Doodle Earth!

Cats! =)
Notebook and (mechanical) pencil

Cats. Flowers. People. Beach. Happy Faces. Sad Faces.  Sometimes, lotsa’ earth colors.  I try to keep it as natural as the earth.  I call it mindless doodle.

Doodle is an unfocused drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. 
Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes.   – Wikipedia

Stamping my notebook with little flowers : a ‘dreamy’ doodle minus daydreaming.

If social acceptance would be the only consideration, doodling won’t be easy.  I get stared at meetings for doodling.  I’m referring to the not-so-friendly stares from people who are working with me for the first time.  For those who know me, or at least, know how I work, wouldn’t budge when they see me doodling. I’d like to think that they respect how my brain operates. 

I doodle during long meetings.  It’s my way of keeping boredom at bay.  It prevents my mind from drifting away to dreamland.  Doodling sharpens my focus.  This habit of doodling can be traced way back to pre-school.  For some teachers, I was an annoying doodler.  I remember how my pre-school teacher complained to my aunt (my guardian).  Some tried to test my focus by engaging, or seemingly pressuring me into a discussion, but they conceded overtime.  My class cards from preparatory to professional school could show that doodling was not bad after all.    

Colorful Flower Doodle
Samsung Galaxy Tab

Quite recently, I googled this behavior (Google! Doodle).  There was a study on doodling published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, and publicized in circulation by media outfit like Time Magazine (Feb 2009).  Based on that study conducted at the University of Plymouth in England on a control group, doodlers can retain more information compared with nondoodlers.  The set of information was described to have been delivered during long, boring meetings or lectures. 

So what gives?  Doodling uses less brain resources while giving out just enough effort to keep the brain ‘engaged’ with the subject matter at hand.  It keeps one’s thought from landing at the daydreaming zone.  Daydreaming uses more brain resources; thus, causing a person to become inattentive.  For a non-psychology major like me, I would rather compare a doodler to a motorist who listens to good music while driving – main focus, of course, is driving, while music helps the driver stay awake or just relax, especially during a long or cross-country drive.

I don’t think I’d ever kick the habit of doodling.  It’s innate, and as technology advances, so does my doodling: choice of paper or tablet. =)

Boat, Sea, Sun
Doodle – using my Samsung Galaxy Tab


Mini-vacation by Island SPA @ Island Cove

The universe has already made it available to everyone the concept of taking a mini-vacation.  It could mean a 15-minute power nap during lunch break, or an afternoon siesta at home with mobile phone turned off, or driving to a spa resort for a weekend. It could get as quirky as re-arranging the contents of your fridge in alphabetical order on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  It’s your choice!

Island Spa is a few minutes away from our home, and I don a relaxing outfit whenever I go there . This is to set the mood that I’m off to a rejuvenating mini-vacation.

Just like everyone else, I only have 24 hours in a day as much as I would want to make it 48.  I’m practically addicted to life.  After some weeks’ worth of stress, one of the simple joys I give myself is taking a mini-vacation at Island Spa.  I’m now writing about the best 1.5 – 3 hours spent for a holistic pampering – mind and body; with level up happiness and productivity guaranteed.

In some days, a mini-vacation for me entails a trip to Island Spa.
Island Spa @ Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park, Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite
Philippines!!! =)

We celebrated the 114th Philippine Independence Day last week, June 12.  It was a legal holiday and I was not supposed to report to work for that day, meaning, I had the whole afternoon planned out for a mini-vacation at the spa.

I arrived at the spa just in time for my 2PM appointment.  Genuine, friendly smiles greeted me at the reception area where I was to meet my therapist Ate (a-te)* Carmen.  Being my therapist for almost four years, Ate Carmen could tell that I did some running on the treadmill earlier that day.  She prepared everything ahead of time – my robe, the shower with all the green tea shampoo + conditioner and shower gel, my favorite treatment room, my preferred rice bran oil, hot pouch for my nodules (lamig in Tagalog), and some treats for my tired, achy feet.

