in Southern Leyte province is home to the most eco-friendly whale shark interaction in the country.

Why Choose Pintuyan over Oslob?

The difference between Oslob and Pintuyan is quite huge in several aspects.

  1. Less Crowd. Far from them park feeling you get when in Oslob, Pintuyan is a remote place that is not frequently visited by countless of Korean and Chinese tourists. Compared to hundreds in Oslob, in Pintuyan, you will probably have 20 other people the most.
  2. Longer Interaction for Lesser Cost. In Oslob, you only get to be in the water for 45 minutes and pay more while in Pintuyan, it will be for a three-hour long sea-based adventure. Since they do not feed the whale sharks, you will have to wait it out for a bit and have several chances in interacting with them.
  3. Directly Supporting Local Community. In Pintuyan, when you pay the fees, you are paying a small portion to the local government while directly supporting the local fishermen who are advocates of conservation, for a disadvantaged community this is helping them a lot unlike in Oslob where the government is earning millions per month without full transparency where the money is going.
  4. See Raw Nature and Real Local Life. Oslob has already gotten touristy while Pintuyan has remained simple and raw. You can sit back and watch the sunset from their port and enjoy local priced food and drinks in town.
  5. Taking An Ethical Stand Against Animal Exploitation. As travelers, it is easy to not think of our impacts when we support local destinations and activities. Saying No to Oslob is changes the perspective of tourism to a more sustainable approach and it is empowering communities that are opting to be more eco-friendly in their approach.

Getting to Pintuyan:

Traveling to Pintuyan involves several transfers but the scenery is worth it. Southern Leyte being a less frequented place has a lot to offer. I would suggest leaving Cebu at night and arriving early in the morning in either Hilongos or Maasin.

From Cebu:

To reach Pintuyan, you can either go on a fast craft or overnight boat to Hilongos or Maasin (closer) which can take 3-6 hours. Check out Roble Shipping Lines, Gabisan Shipping Lines or Weesam Express. You can then take a van or bus to Sogod where you can take another ride to Pintuyan. From Hilongos to Pintuyan takes about 3 hours and costs around 180PHP. You can also fly to Tacloban and then take a bus to Southern Leyte, however, this will cost a lot more money.

From Bohol:

You can take a local boat called Leopard Shipping Lines from Ubay to Maasin and from there to take a van or bus to go to Sogod Bus Terminal and then catch a van or bus to Pintuyan.

How Much Will The Whale Shark Interaction Cost?

Before you could swim with the sharks, all tourists must undergo briefing before given trip tickets to engage in whale shark interaction. Then you’ll need spotters and tour guides and KASAKA will provide that.

Charges are collected from persons engaging in Whale Shark Watching and Interaction. Interactions can be done from morning until early afternoon.

Whaleshark Interaction Fees:

Conservation Fee: Php250.00 per person

Boat Rental (Good for 3 people): Php700.00 boat tour within the Municipal Water of Pintuyan Proper.

Php800.00 boat tour within the Municipal Water of San Ricardo.

Tour / Naturalist Guide: Php350.00

Shark Spotter: Php300.00

For more questions:
Mr. Virgilio Plazon Flores
KASAKA Collector and also one of the P.O.’s Tour Guides
Mobile Number: 09359296626

Whale Shark Interaction Guidelines:

Make sure to strictly follow the guidelines before and after entering the interaction area.


Also important to remember that you SHOULD NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN as these chemicals can affect the whale sharks.

Accommodations in Pintuyan:

You might want to go a day before the whale shark interaction to have enough time to rest before the interaction as it will be an action filled interaction involving a lot of swimming. Whale sharks seem like they swim slow but trust me they can swim fast! Pintuyan has only three options for you should you choose to stay for the night:

Pintuyan Dive Resort :  

They have twin rooms at around P5,000+ You can use my code to get a 10% discount in Booking.com:

D&D’s Lodge:

Located near the parish church of Pintuyan
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.
Care Taker’s Name: Mrs. Emmylou Banol
Contact Number: 09069372486

La Guerta Lodge I and II:

I would suggest staying at Lodge I as it is closer to the local food places, more spacious and Municipal Hall where you pay the conservation fee. A room there costs P 600, it has aircon and an own toilet but no hot shower. You can share one room with two other people though it is quite a tight space and one has to sleep on the floor with a mattress while the two has to share a double bed.

