I started writing a somewhat emo entry to tell you about the events that took place for the past week, but decided to chuck it in the middle of writing it because I’m not in the mood to be all sentimental. It’s summer! And that means that we should be having fun! Right. Fun will now commence. 😉 (10 points to you if you figure out where that line’s from.)
[Click on the images to enlarge.]
One of the Seven
San Pablo Laguna is known as The City of Seven Lakes, but seeing as we would only be staying overnight and had other activities lined up, we only had time for one. We picked Pandin Lake since it was the one with the most information on the internet that I could find, plus it seemed like fun with its raft ride and fresh buko juice. 🙂
I think we made the right decision because we enjoyed the lake a lot. It’s too bad we didn’t get to swim, but the raft ride was at least different from the usual beach/swimming pool stuff that people go to during the summer. I’m really glad we chose to go to Laguna instead of a beach or a private pool because the experience was different, although I’m sure we would’ve had fun wherever we went anyway.
Silly Games Masquerading as Team Building Activities
After the lake, we went to Casa San Pablo where we would be staying overnight. This won’t be a review of the place because there are already too many reviews on the internet and although they’re reliable to a point, I’m the kind of person who would still go to a place despite a bad review I read, or would still avoid a place despite a good review I read. So if you’re really curious about it, I’ll recommend you to just see it for yourself. 🙂 But I am going to say that it was such a good place for the purpose that we picked it for — our teambuilding activity!
Actually, we were originally just planning an out-of-town trip, but as my teammates are just so very competitive (case in point: they were already strategizing on what to do even when they didn’t know yet what games they would be playing), our team leader M and I had to give in to their demands (what? demands? hehe!) and thought of games that we could play. We divided the team into 3 smaller groups, but it was totally their idea to have team colors and team shirts and team uniforms. Yes, uniforms.
The first game was Taboo, and M and I made the cards ourselves. The categories were local and foreign movies, TV shows, famous people, and some general stuff (e.g. animals, books, etc.). I guess we underestimated our teammates because the game was over pretty quickly and most teams got the answers correct. Actually, for the last 3 rounds, because everyone’s scores were tied, I had to play the game myself (Note: I’m not a participant in the games since I was hosting), and the team who guesses the answer based on my clues gets the point.
Our second game was much more fun, it was just like a normal relay but with a twist, or should I say with a spin. M and I called it the Spinning Relay, and yes, we just made it up. Players had to spin in place for 10 times before running to their teammate who’s waiting for them some meters away. The second player had to jump in place for 10 times as well, before tagging the next person, and the last player had to spin 20 times in place, and then run up a staircase. The first one to get to the top of the staircase wins. I think they had lots of fun doing that, and of course we facilitators had a blast in watching them try to run while they were still dizzy. 😎
We sort of lost our footing on the last game though. Originally, we had the teams list down all the “love teams” that they know (e.g. Marvin and Jolina, Guy and Pip, etc.), and then the first team to run out of names loses. But again, we underestimated our teammates because seriously, it had been over an hour and still, they would not run out of love teams to name. They could even name the movies they were in, and give the plot synopses of the movies. And I swear, some of them were just ridiculous! They still remembered Vic Sotto and Cynthia Luster’s pairing. And as if that wasn’t strange enough, one of them could actually name all the couples who were involved in the movie Anak ni Baby Ama III. 😆 So haha, I guess the activity wasn’t totally wasted even though in the end we didn’t count the points that they earned, because it was still lots of fun finding out who saw the most no. of cheesy Filipino movies, and actually remembered who the actors were in them hehe.
We replaced the last activity with a photography (what? photography? artists kami??) game. Since the place had lots of different flowers and memorabilia and vintage stuff lying around, we asked everyone to take pictures of the strangest subjects they could find in 10 minutes. The team who took the most no. of pictures that no other team took wins the game. It was kind of hard to judge and compare all the pictures that they’d taken, but M and I were able to do it. We didn’t announce the winners right away though, we saved that activity for Sunday morning.
Fulfillment of a Dream
So I dream about cake. What, does that make me a bad person? See, that night after dinner, I went with E to Pure Gold, the grocery that’s right outside the resort, because he needed to buy some glue. Since we were going out anyway, the others asked us to buy lemon and salt (surely you know what this is for), ice and some cigarettes (which I refused to buy because smoking is bad!!). And guess what I found in the supermarket — MerNel’s Chocolate Cake!
