An item off my bucket list: Visiting Wawa Dam

The first time I discovered about Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal was through a cosplay photo I saw lurking around my FB news feed several years ago. It looked freakin’ awesome despite myself not really being into water.

I remember mentioning how I wanted to go there, but it was too far from my place. Last year, my friend Gian invited me a day or two before he planned to go to Wawa Dam, unfortunately, I had prior arrangements I can’t cancel. Sad isn’t it?

Yesterday, April 11, I got the chance to go there with a friend who volunteered to fetch me and tour me in the place. It was a short drive away from Philcoa, roughly 45 minutes. I was glad because the place is not a type of trekking which I don’t dislike, but my body doesn’t appreciate because I get worn out easily.

We reached before 11am, and the sun was practically cursing me with her rays.

Anyway, first off before reaching the dam was this awesome view that reminds me of the river on the edge of Rivendell from Lord of the Rings, The Loudwater.

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Imagine the summoning of those water horses here. Yep. Great view.

Ha. According to my tour guide (lol) this river was usually well… a “river”, with the rocks and boulders unseen. But due to the season (hot or very hot) in the Philippines during the Summer, the water is not in its usual current. Even the dam is not spitting too much water than those I saw in the photos. But anyhow, it looked awesome.

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I was too lazy to bring a tripod, so all my attempts on long exposure shots were intolerably blurry to post. and that last photo above is obviously blurry but I’m putting it anyway because they seem to have fun. haha.

This. is. what’s. beyond. the. overflowing. dam.

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Neat isn’t it?

Even the sun was high up and we were practically sweating a lot. My friend says those bamboo cottages were disposable. I was actually quite surprised because the effort to make them is surely not a grade 1’s project. Most of these cottages were usually only there during the Summer for visitors and would be thrown away after some time, especially during rainy season, so it won’t get washed away in the “river.”

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Of course we went down there… but we had to pass through this bridge.

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The bridge certainly reminded me of the Editorial Board Team Building we had in summer of 2013 in Baler, Aurora. (that trip made me curse hiking, really haha)

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This is one of my most favorite views. Sitting in one of the cottages worth 150php unlimited (thanks for paying XD) We had some random chitchats about life and stuff here because this view is just so awesome for me.

Some more photos from where we were sitting:

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When we decided to leave around 2pm, we decided to pass by the long cut.. through this…

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Walking on three bamboo poles seem easy.. but I was really worried I’d fall and I don’t know how to swim, my camera would drown. I had no idea whether or not the water was deep, guess not, but the thought bothered me because that is clearly one long bamboo bridge.. While we were in the middle, it felt as if the whole bridge was being moved with the minimal water current. TBH, I was kinda scared and hoped it would end soon. And I don’t think I have plants on crossing any bamboo bridges anytime soon again.  Haha.

We ended the trip with a late lunch of around 2:30 in Carlito’s Grill somewhere in Montalban Center or something like it. Great food, and we left full. (and… thanks again for paying! XD)

It was a record I was already home before 6pm unlike my usual “escapades” when I’m usually coming home around 8pm. I’m a obedient kid after all. (Thanks for taking me home, too. Was actually already too bushed to commute :/ So it’s greatly appreciated.)

Anyhow, it was a worthwhile experience, and if people would ask if I’d want to go there again, it’s definitely a yes. And we’ll bring food next time for a nice picnic!

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My First Doll Meet: The Manika Manila Prom 2015

I was in my 1st year college when I first saw a ball joint doll (BJD). I can’t remember exactly when or what event, but we were wandering in a cosplay convention where a table filled with dolls of all sizes came to view. Back then, I had no idea what they were, just as I know they cost tons according to my friend. I wanted one, of course. I was always a fan of dress-up games and paper dolls and was hiding that hobby from all my friends because I find it embarrassing. Then I realized, if I can’t have my little sister dress up for me, why not a doll, then? It is a legit hobby, right? I won’t be judged.. so much, at least.

