What dragon boating means to me

Nine months of dragon boating.

I’ve seen improvements in my endurance and physique. When I first started, I would stop halfway during a 10-minute warmup drill. I would give up and start questioning myself, “Bakit ko ba ito ginagawa?”. I would look at my teammates with both envy and admiration. “Ang gagaling nila.”

With my physique, I no longer feel like the lanky pale-skinned guy I was before. I love my tan. I love it so much that when I see a cute guy with pale skin on the train, I frown. Ang boring siguro ng buhay niya (JUDGEMENTAL AGAD?!) Ayaw niya mag-paaraw. Siguro all he does is shop, gym, and stay indoors. In the past nine months, I get turned on by athleticism. Yung tipong kasama mo ang mga conscious sa health. People who challenge themselves and encourage others to reach their physical goals.

Physically, I feel slightly slightly toned. I still have tummy fat and average arms. Sa tingin ko, need lang mag gym and program to bulk up a bit. As for endurance, I am running farther and faster thanks to FDS training. I succeeded making personal best in 10km and 21.1km at the recent Sundown Marathon. Not as fast as my peers, but most definitely better than anything I’ve done before.

I may not have a firm chest, or have big biceps and triceps. Those are aesthetics I feel. What about substance? So many lean women on my dragon boat team… some even so petite and yet when they paddle, the water disappears. I’m so eager to gain strength. Even if I have tummy fat or little arms… Strength muna before aesthetics right?

Since dragon boating is a team sport, it helps when you hear encouraging remarks. I’ve had a fair share of pep talk from our training committee (mga kapitan), our coach (a former Philippine national team captain), and various seniors. Minsan napapaisip ako… siguro I keep getting called out kasi pansin nila mukhang hirap na hirap na ako. They push me to improve myself. But I am prone to second-guessing myself. ūüė¶

Which brings me to say that after nine months of dragon boating, the other issue apart from the need for strength training is mental training. Mind over matter, right?

I find that when I second-guess myself, when I start focusing on my weaknesses… I distract myself and I doubt and lose focus. Suddenly it’s my mind that slows me down. Our team captain would scream, “It’s all in the mind!”. I feel totoo nga. Lalo na when you are in a sprint or at the last 100 meters of a 500-meter race. With splash in your eyes, the adrenaline of competition, commands being yelled “LONGS! READY??? GO!!!!”.

I guess I’m writing this now kasi despite wanting to be the best version of myself for the team, I am still struggling. I still hop onto the boat asking myself if I can survive the training program. When I’m paddling for eight minutes with two more minutes to go… losing my form is frustrating!

From zero sports participation to joining one of the most competitive expat teams in Singapore, it’s been a wild challenge. I should heed to physical, brute strength development and stop overanalyzing myself. I need to control my mind and stop doubting. Lalo na dito sa dragon boating. This is something I am committed to.

Dragon boating is a team sport. As an individual within a team, the greatest challenge I feel is to defeat self-doubt and to push myself beyond what is safe and comfortable.


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Family Trip to Coron Pt. 4 – Coron Island Tour

Our 3rd full day in Coron was for the Coron Island Tour. This was also arranged by our hotel (similar to our Island Escapades Tour the previous day and the Smith Point visit on my birthday.) This was probably the most standard of tour packages in CoronРfeaturing Kayangan Lake.

We were picked up at our hotel at 8:30 AM by a Calamian Island Tours van. The van brought us to the boat jetty nearby (probably a 5-10 minute walk from One Averee Bay Hotel). The boat was already filled with other members of our tour group that morning.

Coron Island was just across the straits. Here were our stops in the order we visited. I took some notes while visiting:

Kayangan Lake – stunningly beautiful¬†(but mosquito-ridden!). Bring and apply OFF! Lotion. You can opt to do some snorkelling to see what’s underneath the lake. You’ll spot some fishes and some rock formations. Suggestion is to be one of the first to arrive at the lake before other¬†groups beat you there. This allows you to take a photo of the lake without people. Try to grab the¬†floating balsa before everyone else. Take your time on the steps up and down as they may be slippery. Definitely one of Coron’s most picturesque.

