Intrepid Me

Intrepid Me

by Apolinario B Villalobos



At the crack of dawn

While the rest of humanity

Are still curled up in their bed

I’m already up, eager, excited;

I hit the road, buoyed with lightness –

Letting my feet just carry me on

As I unwind my pent up energy

That gives me a feeling of ecstasy.


With cell phone, notebook and pen

Camera, batteries, biscuits, candies

Towel, extra shirt, coins and bills –

All backpacked, I trek over hills;

A shot here and there, mesmerized –

A stop here and there, hypnotized –

Only aahs and oohs, I say nothing more

As the searing sun, I patiently endure.


The world is my home, it’s where I belong

I let no oceans and seas hinder me, there are ships

I let no great distance distress me, there are airplanes

I let no meager funds discourage me, I can scrimp

I let no insufficient language daunt me, I can make signs

I let no difference in culture deter me, I can learn

I let no difference in climate frighten me, I can adapt

This is me, intrepid me, my desire to explore is my map!





Mga Karanasan Kong Kagila-gilalas Noong Naglibot Ako sa Pilipinas

Mga Karanasan Kong Kagila-gilalas Noong Naglibot Ako sa Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Bilang editor noon ng TOPIC Magazine, obligado akong maglibot upang mangalap ng mga impormasyong pang-turista para mailathala sa magasin. At, dahil iba-iba ang mga napupuntahan ko, iba-iba rin ang mga karanasan ko. Ang iba ay sobrang censored kaya hindi pwedeng banggitin, except sa ginagawa kong “memoir” na ilalabas kapag ako ay patay na, at ang iba naman ay sobrang nakakatuwa kaya dapat i-share “to make the day” ng mga nagtitiyagang magbasa ng blogs ko.


Sa isang bayan sa norte, nag-check in ako sa isang maliit na hotel, okey naman dahil may toilet subalit hindi ko nabuksan para ma-check ang loob dahil nagmamadali akong makapunta agad sa mga tourist spots. Pagbalik ko galing sa paglilibot ay naligo ako at gumamit ng kubeta. Nadismaya ako dahil nang umupo na ako sa “trono” hindi ko madiretso ang dalawa kong paa…dapat nakaangat ang kanan kong paa upang magkasya ang wetpu ko sa” trono” dahil halos dikit sa dingding ito. Kaya ang nangyari ay para akong aso na nakataas ang isang paa, halos pa-side view, habang nagpapalabas ng sama ng loob….ang mahalaga noon ay nakaraos ako. In fairness sa maliit na hotel, malinis ang toilet, ngunit ang kubeta ay pang-unano yata.


Sa isa pa ring bayan sa norte, ang toilet ng hotel na tinirhan ko ay barado. Mabuti na lang at nasa tabing-dagat ang maliit na hotel, kaya kahit gabi na ay nagsabi ako sa staff na kunwari ay  magsi-swimming ako kahit ang katotohanan ay may binabalak akong gagawing kabantutan! Nagtampisaw ako sa mababaw na dagat dahil low tide hanggang makaraos ako. Kinabukasan ay nag-check ako kung may nakalutang na ebidensiya sa ginawa kong karumaldumal nang nakaraang gabi…mabuti naman at inanod yata sa malayo!…nakaligtas ako sa batikos!


Sa mga maliliit na lunsod ay uso ang mga hotel na ang toilet ay nasa pagitan ng dalawang kuwarto…share ang occupants ng dalawang kuwarto sa paggamit ng toilet. Malalaman ng occupant ng isang kuwarto kung ginagamit ng taga-kabilang kuwarto ang toilet dahil naka-lock ang pinto niya sa loob, na dapat buksan kapag tapos nang gumamit ang taga-kabila, upang makapasok naman siya, at ila-lock naman niya ang pinto ng katabi niyang kuwarto. Nag-check in ako sa isang hotel na may ganitong uri ng kubeta. Nang hapong maliligo na ako (siyempre nakahubad) ay binuksan ko ang pinto ng kubeta…at nabuksan nga…nakalimutan kong may ka-share ako sa kubeta….at may chicks palang nakaupo sa “trono”….nakalimutan niyang i-lock ang pinto ko sa loob! Nahantad naman sa kanya ang kaluluwa ko! Nagkatinginan kami….nagpaka-gentleman pa rin ako at dahan-dahan kong isinara ang pinto habang nagbaba-bye. Nagkita kami uli sa dining room, kasama niya ang kanyang asawang egoy (black American)!…tinginan uli kami at nginitian niya ako ng pagkatamis-tamis…parang may nabistong secret na siya lang ang nakakaalam!


Ilan lang ang mga nabanggit sa mga  madilim na bahagi ng aking kahapon sa paglilibot ko sa Pilipinas dahil sa call of duty. Tiniis ko ang lahat dahil ayaw kong maging jobless at lumuwa ang mga mata dahil sa gutom. Noon ko lalong naunawaan na iba pala talaga ang buhay ng isang tunay na turista na hahamakin ang lahat makarating lang sa mga tourist spots!