For a full body massage, my top pick is rice bran oil. It is lightly scented and non-sticky. It leaves a healthy glow on my olive complexion.

I opted not to use the sauna, but I gave my calves its much-needed thermal shock by varying the shower temperature, vacillating between hot and cold at regular interval.  I enjoyed some refreshing lather using Island Spa’s hypoallergenic green tea shower gel. After getting that clean and refreshing feeling from the shower, Ate Carmen led me to the hands-and-feet treatment area so she could get started with my hard-working feet.  Brown sugar was used as foot scrub, creating an instant moisturizing effect especially on the soles.  It was followed by a 5-minute foot soak, using a combination of warm water and rock salt for a non-drying detox.

Happy Feet = Brown Sugar (Scrub) + Rock Salt (Soak)

Next was the full body massage that started with a 10-minute application of hot pouches on my back, and I requested the pouches to rest on my calves for a few more minutes. Island Spa uses two hot pouches per treatment, which instantly create the feeling of back muscles being ironed (or flattened) to drain off the nodules.  The effect was calming and I almost fell asleep at that point.  The pouches were followed by Island Spa’s signature treatment – Hilot** Isla (Hee-lot Is-la).  Ate Carmen targeted the nodules on my shoulder blades, and she eased through my calves which were stiff due to my running routine.

This lovely candle table piece lights up each of Island Spa’s treatment rooms.

I was also preparing for my first half marathon (21KM) for 2012 (the event took place only last Sunday, June 17).  I needed to do some extra prep for my legs by adding 30 minutes of foot massage to the 1-hr Hilot Isla treatment.  I’m referring to the traditional foot massage called Dagdagay***, which uses small wooden sticks in stimulating blood circulation in the calves and soles.  Ate Carmen applied an icy cool gel on my legs and feet for a more soothing effect.  My legs got the proper conditioning, ready for the challenge of a half-marathon. 

Dagdagay (dag-da-gay)*** originated from the Mountain Province in Northern Philippines. This treatment makes use of ‘runo’ sticks to massage the feet.

 To cap off  my mini-vacation at Island Spa, I indulged in aromatherapy.  I was given a scent of eucalyptus while getting a quick refresher facial. I seldom go for facial treatments because of my sensitive skin, but I need not worry about it at Island Spa.  They have a wide range of hypoallergenic facial and skin care products from Switzerland. 

Ate Carmen served me a cup of my favorite herbal tea akin to the Filipino ginger brew.  I also had to warm up my vocal chords as I would be meeting old-time friends with delightful stories to share from late afternoon through evening: pastry treats + Vietnamese coffee at iCafe and dinner at the Fishing Village, both located at Island Cove. 

What’s your idea of a mini-vacation? Share it! =)


* Ate (a-te) = Tagalog, noun; older sister, also used to refer to an older girl or lady as form of respect in Filipino culture.

**Hilot (hee-lot) is a traditional Filipino art of healing.  It is still being practiced today to relax stressed muscles by way of deep tissue massage. 

***Dagdagay (dag-da-gay) is a traditional Filipino foot massage that originated from the indigenous tribes of the Mountain Province, northern Philippines.  It uses sticks to massage the soles and legs. It instantly provides relief from muscle aches and tension, as it promotes better blood circulation.


Want to visit Island Spa?  Book an appointment today. 

Island Spa is open daily from 10AM to 10PM; cutoff for receiving is at 9PM.  For inquiries and booking, you may dial these numbers:  +63 46 434 09 88, +63 46 434 77 78, +63 917 505 62 80.  You may also visit their website –

Getting there

From Manila (private vehicle) :  Take Manila – Cavite Expressway.  End of expressway, make a u-turn to Covelandia Road.  About 15min-drive from Mall of Asia, light traffic. 

From Manila (public transport) :  From Baclaran, board a bus going to Cavite City or Naic/Maragondon taking the Island Cove route. 

From Alabang (public transport) :  From Zapote, board a mini-bus or jeepney going to Cavite City or Tanza/Naic/Salinas taking the Island Cove route.

