Explore, Thoughts, travel

Cruising to Alaska

The day of our long-awaited trip to the land of white-peaked mountains and snowy treasures finally came! Beforehand, we booked the Princess Cruise’s Itinerary to Alaska (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Anchorage), so we flew to the port of call in Vancouver, Canada.


VANCOUVER, CANADA

Feeling woozy and jet-lagged after a long 13-hour flight, we decided to sleep in (and stay in the warm hotel room). We stayed at the Robson Hotel at Robson street. Oh by the way, along this street just a stone’s throw away is THE BEST Japanese Restaurant in Canada. If you happen to crave authentic sushi and Japanese dishes, that’s the place to go. Quite unfortunate though that I was too hungry to remember the name of the restaurant (of all the things, right?)

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Cozy hotel breakfast takeout

The most convenient and economical means to make the most out of the Vancouver trip was the Hop on Hop off bus. They have dozens and dozens of stops around the city where we jumped right on or off at our own time and convenience.

Our bus went through Stanley Park, one of the biggest and well-maintained parks I’ve ever been to! I could almost imagine the appeal of an intimate wedding there.

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Stanley Park Blooms

Beyond the lush greenery of Stanley Park, was a spectacular view of the Vancouver Skyline. It’s just breathtaking how modern architecture touches the cloudless blue sky.

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A wonderful welcome to Canada’s beautiful views

A quick snap during one of our stop overs, the laughing statues of Canada. Created by an artist from his own image.

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The artist who made a bunch of hilarious laughing sculptures

Oh here’s a thing I (unusually) do during my trips, a “from where I stand” photo collage. These are quite lucky shots as they don’t come around very often. I’ve read from a tourist magazine that the little floor mosaics are actually thirteen different artworks by various artists, scattered around Vancouver.

 


KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

En route to Alaska, we enjoyed a relaxing cruise at sea with Princess Cruises. On our first stop we docked at the commonly-foggy Ketchikan Alaska.

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A foggy morning.

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…but a colorful town.

IMG_20170522_081507We stayed a few hours in the city, half a day is already more than enough to get around the sleepy, little city of Ketchikan, Alaska.

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JUNEAU, ALASKA

We were welcomed the next day with a bright and beautiful morning at the port of Juneau. We wasted no time to start exploring the capital city of Alaska.

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The Juneau Rainforest Reserve was run by a lovely couple, to preserve and to educate tourists and locals alike of the native plants found in Alaska. Views like these are certainly well-worth the long journey at sea.

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and into the forest we go!

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Just a little side note: Alaska is known for its Black Bears and Mooses to name a few. That’s why most sculptures are based on these wildlife. Mooses aren’t as friendly as they are often thought to be. Contrary to popular belief that they are gentle creatures, they have killed more people especially in small towns like these, especially when they feel threatened.

The narrow paths led to a simple yet lovely little rest-stop. With wildflowers and forget-me-nots (the Alaskan Flower) in full bloom.

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The most beautiful rest stop

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Menden Hall Glacier

A little of an hour away was the renowned Menden Hall Glacier. I could hardly believe hundreds of years ago, this entire body of water used to be one whole Glacier. Imagine how little would be left once the ice pushes further in.

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SKAGWAY, ALASKA

Getting off the boat was easy, trying to keep my fear of heights in check wasn’t so easy. The White Pass & Yukon Railroad was an hour’s ride through the steep mountains of Skagway. Oh I forgot to mention – on (EXTREMELY) narrow trails constructed on the side of the mountain. (Two of the builders died by getting crushed under a huge boulder, to name a few incidents. EEP!)

IMG_20170524_093335A trip to on the Tram was much easier. The highlight of the entire Alaskan adventure, the view 1,800 feet on Mount Roberts. Captured this majestic bald eagle at just the right moment. One of my favorite photos!

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I never thought that I’d ever see glaciers beyond movies and photographs. But this moment, this exact moment is when it hit me how truly beautiful reality finally becomes beyond our dreams and imaginations.

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From sky to land, we headed down to the musher training camp. As opposed to our common knowledge it seems, sled dogs (Mushers) AREN’T purebred Huskies as we always thought them to be. (No thanks to movie myths!) Alaskan Sled Dogs happen to be Husky mixes that come in all speeds, traits, appearances and colors.

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Those gorgeous Alaskan Mushers.

