A night at Canyon Cove

Trying my hand at a little travel blogging here. Why not?

See, the past weekend had been epic. Me and the girls finally had our little end-of-summer vacation, a one-night stay at Canyon Cove Hotel & Spa, a beachfront resort in Nasugbu, Batangas. It was memorable because it was the kiddo’s first experience with the ocean, and mine as well, admittedly, after over a decade of daydreaming about it. Yes, in the day and age of “piso fares” and cheap travel packages, it took me that long to drag myself to the beach. Sue me!

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Anyway, we arrived at Canyon Cove on a cloudy Sunday afternoon after a hassle-free commute by bus from Pasay City. There was a small crowd at the lobby — families checking in and checking out. We fell in line. We had pre-booked the whole thing so it was just a matter of confirming it at the admission desk. While waiting for our key card we decided to have our late lunch at Island Cafe, the place’s in-house resto. There are online reviews out there complaining about how overpriced the food in Canyon Cove is. Bullcrap, I thought. At least at Island Cafe, the price was reasonable, not very different from what you’ll pay at Savory or Max’s or Gerry’s Grill. Food was not bad, also. The only overpriced thing there was the mineral water: P40 for a bottle that was worth less than P20 outside. But that’s from the popcorn stall near the pool.

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We stayed at a Superior Room, which was ideal for two adults and up to two kids aged 12 years and below. Priced at P5,800 a night, it was a fine room, with two beds, AC system, cable TV, a functioning refrigerator, and a balcony overlooking the beach where you can sit at night listening to the waves and crickets and staring at the lights of faraway towns.

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After a couple of minutes of resting and soaking up our room, we were off running to the pool, and then later on, the beach. It was unfortunate that low-lying rain clouds robbed us of a sunset view, but at least it didn’t rain like in the past few days. That’d certainly kill the magic. Also, we’d look stupid enjoying the pool and the ocean under a downpour.

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We enjoyed the water so much that crickets were already singing in their clandestine hideaways when we emerged from it. Dinner, a little bonding time at the balcony with the lights out to heighten the mood, and then, finally, bed.

Morning: complimentary breakfast, then back to the water. We only had until noon to enjoy the place, so we didn’t waste time. For some reason, the waves were bigger this time. My seven-year-old daughter enjoyed getting whipped by it. Seeing her having the time of her life as she rolled and tumbled with the surf filled me with so much joy that I wished our vacation would never end. Or at least not yet.

But then noon came and so was the inevitable: time go home.

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Changing seasons blues

Slept past 3 a.m. last night monitoring the ugly goings-on in Marawi City, a southern Philippine city besieged by armed supporters of ISIS, and now I’m feeling it. I’m drinking Cobra Energy Drink with hopes that it will sustain me for the day’s nine-hour grind. Now that martial law has been declared in Mindanao, I see a long, busy shift. It doesn’t help that it was raining when I left the house this morning. Can’t help but feel dead.

With June around the corner, so is the rainy season, and with it, the blues.

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I’ve never been fond of June. It’s the month when school opens here in the Philippines. And since my student life had been anything but happy (generally speaking), June was naturally a difficult month to deal with. I remember every time May rolled in, I’d start to have this sick feeling in my gut like everything was about to come to a tragic end. As June approached, friends and family would note my long bouts of silence, and would question why I seem to sigh a lot. For some reason, more than a decade after finishing school, rains in May still have that power to bring back that kind of weird despondency in me, and I’m helpless to shake it off. To nurse it, I listen to Owen’s At Home with Owen or Tom Waits’ Closing Time. I figure if you can’t beat it, at least give it a nice soundtrack.

Okay. Back to the grind…

The weekend that was (5-22-17)

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I used to do this on my previous blogs — a weekly lowdown on how my weekend went. Aside from the joy of doing it, it also allows me to keep track on the many homebody stuff I’m always juggling — the books and comics I’m reading, the TV series I’m following, the movies I’m watching. It also allows me to assess how cool or lame that specific two-day break from work had been. As much as possible, I write it on a Monday, when the memory is still fresh, and the aftertaste, foul or otherwise, still lingers.

So, without further ado…

Saturday

  • Woke up, thought of biking, realized I slept past 3 a.m. last night, went back to sleep instead
  • Accompanied the girls to the mall – they went to the salon, I to the toy store
  • Caught a portion of Hi5’s mall performance (daughter not interested as she was not familiar with the new batch — no more Lauren Brant!)
  • Bought Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats from the dullest National Bookstore branch in the world (no graphic novels!)
  • Tried sprucing up the garden until twilight made it hard for me to see anything
  • Watched Episode 4 of Fargo Season 3Would’ve gone for Episode 5 but by that time it was already late and my eyes were already heavy

Sunday

  • House chores galore (me at war with nasty floor stains) while listening to 90’s rock (Silverchair, The Nixons, Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam, Singles OST)
  • Shave + haircut (learned that my barber’s younger brother was one of the three Air Force soldiers who died in a chopper crash in Tanay, Rizal, two weeks ago)
  • Finished reading The Trenchcoat Brigade
  • Read a couple of pages of Ioann Grillo’s El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency
  • Grocery
  • Pampered ourselves with an hour of Swedish massage
  • Watched Episode 3 of American Gods

And now it’s Monday, a bit cloudy outside, the air smelling of rain, and I hope this workweek will be a fast one. Unless something crazy happens, like the world going kaput, me and the girls will be beachfront next weekend.

Chris Cornell, 1964 – 2017

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Almost 24 hours have gone by and I am still reeling from yesterday’s bad news. It was sad to learn about Chris Cornell’s death at age 52, but to find out later that it was a case of suicide was just plane depressing. Jesus! What is it with these Seattle grunge vocalists and tragic death? Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley… and now Cornell. (Scott Weiland too, although he’s from San Diego.) Someone should ensure Eddie Vedder is sane and sober 24/7…

Almost 24 have gone by and my Facebook wall is still a virtual Chris Cornell memory altar. Pictures, videos, news reports. Here and there are personal tributes. Powerful one-liners about pain and loss, about music and legacy. Outsiders will never understand, but this is something personal, not only to us 90s kids but to others as well who, in one way or another, were touched by Chris Cornell’s music.

What can I say? Depression is a bitch. If only we can save our heroes the same way they save us through their arts.

My two cents: Assassin’s Creed

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It was a Saturday night and I had two choices: I could either watch Alien: Covenant in a nearby mall, or stay at home and check out one of the dozens of movies waiting to be watched in my laptop. A check on my wallet (it was the weekend before payday) made me ditch the first option. Hence, Assassin’s Creed.

I know. Assassin’s Creed over Alien: Covenant? Sue me.

Films based on video games seem to me to be a losing proposition. Outside of hardcore gamers and bored bloggers on Saturday night, I can’t think of anybody who has more than a passing interest in them. Oftentimes also, these films get thrashed by critics. Though I find Assassin’s Creed — about a street thug who, with the help of modern technology, lives out the life of his assassin ancestor to fight an ancient war — quite enjoyable, in a genre that is difficult to take seriously, that’s not saying much.

But I got to give it to director Justin Kurzel, Michael Fassbender (who is also among the producers), and Marion Cotillard. Even on a small screen, I couldn’t help but feel the enthusiasm of these three in proving the naysayers of the genre wrong, or at least make Assassin’s Creed stand above the herd of bleeding epic failures. Their heart made the film kind of work. Emphasis on “kind of,” because in the end, even if it’s fun to look at, I don’t think Assassin’s Creed is enough to break the mold of video game movies.