Related post

Just Drive : My Version of ‘Gran Turismo’

Warning:  Driving, speeding, and motor racing are potentially hazardous activities.  Those who wish to engage in these activities must observe safety measures at all times.  This post does not intend to glamorize over/speeding.  This has been posted as an attempt to describe my thoughts about driving and speeding.

Miguel and I – daily adrenaline fix
Miguel : Honda City 1.5 VTEC M/T


“How fast can you drive, Ann?” 

If only cars could talk, my car would be asking me this kind of question. 

Speed.  I need it. I’m loving it for the adrenaline it gives.  I get some level of sedation from it.  I get high, naturally.  Speed calms me.  It clears my head, while I get the opportunity to exercise my ability to focus – a discipline which commands a premium in my line of work.  I drive fast whenever I could, and when the road would allow. 

Please let me insert another disclaimer here:  driving fast and violating traffic rules are two different things.  =)

I drive to work 5 days a week via expressway, that one which does not have a speed limit.  I get my adrenaline fix almost every morning, just before I engage my mind with anything work-related.  Adrenaline is like a very potent drug, derived from this concoction:  fast car + fast lane + really good music (preferably rock or alternative) + (recently) fuel with nitro.  Give it over a 100 kph, and the adrenaline level is as good as ‘high’. 

Occasionally, I would drive a long course up north to Baguio City.  This year, I made it as far as Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte.  This is what we call – road trip!!!  The scenic drive to the country side and pristine coastline make up for a lovelier experience, double up the fun with the company of well-meaning friends. Long drive is therapeutic for me and for my favorite road trip buddies, as well.  We’ve been going on road trips at least once a year since 2006. I also received invitations to road trips in the South (Leyte and Davao); and in CA/NE in the US, where holders of Philippine-issued driver’s license are permitted to drive over a certain period.

When there’s too much craving for adrenaline – this is when things are better taken care of inside a legitimate race circuit for a safer run – car or kart.  =)

Sofia and I – Bangui Windmills – March 2012
Sofia: Toyota Altis 1.6 M/T

Early morning drive along SCTEX

Sofia and I – hillside and coastline drive – Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

Patapat Viaduct
Manila – Ilocos Norte – Manila
Sofia – Toyota Altis 1.6 M/T : about two full tanks of gasoline

on my way home…

Karting after office – Feb 2012
Boomtown, Roxas Blvd.

CRV – Davao
Driving : also fun in Davao

Photo-stopover with Lowell in La Union

Thrill seekers : More fog…in Baguio City!

Roadtrip with Mama Charles
Manila – Manaoag – Camp John Hay – Manila in ONE DAY!

Leyte – Samar via San Juanico Bridge

San Diego – Los Angeles – Las Vegas
Dec 2007 – Off to Vegas to defend my ‘bantam weight title’

Freeway : Nevada back to California, Dec 2007

Tagaytay Highlands – Main Road

George : my first car, the only modified car I had
I sold him in 2006. It was heart-breaking; I never wanted any car modification project, thereafter.

Isang boteng alak, isang kahong tsokolate, isang tasang kape

Ang akdang ito ay nailimbag sa wikang Tagalog, na maaring magdulot ng pagdurugo ng ilong sa imahinasyon ng sinumang magbabasa nito. 

Araw ng Kalayaan, ika-labindalawa ng Hunyo.  Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, sa blog na ito, ay mas minarapat ko magpahayag gamit ang aking kinalakihang wika. Ito ay bilang pakikiisa sa makabuluhang paggunita ng ating Araw ng Kalayaan.

Sa isang upuan na nagsimula sa pagsalin ng alak hanggang sa isang tasang kape at ilang tsokolate sa pagitan, muli pumasok sa isipan ko kung paano ba ang pakiramdam ng isang taong malayang naisasabuhay ang kanyang bokasyon? Ito ay ang konsepto ng bokasyon na hindi nangangahulugang propesyon.  Ang bokasyong ito ay ang pumapaloob sa lahat ng maligaya at tamang pananaw sa pagbibigay ng positibong kontribusyon sa lipunan, o kahit sa mga tao o bagay na andyan lamang sa paligid. Hindi pangunahing layunin ng bokasyon ang kumita ng limpak na salapi.  Ito ay isinasabuhay dahil narito ang tunay na pagmamahal sa paggawa at pagbahagi nito sa kapwa (labor of love, sa wikang Ingles).   

