Sabang, Puerto Galera Memories

“Where do you prefer to go? White Beach or Sabang?” the petite woman in front of us asked her boyfriend.


I poked my husband’s arm and whispered, “Are they any different?”


Clueless, my husband turned his head in the direction of the ticketing office in Batangas Port. It was 2009 and the availability of fast internet service to do rush research was next to impossible. We were too busy with the wedding preparation and worrying about my mother’s deteriorating health so the trip to Puerto Galera was actually a last-minute attempt to consume our honeymoon. We originally planned to go to the island in the Southern Philippines but I scrapped the idea because it would have been harder for us to get back to our province should my mother needed to be confined in the hospital again.


In Batangas Port, there were two queues: one was for those going to the White Beach and the other one was for those who wanted to go to Sabang. I asked an elderly man in front of us which one was better in terms of adventure and without batting an eyelash, he suggested Sabang.


“If you want to try scuba diving, Sabang is the place to go,” he said.
I saw the petite woman with her foreign boyfriend again. They were already buying tickets for Sabang. The line going to the White Beach was getting longer and longer and I did not have the patience to spend another hour just to get a ticket so I thought that maybe, we should go to Sabang instead.


The waiting area inside the port was clean and spacious. Instead of airplanes, you could see large boats floating on the blue seas. After 15 minutes, they allowed us to get loaded on the boat. My husband and I were the first passengers for us to choose the best spot. The boat kept dancing on the silent waves of the water, I started to feel sick. Motion sickness has always been my problem so I was nauseous even before the boat started sailing. The petite woman with her boyfriend seated on the other end of the boat. Most of the passengers in our boat were foreigners.


Travel time from Batangas Port to Puerto Galera took 45 minutes. It was windy but cold sweat formed on my forehead due to seasickness. I saw a school of flying fish swimming after our boat, I wanted to dive in the water if only to reduce my seasickness (anyway, I was wearing a life vest). Not even the strong citrus scent of the local oranges eased my nausea but as soon as I saw the island, I felt a little better. How I managed to walk later without falling from the plank of wood was a miracle because I was dizzy.


While I was naturally systematic and organized, there was a time when I preferred to be spontaneous. When I say spontaneity, it means that when we arrived in Sabang, we had no idea what kind of accommodations they offer there. At the port, a woman asked if we already had some place to stay while in Sabang. She asked us to follow her when we told her that we were looking for a place to stay. (Again, the paranoid me would never do that in the present time)


We checked in at the Steps Garden Resort. The resort was elevated so we had a fantastic view of the seas. I stayed in the balcony to shake off my seasickness. It took me until dinner to finally let go of my headache.


I didn’t know the kind of nightlife that they offer in White Beach but in Sabang, the ambiance was similar to Olongapo. More foreigners were roaming around than locals, some with a can of beer on their hand. The next morning, we explored the island and found a shortcut leading to a beach in front of a Korean restaurant. We found that the rocky beaches in Sabang were not ideal for swimming so we must be patient in finding a smooth spot to swim.

We explored the market and the grocery store to compare prices because foods were a little pricey at the resort’s restaurant. We ended up buying grilled plates of seafood from the eateries outside of the resort.

To fully appreciate Sabang, we availed of the tour package with free snacks and lunch. We were in the company of an older couple and an American guy. The woman who assisted us in our hotel accommodation was the one who arranged for the tour (I forgot her name). Her nephew named Marvin was our tour guide. We took a dip at the Tamaraw Falls and had our lunch in their simple gazebo. We went to see the river (I forgot the name) but decided not to swim because the water level was too low as it was summer season. We had a carabao ride on another site when the rain started to fall leaving all of us wet. We went to the Mangyan Village and crossed the hanging bridge there for souvenir photos.


It was one hell of an experience at the tail-end of my spontaneity and being adventurous. Two months after that trip, I lost my mother. From then on, I couldn’t afford to be gambling again on my safety or future.

House of Gucci

Note: It May contain spoilers.

Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” is said to be based on true events about the murder of Maurizio Gucci, heir to the Gucci fashion empire. I’ve read Sarah Gay Forden’s “House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed”— the book is of course much better in terms of historical facts.

The film’s story has many discrepancies with the actual events that took place. The trouble with making movies based on true-to-life stories is when artistic or creative freedom takes precedence over real-life events. The House of Gucci offers a powerhouse cast with the very talented Lady Gaga on the title role. Her fans are saying that she’s on her way to her second Academy Award. She gave her heart and soul to her role but I feel that the story itself limited her to give more. On the other hand, Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci allowed us to see his character development from a shy law student to a cold-hearted business owner. Adam Driver and Lady Gaga have strong on-screen chemistry; you would want them to live a happy life until the end.


