Second Impressions

SGMT | Hong Kong — 
It’s been more than 10 years since my last (and only previous) visit to Hong Kong and my sole memory of the airport was the moment we left it. We’d thought, wrongly, that Hong Kong would have the same weather as the Philippines and were caught unprepared by the blast of cool air that greeted us as we left the terminal. Now I’m pleased to say that I have more than a thin shirt on and I’m collecting more (and warmer) memories of the airport, where I’m currently spending the day.

Here’s a quick unedited look:

I love the lines of the Hong Kong airport: the light they let in, the shadows and silhouettes they create. I love how spacious the interior feels, almost as if it were an open-air structure and not in fact a carefully regulated environment. And I love how helpful and pleasant people have been so far, because my other memory of Hong Kong was of tons of people just bumping into me at the trains.

It’s nice to get the chance to form new first impressions.

Catch up later.

How to Save $400 on Philippine Airlines Flights to London


Four words: fly through Hong Kong.


Because of…reasons…a Manila-London-Manila ticket will actually be cheaper — and not just cheaper but cheaper by 400 US dollars — if you tack on a Hong Kong-Manila leg and a Manila-Hong Kong leg.

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The Sumilon Island Bucket List

SGMT | Sumilon Island —
Sumilon Island is one of my favorite places in my home province of Cebu. It’s nearly 4 hours away by bus — plus a short boat ride courtesy of the resort that operates the island — but the experience has always been worth the extra effort and expense. Some people dock on Sumilon’s sandbar after swimming with the whale sharks nearby. It’s also possible to go on the Sumilon Bluewater day tour package that includes lunch, use of the facilities, and boat rides to and from mainland Oslob. The latter I’ve done twice and enjoyed very much, but last year I finally indulged on a 1-year Bluewater Resorts membership, got to stay overnight, and at last had all the time in the world to check off all the things I wanted to do at Sumilon.

My Sumilon Island Bucket List

Starting the day with a welcome glass of iced pandan tea at the resort pavilion in mainland Oslob, waiting for the boat that will take us to Sumilon.

A guided trek around the island. The trail took us past a lighthouse, an old fort, and a wooded area overlooking the island’s marine sanctuary.

Kayaking in the lagoon.

Table with a view. It’s nice to have a meal here and pretend, even for just a single day, that there’s nothing more pressing to be done than partaking of good food and looking out to the sea.

Curling up in one of the oversized chairs with a book (or just one’s thoughts).

Deciding where to take a nap. Inside the cool villa? In one of the native mini-huts? In the hammock? (The hammock won for me.) What a treat to have that be the only decision you have to make for a while.

Having a Dawson’s Creek moment at the rickety wooden pier.

Having the sandbar all to yourself. Spotting the zigzag waves. Swimming.

Finding pockets of quiet. Staring into space. Being still. And just being.

And just eating! Lol. The buffet breakfast at Sumilon is heavenly. The pudding and the made-to-order glass noodle soup were my favorites but everything was delicious really.


The one thing I wasn’t able to try: having a massage here.

Oh, well, an excuse to go back. 🙂

Book a room at Sumilon Bluewater Resort here.


P.S. This is not a sponsored post. 🙂



Mount Hamiguitan: The Philippines’ Newest UNESCO World Heritage Site

SGMT | Mount Hamiguitan —
It’s Monday and you probably have a million things on your to-do list, but here’s one thing you absolutely must make time for: exclusive photos of Mount Hamiguitan, the Philippines’ newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, by Jacob Maentz.

Screencap from

Exclusive because Mount Hamiguitan is still mostly off-limits to the public; special permits are given to researchers, but that’s about it. Photographer Jacob Maentz was granted access to the national park only because he was working on a book about the country’s UNESCO sites, and the images he has captured have been nothing short of stunning. I can’t post too many screenshots here as I don’t want to infringe on his intellectual property rights, so do go over to his website and check out the amazing Mount Hamiguitan.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Thank you, 2016.

When a blogger friend asked me about a year ago if 10 years hence I could still see myself doing this — traveling, writing, and writing about traveling — my answer was an unequivocal yes. Travel is the food of my soul, I’ve said; writing is part of who I am. This blog was the perfect convergence of both and not in a million years (or ten) could I imagine giving it up.

Which answer perhaps does not explain why I’ve only published three posts in the last three months and traveled not even once.

Sometimes I suspect I’ve simply lost the will to write; at other times I think I’m just too busy. Neither is completely true, though both have a grain of truth in them. Even the most dedicated writers have times where they just don’t feel like writing, and I’ve definitely been feeling a lot of that lately. I’ve also found it difficult to dedicate sufficient time to the discipline of wordsmithing, now that I’ve taken upon myself a bit of additional responsibility at home.

But also…I like to think that 2016 has simply been a hiatus of sorts.

A break, that’s all.

I like to think I’ve simply given myself permission to, well, simplify my life: to let go of things that don’t add joy, to take it easy on things that aren’t urgent, and to focus on those that are necessary and important.

To take care of myself and those who rely on me.

And if the blog falls by the wayside a bit, so be it. I can always pick it up again.

2016 has been a year of regrouping, of learning, of being still and taking stock, of healing, of building strength. It’s been an opportunity to pause and absorb and break and recalibrate and ask oneself the really tough questions. But for me, it’s also been a chance to partake of the smallest, purest joys of life, and to bask in the joy of life itself.

It was a good year. It was. Many people don’t think so but I do. Oh, 2017 will be something, for sure — I’ve lots of plans already, can’t wait — but 2016 was something else. And for that, and for all that I have…

Especially this lot.

…I’m thankful.

Happy new year everyone!



Get A Multiple-Entry Visa to Korea Without Submitting Financial Documents

Are you a BPI or BDO cardholder? A promo — recently extended by the Korean embassy to 2017 — makes it easier for you to get a multiple-entry Korean visa without submitting an ITR or bank certificate.

SGMT Watermark Logo_Hibiscus_Colored_BlackSGMT
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea announced last November 16, 2016 that it was extending its visa promo for the following cardholders:

  • BDO Gold
  • BDO Elite
  • BPI Gold Master Card
  • BPI SkyMiles Platinum Master Card
  • BPI Amore Visa Platinum
  • BPI Gold Express Teller Debit Card

Under the promo, visa applicants who have any of the cards listed above will not have to submit a bank certificate and income tax return (ITR). They will also be eligible for a multiple-entry visa to Korea valid for at least 3 years (although the embassy reserves the right to grant only a single entry visa upon the decision of the consul-in-charge).

Note: Employment certificate / business permit and documents other than Bank Certificate and ITR are still required.

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The Peace of Wild Things

Nadine shared this poem by Wendell Berry in her post “When despair for the world grows in me…” and I thought it might be something that many of you, like me, might need right now.


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry