Bohol Island, Philippines

Bohol was a hidden gem to me, home to one of my favourite Filipino actors Cesar Montano, The last time I came to Bohol i never did any of the snorkelling and dolphin watching that I was just so surprised to see the beauty of this island. We stayed at Panglao island which is what our driver said is the place where all the tourists are at. They are currently builing an international airport here to provide more jobs to the locals of the area.

Bohol was very very clean and their people are one of the nicest I have met. Their seas are very clean as well and the sights very beautiful. Here are some of the things I will suggest you do, skip the party places and learn to see the beauty of Bohol.

14203105_10210397476444161_3597969698417161107_n.jpg

1. Man made forest

This forest is called the man made forest because each graduate of Bohol is required to plant 5 trees after they graduate. Now that the forest is big they are required to plant those 5 trees anywhere around Bohol or even in their backyard.

2. Balicasag Island

I never went on the island itself but we passed by this island to snorkel on the way back to our resort after dolphin watching. The reef was great and the waters were crystal clear! Its something you’d want to do while you are in Bohol. I never expected Bohol to have some place as beautiful as this. It was almost as if we were in Palawan or Apo island and we even got to swim with 3 sea turtles. It was wonderful.

3. Chocolate Hills

Im not sure if it was as Beautiful as the last time I was here, and the tourists are AWFUL just horrible. Most especially the Korean tourists who would smoke and spit on the viewing deck. Still worth the 214 steps to climb up and see the view but nothing more than just a few moments to appreciate the hills. They turn brown during the summer when its hot and green when its the rainy season.

4. Dolphin watching

Something you should not miss! It was worth waking up at 5am to see the dolphins, even if we waited 2 hours before actually finding these dolphins it was magical and I almost wanted to jump in the sea myself to swim with the dolphins.

5. Tarsier Conservation

I didn’t like this place which was filled with Tourists, but I guess it should be your list if you would like to see a tarsier and of course each contribution helps the tarsiers and the efforts to keep them from endangerment. There is a Php 60 entrance fee for this attraction. 14281538_10210423606097386_279344192_n.jpg

I never expected Bohol to be this beautiful and it is now one of my favourite places in the Philippines next to Palawan. With a reef that beautiful in Balicasag, I was really impressed.  I was able to swim with 3 sea turtles and thats more than what I was in Dumaguete while we were at Apo Island. Also it is not as congested as Dumaguete, Bohol is really still like a province. Very quiet and a very easy going place.

Dance Competitions. Are they healthy? Short review from my experience of the ABAP competition.

I feel like competitions are something parents love, most especially here in the Philippines, Theres the Philippine Dance cup, The ABAP competition and the CCP dance competition and many others. I wonder sometimes if it is healthy to be putting children into competitions into something as subjective as ballet. How then would you score your dancers? By the number of turns or the amount of battements they do? Are we educating our youth better? Or are we creating monsters out of an art we love.

Did we ever stop to think. What was the purpose of this? Did our dancers grow properly? Did they change for the better? Was it good for them. I think educating our future dancers well, is as important as educating their teachers and their parents properly.

I feel like I have to bring this up, even if I hate ballet competitions. Last weekend I was at a ballet competition and My student ranked first in the rankings in, Junior 5 Ballet Category. I am positive about this because I wrote down all of the girls scores and she scored the highest out of all the girls who danced. I was so excited to congratulate her backstage and see my student of all the girls had placed first.

Now when she received her award they announced that she was 7th place, Imagine my surprise. From first place to seventh? What was wrong? Was she deducted something? Did I teach her something wrong? Backstage they told her they had made a mistake and so they awarded her 6th? I was still not convinced that my student ranked 6th. And my other little student was also supposed to be 3rd but ranked 4th when announced her name.

Now of course confused and furious in my head but calmly we talked to the ones in charge, they said all the girls are deducted for every wrong step they make according to the video. Now this is a variation i know by heart. I am positive every other girl did the variation the same way in accordance to the video that they sent. (I know my friends can attest to this, I am known to know many dances, variations and choreographies by heart) I am positive, except that second girl who danced did it a little differently on the pas de cheval but only one step was changed from what she did as compared to the others. They deducted plenty of points from my student just for a missed step that I know wasn’t true because I observed each girl and each step during the dance.

