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Matterhorn in my Mind



I fell in love with you just at first sight! Amazing how one could be so enthralled with your grandeur to muster courage and get closer to you. It was getting late yet Jaq, Imee and I were unmoved…we kept moving up, past meadows with bits of unmelted snow from the snowfall the day before, herd of sheep, more meadows and empty old wooden cabins up in the mountains.

We made it here– serene, the air cool and fresh and the VIEW, ahh, how awesome is that! The setting sun behind us casts that golden yellow color on to Matterhorn!

We made our descent back to Casa Vanessa, hesitantly though, before the sun fully set. Was it worth the climb? Definitely!

(post-processing assistance, credit to my husband Frayne Buhong)







HOME — where the water flows freely and the birds sing heavenly, where the soul rests in tranquility and the heart beats soundly, where the air smells fresh and the wind blows coldly, where the sun plays hide & seek and the moon rises calmly, where the clouds embrace the mountains high, the rain splits splats and the rainbow display is sometimes more than just one at a time. (Ba-ag, Tam-an, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines)

From the Roof



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I sat on the roof of the house with my Niko in hand as the sun starts to set, painting the horizon with shades of orange, red, yellow and gray. Back in the days, whenever my parents bring my siblings and I to Baguio City (Philippines) for our summer vacation, even up until I was in university, we get to enjoy the sunset here just from the garden.  Not only is the sunset amazing each time, we enjoyed looking at the river below (which until now I am unsure which river that is) glistening with the fading rays of the setting sun and the glow of fishermen’s torches as they prepare to sail out to the South China Sea. With neighbors now aplenty, so are the number of structures around us. We then have to climb up the roof for that perfect view, unfortunately, no more fishermen’s torches in view.


Colosseum of Ancient Rome


Behind the walls of this amphitheater once stood the strongest and mightiest in ancient Rome, deafening cries of spectators echo through as gladiators and wild animals battle it out under the heat of the sun. 

Once Upon A Time In Rome


Getting here was a dream come true, experiencing it was life enriching!

Tug at My Heartstring


When the energy of the day finally dies down and silence takes on the center stage, I look back on the day that was and I think of home. In this fast paced world that I am currently living in, life is slipping too fast that I couldn’t even grasp perfectly one thing, another pops in. The clock seems to be ticking faster than it should and before I know it, I’ve got to change my calendar. And I think of home.

Experiencing the Milky Way Back Home


One evening whilst home getting ready for the Big Day, my fiancé (now my hubby) insisted we go out and take photos of the milky way. It was cold, nearly midnight and almost everybody went to bed. Insistent as always because it’s photography, I agreed.  So outside my parents house by the road side we each positioned our cameras. It was pitch-dark and indeed the Milky Way was magnificent.  About 5 cars passed us by (including a police patrol) and whoever were onboard might be scratching their heads when they saw us. What should have been an agreed  few minutes outside ended up almost an hour. How could we not, err, I not, I mean, stay long when after my first shot I couldn’t get enough of it. It was favorable to him. Teehee! #HappytobeHome #HappyChild #theSweetLife 

My 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge

Yesterday I successfully completed my 7-Day Nature-themed Photo Challenge on Facebook. It was, in a way, challenging, having to dig into your stock of photos as soon as you reach home from work and scamper to post it before the clock strikes 12 midnight. It was also fun especially when you find an image you have long forgotten having taken and actually be proud of it, more so when you need not have to do much post-processing.

As only a couple of you are my friends on Facebook, I would like to share these photographs to the rest of you with hopes that these would bring a smile to your face and joy in your heart. Comments are most welcome, too.


Day 1: Chasing the Sunset on My Birthday! — Sir Baniyas Island, Abu Dhabi


Day 2: Matterhorn dubbed as “toblerone mountain” on a sunny day after the snowfall. – Zermatt, Switzerland



Day 3: “Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.”– Bernard Meltzer  – Zermatt, Switzerland



Day 4: My version of the Aurora Borealis! Soon, God-willing, I will get to see the real one! – Poblacion, Hungduan, Ifugao



Day 5: One day I got bored (ang tambay na-bore?), went for photowalk by the terraces and got this. Productive Boredom huh! Nabongyawan Rice Terraces – Poblacion, Hungduan, Ifugao



Day 6: The rainbow before the heavy downpour. – Laodicea, Denizli


Day 7: Boble Mid Bannawor! My solo trek of the Viewpoint-Bocos Trail.- Banaue, Ifugao


Spring in the Emirates


The temperature is rising, the flowers bloom…ahh, spring is here…am starting to miss the cool breeze, oh winter days are coming to an end and soon it will be summer…sigh…but to have this view, even just for a moment, while the red light is on, I’m loving Spring in the Emirates!


Beneath My Travel Backpack


(29th December 2015)

While many in the world are counting what’s left of the hours for 2015, I was busy scouring for cheap flights to whichever visa-free or visa on arrival destinations there are to spend a few days of my 10-day Christmas break. Unfortunately, with only a travel budget of AED 1,000 in my excel sheet (uh, spare my wedding funds!), no matter how hard I try, refreshing FlyDubai’s page every waking hour, I had to accept, sadly, I couldn’t afford to fly this time.

