As night drops from the edge of dawn,
his silhouette rolls out from the sea,
curling in the surf across the horizon,
ripping blue water from cold sky free.

Kite-strung, he is the primeval child
tamed of brutal wind and ocean rush,
breathing in salt, drinking in the wild
sea spray, feeding on swells and hush.

And as things catch that divine hour,
night shade warms slowly into gold,
like a fine man growing ever younger
the more the world turns a new day old.

Gently thickening, his wind-forged body
bottles in the stars and escaping night;
with sun-bared skin he is starkly darkly
in the milky foam and the rising firelight.

Toes sunk deep in the sand, I am stunned
that half the earth rests on an empty vault
until my darkling spills his purpling band
of a thousand starry grains of salt.

// Mar 2017

Chasing Bliss

I'm diving into a new experiment: living without money. While I'm not yet completely moneyless (I still have an ATM and a credit card, and still spend on rent and food), I've been slowly easing my way out of The System, The Soul-Sucking Workforce, and The Suicidal Consumerist Economy. Along the way I'm discovering a different kind of fix, one that fattens my spirit and nothing else. None of the following things can ever be bought or commercialized, and yet they're far more intoxicating than the everyday, store-bought paperbag of happiness. With little writing work and so much free time in my hands, I've been chasing bliss towards wherever it leads me.

  1. Exploring a new island on my own. Solo traveling is just as intimate as curling up with an impressionistic book. But unlike imagining scenes, you're launched into a 3D, HD-quality type of story.
  2. Meeting local and foreign nationals. This is probably the biggest spice I have of traveling alone. Also, I've met my muse, my surf-riding darkling.
  3. Feeling the ocean breeze. Some days I just while the time away on a hammock by the beach, shutting my eyes and feeling the ocean breathing on my skin.
  4. Biking on the open road. Freewheeling and baked in the sun, I go wherever I feel like it and end up in surprising places locals themselves don't even know about.
  5. Reading a book. Gave away my entire library and have either been reading on my tablet or borrowing books from hotels. Travelers from the world over leave plenty of good books behind.
  6. Swimming far out in the sea. Purging, healing, revitalizing, swimming in the sea pulls me back into the aqueous womb of the earth.
  7. Petting baby animals along the road. To replace my addiction to watching youtube vids of cuddly animals. XD
  8. Getting stoked on the sunrise everyday. I haven't missed a sunrise since January! Light is my new alarm clock.
  9. Birdwatching. Sighting plenty of various bird species is an everyday occurrence.
  10. Experimenting with one less thing one at a time. Going towards ultralight, I'm shaving off one thing at a time from my backpack. Everything I own is now under 10 kg.
  11. Helping people out. Currently lending a hand to an archaeologist setting up a museum in El Nido, among others.
  12. Drinking coconut juice. My favorite refreshment next to plain old water. You just yank it off a tree and hack the top off. Yum!
  13. Having a nap or picnic in the shade of trees. My room is just where I dump my stuff. Everything I do is outdoors, even my office.
  14. Hitchhiking to remote beaches. Aw, the joys of hitchhiking! Every driver I meet on the road is swelling with a generous heart.
  15. Sharing my spoils of the day (mostly food) with my neighbors. Just because they give me plenty of free food, mostly harvested produce or just picked from our backyard.
  16. Brewing lemongrass tea. The grass I just pull out from the earth, wash the dirt off, and steep in hot water.
  17. Soaking up in the view of islands and the ocean from a mountaintop. Something I can never have but have already stashed away in my memory.
  18. Listening to eclectic music. My new digs come from other nomads on the road.
  19. Gazing at the spray of the milky way in the black night. The universe is one deep monstrous cavern and we are but one trifling sparkle. And yet we sparkle.
  20. Building daily habits towards zero waste. Because I'm devoted to saving the environment and eventually being an activist.
  21. Watching kiteboarders surf and defy the forces of nature. Most afternoons I just sit back on the east coast and watch these junkies soar in between wind and water.
  22. Fishing in the calm and clear sea under a bright, full moon. I don't eat fish anymore, but I hitch on fishermen's boats just to hang out and watch.
  23. Immersing in Cuyonon culture. Not only am I immersing myself in this but helping out in their cultural programs.
  24. Getting high on the scent of tree blossoms. My landlady's choice of drug are flowers. I don't even have to stop and smell these things. They're everywhere!
  25. Shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables. Since there is no fridge (not to mention electricity!) where I live, I buy fresh produce everyday.
  26. Eating cheap and yummy vegan food. March marks my first vegan anniversary. The transition has been hellish and lonely but definitely worth every effort.
  27. Listening to the sound of a typhoon. On my first night in eastern El Nido, I thought there was a storm outside, what with the sound of downpour and the thrashing of trees. But nooo, it was only Amihan mimicking the onslaught of a typhoon.
  28. Cranking into yoga poses on the beach. I used to despise yoga, but now my body cannot be booted into a new day without breathing fire into gratifyingly painful poses.
  29. Writing my first novel. Ah, art. Possibly the only thing I can't live without next to air.
  30. Inhaling the deliciously clean ocean air. This is what I left the city for: to breathe and be seduced once again into the simplicity of being alive.

// Mar 2017

Palawan Sunrise

Been diligently watching the sunrise every single day since January. :B

Dawn. Barangonan, Iloc, and Binulbulan islands on the horizon.

Sun peeking out from behind Binulbulan Island (or Shaggy Pubic Hair Island XD).

Just behind me where I do yoga.

// Mar 2017

Minimalism #1: Reusable Steel Bottle

My quest for the perfect water bottle led me to this. Prior this vacuum insulated steel bottle, I had two Klean Kanteens that did not work for me; and before those, a BPA-free Nalgene plastic bottle which I used for about five years. Below is pretty much my favorite bottle of all time. I keep it with me wherever I go.

My small water bottle of perfection. Rubbed the logo out with denatured alcohol.

I use this container for all my drinking fluids and for storing food leftovers.

I no longer drink soda, caffeinated beverages, or any type of liquor.

These days I only drink water, coconut water, and calamansi juice.

The beauty of this bottle is it simplifies all my drinking habits.

No more plastic bottles, plastic cups, and paper cups.

No more using multiple (breakable) glass or ceramic cups at home.

It keeps food and fluids hot for 6 hours, and cold ones for 12 hours.

That's phenomenal for a little thing, methinks. It also lasts a lifetime.

// Feb 2017

Stoked on the Sun

Sunset everyday in my new home.

Everyday is a day to fall in love with here in Palawan. In the morning I'm always hyped to get out of bed that I instinctively wake up at 5 am. Without an alarm clock. I walk around town by 6, and watch the imposing limestone cliffs slowly come on fire. The rest of the day is an adventure, and comes to a close with the pretty sun dunking behind islands and islets in the horizon.

Each week I spend 3 to 4 days buried in reading and writing, and the rest of the week exploring by bike or on foot all the secret (and sacred) spots to hang out in the island. I still can't believe I'm here. A year ago, this was nothing but a dream. And now I'm here, not just for a vacation, but to settle down and live that dream. I'm carving my little perfect life, and this small town may be the best place to do that.

El Nido is busy this peak season though. Stupid of me not knowing it's peak season when I moved here. No matter how near or far I scouted for an apartment to rent long-term, all effort has been futile. In the meantime I'm staying at a hostel beside Art Cafe, just a stone's throw away to the nearest beach. If I don't find a place to settle down in a month or two, I might check out the more quiet Coron Island.

// UPDATE: Found the perfect home at the kiteboarding side of El Nido.

// Feb 2017