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On our one-day cruise to Anchorage, we witnessed the rare breaking of the glaciers. We almost slept right through the main event! Thank goodness we’ve made it to that once second of pure power. Hearing the crack and boom of the glacier as it fell apart was one life-altering experience!

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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

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Ahhh, Anchorage! Think about a mid-western, Texas style county. Anchorage boasts of its fantastic views and delicious (sinfully good) fudge. If you can try the Alaskan King Crab, Home-Made Ice Creams and Popcorn, do so!

We made it in good time as it was a Saturday when we arrived. The town was bustling with people making their way to the outdoor weekend market.

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Stopping by an eye-catching coffee shop – KOBUK CAFE

A couple of unique finds at the Anchorage market, colorful shells and vintage glassware.

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CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE, CANADA

A few days after our brief stay in Anchorage, we flew back to Canada. There was plenty of time left to explore, so we took our pick and headed on to their famous tourist spots.

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The Capilano Suspension Bridge is 140 meters long and hangs 70 meters above the river, held together by sturdy metal cables.

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GROUSE MOUNTAIN, CANADA

Okay, it was an unplanned, spontaneous trip up this snowy mountain. I wasn’t able to wear clothes that were thick enough, that’s why there aren’t many photos here. (Ugh).

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If you do happen to go up to Grouse Mountain, (even in summer) don’t ever, ever forget to wear enough clothes to keep yourself from freezing. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Oh, and do go up further to see the bird show. And I thought training a dog was hard, watch how well-behaved the birds are! (Featuring: Owls, Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles)

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I often tell myself there’s no way I could be happy. However, on my recent adventure, I’ve realized many things along the way from Ketchikan, to Juneau, to Skagway to Anchorage. That maybe happiness is relative, maybe it’s not so hard to find once you learn to see how truly blessed you are.

Thank you Alaska for showing me that there is a kind of happiness in finding oneself. Just as every snowflake on the mountain is unique, so are we. Wild, Beautiful, and Free to be. Happiness begins with self-acceptance, personal growth is possible with one’s willingness to embrace change.

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Until our next adventure.

X,

PEARL

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Motivational, Thoughts

Loser.

I remember being called “a loser of our batch” back then in High School. I don’t know why that distant memory resurfaced again after ten long years.

All I knew was the pain I felt when I realized that other people saw me that way. To say that I laughed and brushed it off would be a lie.

In high school, I was the typical, short-haired, rosy-cheeked, chubby kid in glasses. Often the wallflower who finds companionship in books and the truest friendship in silence. I knew everyone, but not everyone knew me. If you asked me ten years ago, “to be invisible” would be my tip to get through high school.

I was the one who got stood up during Junior-Senior prom. I was the one who hung out with the younger kids in our school. I’ve never received a bouquet of flowers until college. I guess I’m a normal person just like everyone else, except I was considered “a loser” back then.

Here I am, staring out the car window ten years after, wondering if what had been said about me was true.

What defines a loser? Who defines you? No. Certainly not them.

Back then in high school, the campus was our world. But beyond that, is something much greater than ourselves. Beyond the school walls, and the cracked classroom windows, is the world just waiting to sift out the real “losers” from the real “winners”.

High school does so little to determine who you are, much less, who you will be. People have the power to tell you who you are today, but only we have control over who we become. We may choose to prove them right, or use it as a stepping stone to prove them wrong.

Until today, I have no inkling of who said such a thing about me (as it was posted anonymously on Ask.fm). But if you wrote that, and you’re reading this, I want to thank you, sincerely.

Thank you for showing me that it is possible to rise beyond one’s labels. That by pulling me down, I realized that it was simply a catapult to lift me up to greater heights. I was once a loser, but am now a winner in the game called life.

Because a real loser is someone who fails, gives up and lives according to what the world dictates.

That’s not us, that’s not me, not today, never will be.

Winners are those who don’t allow stereotypes, labels and put-downs to define their existence. Life is not a game of winners and losers. Life is the time we have to BECOME who we are meant to be. Sure, maybe we’re all a bit different; but in our own way we shine, each in our own spectacular kind of beauty.

If they don’t see that beauty , then tell me who are the real “losers”.

