Hello, Aspen!

How do you fall in love with a place?

How do you decide you just want to leave everything behind and begin again?

In somewhere new, somewhere exciting, somewhere like… Aspen.

Hello, Aspen! from LAD Films on Vimeo.

January 27-31 2017 Trip to Aspen Colorado. (X-Games 2017)
I fall more and more in love with this town every single time I come to visit! Now, the question is, should I move here? Big thanks to my maga, Nenita for showing me around! x
Music used:
Follow You – Cheat Codes
Shots – Imagine Dragons (Broiler Remix)

On Wines and Castles.

I am one of those people who’s slightly a little bit obsessed with old castles. It’s not the grandeur or the lifestyle, but more of the history and mystery of huge places that  served as a home for some people that’s just so attractive to me.

Castles are dark, outdated, dingy, sometimes scary, but for some reason, something about it draws me in. I am in love with them! I love watching old movies set in castles, or the new ones that feature them. I’ve always wanted to live in one (not as a royal, but just a regular person living in a really old, really big house.)

Because everybody in my family has a weird work schedule, we knew that spending the holidays together would be difficult. So we planned to see each other earlier to spend our very own “Christmas” and “New Year.”

The thought of traveling always puts me in a good mood.

This December, we flew to San Francisco and visited a little castle-slash-vineyard in Napa Valley.

The drive up to Castello di Amorosa was such a sight. I’ve never seen this much greenery in Vegas, where I currently live. It made me sad for a little bit, but I quickly moved on as soon as I saw the castle.

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I don’t understand what it is about a dark place that could make me so happy, but I just let myself bask in the joy it gave me. I was slightly disappointed the vineyard looked a little empty, I wasn’t sure if we arrived before harvest season or just after harvest time, so I just  went ahead and distracted myself with walking around inside.

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Also, wine tasting, because why not?

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Maybe it’s because I’m weak, or just because I’m Asian and get embarassingly tomato-red when I’m a little drunk, that I prefer getting buzzed as slow as possible. I may know my way around tequilas and gins, but for wines, the sweets will always be my go-to.

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The courtyard was pretty, the corridors were charming. I may have secretly pretended to be a princess prancing around the hallways the whole time we were there. I wish they had an AirBnb or bed-and-breakfast sort of setting because I would definitely book a week’s stay to just day drink and run away from work.

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Castles and Wines are the perfect combo!

Link to location for questions and reservations

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#FindGizel

xx Gizel

This is what Twenty-two looks like.

Turning 22 in 2015 probably makes me one of those whom you would call a “millennial.” I can’t even  begin to understand what that word means, let alone describe it. I guess in the age of social media and advancing technology, my generation is, for lack of a better word, obsessed with trivial things such as telling the world what’s on our minds, or turning our faces into dogs.

We (yes, I am including myself) love the whole 140-character sentences, the flat-laying, and the follows and the likes. Weird, I know. The only thing that I probably still have issues about would be the whole taking-a-million-photos-of-food-before-eating, which my friends and sisters have done enough of when eating out with me.

Sometimes, it gets a little too overwhelming that you would just like to cut yourself away from everything and just be free from all of it.

I’ve had my fair share of disconnecting and just going places without the thought of having to post something for the benefit of my newsfeed. But honestly, documentation is not so bad, especially if the mere purpose of it is to just give yourself memories to look back on.

I got this idea from one of my good friends who took a video every single day for a year and showed it to me. Its a 365-second video of the most random things but I saw how much it meant to her to see her past year in a short presentation.

I wanted to do it too but I didn’t really know when to start, or what I wanted to do with it. Last year I downloaded the app called One-Second-Everyday and just completely fell in love with it. It’s a collection of videos, pictures, and memories if every single day ever since I turned 22. It probably won’t make sense to every single person, but it’s good to share it with people I’ve spent time with this past year.

I’m pretty sure I won’t ever do it again. It’s tedious, annoying and sometimes I forget to do it and just settle with a before to bed clip, but now that I’m done, it feels great looking back at every day that happened, and I had a lot of fun doing it!

22nd. from LAD Films on Vimeo.

Thank you to every single person who helped me fill this little project! Hello 23!!❤️
xx Gizel

So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

I have now officially moved to an entirely different and completely far country; and this is not even a metaphor or something, I have had a few weeks to let it sink in but it has not actually happened yet.

