Traveling through Films

I stand there, eye to eye, with the Great Sphinx of Giza as my feet imbibe the warmth of the sand. Afterwards, I put on my backpack to trek and get lost at the Grand Canyon. My unreliable sense of direction manages to find the way out to one of the stalls in Akihabara district in Tokyo, Japan.

mt damas tarlac lost rocks river hopping

I also got lost at Mt. Damas in Tarlac, Philippines. Photo by Karah Decapia.

How am I able to do all of these in just one sweep? I watch a movie, or a TV drama.

Production companies are like travel agencies, offering package tours to consumers, in the form of movies. A film is like a comprehensive tour, complete with transportation, accommodation, food, culture, music, art and most specially, story and experience.

Movies can also be considered the best tour bargains. Only a small portion of one’s salary is needed, plus it will not require full-blown leaves from work. More or less two hours is enough, unless one is catching films from Filipino director Lav Diaz, whose movies range from more than an hour to almost 9 hours of running time.

So sit back, relax and join me in this trip.

cine adarna university of the philippines

The old seats at the University of the Philippines Cine Adarna.

Business class or economy?

Seats and services depend on what movie we are seeing. Hollywood movies will always offer the finest cruise cabins of Titanic. The science fiction genre may even give us an exclusive cockpit tour to outer space, like in Gravity. Aladdin‘s magic carpet ride is also always available for those who seek Alice in Wonderland.

Upon arrival at our destination, there is always a choice between the local bus or a local taxi from our favorite crime film, and make a Pulp Fiction kind of confession. Who will not want a rickshaw ride with Bruce Lee from the Fist of Fury. Or we can try the Philippine kalesa from the historical film Jose Rizal, for a more nostalgic effect.

For accommodation, an independent film, may not be able to book us a first class hotel. But it can definitely remind us that there probably is “no place like home” just like the Cinemalaya 2005 Best Production Design winner, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros. And we can always lie down with Mother Earth, or even over a frozen body of water, like that star-watching scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

But for budget travelers like me, we can always experience luxury treatment, every once in a while, through movies. Biopics can always grant us a chance to sit on the royal throne from The King’s Speech. Political films may give us exclusive passes to the official Presidential residence like in White House Down. A movie adaptation, on the other hand, can guide us through the Hogwarts castle of Harry Potter.

After settling down in our choice of accommodation, it is now time to mingle with our destination.
Complimentary Gourmet Meals

Stomachs growling from the long journey? The national cinema can offer us the best food tripping experience, from gourmet cuisines to budget meals.

For the first course, we can have a Korean soup from Le Grand Chef. This appetizer also comes with a free historical discourse between Korea and Japan. Then we can try some Jiro Ono sushi to stimulate our palates and learn the culinary discipline from the full-length documentary about the first sushi chef to receive three Michelin stars.

For the main course, we can have satisfying Filipino dishes from the upcoming Cinemalaya 2016 entry Kusina by Cenon Obispo Palomares and David Corpuz. This film will feature how we Filipinos make our cooking special by using a secret ingredient called pagmamahal (love). For dessert, we can enjoy the enchanted sweets from a small French village in Chocolat.

After that, we can enjoy our to-go coffee, just like Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s while we search for some Hong Kong street food from Chungking Express. Then there is always the popular Filipino fertilized duck egg called balut which we can enjoy through Balut Country, an official entry to Sinag Maynila Film Festival 2015.

Exclusive Gig passes

Experiencing the culture of each destination is a must for every traveler. And every film is also somewhat a virtual recital of some of the famous and award-winning artists in the world.

The Star Wars saga will never be complete without the signature John Williams symphony. Hayao Miyazaki films will not feel as magical if not for the accompanying music of Joe Hisaishi. Polish music can also be appreciated through the movie The Pianist.

Films also feature actual artist performances, like that Madonna act on the 1985 film Vision Quest. Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There), an official entry to the 2012 Cinemalaya Film Festival, is an on-screen gig of Philippine indie rock musicians like Pedicab, The Strangeness, Flying Ipis, Ang Bandang Shirley and Ebe Dancel.

We can also tag along a whole European tour of one of Japan’s most promising bands today, ONE OK ROCK, through their full-length documentary, Fool Cool Rock.

