The Long Drive

Noelle and Marielle driving A lot of traveling is done in automobiles. Normally you only drive for an hour or two to reach your destination. (If it’s my sister driving, you’ll be there in an hour if it usually takes two. Ü) But if you’ve chosen to drive to some far-flung place because it’s cheaper than paying for plane fare, that butt-flattening ride had better be worth your time.

So how would you try to kill time on a trip that takes longer than one movie on your portable DVD player? (Put that Lord of the Rings Extended DVD box set away!)

One obvious answer is sleep. If you’re not the driver (Heaven forbid you take a nap on the job!), you’d try to get comfortable, reclining the passenger seat so you can lie back and take some Zzz’s. But of course there’s only so much sleep you can take on a bumpy ride, and take pity on your driver — he or she is bound to get bored stepping on gas and brake, gas and brake, gas and brake… Soon even your driver will be catching Zzz’s, and you wouldn’t want that!

passenger with the window down You can play some music. Not all of us are as lucky as Orlando Bloom’s character in Elizabethtown because Kirsten Dunst’s character recorded a timed road trip guide for him on several CD’s, but cars have sound systems for a reason, right? You could try tuning in to your favorite radio station (or the affiliate when you’ve driven too far to pick up the home station’s signal), or bring your own music on CD’s or iPods with FM transmitters or tape deck adaptors. What you do with that music is up to you, whether you prefer singing aloud to Kitchie Nadal or sit in reflective silence as you pretend to be serenaded by Richard Poon — or whatever your music preference is. Maybe you’d like to learn a language or have a book read out to you. Audiobooks are another way to while away your time on the road, and some can even be downloaded for free.

The best way to spend time on a long drive, however, is with worthwhile company. Nothing beats catching up with your friends on the latest in their lives, talking about other people, or just being silly during a game of “I Spy.” Personally there’s nothing I would rather take with me on a long road trip than good friends to share the time with.

How about you? How would you handle a long drive?

packed for a trip


If you’ve been following my Flickr photostream and have noticed a lot of travel photos uploaded within the last few hours, let me explain. Ü I’ve set up a travel blog on called Trippin’ with Noelle De Guzman. While I won’t stop posting here (because I’m more than just about travel), I’m putting all my travel posts in one place so that people who are interested in just that can find them easily. I will also be semi-mirroring those posts here, just to let you know I’ve updated the travel blog.


The first time I went to Vigan, it was just a pitstop on my way home from Laoag. We were there for all of 30 minutes, during which we just took photographs of Calle Crisologo, the most well-preserved street in Vigan showcasing vintage building facades.

Laoag with LAC: Sidetrip to Vigan

Last March 21 I had the opportunity to enjoy Vigan better with friends from church during our Holy Week road trip (we stayed in Baguio and made a day trip to Vigan). We came on Good Friday, making the long drive from Baguio through La Union and the various towns of Ilocos Sur. It was lunch time when we got there. I thought the shops would be closed, but Holy Week means big business for this tourist spot. We had lunch at Cafe Leona, chowing down on bagnet and pinakbet before walking down Calle Crisologo.

Vigan: Calle Crisologo

We had a lot of laughs taking photos at the souvenir and curiosity shops, but I think in part I can credit this to the sense of self-deprecating humor within our group.

Vigan: Tambay

Vigan: Whip It Good
Vigan: Shhh

Vigan: Oldskool Newskool

We even disovered a little treasure named Bernie, Vigan’s government dog. Such a cutie!

Vigan: Bernie the town dog

I would have been content to end there, but the group then decided to take kalesa rides to an old bell tower where scenes for the late Fernando Poe, Jr.’s Panday film had been shot.

Vigan: Kalesa Ride

As night began to fall, we savored our last photos and put our own spin on this landmark. Our only gripe about the road trip to Vigan is that it takes too long!

