diary of a budding design genius

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Hong Kong Photo Diary



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Roast Rack of Pork Stuffed With Apples and Herbs

Had dinner a little late today. Okay, a lot late…

We had a bone-in rack of pork in the freezer so I tried out this recipe. I forgot to read through the recipe properly before I started, so I didn’t realize it would take over 2 hours to prepare and cook. I finally took it out of the oven at 9:30 pm. Good thing, my mom had salad first and my sister ate some Jollibee spaghetti, else they would have been complaining of hunger.

The dish turned out great! We had it with some white wine (leftover from the recipe). I’ll definitely do it again. But next time, I’ll make sure to start earlier, so we wouldn’t go hungry.

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Looking Back at 2011

Happy New Year!

I met 2011 with great expectations for my new life. A lot of things didn’t happen as expected, but so many great things also came to be that I did not plan on. In the past year, I gained a lot of amazing friends of all shapes and sizes, of all ages and from places far away. I’ve traveled more than I expected, I learned so many things (and not just concerning Interior Design), experienced so many things for the first time (like white water rafting, climbing Mt. Pulag, riding a helicopter, and archery. . .)  and best of all, I had a lot of fun. My decision to leave my banking career did not make my world smaller or more limited. Rather, the change has led to so many opportunities that have expanded my world.

Insights from 2011:

– So many things can happen in 3 months, or in a month or in a week. Its amazing how much you can learn, and how many bonds can be formed in such a short amount of time. At the same time, in some things, so little could change in a year or in 7 years, or even in 10.

– Sometimes the only thing keeping you from winning is that you’re afraid to try.

– Sometimes, to get what you want, you have to ask for it.

– Good things come to those who have less, simply because, when you have less to lose, you take more risks.

Hello 2012! I hope you bring me as many blessings and opportunities as 2011 did. I’m looking forward to growing and learning many more things.

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Fake Miniature Photography

I’ve been seeing this a lot online lately. You can make a real live scene look like a photo of a miniature by using special lenses. I don’t have these lenses, but I did research and found out how you can fake a fake miniature photo through Photoshop. I tried it out and had so much fun, I did it to several photos from my latest trip.

Miniature Maui Beach Scene

Miniature Hotels

Miniature House by the Sea

Miniature Lighthouse

Miniature Taro Fields

Miniature Waimea Canyon

Miniature Waterfall - doesn't seem as convincing when there's water

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Trick or Treat!

I convinced my sister to accompany me to SM North by bribing her with a promise to treat her to an ice cream. What better place to have that ice cream than at Sebastian’s. I just love their creative flavors. We both had their special halloween flavor: Trick or Treat

Vanilla Ice Cream loaded with Nutella Cups and Dark Chocolate Crunch chunks, swirled together with Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Cups and Crisp Butter Toffee chunks.

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Hawaii on my Mind

Its been 5 weeks since my 5 week stay in Hawaii. I’m back in the real world, and doing nothing but school full time. Still, I can’t help but think fondly of all the awesome experiences and wonderful people I met. Of course, having so many mementos surrounding me in my room tends to trigger these memories…

A ceramic honu sitting on the solar panel of my solar lamp

My little yellow truck with a surfboard... right next to my dashboard hula doll which will move to my car as soon as I have it cleaned

A little sign I picked up from Sand People in front of a painting from Cambodia, next to a Balinese crying man sculpture, on top of my favorite travel books.

All the pins I collected from the different clubs.

The jewelry I've been wearing lately...

Postcards on the side of my filing cabinet

Aloha Means Love

My many leis hanging on the bedpost -- 'til I figure out what to do with them

Aloha Hawaii, I’ll be back to see you again someday. Meanwhile, you’re in my thoughts.

Thus, my inspiration for the 1st plate I submitted for Color Rendering Class

P.S. My 2nd plate was of a hibiscus flower, but I wasn’t able to take a photo


Being higher than the clouds

Another mountain to cross off my bucket list…

Finally, after planning for months, we got a chance to climb Mt. Pulag in Benguet, the highest peak in Luzon, the 2nd highest in the Philippines. Being a small group, we couldn’t afford to charter a jeepney on our own, so we risked it and boarded the 11:00pm Victory Liner to Baguio, hoping to find a group we could share a jeepney with when we got there. We were lucky enough encounter a group of “over 40” mountaineers who called themselves The Bandidos. They were already sharing a jeep with a couple, Eric and Rina, but there was enough room for us.

