Skeptical Pictorial

Carinderia of unpopular poems, photographs, and writings by Lorenzo / Enzo Tacadao

Cultured Weekend: Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, National Museum

A weekend could never go wrong with music and culture.

Timeless Classics, New Beginnings

Friday night. The crew: Enzo, Rose, Kath, Jeff. The metro traffic was as always horrible.

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We arrived at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) 15 minutes before the program: Timeless Classics, New Beginnings of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) under the baton of Olivier Ochanine.

I’ve been wishing to watch a full orchestra live for years now. I’m a fan of classical music and talented orchestras maybe because I learned how to play violin when I was in high school, and watching PPO live was definitely a treat.

The national orchestra played P.I. Tchaikovsky’s “March Slave”, J. Haydn’s “Symphony No. 88 in G” and D. Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 10”.

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The performance of PPO was nothing short of extraordinary. The music was fluid, exciting, moving. My favorite was the second movement of D. Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 10”. The music was crushing and gripping, made me feel do something crazy. It was one good ride.I believe that this is the power of classical music, it inspires you, moves you, cripples your sensibilities.

For only P300, we had the chance to watch the country’s most iconic orchestra — conducted by decorated Ochanine. A truly remarkable experience. Everyone should watch a full orchestra play at least once.

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Philippine National Museum on a Sunday

To cap the weekend, we went to the Philippine National Museum.

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Arrived at the museum around 3:00 PM. The amazing thing about the National Museum is that entrance is free. Tracing back our country’s history, re-learning about the arts, and re-thinking about our culture is free.

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The last time I visited the National Museum was when I was still in my elementary. I noticed two things: the renovations done were on point; the collections were expanded.

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We were not able to visit all the galleries as the museum closes at 5:00 PM. But we shall be back soon.

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The two hours of roaming around the museum called for some delicious dinner. Since we were already in the heart of Manila, we decided to go to Binondo. We ended our #cultured weekend with a heavy dinner at Wai-Ying, a popular Chinese restaurant in Binondo.

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If you’re looking for a weekend trip that does not involve going to the mall, beach, movie house, bazaar, expo, visiting the country’s underrated treasures like the CCP and National Museum should be part of your shortlist. It feels good to be ‘cultured’ from time to time.

 


 

Philippine National Museum schedule:

http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/nationalmuseumbeta/Visit/Visit.html

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra 34th Concert Season schedule:

http://culturalcenter.gov.ph/press-room/ppo-34th-concert-season-2016-2017-opens-in-september-2/

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I Will Get Married Soon

It’s been months since I last posted. Busy schedule to blame.

As the title of this post claims, Rose and I will get married soon. 🙂

We’re a couple since April 2009. We had a fair share of ups and downs just like any normal couple. From an LDR (long-distance relationship) couple to an inseparable one.

I cannot imagine being with a different woman to share the future with. True love — sounds cliche’ but that’s what I feel. Someone who makes me happy, supports me, inspires me, understands me, and motivates me — this is Rose. There’s nothing more I could ask for.

Before the Proposal

Rose clearly told me that she doesn’t want me to buy her a ring and propose, all she wanted was for me to ask her parent’s approval. But, I wanted to be classy and sweet — she deserves that.

I asked her office mates Kath and Jeff to help me get her ring size. I also asked my UST friends for final ring design suggestions. I ordered the ring from a jewelry shop in Malolos, Bulacan. I chose a minimalist design since Rose is a not a fan of fancy things.

Months before the proposal, I’ve been thinking of the perfect way to propose. My original plan was thrown out of the window due to certain circumstances. I had to think for another plan. Unlike the original plan, the second one is more intimate and discreet.

I did not want to propose to her without asking her parents first. Weeks before the proposal, I asked her older brother to help me set a date with their parents. Her parents and I had dinner in Cubao, I told them that I was planning to proposer to their daughter. They gave me their blessing. 🙂

Last Minute Preparations

The final plan was this: ask her to have dinner in Rustic Mornings in Marikina City, one of our favorite restaurants, show her a book that contains photographs of her and our travels together, and pop the question.