But since these dolls cost a lot, how am I supposed to buy it with only a 100-peso allowance daily? I shook off the thought. When I reached my third year, I casually mentioned my wanting for these dolls to some friends, where little did I know, one of my classmate has a best friend who is a BJD enthusiast. Of course that made want BJD’s so much more. When I graduated college, after my second paycheck from work, I bought myself my own BJD I named Castiel Elize von Feuerbach, from Mirodoll. She arrived in October 13th of last year.

With only a few friends who are into BJDs, I was afraid of attending any doll official meets, there were a few since I had Castiel with me. I didn’t want to feel out-of-place, so I was always absent. That, until the notice for the Manika Manila Prom 2015 was announced. Few days before the event, I was already thinking of not going like usual. But then, I took the chance and asked a good friend, Ralph (Tadashi, LOL) to accompany me, which surprisingly, he agreed. Apologies for the unappealing photos as I was too lazy to post process them. XD We arrived at the venue, Pan de Amerikana, Katipunan, around 2pm. One by one, everyone else arrived and dolls were already standing and sitting all across the restaurant tables.

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I mean, literally. Here’s one of the first few photos I took

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This is Dawn and Yume, my friend Zhy’s dollies, and Quibble, ate Nix’s little kiddo. The very moment I saw Quib, i immediately felt I want my own Tiny BJD. Look at him. He’s the cutest!! Group picture! This is a photo of Zhy’s, ate Lev’s, Kanis’ and my own baby.

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Here are some more photos of BJDs brought by some more members of Manika Manila. DSC_1887 DSC_1858DSC_1848 DSC_1926 DSC_1919 DSC_1918 DSC_1916 DSC_1913 DSC_1911 DSC_1898 DSC_1901 DSC_1906 DSC_1890 DSC_1882 DSC_1896 DSC_1842DSC_1849DSC_1843 DSC_1914DSC_1868DSC_1909

Zhy is a fan of ate Alyssa’s Noah while Big Tala’s not around. Look at her face. Hahaha! DSC_1819

Here’s mydoll crush, Knoxx. It’s ate Nix’s doll. The best friends, Castiel and Dawn are very fond of him. :)) DSC_1873 DSC_1876

Did I mention my cellphone’s current wallpaper is Knoxx and Castiel now? Haha. I’m also a fan of another one of ate Nix’s doll, Starr.

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They are seriously heightening my expectations of gwapo even on human guys. XD Although I ship these two together, because fujoshi, that’s why.

It was a Saturday very well spent. Sadly, I was not able to wait for the awarding ceremony but it’s nice to know that some of those I voted won. I hope by the next meet, my baby boy is already with me.

Thanks a lot Manika Manila! These BJDs send happiness to everyone.

Colette Backpackers in a Tagaytay Escapade

Around 2 weeks ago, I PMed my friend Benok, and randomly suggested that our circle should go to Tagaytay during the long holiday Papal’s visit. After discussing it with my friends and have had a few confirmations of attendance. We decided we really wanted this short vacation to push through before all of us proceeding with our lives again next week.

Since Tagaytay was only a short travel away from Manila where the holidays were implemented, we knew we would have a lot of competition during the whole trip, from commuting, to hotel booking, especially when January 15 was nearing day by day. We were already searching for a cheap but decent hotel for a group of 6, reading reviews along the way. We came across a lot of hotels but have had trouble looking for one that still has vacant slots. Jed volunteered to call up the hotels to ask about details and room availability.

Despite most of us already working, we still had to take note of our budgets. After searching some more, we came across Our Melting Pot Tagaytay which only charges 420/head in a dorm-type 6-capacity room, with free breakfast. Neat isn’t it? I was able to call up their contact number from the site and talked to Ms. Elvie, who was so accommodating.

After careful assessment and debate, we booked OMP’s dorm-type room that only costed 2520php with a 50% reservation fee paid via their BDO account. They also e-mailed me all the info necessary such as the hotel’s info and address, and things we needed to note before coming, and the most important- directions to get there.

January 15, 8:30am call time in McDonalds Buendia came, it’s the most remarkable landmark for us and is near the DLTB bus terminal we were riding to get to Tagaytay. Kudos to us for not being so late! We were already complete around 8:45.

