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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

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Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Coron with Governor Joel T. Reyes during the inauguration of the Busuanga Airport. Tourism business is pouring in the Calamianes Group of Islands.

SO MANY things are happening in Puerto Princesa and Palawan these days. I don’t exactly call Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s visit to Coron “a good thing,” considering so many broken promises made to us in the past, but she was there to inaugurate a SONA commitment made in 2006 — the improvement and rehabilitation of Busuanga Airport.

Governor Joel T. Reyes was happy, and so were other local government officials who went there to join the Calamianes Group of Islands’ recent feat in tourism. That picture above shows our governor showing Arroyo something on the map. Behind was 1st Palawan District Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez.

Alex of PNA, who has been covering Coron lately, said the President’s visit was seen as “something good” for the group of island municipalities that’s currently experiencing really bombastic booms. William Gatchalian, the plastics magnate, is reportedly eying an investment on an exotic property there called “Dinaran Island.”

There’s also a large islands tour vessel that has placed the Calamianes in its cruise map — 7,100 Islands Cruise Ship — and it’s ready to bring in visitors to see the beauty of the place. New in the sky Zestair is set to fly the route soon, after it opens here this month.

I miss Coron. I miss Darayonan, where I would stay whenever I’m there. And when there’s nothing to do at night, since I don’t like staying in ex-pat bars (coz they’re the only ones open late at night), I’d coop myself in the lodging place and just read magazines. It’s a fashion and home living magazines paradise. Although the issues were several months late, they’re still informative to read.

There’s also no forgetting that first time I went to Kayangan Lake. Our boat cruised on the bluest sea and the sky was amazingly lighter in the same shade, it was definitely the day to enjoy the outdoors. Though it was a steep climb before one can see the inland lake, it was all worth it. The view was just fantastic, and water was clear with little shrimps (I don’t know how they got there) promenading under, on the sand.

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Photo borrowed from http://malvado.net/coron2.htm

There’s a hot spring in Coron that’s just so lovely on a moonlit night, and its near the sea that cradles Coron Bay. Makinit Hot Spring is warm as it’s heated geothermally, and many say it can bring good therapeutic results to someone who’s tired and will take a dip. I did that. In fact, a friend who was with me then, took a picture, but I forgot where I’ve stashed it all these years.

Makinit can be better enjoyed at nightfall. With the melodic warbling of crickets and the stars for company, it’s definitely the place for a tired mind and body. Entrance fee is very affordable, and it only takes a tricycle to get there — trip is only a few minutes.

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Photo borrowed from http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9621688

If you’re up for a little Safari adventure, not too far in Busuanga is the Calauit Wildlife Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary (CGPWS) is located within Calauit Island in the northwestern part of Busuanga, the main island of the Calamianes, Northern Palawan. It is separated from Busuanga by extensive mangroves and the Ditapic Channel, where the waters of Illultuk Bay and the Ditapic River of Busuanga flow eastward. The CGPWS has a land cover area of approximately 3,760 hectares, wherein about 40% is open rangeland, 20% moderately undulating, and 40% hill areas. Average elevation is 50 meters above sea level (50 masl) with the highest point in Namultan Range with 237 masl. It has four major creeks that have sections that are usually dry during summer, except the Abanaban Creek that retains water even during the driest month due to an intact watershed. It has a pronounced wet season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. Average monthly rainfall is 39.4 inches, while annual precipitation is at 139.4 inches. Mean temperature is recorded at 27.6 centigrade. The marine zone area is approximated at 252 square kilometers, which is delineated seven kilometers from the mean sea level.

You won’t think a place like it exists in Palawan. Tales said it used to be Marcos’ hunting ground. He would bring his son Bong-Bong there to hunt animals, and also with his friends. Am not sure if this is true. Today, Calauit is already a tourist spot in the Calamianes with giraffes, Calamian deer, zebras and other animals, endemic or otherwise to Palawan.

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Photo borrowed from www.pcsd.ph/protected_areas/calauit.htm

These days, I dream a lot about going back to Coron. About that wonderful sunset I witnessed on my way to Culion. Calamianes’ personal contribution to me was it set me up to appreciate and love sunrises and sunsets.

Sunrise offered a very beautiful spectacle; the water was quite unruffled, but the motion communicated by the tides was so great that, although there was not a breath of air stirring, the sea heaved slowly with a grand and majestic motion. — George Grey

And I ride with the wind… on a color-filled sky, with the sweetest sunset’s warm kiss.

