Charmed

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Yesterday, I went to Binondo for a special reason. I was not in the area to enjoy sumptuous Chinese food because spoiler alert, I’m not a fan of Oriental cuisine. However, I do love to shop!

I reached Carriedo LRT1 station by lunchtime. Good thing I had a hearty brunch before this outing, so I was game to commute as there is no parking in the area.

It was impossible for me to be in the area without paying homage to the heritage street that is Escolta. I admired the bygone grandeur of the vintage buildings before proceeding to Binondo.

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The beautiful Carriedo Fountain greeted me as I reached the area fronting the Sta. Cruz Church. It was remarkable to notice that Manila is already cleaner and more organized under the newly-elected Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s mandate. I was able to cross the streets and walk along sidewalks with ease (compared to previous visits).

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My leisurely stroll then led me to the Chinatown Gold Center, where I was welcomed by several stalls selling Chinese gold jewelry! My agenda for the day was to buy classy yet affordable 24K piyao (good luck) charm bracelets for my mom and myself. I originally watched a vlog about Covo 24K Jewelry on Princess Mendoza’s channel, and I could not get the bracelets from this shop out of my head since. I linked the vlog episode at the end of this entry to provide you with more information on this store. (Also, this is not a sponsored post!)

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I chose a rose quartz bracelet for myself, and a black mantra one for my mom. The store is a goldmine (literally!) of dainty 24K charms, but I was already set on piyao ones to adorn our wrists. You can select the charms, beads or string for a bespoke bracelet or ring. Skilled artisans make each bracelet by hand while you wait.

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My bracelets were completed in 5 minutes. I am happy with my purchases, and the shop owners are accommodating. I will definitely be back, as they accept trade-in of 24K pieces. They also do re-stringing and bead replacement.

Do watch the linked video at the end of this post, and visit Covo Jewelry one of these days! They have handmade bracelets for every budget and taste. 24K is a timeless metal that goes well with everyone. I can’t wait to wear my own lucky bracelet everyday, and I’m sure that it will bring me love, fortune, and positivity!

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Intramuros Walk

Yesterday was day 2 of my Independence Day Intramuros solo tour. After biking through the streets of the Walled City, it was time for me to visit the historical sites on foot. 

I started with Fort Santiago.  

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Since I’m a Rizal fan, a visit to his shrine never gets old. 

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Then, it was back to exploring the fortress.  

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The Manila Cathedral had an open house which I couldn’t resist.  

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I was able to explore the choir loft, roof deck, and crypt. 

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Then, I visited the Desteleria Limtuaco Museum. It was my first time there and it was an enjoyable experience!

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They even have a tasting bar where one can try their house liquors for a minimal fee. 

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It was also my first time at the Baluarte De San Diego. 

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I also walked through and above the walls of the famed city. 

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It was a treat to visit the newly-opened Museo de Intramuros.  

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Bahay Tsinoy was worth going back to. Their life-sized dioramas were fascinating to learn from. 

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I ended my visit with coffee at the site of Padre Burgos’ old house, which is now a convenience store.  

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And the best part- I was able to hang on to a tranvia! 

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Life is great, if we find places to explore and discover! Sometimes, the best ones are nearby. We just have to show up and appreciate the opportunity to learn from historical places. 

Here’s to more walks along streets that have stories to tell! 

Bambiking at Intramuros

Yesterday, I had the chance to explore Intramuros after my meeting in Makati. I had the exciting opportunity to explore the walled city first by foot. 

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I planned to visit the walled city for Independence Day, but I decided that one day wasn’t enough to explore it. Day 1 was all about seeing the parts which I previously did not appreciate while I was in a car.  

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There were quite a number of interesting nooks and crannies to appreciate and photograph.  

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My tour became much better when I rented a bambike (bamboo bike) for one hour. I got to ride through narrow streets and busy sidewalks in Intramuros. 

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I got to have some cardio and have a better understanding of the historical markers scattered throughout the walled city. 