 

 

“What am I in the eyes of most people – a nonentity, an eccentric or an unpleasant person – somebody who has no position in society and will never have. In short, the lowest of the low. All right then, if that were absolutely true, then I should like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart” – Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

XO,

Pearl

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Random, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Minnie, Our Little Fighter

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Little Minnie, you were returned to the pet shop because you were sick. We took you in because no one deserves to treated like mere merchandise. No, your health does not dictate your worth, our little girl.

When we first laid eyes on you, you were coughing uncontrollably, you barely ate and could hardly even stand at all. When we looked into your eyes, we saw hope in you. Yes, you were sick, but it didn’t make us love you any less.

We spent weeks taking care of you, the medical bills skyrocketed, but it didn’t bother us… as long as we did what we could to bring your health back. You deserved a shot at life.

Your cough went away a day or two after we took you home. It made us so, so happy. But weeks went by, the virus just got worse despite the intensive verterinary care you were under. The seizures got worse, affecting your right leg first. Eventually taking over your entire body. We were crying, holding on, but at the same time, losing hope little by little.

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There was just that one, perfect day when you stood up and walked like a healthy pup. You struggled to walk towards us, although clumsily and slow, every step was a miracle for us. We thought that maybe, just maybe, you were getting better. That day we felt like nothing was wrong in the world.

No. We didn’t put you up for adoption because we knew no one could love you much more than we do. With all the effort, smiles and tears over the past four weeks, you became part of our family.

We had plans when you get better. We were going to cuddle with you on cold, rainy nights. We were ready to shower you with love and treats, too. Just the way we know you’d like it.

Your test results came in recently, and it confirmed our worst fears, our hopes were shattered. Over the following weeks the virus just got stronger and it became too much for your little body to take… You fought so hard, baby girl, you were so, so brave. You were so resilient in your battle against distemper, you held on to us and showed us that you were fighting to have a life with us too.

…until today. You said goodbye to us. We sat on the floor crying for hours beside you. We cried for you and all the things we hoped to do together. We loved you so much, little girl. The pain was far beyond words, but we regret nothing when we took you home and cared for you, helped you fight for as long as we could.

That perfect day when you tried to walk just so you could to snuggle with us, how you gobbled down your food like you were a regular healthy pup and the moment you looked at us with hope. Memories of you will be in our hearts forever…

We are so, so sorry if everything we did was not enough to make you stronger. We just hope that all the love we gave was enough for you to experience the kind of love you truly deserve…even just for a little while.

Little one, you are not a merchandise. Your health and appearance does not dictate your worth. We love you just as you are, with sickness and all.

That night we took you home, we didn’t want to give you a name. Because we know when we start loving you, there would be no end. Eventually, we named you “Minnie” because of your adorably large ears…right then and there we knew loved you.

You loved us back and you fought so hard. Rest well, our love, our little Minnie. We love you, so, so much….

Loving you always,
Mommy and Daddy

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July 1 – July 28, 2016


Follow Minnie’s story here:

The Day We Took Her Home

Prayers for Minnie

Her Last Few Days

Goodbye, Minnie


With special thanks to BARKINGHAM PHILIPPINES for all the love, care and support for our little one.

With love,

Pearl

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Motivational, My Life Story, Thoughts

Rest for the Weary

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Oh just in case you were wondering, that’s apple juice for my upset stomach. A week of bed rest is enough to drive a workaholic nuts!

I’ve never been a fan of “lazy days”. I have always believed in the philosophy that a day with little productivity, is a day wasted. This way of thinking has brought me to the point of overworking myself, thus causing my arm to swell due to excessive computer use (Too much Illustrator and Typing – for twelve hours straight) AND getting my hands wet right after to cook for the family.

Over the past week I have lost the ability to lift, to type, to text, to draw, to paint and to do even the simplest tasks with my right hand. My “downtime” has made me reflect (a lot), and this experience has taught quite the contrary of my initial belief on productivity. It has changed my mindset that:

It’s never a good idea to push yourself to your limits, EVEN if you love what you do.

To be able to be productive, one had to work without exceeding physical limits, to claim the benefits of rest, AND never forget to aim for one’s well-being in the process.

I can’t even adequately express how much I have missed the use of my right hand, which is also why I’m happily typing away right now on my blog. I might soon even be back on court to play badminton! (YAY!)

I never realized how important my right hand was to me until it grew tired one day. I guess I forgot that even hands, need to rest.

 

XO,

PEARL

 

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Motivational, Random, Thoughts

2015 Wanderlust

Hello everyone!