In real life, one of Paolo Gucci’s daughters was disappointed about how Jared Leto portrayed his father as unkempt and incompetent. Jared Leto stole the scene as the least appreciated Gucci who wanted to prove that he could contribute to the brand. Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci had a sympathetic character, I felt bad when he and Paolo walked out of the meeting in rage. As Rodolfo Gucci, Jeremy Irons let us feel his pain as a disappointed father. Salma Hayek played the role of Patrizia’s psychic friend Pina. Though she’s good in the movie, her role could have been given to a lesser star. In reality, Salma Hayek’s husband is now the owner of Gucci!
If you are not familiar with the book or Maurizio’s murder story, you would be confused by the turn of events in the movie. The first thirty minutes showed the passionate love affair of Patrizia and Maurizio while the remaining part of the movie showed the manipulative side of Patrizia. The film failed to focus on the breaking point on WHY Patrizia had to get rid of Maurizio. If you don’t know the story, you would assume that she was just jealous of the new girlfriend named Paola Franchi.


The last part of the movie after Maurizio’s murder showed the arrest of Patrizia, Pina, the gunman, and the driver of the getaway car. Assuming that we do not know the real story yet, maybe the film wanted to point out that the investigation of Maurizio’s murder case took two years because there were other suspects like Paolo and Aldo.

Commercially, I think that this movie deserves a 3.5/5. But who needs ratings by the way if you’re a fan of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, right?

ICQ Chat From 16 Years Ago

Out of curiosity, I tried to check if the ICQ chat is still operational. To my surprise, ICQ is still around and active! I used to have an ICQ chat account 16 years ago. Sixteen years ago, we didn’t have social media yet and a fast internet connection. I was one of the regular customers of the computer shop. When work demands were low, I spent my free time browsing through the internet for Hollywood gossip or chatting with random strangers in Yahoo Messenger or ICQ.

Unlike some who made fancy-sounding names, I used my real name in YM. As a result, two of my high school mates sent me a chat message asking if I was the Iris that they knew from Tdel. Of course, I denied that I was that person. One of them was not convinced and even challenged me to open my webcam.

I learned my lesson from YM so when I created my ICQ account, I used a unisex name. I can’t remember exactly how I ended up chatting with an IT in Baguio. The first chat was supposed to be brief. I was just interested in the latest happenings in Baguio. He probably liked me as a chatmate so the next day, he sent me a message to ask if I had eaten my lunch.


He was not aware if I was a “he” or a “she”—he simply did not ask. He was probably more concerned about having someone to talk to rather than spoil the mystery if he was chatting with a girl or a boy. For almost a month, I spent half of my lunch break chatting with him. He talked about his recent break-up while I divulged some relationship issues from my end. He gave me some sensible relationship advice that was generic and applicable to both genders.

In the fourth week of our cyber friendship, I decided to unmask myself and be honest about who I was. So one lunch break, I told him about my age, location, and my gender. I did not realize that being transparent about the real me would cost the beautiful cyber friendship that we established for the past three weeks.

“You know, I kept on spying who among the people here is chatting with me secretly. I was not expecting that my chatmate was not the person that I thought to be,” it was one of his final messages to me.

Days passed and there was no message from my ICQ friend. They say that virtual friendships rarely develop into something real. He created a fantasy of chatting with somebody that he secretly liked in the office and he was disappointed when he learned that I was not that person. It was understandable for him to be vulnerable because he came from a breakup. What I took from that experience was the sound advice that he gave during the low times of my life.

With the advancement in technology, I feel like I’m being saturated with means on how to connect with people. Maybe I’m old enough to know that not all virtual friendships are worth the time and space so even my social media accounts are cleaned every now and then for inactive “friends.”

17 Questions

Disclaimer: I’m not sure if this is an original, I got this from our Facebook group. Questions were taken from Doc Arvin’s post.

Imagine that today is year 2005:

1: What time do you have to wake up? – 6AM.

2. What is your cellphone? Tell me more about this phone. Why is it the best for you?- I had a Nokia 3650. I think it’s the only Nokia phone with a round bottom. It was the best phone for me because it was a gift.

3.What was your internet speed and how much? -None. I used my cellphone as a hotspot.