Here’s our first groupie in McDo posted by my friend when he had access to the bus’ wifi. XD

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After finishing our breakfast, we made our way to the terminal only to find the long line of people who’s going to the same place as we were. It was fine at first, till we hit the 1-hour mark and we haven’t moved from our places since we arrived. We were contemplating whether or not we should take the longer way- Sta. Rosa, Laguna, then jeep to get there. My best friend, Armen, also volunteered himself to check on the JAC Liner for that route. There was no long line of people, but according to them,the next bus was still in Balibago. We had no idea where that was, but it sounded far. Haha! Though we were skeptic, we had to make a decision because there was no turning back if we were to leave our places.

Shortly, the bus announcer told us that there were 4 buses arriving shortly that got stuck somewhere in traffic. We were all debating on what to do till a bus that screams Nasugbu arrived. We weren’t able to ride it yet, but at least it was progress. We had Armen return to us and the decision of taking the direct Tagaytay/Nasugbu route was unspoken.

We waited another good hour before we were able to board the bus. The fare was 83php Buendia-Olivarez, Tagaytay. Buses don’t drop passengers off after Rotonda, so we had to get off earlier and take a jeepney ride to drop us at The Lake Hotel, a landmark into getting to OMP. It was a long 2.5 hours of travel. Walking short, we reached OMP.

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After ringing the bell, Ms. Elvie warmly greeted us. We left our shoes on the porch and headed to the sala/lobby as we gathered the money to pay for the remaining balance, plus the extra person with bed that costs an additional 350php since we were 7. We were given our room key with a 100php deposit.

The hostel was simple, in a good sense. It was like leaving home to get home. Our room was clean with 3 bunk beds neatly covered in green bed sheets and a single blanket folded atop each, and a toilet and bath to share. They had a nice balcony that overlooks the other hotels and residences and a breezy rooftop.

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and here’s to our first groupie in Tagaytay, though are lacking the other 2 people. XD

BTW, the TFIOS shirt I’m wearing is from a good friend, Ronnel. Thanks bitch!

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After settling in. We decided to have our lunch as it was already around 2pm. We took the jeepney to Mahogany Market. We ate in one of the many stores there.

The necessary jeepney selfie!

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Bulalo, which is one of Tagaytay’s specialty were the first one we ordered. I wasn’t able to take a photo due to excitement. XD A bowl good for 3-4 people costed 350php. While the Lechong Kawali and the Beef we ordered costs 150 each good for 2. Though honestly, it didn’t look and taste like a 350php good for 3-4 Bulalo, and a 150php good for 2 viand. But we were already too hungry to complain.

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After eating, we headed back to Olivarez jeepney terminal to go to the Picnic Grove. Here’s a neat view from the terminal. These clouds are more beautiful in person. The ride costs 11php each and took around 20 minutes. 10928143_10202337192070295_583443982_n

There were not many people like what we expected when we arrived. We actually only went to the place just to try out the zipline. Here’s me and Armen during the ride. 200php for a 1-way trip with a free printed picture on weekdays (300php for a 2-way ride on weekdays). It wasn’t scary as I thought despite the ground being several feet below. Maybe because it wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be.

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Our vanity of course, existed.

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We also saw a far away mountain I don’t know the name who had a bed of clouds resting over it, as if it was a mushroom. I thought those only existed in Disney movies! That was when I realized, I should have freakin’ brought my zoom lens with me!!

The dying light of the sun was a nice view as it parted to two directions. I was spazzing over how the view was really beautiful.

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We had several selfies and groupies despite the cold breeze hitting us from all directions.

When my favorite time of the day aka golden hour came!

That’s me and le best friend, Armen. Look at the color of the photo. I’ve been spazzing since it was uploaded. It’s so nicee… plus I look human there!

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Here are some more with my equally conceited friends!

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Around 6pm, we decided to head back to find a place to eat. and the stairs back up was tiring!

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I mean seriously!

We took a tricycle instead as all jeepneys were full. A whooping 40php/head was all it took to reach the destination- Carlo’s Pizza. Our friend, MIchelle, suggested it. Sadly she wasn’t able to come when we were supposed to have dinner in the place that night 😦 Food costs as low as 150php for a plate of pasta, which most of us had. Armen and I decided to share a treat for everyone, a 15″ family-size pizza as a late Birthday blow-out for me, and advance Birthday blow-out for him.

