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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Majestic Mayon Volcano in Legaspi, Albay!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Call it a lucky day! After a long wait, I finally have again spotted the world's nearly perfect cone - Mayon Volcano - as it stands majestically at 7,946 feet from the broad base about 10 kilometers in radius, in a bright clear day.I can't believe my eyes! Just last month, Mayon was shown in its fury, emitting deadly hot lava (yet attracting many tourist at the truly magnificent and unique scene especially at night!).

Despite a number of past visits to this beautiful scenery, the last time I was able to capture a clear shot of Mayon Volcano in its quiet grandeur like today was in May 1995 (during a visit with my friends Jenny, May and our Korean students).

So to savor the magnificent beauty of Mount Mayon at this lucky strike, I took pictures of this beauty from all angles - at the rooftop of Magayon Hotel (where we stayed for the night while in Legaspi), at Lignon Hill, 500 meters from Cagsawa Ruins, at Cagsawa Ruins and at the new Embarcadero.

at the rooftop of Magayon Hotel

Magayon Hotel (which in tagalog means "beautiful" hotel)is a four storey hotel a few minutes from the airport and about 5 minutes walk to the city center. Although the room we stayed at does not have a good view of the hotel (P700) while the one with a good view is at P1,200,we were told that we can go up to the rooftop and capture the Mayon in full view.

at Lignon Hill

Lignon Hill is located behind the Legaspi Airport Tower and it’s summit offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of the City of Legaspi, the Pacific ocean, nearby towns and islands, and of course the majestic Mayon Volcano. Entrance to the hill is free. After a 20 minute trek through the winding road (an uphill battle like the lyrics of Miley Cyrus "The Climb", a real treat awaits you!

500 meters from Cagsawa Ruins

From the main road, there is a good 500 meters walk where you can have a full view of Mayon on your way to the Cagsawa ruins. There is a boulder you can use as a platform for a trick photography at its best!

at Cagsawa Ruins

Cagsawa Ruins is the remnants of Cagsawa Church which was buried when Mount Mayon erupted on February 1, 1814 (exactly 196 years ago tomorrow!). It was the worst eruption.

at the new Embarcadero

The Embarcadero is a waterfront development located at the harbor area of Legaspi City adjacent to the alluring Kapuntukan Hill. It is one of the most anticipated developments in the city which opened last July 18, 2009.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tagaytay and Taal Vocano & Lake

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Been to Tagaytay almost hundredth times! It is no surprise. Because of its proximity to Manila, Tagaytay is always a part of every itinerary for my friends visiting Manila. But Tagaytay's distance of only 60 km / 37 miles south of Manila is not the only reason I choose it as a destination for my visitors.Tagaytay has the crisp, cool climate all year round, fresh grown fruits and a breathtaking panoramic views of the Taal Volcano nestled in Taal Lake, enough reasons the place is a MUST SEE for everyone.

Taal Volcano, which is reputed to be the world's smallest and yet most active, stands on its own island amid a landscape of ash and cinder. I have seen the volcano and the lake from Tagaytay's Picnic Groove, People's Park in the Sky,and Taal Vista Lodge Hotel. It is wonderful and magnificent!!

Picnic Groove

Tagaytay Picnic Grove is located just a few minutes away from the Tagaytay town proper. Inside its rolling land area, there is an overlooking view of the Taal Volcano and the coastal towns of Batangas.

People's Park in the Sky

For a magnificent view of the Taal Volcano and the nearby provinces of Laguna, People’s Park in the Sky, used to be called “Palace in the Sky” is a place to be! As an architectural project of former President Marcos, the park is built on top of Mt. Sungay, a highest point on the Tagaytay Ridge.

Taal Vista Lodge Hotel
For a spectacular views of the volcano without going into Tagaytay itself, you should get off bus near the Taal Vista Lodge Hotel.