After a few hours on the road (including a brief ride on the roof among our packs), we finally reached the DENR station where we had to register and get briefed on the park’s rules and regulations. The camping grounds are part of a protected National Park and is the territory of several Benguet tribes. Respect for the environment as well as the native tribes were clearly emphasized. The Leave No Trace principles definitely had to be followed. Our group’s names were registered with a team leader, first aider and sweeper assigned per group. We ended up being the Chopsuey group along with Eric and Rina. Then off to the jeeps, where we rode for a couple more hours before finally reaching the ranger station — and that’s where the real adventure began.

Top ride on the Jeepney

From the ranger station, its a 3 hour hike to camp 2 where we spent the night. The hike starts in a pine forest, but as we climbed higher, it gradually changed into a mossy oak forest. Just hiking through the forest presented so many photo ops already. The plant life in that high altitude is already very different. The mossy trees were intriguing, as were the endemic dwarf bamboo and the wild berries along the trail. It was a steady climb, but my preparation for this climb consisted of just a couple of short runs and my weekend walking all over Singapore. My walking stick proved to be a worthwhile investment which helped me a lot during the climb. I got a little extra help as well with carrying my pack part of the way with the porter Alice and I hired to help us alternately.

Starting the trek

Oak Forest

Mossy Oak Forest

White flower growing between the rocks

Dwarf Bamboo

More strange plant life

When the mossy oaks finally gave way to rolling hills, we knew we were close to camp. We were among the early ones to arrive and the campsite still had plenty of choice spots left. We set up camp on a relatively flat patch of grass with a view of the peak and the great big blue skies. When the tents were up, and the packs stowed, we went into the tent and promptly fell asleep. It was early afternoon.

My gear beside a little clump of dwarf bamboo

resting before setting up camp

Erika Jumps

We woke up to find that our isolated campsite wasn’t so serene anymore. Other groups had come and tents had sprouted everywhere. The tent directly across from ours belonged to a family from Benguet who had brought their one year old baby up the mountain to celebrate her first birthday. The baby actually had an envious climb. She didn’t have to carry any pack, her mother carried her all of the way and diapers meant she didn’t need to worry about using the common latrines (read: a hut with a hole in the ground… a lot of people miss).

The view from inside the tent

The baby from the tent across ours

It was only 4pm, but we had nothing to left to do for the rest of the day, so we decided to work on dinner. It turned out to be a great idea, because after we tucked in our tuna aglio olio with olives and capers, it began to rain. That wasn’t completely unexpected, so we retired to the tent. After browsing through our photos and a couple of card games, we geared up for the cold night ahead. I was asleep by 7:30pm. In anticipation of the nighttime low temperatures, I wore almost all the clothes I brought. I wore two pairs of socks, a pair of tights under thick jogging pants, a thermal top, a t-shirt and a fleece jacket. All these under 2 blankets in my silk sleeping bag and I still woke up several times because of the cold. I was so tempted to wear a 2nd pair of tights, but it was too complicated to get out from under the covers and change in the cramped tent. Anyway, we were up for real by 3am to prepare for our ascent to the peak. We needed to be up in time for the sunrise.

Eric and Rina were life savers offering us warm Nescafe Brown ‘n Creamy (warm because nothing would stay hot for long in the cold). I added my extra pair of tights, waterproof jacket, gloves, scarf and bonnet to my already bulky outfit, put on my shoes, grabbed my camera, headlamp and walking stick and was ready. . . or so I thought.

Racing to the peak before dawn

The two hour climb to the peak was extra difficult for me, even if we weren’t carrying any packs. It could be the lack of sleep, the thin mountain air, or the fact that it we were going at a fast pace, racing against the sunrise. The sun started peeking out of the clouds when we were only halfway there. We went even faster (or at least I tried). The effort of the climb warmed me up and made me break a sweat, so I gradually shed my layers of clothing as we climbed. Slowly, but steadily, I pushed myself up the final assault to welcome the glorious view at the highest point in Luzon. The weather was perfect. The view, made the climb worth it. We were higher than the clouds. It was so cold I had all my clothes on again, down to the gloves. The tops of mountains all around peeked through the clouds. The morning sun cast warm yellow rays on the surrounding rolling, grassy hills. It painted a scene I will always remember.

A sea of clouds

You can see part of the trail we took from camp to the peak

Gorgeous view

Mountains as far as you can see. . .

See that cloud covered mountain?

Morning Sun

Conquering Mt. Pulag

Are we dressed for The Philippines?

Hundreds of photos later, happy and hungry, we headed back to the tent for breakfast, then to break camp and to head back to Baguio, back to Manila and on to new adventures.

Heading back

The Seven Leave No Trace Principles


  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize use and impact of fire.
  6. Respect Wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.