4. How many inches was your TV? It was a room TV, around 24 inches.

5. Do you have a laptop? Desktop? How many GB was the storage?- Somebody donated a desktop to me sometime in 2004. I can’t remember the storage capacity.

6.Where do you go for a gimmick?- I hated going to the bar but I went there occasionally with friends. I’ve been to maybe half of the bars in Olongapo.

7.What was the most instagrammable location then? – Beaches in Gapo and the nature in Subic.

8.Which mall was the best? Which mall had the best cinema?- In 2005, believe it or not, the malls that I went to were the small malls in Gapo and Bataan.

9. How do you listen to music?- Through my FM/AM radio.

10. What car do you drive? If commute, how much was the fare.- I have no car yet in 2005. I could not remember the fare because I walked a lot.

11. You are considered “sosyal” when you wear this- To be honest, I don’t know. I’m never brand conscious. What looks good on me will do.

12. You are “sosyal” if you eat what?- What? Caviar? I don’t know. Haha.

13. How much was the US$ exchange rate to Peso- $50?, I don’t remember.

14. Were you working or studying in 2005?- Working!

15. Describe your past get-up- Nothing fancy. Just shirt and jeans.

16. Do you order via food delivery in 2005?- No. Making phone calls were expensive for me during those times.

17. What were your dreams in 2005 that you were able to achieve in 2021?- Prefer not to answer. LOL.

My 8 Bosses

Most people have painful boss stories to tell and I don’t want it to happen to me someday. For the many years that I have been working, I am fortunate to have met good bosses who shaped me into the professional that I am today. Of course, there were also times when our work relationship was not smooth, but being a logical person helped me to get through with all the challenges and criticisms thrown at me. So, without naming names, I’d like to share my experiences with my previous bosses who had different styles and personalities with each other.


Boss #1 is every employee’s dream boss. He was supportive of his department’s career growth and encouraged each one of us to do better each year. He was our cheerleader during project presentations, he made sure that we were comfortable in facing the other bosses. He was fond of teambuilding and out-of-office activities like dining out, badminton, and for the boys’ night out. Boss #1 taught me that being a good leader does not only mean that you’re good at doing your job, you have to have a good relationship with your subordinates as well.


Boss #2 is artistic and imaginative, traits that are not innate in me. I used to view the world in black and white, there’s no in-between and other colors. To put it down literally, she critiqued my first work samples and remarked that I should use more colors to differentiate one process or step from another. She could be feisty and emotional at times and it contradicted my normally cool demeanor. I think that one of the reasons why we hit off later and became friends was our opposite attitude; hot and cold, colorful and black and white. She taught me the value of hard work and patience that I still do now.


Boss #3 proves that even a person as accomplished as him can blend with employees of all ranks and positions. He was a caring boss and the type who would get worried if one of his female staff would go home late because of work-related overtime. His sincerity and empathy earned the admiration and support of most of the people under his management. A natural comedian, meetings were never boring because of him. I learned from him that you could be a well-loved and well-respected boss if you know how to love and respect people in the first place.

Boss #4 is gentle and friendly. He was accommodating especially to the newbies. What I got from him was learning how to work effectively with the other teams by being attentive to their expectations on a given assignment or project.


Boss #5 is a macro manager. It was probably because she came to the time when the culture and system in our department section were already in place. What I loved about her was her efforts to unite the team when some of us were not on good terms with one another. I admired her patience and understanding in dealing with our rants and bickering. Until now, she makes it a point that we communicate as a team once in a while.


Boss #6 is a micromanager. I fully understood his management style because the level of our involvement and commitment to the organization was greater as compared to some. If the other bosses taught me technical skills to do my job, Boss #6’s contribution to me was sharpening my management and decision-making skills. Indirectly, he was the reason why I decided to push through with my MBA because there were a lot of things to be done and accomplished under him. He taught me to be keen on details, be precise with data, and be always prepared when the pieces of information were needed.


Boss #7 is smart and confident. She pushed her subordinates to attend personality development training in a reputable training company. I learned from her that trusting and believing in what your subordinates can do will make a big difference in the improvement of their performance.


Boss #8 gives equal opportunities to deserving people. Being an empath, his concern for the people came off naturally. In return, he was also well-loved and respected. What I learned from him was to never stop learning and to never be complacent. I learned that being mediocre is a disservice to one’s growth and potentials.


I felt good after remembering my past bosses’ contribution to my attitude and career growth. To those who might ask if I change a job very often, the answer is no—the bosses were either rotated or resigned.