Nahanap mo na ba ang iyong bokasyon? O sadya mong isanasabuhay ang itinakda para sa iyo ng iyong pamilya o ng ibang tao? 

Mabigat ang mga katanungang ito sa mga kagaya ko.  Isa ako sa mga naghahanap ng kasagutan; bagay na hindi ko na ikakaila at ikahihiya na para bang sa aking kinalalagyan ngayon ay bakit ninanais ko pa ring maghanap ng mas malalim na kabuluhan.  May bagay na inakalang sagot para dito, pero labis ang aking pagkagulat sa kapasidad nitong pabalikin ako kung saan ako nagsimula.  Sa paglipas ng labindalawang taon, may mga pangyayari na nag-udyok sa akin na tahakin ang isang panibagong antas ng kamalayan.  Nitong taon na nagdaan, naging malaking inspirasyon para sa akin ang pagiging malapit sa ilang alagad ng sining, mga guro, at mga misyonero.  Sila ay walang alinlangang sumunod sa kaloob sa kanilang kakayanan na isulong ang tunay nilang bokasyon, taliwas sa mga adhikain na masasabi natin na ‘playing safe’ or tiyak na may pera.  Sa pakiwari ko ay malaya na ako ngayon na makapagsisimula sa isang bagong yugto habang unti-unting lumilinaw kung alin ang panghanap-buhay, at ang higit na matimbang na panghabang-buhay na bokasyon.

Nawa ay sumainyo ang diwa ng mapagpalayang araw na ito.  =)

alak – tsokolate – kape

Emo = The Fray + Geek-like Math

“Emo (i-mow),  is a style of rock music characterized by melodic musicianship and expressive, often confessional lyrics…Emo has been associated with stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden.” – Wikipedia

I haven’t made any deliberate decision to totally immerse myself in the fascinating world of the emo subculture. Tonight, emo music hits me as if it’s some sort of drug; effect is strong, but temporary.  I’m particularly feeling some backlash from a set of songs I’ve been listening to in the last 3 hours.  The songs are beautiful, melodic…to the point that they are well interpreted through music videos…perfect, heartbreaking, beautiful.   Every song speaks to the heart, a message effective enough to make you wish that you’re in love at some point.  When the song ends, the bubbles burst.  You’re left with your mind telling you that you’re not exactly in love.  Emo!

The mood is so not making me fall sleep that I decided to write something mundane, but re-affirming of one’s dilemma when confronted by love versus reality.

What would you do if love and reality exist in two separate planes, running in parallel?  The planes are presented in a more linear form called lines.  Parallel lines never meet.  Maturity teaches you that love is never enough, but the coldness of the world makes you realize that reality is empty without love.  Would you choose love and forget about the world – that world grounded by reality?  Would you rather choose reality, continue running the course and hope that another love comes – that love which would co-exist with your perceived reality?  Is this the reason why there are parallel lines in Math (Geometry) – as it correlates to the reality that there are people who are not intended to be together at all? Never, forever. 

(Math/Geometry) : Lines that will never intersect.

Still cerebral here.  That’s about it! =)

Here’s to share one of The Fray’s most heartfelt songs – Never Say Never. 

(Music video, as posted @ The Fray Vevo channel,

Island Spa @ Island Cove : A Take on Wellness

Have you been to the SPA lately?  Yes? No?

Now, you may continue reading.  We’re not gonna talk about crashing the bank here.  It won’t lead to overall wellness.  Instead, this is about slowing down a bit and planning out a well-deserved, rejuvenating mini-vacation:  a trip to a Mediterranean-inspired haven with a charming Filipino twist, that is ISLAND SPA!  No Euro trip required.  Remember, it’s more fun in the Philippines!  You only need to head out to the historic town of Kawit, Cavite, and enter the gates of Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park.

