Category Archives: Adventure

Chapter XVII : The Circle Hostel

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After an amazing time at san fernando, we (Karyl, Aris and Myself) arrived in San Juan La Union to start our one and a half day vacation. we have a whole sunday planned ever since this trip was conceived – our plan to go surfing and be at the beach the entire day dominated our list.  in order to achieve our goals (since surfing costs approximately 400/hour), we agreed to look for a place to stay that is well within our budget and is a place wherein we can be comfortable, and not too ashamed to talk about or tell our friends about.

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The first i’ve heard of the Circle Hostel was when i attended an event our company sponsored (Travel Massive Manila). For quite some time i have been really curious on what can be seen, or what is special about the place. My officemate Karyl then told me that she stayed at the circle hostel during one of her surf trips and further reinforced the curiosity as she found it to be an amazing place to stay at. lo and behold, the night of saturday (January 26) welcomed us with an amazing discovery – an environmentally attuned haven – and a place that i concluded to be ripped out of a page from a fantasy game (think Kilika of Final Fantasy X , or Destiny Islands from Kingdom Hearts).

Upon entering you’ll notice that the Circle Hostel is composed of different structures made entirely of wood (which i later found out to be the common area, the restroom/showers, and the sleeping quarters). for 400 pesos, you can enjoy a bed that is very much social friendly and environmentally sustainable (no rooms, just a personal space for you) – the sea breeze makes it impractical to wish for aircon even, the only thing that you may actually wish for is an additional blanket. for those more adventurous travelers who wish to be like cocoons whilst asleep, a 350 peso hammock rental can also be availed in Circle Hostel. (considering my size, and my sleep moves,  getting a hammock is a no-no!).

Why i fell in love with Circle Hostel

1. It is Affordable – in places like san juan, visitors are expected to be away from the hotel/inn/hostel for the entire day. why pay 1k plus for a room that you would barely use anyway? pay 400 for a bed, bring a padlock for the locker, and prepare to meet new friends, – as this hostel is a place where walls does not exist.. you are bound to make friends – making 400 pesos a cheap investment for comfort, fun, and socials.

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(L) Stairway to the bunk beds, (R) my bed and personal space during the 27th

2. It is Eyegasmic!- appealing to the visuals. upon entering the area, colorful tiles surrounded by neautral colored pebbles will capture your attention. quotes and markings have been left by guests, hostel admins, to make the place more homy. every area is photo op worthy!

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(L) View from the common area, (R) me playing around the common area outside grounds

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(L) view from the gate (reception, residential, comfort room zone) (R)shot of me in the common area

3. Promotes Interaction – this is the place to be when you want to meet new people – – new friends guaranteed! when we were there last sat- sun, i felt i know the guests staying there at that time. heck, we even spent the entire afternoon together at bacnotan beach to surf, and was united when we opted to stay for more than two hours (more on this on my surf post soon!). i loved that all outlets are located at the common area, to increase the chances of making new friends, or hearing other people’s stories!

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(L) at Bacnotan beach with friends we met at Circle Hostel, (R) common area shot

Circle Hostel does not only offer residential answers, it offers opportunities! opportunity to meet new people, to experience freedom and the feeling of not being confined by solid blocks, opportunity to escape the normal and relax. definitely the place ill return to when i have the urge to surf at la union again!

–Behind Thick Framed Notes

1. Follow the Circle Hostel in Facebook 🙂 –> Circle Hostel Main Facebook Page
2. Check out Circle Hostel’s Website –> www.thecirclehostel.com
3. Some photos by Me, and some by my ever present and loyal personal photographer Aris Suarez, check his blog out –> Aris’ Narcissus Chronicles

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Chapter XVI : Thunderbird Resorts

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For me to actually say that a hotel is spectaculary-awesome, it needs to pass three criteria

1. Comfortable Bed, Clean Bathrooms, and Excellent Hotel Service (the Residential Criterion)
2. Excellent Ambiance, Fun Factor through hotel amenities, and  Spectacular food (the Entertainment Criterion)
3. Photo Opportunities that are brag-worthy (the Vanity Criterion)

just three minutes upon entering the vicinity of Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point, San Fernando La Union (on a tricycle no less – how unclassy – joke!), i thought to myself that this will be a different kind of hotel experience for me. i am really picky, and “maarte” with hotels, as i was a kid that grew up abroad and had the opportunity to visit different hotels that makes you want to be filthy rich just to be able to live there forever. the feel of Thunderbird was similar to the Grand Hyatt and Al-Bustan Hotel back in Oman (some of the very classy and top of the line hotels back there) – it was a piece of heaven on earth!