Taal Crater

But if the spectacular views is not enough, and to be up close and personal with volcano and the lake, the jumping-off point is the small town of Talisay, Batangas. Last January 16, 2010, I finally made a headway to Talisay after two consecutive cancellation of our booked Taal Crater tours in September and November due to typhoons. Though, I still haven't gone to the crater (because the water was rough and the outrigger boat is not prepared to handle the waves!) to have a closer view from the shores is good enough for now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Acacia Ward Youth and Youth Leaders: A Reunion Two Decades After...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Part of an old adage by Natalie Evans says that
"every friend fills a different role xxx and having well chosen circle of friends is like having your own private round table. they are your support system, your lifeline to the world".


This was exactly what transpired at the Acacia Ward Youth and Youth Leaders Reunion after two decades that was held at the Max's Restaurant, Quezon City Circle last January 15, 2010. I was able to renew my ties, friendships and bonding with several different friends and youth leaders during my youth days over a private dinner table we reserved for that purpose. It was a blast!. Thanks to Roy Nicomedes and Issel Leon who have thought of the idea and have helped me organized the get-together. We were thrilled with the response, considering the short notice -Pert dela Cruz and Susie dela Cruz. Tagumpay and Andrea Flores. Lloyd and Cecille Flores. Honor Tyapon and Vivian Tyapon. Kaye Tyapon-Bay. Roy and Rita Nicomedes with their daughter Clarissa. Nida Bustamante Costales with 6 kids. Mommy Bustamante with 2 grand daughters. Joyce Yvette Flores.Henry Domingo. Issel Leon. Michael Anthony Ojeda and Amy Ojeda with 4 kids. Allan and Belenda Ojeda with 4 kids. Imee Ojeda with 2 daughters. Liezel Angeles and Dimet On with 4 kids. Myra Ranario and hubby. Nyhil Solomon and wifey.

We sang.

We played games.

We danced.

We talked (tsimis ba!!).

We laughed.

We renewed ties.

We got updated.

We revisited the past.

We enjoyed.

We took photos. Lots of lots of photos....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Photos on the Wall

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

They said that a woman can never have too many photos on the wall. It is evidently true for me basing on the latest changes I did in our living room. I feel glad looking at our family pictures, my lovable nieces and nephews and of course my prince!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Get-Together with Childhood Friends: Two Decades of Stories to Catch Up On

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

"Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold"

"Acacia Ward Friends: 20 Years Later" dinner get-together at Italianis resto in Eastwood was really a blast. Well, it was a decade only for most of them, but for me and my brothers who left Acacia Ward in 1990 (after being a member for 3 years), it was actually two decades of catching up. It was great to catch up with friends like Roy Nicomedes (who is now based in Perth, Australia), Issel Leon, Vergilio Alim, Nyhil Solomon and Lloyd Flores. Can't believe how time flies. But the memories of great times with them remained as vivid as it could get and so nice to reminisce and re-tell them!

This coming January 15, 2010, we are holding a reunion gathering at Max Fried Chicken at Quezon City Circle to include more friends in the circle! I'm really looking forward to the event! The venue is quite fitting because as the old adage by an unknown author goes "A circle is round it has no end, that's how long I want to be your friend!" Yes! I'm sure that the original Acacia Ward Youth and Youth leaders want to keep the friendship forever!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Recollection of My Visit to the LDS New Conference Center, SLC Utah A Decade Ago

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I was scanning pictures for a Photobook project for my bestfriend, Dearie, when I stumbled upon several pictures of my first ever US trip last August 29, 2000 that took me to Salt Lake City, Utah among other destinations.

While in Utah, I was able to attend the dedication of the Conference Center on October 8 during the 170th semiannual general conference.
The Conference Center, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the premier meeting hall for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church, popularly known as the "Mormon Church"). It is believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built.

Before the dedication, I was able to visit the Conference Center in September 2000 and have seen the interior of the 21,000 seat Conference Center which was completed in April 2000. There is a rostrum behind the pulpit facing the audience, which provides seating at general conference for 158 general authorities and general officers of the church and the 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The auditorium is large enough to hold two Boeing 747s inside. All seats in the audience have an unobstructed view of the pulpit because the balcony is held up by radial trusses.

