The Analogue Life: Intro to Traveler’s Notebook & Hobonichi for Noobs Like Me


Hello, dear stranger! How’s the new year shaping up so far? Mine was a mixed bag, but all things considered, it is still a pretty good one. As usual, I have a lot of plans and goals for this year – from finishing my TBR (to be read) pile to saving enough money to finance a long overdue trip (so help me god) – and helping me see through them all are my planners for 2018. 🙂

Just so you know, I have a longstanding obsession with stationery ever since I was a little girl. I was the one who always had a pen in hand and, when I was in grade school, I always kept a stash of cute stationery pads (with scents!) which I use to write to my friends during Christmas. I would even regularly visit a classmate’s house several blocks away from home just to swap stationeries! Thus, it’s only a natural progression for me to eventually turn my attention to diaries, planners, journals, and the like. I have been religiously using planners since I was in college and it’s a time-honored ritual for me during the last quarter of the year to choose the new one I’m going to use come January.

For 2017, my planner of choice was the Starbucks Mermaid planner which I got with the help of some spare stickers from my friends. 😛 I immediately fell in love with it – it was compact enough to be brought everywhere but had ample writing space for my messy computations and my list of everyday tasks. It was a cherished planner and now that I have locked it away, I can’t help but feel a little separation anxiety.

This year, though, I finally made the big leap and pursued my longtime dream of having both a Traveler’s Notebook (TN) and a Hobonichi Techo. I’ve been eyeing these two notebooks since 2015 when I first saw them from artists I’ve been following on Instagram and I can’t help falling in love with them as well – even from afar. At first, I was debating which one to get because they are not exactly cheap and I thought that it would be a waste of money if I’m just going to write the same things. However, my desire to use them overpowered whatever hesitations I had so I ended up buying both. I assigned the Traveler’s Notebook as my work planner and the Hobonichi as my daily journal to justify these wallet-denting purchases. 😛

Fortunately, the notebooks more than lived up to their reputation online. I love the TN for its soft leather cover that has so much personality as well as its overall versatility. On the other hand, I really love the tomoe river paper of the Hobonichi – it’s so thin but it holds inks quite well. And because I got the A6, I also love the Hobonichi’s portability; it fits my shoulder bag really well.

I’m more than happy to share with you what the TN and Hobonichi are all about. I put out this guide because I know how researching about these notebooks may seem “overwhelming” at first because people who usually put out guides are so crazy talented and artsy that you might feel pressured to do exactly the same thing. I know because I’ve been there. And sometimes I still think that way but I’m slowly easing into my own style and I’m liking it so much better now. Don’t be discouraged, noob. We’re all in this together.

Traveler’s Notebook


The Traveler’s Company Notebook – or Midori Traveler’s Notebook – features a leather cover and notebook refills that you can customize according to your needs. Its simplicity is the key to its design; you can use it for any purpose – whether as an art journal, a work notebook, an ephemera holder, or an all-in-one planner. How it will be used is really up to you.

The notebook comes in two sizes – the regular size and the passport size. I bought the regular one because I’m used to writing in bigger notebooks. Usually, a person who wishes to buy a Traveler’s Notebook gets the Starter Set which contains only one notebook insert (a blank). However, every last quarter of the year, Traveler’s Company releases the diary version of their notebooks. You can choose between a Monthly, a Weekly Horizontal, or a Weekly Vertical Diary. I chose the Weekly Horizontal because this is the format I am most used to for my planners.


This is the leather cover of the notebook. As you may have noticed, it has a lot of scratches and marks. This is normal. The Traveler’s Notebook uses a cut cow leather treated with vegetable tannin. The leather is not processed extensively to retain a natural feel. In time, the color will darken and the scratches will somehow fade along with it. The leather cover is available in four colors – black, brown, camel, and olive (special edition for regular size). An elastic band is threaded through the cover to secure your notebook.