3. Vanity 
If you haven’t discovered this already, i am a very vain (sometimes conceited) type of individual. taking pictures of myself takes up about 30% of my day, and having good photos always make me happy. Thunderbird resorts was like a comicbook store to a comicbook addict, a toy store to a kid, and a buffet of deliciousness and wonders for the eye. i have always dreamed of visiting a particular place in greece called Santorini, and Thunderbird has (in a way) made me feel that i was there even just for a day. the architecture and color compliments the sky pallete even if the sun is at its peak – therefore compliments every shot that me and my friend took of me.  i was silently praying that the Digital Influencer Marketing Summit of 2013 (the main reason why i was here) starts late, so that i could abuse my photographer to photograph me in every area, with all the poses that i possess. but due to the fact that arrived a bit late (8:30am) i had to make do with a couple of shots during daylight and go through the event and resume vanity after it. suffice to say, with the number of shots that me and aris had, we have enough photos to last three profile and cover photo changes in facebook!

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2. Entertainment
The pool was already something that would scream “quota” on my entertainment needs, but noo, thunderbird resorts have more to offer than a pool worth spending the entire day at. Thunderbird resorts la union has a casino (which is about 2 minutes away from the hotel itself – thunderbird shuttles go back and forth transporting guests to the casino and back to the hotel) and a golf course as well.  Me having no interest whatsoever in trying my luck with cards and chips, or teeing off while watching the spectacular sunset appreciated the fact of the diverse entertainment areas made available to guests. i, however, particularly liked the greenery area wherein you can watch the sunset (hand in hand with someone you love), take sunset photos or enjoy the scenery as night envelops and the hotel lights go on. the food was awesome as well, as we (event participants) were treated to a buffet of pallete orgasmic (pallgasmic!) feast –  it is just what everyone needs to compliment the eye treat (eyegasmic!) that is thunderbird resorts!

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1. Residential
the most important of the three reasons for me. no matter the reason of the check-in, we always choose the hotel wherein it is worth spending a day or two at, that offers the chance to escape from the routine, and enjoy something different. (so if my hotel room is just similar to my house in manila, how can i call that an escape?). Right after our Casino appreciation, me and my friends were given the privilege of entering one of thunderbird resorts’ villa (based on the price given by their marketing dudes, one night in this very awesome villa costs about 25k – but can house more or less 8 people comfortably.) come to think about it, this would be a good barkada outing venue for very special occasions. we managed to enter this villa, and tour it, i even tried lying down on the beds to determine how comfortable it is to stay there (wrong choice, i ended up wanting to sleep as soon as i felt the matress!). the villa also has a kitchen and plenty bathrooms, a receiving or common area, and a dining table. this three storied villa also has balconies enabling the guest to marvel at the spectacular view the scenery fronting their villa.

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the experience (though brief) was something awesome! i do hope that when burdened by the chaos of manila, i get a chance to retreat to this paradise, and experience everything it has to offer! indeed, Thunderbird Resorts deserves the awards that it has gained because it truly is world class!

— Behind Thick Framed Notes
1. Follow Thundirbird Resorts in their Social Medias
Thunderbird Facebook

Thunderbird resorts twitter :  @tdrphilippines

2. All photos shot by Aris Suarez <– visit his blog here!

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Chapter XV : Digital Legilimency

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In Harry Potter, the word Legilimency was used as a spell to invade or look into one’s mind. i thought that it was the most apt word to use as the event that i attended last Saturday was something like legilimency, only easier and less sinful.

The Digital Influencers Marketing Summit (#dim2013) was held at Thunderbird Resorts and Casino at Poro Point, San Fernando La Union last Saturday (January 26, 2013). up until the first few speakers had i reached the conclusion that this event was worth the wait, travel and expenses. to be honest, i was excited to be part of the summit as a marketing officer for the company i work for, and as myself – an aspiring blogger – who lacks the motivation to be consistent with posts.