Jaysel and I shared their Lasagna alla Carlo (375php) good for 2. Which, honestly, was not so special, but is not at all bad. The pizza we had was a Vegetariana pizza filled with fresh tomatoes, olives, green peppers and some more veggies as the name implies. The pizza crust were burnt on some parts though. I’m not sure if I hate vegetables, or I expected so much when I didn’t find it delicious. Not sure about my friends’ opinions though.

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We sat outside the restaurant as the insides were full. The place was breezy even we had our jackets and hoodies on. So we planned to come out of our hotel during midnight to take a sip of hot drinks in a nearby Starbucks. But realized it wasn’t possible since OMP held a 12 midnight “curfew” as Ms. Elvie was to lock the gates. That was kind of sad though. Curfew? Really?

Anyway, we got back around 8pm and everyone cleaned themselves up after the long day. We played a bunch of Uno cards as my friends munched through chips (I’m not fond of chips, lol) and exchange conversations. Here’s one of the photos I uploaded while playing.Haha!

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Around 12:30am, everyone was sounding so sleepy in a hugot conversation about love and life. One by one, we were all heading to our own beds till we called it a night around 1:30am. For the first time, I was able to sleep with only waking up twice that night. It was highly unusual for me since sleeping in some other places that is not my house would normally get me waking up every 30 minutes to an hour, with no exaggerations.

We were all able to wake up around 7:30 before proceeding with our free breakfast. It took some time of waiting before we decided to sit down to eat as there were 2 other visitors who were having their meal. Soon, I initiated we should just sit down and hopefully intimidate them both to leave as they don’t seem to realize (or is actually insenstive enough) we were waiting for them to finish. XD

We were served with two breads, a sunny side up egg and a banana each, a choice of coffee, milk and chocolate drink, and a bunch of jams of different flavors that were all self service. Sad to say that the breakfast was not really enough for me, more so my friends who had bigger appetites.

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After eating, we all head back to our room to prepare to leave. While some took a bath, the others were playing 1,2,3 pass with the cards our friend Pem brought. It’s one of the noisiest card games I know but it was already late morning so we didn’t care Haha!

Soon, we were bade goodbye by Ms. Elvie and asked us to come back again. (We definitely would!)

They have a cheap and neat hotel plus they have the friendliest staff!

Location – 5/5 (just off the main road by a few short blocks)

Cost – 5/5

Service – 4/5 (because of the 12mn “curfew” XD)

Cleanliness – 5/5

Hospitality – 5/5

Just like how I read on several reviews over the internet.

Anyway, around 12nn, we checked ourselves out and headed to Leslie’s Pizza, that Michelle also suggested.

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The place was huge, but had so many people eating as well. It seems to be one famous restaurant for tourists and natives. We ordered Bulalo Original that costs roughly 600, and Beef Tips that costs 400, both good for 3-4 people each. Behind Leslie’s was the awesome view of Taal Lake. We took the opportunity to take photos, of course, since their food were served with a waiting time of 45-minutes to an hour.

and of course, what is outing without a bunch of photos?

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The food tasted awesome. We were actually joking how the Bulalo in Leslie’s was the actual Bulalo (it was big, okay? and had lots of meat and stuff XD), and the one we had at half the price yesterday (which BTW, was only less the size of a fist) was a bowl of joke. The sizzling beef tips were also great, disregarding the beef swimming in a pool of oil.

A group of people who were affiliated with the restaurant were also singing to tables which I believe, hoped for tips that everyone was kind of obligated to give. They went to us but sadly, we do not have that much extra cash that would be a decent amount to offer to a group of 5 people in their late 50’s and 60’s. They sang good though.. ish.

Around 2pm, we finished our lunch and decided to just go home during the night to avoid the traffic. So we felt we should visit Sky Ranch. Entrance fee was 80php on weekdays and 100php for weekends and holidays. We decided not to go anymore as their were a lot of people, and we were planning to leave around 5pm. I had the chance to take the photo of the famous ferris wheel at least. 150php for this ride, BTW, while other rides costs 50php and 100php.

