This year, I didn’t get to plan anything for my birthday due to several reasons.  But thankfully, a couple of my HS friends invited me to join them in Zambales and got my beach fix.

Welcome to Liwliwa, San Felipe!
 Liwliwa is known as a surfing spot and is frequently visited by surf enthusiasts. This is very evident with all the signs and the overall mood in the area. It's pretty laidback and quite relaxing with its quiet, provincial vibe.

From Manila, travel time was around 3-4 hours (Thanks, Loi, for your car). Our group originally planned to leave earlier on a Friday night but we ended up leaving in the wee hours of Saturday. On one end, it was good because we arrived in San Felipe in the morning which made it easier to navigate and find our friend's hideout. On the other hand, it made our stay shorter so medyo bitin lol. Nevertheless, it was a fun, sleepless trip- thanks to my crazy friends (Thanks, Jeff, for putting up with our craziness and for driving).



We arrived in Liwliwa around 8a or so (maybe!).  One of our friends is developing an Airbnb-type resort (owned by his brother) in the area so we didn’t have to worry about accommodation. His place (or rather, his brother's) is located near the famous Hideout, which is amazing btw.

Joe's Hideout
Since the place is still under construction, we set up our own tents (Thanks, Joe, for letting us use your big tent). We also bought our own food, drinks and the likes (Thanks, Rai, for the yummy cheese and chips).




Tucked away and surrounded by lush greenery, it is the perfect hideout if you want to have some peace and quiet, and just chill. And that is exactly what we did. We ate, drank, talked and took pics all day and all night. It was great to catch up and reminisce the good old days.  It's good to leave behind our worries (#adulting) for awhile and just enjoy each other's company.


Beach, please!
Later in the afternoon, we decided to go for a swim and see the sunset. Unfortunately, we didn't see any.  We did get to swim and yes, take pics of course.  The sand here is not as fine as the one I went to in Bohol but it’s not as coarse as the one in Baler. It's similar to the beaches of Elyu or Batangas.  The water is clear and surprisingly warm. The waves are pretty calm with a few strong ones in between. 




Since it’s summer season, there were a lot of people at the beach. We opted to go the furthest end of the beach to avoid the crowd. I wished we brought our drinks so we could stay longer and just chill at the beach. But I guess we were too excited? Or maybe we were too spontaneous. I dunno lol.


The next day, I went for a quick jog then headed straight for the beach to see the sunrise. But then again, I was late so nada for me. My friends joined me as well. After swimming, we bought coffee in Hideout and I must say, the place is pretty interesting. Plus, I love their coffee and the sign at the entrance.





No Goodbyes, Just So Long
Liwliwa may not have been as idyllic as Baler for me, it has definitely captured my heart. I can imagine myself walking the long stretch of sand and enjoying the sea breeze anytime of the day. But, alas, we needed to say goodbye and get back to reality. I promise to go back to the place, explore it further and discover new and exciting sights and adventure.





Until the next adventure!


Sometimes the city can be a bit overwhelming with its constant noise and nonstop movement. Don’t get me wrong, I love the urban jungle in all its form- good and bad, but like everything we love, a little distance is all we need to make the heart grow fonder.



So when you find yourself lost in the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s good to take a step back once in awhile and find some stillness. In times like this, I found a sanctuary in Abby’s Garden Resort.



Located in Butong, Taal, Batangas, this idyllic place is unlike anything I’ve been to before. Knowing that Lemery isn’t known for beaches, I wasn’t sure what to expect as the tricycle we rode in took us across paved roads with a kind of peaceful vibe you only feel in the province into a small road surrounded by fields and grasses.  



Before the road ends, we were dropped off at a nondescript place and was told we’re at Abby’s Garden Resort. I thought, “How can it be?”. From the outside, the place looks like a private home of some rich haciendero. But yes, we are exactly where we should be. This is indeed Abby’s Garden Resort.

As soon as we entered, my attention was caught by the blooming flowers and the fresh breeze. The staff quickly welcomed us and introduced us to Sir James, the resort’s General Manager. I was pleasantly surprised at how homey the place feels like.  The place has an open and relaxed atmosphere, thanks to wide open doors and the breeze from the garden.


Home Is Where The Heart Is
The room we were assigned to was pretty spacious with 2 double beds, a private T/B, air-conditioner, and a TV. My favorite part of the room are the wide windows and its dramatic curtains. It even has a small table and chairs that is perfect for reading, working or simply relaxing while looking out at the fields outside.



As soon as we were settled, we explored the place and boy, were we in for a treat. It is not surprising that Abby’s Garden Resort is known for being the wedding destination of choice. The Mediterranean-inspired hotel and garden is a sight to behold.



Planked by the Mediterranean Garden on the right and the swimming pool on the left, the Gazebo is the perfect place if you want to have an OOTD or simply just sit on the steps and relax. Be careful though as the calm breeze and stillness might lull you into sleep.  



A few steps from the Function Hall is an entrance to Cherry’s Victorian Garden. All green, blooms and sunshine- you can immediately see why anyone would choose this place as their place of celebration. It just screams freedom for me. Unbound by walls and surrounded by trees and flowers plus the swing with the vines and all - it’s just perfect. My heart was swelling with happiness as I take one picture after another.