Treatments offered

To get the most, as in the ‘most-est’, out of your visit at Island Cove – include Island Spa in your agenda.  Dagdagay (foot therapy) and Hilot Isla are two of their signature, must-try services, which promote the overall healing effects of authentic Filipino therapies. 

If you are in need of a Ventosa (Cupping) Therapy minus the red marks on your skin, then Hilot Isla with hot pouch is perfect for you.  The hot pouch contains aromatic seeds, which take out the ‘lamig’ (in Tagalog), or unblock the ‘qi’.  This action ensures that energy will flow properly throughout the body. 

Island Spa also offers:  Swedish/Shiatsu massage, body scrub, warm bath, facial, foot spa, hand spa, waxing, and paraffin treatment.

Mini-vacation : Island Spa

Inside Island Spa
These lovely photos are also published at

For promos, new treatments, and exciting updates, be sure to ‘LIKE’ Island Spa @ Island Cove in Facebook: Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park.  I will also be posting select promos and packages in this blog…and we’re starting off with a favorite among regular clients – Hilot Isla. 

My testimonial :  I’m a client of Island Spa for four years already.  I live an active lifestyle.  For fatigue and muscle pain, I don’t go for pain relievers.  I just go to Island Spa for a therapeutic massage. My personal favorites are:  combination of Swedish-and-Shiatsu massage  – I availed of this every other week when I was training for a marathon last year; post-marathon, I’m still loving this treatment with my choice of rice bran oil;  hilot Isla – after a tough badminton game or boxing at the gym; and footspa, mani/pedicure every other week. 

Walk-in or book an appointment today

Island Spa is open daily from 10AM to 10PM; cutoff for receiving is at 9PM.  For inquiries and booking, you may dial these numbers:  +63 46 434 09 88, +63 46 434 77 78, +63 917 505 62 80.  You may also visit their website –

Getting there

From Manila (private vehicle) :  Take Manila – Cavite Expressway.  End of expressway, turn left to Covelandia Road.  About 15min-drive from Mall of Asia, light traffic. 

From Manila (public transport) :  From Baclaran, board a bus going to Cavite City or Naic/Maragondon taking the Island Cove route. 

From Alabang (public transport) :  From Zapote, board a mini-bus or jeepney going to Cavite City or Tanza/Naic/Salinas taking the Island Cove route.

Map courtesy of Google

My Full Marathon Journey

Marathon – a long distance running event with an official distance of 42.195KM (26miles and 385yards), that is usually run as a road race; instituted in honor of a Greek soldier – Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens.  – Wikipedia

February 2011 – I vowed to finish my first full marathon (FM) in 2011.  I was feeling especially grateful because I was out of the woods already.  Each time I laced up my shoes to train, I was being reminded how closer I was to uniting my family and friends to re-affirm how blessed we are and we have so much to share.  It was truly inspiring – from a sickly soul to a marathoner, with people pledging to support a charitable institution for every kilometer I would cover.  The goal was huge, and announcing it to my favorite crowd made me shiver. I cried.  I was so addicted to life. 

In 2011, I completed two full marathons:  Manila International Marathon (MIM), Sept 25; and Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), Dec 4.  

42KM – MIM – 25 Sept 2011

SM Runners – Trail Run – Tagaytay Highlands

38 of 42KM – SCMS – 04 Dec 2011

FM – SCMS – 04 Dec 2011
Photo courtesy of Atty. Cashmer

It is true that I was hospitalized, Dec 11 due to electrolyte imbalance and elevated level of creatinine.  Root cause : over fatigue.

Few hours after I crossed the SCMS finish line at St. Andrews Padang in Singapore, I flew back to Manila.  For the rest of the week, I was reporting to work as if I did not run an FM.  I even played badminton.  Addict nga eh!  Adrenaline was able to sustain me for that duration.  