There are also art gigs from Frida, showcasing Mexican art to the world. Still Life, on the other hand, another entry to Cinemalaya 2007, is a showcase of Filipino talent.

Free Counselling

When we travel, specially when we are alone, we discover a lot of new things about ourselves, as much as about our destinations. Traveling acts as our own personal psychologists, healing us every time we go out together.

Films also offer free life counseling, especially if we can relate to the stories of the protagonists. Ordinary People, the 1981 Academy Best Picture, features one of the most healing conversations of all time.

The drama series Hannibal also gives us an interesting relationship between therapist and patient.

Indeed, films have that ability to take us to our next destination, be it magical or realistic.

So while saving up for my next trip, let me enjoy some more films first, and use my imagination to go anywhere I want.

hong kong avenue of stars director

“So, Direk, what’s our next film?” At the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong. Photo by Mai Calapardo.

Missing KL and SG

It had been a year now since I took the multi-cultural photographs of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Malaysia National Mosque

Inside the National Mosque of Malaysia.

As I wrote in the Travel section of the 2015 First Quarter issue of The Electrical Engineer magazine:

On the far corners of a photograph are limestone caves beautifully lit by the rising sun. A towering minaret and the statue of Hindu god, Murugan, compete with Petronas over the horizon. An enormous Buddhist temple oversees Chinatown, where the Merlion statue stands proudly. A jam-packed train passes by, filled with Malays, Indians, Chinese and Muslims braving the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore rush hours.

With its wide range of destinations both for the city-dwellers and the nature-trippers, Malaysia and Singapore are few of those nations which can extract the most multi-cultural photographs out of a traveler’s camera.

Get to know these destinations in a free copy of the magazine in this link:

The Electrical Engineer is the official magazine of the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. My article is at page 24.

I also wrote a different story of that trip here at Baggage Counter. 

That night, while roaming around Kuala Lumpur Chinatown searching for good food, I thought I found another Pinoy when someone shouted “Maganda (Beautiful)”. When I looked around, he was an Indian and offered me some Malaysian souvenirs after confirming that I was a Filipina. These Indians sure knew how to make a Pinay smile.

You can read the full blog post in this link.

Enjoy reading! 🙂

Fireflies: Reminiscing Kenshin and Kaoru

Puerto Princesa, Palawan is not just about the beaches. Situated about less than an hour from the heart of the city is a kingdom of bioluminescent insects in a place called Iwahig.

And to update my post about it, which I originally wrote in 2014, the Kenshin-Kaoru firefly scene has been slashed from the live-action movie of Rurouni Kenshin. For those who are interested to read my review of Kyoto Inferno, you can access it in this link.

iwahig river fireflies puerto princesa palawa philippines

A wall decor at the headquarters of Iwahig River. Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

The Viewfinder

Article 2 of the Palawan Chronicles

Palawan Day 1: Iwahig Fireflies

It was 4:00 in the afternoon. After deciding to stay in Puerto Princesa for the night, Nessa and I checked in at a lodge near the airport and walked around the area.

We met a trike driver who offered a price lower than the normal rates of Puerto Princesa tours. So we decided to take the firefly watching tour.

Iwahig was a long drive from the center of the city. And we became feast to the hungry mosquitoes when we came to Iwahig River.

Photo by Nessa Gabrillo Photo by Nessa Gabrillo

There was a fee of 600 for boat rental, which can accommodate 3 people.

And our tour started, this tour of firsts.

It was my first time to ride a katig boat so I was a bit nervous. It was this narrow boat with wooden balances at the sides, known as…

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The Red Dot Airline: A Blessing in Disguise

As I am patiently waiting for my next trip, let me share to you once again the series of posts I made during our Palawan trip. I already shared one a few days ago. I now present to you Article 1 of 7.

The Viewfinder

Article 1 of the Palawan Chronicles

Palawan Day 1: Puerto Prinsesa

Sleep. Even on a vacation, I am in need of sleep.

I ended the Christmas Day of 2013 with a nap at 11:30 in the evening. I woke up at 1:00 in the morning of the 26th to prepare for my trip from Bataan to Manila. At 2:00, my uncle brought me and a cousin to the bus terminal. And by 2:30, the bus was driving to the city while everybody was asleep.