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I told her that a client from my auto repair shop gifted me a voucher for Rustic Mornings. She had no choice but to join me because I told the voucher was about to expire. I made a pseudo voucher, complete with QR code (when you scan the code, you will get “Will You Marry Me?”), control number (date when we became a couple, 04282009). I had it printed and showed it to her to make her think that nothing fishy’s going on.

I did not want just to go on one knee and pop the question out of nowhere. I wanted it to be more romantic and surprising. Ever since we became a couple, my passion for photography doubled. She’s my number one supporter, spoiling me with different photography equipment and accessories.

I told her that I have an early Christmas gift for her, a book containing various photographs I took over the years. I browsed my PC for photos from our travels together and those that remind me of her. I ended up with some 30+ black and white photos. Printed them in paper, and had it photocopied to make it look more antiquated. The title of the book was “light, in absence of which” since she’s my light, my aide.

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collage

December 11, 2016

We arrived at the restaurant. Shaky and nervous, I tried my best to act normal. I set up my camera and tripod; told her it’s for “photo opp.” Our food and drinks came. I told her that before we eat, she should check my gift first.

She slowly lifted the pages. We reminisced the memories of each picture. But she did not know that the last two pages are something different. The second to the last page was this picture of me with her parents and older sister:

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She did not recognize the picture at first: “Kailan ito?” was her innocent question. Then, another second passed, she suddenly realized it. She started to cry. I asked her to flip to the next page for this picture of the ring:

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Her tears flowed even more. I became more shaky. On one knee, I asked her to marry me. She held my face and told me “Yes.”

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We are getting married soon, and we’re so excited.

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Rizal Long Weekend Road Trip

It was a long weekend. Rizal called again, we had to answer.

Rose and I revisited some of our most favorite parts of Rizal Province, this time we tagged her office mates Kath and Jeff with us.

Our first stop was at the overlooking spot in Pililla, Rizal.

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Too bad the weather did not cooperate, as we approached the Pililla Wind Farm, rain started to go amok.

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Then, we went to Kainan sa Tabing Lawa in Tanay for some championship lunch. After finishing the pork sisig, crispy fried pla-pla, and sinigang na hipon, we strolled around Tanay’s cute parola (lighthouse).

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Off we went to our favorite restaurant in Tanay: Cafe Katerina, for some sweets and coffee.

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There’s something about Rizal that captivates us. Perhaps because it is relatively near to our house, perhaps because you don’t have to pay toll fees to get there, perhaps because all of our road trips there were memorable. Or perhaps, it is because of Rizal’s simple, uncrowded, unassuming, and green vibe. You want to relax without having to battle your way through the traffic jams of NLEX and SLEX? Drive to East. The roads there are awesome.

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Our road trip cum food trip did not end in Cafe Katerina, after an hour and a half drive back to the Metro, we stopped at Cafe Lidia in Marikina City for some light dinner, and at Papa Diddi’s in Quezon City for ice cream. Calorie-overload.

Sagada: Second Look

There are moments of bumper-to-bumper traffic from time to time, and there are more stores and inns now — two of my observations when I visited Sagada for the second time last weekend. Beautiful, genuinely beautiful, nonetheless.

Falling in love with and studying in Baguio for more than three years, the Cordillera has a special place in my heart. Sagada, being the way more laid-back and relaxed version of Baguio, is extremely easy to embrace.

When Rose and I visited Sagada in 2010, we only managed to visit few spots: Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, and Bokong Falls. Additionally, we were able to visit the neighboring town of Bontoc (we were short in cash and Sagada’s lone ATM that time was offline, so we had to wake up around 5:00 AM to catch a 45-minute jeepney ride to Bontoc just to withdraw money). In short, we missed some of the popular spots.