Dec 11, I woke up to prepare for the Milo Finals.  I was to participate in the half marathon category (21KM).  I couldn’t get up from bed.  I was almost paralyzed – an instant ticket to the Emergency Room of DGMC.  I received my first and last dose of Tramadol via intravenous injection.  Instant effect:  my condition went critical.  My body was fighting off the drug – palpitation, numbness, nausea, and skin – pale as dead.  The doctors were terribly worried, too.  It took about 15 minutes for my condition to stabilize.  I was receiving painful potassium supplement, diluted into the intravenous bottle; and blood samples were being taken 4x a day.  I stayed in the hospital for 4 days – days it took for my potassium level to normalize. 

The urologist and internist ruled out muscle necrosis.  My kidneys are functioning 100%.  The cardiopulmonologist confirmed that my heart is very much healthy.  The OB told me to get a LOVE life!  (Nice one, doc!)  Given 3 to 5 months of rest, I can go back to full marathon training – but no more back-to-back full marathon for me.  I was advised to train for one full marathon a year (only), and give myself at least 3 months to recover from an FM.

I’ve been jogging for several weeks now…in preparation for my third FM.  I have set some ‘checkpoints’ along the course to carefully gauge my readiness for it. Call it crazy, but I think I’ve become a runner by heart.  I’m going to brisk walk / jog / run until I grow old.  Like what I wrote after my first FM, it’s going to be Ann + Running = Forever.  I guess, this is it.  =)

Stroll (scroll) down memory lane:  =)

Paris Museum Series : Centre Georges Pompidou

Prelude:  Day 1, Museum #1 : Musee D’ Orsay

I left Musee D’Orsay with a heavy heart, because I knew that I would miss the place.  It was already 3PM when I headed out to Centre George Pompidou.  Time economy warranted, I had a valid excuse to avail of a cab ride(guilt-free!) from D’Orsay to C. Pompidou.

Day 1, Museum #2 : Centre Georges Pompidou

Inaugurated in January 1977, Centre Georges Pompidou is home to Bibliotheque (a public library), IRCAM (a research center for music and acoustic), and the Musee National D’Art Moderne.  To date, it is the largest museum of modern art in Europe. 

The Centre appeals to the postmodern and the high-tech, with facade adorned by structured steel and architectural glasses for a minimalist look.  It celebrates its deviation from the traditional fusion of Baroque/Romanesque/Gothic architectures.  (I took up 3 units of Humanities back in university days, and it was only recently that I was able to validate that some things did register between my ears.)

Website in English:

Getting there:  METRO Rambuteau, Chatelet, Hotel de Ville; RER  Chatelet Les Halles; Bus #s 21, 29, 38, 47, 58, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 81, 85, 96, it’s complicated (oops!).

Centre Georges Pompidou – Facade / Main Entrance
This photo is also available in other public domains, such as Wikipedia.

Inside the tube : escalator leading to exhibition halls

Exhibitions consist of: paintings, photographs, sculptures, and the performing arts – art films, video clips, shows and mini-concerts.  The video clips appealed to me the most.  Contents are sociopolitical expressions, aired to engender awareness with varying tones – subtle, subliminal, and some are truly radical.  The sets for viewing have been arranged with the comfort of the viewers in mind.  The video exhibition hall is comparable to a room-full of mini-family den.  I was not able to take a picture of the video hall as majority of the exhibit halls do not allow camera / camcorders. 

Exhibit Hall 5

Art class for budding artists

I also came across with a group of kids who were studying art.  Talk about exposing kids to the arts at a very young age, this could be one of the better ways to build a strong inclination.

The exhibition hall at level 5 showcases a number of art works by Pablo Picasso.  (There is a dedicated museum for Picasso in Paris, but it is under renovation as of press time.)  It also has a visitors’ terrace where stone sculptures are on display, cast on Paris’ skyline.  I thought the terrace was off-limits to visitors, but I dared step out to get some fresh air, and a flock of tourists soon followed…thus, I met another tourist who was accommodating to take my souvenir photo.  =)

Terrace : souvenir photo courtesy of a fellow tourist