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My favorite moment was reaching the site of my favorite hero Jose Rizal’s former dormitory. 

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My visit ended at Bathala Bar, where I had avocado ice cream and Bayani Brew.  

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This was definitely much better than my previous visits to Intramuros as I got to appreciate it more as I was walking and on a bike. I’ll definitely be back!

Mentor and Manila

Yesterday, I dropped by UP to quickly print some documents for jobhunting.  

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Then, I met up with my college mentor Mitzie for some Thai noodle soup at Sen Lek. 

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We later had bubble coffee at Kape Tayo. It was good! 

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We then parted ways and I proceeded to Binondo for a meeting. But first, I passed by Escolta to admire the heritage buildings there.  

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I had an insightful meeting. I went home and received snail mail from The Pink Sisters Convent. 

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I also got my yarn orders from The Attic Yarn and Craftery.  

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And finally, I received a postcard from my good friend Nurai, who was on holiday at Cappadocia.  

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I am very lucky to have few but well-meaning friends. I even have sisters who constantly pray for me. And I have a mentor who still advises me to this day. Here’s to a wiser adulthood and better decisions ahead.  

Manila CPO Tour

Yesterday, I joined the Postal Heritage Operational Tour organized by the Royal Postal Heritage Guided Tour Group. I am a philatelist, and I am fond of activities organized by Pilipinas Philately, such as the stamp forum that I attended last year. This was why it’s not a struggle for me to wake up early on a Saturday morning to join a tour in Manila. 

I started my day by having taho for brekkie.  

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I rode the LRT, and in half an hour, I was greeted by old school downtown Manila.  

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It was my first time to cross the famous Jones Bridge on foot. I was so giddy during this moment as this was a focal point in the movie Last Night starring Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual.  

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After literally crossing the bridge, I reached the beautiful Manila Central Post Office.

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There were stamps for sale at the lobby during the event.  

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Again, I was delighted to be there because the central post office building was featured in the film Hintayan ng Langit starring Gina Pareño and Eddie Garcia.  

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Naturally, I gravitated towards Rizal stamps.  

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I crocheted while waiting for the lecture to begin. 

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We all received a welcome packet with some stamps! 

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And I was happy to see a model of the Murillo Velarde Map, whose original I saw in person last year. 

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I was especially drawn to the P.O. boxes as they had a classic vibe.  

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Look at these doors!

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This staircase is gorgeous. 

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After the lecture, we got to tour the post office and learn about the operations of the government agency. 

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It was lovely to be in the company of fellow philatelists.  

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Our last stop was the postshop, where we all got to purchase current stamps in circulation. 

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This is my haul. I got stamps that make me smile, such as valentine symbols and year of the pig stamps.  

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I had the time of my life at the tour and I am looking forward to more philatelic geekery in the future! I hope you can also join a post office tour in the future. Just look them up on Facebook for more details. It’s free, and I’m sure that you will also have a good time!

Sunday at San Miguel

Yesterday, I went to San Beda’s Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey. I was able to witness their morning prayer or lauds. It was beautiful. 

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Then, I walked to San Miguel Parish for the 8AM Sunday mass. 

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Since it was Epiphany, there was a blessing of calendars. I was able to have mine blessed, along with my scapular. 

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I dropped by St. Jude as this patron has been a blessing to me. I continued praying for my intentions.  

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I had Go! Salads’ Sgt. Steak wrap for lunch. 

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It was delicious and filling!

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It was best paired with their vanilla lemongrass tea.  

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I can’t get enough of churches because they are my physical link to the Lord. I also enjoy eating healthily because I would like to think that it helps with my overall well-being. I hope that I can contribute more for my family now that my father is terminally-ill. 

I hope that God is listening to my prayers for a job and continuous blessings for me and my family! 

Malacañang Museum Tour and Lecture

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the lecture on  The American Imperium in the Philippines in Text and Urban Design: The 1905 Report on Proposed Improvments in Manila by Prof. Ian Morley of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. It was held at the Malacañang Museum and Library. 