I am of course disappointed as a teacher, I know my student deserved to win that category. And I am not convinced that she deserved 6th or 7th place. She did it the cleanest and with the most heart. I know when my student does bad and when she doesn’t, I know this because she deserved her 4th place in the other Junior 4 category in fact i think she did pretty awful there but I am not afraid to admit that. She also knew that herself, and she told me that too. But this time i choose to speak up and share this experience because i believe I do deserve a clear explanation as to why my students and my own hard work and months and months of dancing didn’t deserve 1st place.

I would just want an explanation as to How can my student who ranked first get more deductions than the girls who fell on the floor? I want to know for my future reference, Is it something personal? Does this happen in all competitions? If you cheated everyone in the competition was it worth it? I saw plenty of other students whose scores jumped from 2nd to 4th and etc. It was very painful to watch as a teacher.

 

 

14164152_10210349405912859_1709323861_o

So did this competition turn me into a monster teacher? Maybe not. In fact It inspired me to do better as a teacher. Maybe it is not the case in all competitions and ballet is just something that is too difficult to judge in the first place. Of course at the end of the day it is not who wins and loses and life is not a competition. I just want my students to enjoy dancing the way all my teachers taught me but I wish I knew why we didn’t deserve to win that category.

Don’t get me wrong, I am of course grateful that all my students placed. Even my small baby ballet students placed and did very well during their dances but we all know that the older girls will also show the strength of the school. As a teacher building her own reputation, I want to know for myself what I can do to improve and what I can do to help my students more.

Now as a parent or a stage mom, if you are to decide wether to put your child into a ballet competition. Is it worth it? I encourage you all to think about it and read about it before you act. Here is the “sakit” if you may call it of the Filipino people. They absolutely love competitions they like listing their achievements. My parents are not the typical and as everyone knows I grew up in a Japanese setting. My mom taught me mostly that a smart dancer reads, she knows and she has to do everything from the basic. My mother is very particular with small details and she always told me, it matters.

Do you think it is healthy for your child? Is it turning into an earning scheme for schools? I hope we think about these things before entering into competitions. After all, we all aim to become better versions of ourselves right? Or to create better more artistic and beautiful dancers? Where has that art gone? Is ballet simply a sport now, or is it still an art?

This makes me sad. What are your thoughts?

Apo Island Dumaguete, Philippines

Its been a dream of mine to revist Dumaguete and finally go to Apo Island. I was last in Dumaguete when i was on a local tour with my former ballet company. Apo island as explained by a local here to us is the “apo” or the grandchild of the Negros region in the Philippines.

 
Home to plenty of turtles, we saw some as big as a 10 year old child and one as small as a 2 year old. I really enjoyed apo island minus the sea sickness. Staying here, since my dad was paying for everything this time (thank goodness. Hehe) I looked for the best and nearest resort to the island. Atmosphere resorts is only a 30 minute boat ride to APO island and is also located in Dauin.

We spent half the day in APO island and half around the island of dumagute, If you are looking for local cuisine, Lab As is the place to eat as recommended by a few local friend of ours. We also did a tour around the city and a walk along the boulevard, a visit to the bell tower, and bought some Silvanas and Chocolate Suman for pasalubong to our friends.

 

The corals in Apo island I would say might be best enjoyed while Diving. I was told that while they were diving they would encounter not only turtles but also reef sharks. And I was told that this was named one of the top 10 best diving spots in the world. I enjoyed snorkeling too, but i was limited to go around the shallow areas. I’ll save the diving for next time when I come back!

Pangulasian, El Nido

I have written plenty of times before, Palawan is really my most favourite place in the Philippines. There are no words for me to describe this place, and if you are ever looking for a small resort here and you don’t have a small budget, Pangulasian is the place you are looking for, this is of course based only on my experience and my stay here.