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I’ve left quite a lot of things back home that I would very much have loved to have brought with me, and this list includes not just material things, but humans too, and if the thought of bringing them here with me would’ve been short of impossible, I’d like it if I could at least have had closure with them. I never said proper goodbyes to everyone I loved, I suck at goodbyes and I hate it. I’m trying to move on with my life. It is not an exact invitation to forget about the past, but it is somewhat convenient that you get through the process a thousand miles away.

And that “process” includes me being left here alone at home bingeing on Netflix re-watching Friends, because hey, how else could you cope being away from your actual friends and family?

This is, a “Friends”- themed narration of my exact feelings before and after I moved:

When I realized I was stuck in a place with people I don’t like and a job that I hate:
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Then I finally decided to grow some balls and left:

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And when work people tried to get me to stay:

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Then I saw myself back home doing exactly what I did when I decided to leave and find a job:

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Something is seriously wrong with me:

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Then I’m lost again going through the quarter-life crisis, having absolutely no idea what to do next…

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Then when news came about me finally getting to leave the country and starting out a new life with better opportunities:

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And then it finally sinks in:

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That you’re leaving..

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All you’ve ever known…

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And everyone you’ve ever loved…

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But you know that this next move is for you, and it’s gonna make everything okay.

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On the plus side, it’s a good way to start over.

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Then you get to the new place:

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But you’re all alone…

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And everything is new:

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And you start missing your friends:

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And you can’t find a right time to talk to them because of the freaking time difference

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And you see them making new friends:

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 But they call you, and you’re happy again, and you just miss them so much..

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And you know you’ll still have them no matter what

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So you don’t need to get scared about this next chapter.

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Because they’re just a call away..

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And well, all you have to do is face it head on.

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Get to know the place:

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Start fresh:

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Okay, actually START..

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  You’ll be okay.

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xx Gizel

Travel “Shoe-Selfies”

For some strange reason, I’ve acquired the strange habit of taking shoe-selfies.

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I have been doing it for quite some time now, and only recently have I figured out why exactly. I realized, that most of these “feet pictures” are usually taken in places where I felt that “calmness.” Like when you go to a certain place and you look at the view and think to yourself: “This is amazing, and I want to document it.”

But somehow, you’re too ashamed to take a photo of yourself in a public place, or in a somewhat weird position (i.e. backriding on a motorbike) so you tend to just look down at your feet and decide they’re more interesting than what surrounds you.

You subtly take a photo of your shoes as proof that you’ve set foot on that wonderful place (even though it doesn’t show anything much, aside from the ground you’re standing on) and walk away contented with what you took.

But as soon as I went through my cellphone and camera photos, I have no idea how to appreciate these pictures of the ground and my shoes. I don’t have a foot-fetish, so I don’t know why I’ve been keeping these pictures all this time.

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Somehow, I’ve found a purpose for these “shoe-selfies.”

I’ve always wanted to try and create a travel tradition. Like get something wherever I go to take home with me and keep as memorabilia. I used to collect rocks from places I had happy moments when I was a little kid. What can I say? I’m sentimental. But it didn’t work because they’re too bulky, and not everywhere I went to had rocks. Most of the places I had happy moments were indoors, plus, I keep forgetting where exactly I got those rocks from since I never really labeled them.

Instead of rocks, I decided another creative way of keeping memories from places I went to would be these shoe-selfies. However, because these photos obviously don’t show the actual places I went to, I made collages. Simple, yet effective.

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Orchard Central Mall Singapore

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Universal Studios Singapore

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On-the-Spot trip from Cadiz to Concepcion with my friends Anika and Rhaizza.

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For RJ’s birthday, we went from Dumaguete to Dauin.

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Mission to the recently disaster-struck Bohol that was ruined by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

I had a lot of travel experiences, mostly in beaches, but I figured 7 more pictures of my weird looking feet wearing slippers would be annoying.

A new tradition begins! Although I do realize, for this sort of collection, I’d probably need a bunch of new shoes.

xx

Gizel

NaBloPoMo November 2013

#BangonBohol

Four years ago, I went to Bohol for a field trip with all of my batch mates. Together, we experienced the beauty that the place, the culture, and the Boholanons had to share. I had a lot of first times in that place, and all of those experiences were amazing.