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After thinking about the best possible way to maximize the time we had left, we decided to go to the Starbuck’s that had a nice view (Sorry I don’t know the street or branch name XDD) Sadly, we were stuck in traffic for around 2 hours more :/ Upon reaching at 4pm, we didn’t expect to have vacant seats to occupy, but were glad we were able to find one good spot. Though it took us over 30 minutes to have our orders done due to the long line.

Here’s to another significant selfie, our last one.

BTW, the guy at the back is our friend, Benok. Don’t mistake him as a Starbucks crew despite the similarities of their tops! LOL. Around 6pm, we left Starbucks to find our way home, but stopping by Colette’s pasalubongs first. We took a 10php/head tricycle ride to the terminal, hoping we find Colette’s there.

For some reason, everyone wanted Colette’s despite the fact we were offered Espasol and “Special Buko Pies” by some natives of almost half the price of Colette’s (100php). Trying their best to convince us that they were selling newly cooked ones as they followed our journey into finding the lost Colette store. That’s when we realized that there are people actually more annoying than “open-minded-ka-ba-sa-business-networking-phrases.” No offense networkers! LOL.

After a slightly long walk, we found one! Yay! I bought 2 boxes of Buko Pie (190 per box) and an assorted boat tart that costs 95php. Then we strolled back to the terminal to ride the buses that says LRT-Buendia.

Jaysel and I had to stop over in a nearby McDonalds because we had to pee ourselves XD We don’t want to make a mess in the bus do we?

A line of buses were waiting for passengers, and all the conductors had their own way of sales-talking us to ride. One of them even offered us a 1 person discount just so he’ll have passengers on his route to Metro Manila. LOL. With the conductors shouting and inviting us were natives who offered us pasalubong treats altogether. It was a mess Haha! Soon, we all rode the first bus in line who we thought had no more sitting capacity at first.

I thought we were having a sleepy bus ride, but most of us were awake. Me and Armen, my bus-mate, lol, had exchange of stories till we realized we were already in Manila. It only took us around 2 hours back to Buendia. With our stomachs empty, we stopped by Jollibee for dinner before we separated ways when some took the bus, and me the jeepney.

It was one awesome heaven sent experience despite the tough commute rides we had to encounter. Jaysel even had to take a leave to be with us but she surely doesn’t regret it. I do hope these outings would come in a longer and more frequent duration and our whole friendship circle complete next time. Totally worth it despite having to spend 2500 for the whole thing. XD

BTW, I named the title Colette Backpackers because we had to walk a good kilometer to get to Colette’s and back to the Manila-bound buses stop Haha!

My 1289php Halloween Fee in Philippine Customs

As an online buyer and seller or just about anyone who has to receive a gift, the Philippine customs is probably the scariest place you don’t want to see. I have only read and heard of several stories regarding their own horror experiences in the vicinity of PhilPost but earlier, I had my own. I ordered some cosplay wigs from Beijing, China amounting to 20.49USD (roughly 920php) with international shipping fee via EMS of 28.06USD (roughly1260php) Summing it up, I had an order worth 48.55USD (roughly 2180php) But since I paid via Paypal, I had to pay 21.69USD and 29.59USD for the goods and shipping, respectively. In total of 51.28USD or roughly 2300php. and the horror begins. I received a notice card from EMS last Dec. 10 that my parcel was subject for inspection. Upon receiving, the thought already bothered me nonstop. But still, I was in hopes it won’t be so much. I went to their sorting center in Domestic Road, Pasay. Philpost We arrived around 11am. Upon entrance, I was asked by a kind man what my purpose was. I showed him my notice card and he directed me to the middle window, the customer service.CS The guy from the CS window took my notice card and gave me a queue number in exchange. The process was so he can take the parcel from the warehouse and be taken to the inspection area. I approached the guard and asked what was the next step, he told me I had to wait for my number/name to be called. I asked how long it would take, and the lady beside her butted in saying it would take 3-4hours and that she was already there since 9am. Hearing that, my brother and I decided to get some brunch, hoping to fill ourselves up for the impending waiting ceremony. Around 30-40 minutes, we came back. The guard was calling the queued numbers for the items to be checked by their personnel. The queued numbers given were for redeeming back your notice card. On the upper left corner is the number the guard was calling. Here is a photo of the procedures. Feel free to e-mail me at azellelee@gmail.com if you want a high res copy of this.