We’ve stayed at Miniloc island once and visited Lagen resort in El Nido, but this resort was the cherry on top of an ice cream cake. Pangulasian, listed as one of the best small luxury hotels in the world, is a place where the Prince of Monaco and Bill Gates was said to stay in last April 2016. It is the perfect escape to all of our busy lives. We did the usual big and small lagoons tour and swam with the sharks and turtles by the island. You don’t even need to leave the island to enjoy the beauty of Palawan. Pangulasian, shows the beauty of the Philippines in all of its good nature.

If you are ever in the Philippines, Palawan should definitely be top on your list of places to visit. Coron, El Nido, Balabac, Linapacan, some suggested places you could search about Palawan. The silence might be deafening at first, and this place is really nice if you have someone to share it with.

❤ TheBackpackingBallerina

Todd English Food Hall, SM Aura

Whenever I get invited to these blog events I always have second thoughts especially if it is about food. Because well, Im a ballerina and… Technically I don’t really eat so much and being in the Philippines where it is a predominantly carb eating community. It is especially difficult to find anything that I can eat to fit into my diet.

And Although I was not able to eat the rice and the bread. I was able to try a lot of their salads and sashimi dishes. I Also had a little slice of each of their special cakes and desserts which a lot of people I know would rave about. Originally from New York, Their menu was nothing like the Menu in New York but was suited to the Filipino taste. I was expecting really steep prices on their dishes but most ranged from a budget of about Php 600-800 pesos per person. (Not bad for the serving portion size)

Recommendations: Sous Vide Duck breast, Tuna Slider, Simple Salad and for Dessert the Betty white was my favourite of all of the three desserts.

Not sure if it is a thing yet in Manila to be eating healthy or having a weird diet such as mine but I would like to start blogging about what kind of food I would prefer or eat over other kinds of food. Just because I got used to eating a good amount of each kind of thing. If you’re ever in SM aura, I would really recommend coming here. I think most people wouldn’t enter Todd English thinking of the amount they’d have to spend because of how it looks like from the outside. But i would recommend looking at their menu and considering this place to eat out on for Family days and dates.

Agape, Chimes Square Congressional Ave.

Congressional avenue has been booming lately of new restaurants. Chimes is one of the places i like to go to there as it is more quiet and secluded. Plenty of families come here and it is less crowded as compared to Box park or Urban Eats, which is right next to the establishment. If theres a new place you want to try around Quezon City, Chimes and well Congressional Avenue in general is a good place to come to. A bit of a hassle with parking space but its worth it to come and eat here.

Agape, meaning selfless or maybe surprise. Depending on how you use it, was what the owner of the restaurant named it because it reminded her of her journey with her daughter when she got sick. She wanted to put up that restaurant after their journey together when they went to New York. When they were there, they would always eat in the Le Pain restaurant along 1st avenue. That is where she got most of her inspiration for her first restaurant, Agape.

An owner with plenty of heart, she handles her business with a lot of passion. Most of her chefs are from Benilde or Endurun which she tells us are very well off, but she likes to hire these types of people because many of them are inspired by the story of why she opened her restaurant. Her menu is composed of recipes mostly done by her husband or some of her family members.

Personal Recommendations: From the Salads I loved the Spicy Prawn with Honey Lemon Papaya sauce Php 150, The Four Cheese pizza Php320, Beer Battered Fish Tartine Php 250 and the Sardines in Oil Pasta, Php 200. Their dessert tart is also AMAZING. They are very proud of their tartine selection as not many restaurants serve tartines in Manila. The beer battered tartine was my favourite among all the tartines.

Really nice place to come for quiet dates with friends and family. Chimes is a nice family friendly place. There are three restaurants that I could recommend here and the other one is also owned by the owner of Agape which is Ciano. The other burger restaurant beside Agape, sells amazing burgers, and those are probably the only three restaurants that I come here for but its definitely worth a try. Chimes Square is not really that mainstream YET as it looks a bit more expensive and intimidating, but give it a little more time and I know that it will be swamped with people soon enough.