I started my day with a cuppa at Starbucks.  

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Then, it was time for the lecture and tour. It was my first time at the Malacañang Palace, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I also learned heaps from the lecture. Concepts like alterity and history as futurology were discussed, and I realized that how much we appreciate and value space depends on how we prioritize our well-being.  

I will let these photos speak for themselves, as I had a wonderful day. I hope that I will be able to return to Malacañang someday.  

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Faith and Fitness

Yesterday, I started my day with another workout at 6am. 

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I finally got the hang of waking up at 5am, so I can say that I have already adjusted to my plan to become a morning person. 

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I ate breakfast again at Tropical Hut, and I had their corned beef breakfast meal.  

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For lunch, I had the Salisbury steak with egg at Steak Break.  

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Then, it was time for my thanksgiving church tour! A favor which I have been praying for has recently been granted. For my first stop, I dropped by St. Joseph’s Shrine at Anonas, Quezon City.  

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Their giant statue of the sleeping St. Joseph always reminds me to stop worrying and lift it all up to God.  

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Next, I offered eggs at St. Clare Monastery.  

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I was able to spot my lucky number, 13! I queued at that platform number, because while I believe in God, I also think that creating my own luck is important. This blog has been an opportunity that I have created for myself. All the events, conferences, and offers which I have attended and received were because of my blog, and that is why I think that luck is merely claiming the chances which I have allowed to happen. 

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Then, I visited the National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus. 

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I viewed their collection of reliquaries.  

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And for last stop, I went to the Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey.  

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It is overwhelmingly beautiful.  

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For dinner, I had the limited edition herb and bacon pizza from S&R. 

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I enjoyed working out, eating well, sketching my food, and touring churches! I hope that I will continue to create more opportunities for myself in the coming days. For now, allow me to carry on with mindful living as I ease my way into the daily grind.  

Museum of A History of Ideas

I have always wanted to visit UP Manila’s Museum of a History of Ideas, and last Saturday, I finally got to do so!

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I was welcomed by a beautiful white building and lush greens. 

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The museum traces the early beginnings of the University of the Philippines, which ushered in the beginning of secular education. It also features the modernization of medicine in the country.  

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I love the clean design of the museum, and I also appreciate the continuity of theme in their souvenirs. I got this shirt to remind myself that ideas matter.  

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I also found the inclusion of greenery refreshing and inspiring.  

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Vintage medical equipment from the Philippine General Hospital are also found in the museum. 

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The light and airy building removed the morbidity. 

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I also got to watch a short video on the history of UP and PGH.  

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The museum may be small, but is was full of information, artifacts, and light.  

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There were also personal mementos from the first students of UP. 

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Ended my visit with some photos by the stunning displays.  

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I was glad to have made the trip to UP Manila for this museum experience. It was a breath of fresh air.  

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Quiapo Church

Would you believe that I only got to visit Quiapo Church last Saturday? I did so after my San Sebastián tour. Since Quiapo Church was a few blocks away, I decided to go for it.  

I passed by some old houses along Hidalgo Street, like this one. It is a contrast of old and new.  

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I found my way to Quiapo Church in no time. 

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I immediately felt the vibe of a thousand prayers. It was magical. 

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My short visit was worthwhile. I got to pray and reflect on the immense faith of the people who visit this popular church everyday. 

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This was my second basilica for the day, and it was wonderful to finally drop by this church of the people. 

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I had a simple lunch at Chowking Quiapo. My table was right beside this sidewalk vendor. I was humbled by the busy atmosphere and it was truly a memorable break from my usual weekend endeavors. 

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I hope that I will experience more meaningful new things this 2018! 

Metal Health

Last Saturday, I went on a tour at the San Sebastián Minor Basilica. As a heritage conservation advocate, I am constantly on the lookout for experiences which could enable me to witness restoration efforts first-hand. Since the church is undergoing extensive restoration, I joined the tour to help support the worthwhile endeavor. 