We arrived in La Union at around 4am, checked in at a local hotel (to kill time, as the event starts at 9:00), and found ourselves awestruck with the awesomeness of the venue (more on that on another entry). we also took time to have some photo opportunities while we wait for the event to start.

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Photo by Aris Suarez

it was awesome that tension was already lifted at the start of the event as introductions were made – spiels were given – and all of us wait in anticipation as the first speaker took the podium to discuss her blog Journey. i was relating to Vanj Padilla, when she was reiterating how she was not really an expert on blogging and internet tech, but that didn’t stop her from becoming a blogger, and being one of the most prominent in Pangasinan. she kept urging the audience to blog, and not let the lack of internet knowledge be a hindrance in becoming a blogger. She said that we should look for a niche, and try to be an icon of said niche. somewhere along the presentation, she pulled a jennifer lopez, and made a quote (as simple as it may be, but really got to me) “So i Blogged. and Failed. and blogged again. and again.”

I particularly related to the story of sir Vincent Tabor as  he told the audience how he started blogging during the “Friendster” days, and evolved as technology grew. he was sharing the times when he was criticized and put down as a blogger. he also said that there will always be competitors and you will always be criticized, so we, as bloggers, should always be prepared to receive some tough love! but in the end, such wont matter if you blog for the right reasons (and not primarily for money)

Juana Change literally changed the mood of the event as she took the microphone and told us her success story in creating viral videos to Tough Love some of our nations issues and concerns. her approach on life made me a fan, and her disposition on being true to one’s self is inspiring. She was really hilarious as there was no end to my laughter when she shared her voyage to being a sensation today. i was particularyl inspired as she went from 300+ lbs to a 250 lbs wonder as well!

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Me and Juana change, as she digitally signs our picture!

after lunch, we immediately proceeded to hear a talk about the importance and how-to’s of SEO by Ben Francia. by this time, many of the participants are already on “bibo mode” (including myself) as we broke our silence and tried to clarify and inquire on the importance of SEO application to our blogs/sites, wherein speakers Ben Francia and Tof Salcedo patiently answered and shed light to confused souls (like me). at the end of the presentation, keywords/phrases such as “engage bloggers, use google+, be remarkable” were imprinted on everyone’s being.

by this time of the day, i felt that my personal needs from the summit has reached its peak, but the next speaker made me more attentive as an officer of the company i work for – as he discussed the importance of brand champions and brand management in the social media context! Joma Giron (who btw is a fan of our product! awesome plug sir!) made it a point to highlight the importance of having solid brand influencers and advocates. from this point on, my hat as a marketing officer for the company was put on, but also taking notes that i may use as a personal blogger. he further discusses how all must define the social media plans that they intend to do, and strengthen it by engaging the market.

of course from this point on, i was really expecting to fill my other hat with knowledge that i can use “to make yabang” to my boss the following week! Mannix Pabalan went on to tell companies on how to “make ligaw” (court) bloggers, influencers to help the company out. i particularly liked the “Convince you, Convince me.” By this time i was beginning to understand how to deal with bloggers, influencers, and ambassadors that we have or will have in the future.

seeing as the event saved the best for last, Dr. Nick Fontanilla took the podium to make most of the audience feel like inactive fools as he encourages everyone to surf (because he just did) and try dragonboat! (seriously, i felt so weak and fatter!). but i was more amazed when he was discussing the behavior of consumers, bloggers and the impact of new media to purchases. i wanted to ask something related to Marketing and Politics (gladly i was able to ask it once he ended his talk, and when i got the chance to ambush him outside the room.)

in totality, the Digital Influencer Marketing summit has achieved its goal. it made me more aware of the basic tools, strategies and techniques in online marketing, social media presence, and brand management through the new media. at the end of the day, i was already formulating plans for the company’s social media, and also for my new approach to my personal blog (this blog!) 🙂

i wouldn’t hesitate attending similar events done by Jannete Toral (@digitalfilipino), as the events are what every starting (aspiring) blogger should attend and invest their money, attention, and time at.

