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February is about to come to a close and here I sit wondering where all the time went.
The past two months have been relatively keeping us up on our toes as we welcome people coming home to the Philippines, attend to our daily routines and submit to the requirements of our day jobs. Despite the physical and mental drain that we go through in all these, we choose to look at the brighter side of life and indeed become grateful for those window days where we got to sneak in quick weekend trips away from it all and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer us. 
Last January 14, Kat, my best friend from college got married in the beautiful island of Boracay. Dennis and I, along with a few of our dear friends was able to witness this beautiful, intimate and heartfelt union. We have known Kat and Patrick back in college, but we never knew that they would eventually get married! The love story of these two is a great testimony of a love that waits, a love that's sacrificial and uncomplicated. That kind of love was extended to all of us at the wedding and it was indeed a beauty to see.

Kat and I have shared a long distance relationship. She moved to Australia on our Third year of design school and I still remember not being able to speak with her for a while when she gave me the news because I felt extremely heartbroken knowing that the person that I trusted and the person who accepted me for all that I am was actually leaving.

But God made that friendship stronger despite the distance as we kept in touch, one video call after another. One long chat message after another. And each time Kat would go back here in the Philippines to visit and we'd spend time with each other, stories flow, laughter flows, prayers eventually became a part of that flow.

The friendship became more special because we were both secured with the fact that we had each other to depend on in the lightest and toughest of times. That's what I love about our friendship. We didn't have to talk everyday, but we knew how valuable one is to another.

Sitting there at the corner while watching her prepare for her big day, I have come to realize that we have changed so much physically, emotionally and spiritually. I never thought that the girl who asked me for the time would turn out to be the woman who would know so much about my life and vise versa and being able to be beside her on that specific moment just made me feel so grateful to have a friend like her.

What made this trip more special was I got to spend some time with Kat's sisters again. I think this time around, the stories were more meaningful because we were able to bless each other with our testimonies of faith and individual journeys with the Lord. These girls grew up so much, to say that I felt very old was an understatement! I remember staying over Kat's place back in college and they were still little girls, now they are all independent women who are strong and faithful to God's leading. I was also able to meet Kat's best friend from high school! I just love how weddings allow people in our lives to meet and eventually find out that there are actually more common things that we share with each other as well.
Here's the beautiful bride (who did her own makeup!) with all of us. I have always wanted to witness a beach wedding, and this is definitely one for the books. The very simple and laid back personality of the couple was transcended to all of the things that came along at the wedding - from the setup, the outfits, the music and the people. 
We've gone through a lot of weddings together but this is the first time that we were able to get a decent couple photo! As obvious as it looks, we did enjoy an ample amount of time under the sun!
4/6. Four girls from this group including Kat are now married! Where has time gone by? College seems to be just a day ago where we'd lie down on the floors of the corridor and not lay a single care about adult life. I'm just really glad that we all stayed in touch all these years and witness each other's transitions.
Since we were only in the island for the weekend, Dennis and I decided to take the first trip out of Manila on a Saturday morning to maximize our full day in Boracay. The goal was simple: don't overspend, rest, enjoy the sea and spend quality time together.
By now, the world has more or less heard or read about the beautiful island of Boracay. A trip to the Philippines would not be complete if you do not spend time to see three of the most visited islands: Boracay, Palawan, or Bohol. The influx of tourists in Boracay alone has been consistently rising by the year, making a lot of 'opportunities' for local businesses to thrive. While I and along with many design and environmental advocates have our own reservations to this so called developments, the island is without a doubt one of the gems of the Philippines.
Known for its fine powdery sand, aquamarine hues of water and lively crowd, Boracay has made its name for kite surfing, pub crawling and short weekend getaways. One can go around and enjoy the island within a day, if you manage your time wisely.

While most people prefer to stay in the central part of the island where all the events happen and majority of the major accomodations reside, Dennis and I opted to immerse ourselves in the locality of the island and stay within a community.

Since we are budget travelers, we opted to look for an affordable accomodation that is also located near the actual venue of the wedding. Thankfully we ran into CHILLAX FLASHPACKERS, the first eco container concept accomodation in the island. The location was indeed perfect, just a few minutes away from ShangriLa Boracay and a few steps away from the Diniwid Beach.
One would get to have a rich introduction of the local patterns of Boracay if they decide to walk. This is what we did on our way to the accomodation, we were able to observe the common type of architecture and the unique choice of colors. Seeing each house gave me a glimpse of the people that inhabits it, and that is something that I always look for whenever I travel.
 You will not miss Chillax. It's the only container structure on the street and one would instantly be given an initial impression of its unique concept. Chillax has 6 Dorm Rooms and 5 Private Rooms and all comes with ensuite bathrooms and balconies. Considered as an Eco project, the hostel is designed to be made of containers, water recycling and vertical gardens.
 You don't go to Chillax with heavy bags. I think it's pretty much a given that you don't even go to Boracay with one as well! While most people would probably complain about the steep climb up to the reception, the hostel is definitely for people who don't mind working out a bit and seeking for affordability, quiet, locality, and comfortable sleep. Dennis and I definitely had a great stay here, the room is very spacious, the staff are so friendly and helpful and we got to interact with the owner and his adorable kid as well.
 Dan, the owner is indeed a very hands on guy. From the direction of the hostel concept up to the aid that he could give to their visitors, I could definitely say that this is one of the best places we have stayed in. Upon arrival, Dan gave us a visual walkthrough of the island and gave us tips where to go. I can still remember the first thing he asked us: "What are you guys looking for? Do you want some crowd, activities, or quiet?" we definitely chose the quiet route and we were happy to discover that he shares the same values with us when it comes to enjoying and traveling.
 This is the courtyard and dining area. Breakfast and all day meals are also served in Chillax.
One of the best memories of Chillax would definitely be Casper, the official chillax receptionist. If he likes you, he would offer you his pink ball and ask you to play catch with him - to which we did in the 2 days that we were there!

Upon check-in, Dan gave us these aqua bags with our towels and a battery operated fan that we can carry around while we were out on the beach. This comes with the whole accomodation package.

 Chillax gave us a very lush view from our room. Initially, the weather was very gloomy and we were scared that we might not get to enjoy the only free day that we had in the island.
Thankfully, the sun graced us with so much the whole day and we got to roam around!

 We stayed in the more peaceful side of the island, free from the noise and the volume of people. Dan quipped a really funny yet honest thought about being in Diniwid area "You see we know about them but they don't really know about us!". People would often think that there is nothing more to see after Station 1, but walking past it, one would actually be gifted by a more intimate experience of the waves, the sand and the few people who discovered the place.
 The less travelled portal that connects Station 1 to Diniwid Beach.

After showing my husband around the 3 main stations of Boracay, we decided to go to another side of the island to settle in and get some rest the entire afternoon. We went to Puka Beach.

The water is much deeper and the waves are actually stronger in Puka Beach. I guess this is also the reason why most of the people opt to stay in Stations 1 to 3, the water is shallow and the waves are still enough to swim in, especially for kids.
 Personally speaking, I enjoyed Puka Beach more. There are rows of huts that serve food and cold drinks and at the same time, they provided shaded resting stations with daybeds for people to lounge in. Most people who just want to lie down and get a tan go here because it's quiet and less populated.

It was indeed the best way to start the year. I know that I wouldn't be able to go on trips like these since I'm back to writing my Thesis, but being in the island, observing the people and how nature just naturally behaves in its own ecosystem gave me so much inspiration to go on with life for another year.
Until the next Island!


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