Last Thursday was officially the last day of our team together. It was the end of an era. I have been contemplating on what to write to immortalize our time together as a team; all the laughter, stupid jokes, and even the small bickering that happens from time to time. Every time I try to string words together, I get stuck. There’s so much to say. So much emotion swinging me around.
There it was sitting on my e-mail inbox. A confirmation that I have been accepted as a part of ACE Talent Program. It is a program for high potential talents as future leaders. Your manager will need to nominate and fight for you for a spot. Think of it like an elite membership club.
I was just six months old with the company when I first heard about it and it has been part of my goal since. I wanted it. I wanted it so bad I can taste it. 3 years later, my acceptance letter (Hello Hogwarts, I am still waiting for yours) came. I almost punched an office friend in the face when he asked me to cancel attending the launch to attend something else. BITCH I WAITED 3 YEARS FOR THIS. I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE.
The launch day came and I saw familiar faces. There were a lot of internal screaming happening while I was finding myself a seat.
The host told us that they hid questions under the chairs and we need to look for it and answer it if we do find one.
The first question was WHAT IS ACE TALENT? The guy answered, “I don’t know, I actually have no idea what it is and why I am here.” I wanted to strangle him and break his glasses into million pieces. He was given a privilege and he does not have any idea why he is here. I wanted to escort him out the building myself.
An ACE alumnus spoke about the program being the highest form of recognition anyone could achieve in our company. Being nominated means you are already a star, the best of the best, and joining ACE will develop you to become a superstar.
Our faces glowed with hope, drive and inspiration. Our goals were the same, to be a super star in our ways. And we were all taught that when you dream, always shoot for the stars.
Except me. I want to be a supernova.
Yung may makikilala kang tao na magiging ka-close mo at mag uumpisa kayong gumawa ng mga masasayang bagay na magiging dahilan ng pag kahulog ng loob mo sakanya.
Dadating sa punto na pareho kayong high sa isa’t-isa. Araw-araw kayong nag uusap at nagkkwentuhan. Yung isang araw na magkasama kayo, pakiramdam mo katumbas ng isang buong taon. Nakaka aliw. Nakaka baliw.
There are a lot of articles circulating the internet about the best islands in the Philippines or in the world, and Palawan has always been a part of those lists.
One netizen even commented that “Palawan is every beach lover’s dream destination” who regarded it as a “wonderful and magical place” referring to either El Nido or Coron –Palawan’s best—the first things that will pop into your head when someone mentioned Palawan. The two islands were the bread and butter of Palawan’s tourism for the past few years.
I’m here to give you something to rave about. Something worth putting into your bucket list: BALABAC
I can still remember the first time I went to Nagsasa. I can still vividly recall the look on my face when I found out that there’s no electricity, mobile phone signal and that we will be sleeping in tents which eventually became the very reason why I fell in love with the place. Enough for me to come back for the third time.
My colleagues and I were just talking about team building ideas when I pitched in Nagsasa Cove even though I was just there last January. But you know me, I never say no to beach outings.
There were only four of us who planned to go on this trip. Eventually other folks from the office took notice and had expressed their interest to go. It was my first time to organize a trip at this size. We were originally 13, but 3 cancelled and so there were only 10 of us left.
We agreed to meet 5:00 AM in front of our office where Kuya Raffy, our van driver, was waiting for us. I was already wearing my swimwear when I arrived because aside from the fact that I am excited, I also don’t want to over pack this time. We started rolling a few minutes past 6:00 AM but Kuya Raffy drives fast and knows the in and outs of the north side travel. (I will post his contact details below)
7:00 AM and we were already in Shell Balagtas at NLEX for our first stop over for breakfast. Man, it was jammed pack! We grab a quick bite and got back on the road. We shared funny stories along the way. Well, it’s mostly my stories while they were just laughing. Anthony was laughing subtly while trying to hold his hangover head back to recovery.
photo from Anthony
It’s almost 11AM when we arrived at San Antonio, Zambales. We had to stop by at the public market to buy our food for the entire trip because the supermarket near the office can’t cater the amount of pork liempo that we need.
We bought a total of 6 kg of liempo, Rhea and I walked through the market like a pro but was later on proven that we weren’t. We walked past a few pork meat vendors until we finally saw a vendor where the liempo looks so fresh and good. We told them we need 6 kg and they said no problem as they have more and that they just need to cut them. We ask them to separate 2 kg of liempo and cut in smaller pieces for sinigang and the rest are for grilling. We then told them we would come back and we just have to shop for other items. (Hang in there, I will continue the Liempo story later – HAHAHA)
We finished our market shopping pretty quickly. We went back to the van to deposit the items and we looked for lechon manok because we are all hungry, so we need to have something ready to eat when we reach the island. We bought 4 lechon manok for the 10 of us.
We went back on the road and finally reached Pundaquit where we shall meet Kuya Jess, our Nagsasa tour contact, it is my second time with him, and I highly recommend him should you be interested in going to any of the coves in Zambales. (I will post his contact details below)
What I liked about Kuya Jess is that he is very attentive, and that their place is at the far end of Pundaquit where you will walk the seashore to get to their cottages and wait for your boat. This jump starts the adventure vibe. Also, he offers free shower at their cottage once you are back in Pundaquit after offloading the boat from Nagsasa, before you leave Zambales. This is a huge plus because the boat ride is hot and sticky and you don’t want to spend the next 4-5 hours travelling in that sweat.
photo from Anthony
Our boat was already waiting for us when we got there, after quick bio break, they started portering our things to the boat and off we go. We had a side trip planned for that day to Capones Island, where the sand is white and the water was really clear and inviting. It has big rock formations too!