How time flies! It’s been such a long time since I last wrote. December has been a month for last-minute 2015 memories and adventures, for me. Oh! Before I forget, I’d like to take this chance and this post to greet you all (albeit very late) a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂

Before 2015 came to a close, we figured it would be a wonderful way to end the year with new memories. I thought it would be a good time to refer to my bucket list!

One of the few items on it are:

  • A visit to the Pinto Art Museum
  • Relaxed brunch at Rustic Mornings by Isabelo.

…and so we became adventurers!

The abundance of malls in Manila get tiresome after a while. Being a nature person, the city scene not quite the place to be. So we set out on an adventure, in search for a quiet respite from city living.

The one and a half hour (WAZE-less) drive to Antipolo became worth it, after witnessing the beauty of the Pinto Art Museum.

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Captivated by the rustic and mysterious ambiance of the museum.

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The building housing ancient Filipino sculptures and figures.

Situated among hectares of lush greenery, the small buildings’ architecture is reminiscent to that of Santorini.

 

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A little church, beautiful both inside and out.

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Yup, I’m particularly fond of this balcony! You could see the entire place from high up. You don’t see this much greenery in the city. Nature lovers, this is the place to be.

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The museum holds endless artworks from various Filipino artists: Paintings, String art, Installations and Sculptures. I stand in awe, marveling at the beauty that human hands can create.

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My comedian over here…

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..and my emotions right there.

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The biggest painting I have ever laid my eyes on. Beautiful. Amazing.

 

A stroll through the museum was an adventure in itself, by the end of the tour, our stomachs were begging for a good meal!

So, I thought of the second item on my bucket list, Rustic Mornings!

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Artsy-fartsy friends, this is the perfect place for a quiet brunch. 🙂

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I don’t normally take photos of food, do you think I should start to? I suppose the food and the ambiance here, is something that would be best experienced first hand. 😉

2015 did end wonderfully, in the presence of both friends and family. These two places topped it off really well, too. The year has been full of both laughter and sadness, both trials and victories too. With new memories and new lessons learned last 2015, I can’t even begin to imagine what 2016 has in store for me.

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There is always beauty for those who take time to look around. It’s still a lesson for me to learn to see the beauty in everything. It takes practice, it may even takes years, but when our eyes are open, I believe life CAN really be pretty amazing.

Cheers to new adventures this 2016.

Until next time!

 

XO,

Pearl

 

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Motivational, Thoughts

An Open Letter from the Man Who Loves You

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To those who are waiting for “the knight in shining armor” / “Mr. Right” / “THE One”… I understand all that you’ve been through, for I have once been there too. I know how it feels like to sit quietly in the corner, waiting for him to notice you. It’s also familiar to me, the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, that topsy-turvy, roller-coaster feeling that gets you giddy all over. That nervousness and loss of words when he finally talks to you. Oh my, that high school romance. From the first crush, to the first love, to the first heartbreak, I know the thrill, the joy and the pain of it all.

This is an open letter, from the man will love you unconditionally. No, this kind of love is beautiful, and does NOT exist only in paperback books, novels and movies. Just wait, you will see.


Hello beautiful,

You look so peaceful in your sleep tonight, I am tempted to wake you up just to say how much I love you. That’s why I’m writing this letter to you instead, so you could read it in the morning; hoping it would be enough to let you know how truly blessed I am that the first blessing I see when I wake up is you.

We’ve been married for three years now, has time really gone by that quickly? It seems like just yesterday when we said “I Do”.

Yesterday, I woke up and saw you with your messy hair spread on the pillows. I smiled at the way the sides of your lips twitch adorably as you sleep. As the sunlight hits your beautiful face, I notice the faint signs of wrinkling around your eyes, it saddens me to think how we can never be the same age twice. I brush your cheek lightly and smile, because I know that no matter how you look many years from now, you will always have those eyes full of life and laughter; and that heart overflowing with kindness. We may never be the same age twice, but I choose to grow every second older with no one else but you. My beautiful wife, I want to let you know, that from the moment I wake up until I lay down to sleep, my heart is full of nothing more but love for you.

I think back to the time we were at the park several years ago. I consider that summer to be the very definition of perfect. You were in a simple blue sundress with your hair tied up in a ponytail. You looked absolutely beautiful ─ as you still are today, if not even more so. I was watching you happily savouring the vanilla ice cream cone I bought you; like it was the best thing in the world. I guess that’s one of the many qualities I adore about you ─ you love the simple things.