Touristic Manila

Touristic Manila

By Apolinario Villalobos


When I came to Manila during the early 80’s, the city was just gaining a momentum toward its recognition as a prime tourist destination in Asia. The most popular district then was Ermita which would come alive just when the sun was about to set beyond the horizon of Manila Bay. From its daytime drabness the district would undergo an instant transformation into the gaudiness made heady by the loud music that emanated from the hole-in-the-wall beer joints. The jolly racket lasted until just before sunup. A night was never complete without a brawl. And when the sun finally warmed its sidewalks, giddy girls with still rouged faces lined the sidewalks for cheap jeepney ride home.


Today, Ermita has been transformed into a safe tourist haven. Roxas Boulevard is dotted with five-star hotels, and side by side with the Children’s Museum is the United States Embassy complex at the western end of the boulevard. M.H. del Pilar and A. Mabini Streets previously known for their raucous beer joints are now assuming a wholesome façade with rows of restaurants, affordable hotels, and a casino housed in five-star Hyatt Hotel that provides a highlight. The newly-renovated National Library of the Philippines breaks the monotony of T.M. Kalaw St., and a few meters from the imposing structure is the office of the National Historical Institute. A big shopping mall stands out among the condo buildings being built along the  United Nations Avenue where the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters are also located. Manila Pavilion that adds splendor to this particular section of Ermita was once the popular Manila Hilton.


Avenida, the main thoroughfare of the Sta. Cruz district, is still alive with sidewalk bazaars that overflow to the adjacent Quiapo district. Both districts have historic churches that serve as their centerpiece, and which are popular among pilgrims during Lenten season. Quiapo Church is the shrine of the Black Nazarene, the festivity of which draws millions of devotees every year. On the other side of Quezon Boulevard is the Islamic district, in the midst of which is the Golden Mosque. Though differing in faith, the residents of the two districts live in harmony.


Another shopping district of Manila is Divisoria where malls have mushroomed during the past years. It is still the most popular shoppers’ mecca of Manila where one can find practically everything – from school supply to the latest electronic gadgets. It is, however, more popular as showcase for latest fashions.  Late in the afternoon, a portion of the Recto Avenue is closed to give way to stalls of vegetable wholesalers who come from different provinces. Practically, the whole area is alive the whole night until six in the morning of the following day during which the merchants begin to pack up whatever are left of their goods. It is also at this time that the sanitary teams of the city begin to haul out piles of garbage and mop up the street for daytime shoppers.


The Chinatown of Manila, known more among the locals as Ongpin, referring to the main street, is the oldest in the world. It went through different historic transformations – from its being made as a segregated Chinese settlement or “parian” during the Spanish regime, into becoming a hideaway of urban Filipino guerillas during the WWII, until finally blossoming into an elegant enclave of oriental culture today with its towering condo buildings and restaurants where one could partake of exotic cuisine, though, the reliable steadfast apothecaries are still around with their different aromatic concoctions.


The Pasig River cuts across the landscape of Manila. The Manila City Hall is found on its west bank which is lately enhanced by a newly-built shopping mall, while the Malacaῆan Palace occupies a well-shaded north bank. The so-called “university belt” because of the several educational institutions within this particular section, is located several street corners from the palace.


The Liwasang Bonifacio (Bonifacio Park) near the Manila City Hall is dominated by the Post Office building and across from it is the idle Metropolitan Theater, still trying to stand proud despite years of neglect. The structure, though, could still gain attention because of its classical architecture. The theater was once the principal venue of both local and international plays, aside from concerts which launched several singers, actors and actresses to stardom.


Across the street from Liwasang Bonifacio, the Old Intramuros beckons to those with a desire to quench their thirst for history. Within the walls of Intramuros are the centuries- old Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. On foot, going around the Walled City, including leisurely stops for refreshing drinks or snacks, takes only about three hours. However, if the Fort Santiago is included in the itinerary, one should add another hour to their stroll. Inside the fort, one can find cells where prisoners were confined during the Spanish regime and the WWII. Local horse-driven coaches or rigs are available for leisurely ride that can be contracted for a jaunt up to Rizal Park or Luneta.


Rizal Park  was known in history as Bagumbayan where Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero was shot for purportedly instigating rebellion against the Spaniards. Behind the grandstand, one can find the H20 Hotel and Ocean Park which are just a few steps from the historic Manila Hotel. Lately, the park has undergone facelifts that made it more alluring to regular visitors. The park’s administration is not daunted by the small area of the park, instead, defied this limitation by using resourcefulness and creativity. The park’s crowning glory today is the cluster of renovated fountains that “dance” with the music and lights. The imposing Department of Tourism building is located on the T.M. Kalaw side of the park with its façade facing the giant bronze statue of Lapu-lapu that stands at what was once the skating rink, and a few meters from them is the National Parks Development office that manages Luneta. The Philippine map lagoon has been made more stroller-friendly with the floating lane that diagonally cuts across it.


The mentioned landmarks of Manila are accessible via the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, jeepneys, buses, and aircon vans.