Ela Lakwatsera: Beyond My Pine Tree City

As much as I deny it, Baguio holds a very dear place in my heart. I have never really had the guts to venture out of it in my two decades of existence, let alone imagine leaving it and living somewhere else. I’ve always thought that Baguio was the perfect mix of urban and rural – city-like enough to keep you sane but province-like enough to keep you humbled. Baguio is my comfort zone; somewhere I can get lost in but have the assurance that regardless of where I go, I am safe. Last year was the first time that I ever left my safe little bubble and enjoyed another area or country. And because of that experience, I am now hooked on this high that leaving gives me. Yes, I have the travelbug. Wanderlust. Incredibly satisfying but an agonizing experience at the same time.

One of the most difficult things to deal with when you have wanderlust, for me, is the fact that I don’t really have money to just get up and leave the city at any whim. My trips are strategically planned so that I can spend months saving money in order to use it all in a week’s time. Yes, I save almost 80% of each month’s salary in order to pay for my trips. I do this because I do not want to have to ask my mom for money in order to pay for my experiences. If I want to go somewhere or do something, I use my own money. And I’m pretty proud of this considering I’ve been able to fund several domestic trips and an international one in this year alone.

Six months into 2014 and I’ve already been to Vietnam, Cebu, Coron, Subic, and Sagada. All of which I’ll be writing about pretty soon. 🙂 I admit, travelling to these places has put a major dent in my bank account but I never regret feeling (or actually being) broke after my trips. The experience of being in unfamiliar territory, discovering it, and enjoying it is something that no amount of money in the bank can ever compete with. I’m really looking forward to the next few months since I already have several trips planned. This July, my high school friends and I are finally going on a long overdue out-of-town trip. Since most of my friends have work, or have extremely strict parents, this is the first time that we’re going to actually leave Baguio as a group. August has a homecoming in store. Paolo arrives on August 6 and I plan to be the first familiar face he’ll see as soon as he arrives in the Philippines. And of course, with Paolo back, this means that we can have one last escapade before school starts for him. In October, I’m finally going to go on my first solo trip. Although it isn’t out of the country as I originally had hoped for, I’ll get to do something I’ve always wanted to do (clue: baby sea turtles!). And lastly, I plan to end December with another international trip, this time with Paolo in tow. We have our hearts set on Cambodia but maybe (just maybe) I’ll end up visiting his home before the year ends (keeping my fingers crossed).

There is only one other feeling that rivals the high I get when I pack up and leave Baguio to discover a new place – coming home. Being enveloped by the fog and the cold, crisp air that meets me as soon as I reach the city is something I always look forward to. And coming home to my mom and our dogs is something my heart always yearns for. Yes, I enjoy leaving but I also love coming back.

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Blessed

A week ago, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the Eastern Visayas area of the Philippines. Haiyan is the biggest ever typhoon to hit the Philippines – the world, in fact – being 3.5 times stronger than Hurricane Katrina. With that in mind, one can only begin to fathom the damage that this storm has caused. Tacloban, one of the most badly hit areas, has been receiving a lot of relief from various organizations and the government but other areas are also as badly affected.

Around 4 days ago, Cass, my bestfriend and Meta sister came up with the idea of holding a garage sale where 100% of the proceeds would be given to those from Capiz, Roxas. Cass has relatives in that area and sadly, their homes are now gone. Although they have the means to start again, what about all the others who are not as well off?

This weekend, we let go of our clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags to help those from Capiz. We spent the whole weekend assembling our tables, advertising our cause, and selling our loved clothes all to help our kababayans. I am so proud of my Meta sisters. 😀 Although it was difficult, we were able to give up our stuff for something greater 🙂 We were able to make 45 thousand over the weekend! 😀 45 thousand, a lot more than what we expected to make. And our very generous and kind-hearted Mommy decided to double the amount we made! 😀 So, we are now able to give those from Capiz 90 thousand worth of food and toys for the kids :’)

I cannot believe that we were able to make that big of an amount considering that we were only selling our stuff for as low as 50 pesos! 🙂 Thank you so much to everyone who helped support our cause! :’)

We are all so blessed with our material possessions but what truly makes life worth living are the people who we are surrounded by! 🙂 I am so lucky to have what I have but I know I’m truly blessed to have sisters (by heart) that are selfless, kind-hearted, and generous ♥

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Teaser

Hello everyone! 🙂 How have you been?

I’ve been gone for a bit but I’m back now and I can’t wait to write about my adventures for the past few weeks. I’m currently on sembreak but school starts in a few days and that means work starts for me as well. Yeahp, work. 😀 I am once again gonna be called Ma’am Ela. 😀

Here are a few pictures of what I’ve been up to the past weeks…

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Dream come true kinda lunch 🙂

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Doing what I love

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Heaven in the mountains

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Conquering my fears

How has everything been treating you so far? 😀

Finally.

After almost 4 months, I finally feel as if I’m a graduate student. The stress and pressure is finally catching up with me. In less than 2 weeks, I have 4 thinking papers to write, 3 researches to submit, 2 researches to present, and a critical review of a company’s hr system to create out of thin air. Konting effort nalang, Ela. 😀

This is how you lose her.

This is how you lose her. 

You lose her when you forget to remember the little things that mean the world to her: the sincerity in a stranger’s voice during a trip to the grocery, the delight of finding something lost or forgotten like a sticker from when she was five, the selflessness of a child giving a part of his meal to another, the scent of new books in the store, the surprise short but honest notes she tucks in her journal and others you could only see if you look closely. 

You must remember when she forgets. 

You lose her when you don’t notice that she notices everything about you: your use of the proper punctuation that tells her continuation rather than finality, your silence when you’re about to ask a question but you think anything you’re about to say to her would be silly, your mindless humming when it is too quiet, your handwriting when you sign your name in blank sheets of paper, your muted laughter when you are trying to be polite, and more and more of what you are, which you don’t even know about yourself, because she pays attention. 

She remembers when you forget. 

You lose her for every second you make her feel less and less of the beauty that she is. When you make her feel that she is replaceable. She wants to feel cherished. When you make her feel that you are fleeting. She wants you to stay. When you make her feel inadequate. She wants to know that she is enough and she does not need to change for you, nor for anyone else because she is she and she is beautiful, kind and good.

You must learn her. 

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to. 

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.

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*Shared from Pryce Quintos on Facebook 🙂

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