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I entered the room and waiting for me was kuya Bernie (overheard the name from them). He cut open my package and saw the 3 wigs I had in there. A lady (named Scarlet, not sure about this, just what I heard) around late 30’s approached us, she was roughly 5″3-5″5 in height, medium-large built. She asked how much was the total value of my items. I blindly said $10 since that was what the company I bought it from put. This washer exact words, “Paano mo binili ‘yan? Hindi ako naniniwalang 10 dollars lang yan!” Her voice ill, as if she was already used to the word 10 dollars. I told her I paid via Paypal, and she demanded I show her that, then left. They put my parcel together with the other packages. Kuya Bernie was kind enough to tell me what to do. He asked me to open my Paypal account and show his boss the amount I paid. That’s when I thought that the lady was probably of importance. I opened my 3G and showed her the $21.69 on my Paypal. Honestly, she did not even check which transaction that was, so I thought I should have showed her a different amount instead, lower perhaps. Anyway, after that, she took what seemed like a receipt and scribbled those numbers. After that, she told kuya Bernie, “Paki kuha naman ‘yung package ni Ms. Beautiful.” In the attempt to look friendly and to uplift the spirit with the boss, I randomly remarked “Ay na-touch naman po ako.” and laughed. She laughed as well and said, “Totoo naman, maganda ka.” For a while she sounded really nice and kind there. I was already having the thought the package was going to be given to me unharmed. But I was asked to wait outside till my name was called. That was my cue that my wigs were going to be taxed. I had no choice. Sayang effort ko sa part na ‘yon. After waiting for around 30-40 minutes, my name was finally called, I was given this paper by one of their staff. 10872320_10202142988015315_325534815_n Yes, you see that correctly. it’s 1289php tax on this ‘temporary’ receipt I don’t even know why necessary. Baffled I was, I stood there in stupor for a good few seconds, idle, before I came to my senses. I headed to the lady “computing” who was actually the same lady who just a while ago, praised me. I was already about to ask why my “taxes” reached that high, till she left and went to the other ‘cubicle’ and discussed whatever it was that was too urgent, it was what I assumed her simple way of hoping I’d just pay for the shit written and not ask anything. After around 5 minutes of partly looking dumb in their office, she came back to her seat, and did everything else besides attending to me. The guy named Bong (yes I am lucky to hear their names) actually was signalling Scarlet to look to my direction. Judging from his look, he knew I was somewhat pissed already on how she was acting. I smiled at him as thank you. Soon after, the lady was not able to avoid me. Non verbatim. Me: Paano po lumaki ng ganito ‘yung tax ko? Lady: 10% customs duty, 12% VAT (while she pointed on my “receipt”) Me: Gan’un po? Mas malaki pa po ‘yung tax ko sa actual kong binili, kahit personal naman siya, hindi pangbenta? Lady: Wala, gan’un talaga ‘yung computation. Kahit anong gamit basta galing ibang bansa, kahit nga regalo e, may tax. Bayaran mo na lang yan.. I was about to ask her why other parcels were released without tax, if what she said was true. But she took her baon and ignored me by saying “kumain ka na muna, iha. Kakain muna ako.” and left to hide behind the other cubicles. Oo, nilayasan niya ako, while I was not even finished. I was standing there in the middle of their office, staring at my receipt and trying to understand what the jargons were, but failed. I was honestly thinking of just leaving my parcel there, but I thought I’d have more loss on that since I already spent over 2k without the tax. When I was about to pay, I asked for explanations from their cashier. I first questioned the freight cost that seems to value so much. $46.30?? As far as I know, it only took me $29.59 for the shipping. The cashier explained the $46.30 was only for the rest of the computation since it is necessary to get the Customs Duty fee. I asked her where it came from, and she couldn’t give me a decent answer other than “Hindi mo naman ‘yan babayaran buo (she encircles the freight fee with the end of her pen while “explaining”) kasama lang sa computation ‘yan. ‘Eto, lahat ‘yan nakasulat naman dito” while pointing on the small stack of paper on her table that seem to be a ‘flyer’ of explanation. It’s named Primer fr Postal Service, Answers from the Tariff Code and National Internal Revenue Code on the most frequently asked questions. If you want a high res copy, feel free to e-mail me at azellelee@gmail.com

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In no hopes of getting a rightful answer, I gave her the money, and she called Bong to write me the receipt. After that, I took the receipt to the release window where I had to pay, yet another fee. I wasn’t able to ask what this was for, but from what I read, this is the fixed storage fee you have to pay.