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I sat the other night as chairman of the board of judges in a search for the five prettiest gays here in Puerto Princesa. It was my good friend Bianca (one of the prettiest gays I’ve ever set my eyes on so far) who called and invited me to be one, I can’t say no.

Bianca, when I was taking my oath as national vice president of the JCI Palawan Region last October in Cebu, was the one patient enough to stand up and take my pictures where some of my Peacock Jaycees friends have failed. How can I say no to her?

I’ve never sat as a judge in a gay pageant before, that’s why when I got to the Baywalk on the night of December 11, I was anxious to talk to someone to brief me on the criteria for judging. The call time was 7:30 p.m., but when I got there, the City Government was still showing Storm Chasers, a 1998 film about a widowed storm chaser sent to Chicago to investigate a destructive tornado.

I thought I was at the wrong place. Where did they say the pageant would be held? There were only a few people I saw at the Baywalk watching the film. I had to laugh at the thought. Had they shown a Fernando Poe or a Robin Padilla (famous Philippine action stars) film, there’d be more people standing and watching.

Since there’s still no one to help obliterate my anxiety, I just took out my camera and document scenes that captured my interest. I’m still mesmerized by the giant Christmas tree and its 10,000 lights so I got more pictures of it. I was just disappointed that when I downloaded the content of my camera, there’s only one shot that I like. The rest were all blurred.

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I had more than 20 shots in my camera, but this one’s the only picture worth posting. The rest can’t be anything but useless.

Deciding that I’ve been waiting a bit long enough, I moved my attention to my mobile phone supposedly to call Bianca and inquire if I went to the right venue. I never got to calling her because as if on cue, I saw Joel, another gay friend, who was too happy to inform me about what I was expected to do.

Joel and I haven’t bonded in a long time. He’s an entertainment radio host and writer for Bandillo ng Palawan, another weekly newspaper where I used to work before. Here in my town, if you want to know the juiciest details about the lives of popular personalities, you only have to look for him to know.

He co-manages too an art cafe called Lorq’s (pronounced as Lora’s), a fast-rising watering hole for the yuppies in Puerto Princesa, located near the airport. Some of Joel’s business partners are known media personalities in this city.

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Lorq’s at night. I took this picture during my first visit in the place, when I attended the meeting of the Oil Jaycees. It was rustic; perfect venue for small birthday celebrations and meetings.

The gay pageant started around 9:00 in the evening. The board of judges which I chaired was composed of Louie Oliva, owner of Kalui Restaurant; Yolly Parker-Dixon, my good friend who is married to China-based Brit Geoffrey; Jinky Peneyra, wife of lawyer Bobby Peneyra and also a former beauty queen; and two others whose names I missed getting.

There were 15 candidates; I must say all of them were pretty in their swimsuits and evening gowns and they’re pretty young. The youngest was 17, I think. They walked and did the ramp with the grace of real female models. Yolly, sitting beside me, commented that they’re even elegant and poised than her.

There was a crowd of people that has gathered behind me from where I was sitting. I can hear some of them making very, very unfriendly banters about the gay contestants, I was annoyed I almost retorted back that if they don’t have anything good to say, they should just go home and forget they went to the Baywalk.

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You’ll find this lovely corner at my friend Louie Oliva’s “Kalui Restaurant” located along Rizal Avenue, near the airport. This place used to have books, books, books, lots of books. Believe it or not, this started as a small crude shack of a place. But these days, it’s a must-go-to dining place in Puerto Princesa. It’s even popular than some of Palawan’s natural wonders.

I see nothing wrong in the gay pageant. They’re human beings too, they deserve respect. Not just “some” respect. I have many gay friends here in Puerto Princesa; most of them are really talented make-up artists, stage directors, dancers, singers, stand up comedians, owners of restaurants (like Louie who owns Kalui), beauty parlors, grocery stores, etcetera. Some of them live really simple and quietly lives, contrary to notions that they’re loud and they’re a disruption to the order of the community.

Some of our fundraising events in the Peacock Jaycees enjoyed the support of my gay friends, and for that, I am thankful and I respect them more than those whom I know have the capability and ability to help but still denied to give out of passing impulses.

I wish people will have more heart to accept them for who they are and what they can do to help; not hate them because of what they are.

Too bad I don’t have pictures from the pageant to show here. I have to ask for copies from Bianca because I forgot all about my camera when I was already on the table with the other judges.

It was fun — three cheers for Bianca for doing a good job! Although we were delayed, the moment the pageant started, it moved on and on without interruption. We ended before 12 midnight.

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