Be that as it may and a 3-day house arrest after Christmas, I booked my hotel, packed my bags, brought out my walking boots, charged my Niko, picked up my book, bought my bus ticket and journeyed up to where the mountains meet the sea—Fujairah!

I am indeed a stubborn child. My happy feet just couldn’t stay put.

For this time though, my travel is about having my ME-time. My brain’s all over the place, I need to run away and find that solitude to calm my spirit. I need my ME-time. Selfish? Maybe, and I don’t expect everyone to understand, but like many times in the past, this zaps me back to my sanity, this enables me to better understand every situation that has come to pass and use that understanding to face the unknown future and most importantly, be a better person to the people who matter most to me…the people who love me so dearly even in my oddest state.

Many might say I am lucky to have been jet-setting for a while now. Probably stirring some to question how much my monthly paycheck is to afford such travels. It’s not hefty. It is enough to pay my bills, share something back home and travel. Savings you say? Last time I checked my bank book, the figures are the same since I left home to try my luck in Dubai the second time around. Shopping? Hmmm, the level of my work & leisure clothes versus my home clothes is still relatively low…while many were busy shopping, I was deep into my budget spreadsheet. I’m quite happy growing my ref magnet and flag collections though.

Eight countries this year including of course, home- The Philippines and my host country- The United Arab Emirates. I am not bragging. I simply would like to express how God has been blessing my life big time. It is a testament of His Greatness, turning the unthinkable possible! He first blessed me with the nicest and sweetest man to whom I am now engaged, He gave me a goob job in a wonderful company and He filled my travel fund jar enough to afford it. I still don’t know what I have done to deserve this but I am truly grateful.

Happy. Blessed. Grateful. I TRULY AM!

(30th December 2015)

While I am that, however, a part of me is scarred, crying, in fear. I couldn’t help but ask God why is it that while He is blessing my life abundantly, the people I love go through unfortunate situations one after the other and all happening either before my travel or while I am on travel. Coincidence? Maybe. But except for my travel back home for my sister’s wedding, each of the travels I had had been one of excitement, fun and at the same time sadness and worry. Each time I head to bed after a day of adventure and fun, I lay awake wondering how my dad is, my sister is, my brother is, my fiance’ is, my nephew is? Not even this very trip was spared. While I was out and about this afternoon, excited to share on our siblings’ chat group what I have happily captured on my tab, they’ve shared a photo of one of my brothers and his wife in the hospital both with drips! Again a coincidence?

Travelling the world has always been something I wanted to do. I still do, but with what has been happening, I have now developed a fear not on travelling per se but on me travelling. Even the very thought of planning where to go next scares me now. It scares me to think what could or might go wrong to the people that I love. I have become paranoid.

(31st December 2015)

I woke up this morning at 8:25, sigh, my vacation is coming to an end. Have I fulfilled the purpose of my being here, I thought. I could still feel sadness creeping within me and my questions are still there. I pulled my tab and messaged my fiance’…

“Hayst, my vacation is coming to an end. I have come to love the goodness of sleeping through a quiet night and waking up to a nice and quiet morning! How I wish I could afford to stay longer, be in a place where I could pour my heart out, find healing and be at peace even for just a while. I haven’t found answers to all my questions and soon they’ll be amongst my daily dose of stress as I return to my usual routine of work-traffic-home-chores. But I am thankful for this brief moment to grieve, to cry buckets, to question incessantly, to pour my heart out to Him, to let out what’s deep within. Silence was His answer to my questions and rants. He was listening intently I know. I have unloaded loads even to you. Have I satisfied the reasons of my being here? Maybe. And in the uncertainties of my future, all I could hope and pray for is a new year of good health, protection and safety, more love, stronger faith and Godly wisdom to understand, for all my loved ones. I hope and pray for wonderful, meaningful and safe travels, no matter how small or big they are. I hope and pray for a wonderful and meaningful wedding and a married life full of love, imperfect yet meaningful. I hope and pray for a fruitful career for both of us, that may we be blessings in our workplace as much as the workplace is to us.”

I said goodbye to 1314, my silent sanctuary for the last 2 days at Millenium Hotel and hopped on the bus back to Dubai, the mountains faded into the distance as sand dunes take on the scenery, light brown on the left side of the road and orange on the right. I saw one camel atop the orange dune, ahh, that could have been one nice shot!

As I sit on my bed, in the comforts of my room, few hours to the new year, I still feel odd but hopeful and keeping the faith. Hard, of course, but at the end of the day, He is in full control. It reminds me of my oldest brother’s response when I suggested performing a “baki” (an Ifugao ritual), where he said, “It is prayers that we need to strengthen, that is what I think we need!”

Hence I go back to my message this morning and YES, those are my hopes and prayers for the New Year, for my loved ones, for our workplaces and for myself.

May your lives be blessed this New Year and beyond, as well!

And as always, I say,  No Matter What Gets On The Way, Follow Your Heart, Keep The Faith and Travel Light!