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After paying, I got my package with a heavy heart and an empty wallet, literally empty wallet. As I went out, kuya Bong was standing near the entrance and asked nicely if okay na. I could only reply with a half a second smile, though I should have thanked for he seemed really nice then.

Upon reading When in Mania’s post regarding the high customs fee, I came across a comment from a certain Ms. Charo Logarta Lagamon, who, as you can see on the pic, she claims to be the Acting Chief, Public Information & Assistance Division at Bureau of Customs.

wimWhat truly grinded my gears is this post:

wim2

As far as I remember, my package arrived Dec. 10. So let’s say it came prior to effective date, I’ll let that slide. But the “the system used to generate the receipt hasn’t been updated.” I find it really BS. Given that case, wouldn’t that mean the system is BS and the effective date is nonsense to begin with?

1. Why couldn’t they explain to me what those jargons on the receipt were about?

2. Why were avoiding my questions about how things were going?

3. What is the basis of their computations?

Honestly, I am really pissed, because I once ordered some other things online and had it shipped via DHL. It costs $30 but my tax was 1461php. While this transaction via EMS only costed $21.69, yet I got taxed 1289php + a 100php peso fee. DHL had it straight to my home, while I went through all the hassle of going to and from Pasay, as well as dealing with people who either didn’t know what their jobs were, or avoiding questions for internal benefits.

I hope our government pays attention to these things as well because their are a whole lot of stories I read about corruptness and all those going inside customs.

Life and Nature: The Balancing Act

Light waves of fresh air that flicker the senses, urging a person to see the complex art that lies beyond the simple environment. Trekking, swimming and throwing stones, nature truly is a gift that can offer something more.

             A person can add a spark of their imagination to nature’s bounty. Bringing out their inner artists, one can create masterpieces in mediums from earth’s natural rubbles.

From the ground up

When art connects with the environment, nature and art lovers dwell in their sanctuary once more. Interests alike, they come together in the home of rock balancing and biodiverse hideaway known as Daranak Falls, the 14-meter high falls in Tanay, Rizal.

“I formed the group Rock Balancing Philippines with the help of my co-founder Ildefonso Vista. We decided to take it out by teaching the community about balance in life and nature to reconstruct and protect the environment… that we need to balance ourselves to help others and always think positively,” Leandro Inocencio, founder of Rock Balancing Philippines, said.

Tools are important to create art, but rock balancing is different from the others. It is a form of sculpture and performance art wherein stones usually found in rivers and forest are arranged in gravity-defying compositions without the need of any tools.

“Yung rock balancing hindi siya yung isang simpleng art lang na pinatong mo lang yung bato, may pagkakataon talaga na kailangan mong kunin yung center of gravity niya (Rock balancing is not a simple art where you just place the rocks on top of each other, there are times that you need to get the center of gravity),” Ildefonso Vista, Rock Balancing Philippines co-founder, said.

Despite the doubting looks from  its viewers, rock balancing does not only defy gravity but even a person’s wondering eyes and mind to think beyond that they, too, are all life’s artists.

 

“Rock” artists

Seeing these balancers work their magic, one may think that only few selected talented individuals can make the rocks suspend with one another. But as what balancer Donmark Gerones advices, “Kahit sino pwedeng mag-try. Hanapin niyo lang ‘yung center of gravity tapos kusang kakapit ‘yun. (Anyone can to try it, you just have to look for the center of gravity then it would work on its own)”

Rock balancing is one thing mistaken to be as easy as piling up UNO Stack-Os, but for those who has devoted their time into developing what has become of it today, it does not only brought something new to art, but to themselves as well.

