Saturday, July 28, 2012


A couple of weeks back, I mentioned about Manila here quite briefly. Manila has a lot of exciting things. The people. The streets. The taste. The language. The lifestyle. 

All these words may seem ambiguous at the moment; just like everything else, you must experience everything yourself to be able to understand every words that I've used to described.

Manila is Philippines' capital city, one of the sixteen cities that build up Metro Manila. Located in the black square. It is located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay with San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east and Makati to the South East. Manila has about 1.6 of population, being second the populous city in the Philippines after Quezon - also tabulated to be one of the most populous metropolitan (11th in the world) while the higher urban area is the fifth most populous in the world. (Wikipedia, 2012)

Manila is within the black square.

I met up with Chen and Zena in Makati one day - and we had the awesomest mango crepe cake ever. Rich in flavours yet crispy, it was the perfect combination. While having the crepe cake we discussed over all kinds of things, their crush (hehe) who's staying in the same city as me, their lives and of course the beautiful Philippines. 

To them, as a 20 something year olds - they deem Philippines as having two extremes. The really rich and the super poor. They admitted of having a huge economic gap in wherever city they are, and the ongoing corruption that's been hitting the headlines these past few years, are no help. And I must say, just as an outsider I could well see the two worlds of the rich and the poor in Manila. I don't really know what I feel for the rich, but I was bothered about the poor and the uneducated that struggled  by the streets. 

I was in Manila for a couple of nights, and to me, Manila is filled with its amazing nightlife (I'm talking cheap booze, epic-fun crowds, great suppers), finely elaborated shopping malls of both wholesales and higher ends, ghastly traffic, then there's the street life. The kind of life that for me as a "tourist" would be - a little unsure of, even till today, I never really know how to describe it.

I had no expectations before coming to Manila. Which was really a good thing, I opened my eyes before closing my minds. Everyone was beautiful. 

The young, the worn and the broken. It reminded me so much about the dark side of the infamous Gotham City - where the desperate would kneel and bend their backwards for a couple of dollars. Where the wrong gets the right positions, and the poor gets scrapped even more. The sights were a little provocative at one point, I see kids (without shoes, torn clothes running around chasing tourists for a couple of shillings) even ate over food by the road like it was another day to survive.

I even wanted to break down in the middle of the streets at one point, I couldn't stop asking why are there so many of the poor in the world. And just like among many of my questions, I was never - and maybe will never be answered.

Besides the street life, Manila is like a beautiful fruit with layers, waiting to be discovered bit by bit and the fruit of discovery is exciting! Ah the traffic jam. Because the traffic jam in Manila is.. how do I say this delicately - a real test to your patience, we decided to completely disregard the existence of cabs and hop around Jeepneys instead.

And it was real cheap! For say, around town within 10KMs or so, it would probably cost us maybe less than RM 0.50.  We saved a lot on transportation, and these jeepneys cover everywhere so I can assure you, you would definitely end up where you'd want to be just gotta find the jeepneys that go your way :)

Food. If you must know, Manila or Philippines as a whole has (I'd say) has quite limited selections for halal food.

This might come as a hindrance to Muslim visitors but I hope you guys are not discouraged by it. I saw a few fast food chains that do not serve pork, so you might want to consider buying from them instead. If not, you may opt to request from your hotel :)  

Baboy and San Miguel for dinner
Manila is notorious for its shopping. A variety of everything is everywhere beyond eyesight, and if you're lucky you might be chanced with wholesale shops with prices as low as RM 1 for a gorgeous necklace for yourself or your loved one. You might want to check out cheap wholesale bargains at Divisoria Mall, 999 Mall or 168 Mall.

But because I'm not so much of a shopping person, (I like to do cultural stuff as opposed to shopping) I tend to save more money on doing "cultural" things - and for this trip, I only got myself a blouse, a pair of earrings, a necklace and a pair of sunglasses. Adequate :) 

Biggest brand of all
The Catholic church is the biggest church in Philippines with over 80% of their residents are Catholics. And because of this too, you will stumble upon a lot of churches all filled up even during the day of a weekday. It's really calming and peaceful to see people visiting the churches finding solace at that time of the day. 

Please visit the churches and get to know this holy place when you can :)

The friendly people. The colorful streets with its beautiful people. The fascinating taste and life of all the eateries. The beautiful language. Affordable. And the interesting lifestyle, Manila has these and a lot more other reasons for you.

Make Manila your next stop and you'll bring back tons of stories. That I can assure you.