Finally! After waiting and pining for it for so long, I had it within reach! I squealed a little when I saw it and told E that it was the best summer outing ever. Hehehe. We paid for it, and when we got back, I hid it from the others because I’m just truly evil like that. 😈 Either that or it’s just that delicious, you wouldn’t want to share it. Hehehe. Okay, to redeem myself to you, I did tell some people about it (in secret hehe), but they didn’t go looking for it like I did, so I figured that maybe they didn’t want it all that much. Besides, it’s not like I ate all of it right away. I managed to finish a fourth of the entire cake (it’s not that bad, it wasn’t that big a cake), and brought home the rest. My mom and dad helped me finish it. 🙂 *sigh* If only there was a way to have that cake at least, once every two months…
The yellow team (AKA Bright Teens Team) won the last activity. They actually won overall, and we gave them their prizes (Starbucks gift certificates!) on Sunday morning just before we left the resort. 🙂
Actually, Sunday morning was the “awarding ceremony”, where we gave everyone their prizes, and the special awards. I had my friend E make some sculptures to give as the special awards. M and I came up with 6 — 2 MVPs (Most Valuable Player) – one boy and one girl, an MPP (Most Positive Player), MOP (Most Original Player – this went to T, because she was the one who thought of making a banner (yes, an actual banner that they had printed by a real banner printing company) for their team), MCP (Most Competitive Player) and an MIP (Most Injured Player – because we felt bad for E2 because he fell on the grass and scratched his knee during the 2nd activity — he was really dizzy). Hehehe.
After a quick bathroom stop at the Shell Gas Station along SLEX, we had a late lunch at Kanin Club in Westgate, Alabang. Naturally, I was happy about this because it’s near my house, so it wasn’t that much of a hassle anymore for K to drive me to my doorstep afterwards. 🙂 Plus, the food in Kanin Club is great. 😀 If you’re ever in Westgate and craving for Filipino food, I think this is the best option for you. 🙂
I got home at around 2PM, but didn’t have that much time to rest because I had to transfer the pictures from my camera to the computer (my camera’s memory is only 1GB), finish eating the cake, and pack again, but this time for a 3-day trip to Morong, Bataan, with some new friends (actually the officemates of an old friend), which I left for only a few hours later (much to the dismay of my parents).
I had to go extra extra early (about 7 hours early) to the meeting place where the van would be departing to go to Morong, because it was all the way in Fairview, Quezon City — so far up the Philippine map (I’m talking about a road map because yes, Ilocos and the Babuyan Islands are the true North of the Philippines) if your starting point is my house in the South of Manila. Call time was 4:00 in the morning and there’s just absolutely no way that I would allow myself to be on the road at the likes of 3AM. Hence, my friend E and I met up at the Quezon Ave. MRT station at 8:30PM on Sunday night so we wouldn’t have to travel so early on Monday morning. Kind of like Sean Bean who’s afraid of helicopters and volunteered to walk all night to get to the shooting location by the next morning. (Another 10 points to you if you can tell what movie I’m talking about.)