The Conference Center has replaced the traditional use of the nearby Salt Lake Tabernacle, built in 1868, for semiannual LDS Church general conferences and major church gatherings, devotionals, and other events.

A visit to the Conference Center after that has always been included in my "things -to-do while in Salt lake City" - in December 2000 with the Mumford's family, in March 2001 with Kami Sebresos McMaster, in April 2001 General Conference with ate Dearie and some Filipino friends and later in year 2001 with Gigi Guerra.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: What a Year Has Been...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

As I bid farewell to 2009 and 2010 rolls in, I can only be thankful for the year that has been - a year filled with fantastic travels, exciting opportunities, strengthened family relationships, healthy lifestyles and wonderful memories! Of course, there are a few kinks and bumps and a close call toward the end of the year, but overall 2009 has been a good year for me!

Fantastic Travel. 2009 is a very good period for me in terms of relaxation and enjoying what I love to do - traveling for pleasures. Starting in February with a whole month trip to the five states of US - San Francisco, Boston, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (three of them being my first time to be in), to a mid-year trip to Australia to complete my goal of traveling the globe and wrapping up the year with a birthday trip in October with friends to Singapore and Malaysia, are all that it takes to call this year as the year for fantastic travels!

Exciting Opportunities. The results of my hard work seems to have paid off clearly in 2009. Stepping out of employment and starting my own Law Firm in June brought forth good and desired results - more relaxed environment while maintaining a fairly good income. As a managing partner I have opportunities to work from home, channeling my time to activities I love to do, having time with those I like to be with and improving my craft by continuing to learn new things. The year also shown itself to getting much help from people in responsible, influential positions and superiors - my bosses from the Office of General Counsel (OGC) - Asia, Michael Jensen and David Berrett to name a few, have been generous in sharing their craft and expertise which largely contributed to my professional improvement. I enjoyed the visits and personal interaction with my former boss from OGC-Asia Jim Pollock and his wife Bonnie in January and May as well as the visit of friends from Guam couple Perin and Tisa Collier also in January.

Strengthened Family, Social and Civic Relationships. A happy time with the family and pleasant functions with friends and professional circles is what 2009 is all about. My brother Allan and Belenda's family was sealed in June, a family reunion in April held at Edsa Shangrila (one of the most expensive and prestigious hotel) made possible by a winning gift certificates for a buffet dinner for 8 adults, a photo shoot for my parents 39th anniversary and a regular family home evening and fun times together has strengthened our family relationships and maintained peace, happiness and tranquility at home.

There were also happy occasions I organized or participated in which relates to my profession. I attended three important events of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society - General Conference in Harvard, Boston in February, Asia Pacific Conference in Hobart, Tasmania in July and First Year Anniversary of the Philippines Chapter in August have truly enlarged my professional circles.

I have also received invitations to auspicious functions of friends - being a host for the Ring Ceremony of my friend May and Eric Rogers in April, as one of the bridesmaids for a temple wedding of my friend Corinne and Junjun in May, and as a principal sponsor for the temple wedding of AC and Otep in December.
This year also I have experienced happy long tours to places of interest in the Philippines as a host for couch surfers from Paris (Nabil Mekouar) and Singapore (Maygalai) which allowed me to visit my birth place (Talisay, Camarines Norte) and reconnected and renewed friendships with my close friends whom I have not seen for a long time - Shirley Suanes Mangrobang (15 years ago) and Jean Palapala (5 years). I also met new friends and enjoyed travel with them with a few kinks in this section

Wonderful Memories. Being with my prince for three weeks in the US (Boston, New York New Jersey and Pennsylvania) is the most wonderful thing that happened to me in 2009. We celebrated Valentines together and I am thrilled. July of this year also marked our two - year anniversary as a couple.

Healthy Lifestyles.This year is a good period in relation to my health. With good diet, exercise and good food supplements brought about by USANA, I was out in the hospital for the whole year and hope that it will continue to be in the coming year. Of course I have some chest pains and at least two minor car accidents, but I am in the pink of health.

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New York - View from the Empire State Building

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Opera House - Sydney