I went for a walk here with one of the guests in the early morning and I fell more inlove than ever (Disclaimer: If you are afraid of the dark or strong winds, do not attempt to walk or jog here alone. It can be a bit daunting,)

But enough gushing for me because clearly, I’m enamored by the place. I don’t think I have enough words to describe how I felt when I was here. Peaceful seems to be the only word I can think of but really, you need to be here and experience it. Allow me to let the pictures do the talking. 

 







I would like to thank Sir James and Mrs. Brown for allowing us to stay here for the weekend in celebration of their 9th year. Thank you to the staff as well for being kind, patient and accommodating. 



Abby's Garden Resort is truly a home away from home. For more details on their rooms and rates, you may visit their website- www.abbysgardenresort.com.

I am lazy as hell. I don’t like to walk when I don’t have to. So what am I doing joining a marathon, you ask? Well… despite my laziness, I’ve always wanted to join marathons and get my hands on one of those finisher medals. In short, inggit lang ako. Char!


Seriously though, it is a source of inspiration and fascination for me to see runners with their medals and reading their stories of perseverance, determination and victory.

So when an opportunity for me to join one, I took it. It was for the Runrio Trilogy Race Series. I wasn’t sure what came over me that made me say “Yes, I am joining.” So I did. I signed-up for 10k. 


10k! 10 effin’ kilometers! KILOMETERS!
Source: https://www.runrio.com

I refuse to even walk a mile going to the MRT… How am I supposed to finish 10k? In 2 hours? But I have already registered and paid. No backing out now. 

PRACTICE MAKES YOU TIRED LOL
I only had a few weeks to prepare for the run but since I go to the gym, my coach tweaked my training to help me prepare for it. On the weeks prior to the run, our training consisted mostly of cardio and agility workouts. The workouts were meant to help with my endurance and condition my body. Not fun at all lol.

But I know that wasn’t enough so I braved going to UP to practice. The 1st time I ran, it took me 1:55 minutes to finish the 10k mark with lots of walking, pauses and buko juice break in between.























The 2nd (and last) practice, I was 4 minutes faster lol. Yaaaasss! I am sooo ready! NOT!’



D-DAY HAS COME!
March 18, 2018.  Mall of Asia. 
These words will forever be engraved in my mind as the day and place of my suffering (char!).  There were a lot and I mean, a lot, of people. It was a bit overwhelming but surprisingly comforting. If I fail to reach the required hours, I am not alone so I just have to focus on having fun and just enjoying the race.



4:50a. And the race is on. 


My companions ran ahead of me and am left on my own; though, technically you won’t ever be alone in a race. Anyway… so there I was running and my pants felt loose and am like “What the eff? I knew I should’ve worn the other pants. Damn it!” 
My sorta disastrous outfit lol

Newbie tip #1: Make sure your shorts/pants and undergarments are tight AF. Never underestimate the power of tight clothing lol. But don’t make it too tight or else, you won’t be able to breathe. 

I kept adjusting everything until eventually, I sweat enough for it to not be loose hahaha. Seriously, it was annoying at first.  Also, the first few kilometers were kinda difficult for me because it was pretty early and dark and there are some areas I had trouble seeing well coz I have bad eyesight (ugh, I know!)  On the flip side, it was not hot so running was easier. 

INTERNAL MONOLOGUE
3k: “Shit! I think I just got my period. Damn it.”
4K: “Get past World Trade and you’re almost finish”.  
5K: “Is it here where we turn now? I see the LRT station.”
6K: “Why the hell is the LRT station so far? It looks so near earlier”
7K: “Ok. You survived this far. Just a few more steps. You got time.”
8K: “Yass! I see the finish line. Just U-turn and you are soo done! 
 Wait… why is the U-turn so far? 
  Damn, it’s almost 6:50a! Hurry up!”
9K: “1 more kilometer. There it is! A few more lampposts and you’re done!
 “Hurry up and finish so you can change out of your bloodied clothes.”
FINISH LINE: “YASSSS! What was my time? 1:25! Yasss!”
 “I need to change. I need to change. Where is everyone?”

I know am crazy but this craziness kept me sane and stopped me from just plopping in the middle of the road and give up. 
Image source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/sadness-inside-out/images/38695257/title/sadness-photo

VICTORY AT LAST!
Crossing the finishing line was surreal. I was so happy and damn proud of myself. I was grinning from ear to ear holding my medal. Finally, after wanting it for years, I now have one of my own. Who would’ve thought I’d be here? Anyone who knows me well would say “impossible”.


But there I was - running as if my life depended on it, clutching the medal like a precious cargo worth a million bucks and grinning like a madman who won a bet. And I guess in a way, I did win a bet- a bet against myself and I won. 

For others, 10K may be nothing but for me, it’s no small feat. This is more than just getting the medal. It is me overcoming my own limitations and going out of my comfort zone. This is me realizing that there are still potentials left untapped within me. 


All I have to do is be brave and say yes to opportunities. Yes to believing that I can and I will. Yes to trusting other people and the universe. Yes to better things. 

And that is my story. It's not over yet. I'm just getting started!

For more pictures, visit my FB page right here: https://business.facebook.com/lifeofchii/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1652722981474764. Don't forget to share some love and like my page! Domo arigatou!

PS. Thank you to the nice family who helped me attach my tracker on my shoes. I hope you enjoyed the run as much as I did.
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