Last weekend, we toured Bomod-Ok Falls, and Lumiang and Sumaguing caves (Cave Connection) — the missing links to our 2010 trip. The trek to Bomod-Ok Falls was quite special because of the falls’ cold water and whiplash, plus its magnificent posture. The spelunking experience in Cave Connection was both sweet and tiring. We were able to finish the Connection for less than five hours. I’m stoked that no one got hurt since the Connection has a history of fatal accidents in the past.

The trip fanned my ideas to explore more the Cordillera, something  I failed to do when I was still a university student in Baguio. Hopefully, Rose and I can visit Ifugao or even Kalinga in the next few months.

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Bomod-Ok Falls

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Sunrise at Kiltepan.

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Sunrise at Kiltepan.

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Sagada town proper.

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Kiltepan at dawn.

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Banaue, Mt. Province.

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Bomod-Ok Falls.

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Bomod-Ok Falls.

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View from Kiltepan viewpoint.

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Banaue, Mt. Province.

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Hanging Coffins.

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Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.

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Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

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Log Cabin buffet dinner.

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Bomod-Ok Falls.

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Boodle fight after our trek to Bomod-Ok Falls.

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Siquijor x Dumaguete

Seven years strong.

Rose and I celebrated our seventh anniversary in Negros Oriental and Siquijor Island. Special occasion calls for special vacation. After being barraged by our day jobs in the past couple of weeks, that trip was what we needed the most — to reset our system.

Casaroro Falls + Jiujitsu

Day One. We arrived at Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport noon. We hailed a tricycle to our hotel, Optimum Pension House. After swiftly unpacking our stuff, we headed to Jo’s Chicken Inato for some authentic chicken goodness. Then, we went straight to Casaroro Falls in Valencia town. We rode a jeepney to Valencia, and then habal-habal. I thought the trip to the falls will be a quick one, but we were caught off guard as the stair-steps (about 300 steps, Rose made the count) were steep, and upon reaching the base level, we had to walk our way through slippery rocks. After a 30-minute challenging walk, we reached the falls. A tall one with a thin figure — like a sword with endless beam. It was worth the walk.

We hurled back to Dumaguete City for a quick bath. Weeks before our trip, I searched the web for Dumaguete jiujitsu gyms, but no luck. But, I found through reddit that there are white belts training in gi with no formal instructor. I contacted them, and we were invited to train with them at a rooftop overlooking the cityscape. There, we met Josh and Nate, two chill guys who love to train for fun. We enjoyed rolling with them and they even toured us after training. Day one was a so cool.

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Super Laid-Back Island. Super Chill Sights.

We were sold with the blog entries and photographs of Siquijor Island, and so we thought that there’s no place better to celebrate our anniversary in the ‘Island of Fire’. Later, we realized that Dumaguete-Siquijor is a perfect combination. The laid-back vibes of the ‘City of Gentle People’ were a prologue to a magnificent trip in Siquijor.

Enter Day Two. We checked out from our hotel around 6:00AM to catch the 07:30AM ferry to Siquijor. Alas, the line at the ticket office was already piling up. To make things a bit more stressful, there were passengers who paid ‘fixers’ to buy them tickets, resulting in longer lines. Around 09:00AM, we were able to buy our tickets for 10:30AM trip. Tired and sleepy, we boarded a ro-ro barge to Siquijor. After an hour and a half trip, we reached Siquijor Island. We were welcomed with crystal clear water on the pier (a rare sighting here in the Philippines).

We were greeted by our jolly tour guide and tricycle driver, Kuya Rollie, at the port. He had this placard with my name on it (using the classic WordArt font), signalling that a wonderful trip was ahead of us. Grabbed a quick bite at a busy eatery and went directly to our hotel, Isla Inn Siquijor. Swiftly unpacking our things, our tour started.

First day: Siquijor town, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Paliton Beach, Century-old Balete Tree, Capilay Spring Park, Lazi Church, Lazi Convent, Cambugahay Falls.

Second day: Kagusuan Beach, Salagdoong Beach, Cang-Isok House, Lilibeth’s Pan Bisaya, Guiwanon Spring Park, Paliton Beach.