I guess they wanted to leave as early as possible to avoid traffic, and to be able to spend more time at the beach. 🙂 It’s not a problem really, though I did feel weird having to sleep on the couch in their office, but I wasn’t the only person there anyway. I even got to play Cat’s Cradle with the daughter (Is she 5 or 6 years old?) of the company owners. I actually had fun. I haven’t played Cat’s Cradle since I was in grade school, I think. And it was fun to teach her some tricks. 🙂
We arrived at the beach in Morong by 9AM. Some of us left right away to buy some food supplies from the market, and the rest of us, well, we chatted a little bit. Actually, since I was the newbie in the group, they asked me questions and I had no choice but to answer them. It’s fine, really. They’re a pretty friendly bunch and they asked basic questions that I didn’t really have to think about, and I was able to get to know all of them better as well. 🙂
White Sands and Pawikans
On our second day, we took a boat to another part of the coast where the sand was white. I didn’t know that one big island could have different colored sand depending on the area, but I guess it’s possible because the boat didn’t take us to a different island. Just a different part of the same island we were already on. Anyway, the sand was pretty to take pictures of, but it did hurt our feet a little because there were lots of rocks on the shore. And the waves were too strong that we didn’t really get to swim in that part of the beach. But the view was still great, so I didn’t feel bad about it. 🙂
In another part of the beach was a Pawikan Hatchery, where it was almost (or maybe not almost) a tourist attraction to release the baby pawikans into the ocean. Now, I don’t want to be Miss Negativity, and I’m sure that if it was your first time to see such an activity you would’ve found it fun, too. But when I went with my family to Zambales last December and we chanced upon a “releasing of baby pawikans into the ocean” activity, and it was at sunset, and there were only a few people involved, well, I guess I just found it a bit weird that this time, there was a big crowd of people, only very few baby pawikans, and it was done at noon. The hatchery caretaker at Zambales told us that the pawikans were released in the ocean at sunset so that they’d know where to go — they would follow the light. But when you release them at noon, because the sun is everywhere, then they’d get confused as to where they need to go, which I think is actually what happened as there were some turtles that didn’t move, or went to another direction when they were finally placed on the sand.
Then again, the survival rate of baby pawikans released into open sea is only about 1% (or so the caretaker told us in Zambales), so I guess it wouldn’t make much of a difference whether they get confused as to where they should go. Still I wish the environmentalists in the area would clear things up with the tourists and whoever else they need to talk to so there will be more pawikans in the world. 🙂
Actually, I do have another semi-rant about the nature conservation of the place. We went snorkeling the next day to look at some corals and the fish that were there and for some reason the boatmen didn’t think that there was anything wrong with taking the starfish they found in the water and bringing them back to the shore. I know it seems like there’s lots of them there right now but if they’re going to take some every time they go out to sea, and tell the tourists that it’s okay to bring the sea creatures home, well, I can’t help but think that they might run out. Unfortunately, since like I said, I was the newbie in the group, I didn’t want to sound all self-righteous and tell them that it’s not actually a good idea to be bringing starfish out of their natural habitat (I’m not even sure if they survived the road trip back). Anyway, since it’s already done, I’m just hoping for the best now.
Road Trip, Onions and a Pizza Place
Still during the 2nd day, when we got back from the white beach and pawikan place, E said that he had to go and meet a friend in Olongapo so we took a jeepney to get to Subic. Since we were going there anyway, they asked us to buy some more snacks (we ran out of food supplies!). The side trip was actually fun. I got to watch the sun set over a rice field, from a jeepney, which is a new experience for me, I’m thinking because I don’t have a province that my family normally goes to.
Anyway, we bought snacks and we bought possibly the largest pizza that I’d ever seen whole. I think the pizza in Sbarro is bigger, but I always see those already sliced, so this one still looked bigger. It’s apparently the specialty of this coffee shop (I know, what coffee shop has pizza, right?) in Subic, Xtremely Xpresso Cafe and it’s worth Php699. Not bad, actually, because it was a big pizza, and it was delicious. 🙂 We ate it as our dinner on our last night.
We left the beach at around noon, supposedly just in time for lunch at the parents’ house of one of the girls with us, N. But it turned out to be so far away that we didn’t get there until quarter to 4PM. However, it was all worth it when I saw that they had prepared shrimp, roasted salmon, and brown rice for us. 😀 Plus mangoes for dessert and buko juice for refreshments. Yum! 😀 I love food! 😀 Thanks, N!
Also, I really liked the road trip part of it because I got to see green fields and carabaos and farmers and mountain ranges, and just, lots of other stuff that make me know that the Philippines is really a beautiful country. 🙂 Even the hospitality of N’s mom, who was kind enough to give us all bags of onions, fresh from their plantation, reminded me why it’s nice to visit houses in the province hehe. 🙂 That was a really nice bonus to an already unforgettable experience.
Right. That was 5 days of summer fun, and it took me at least 5 hours to complete this blog entry (I’m not kidding. Although of course I took breaks in between those hours). I hope I didn’t bore you. But if I did, sorry na lang, pero pinaghirapan ko talaga isulat ‘to pramis.
Happy Happy Summer Everyone! 😀
BTW, here’s a related post in my travel blog kuno: The Journeys, Not the Destinations