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This beautiful church is located in Quiapo, Manila. It is the first and only all-metal building in the Philippines. 

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It is important to help save the basilica as it is already a part of our history. 

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I was there early, so I got to roam around the church and warmed up to my beautiful surroundings.  

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I also bought merch from their souvenir tent. Proceeds from the sale of their Save San Sebastián merch go to the restoration fund.  

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There was no shortage of beauty in this metal wonder. 

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The lighting of the chandeliers signaled the beginning of our tour.  

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We began our tour by testing out the metallic surfaces on the church. I used my souvenir magnet, and yes, the basilica really is all-metal. 

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This is Ysabel. She is the one-woman restoration tour guide and tech person behind the cause.  

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I opened the doors and it was fascinating to see the church with awe. 

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Ysabel gave us a sense of place with vintage photographs from another era.  

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All the walls, columns, and ceiling panels were painted to conceal the rivets and metal parts. This church is a beautiful masterpiece in concealment.  

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The restoration is being undertaken by an international team of experts in their own fields.  

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As you can see, the paintings on the wall are fading fast. 

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They need to be restored using the latest techniques so that the grandeur of this basilica can be preserved and brought to life. 

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Our tour continued to the choir loft, where the best view of the house could be enjoyed. 

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I relaxed a bit on the pews and appreciated the majestic view. 

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The gothic architecture resonated with my steampunk leanings, I must admit. 

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We then proceeded to the upper levels, where the concealment ends. Here, the rivets are clearly visible, and the metal parts are bare. 

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Even the hidden upper levels are filled with unexpected beauty.  

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I found the upper part of the ceiling beautiful. It reminded me of a ship. 

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This is a sample of the restoration undertakings.  

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As you can see, rust is the enemy of a metal structure. This is why it is crucial that this gem gets restored stat.  

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The dome is a piece of beauty amidst the urban skyline.  

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I enjoyed this, and I highly recommend that you join one of their Saturday tours! It is a chance to appreciate history, architecture, engineering, and art all in one morning. Plus, you will help support the restoration as well. 

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Join the tour, take pictures, and experience Manila as it should be- with a renewed appreciation for our rich heritage. 

Kilometer Zero

Yesterday, I visited Kilometer Zero at Luneta. I got the idea from Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. Without providing spoilers, the protagonists had an important scene in their love story at Point Zero, which is the kilometer zero in Paris. Beyond the novel, Point Zero is still a hotspot for rituals involving luck and wish-making. As a result, I became eager to test this in our local Kilometer Zero located in front of my beloved Rizal’s final resting place

When I dropped by Luneta last Rizal Day, I was so moved by our late National Hero’s presence that I failed to notice that Kilometer Zero was literally in front of me. I only realized my oversight when I was already home. Thus, my determination to return to Kilometer Zero grew stronger during the week until I simply had to make the trip once and for all. So, after my workout, I took advantage of the traffic-free roads and made the commute to Luneta. 

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I was greeted by history. 

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I am very excited to visit this museum once it opens this May 2018.

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Of course, this never gets old. 

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A train named Pepe and Friends goes around Luneta for a minimal fee. 

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It was a beautiful morning.  

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This was morbidly gorgeous. 

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I was about to cross the street when I first spotted Kilometer Zero.  

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Finally, I made it!

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I took my first selfie at KM 0. 

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I wore another Rizal shirt for the occasion.  

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I felt a sense of peace and hope whilst standing at the beginning of all roads in the Philippines. 

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I just had to take another selfie with my homeboy Rizal. It felt good to see him again. 

I had a fruitful morning, and it was awesome to finally be at the beginning of everything geographically measured in the Philippines. I wished for all the best this 2018, and it was perfect to begin the year at KM 0. It was worth the commute!  

Do visit KM 0 at Luneta and make a wish or two! While you are there, take a brisk walk and appreciate history in the hallowed grounds. You will definitely enjoy your time.