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Back to the City of Gentle People

After a two-day vacation in Siquijor, we went back to Dumaguete City. We visited some of the staple tourist sites in the city: Silliman University and Rizal Boulevard. Capping our trip with lunch at Lab-as Seafood Restaurant and bagging some boxes of Silvanas for pasalubong. Then, off we go to the airport.

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If you’re looking for a jolly and friendly tour guide in Siquijor, I highly recommend Kuya Rollie: 09065806033

Manila East Food Trip: Kafe Paradiso

Another Sunday road trip in the books. Lazy Sunday afternoon and no place to go, we decided to raid the Manila East Road for some good food. After searching the web, our eyes were locked on crispy kare-kare (stew with thick peanut sauce and vegetables) of Kafe Paradiso in Mabitac, Laguna.

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Our expectations were through the roof, hoping that the one-hour and half trip to Mabitac, Laguna will be worth it. Driving under the fuming summer sun, we took the Manila East Road. Our minds and tummies were set on that magical kare-kare and of course, our favorite, pork sisigJust few kilometers from the Pililla Wind Farm, we arrived at Kafe Paradiso. It is hard to miss because of its red man-made windmill. The restaurant is located inside a posh-looking but sleepy farm lot, Kota Paradiso. It was like a restaurant in the middle of an unfinished subdivision. Peaceful, contemporary, and cool.

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The interior of the restaurant is elegant. Being in the middle of crowd of big trees, the province-feel and chill vibe were definitely present. We ordered the much-awaited crispy pork kare-kare and pork sisig. Then, came the main event.

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We were not overjoyed by the taste. Perhaps we expected too much since we traveled all the way to Laguna just for the food. The sisig was quite oily and mushy. We’re not big fans of “soft” sisig topped with mayonnaise as we’re more impartial to its crispy counterpart. The crispy kare-kare was good — not bad, not remarkable. The crew that hour was not very accommodating and attentive as well. However, this was just our experience. Foodies will always have different taste, opinion, and experience. The good points of Kafe Paradiso however is that its menu is reasonably priced and the ambiance is relaxing.

Then,before we went back to the Metro, we stopped by the famous over-looking spot in Pililla, Rizal to take some mandatory sunset pictures.

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Sisig Road Trip: Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy

Last Sunday afternoon, we did not have any plans on where to complete the weekend. Then, the sisig road trip popped up on our drawing board.

We are a true-blue sisig couple. We tasted some of the best sisigs from different parts of the country: Metro Manila, Sagada (Mountain Province), Baguio City, Cebu, Iloilo, and Rizal Province. Our first month together as a couple seven years ago — we celebrated at Aysee, a popular sisig hub in the Metro. We bleed sisig grease

Several years ago, we had this idea to go to Pampanga just to eat some legit sisig. We told ourselves that once we get to have our own car, we will travel north for the love of sisig.   #SisigGoals. We bought our first car January 2015, but were not able to push through with the plan not until last Sunday. Our original plan was to go to Aling Lucing’s Sisig, arguably the originator of the famed pork dish; however, after reading some of the most recent reviews, we decided to say pass. Browsing the web, I read good reviews about this sisig place: Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy. Mila’s is famous for serving tokwa’t baboy (fried tofu and pork strips) and sisig.

About 90 kilometers from our place in Pasig, we took the two-hour trip to the Mecca of sizzling sisig — Pampanga.

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It was worth the trip. The sisig was packed with gastronomic wonders. The pork strips were comparable to adobo strips, the onion has the right punch, and the grease was unhealthily tasty. Verdict: 4/5 stars. That’s saying something as we’ve been eating sisigs for more than half a decade. The tokwa’t baboy shares the same story: tasty and compliments the raw taste of white rice. Food coma right after.

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Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy
Facebook Page
Brgy. San Angelo, San Andres St, Angeles, Pampanga

Tanay Parola. Kainan sa Tabing Lawa. Sunset

Instead of munching our hearts out in crowded fancy restaurants in the Metro, Rose and I decided to take our Valentine’s Day celebration in Tanay (just like we did last year: Tanay: The Convenient Tagaytay).