La Guerta Lodge I
(In front of the Municipal Hall)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, Pintuyan, Southern Leyte

La Guerta Lodge II
(In front of the Pintuyan District Hospital – P.D.H.)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.

Care Taker’s Name: Mrs. Lynrie B. Guias (for La Guerta Lodges I and II)
Contact Number: 09261426986

6A’s Resort

6As’s Owner: Amy Tandayag – 09173211024

Staying in the Town:

  1. Palawan Pawnshop
  2. Reymart Bakeshop
  3. Mosqueda-Tandayag Building
  4. Basketball Court
  5. Michael Pharmacy
  6. CM Bakery
  7. Ayen Sari-sari Store
  8. Chapel
  9. Lucky Seven Trading
  10. Miq’s Haus
  11. Eatery
  12. Roselyn’s Sari-sari Store and Lotto Outlet
  13. Venus Sari-sari Store – BBQ, Vegetables and Fruit Stand
  14. Rucat’s Sari-sari Store
  15. Alice Store Sari-sari Store
  16. Water Market
  17. Pinoy ATM
  18. Cade’s Sari-Sari Store – Meat and Vegetables
  19. Richard’s Snackhouse
  20. Cebuana Lhuiller Express
  21. Surigao Sari-sari Grocery
  22. Ramos’ Store – Photocopy/clothes/house supplies
  23. Chapel
  24. Lelot Store – Fruits and Vegetables
  25. San Juan “Ubos” Barangay Hall
  26. Ariane Jee Lechon Manok
  27. Lhuiller Pawnshop
  28. La Guerta Lodging House
  29. Rowena’s Store
  30. Basketball Court Gym
  31. Municipal Hall
  32. Bakery
  33. Pintuyan Central School
  34. D&D Lodge
  35. Pintuyan National Highschool
  36. DJ BA Pharmacy
  37. La Guerta Lodge II
  38. Pintuyan District Hospital
  39. Ginell’s JenielJunJames Gen. Merchandise and Eatery
  40. Karaoke Bar

Another tip is to catch the sunset from the port, grab your beer and just chill. When sunset comes, you will be able to see the local fishermen head out to the sea. It is like seeing the boat version of Bagan’s air balloons. It is quite a sight to see. Also, remember that everything closes early in this place so make sure to buy dinner by 7:00PM as all stores pretty much close after. You can also use the dirty kitchen in La Guerta and cook, you can borrow the pans from the caretakers they are very helpful.

Other Activities You Can Do When in Pintuyan:

Hike Son-ok Peak

Located within the Panaon Point of Barangay Son-ok near Pintuyan Ecotourism Park, you will get a bird’s eye view of the bay.

Explore Pintuyan Ecotourism Park which has an area of 22,729 sq. meters, home to the Philippine long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis philippensis.)

Chase Waterfalls

A series of five waterfalls that stretch along 4.5 kilometers of river flows of Barangay Catbawan seven kms. Northeast of the town proper.

The site boast of its unique features thru different shapes of waterfalls.
The 212 hours of river trekking along the stretch is worth an adventure as one will hurdle each falls using roots and hanging “Bagon” leaving behind memories of hard knock efforts while enjoying what nature can offer. S

Snorkel or Dive

Pintuyan has several Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that boast beautiful coral coverage and an abundance of reef fishes: Dan-an, Manglit, Son-ok, and Balong-Balong. But there are also interesting spots just along the coast like right in front of the Brgy. Sta. Cruz Pier or the sandy area in Brgy. Punod for muck diving.
Before you swim or indulge in any water activities, especially in the MPAs, please contact or visit the Tourism Office first to settle conservation fees, suggestions on where you can rent gear (mask, snorkel, fins) if you do not have any, and instructions on if and where inside these areas is allowed for recreation.

Now that you have a better option than Oslob, please spread the word and help promote Pintuyan, a hidden gem in Southern Leyte.

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!

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?


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 after consecutive 16 hours of duty and only getting paid P 7,500 (travelling 4 hours a day without travel allowance). 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?