And surprisingly, I was able to reach Munoz, Quezon City at 4:00 in the morning. And at 4:30, I safely returned to my apartment in Novaliches.

I packed my bags and by 7:00 I was already on my way to the airport. At 7:45 in the morning, I was battling with myself if the exaggeratedly long line in MRT North Avenue could get me any nearer…

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A Song for my Darling Serenity

It’s Throwback Thursday! And now that I am itching for my next travel, let me bring you once again to a kingdom of ultimate serenity, Palawan.

The Viewfinder

Article 7 of the Palawan Chronicles: Last Article

DISCLAIMER: I recommend listening to the song “Cool Change” while reading this to gain maximum serenity.

And this exhibit launches in 5, 4, 3, 2…. .

If there’s one thing in my life that’s missing


It’s the time that I spend alone


Sailing on the cool

And bright clear water


Lots of those friendly people


They’re showing me ways to go


And I never want to lose their inspiration


I was born in the sign of water


And it’s there that I feel my best


It’s kind of a special feeling


When you’re out on the sea alone


Or Sun? Or Sun?

Staring at the full moon like a lover


Time for a cool change


I know that it’s time for a cool change


Now that my life…

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Hong Kong and the Lost Tripod

Still can’t get enough of Hong Kong? Here is one of my very first blog posts, detailing how my friend’s tripod got lost in our first trip abroad.

hong kong disneyland

The Magical Disneyland castle.

The Viewfinder

It was the time when one of the major airport terminals in the Philippines was disturbed by a royal rumble between a celebrity couple and a veteran media man.  According to reports, it all started with the unannounced offloading of the couple’s luggage from their overloaded plane.  Still according to  reports, there were also no CCTV cameras installed in the baggage conveyor area of the airport, making it impossible to check on the actual happenings.

Unfortunately, our flight to Hong Kong was booked in the same airline.  But fortunately, we weren’t in the same airport.

It was the wee hours of May 26 when Mai, Jombits, Ami, Sheig and I, arrived at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Angeles City, Pampanga.

diosdado macapagal international airport clark angeles pampanga

Except for Sheig, this was our first trip abroad and we initially did not plan to check-in any baggage as we are in backpack mode, and also to…

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HONG KONG: A Reblog from Hacking Travel Asia

Chi Lin Nunnery, Diamond Hill, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

My Hong Kong travel secrets finally revealed at Hacking Travel Asia. Here is a reblog from their site.

Asia: Korea Vietnam Indonesia Thailand Taiwan Etc

Sheen Irerick Seeckts Shares Insider Secrets of Hong Kong for Expo Printing Co.

Twitter: @SheenSeeckts |

Blog about this page and Facebook it so people will find it and love you!

Amidst its seemingly-expensive and highly-urbanized streets, Hong Kong also offers a night life fit for tourists on a tight budget.

From four in the afternoon to twelve midnight, Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok, Kowloon is closed to all traffic to give way to the “Ladies’ Market.” The place is a shopping haven not only for ladies but for gentlemen as well. All sorts of items can be found in the area: clothes, accessories, bags, shoes, various souvenirs and even toys. You name it, they have it here.

There are actually a bunch of stores selling the same items so shopping here also means using your Sherlock skills to find the right item and the right bargain for…

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WALANG FOREVER: The CMC Transformation

The concept behind the word “forevermore” had been circulating online, and even in casual conversations, after a TV drama of the same title topped the primetime charts. Suddenly, everybody was asking, “may forever ba? (Does ‘forever’ exist?)”

A recent visit to my beloved alma mater, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (CMC) made me exclaim, “Walang forever. (There is no forever).”

I left the college in 2010. And the five long years that passed created stunning changes to our beloved Maskom.

Surely, the alumni would be surprised upon seeing the new facade.

University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication

Through the years.

The old facade was a blue wall, complete with all the traces of the past years.

These marks were gone now, and were covered with new stone tiles, bearing the logo of the college.

During my time, this part of the building was closed. And this veranda was used as a hangout place of a student organization.

Now, the entrance in the facade area is fully operational.

Inside the main building, the U.P. Gawad Plaridel Gallery is still at the lobby, bearing the portraits of the recipients of the award. The Gawad Plaridel is granted to people who showed exemplary public service in the fields of film, radio, television, and print.