Using our new project car we fondly call “Birdy”, a Nissan U13 Altima, we cruised through Manila East Road to reach Kainan sa Tabing Lawa restaurant for a late lunch. Large wooden windows accented with capiz shells, chairs decorated with red and pink cloth, and view of the Laguna de Bay introduced us to an epic Valentine’s Day meal. Our order: fried dalag (mudfish), pork sisig, and sinigang ng sugpo (prawn). Needless to say, we were full to the brim. Fresh and tasty dishes; no one can blame us.

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After finishing a meal likely meant for three to four people, we hurled towards the Parola (lighthouse) to catch the sunset. The site was packed with teenagers and adult lovers celebrating their Valentine’s Day. The Parola was rather a vertically challenged lighthouse compared to its counterparts, but we cared less. While the sun was slowly sinking, the shadow of the Tanay Parola had become more dramatic. We are not a cheesy couple, but with that kind of scenery, we weren’t able to help it but to stare at the silhouettes of the small boats, large bamboo stalks, and lovers.

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Nothing really much to see in Tanay’s mighty Parola, but the “simple life” vibe, the smiles of the locals, dramatic sunset, and great food make it a unique experience. Rizal, you never fail to amaze us.

Lyger Animal Sanctuary

So, last weekend we saw ligers (hybrid cross between a male lion and female tiger).

Rose and I decided to go on a road trip in Rizal yet again. This time we visited St. Jerome Parish Church in Morong, Rizal, before having our lunch at a simple eatery in Pililla, Rizal with overlooking view of the Laguna Lake (will post a separate entry on that trip next time). While we were driving our way to Pililla from Morong, we saw bunch of posters about Lyger Animal Sanctuary with pictures of tigers, bears, and birds. I thought the guy who designed the poster just mashed up generic images from Google search so we poked fun at it. After our lunch, “Saan na tayo?” “Doon sa Lyger?” “Tara!”

Breezed our way through the Manila East Road. We turned right to this sleepy sitio, Sitio Matagbak in Bagumbayan, Pililla. We asked around where the animal sanctuary was because none of those colorful posters were on the side streets. Finally, we made it to the entrance of the Lyger Animal Sanctuary. Paid P200 each for entrance. The sanctuary doesn’t have the best landscape, but the ‘chopsuey’ selection of animals was its best asset. When we arrived, we were expecting to see typical animals like monkeys, birds, and snakes. Personally, I was not expecting to see those animals pasted in the posters. But I was wrong.

There were ligers, white lions, white Bengal tiger, Siberian tiger, sun bear (our newest favorite animal), puma, miniature horses, crocodiles, exotic chickens, eagles, macaws, raccoon dog, Rusa deer, rabbits, sheeps, turtles, goats, sheeps, camel, and some dogs like Caucasian Ovcharka and Jack Russel terrier. A smorgasbord of exotic animals in one place. One of the employees said that the place was a private facility before and was just opened to the public last month.

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White Bengal tiger

Siberian tiger

Siberian tiger

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Liger. This guy is almost as huge as a cow! One of the employees said this guy was bred locally.

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Puma

Miniature horse

Miniature horse

Rusa deer

Rusa deer

Raccoon dog

Raccoon dog

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Our new favorite mammal, sun bear. This guy was so wacky he made our visit much more fun.

Our new favorite mammal, sun bear. This guy was so wacky he made our visit much more fun.

Lyger Animal Sanctuary
Facebook Page

Km. 58 Sitio Matagbak, Bagumbayan, Pililla, Rizal
(You may use Waze for exact location; I registered the place on the app’s map)
09153088398 / 5024294
Monday to Sunday, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Tribute Drive: Quezon Province via MaRiLaQue

Rose and I joined the epic Tänaybürgring 2015 last July 26, an event meant to place casual car owners, tuners, and car enthusiasts in the middle of the symphony of nature and concrete roads. An event helped organized by my good friend, college buddy, and car guru, Iori Suzuki.