Vigan: Belltower

Vigan: Power Rangers?
Vigan: Belltower at Night

Macau in March

March 12: Marielle, my dad, and I flew to Macau to meet up with my mom, who had gone there with a medical contingent at the start of the week. On our first day we went to the Hotel Venetian (MASSIVE!) then explored the streets around our Hotel, the Lisboa. We had an uber-late dinner at the Wynn (Il Teatro) before heading off to bed. 

Macau Day One: Skyline
Macau Day One: Model of the Universe at the Venetian
Macau Day One: Wannabe Gondolier
Macau Day One: Lights at the Venetian
Macau Day One: Street at Night
Macau Day One: Near the Wynn
Macau Day One: Prosperity Tree at the Wynn

March 13: Lost in Macau! No, not really. Spent the morning and early part of the afternoon at Senado Square (Largo do Senado/Sun Ma Lo) shopping and eating. Then we visited the Ruins of St. Paul church and the nearby Museum of Macau and Fortress Garden. Met up with Mico Aguilar (who works as a chef at the Wynn) for coffee, then walked about the city at night.

Macau Day Two: Trying Not to Get Lost
Macau Day Two: Chinese Warrior
Macau Day Two: Portuguese Warrior
Macau Day Two: Mailbox
Macau Day Two: Riding the Cannon
Macau Day Two: A One-Gun Salute
Macau Day Two: Food!
Macau Day Two: Noodle Soup!
Macau Day Two: Grand Lisboa

March 14: New Yao Han shopping center (and Angela’s Cafe). Hoofed it to the Grand Prix and Wine Museum, then just across the street to the Golden Lotus in Full Bloom. Fisherman’s Wharf, then laptop shopping. And more shopping.

Macau Day Three: Grand Prix Museum
Macau Day Three: Fisherman's Wharf
Macau Day Three: Preserved Meats
Macau Day Three: Laptop Shopping

March 15: After a hearty breakfast in Macau, we took the ferry ride to Hong Kong and then took the MTR to HK Disneyland.

Disneyland Day: Breakfast in Macau at Cafe e Nata
Disneyland Day: Buying MTR Tickets
Disneyland Day: We're Here
Disneyland Day: Belle
Disneyland Day: Heavy!
Disneyland Day: To the Rescue
Disneyland Day: Popsicles
Disneyland Day: Hair Toss
Disneyland Day: Grumpy
Disneyland Day: Stitch!


I have loved LOLcats ever since I stumbled upon I Can Has Cheezburger last year while researching the O RLY? phenomenon.

Okay, backtracking a little if I haven’t lost you in the maze of Internet jargon… A LOLcat is a picture of an animal captioned with phrases written in a corrupted form of English called “LOLspeak” akin to baby talk (as if the animal were trying to speak English as a foreign language). Sometimes it doesn’t have to be a picture of an animal that gets captioned; in the case of LOLPilipinas, pictures of Filipino celebrities and famous personalities were captioned in reference to current events, to humorous effect.

Well, these days I find myself thinking in LOLspeak while going about everyday life…

pwease can i haz one LOL

LOL Luggage

My rabbit face. Lemme show u it.

Im in ur kitchun slicin ur wurmelon.

Krispy Kreme. This pleases me.

And now you know I spend too much time on the Internet. Ü


Going Portable

The main reason I bought my EEE PC is its portability. I can slide it into a handbag, travel on the MRT, and arrive safely at the LAC office with no one being the wiser as to my precious cargo. Ü I can also now bring it with me on my travels — I had it during my most recent trip to Boracay and was able to blog from the island using free WiFi networks.

That’s actually my favorite part about having my EEE: being able to use WiFi. Everyone knows I’m a big fan of Robinsons Malls because they offer free WiFi in certain areas within the malls. It’s not really enough to go crazy with downloads, but if you just want to check Facebook while sipping your Ice Blended drink at the Coffee Bean, it’s great!

Then last month our home desktop crashed, leaving us with nowhere to turn but our laptops (and sub-notebooks). We eventually got tired of having to share one single LAN cable, so yesterday my dad bought a wireless router and I set up a network here at home.