After a few minutes walking around and taking photos, we hop back on the boat and travelled to Nagsasa Cove. The scenery going to the cove is really breathtaking. It’s as if you are in a foreign country. I’m not sure why Nagsasa is not that popular or people could have grown tired of the place already. But I will pick Nagsasa Cove over Puerto Galera (if we will base the choice according to budget and distance) any given day.
damn facebook strips off the quality of the images
We finally arrived at Nagsasa Cove, pitched our tents, and cooked rice and prepare for our late lunch.
It was our first meal as a group. Everyone says that the lechon manok tasted really good or are we just really that hungry? I can’t tell. HAHAHA.
We went for a swim and this is the most fun part (or at least for me. HAHA) I was one of the first to go in. Followed by the rest of the group. You must stay your body under the water or you will feel chilly whenever the wind blows. We had fun and took funny videos while the sun is setting. It’s amazing how a different set of individuals got along so well and laugh as if we’ve known each other since we were kids. I guess that’s the beauty of it. Knowing so little about someone gives you that sense of being carefree and have fun without anything to hamper you.
Nagsasa is so picturesque you get to swim in between Toblerone like mountains. The fine gray sand is nice to walk on and the water temperature is just perfect even at night.
Dinner time came by and the ultimate challenge of the night dawn upon us. Grilling liempo by the charcoals and setting it on fire with nothing but a lighter. This was also our challenge the last time I was here with my best friends.
We kept saying that the charcoals were wet and that is why it was so hard for it to light up, but I think 80% of that is because we just really don’t know what is the technique on how to do so.
Frea took the liempo out of the bag and we were all shocked because the liempo looks nothing like liempo. I know my liempo by heart. But this “liempo” looked like a lump of pork, chopped into little pieces. Haha. Norbie and I kept on saying that the cuts looked so funny that we don’t know whether it was a porkchop or a spleen. I think we got fooled in the public market because who goes into the public wearing swimsuits? People who knows nothing. Obviously! HAHA.
Anthony, our camp fire leader (HAHAHA) together with Alex, OJ and Norbie put up a good effort to fire up the charcoal. On the other hand, I tried to help by lighting the charcoals in our portable stove and pouring in the charcoal stand while the boys are busy fanning and putting paper and pine tree leaves to keep it going. Almost an hour later and still no luck. Bryan already said to just fry the damn liempo and forget about grilling, but we can’t give up now. There were at least a few charcoals already lit up, and I want a god damn grilled hotdog so bad, WE CAN’T JUST GIVE UP.
I went to the neighbor’s tent and asked if we can have some of their leftover charcoal. The old man was really kind and told us we can just put our charcoal there and come back once it is fully lit up. Three trips later and we have ourselves a working grill. I thought Alex would burn his forehead and eyebrow by manually blowing the grill.
Anthony was like an albularyo using leaves to spread the marinate sauce all over the liempo. While Norbie and the rest feeling fireproof turning the grilled liempo with nothing but their fingers.
Us, the ladies, were busy setting up the table and preparing for dinner. Ket cooked the most tasty sinigang na liempo while Jen prepared dip for the grilled liempo. We ate and had shitloads of liempo left overs. A 4 kg of grilled liempo is more than enough for 10 people and 1 kid. Plus the 2 kg of sinigang. There’s still 2 packs of hot dog inside the fridge (the ice box). There were a lot of leftovers that can still last us up to breakfast maybe till lunch. But to our surprise the limo was missing when we woke up!!!
We went back for a night swim and I showed them the bioluminescent plankton (not capturable by camera though, but the first hand experience feels wonderful) in the waters of Nagsasa Cove that is evident as it is pitch dark. We stayed in the water and kept on floating.
This has to be my favorite thing about Nagsasa. Floating in the water in the darkness with the stars above. Surrounded by people laughing and exchanging crazy stories. It’s my third time and I still feel as strong as the first time about Nagsasa.
I can’t wait to come back next year and bring more people and make them fall in love with it. I love it. I certainly do.
Transportation and Tour contact details:
Yum Yum Sabay | 0917 861 8672
Jesus Bansales | 0977 321 7900
“You’re crazy!” That’s what my parents told me when I told them we will be travelling one whole region. The Philippines being an archipelago meant going on different kind of adventures each time. I think it’s pretty obvious that me and my friends had developed an addiction into collecting boarding passes to accomplish our ultimate goal of seeing all the 81 provinces of our beautiful country.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, SCORING A CHEAP TICKET:
My office mates thinks I’m a ticket whisperer because I always manage to score cheap tickets and wanted to know what my secret is. But there is really no secret or formula here, just patience and persistence. I liked Cebu Pacific’s Facebook page because that’s where they usually post updates about on-going promos and my afternoon routine includes browsing for tickets and checking the prices for the places where I want or dream to go. Doing this daily (and I mean daily, also thanks to my best friend who’s also doing this out of habit) got me familiarized with ticket prices and so it was now easy for me (us) to spot if the prices were really a good deal or not. When the ticket price shows a 3-digit figure, I’ll tie my hair up and book!