Jornada Mundial de la Juventud (WYD Chronicles, Part 1 of 4)

Also known as: Hola, Madrid and JMJ!
Translation: World Youth Day (WYD Chronicles, Part 1 of 4) — I know the title is redundant, but let me be :P
Warning: Photo dump ahead. :D

So the weeks leading to our flight to Madrid was really kind of busy. Okay, that was an understatement – it was busy. Seeing that we only had our visa a month before we had to leave, and my ticket was booked three weeks before I had to leave, and I also got sick two weeks before I had to fly…it was crazy. It was a good kind of crazy, though, even if I had to remind myself every time I feel stressed that it’s all good ((Besides, I get asthma wheezes when I get stressed, so stress was a no-no)).

The other, excited part of me couldn’t believe that I was actually almost about to leave. I mean, I only dreamed of this at the start of the year. Now that it was almost a reality, that part of me couldn’t help but be amazed at it. Truth be told, it was almost like the month of August was nonexistent, because I had no idea what to expect during the second half that I would be spending in Europe.

But enough of that. The days leading to the flight was kind of a whirlwind — with meetings (finally meeting other delegates and sort-of finalizing our itinerary for the second week of the trip), work stuff, dinner, send-off stuff and shopping. When Sunday night finally rolled around, I was so wound up with anticipation that I could hardly sleep!

Then came the long wait at the airport before the flight. I was there extra early because our car’s plate number was part of the coding, but I didn’t mind. I was excited and nervous because again, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially that I have been out of community for so long and everyone I was with for the next two weeks were all so active.

But like what they said before the trip: empty yourself out and God will fill you in the next few days. Why not, right?

Cookie Monster the traveling doll, first time on a plane :)

There wasn’t really much to say about the flight because it was…well, long. It was my first time to fly for more than 4 hours, so I entertained myself with movies and my Kindle and took pictures of clouds, like this:

Aerial shot! =) I think this was somewhere in Russia?

Too bad I always seem to get the wing seats.

But anyway. We arrived at Amsterdam about 12 hours later — it was 7:00pm in Europe, but it was bright as day. Talk about jarring my body clock.

Just arrived at Schiphol Amsterdam airport. It's 7:00pm but LOOK. HOW. BRIGHT. IT. WAS.

We got on our connecting flight to Madrid an hour later — me and Mitch — while the rest of the team stayed in Amsterdam for the night. Four hours later, we got to Madrid, and our SFC hosts picked us up in the airport. We got settled in, ate breakfast at midnight (because it was already 6:00am in Manila) and finally, finally settled to sleep. After all, World Youth Day officially starts tomorrow — and we need to keep our energies up by then.

The next day.

Buenos días, Madrid!

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Because we’re hardcore like that

Also known as: The epic pre-birthday Pinatubo trip

I wasn’t planning on any trip for the month of March because March is usually the busiest month of my year, being my birth month and all. But my best friend had other ideas and decided to invite us all to go trek to Mt. Pinatubo.

Like I said, I wasn’t really planning a trip, so I thought of passing on this one because I usually have to many things going during March. But after my friends started confirming that they were joining the trek, I realized that if I don’t go there now, I may never be able to go there again because the people I usually go on trips with have already gone. Of course, I can always go alone or I can find another group to go with…but it’s really so much fun to be with these people.

And so I went. It could be a pre-birthday trip.

Trust my luck that I was on midshift the night before. I got off work as early as I can, met up with Happy, stayed up late talking then headed to the meeting place at 3 in the morning. No sleep, all ready to trek.

I know, it sound like a very bad decision, right? Especially when they asked us if we wanted to go do the shorter 30-minute trek for with an additional fee and we refused. Come on! It’s supposed to be a trek! It’s supposed to be long, climbing rocks, crossing rivers and all that! We refuse to go the 30 minute trek — we want the 2-3 hour one! We’re hardcore!

Yep, kind of a bad decision.

Welcome to Pinatubo, says Cookie.

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Agyamanak la unay, Baguio!

Also known as: The weekend in Baguio City
Translation (from Ilocano, a Filipino dialect): Thank you very much, Baguio!
Note: Photo dump coming up.

My weekend was spent in the City of Pines, a trip that I had proposed to my friends at the start of the year when we were playing picnic.  I’ve been to Baguio City thrice, four counting the trip last weekend, but the only time I was really able to appreciate Baguio as a tourist was once when I was about seven and the last weekend. The other two times were for a Kids for Christ conference when I was 12, and last year for a strategic planning for work. Both times I didn’t go around Baguio at all, and all I could remember of it was being homesick and enjoying the cold weather.

So last weekend is a trip that made me a tourist in Baguio again. I wanted to go because I really just want to make the most out of the cold weather, and I wanted to get out of the city. It came to a point that I was so stressed at work and with other real life stuff that I just needed a break — a mental health day if you may. So it was done. With my friends who achieve, and a foreign “delegate”, we trekked up last weekend to the City of Pines for a well-deserved cold weekend.

Where I try to act tourist-y. Not my best picture, but the sign behind me is really more important. :P

And now in bullets!

  • Baguio is easy to get to if you’re coming from Manila…but it is wise to get bus tickets in advance especially if you want to reach Baguio early. We got to Victory Liner station thinking it would be easy to get a bus, but the next bus available is at 5:00am. :O We decided to buy tickets and then line up as chance passengers.The 3:00am bus was our lucky bus, and as soon as the bus started moving, we were all knocked out asleep. 6 hours later, hello Baguio!

    Waiting for the bus
  • We stayed in PNKY Home, a quaint little Bed & Breakfast along Leonard Wood Road. Toni discovered this place but he didn’t have a chance to stay here the last time he was in Baguio, so we decided to book the place.
    They’re doing a bit of renovating so there’s the steel bars behind Cookie. Oh, and Cookie’s the official mascot of the trip, at least until the animal hats came into the picture. :D

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