Family Vacay: Philippines (April 2017)

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RLB JustUs3. That’s been my mom’s motto since as long as I can remember. It’s always just been my mom, sister, and I for the longest. Us against the world. We ventured from Manila to Alaminos then Baguio then Ilocos Norte and finally El Nido. I’ve never experienced a more life threatening taxi drive for one and I’ve never experienced a more beautiful place with beautiful people.


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I flew in, got off the plane, and the only thing I remember was the extreme humidity that slithered through my pores and soaked my tank and shorts with sweat. It was incredibly hot and I could feel the sun laughing at me with every sun ray that beat down on my “pale” back. I entered the airport and if I’m not mistaken, I hear loud buzzing sounds that filter the room while I go to the correct baggage claim conveyor belt. They’re fans…the size of a transport truck tires in corners of the room to cool down the sweaty tourists collecting their bags.

I remember enjoying the air conditioning every time a pair of sliding doors opened, much like my esophagus, whenever we walked into a mall or hotel or restaurant. And my god was the food amazing. I had some Longaniza, Tocino, Pancit, Sisig, alongside the traditional eggs and rice with almost every meal. Even eating Filipino food growing up, it still didn’t do it justice when I feasted in the Philippines. The food was incredible and after a few days, I got used to the deathly humidity.


Alaminos City, Pangasinan, Philippines

The beautiful Alaminos hotel we stayed in that served the traditional Filipino breakfast: Longaniza/Tocino with eggs and rice.

I can’t remember the name of this hotel but it’s a family owned business which is a few minutes away from the Hundred Islands Tour boat arena/pier.

The owner of the hotel was very welcoming and catered to us whenever we needed anything.

We got to go on the Hundred Islands Tour thanks to this little man and his dad who push and pull these boats all day for tourists to enjoy their land ❤

Those who work the hardest are often those who go unnoticed

My mom, sister, and I went to maybe five or six different little islands, each having different trails, diving cliffs, and views of the ocean. This guy to the right of your screen jumped into the water from the boat to help me and my sister spot gigantic clams sitting at the bottom of this sand hill in the ocean. They were the size of a three-year-old kid! If that kid were to curl into a ball… I could actually feed the clam a three-year-old kid…

Of course my mom stayed on the beach but me and my sister jumped off this cliff (about 15 feet) in a cave FILLED with bats screeching from the top. It was terrifyingly amazing.




IMG_0004 My photogenic sister and her strawberries in La Trinidad, Benguet, Baguio City ❤ We wore bags on our feet as we walked through the ginormous strawberry fields to our little section for picking the vibrant red dots of deliciousness. You can hear the mud squish below your slippers and pull your trend setting plastic shoes with each step in between the rows and rows of fresh fruit. Of course, we couldn’t eat all five kilos of those strawberries we picked so we left it for the hotel staff as we checked out.IMG_0003

Baguio was much cooler than the hot and humid Manila or Alaminos City. It actually rained our first day in Baguio while we sipped on freshly squeezed mango juice for breakfast and mango shakes for dessert. When I say fresh, I mean every sense of the word and I don’t mean young or over ripened Mango either. This was by far the best mango beverage I’ve ever ingested. I beg you, if you go to the Philippines, you have to try the mango.

Ilocos Norte:


My maternal grandparents and their parents grew up here before moving to Hawaii. They worked hard for their money and took care of the land they once claimed. They built a resort that me and my family stayed in of course, and I soaked it all in from the top of the hill. The land I stand upon, the infamous sun crisping my face, the thick, humid air coating the walls of my lungs, in that second alone, I felt one thing: happiness.

El Nido:

Somewhere in El Nido, Palawan

As you can tell, I’m a little chocolate drop by the end of our trip. But other than that, the water is the clearest and warmest I’ve ever experienced in all 23 years of my life. Like in Alaminos, we took a little tour to other islands where we spent anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours on each getting sunburnt or snorkeling. It was my first time zip lining and it was from one island to another. So yes, I was soaring over the water with my arms spread out like Cristo Redentor. And yes, I thought about going the artistic, clichéd route and saying “like a bird” or “like a plane” in case you wanted to know. El Nido was the perfect end to our adventure as RLBJustUs3.

A Hui Hou ❤