Tänaybürgring 2015

The B13 was not one-hundred percent ready for the expected 14-hour Tänaybürgring drive at least a month before the event. Suffering from occasional overheating problems, starting issues, among others, I consulted Iori around June. As always helpful as he was, he pointed me to trusted mechanics and auto shops in the metro. After a couple of weeks, the car was ready for the big event.

Rose and I were so thrilled to join the epic matsuri that she decided to celebrate her birthday by joining me through the 300+ kilometers route. July 26. We arrived at the meeting place before 5:00 AM. We had our breakfast with Iori and Vero, his girlfriend and one of my closest college buddies. Before the event formally kicked off, Iori reminded the participants about road safety and guidelines. Before the sun fully conquered the skies, mufflers of the 50+ beautiful workhorses started to roar on the roads of Macapagal Highway. The epic ride was on.

Iori’s Last Run

Little after an hour since the convoy left the starting point, in Naic, Cavite, pile of cars stopped on the side of the road. Rose and I were wondering what happened. We passed Iori’s red MR2, wrecked, crashed into a concrete wall. “Fuck, fuck, si Iori yun! Si Vero!” All of my senses were nonexistent. I parked the car on the side street. Charged towards the scene. Images I thought I may only see in movies. Rose rushed to speak to Vero for her to remain conscious. I called Vero’s parents to inform them of what happened. It was heart-wrenching hearing Tita Oyie’s and Tito Mon’s extremely brittle and shaky voices. After 30 minutes, Vero was salvaged from the wreck. We followed her to the hospital, stayed with her, and updated her parents. We were quite relieved when the doctor told us that she’s conscious and responsive. However, bad news followed. After almost two hours, Iori’s body was retrieved from his car.

He was gone too soon.

Vero’s On Her Way to Full Recovery

The incident almost deprived me of two good friends. Vero, as of this writing, is still recovering from the serious and life-altering injuries she took. She’s definitely a warrior; though we were not surprised about it, she continues to amaze us on how fast she’s been recovering. Classic Vero. My hats are off to our closest college friends who keep on supporting her, cheering her up, and making her feel comfortable despite the almost fatal injuries. I was told not to visit her yet because her memory still prevents her from remembering what happened that day, and visiting her might do her more harm than good when her memory starts to regain abruptly.

The Tribute Quezon Province Drive

September 5 and 6. I asked Rose if she wants to do a road trip to Quezon Province via MaRiLaQue and some parts of the Tänaybürgring 2015 route. It was a spontaneous road trip, a quick break from the stressful work loads she’s been having in the past couple of weeks. There was no concrete reason why we did that road trip, yes, it was for a short vacation trip, but when I got home, I realized that that trip was also for Iori and Vero. It was a tribute road trip. We were one with nature, driving in unpopular routes, as envisioned by Iori.

The route we used.

The route we used.

View of the Pililla Wind Farm from Santa Maria, Laguna.

View of the Pililla Wind Farm from Santa Maria, Laguna.

Jariel's Peak, Infanta, Quezon.

Jariel’s Peak, Infanta, Quezon.

Jariel's Peak, Infanta, Quezon.

Jariel’s Peak, Infanta, Quezon.

View of Sierra Madre from Santa Maria, Laguna

View of Sierra Madre from Santa Maria, Laguna

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, Lucban, Quezon.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, Lucban, Quezon.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, Lucban, Quezon.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, Lucban, Quezon.

Lucban Church, Lucban, Quezon

Lucban Church, Lucban, Quezon

View of the Pililla Wind Farm from Manila East Road.

View of the Pililla Wind Farm from Manila East Road.

It’s such a shame that I can no longer share the road with Iori. To many, he is a car genius, a passionate car guy, but to us, his college friends, he is also a genuine friend who always assures others that “Ako na bahala.” Race in peace, Iori. Continue being strong, Vero.