I got to eat lunch on a floating restaurant in Loboc. I saw the amazing Chocolate Hills, that up until then, I’ve only seen in books. I came close to touching a real life tarsier (although I never did because it wasn’t allowed then, and I was too scared to stress them out.) And, I made a wish in one of the oldest, and most beautiful churches in the country, the Baclayon Church.

That trip had some of the most incredible moments I’ve ever experienced, and I remember writing in my journal that I thought Bohol was one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Fast-forward to four years later, and I was suddenly woken up, because my bed was heavily being shaken. I kept thinking that I was probably just dreaming, so I just brushed it off, simply stretched and went back to sleep. By the time I woke up again, everything in my social media timeline and newsfeeds confirmed that it wasn’t just a dream. It was a 5.0 magnitude earthquake that shook our city, and worse, a 7.2 magnitude that destroyed Bohol.

My sister showed me a comparative before and after photo online of the Baclayon Church. The same church that I made a wish on a couple of years ago, where one of my prayers got answered. The “after” photo was devastating. I could never have imagined that the church would be ruined, just like that. So much history, so many moments, and memories, all just toppled to the ground. The church that stood since the 1500s finally met its end.

It was dark times for the city of Bohol. There were still a lot of unsafe aftershocks, landslides, deaths, and missing people. For a couple of days, those that survived had no electricity, no water, and no homes. But there will always be a silver lining in every darkness, and little by little, Bohol is slowly finding its light.

Gawad Kalinga immediately started the “Operation Walang Iwanan: Bohol” which translates to ‘nobody gets left behind’ and extended the meaning of it’s slogan to the disaster-struck city. GK Team Negros Occidental responded to the call of heroism by gathering hundreds of volunteers to donate, gather, and pack relief goods to be sent to Bohol.

The people of Negros Occidental overwhelmingly gathered a total of 1,750 relief packets and 73 boxes of bottled water, which were packed by more than 200 volunteers just a few days after the tragedy.

A couple of us volunteers decided to personally hand out these relief packs to Bohol, and see for ourselves how the place was coping with the calamity. I felt really excited and horrible at the same time about the thought of going there. The last time I went there, it was beautiful, but now, it’s a ruined city.

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As soon as we arrived, the place spared no warnings; everywhere you looked was damaged. Even those structures and roads that seemed capable of withstanding anything had the tiniest bits of cracks. Before you even got to the center of the city, you already knew how horrible the rest of it was going to be.

On our way to the school where we will be staying along with the other volunteers from GK, we saw all kinds of destroyed buildings, churches, roads, and houses. Most of the people there set up tents just outside their houses for fear that it would collapse when another aftershock strikes. I couldn’t even imagine not feeling the least bit of safety even in the confines of your own home.

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We met a few other volunteers from GK and a couple of locals who extended their help to the different volunteer teams. Some families opened their homes for us to at least have the comfort of using a bathroom. The mother of the household humbly said that it was their contribution, because they were very thankful that we were there to lend a hand. It was simply just people helping each other, breaking language barriers, and letting strangers in their homes simply because they knew that we all shared the same cause – we all wanted to help Bohol.

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In the middle of friendly conversation and getting to know the family, we experienced our first aftershock since we arrived. It was definitely a scary moment, one that I would never want to feel again. Their aftershocks are much stronger than the earthquakes we had in Bacolod. It wasn’t something you could simply just stretch from and go back to bed in. I finally understood how serious this mission was becoming. I can only imagine how the people who have been here since day 1 felt, when all those aftershocks kept coming in varied intervals and magnitudes.

As the day went on we went around to see more of the ruins and met even more locals. We talked to them about their experience during the earthquake and how they were doing after everything. We went to the mangroves and saw houses that were just a few feet away from completely being submerged underwater. The water level by the pier was alarmingly high, and the view of the mountain was destroyed. There was now a chunk of white dirt that covered the greenery, a proof of the continuing landslides. There was a village that cannot be found anymore because it was completely covered. Most of the people from there live in tents just outside the church grounds or in evacuation areas. Their stories were heartbreaking, but they were all just thankful they survived.

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Surprisingly though, the people of Bohol didn’t seem swayed by the calamity. Of course they were in mourning for the loss of their houses, and their loved ones, but talking to them just makes you realize just how strong these people were. Homeless, and still in danger, they still were welcoming enough to talk to us and show us around. The San Miguel Church that we went to was completely damaged; the roof collapsed in the center and all the walls and glass windows were piled up in the middle, only the front facade was still upright, and the people we talked to told us that it was lucky the mass had ended and everyone was already outside before the earthquake took place. Just behind it, they were already building a small chapel to accommodate them, for mass or prayers. Even in the most devastating calamities, these Filipinos will never lose their faith.

