Afterglow

Its funny just how different a day could be. Just yesterday I was flying a jet over Mt Pinatubo, and today I’m back in the daily grind, churning out final investment proposals and case analysis papers. That breeze, that brilliant sunlight, the gorgeous views all seem so so far away and so so long ago.

The Philippines were amazing. I am still soaking in the afterglow of our glorious adventure. Many people were confused why I would choose Clark over established places like Manilla or Cebu, but there is way more to it than what meets the eye. I’m in love with the culture, the people, the food (lumpia, sisig, dirty ice cream…mmmm!), the beautiful natural scenery, and the vibe. When we were there, I forgot all about my hurried footsteps and constant rushing around in Hong Kong. Everything was so mellow, sunny, and bright.

I found myself fascinated by the extreme paradoxes that seemed to exist everywhere around Clark. Rundown ghetto airport with one terminal, but amazing air-conditioned and wifi-enabled shopping mall. Crowded rundown jeepneys charging 9 pesos a ride blasting Jessie J’s Price Tag. Tribal Aetas men who have never left the Philippines but speak perfect English. Tricycles and scooters alongside jeepneys, jaywalkers, and ‘taxis’ aka cars looking to make a little extra. Extremely underrated and underpromoted amazing adventures like Puning Hot Springs and drag racing. Clark is far from fully developed or metropolitan and there are definitely many things the city needs to make improvements on, but my two days there made me realize that there is so much we can learn from cultures or areas we deem less sophisticated or developed.

Tricyle Terminal on Don Juico

Jeepney

View of Clark from our first hotel

Me on a tricycle!

Riding the Jeepney to SM Mall

Aetas kids. They ran alongside our 4X4 and waved hello.

Lone child on the bank.

SM Mall Clark

Thank you for reminding me to take a step back, think, appreciate, and breathe.

M

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Flying A Jet Over Mount Pinatubo & 4X4ing through Sapang Bato

Today was unforgettable. I flew a jet over Mount Pinatubo and its crater lake, we sloshed through the sulfuric hot springs and lahar canyons of Sapang Bato in 4X4s, took a nap completely buried in volcanic sand, and shared memorable moments with the indigenous Aetas.

Andrea & I

After a lovely complimentary breakfast at Oasis Hotel, we headed to Omni Aviation for our aerial tour over Mount Pinatubo and the crater lake. Our pilot and tour guide Johnny were super cool and after some minor difficulties we took off on one of the world’s shortest runways. It was a beautiful clear day, and the view below was breathtaking. We rode the airwaves emitted by the mountains, and quickly gained altitude. Johnny told us that Mt Pinatubo had been a cloudy no-go for the past week, so when we got close to the clouds that loomed over the volcano it seemed to be a lost cause. One minute later, we emerged from the clouds and found a clear patch of air. Our daredevil pilot managed to avoid downdrafts and fly us directly over the crater lake and Pinatubo. The view was breath-taking. We were amazingly lucky.

Flying

Mt Pinatubo Crater Lake, Up Close and Personal

After we flew out of cloud zone, our pilot handed over the controls completely to me after 3 minutes of coaching. As I steered the plane out of the mountainous regions and decreased altitude, he snapped pictures of us on his camera. I was shaky at first and quite flabbergasted he would entrust me with all controls over the plane, but I soon managed to get a hang of it after some…ah…turbulence. Hehe! And there I was, flying a jet over Mt Pinatubo. We were both nauseous and slightly dizzy by the time we landed back at the base (no thanks to my flying), but it was 1000000% worth it. Our pilot was super chill and awesome; he got us ice water and drove us back to our hotel for free. Almost every local we encountered on this trip was extremely hospitable and friendly.

After checking out, it was time for our next adventure: 4X4 Adventure through Sapang Bato.

Beautiful

Our 4X4 driver whisked us away from civilization through the back alleys of the Aetas people, through hard gravel roads, rivers, and rocky terrain to the Puning Hot Springs of Brgy. Inararo in Porac. The exotic scenery and crazy bumpy ride juxtaposed with our driver’s US Billboard Top Hits was exhilarating. We passed by Aetas children bathing in the springs and stuck our faces out of the 4X4 to enjoy the wind. After the amazing hot springs, we were buried in volcanic sand and hibernated in a subconscious state. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

4X4!

