diary of a budding design genius


Singapore Photo Diary

A weekend in Singapore. A little bit hot. A little bit rainy. Painful feet. Shopping and eating to death. Still more to see next time.


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Searching For An Oasis

I was looking forward to a weekend of peace and quiet, camping on the beach; roughing it. On just two hours of sleep, my friends and I went on a 5 hour drive to Pundaquit and a 1 1/2 hour bangka ride to Nagsasa Cove. I had visions of a serene beach with picturesque pine trees and a mountainous background.

We had decided on Nagsasa Cove because Anawangin Cove has become much too popular and we heard news that it already resembles a market on weekends. Nagsasa is in the same area with the same gray sand, pine trees and mountain background, but its further away and less popular, so we thought it would be perfect.

As our boat passed by Anawangin Cove, from the distance, we could already see crowd. We were feeling a little smug for choosing to go to a more isolated cove, further away. Finally, after a long, uncomfortable ride on the bangka, we caught our first glimpse of Nagsasa – –  and saw what seemed like huts – lots of them, all over the beach.

Needless to say, we were gravely disappointed. There were a lot of people there and more would come as the day progressed. The huts belonged to a series of pseudo-resorts separated by bamboo fences. Each “resort” had a cluster of huts, surrounding a sari-sari store, a hose pumping fresh water from the nearby river and a few stalls with primitive toilets in the back. Each group can rent a hut for P100 and set up camp beside it. The hut has a table, benches and a shelf to store the packs. By nightfall, it became definite that we wouldn’t be getting the peace and quiet we came there for. With nothing else to do, each group gathered around their tables or bonfires and played card games, played a guitar and sang along, or told stories, shrieked with laughter or had playful arguments. It was noisy. Each of the “resorts” on either side of ours had generators lighting the sari-sari store and thier distant hums became our background noise. By lucky chance, the resort we chose didn’t have a generator and saved us from listening to a loud buzzing all night long.

Don’t get me wrong. Nagsasa is beautiful. It may not be as picturesque as Anawangin, but it had its own appeal. The cove is surrounded by tall mountains. They are all golden and red under the summer sun. The sea is calm and pine trees dot the beach and line a small lake where the river ends. A short 2o min. walk would take you to a small waterfall. Its dry though at this time of the year. A much bigger waterfall can be seen an hour’s trek away, but we didn’t go.

I’ve been blessed to have seen Boracay before it turned into the seaside shopping mall it is today. There was no electricity yet and the only accommodations were nipa huts on the beach. I went to Anawangin when few people knew about it. There were no structures on the beach, not even a sari-sari store. I went to Siargao when it was visited only by the most avid surfers, when there were no direct flights and even the Surigao airport was closed. Even the Bohol of 7 years ago is very different from the Bohol now. There are few remaining places in the country where you don’t have to pay a premium for peace and quiet. It is nearly impossible to find one during the summer months. Are there any truly isolated Oases left?

Our "resort" was marked by a flag made of an old umbrella

You can see the huts from this distance. There are more behind the trees.

More huts

More campsites under the trees

Okay fine, its still beautiful

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I just spent one week re-arranging my bedroom furniture and am currently in the process of putting everything back in the cabinets. Its still far from looking liveable, so I’m not taking pictures yet. Meanwhile, I’m selling my desk and replacing it with a drafting table and filing cabinet. I think that would be the best use of my space. It would also save me from drafting on the dining table and having to clear everything up come meal time.

I spent the evening sewing buttons back on a cushion after I had its cover washed. The cushion belongs to my giant chair. It was my 1st investment on furniture, a big blue round rattan chair with a squashy green cushion. I bought it a few years ago, right when I was supposed to be saving for my backpacking trip across Southeast Asia. It went on sale and I couldn’t resist it. The chair is actually way too big for my room and is the main reason why I can’t upgrade to a bigger bed but I was in love with that chair for 2 years before it went on sale. Somehow, its size and shape and squashy cushion makes it the comfiest chair ever. When you sit on it, you don’t want to get up and twice I’ve actually fallen asleep in it. Lambchop couldn’t resist it either and made my sewing even more challenging by lying down on the cushion. Its not even on the chair yet, but it looks like its a pretty good dog bed judging from how quickly he fell asleep even as I was flipping part of the cushion to sew a button. Now I’m jealous and want to curl up on a giant cushion and fall asleep myself.


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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

If these cupcakes look familiar, that’s because these are the same cupcakes I served on my birthday/table setting finals. These are the first desserts I’ve actually priced. There’s still room for improvement. That banana chip on top stales in the refrigerator and its the first time I’ve used proper frosting tools. I’m still getting the hang of it. I think its too complicated for my plan to sell baked stuff during the holidays. I’ll probably stick to cookies. But they’re oh so yummy!  Just in case, these are P400 per dozen cupcakes.

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Manila Transitio 1945

This week, 66 years ago, over 120,000 Filipinos died in the city of Manila.  These Filipinos died as “collateral damage”, caught between the Japanese Imperial Army and the United States Armed Forces during World War II. General Douglas McArthur had returned to Manila just as he had promised. The problem is, he had returned without a plan. With the return of the Americans, the desperate Japanese began massacre-ing the Filipinos by the thousands. To stop the Japanese, McArthur decides to drop a bomb on the beautiful city of Manila, killing of course the Japanese, but along with them some 120,000 Filipinos and destroying the then booming, cosmopolitan city of Manila.

Once a year, famous Manila tour guide, Carlos Celdran, holds a special sunset tour of Intramuros called Transitio 1945. It is a short walking tour of Intramuros, a brief history of the Philippines for those with short attention spans. The tour ends with a concert with 1940’s music, an art installation exhibit and finally, the release of 120 sky lanterns to commemorate the 120,000 Filipinos who died in the 1945 bombing.

I’m not sure how different this tour is from the usual Intramuros tour by Carlos Celdran, but the significance of this anniversary is marked by a short prayer at the ruins of St. Ignatius Cathedral and the original Ateneo in Intramuros; as well as a stop at the San Agustin Church which is the only one of seven cathedrals in Intramuros that survived the war.

Celdran does not mince words as he tells the tale of Philippine history and explains how the mix of numerous influences has made the jeepney and halo-halo, epitomes of Philippine culture. He apologizes for the Manila that exists today, by telling a tale of the Manila that was, and how its heart and soul was extinguished in March 1945.

I very much enjoyed this nostalgic trip into 1940’s Manila. Despite the strange March rain, the tour was fun and the music was great; but the highlight of the night for me was the release of the sky lanterns. Though a couple got caught in trees and one threatened to burn the bell tower of the cathedral, one by one, the sky lanterns dotted the sky behind the Manila Cathedral. Wet weather, 40’s music, Philippine history and sky lanterns all combined to make it a memorable night.

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The Color Spectrum

As I was studying for my Color Theory quiz tomorrow, I remembered taking this photo one afternoon at CBTL Burgos Circle. Light emits countless wavelengths but human perception is limited to a small range of visible light wavelengths called the color spectrum. We can only see 7 of them; and we’ve named them red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Sir Isaac Newton was the first scientist to experiment with splitting sunlight into these visible bands. When sunlight goes through a prism, it is re-arranged according to light wave lengths and we see a rainbow. Red has the longest wavelength while violet has the shortest. The colors are always arranged longest to shortest (wave length) which is why we never see a rainbow with colors arranged differently.

On this day, in this particular hour, the sunlight hit the edges of CBTL’s glass door at just the right angle for them to split into 7 bands of color just in time for me to capture this photograph.

Looks like I’m learning something after all…