Coron Coral Garden – A wonderful snorkelling spot. Depth was fine during our visit. No need for slippers when we went in high tide. I spotted beautiful blue fishes and a few jellyfish at the deeper side. You can work with your guides to get you around faster using those flotation circles.

Beach 91 (Lunch Venue) РThis was a small beach meant that served the purpose of being a pit stop for tour groups. Pass the rice and be friendly with your group! The waves were beautiful at high tide. Some mosquitos. You can kayak if you want stronger waves. Beach 91 is cornered by towering limestone cliffs.

Japanese Shipwreck – because we couldn’t access¬†Siete¬†Pecados (on our original itinerary), we were brought to a location where you can spot a creepy WWII Japanese shipwreck. You could only see the bow. There were plenty of fishes! I spotted one jellyfish the size of a shopping bag.

CYC Beach – our boat driver and tour guides said that this was one of Coron’s last remaining public beaches since all the other ones were privately owned. We arrived here during low tide which meant the boat was unable to approach the island. Some of us walked to the beach in shallow water. Not much to snorkel but I spotted some shrimps and a larger fish the size of a remote control.

Twin Lagoon – a fantastic finale for our Coron Island tour. It was beautiful approaching the limestone cliffs during late afternoon. There was one lagoon for boats, and another lagoon for people to swim to while wearing life vests. There’s this strange warm and cold water sensation that changes from time to time. Felt like entering a natural IMAX amphitheatre, with voices of tourists echoing. This was probably one of my favourite spots in Coron. Nothing to snorkel at since the water was dark (and mysterious). Wear slippers because some areas are rocky (especially getting through the shallow tunnel portion that links the two lagoons).

At the end of our two days of island tours, it appeared that my family were also having a great time. Which to me means¬†everything. ūüôā

The rest in photos…

— End of Part 4 —

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All photos taken using my iPhone 6 Plus. Photos processed with the help of VSCOCam.

Family Trip to Coron Pt. 3 – Island Escapades Tour

Our 2nd full day in Coron was for the Island Escapades Tour. Arranged via our hotel, we were picked up at 7:30 AM and brought to the port area for a one and a half hour boat ride across the sea to three islands: Malpacuyo Island, Banana Island, and Bulog Dos.

Getting to these three islands was actually tiresome. With party cloudy skies, the waves were a bit rough and there was plenty of splash. Our first stop was Malpacuyo.

Malpacuyo Island – The strong waves on the beach reminded me of Pagudpod. I immediately went to the water to just take it all in. Lots of kubos and seats, an island with a basketball court and a house.

Banana Island – about 15 minutes from Malpacuyo Island, is where our tour group had lunch. Served were crabs, fish, and grilled chicken. Plenty of rice. This was a favourite because it was a great place to chill. There’s a beach with calm waves ideal for light snorkelling and kayaking. The other side was a beach with stronger waves. There were some private little houses on the island. A bathroom is available.

Bulog Dos – about 15 minutes away were these two little islets that were connected by sand bars. It was low tide so our boat could not approach the island. Some of us swam/walked through the water to access the rocky island. I went to the other side to look for the tour guide’s nemo “may mga nemo dun sa kabila” but it was too rocky. I was also scared of stepping on baby starfishes, if any. I did some snorkelling and saw a small sea urchin.

After a 1.5 hour-long boat ride back to Coron town, we refreshed and had dinner at Kawayanan Grill. It is more of an inuman place. Like a local version of Gerry’s Grill. Compared with our first night’s dinner at Santino’s Grill, Kawayanan was disappointing.

In photos:

— End of Part 3 —

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All photos taken using my iPhone 6 Plus. Photos processed with the help of VSCOCam.

Family Trip to Coron Pt. 2 – Big 3-0 at Smith Point

Smith Point lies on the westernmost tip of Coron Island. It was what the hotel recommended for a private day trip. We signed up for two tours (Island Escapades and Coron Island Tour) but I wanted to do those on different days. I wanted to have a simple birthday picnic at a beach.

Our first full day in Coron was at Smith Point. I arranged for a private boat to take my family. We paid about PHP 2,000 for the boat rental which comes with the crew (who will also grill and prepare the picnic food). PHP 100.00 each was the “island visiting fee”.