Puning Hot Springs

Hot Springs!

Paradise?

Intense.

Post Volcanic Sand Spa

You've been good to us Clark.

So fly.

I love the Philippines!

M

Singing on a Jeepney To Angeles City

For our weekend getaway, we hopped on a plane to Clark, Philippines amidst a thunderstorm, were stuck on the Tarmac for 2 hours, and finally made it to Clark International Airport at 2 30am, 3 hours behind schedule.

Upon first impression, I was not blown away by the ghetto walkway to the airport, the creepy men who kept catcalling, and the taxi drivers that ripped us off and kept snapping phone pics of us. What an interesting welcome to Angeles City, the “Disneyland for men” red light district.

At 3am, we arrived at Deverra Hotel, smack in the middle of Don Juico nightlife strip. After checking in, we decided to explore. The city, literally, does not sleep. For the next two hours, we snacked on street food and Jollibee, saw 256884598 old white men with their Asian escorts, and soaked in the sheer energy that pulsed around us.

5am. Piled into our exec suite king bed, and proceeded to pass out until noon.

For the rest of the day, we walked the streets of Angeles City, explored SM Mall, tricycled to Oasis Hotel. We floated around the lovely pool and sunbathed lazily on lawn chairs while chatting about life, sipping San Miguel beers and devouring chicken adobo.

By the time we squeezed on to a Jeepney (the spunky Philippine version of a Thai songthraew decked out with cool slogans, feathers, and American pop songs blasting on the radio), I think Andrea and I had already fallen in love with this place. After handing over our 9 peso fare, we joined the locals and sang along to Jessie J’s Price Tag. Priceless.

Angeles City is no Manila or Boracay, and is probably not the best place for two Asian girls to travel, but it’s energy completely won us over. The simplicity and openness in lifestyle, the harmony of local culture and modernization, the coexistence of peace and chaotic bustle. Philippines is love, and definitely not what I expected.

M

13 Months: EXP Lunch, Avengers 3D and Amber Rainstorm Warning

Today was K & I’s 13 month anniversary. What better way to celebrate than trek out to Kowloon Tong, dine at the ever popular EXP, and top it off with Avengers 3D?

EXP was amazing. It’s sausage and bolognaise pasta was cooked to utmost perfection, and the fried pork chop was just the right texture and chewiness. Our fruit squeezes were healthy and delicious, and the creme brûlée trio was simply exquisite. The outstanding cuisine, coupled with the modern chic decor and the view overlooking the gigantic ice skating rink where figure skaters twirled effortlessly on the ice, was a lovely lunchtime experience.

EXP of Festival Walk. 400+ Likes on OpenRice.

Omnomnom.

With frappucinos in hand, we headed into AMC and spent the next two hours being utterly wowed by Avengers. It was a melting pot of action, drama and comedy. There was actually a lot of character development for each superhero. I was literally laughing my head off one minute and in utter suspense the next. Avengers 3D was awesome. Like I said, I haven’t seen a bad movie in Hong Kong yet.

Potatoheads & Avengers. AMAZING MOVIE! Highly recommended.

Now K & I are chilling at Airport Express. K is being a super sweetie keeping me company, as Andrea and I leave for the Philippines tonight. There is currently an Amber Rain Storm warning issued across Hong Kong, and many flights are delayed. I seriously hope we can arrive in Pampanga in one piece.

M

High School Ends With a Bang & College Ends in a Whisper.

So true. Today was officially my last day of class as an undergraduate.

I woke up to the sun and thought to myself, today’s going to be great. AT 9:59, I skipped down the stairs to get in line for the HKU shuttle at EXACTLY the same time as K. We got to sit next to each other on the bus for once, so it was a very happy start to my day.

With K!

After a deep discussion on the insecurities caused by globalization in tutorial, I enjoyed my last marketing lecture by Professor Baniel on Corporate Identity. I am really going to miss this guy! He gave us his cell phone number and email address, so I will definitely be a creeper keep in contact with him.

Baniel & I. I'm going to frame this to remember forever!!!

Then, it was time for my last official class ever. I walked up to Meng Wah Complex dressed in business casual for my Multinational Corporations presentation and last official class. I headed up to the 7th floor….and promptly got lost. How embarassing! Yes indeed, there I was going to my last official class in college, and I forgot where it was. After a semester of being in that class. *Blush*.