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(L-R) Vanj Padilla, Vincent Tabor, Juana Change, Ben Francia, Joma Giron, Mannix Pabalan, Nick Fontanilla

Thank you guys for the imparted knowledge!

— Behind Thick Frame Notes
1. Should you wish to look and view the thoughts of the speakers. try following them on their social medias:

Jannete Toral – @digitalfilipino ,  @jannettetoral
Vanj Padilla – @vanjpadilla
Vincent Tabor – @sirvincentph
Juana Change – @juanachange
Ben Francia – @benfrancia
Tof Salcedo – @TofSalcedo
Joma Giron – @jomattittude
Mannix Pabalan – @mannixbp

2. Venue Location : Thunderbird Resorts at Poro Point, San Fernando La Union. @tbrphilippines

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Chapter XIV : Touchdown Galera

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Rumor has it, that this was a cheap man’s boracay (to be honest, i can not really tell, as i’ve never been to both.), last year, december to be exact, My bestest girl friend Len invited me to accompany them (Vince, Eunice and Gab) to Galera, without hesitation (cause im easy that way), i said yes!

three reasons why i did say yes!
1. i love the beach
2. never been to galera
3. i was with the most awesomest people ever!

remember when we were kids, and our parents brought us to toy stores, candie shops, comic book stores – – have any of you remembered how you moved, acted, spazzed in anticipation? i was all of that on the day that we were supposed to leave for galera. i was very much giddy, to the point that i acted like a little boy holding his very first lego box! haha

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but galera was nothing spectacular in my opinion. there was water, sand, structures, stores, visitors – – just an ordinary beach hyped by rumors and stories. but the beach is still the beach for me, in the end, it was us (me and the party) who made this trip extraordinary!

a destination is just a destination (in my opinion), what makes it memorable are the people who were with you at that time!! and being with these clowns, and nerds were all i needed at that time (aside from the sun, and sand, and super clear waters of galera!)

Vince, Me, Gab, and Len

with Len 🙂

with the gang! galera 2012! gab. myself, eunice, moshen, vince, and len

more beach adventures this year guys!! see you soon!

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2012 in Retrospect

this time, no fancy banners shall accompany this flashback entry. 2012 has been really cruel to me (well especially the first half). i started the year wrong, i started it with a notion that i can be happy with an emotion that wasn’t in place (yeah cupid, this shits on you!), i also met the year with a very long fight between people i really care about – and in the end, ended up taking one side when i attempted to stay in the middle the entire time. and ALL of this issues happened in the first couple of months! sad, i know.

but slowly, things were picking up, and i was starting to see something i couldn’t see before, – hope! my birth month always brings me happiness, and that was when i found spyder (or when spyder found me). i started working, taking my mind of things that shouldn’t even be consuming my time in the first place.

First event with Spyder Phils with new office friends!

Spyder not only gave me work, it gave me new friends, new insights, and a brand new outlook towards myself.  It also got me biking, and running, and aiming to be better physically. the opportunity was probably what i needed at that time.

aside from work, this year, despite its flaws, dramas, and trials proved to be worth it because of friends that i met, and those that are constantly there when pickles manifest. i hate dealing with things alone, and true friends always are there whenever you need them. it makes going through all those shit easier because of those clowns i usually call on when i am down, and for that i am truly grateful!

a lot of lesson were learned during the last year, a lot of adventures happened (some of them will be put into writing soon. i promise!), a lot of love was shared (mostly friendship), and a lot of experiences that i can never un-experience (whether i like it or not). all in all, it was a rough year for me, but several people made it easier to traverse the everyday. i feel 2013 is a good year, and i plan to keep it that way! here’s to a great 2013!!

YEAR HIGHLIGHTS! :

with Rona and Abby, two of my most loved!

Cycling with office mates!

Team London 2015 plus the binder! haha

i was bald, and i played a gay headmaster in a play called “AVSVME : A Very Snape Valentines Musical Extravaganza”

Went to galera for the First time with my Bestest Girl Friend 🙂 Love you forever frond!

became a dad for a day! and a volunteer at the same time!

Helios will always be part of my life!

my 2012 may have been a disaster, but in the end, events like these made it worthwhile!

The Adventure continues! hello 2013!