As we were slowly approaching the end of the park, I grew quiet as I realized our day together would soon come to an end. I knew it would take days before I could be with you again. I looked at you as you were talking about your dream to open a café someday. You were narrating with such eagerness and passion, it surprises me how you could visualize it with such detail. You went on animatedly: “The café will be a little rustic with wooden interiors and a slightly industrial look. Oh, of course an herb garden out front for you to grow too!”

My heart did a little summersault. You knew I loved to garden and hope to start my own farm someday, I was happy that you did not forget. But I was happier when you mentioned it was not just your café, but ours. I was part of your dream. The same way I dream of spending my future with you.

I imagined life without hearing the sound of your voice, without knowing how you are or without holding you in my arms. That day I knew I couldn’t see my tomorrows without you in it, the beautiful, simple girl I fell deeply, unconditionally in love with. My love, aside from our wedding, that day in the park would be the second best day of my life because that was when I asked you to be my Forever.

I’m whisked back from my reverie and I’m watching the gentle rise and fall of your chest as you sleep. Within it is your heart; faithful, gentle, fragile and ageless. Darling, I know I have wronged you countless times. I have promised to keep you happy for the rest of our lives, to take care of your precious heart; yet here I am being the source of your pain, too. I am asking for your forgiveness for the times I overlook the little sacrifices you make, the moments I have neglected spending time with you and the ways I have hurt you without realizing until it’s too late.

When we fight, I know that you cry secretly at night with your tears soaking the pillow. It is during these times when I ache within, wanting to reach out, to hold you, to let you know you are not alone. I am in bed right next to you, yet I never do, thinking you might “need some time alone”. I realize just now that you’ve spent enough years on your own, it is selfish of me to put you back into that place. I am here with you now, through the joy and the pain, there is no need to leave you alone to suffer the way you did. I want to say I’m truly sorry, for all that and more, and I am thankful, that your heart never ceased loving me through it all.

I look down and gently touch your hand. I see the trail of white patches on your fingertips, it has spread a little bit more now, like it does every passing day. You call this a disease and a cause of your physical insecurities. You even had it checked by the doctor to find ways to stop the spreading, but to no avail. My love, stop looking for ways to conform to the world’s standards of beauty. Each day I would kiss your fingers, look you in the eye and tell you that you are the most beautiful woman in the world.  Your “imperfections” are beautiful. I is a part of you, it makes you unique, it’s an abstract artwork that only those who understand you would know how to love and appreciate.

I want you to know that I love everything about you. I love how expressive your eyes are, when you’re sad or when you’re happy. I love how your nose would twitch when you smell food. I love how perfectly your hand fits into mine. And I love how the patches on your skin make you uniquely, insanely and perfectly beautiful.

I wonder if you’ve ever felt this overflow of emotions. The mixture of joy, wistfulness, pain and love all at the same time. Right now there is nothing more in the world I want to do than to make you happy. I want to be the reason for the smile on your face, I want to be there for you in your achievements, I want my arms to be your “home” and I want to hold your hand as we go through life together.

Do you remember when we were younger how we looked for love? We believed that the sooner we ease the loneliness, the happier we will be. We were so young and naïve, always wanting, always looking, but never really finding. It took us the worst heartache before we finally learned the hardest lesson of all ─ waiting. We’ve been friends for a long time, but it took three long years before our paths crossed again. It is as they say: Love comes not when you are lonely, but when you are ready. Right now seeing you next to me and having you as a part of my life, I can proudly say you are worth every second of the wait.

I confess I may not be the perfect husband at times but one thing I promise you is that I will love you with every fibre of my being. I can never thank the Lord enough for entrusting you to me. You are my every hope, my dream and my answered prayer.

I know life isn’t meant to be perfect, not even our lives as a married couple. But one thing I know for sure, is that God gave you to me, to care for you every minute of the day, to love you despite all your moodiness, to give way in arguments, to be patient during misunderstandings and to support you in your dreams.

You might ask why I wrote a letter to you out of the blue. There is no need for an occasion to say “Thank you” for being a part of my life. I love you so much more than this letter could ever express.

You are everything I have asked God for and more. I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Loving you more each day,

Your husband.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


 

XO,

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