“Patience, hindi ako pasensyoso eh.. (I’m not really patient..) kasi you have to find your right rock, para ma-balance ‘di ba, tapos para makita ‘yun, maghahanap ka rito.Yun yung kailangan mong i-consider. (so you can balance it.. right? and before you find it, you have to look for it, it’s one thing to really consider).” Jay Trio, a rock balancer, mentioned.

These balancers dedicated their efforts into pulling off something out of the ordinary. Having one common interest, they believe that patience is the real key into performing this kind of art.

“Dapat patience, para kang nagyo-yoga kasi body and mind.Nakaka-relax din. (Patience, it’s like doing yoga since body and mind is involved. It’s also relaxing.)” Gerones added.

This performance art turned out not only as an escape from daily stress and release from routinely schedule; not just creating masterpieces out of nature’s gift, but also honing one’s individual character as well.

 

The equilibrium

A person creates their unique masterpieces out of their own artistry. The release of self-expression creates a trance of involving oneself to their surroundings. All are artists waiting to be discovered, not just by other people but by their own self.

“’Yung rock balancing para sa iba imposible magawa… pero hindi yun yung nature para samin, hindi imposibleng maibalik natin yung balance sa nature (Rock balancing is not impossible to do… that is not what nature is for us, it’s not impossible to give the balance back to nature),” Vista added.

Coinciding with giving nature its balance through this art is also nature’s way of affecting the artist’s mind and soul. The equilibrium is not just for the nature and its artist, but what’s more important is becoming one with the environment.

“For us, we believe that rock balancing and balanced rocks have therapeutic effect in the balancer and also affect the audience because of meditation and curiosity… It relieves stress, depression, normal blood circulation, breathing etc…. but important thing that we want people to learn and realize the meaning of this art form…. Our principle is that, rocks represent nature, balance represents responsibility, gravity represents our connection. That we are one with nature… We want people to be an advocate,” Inocencio stressed.

Just like rocks, people come from all shapes and sizes. They form as solid elements that stand through the test of time. No matter how hard and heavy are the stones that life throw, one must learn how to build a castle.

 

Collaborative article with Angelica R. Porciuncula

 

Published in the first volume of FEU Advocate’s TAMERA, the photo magazine of Far Eastern University’s official student publication.

Right Angle: Through a Lensman’s Eye

Whoever invented the camera must have loved occasions so much, capturing dear moments for reminiscing years after, but who said pictures can only be  limited to just portraits, commercials, editorial, fine arts and photojournalism ?

Astonishing cloudscapes, staggering waterfalls or arresting sunsets might be what most prefers, but with the play of a creative imagination, even the littlest of things can have over-the-top results.

 

Fractals

Acute angles, circumferences, right triangles, and degrees, terms that we hear from one of the subjects that probably most of us do not want to have again–Geometry. But to seemingly no limits, Geometry does not only reach our high school curriculums, but follows us to the extent of being visible in our environment as well. With Shapes in all different forms coincide with the environment; another type of photography has been practiced, known as “Geometry in Nature”.

Inside the kitchen, beside your bed, or just your backyard, Geometry can be found lying around waiting to be visually captured. Equals, irregulars, or free forms, these shapes can be found wherever we lay our eyes on to. Places that seem too cliché to take landscapes of can still create a unique point of view when looked at in a different or maybe closer perspective.

Image Trails

Painters such as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso or our very own Alfonso Ossorio often depict their masterpieces as abstract work or expressionist art, paintings that do not imply anything besides how the painter manifested his emotions and how a viewer interprets it. Much so as how a photographer wants to deliver a story on a photograph’s composition he decides to take.

With whatever subject you find yourself seeing on the viewfinder, through a technique known as “Camera Dragging”, objects can create another form of art far from what is really present through the means of visual presentation.

There is no limit to a mind willing to twist with existing ideas, going out of the ordinary or simply putting into work some mind play of creative juices to create a beautiful image. One does not even have to climb up mountains, or go camping in forests to produce good results because anything, anywhere can be a subject to a unique form of aesthetics.

 

Published in the first volume of FEU Advocate’s TAMERA, the photo magazine of the official student publication of Far Eastern University.