Ten minutes later, I finally found my classroom and plopped down next to Julia looking slightly frazzled. Professor Chan came in, a few groups presented, and then it was showtime for KFC China. Boom, boom, and boom.

Take a picture with your Professor Day! Professor Chan & I.

At 6:15pm, I walked out done with college…..EXCEPT not really. Perhaps I would feel more different after I am done with next Wednesday’s evil make up tutorial, 3 finals, and about 5 more papers.

It is 10:54 pm, and I am on campus at the 24 hour computer lab blogging, typing up a competitive analysis on KFC, and on hold with Agoda customer service. Fun night.

M

Lady Mama & Team Presents: Born This Way

Decked out head to toe in fiery red, Lady Mama (aka yours truly) took the “stage” when it was show time. With Harry on guitar, I proceeded to belt out Born This Way in front of my entire Sex & Intimacy, backed up by HKU’s high tech microphones & amps.

After the song drew to a close, Harry continued on the guitar while I started our spoken word.

Born This Way was featured as Hong Kong IDAHO International Day Against Homophobia 2011 Campaign Theme. While the song lyrics and attitude resonate with many gay people with its on point lyrics, it also perpetuated the common perception that gay people HAVE to be outrageous, diva, or different. In reality, homosexual people live among us in our own circles. They could be your aunt, your best friend, your teacher, your postman, or your classmate.

For our project, we chose to take a step back from our media-influenced perspective. We interviewed Gay and Lesbians in monogamous relationships. Our interviewees hailed from various ages and stages of life. When reading the interview transcript, one of us expressed his surprise that the answers were strangely…normal. Indeed, gay people live among us, and they face the same struggles and vicissitudes as all of us, if not amplified by homophobia and a clash of values with Asian Society.

With that I beg of you to take a step back and look with an open mind to see what it truly means to be gay and born this way.

I have so many wonderful gay, bi, and transgender friends, as well as friends that hail from all nationalities, cultures, religions, and ages. This presentation on the celebration and recognition of homosexuality as normal was actually extremely personal for me to express my beliefs in front of a still somewhat conservative big group of HKU students. While many people take this class with an honest interest in learning more about intimacy and social theory, the majority are really in for the shits and giggles when it comes down to it. The more outrageous the clip, the more scandalous the story, the most unique presentation; those are the showstoppers. While I have thoroughly enjoyed this amazing class and would definitely recommend it to everyone, I think the content and its presentation sometimes only reinforces stereotypes: the flamboyant gay diva, the slutty prostitute, or the disgusting BDSM practitioner. I really hope my group’s presentation today helped to dissipate some of those preconceptions that are often etched in our minds.

Dynamic Duo: Guitarist Harry & Lady MaMa

I love my group! Harry, Joe, Daisy, Walter, & Mama!

Thanks for the memories, Sex & Intimacy!

 

M

Bonnic and Her Day of Misery.

Its official. My name is now Bonnic. At least according to the lovely HKU Starbucks Staff. Now thats a new one.

Bonnic. But I got a Frappucino Passport so I guess its all good!?

Charged with Starbuck’s new Mocha Cookie Crumble and my ever reliable sausage roll for breakfast, I had a quick meetup with Marketing, zoned out (whats new?) through my last Management class ever, returned to prep with my Marketing Group, and headed into LE7 at 1pm for judgement day by Professor Baniel.

I opened our investment presentation for KFC, and proceeded to power through my 16-slide portion. 2 hours later, Steven and I sneaked out. I spent the next hour frazzled by HKU’s intensely complicated bureaucracy. I traveled to 4 different places on campus and made 3 separate calls (one with my professor) just so I could borrow a microphone for my Born This Way Performance for Sex & Intimacy class tomorrow. Still no dice. I have to go in with my tutorial advisor Eva together tomorrow to make yet another attempt. Sheesh for angry Canto old ladies.

Here I am, exhausted, hoarse, and fat (stress makes me gain 94893028492 lbs so easily), in the music room at Fong Shu Chuen Amenities Center, belting out the lyrics to Born This Way. Fingers crossed I will still have my voice tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I found out on top of everything else, I have ANOTHER 15 page investment report due next Monday. Woohoo!

Face of the Day. Nerd mode = ON.

M