Now my sister and I can be online at the same time, and in our own rooms, or in the living room, or upstairs in the attic (which is where I’m writing this right now). It’s really convenient. All we have to worry about is getting so addicted that our mom has to message us over YM: “Dinner’s ready. Can you come down to the dining room now?”

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It’s been a week since I started teaching BODYJAM classes regularly, and I’ve really been feeling the physical load. Even though I also teach BODYBALANCE (and this has really helped me keep loose and injury-free), I’ve yet to adjust to the amount of exertion two Jam classes a day requires.

I’ve started using the steam room inside the Fitness First locker rooms. Teaching Jam takes a toll on the voice, particularly since a majority of the clubs don’t have microphones in their group exercise studios. After my shower, I duck into the steam to allow my strained vocal chords to relax in the moist heat. My other body parts also thank me for this, particularly my thighs and back, since the heat soothes them and I’m able to stretch them further.

Big Apple Express SpaBut sometimes, you have to ask someone to do the stretching for you. Just to take out the kinks in my body, I got a massage yesterday at Big Apple Express Spa in Robinsons Galleria. I never thought I needed them before I started working as a group exercise instructor, but in this line of work I’ve realized I’ve got to have them. Because treatments at Big Apple are priced reasonably (299 pesos for a one-hour full-body massage), I never feel like I’m splurging, and at the Galleria branch specifically I never feel like I’m wasting my money. I entered the treatment room with aching calves and thighs, a twinging lower back (which interestingly enough didn’t start from doing Jam and Balance), and a lot of stress. I exited feeling so much lighter and more free in my range of movement.

I’m going back into the group exercise grind today, but at least I know I’ve got somewhere to run when my muscles get all tied up. I think I’ll start doing this regularly.

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Now Airing: Gone FTW Laoag

Curious about what exactly went down during my trip to Laoag back in February?

Laoag with LAC: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Noelle, the writer, and Miche, the host

To find out, catch my latest Living Asia Channel project, Gone for the Weekend: Laoag. It’s airing on the following dates and times:

  • May 5: 7am, 8pm
  • May 6: 4am, 12pm, 5pm
  • May 7: 1am, 9am, 2pm, 10pm
  • May 8: 4am, 7pm
  • May 9: 3am, 11am, 4pm
  • May 10: 12am, 8am, 1pm, 9pm
  • May 11: 5am

Living Asia Channel is available on SkyCable and Home Cable (channel 99) and Global Destiny.

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A Change Will Do You Good

Les Mills launch season here in the Philippines is almost over, and all the clubs have changed over to the new releases for the next four weeks, at least.

Warrior II

BODYBALANCE release 40

we partied hard

BODYJAM release 44

A year ago I never imagined I would have two fantastic jobs — as a group exercise instructor, and as a writer. I never even thought that I’d have regular classes at this point. My main goal for last year was just to cover enough classes in BODYBALANCE to pay off my training fee. Starting next week I’ll have five Jam classes and three Balance classes under my name regularly.

  • Mondays: 6pm BODYBALANCE (Fairview), 8pm BODYJAM (Fairview)
  • Tuesdays: 8:30am BODYJAM (Metro East), 5:45pm BODYJAM (Eastwood), 7:45pm BODYBALANCE (Eastwood)
  • Wednesdays: 6:30am BODYJAM (Eastwood), 7:30am BODYBALANCE (Eastwood)
  • Fridays: 11am BODYJAM (Eastwood)

Last May I was about to resign from my 9-to-6 job, ready to pursue my dream of writing in the media. Little did I realize that my teaching at the gym, which I thought I’d do only on the side, would become what enables me to pursue my passion for traveling and writing. It’s the freedom of time (just one hour per class!) that allows me to head off to the Living Asia Channel office in Makati to do research, or attend pre-production meetings, or write scripts. It’s the financial structure (if you do more classes, you get paid accordingly) that allows me to work intensively for several weeks, then pack up and leave for a six-day trip with the channel.

Right now I just feel so thankful that God’s given me this lifestyle. I’m still trying to strike a balance between the two jobs, but every change that He’s brought into my life has always been for the better.