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May 17, 2011 / iselgarcia

Cat’s Out of the Bag

Okay, out with it. I’ve been playing zip about this whole thing for the longest time because nothing was set in stone yet. But now that things have panned out pretty well and plans are moving at top speed (“Ahoy, mate, rig the sails!”), I guess it’s safe enough to go public about it.

Remember when I wrote about running the legwork for things you wanted because no one else will do it for you? Well, at that time, I was actually running the legwork to get into this school. And to cut the long story short, I got in.


And to cut the long story even shorter (trust me, you don’t want to hear about the tedious process of filing papers, getting bank statements, etc.), I got my I-20 Form from The School today. So, I guess this is really it. I leave in a little over 2 months, approx. 75 days. Or less.

It still feels very surreal to me, although I’ve gotten used to the idea of leaving. I don’t feel like bursting into tears anymore whenever I think about how much I’ll miss my family and friends. I’m over the second-guessing and the cold feet. I really, really want this and it seems that the Universe thinks I should go for it too. It certainly has not tried to hinder my going in any way.

So, there you have it, the start of something new. What awaits me in my beloved City of Bright Lights  (Dean and Deluca? Shake Shack?? Katz’s Deli??? MOMA???? Central Park????? Broadway??????), I do not know. But if there is one thing I firmly believe, it is this: We have one shot at life; leave no room for regret. Too long have I lived in shadow of what’s safe and comfortable. Enough is enough. I no longer have the time or the patience for what if’s, shoulda’s, woulda’s or coulda’s. I’m just ready and raring to live my life now. Not tomorrow or in 5 years. Now.

So, expect to hear more about the Big Apple in a couple of months. Wish me luck and maybe I’ll see you around!

March 2, 2011 / iselgarcia

Asian Persuasion

I haven’t been able to go out of the country since my U.S. trip last June-July. Work, life and the horrific state of my bank account have left me grounded. But not for long, I hope.

Okay, I can’t keep it in any longer. D, K and I were able to avail of a seat sale bound for Taipei in June! I’m going to Taiwan for my birthday! Woohoo!

Well, that is, if the recent rift between the Philippines and Taiwan settles itself by that time. Ho-hum. Worst case scenario, we’ll have to rebook and think of another place to go. Cambodia, perhaps, to see the Angkor Wat? Maybe Malaysia?

Anyhow, here are some pictures from my trips to Bangkok and Hong kong back in 2008 and 2007, respectively. It’s been too long, dear Rest of Asia. I can feel the persuasion to get lost in you again.   

Bangkok. 2008(c) iselgarcia

Bangkok. 2008(c) iselgarcia

The Floating Market, Bangkok. 2008(c) iselgarcia

Floating Market, Bangkok. 2008(c) iselgarcia

Kowloon, Hong kong. 2007(c)iselgarcia

St. Paul’s Church, Macau. 2007(c)iselgarcia

February 7, 2011 / iselgarcia

I Survived the Sinulog!

It was pretty much a spontaneous thing. My sister and roomie D was being sent to Cebu for work on the weekend of the Sinulog and I had nothing better to do. So, I called the first person I could think of who liked spontaneous trips and booked two tickets to Mactan.

B and I didn’t exactly know what to expect when we boarded our plane. The yearly Sinulog Festival is usually dubbed as the Philippines’ version of a Mardi Gras– and it was our first. Bringing not much else but an adventurous disposition and a point and shoot camera, we woke up bright and early on a Sunday morning and braved the crazy throng of people (think crowd of thousands and the possibility of a stampede floating constantly in your mind) into our first Sinulog experience. 

Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw, heard and experienced. Dancing “natives” bearing the Sto. Nino (Christ Child) statue. Floats of dancing women in skimpy clothes. Rain. Thousands of people pushing against you. Mud-soaked legs and feet. Colorful costumes. Men carrying a python several feet long. Cotton candy carts. Masks. But I’ll stop here. Let the pictures tell you the story.   

Location: Cebu City, Philippines

Event: Sinulog Festival 2011

When: January 16, 2011

Pick a mask and be someone entirely different. At least for a day.

Viva Pit Senor! The show goes on– rain or shine.

For a while there, I wondered if I got lost in a Cosplay event. Maybe the natives dressed like this at one point? Teehee.

I survived this crowd. That achievement is enough for me.  

If you’re a partyphile, you would be happy to know that a whole street in the heart of the city (Mango Avenue) becomes Party Lane the night of the Sinulog. Think random people grabbing you and slathering paint all over your face, makeshift beer bongs, pulsing music, street dancing, feasting on roasted suckling pig (lechon!), beer-spraying and loud greetings of “Viva, Pit Senor!” Drunken cheers to the Christ Child? Wild, if I may say so myself.

February 7, 2011 / iselgarcia

Just a Spoonful of Sugar– or a Bottle of White

The picnic last Friday was a success. The night was deliciously lovely: the air was chilly, the stars were out. We picked out a spot under a tree to spread our pashminas (we didn’t have picnic mats) and B opened the bottle of white wine I brought. It opened with a resounding Pop!, the wine fizzed and the cork flew a few feet away, much to our hysterical consternation. (You see, we are not sure if you’re allowed to drink in the Triangle).

The night was full of conversation– serious and otherwise, reminiscings of our latest “night out”, beach plans and date possibilities. The night ended with us girls heading back to my flat for more chatting and, well, Tequila shots. A good night all ’round!

October 21, 2010 / iselgarcia

Swimming With the Fishes

Italian Mobsters and Space Criminals. Who would think I’d find my head filled with images of these as I sit here trying to put into words my first scuba diving experience last weekend? Call me looney, but the instant I took my first breath underwater, the first thought that flashed into my mind was “Cool, I sound just like Darth Vader!”. In fact, I felt  very sorry not to be able to share this enlightened thought with the other divers, along with “Hey, ‘I’m swimming with the fishes’! Get it? ‘You’ll be swimming with the – ” Alright, enough with the weird jokes.

Anyway, last Saturday saw me up and about (in a rather zombie way, i admit) at the crack of dawn. Because of my James Dean philosophy to “Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if it’s your last day here”,( a.k.a. Scribbler’s Boredom and Restlessness Syndrome), I got it into my head one mundane afternoon at the office to go scuba diving with the Travel and Adventure Club at work.  To cut the long story short and to stop my rambling, here are some shots of some underwater action in the Aqua Venture Reef in Anilao, Batangas.

One of my companions actually voiced out his concern about not seeing any interesting varieties of sea creatures in Anilao. But you needn’t worry about this. It may not equal the dive spots in Dumaguete or Palawan, but it comes very, very close. And to think that Anilao is just a couple of hours drive from Manila! It’s definitely worth seeing.

And don’t forget to wait for sundown – Anilao offers a beautiful sunset.


October 13, 2010 / iselgarcia


October 13, 2010 / iselgarcia

New York Minute

*As published in the August-October 2010 issue of Expat Travel and Lifestyle magazine

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