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Life After You

So it's been 14 years now.

It feels really long when I said it that way. Life after you has been, fun. I'm not joking. Of course the first few years were difficult, I remembered all those days of getting used to quite vividly. Jeremy, Jessy and I argued a lot, you weren't there to break us up anymore, sometimes, I remembered hating Jeremy so much I would scribble all kinds of angry words in my journal and hoped that one day something so terrible would happen to him just so that I can "laugh" at him hysterically (wtf yeah I know I was evil that way). He was like an evil dictator and we hated him for pushing us around. I even spat on his drinks, hid some of his money and cut some of his pants :| 

Old family portrait 
Come to think about it, I'm glad he did all the pushing that he did. I didn't turned out spoilt and I learned to be independent from all the things that I had to learn to do with all the pushing. I even fought for things I believed in, and reasoned with things that I didn't. 

There were a lot of adjusting to do. The first few years were so difficult to make do of with just one parent,  we had to "embed" in our brain that if mum were not to allow us to do the things that we wanted, we had to actually live with it, because you weren't there to be the good cop anymore. Or vice versa. Like when you used to be the bad cop, we knew one way or another mum would eventually give in to us. It was a tango that we were so dependent on and took advantage of. So with you no longer around, there was almost no compromise for any of that decision mum made. 

All three of us had to learn how to live by ourselves, cook (as little as we could), live and tolerate all the kakaks that have been both angels and devils in disguises throughout our lives, worked hard to get approval from mum and some of mum's friends and relatives, learn basic etiquette, learn not to be envy of those still with both their parents around but most importantly, we had to learn to appreciate. Of whatever. 

There were so many points in my life that I thought I was so different from my friends due to solo upbringing. But quite frankly, I never remembered mum working too hard like how some parents do now for us. She was almost always there for us, she cleaned the rooms, she told us stories (mostly to Jessy), she would scratch Jeremy's back before he sleeps. She would buy my books. She was never working too hard.

I don't know what happened along the way but three of us are developing into three different personalities but with with the same values. All three of us have graduated well. 

Brother is now an exemplary man. How can he not, you were the people's man, you were an example. He's an established doctor working almost all hours in Kota Marudu, volunteers as a medical officer every now and then going through rural areas; advocating and teaching the rural folks on nutrition and the betterment of their health, he's also the President of the Thalassemia Society in his district, a strong health and humanitarian enthusiast and all the right people knows him. 

I venture into arts a lot. I've become a very "cultured" person I must say. I like appreciating racial and cultural diversity, and while these may sound so shallow as compared to what brother's doing, the line I'm in, PR and marketing has been a reason I have been lingering in this lifestyle. I am working on educating people on poverty, sustainable tourism and environmental concerns, corruption and the quality of life through some campaigns I engage myself in, my writing and personal activities. Quality of life doesn't necessarily mean earning big bucks, it just means, the privilege to education, the happiness in adequateness and the quality of individuals as they are growing up. I want to be like him nonetheless, where my Sundays are devoted to helping people wherever we could while I still can. 
Dad and Jessy

Jessy just recently graduated and I can see she already has so much love and heart in her. Mum calls her the "most concern citizen" among us three. She's always looking out for people, and very selfless in some ways. She's very realistic, a total opposite of me, an idealist where hopes and faiths are major parts of my personal development. She's still the baby in the family, and as much as I straightens her up a lot of times, we still let  her enjoy the novelty of being the baby :) 

Other than that, I'm sure you've heard from mum's prayers that she was in trying times just a couple of months back. Truth is, we all were/ are. She went through chemo and radiotherapy, lost her crowning glory and it was evidently the most difficult times of my life. I just started working and I was just so depressed. I pulled the plug on a promising career just to be close to her, and had our whole lives restructured. Brother bought her all the necessary things to bounce back, she's got all her curls back and she's now more gorgeous than ever :)  

Mum and after you. 

Mum's life after you has been amazing. She's always full of love, and while she's always had her hands full with us around, she's always looking for time for herself. I think that's why she's so inspiring. She works good for the money, finds time for us and most importantly she does housekeeping for soul every now and then. Remember how she used to be so uptight about everything? Ever since you're gone she has learn how to loosen up and now she appreciates comedies in every tragedies and because of that too it's been really fun ever since. We laugh over our expensive mistakes, poke on our simple minds, and giggle over silly moments. It's like she has adapted and rub it off to us to enjoy life and never to take it too seriously.