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I think that the reason why they seem so strong, positive despite the tragedy and determined to rebuild their city was because they knew that we are behind them every step of the way. Gawad Kalinga, a couple other organizations, and a lot more Filipinos are willing to help them and show them that definitely, nobody gets left behind.

We never got around to see the ruined tourist spots like the Chocolate Hills, and the Baclayon church, but I think it was easier that way because I can understand how heartbreaking it will be to see how ruined those beautiful places will be, but I still have hope in my heart for Bohol. The way I saw the willingness between the volunteers and the locals to unite in rebuilding the city, I know that it’s not long before Bohol will slowly begin to rise again.

The Boholanos are humble and grateful people. They deserve to be helped in anyway that they could. Maybe we could come back again, and this time bring with us even more volunteers, relief packs, water, and tents. They still need our help, and let’s show them what we believe in: Walang Iwanan!

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NaBloPoMo November 2013

Love in an Airport.

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

– Love Actually.

 

I on the other hand, found myself in the Manila Airport stuck, hungry, and bored, waiting for my six-hour delayed flight.

Nope, no visions of loving people waiting for their family member’s arrival to warm my heart. Just a couple of bored, complaining and hungry passengers who suffered the same fate as I did.

For some reason, my latest trip to Manila had caused me more money, time, hassle, and temper than all the other past trips I had combined.

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I have always been saying about how much I wanted to be a traveler. I want to be a backpacker, and just be able to get anywhere, anytime. I want to reach undiscovered places, and do things other cultures do, that’s why I was so excited about this one, because I get to fly home on my own.

I wanted to see how it was to actually do it, all alone.

When I checked-in and was told that my trip was going to be three-hours delayed, I was thinking: “Three-hours, what the hell, that’s okay, I could just wait here and read my book.”

But three hours turned to four and I already finished reading my book long before that. I found myself with absolutely nothing to do, and no one to talk to.

They kept announcing boardings and arrivals, four hours turned to five, to six, but still our flight was never mentioned.

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The thing with first times is, you never really know what to do.

So I sat there, listening to my music, never standing up to pee or bothering to grab the free food they were giving for the delayed-flight passengers. A lot of thoughts were running through my head.

“What if we won’t fly out tonight?”
“What if I can’t get back home?”
“What if somebody steals my stuff?”
“What if I fall asleep and miss my plane?” or worse,

“What if the plane already left, and I just didn’t hear the announcement?”

I familiarized myself with the feeling I get whenever I hear the bell for announcements, I was Hopeful. I wanted them so bad to announce MY flight, and every single time, I get disappointed because it would be something else entirely.

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So I did what I do best in situations where I’m feeling alone – I made up stories.

Everyone who sat around me were either soul mates waiting to meet each other, a couple traveling for the first time, two people switching similar bags which will lead to a series of ironic and hilarious events or probably old men waiting for their flight to come home to their granddaughter’s wedding.

I’m a closet-romantic rooting for everyone else’s happy ending, as you can probably tell by the stories I come up with.

The hours passed and the characters of my story (the random passengers around me) came and went. I occupied myself with imagining their back stories, making up their names, thinking of how their conversations would go, and hoping that they would at least glance at each other, but they never did. And it was okay. In the back of my mind, they were going to meet again.

I probably looked weird, laughing in my mind as to how the two strangers who sat on either side of me were going to see each other again, because in my mind it involved a lot of mud, and crazy yelling.

But it was fun, I was not as bored as  I was when I started.

The thing is, I didn’t see the “love” that was being talked about in the “Love Actually” monologue. There was no hugging and kissing, no romantic hellos and goodbyes. But I did see it – in my imagination.

I realized then that in the times when you feel so alone despite being surrounded by a lot of people, the one thing you’d try to find, will always be love. (even if it was just to humor yourself for the next two hours.)

I took this photo in Ilo-ilo International Airport

I took this photo in the Ilo-ilo International Airport.

Finally they announced for our boarding, and a lot of people around me started cheering and clapping. I checked my watch and saw that I have been sitting there in my spot for eight hours and a half.

That was probably one of the worst flight-experiences I’ve ever had, but, it might also be one of the best.

xx

Gizel