After my parents did some groceries at the public market, we reached Smith Point before 11:00 AM. It was a quick 20 minute boat ride across the Coron Passage.

At high tide, the waves were beautiful! We had the whole beach to ourselves except during lunch hour when two other tour groups had their buffet lunch at Smith Point. They left after eating and we had the beach again to ourselves.

Smith Point is a small beach cove with about four or five kubos/huts. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs. There are no bathrooms on the beach. There’s a cat, a dog, and a monitor lizard if you are lucky to catch one picking up scrap food.

In photos:

¬†— End of Part 2 —

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All photos taken using my iPhone 6 Plus. Photos processed with the help of VSCOCam.

Family Trip to Coron Pt. 1 – Cavite to Coron

On Sunday we took a Philippine Airlines Bombardier Q400 prop to Busuanga, Coron, Philippines. It was a trip I planned months ago to celebrate my BIG 3-0 this year. I wanted to bring my family to see these beautiful islands. I pictured beaches, open seas, fresh seafood, barbecues and for some strange reason– vintage coke bottles.

NAIA-3 on a Sunday morning was fairly quiet. Check-in was a breeze and we were at our gate about two hours before boarding. I ordered tapa at Army Navy because… I haven’t had tapa in ages! I was worried about possible flight cancellations since prop plane flights usually get cancelled due to air traffic or weather conditions. Luckily, nothing was cancelled. We departed almost in time and landed in picturesque Busuanga Island 45 minutes later. Landing in this vast green valley on an island was a sight! You could see cattle and little farm houses on the horizon.

Airport transfer was quick and we were in Coron town within 30 minutes. You could tell how few people lived on this island. A population of only about 70,000 people. My hometown in Cavite has more than twice that amount in a much compressed space!

We checked in at our lodging for four nights: One Averee Bay Hotel. Location was downtown, surrounded by t-shirt stores and open lots. The port was just a 5 minute walk away. Fantastic. We also had the family suite since we wanted to stay together in one room. The suite is quite large and looks like it could fit about six adults.

Essentially, this was our Coron itinerary:

  • Monday¬†– private birthday picnic at Smith Point, Coron Island
  • Tuesday – Island Escapades Tour (Malpacuyo, Banana, and Bulog Dos islands)
  • Wednesday – Coron Island Tour (Kayangan Lake, Coral Garden, Twin Lagoon, Beach 91, Japanese Shipwreck, and CYC Beach)
  • Thursday – return to Manila

In photos: hi

– End of Part 1 –

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Day 12: Your favourite restaurant

Because I’m writing this in the Philippines, I’ll put down Shakey’s.¬†It never fails! My other favourite is Almon Marina but it’s hard to come by. Shakey’s is everywhere. Some other fast food restaurants like Kenny Rogers and Mang Inasal have lost their appeal over the years. But Shakey’s seems to turn it up and keep it as good as it was back in high school.

Thin-crust pizza! My favourite manager’s special is still around.

The fried chicken! Crispy crust and meaty inside.

Spaghetti! Just a good amount of it to keep you full.

And of course… the mojos! Good with anything. Perfect comfort food.

Luckily today after picking me up at the airport… we dropped by the Shakey’s along Centennial Road in Kawit, Cavite. We¬†didn’t mind waiting along with other families… the place was filled with people. It’s a Shakey’s branch in the middle of almost no-where. Filled with people! The food was cooked fresh. ūüôā

Day 10: My 2015 summer playlist

Here is my summer playlist:

  • “Hold My Hand” –¬†Jess Glynne
  • “Poison” – Rita Ora
  • “Adore” – Ariana Grande
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd
  • “Worth It” – Fifth Harmony
  • “Back It Up” – Prince Royce
  • “Fire Meet Gasoline” – Sia
  • “This Summer” – Maroon 5
  • “Bettie” – Violet Chachki
  • “Pretty Girls” – Britney Spears
  • “Deja Vu” – Giorgio Moroder feat. Sia
  • “First Love” – Jennifer Lopez
  • “Golden Touch” – Amuro
  • “Fly Tonight” – RuPaul
  • “Not Giving Up” – The Saturdays