I truly believed that you left us to relief a greater reason here at home. You were a notable man before you left us, and I can only imagine that if I were to grow up under your established name all these while, the circumstances would be different now. I would have been either too comfortable with life, or will lose my inquisitive nature. Who knows. I'm glad it turned out this way. 

Home enjoys the usual laughter and tears at home. While we find ourself in frictions a lot too, eventually we come to dinners together and laugh about it. Often people hear us screaming at each other, sometimes for arguments but most of the time because we're all crackheads :)  Even my friends say that I can get too caught up with the rest when I'm at home. How can I not, you guys are my earliest, truest best friends. Most importantly, home is now so homely. It's colourful, it's full of people and it's always full of love.

Your departure is an example that a death in a family can truly be a blessing if anything. It was as if you were making a point to Jeremy, me and Jessy that life is literally what you make out of it.

Do I ever wish you'd come back. No. 

It teaches us the valuable lesson to be really thankful and appreciative of what you have - because when it's gone it will truly be gone. I don't want you to come waltzing back home in whatever "mode", because it just spoils us back because we seem to be getting what we want. And of course it's almost virtually impossible.

I think you're here with us one way or another, and I think it's better to have you at heart than to be able to just hug you and not appreciate all the values we've developed. It's a great hard lesson. Too great.

So it's been 14 years now. It feels really long when I said it that way, really. But truly, life after you has been fun. Really fun. 

Before Instagram was cool. 
Thank you dad, happy anniversary (11th July, 2012). 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Remember that time when I was telling you about Philippines being underrated? Boracay is that one place where a lot of visitors and other newcomers like myself can agree that IT IS definitely not underrated. I'm sure some of you might have heard of Boracay, but what is it or where is it really - this is where I come in and help you out :)  

To start with, let's get acquainted with our Philippines map since this is the first post on the nation I've come up with. Just like Malaysians, with our West and East Malaysia segments, the Philippines a nation with over 7000 islands, too is rightly segregated to three types of areas ; Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 

The capital city of Philippines is Manila, a prime area that is the central of all businesses and main headquarters' offices (like most countries) are situated at. I will have a blogpost on Manila itself, tons of things to write about :)  

Boracay is a small island of the Philippines located approximately 315 km (196 mi) south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Boracay Island is located off the northwest corner of Panay Island, and belongs to the Western Visayas island-group, or Region VI, of the Philippines. The island is approximately seven kilometers long, dog-bone shaped with the narrowest spot being less than one kilometer wide, and has a total land area of 10.32 square kilometers. (Wikipedia, 2012) 

I know it's not easy to visualize where it is exactly, so I've blue-squared the area where Boracay is, while black-squared the prime areas (basically the city) on the map above. 

How do we get there? 

If you're flying internationally, you can fly to Caticlan or Kalibo Airport. From both these airports, make your way by vans or buses to Caticlan Jetty Airport where you will then be transported to the island, Boracay. 

So what's in Boracay? 

It reminded me so much of Perhentian, and I think it's safe to say that Bali is going to be like Boracay too. Tons of things to do; relax, pamper, play, fun, beautiful beaches, beautiful people, party everynight and by the second or the third night, you would probably recognise some of the faces already (heck you'd even probably party with them) - you know the usual commercial beach life. 

And there were really nothing to complain about. Boracay is just too beautiful. 

Boracay is segmented to three sections; Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. We didn't knew what major differences they have from one another so the moment we jumped off from the ferry, came a lady tailing us from behind trying to help us out on our accommodation. 

And we finally settled on Station 2. Well cause they're right in the middle. 

Rumour has it that Station 3 has cleaner beaches and that Station 1 is the most happening, but truthfully once you're settled at a Station, you could barely hear anything else from other stations and the stations are within walking distance really. So if you don't fancy some spots, you could easily move. 

How much did I spent? 

Accommodation 3D/2N: 3800 Peso = RM 143.79  
Leisure (oil massage): 450 Peso = RM 35.00 
Water Sports / Activities (snorkeling): = 900 Peso = RM 68.11 
Food & Drinks: 1050 Peso = RM 80.00 
Bus Ride / Boat Rides: 500 Peso = RM 37.87 

So for that 3Days 2 Nights inclusive of everything my budget went up to : RM 414.77. 

So there you go - party everynight, hearty breakfast in the morning, filling up the day with all kinds of water activities, relaxing dinner meal, and back to party every night again. It's a cycle that never ends, and if you love all that beach hedonism life has to offer - then Boracay is an option :) 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

93 Million Miles

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.