The Administration Office nearby was basically the same except for some accents. A water station was also set up at the opposite side.

The opposite corridor going to the photocopy area, complete with the gate, continued to be a favorite subject among black and white photography students.

University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication

Main building corridor.

Artworks now lined the walls. The AV Library and the TV Room swapped places. The lockers and the benches were also out of the place. But the photocopy area was still there.

Going upstairs, the Broadcast and Journalism departments were still on their rightful places. The latter was even given a Certificate of Excellence by the Commission on Higher Education.

The corridor on the other side of the second floor was also lined by artworks now.

A photograph of Gilda Coronel was also prominent beside the Ladies’ Room.

Going further, the skywalk, which is the connecting pathway between the Main building and the Annex building, now had tables and chairs.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.


At the second floor of the Annex building, the Communication Research Department had also adapted some glass doors.

Opposite Comm Res was the new look of the library.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

CMC Library.

Downstairs, the alumni would be welcomed by more portraits of the more recent Gawad Plaridel awardees. Computers also lined up the old “Film” lobby.

And going left from the stairs would not lead anyone to the Film department anymore. The area was now an extension of the library.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

The area beside the A-107 room is now a part of the library.

Opposite this was still the Graduate Studies Department, with the new steel name on the wall.

Outside, the alumni could not help but be awestruck by the new landscape.

lawn copy

The old parking lot was now lined with grass and a lot of plants.

At the far end of the area was the new canteen called the M Cafe.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

The new CMC canteen.

There was still the ramp going to the basement. The dirty bluish green paint was now an artistic representation of the College’s battlecry, “Midyang Malaya at Mapagpalaya (A free and liberating Media)”.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

The ramp.

The basement itself was also a whole new entity now. Artworks also lined the walls on this part of the college. The end part now had tables and chairs where students could hold their meetings. The door at this side was also operational now.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

The new basement

At the far end of the CMC compound was the Media Center, the newest building of the college. It finished its construction just before my graduation in 2010. And that was also the time when the Film Department started transferring to its new home.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

The old movie posters lining up the walls of the basement were transferred to the Media Center.

The new building was equipped with more facilities, like the new Dark Room, since then. The Film Institute’s name was placed at the facade. Tables and chairs were provided for student use. Water stations were also everywhere now.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

At the facade of the Media Center. Taken in 2013.

But of all these changes, what surprised me the most were the parking lots. The one in Media Center and the one in front of the Main Building were all filled with cars, even on a Saturday. And these were not just cars, these were expensive cars.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Communication.

All these cars.

And this was not evident only in Maskom but in other colleges in U.P. as well.

During my time, the main parking lot hardly had this much vehicles.

Even the curriculums, especially in Film, changed.

With all these transformations, the college was a living example that change, truly, was the only constant thing in this world. And this statement alone already negated the concept of forever.

But I still wanted to believe that forever would exist in two aspects of Maskom, and the whole of U.P. as well.

First was the oath to excellence. All these transformations could take place as long as quality education remains, forever.

Second, I wish that U.P. could forever be a State University for the masses. But it seemed like this statement alone had already been negated by reality.

University of the Philippines. College of Mass Comuunication.

So U.P. was it all about “paying it forward”?

So tell me, does forever really exist?

The College of Mass Communication sure was now ready for its Golden Jubilee Homecoming happening on the 19th of June. The event entitled “CMC @ Fifty Shades of Great” will celebrate it’s 50 excellent years at F1 Hotel Manila, 32nd street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For more information visit the official event page at .



2010 photos were taken during my graduation day. Photos were by Sheen Irerick Seeckts, Jerson Guiwa, Nessa Gabrillo and Jay Jomar Quintos.


Lazada Philippines

Travel Secrets: Hong Kong


An apartment in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Disneyland? Victoria Peak? Lantau Island? Are you tired of the usual tourist destinations? Are you the explorer type of person who is fond of the “road less traveled”?

I shared some hot and top-secret destinations in Hong Kong in Hacking Travel Asia.

Plus know a place that resembles some of the locations of Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express!

And learn a destination where you can watch Hong Kong classic films from renowned directors!

Only on Hacking Travel Asia!