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Chapter XI : I Surfed, and bid a “See you Again” to Baler (Day Two)

Sept. 30,2012 – Following the events that happened the day before this ( photo shoot, me missing the sun, and a hellova fun with my friends), i find myself waking up early because today was the actual start of our vacation. our top most agenda was to learn how to ride the waves and discover how awesome it is to do so. after prepping for the surfing activity before us, our party of 5 (since je and daisy stayed at a hotel near sabang beach) proceeded to our ever favorite “Rolling Store” for breakfast.

Rolling store is a collection of two-three different karinderyas in one area with affordable yet super yummy food selection. (this has been our source of meals when we were at Baler).

This is me, being cranky and waiting for food to be served.

Right after Breakfast, we proceeded to go to Sabang Beach to plan our surfing activities. we decided to walk to sabang beach from rolling store. Baler is a very quiet and peaceful place, it really is an awesome place to escape the everyday hassle and chaos of manila.

after about 10 mins of walking, we finally reached “Mahdox Surf School” along sabang beach.

Mahdox Surf School

For a moment there, i hesitated in trying surfing out. i was wearing my contacts and have this feeling that i might lose them when the waves eat me. but since, my friends were so insistent, (contact lens or blind) i then pushed through with it!

Sabang Beach filled with Surfers and Surfer-wanna be people (like us!)

Wearing my DLSU shirt since i haz no rash guard

Prior to many wipe outs and achieved long rides 🙂

Oh, and did i mention that my Surf Instructor’s name was Bin Laden? talk about learning how to ride the waves with a man named after a terrorist! but Bin Laden was really cool, and patient, and very encouraging! after a series of wipeouts, and not being able to stand on the board, we finally discovered the method on how to stand on the board without wobbling or losing balance! and because of that, i opted to extend my surfing lesson for another hour. (BTW, in mahdox, you’ll have to pay 350/hour with board and instructor).

Aris, Errol (Aris’ instructor), Bin Laden (My Instructor), Me

Sooo. no utmost form, but fun nonetheless!

Long ride with Aris Suarez

After oh so many attempts, me and my Friend Aris got the technique (although we still fall at times)

So Yeah, Wipeout!

So after our two hours of Surfing, i was determined to perfect this super fun activity the next time i set foot in baler. oh yeah, and i lost my Right Contact Lens, so yeah, i was half blind for the rest of the day. but heck, it was all worth it – as this is something i can never do in manila. with every ounce of excitement within, i vowed to come back soon!

This probably ends the Adventure in Baler, as our last hours in Baler was spent in last minute photo shoots, souvenir, pasalubong hunts and inuman with the group.

The Over-all experience is something irreplaceable and unforgettable. i had fun, and learned a lot about my companions. this is something i would want to repeat with them (although a few, i could do without! haha).

SEE you again Baler!

— Behind Thick Framed Notes:
1. Some photos taken from Aris Suarez’s phone, and some were taken by Aris Trinidad using my camera. so thanks guys!
2. click Mahdox’s Surf School to see their page , do check them out! and add them as a friend! cause they really are friendly!

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Magic Works! The Magic Continues!

The Christmas season is upon us! my Group, Hogwarts Philippines (yeah, i’m a geek that way! and HEAD BOY!) is currently organizing an outreach program for the kids at Hospicio de San Jose. check the poster out (by Abby Sanchez)

currently, volunteers are limited to members of Hogwarts Philippines (register here). But you too can help us out, as we are accepting donations, preferably TOYS (gift wrapped) that we can give out as gifts to the kids and/or prizes to some of our planned games.

should you want to donate, feel free to message me here (so i could coordinate with the proper PHP-MAgic Works committee) or send me an email @ francis.romero15@gmail.com

additional LUMOS — for those not in the know, PHP currently celebrated it’s 10 years of existence in the Philippines. We are also usually (NAY, the ONLY group) invited to be present during important harry potter releases in the country (Book releases, Movie premiers, Book Discussions). some of us (yes me included) also appeared on national television to share our experiences, and goals in the community!

so with that! i urge you to help us cast LUMOS to dispell the darkness, drive away those emotion-sucking dementors and cast plenty of cheering charms for the kids, so that they too, could have an awesome magical Christmas!

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