Born into a Catholic household, I grew up in the ways of Christianity and brought up in the traditions of such holidays as Lent. And being symbolic of the time when Jesus paid huge sacrifices, this 46-day period stretching from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is considered one of the most important holidays of the calendar. His sacrifices ranged from fasting and praying in the desert for 40 days and nights fending off the devil’s ceaseless taunts to his eventual crucifixion and death on the cross as payment for the sins of all.

As such, people have sought ways to gain closeness to God and atone for their sins in various forms of sacrifice. For some, this is in the form of fasting or giving up a particular vice (such as smoking) and sharing the money intended for these purposes to charity. But in a more extreme case, people in my home province have taken to self-flagellation (whipping one’s one body repeatedly with a whip or similar instrument) and even have themselves nailed on the cross in similar fashion to the methods of punishment in Jesus’ time.

While I do not consider myself a practicing Catholic (more Christian agnostic at that), I certainly agree that it is a good time to effect a personal renewal in one’s life. After all, that is why most business close down during the last days of Holy Week and everyone is given time off to enjoy with their loved ones.

However, there is no substitute for actually making good on your personal vow, without having to put yourself to such inhumane and possibly life-threatening situations. And for at least a few people, the vows are not so much as important as the spectacle created by the event itself.

Sounds a lot like many a New Year’s Resolution, doesn’t it?

There is truth to the saying that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. And while change in people is rarely an instantaneous thing, when done wholeheartedly, its effects are equally long-lasting.

For almost always, it is the little actions and thoughts that make the biggest changes in one’s life. And like so many of us, I am still getting there, minus the crucifixion.


The island resort of Magalawa offered a most scenic getaway for me and my loved ones. Need I say more?

Despite nursing some nasty sunburn and a sore foot from stepping on sharp rocks and what have you, the past Easter Weekend was a great time to bond with the family as we spent our dad’s birthday at Magalawa Island Resort, located off the coast of the town of Palauig, Zambales. But to carry out such a fulfilling epic weekend, some strategy and luck came into play.

Since my sisters, niece and nephew went to our grandfather’s place to spend Good Friday, I had to wait until the end of my shift the morning of Black Saturday to catch up with them. After leaving enough food and water for our pets as well as unplugging all unnecessary appliances, I locked the house up and managed to get a taxi right outside the gate to take me to the bus terminal. I was fortunate to get a bus leaving for San Fernando right when I arrived, and despite the build-up of traffic in the city, I arrived at SM Pampanga after only 45 minutes and took a quick tricycle ride from there to our grandfather’s place. While getting ready to leave, I managed to take a quick shower to refresh myself and we left before 9:00 AM.

As the travel time to the destination was going to take several hours, the convoy would instead meet up at a mall in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. We took a pleasant drive along the NLEX and SCTEX to Subic snapping pictures along the way, and arrived at the rendezvous point after another hour and a half. As we arrived ahead of the main convoy, we shopped for a few items and even had a nice brunch at a nearby restaurant. When the convoy consisting of the rest of the family arrived, we went shopping for some other items and filled up the petrol tanks before taking the long drive to the small town of Palauig, Zambales.

Upon arriving in the town, we took some narrow roads to the beach resort of Villa Raphael and settled down to rest and relaxation as well as a hearty late lunch. While my siblings and their kids took a swim at the nearby each, I played a few rounds of pool with one of my cousins before I dozed off from lack of sleep. I got up by evening and had some dinner while chatting with the family and went back to sleep as we had one more destination lined up for the epic weekend.

Early the next morning, we took a 30-minute boat ride to the island resort of Magalawa. Much like the island resort of Potipot several hours north, it greeted us with its white sand, lush coral reef and tree-shaded interior. We soon settled in and after dabbing generous amounts of sunblock, I took to the water along with the family. Although not as sweltering and humid as last year, the heat was still enough for me to stay in the water for much of the day with a brief spell for lunch. During that time, we found some very colorful starfish that we ended up posing many a picture with.

Later in the day, we decided to go snorkeling at the nearby coral reefs and found ourselves amazed by the vast stretches of coral that greeted us. Despite taking in a lot of sea water due to an ill-fitting snorkel and goggles, as well as suffering from some nasty cuts while hopping on to the special barge, I took in the sights and enjoyed myself as much as I could.

When the afternoon came, we found out that we were actually among the last bunch of visitors to leave the island. We endured a long wait before getting the last boat out and got packing at the mainland resort. A long trip back to Pampanga ensued, but not before stopping over at a nearby burger stand for a quick bite. We soon parted ways with the family, and we took the trip back to Manila facing traffic jams caused by accidents along the NLEX as well as nasty fits of drowsiness between me and my sister, the designated driver.

We arrived back in the city before Easter Sunday was over and due to being tired from the long trip back, we soon got some Z’s without so much as unpacking our things.

Just before we took the boat back to the mainland, we snapped some photos from our dying camera battery. This one features me, my siblings and cousins.

Despite the long trip and lack of sleep for most of the time during the Easter Weekend, the beach outing was proof that after the troubles that had plagued me recently, making love to the beach was the best thing I could do for myself.

After the heat and humidity of the beach, looks like another trip to Baguio is finally in the works for me. Quoting what I tweeted on my way to Zambales:

“Traveling along the SCTEX with the family and headed to the beach. Epic weekends are now back!”