Inside the leather cover, you’ll see two more elastic bands in the middle. This is where you’ll slip your notebook inserts. Aside from that, you’ll also find a long thread that serves as a bookmark.


By the way, if you bought their diary version you’ll receive this booklet and a free sticker.


It will also come with a free elastic band in case the one that’s currently installed in your notebook snaps. (It does happen especially when your notebook gets too thick because of all the inserts in it.) I can’t tell you how to install it yet, though, because my elastic band is holding up so far. 🙂 Just make sure to stretch the bands well before using to loosen up the rubber a bit.


The magic happens here in the “refills” or “inserts.” The Traveler’s Company makes various notebooks, inserts and accessories to fit your every need. For the full list, check here.

Since I’m going to use my TN primarily as a work planner, these are the inserts I bought:


Monthly Grid – This helps me give a month’s overview of all the important tasks I need to finish and events I have to remember. I bought the 2018 Monthly Diary insert that’s why the dates are indicated. It usually starts in December of the previous year and ends with January of the next year. Aside from that, it has a world map and a few blank pages on the back.


Weekly Planner – This is where the bulk of my planning is concentrated. Here, I write my to-do list for each day, some notes from work, my thoughts, a breakdown of my day, and my trackers – everything, basically. When you buy their weekly planner for the year, you’ll get two inserts; the first insert is from January to June, while the second insert is from July to December.


Grid Insert – I use this to track my expenses. This insert runs out fast (I don’t know why) so better secure it if you’re lucky enough to find one.


Blank Insert – This is basically what you’ll get when you buy the Starter Set. Paper has just the right amount of thickness; I can still see my writing guide underneath but my inks do not bleed through when I write.


Zipper Case. I bought this zipper case to hold my loose papers and postcards. It is partnered with a slip-on case on the other side which I use to store my stickers and washi tapes.

Connecting Bands – This is pretty important if you’re planning to use more than two notebooks in your Traveler’s Notebook. I’ll show you in a bit how it works. 🙂 By the way, you get four connecting bands when you buy a set but I’m only using two at the moment and the other two I keep in case of emergency.


Part of the ritual of having a Traveler’s Notebook is setting it up. If you’re just using one notebook, you don’t have much problem. Just make sure you open the notebook to its middle, slip it in the elastic band inside the leather cover, and you’re done! How about a second notebook? That’s easy. Slip it on the second elastic band. But what if you’re going for three or more? Ah, don’t worry. Traveler’s Company has a guide on how you could keep on adding notebooks to your TN.

Here’s what you have to do. First, part the two notebooks you’d like to connect together in the middle. Then take your connecting bands and slip it on the second half of the first notebook and the first half of the second notebook so that it would look something like this:


Now you’ve combined two notebooks! Yay! Just be very careful in slipping the connecting band to avoid wrinkling or scrunching up your paper.


After connecting the two notebooks, lay it down flat so that the two notebooks are side by side and insert it in one of the elastic bands inside the leather cover, just like this:


You can leave it as it is but if you want to connect a third notebook, simply part it in the middle (where you can see the binding/staple) and slip it on top of the first and second notebook just like this:


And you’re done! I inserted 5 notebooks and a zipper case on my leather cover so mine’s really thick. Take a look:


A bit of an overhang is expected when you slip on too many notebooks but I find that the connecting bands help in somehow lessening it.

Here’s how I set-up my TN for the year. My apologies in advance for the poor editing and my ugly veiny hand. I don’t know how to shoot “blogger” videos. T.T By the way, this was shot in the second week of January that’s why there’s not much written on it yet.



Hobonichi is short for Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun, an online magazine that tackles all sorts of topics, “from whimsical to the reflective.” They brand themselves as a “Lifebook” because, despite having a “Diary” set-up, you can still pretty much do anything you want with it.

The Hobonichi comes in different variations to suit your needs. These are the Hobonichi Techo A6, Hobonichi Techo Original A6, Hobonichi Techo Cousin, and the Hobonichi Techo Weeks. If you’re wondering what “techo” means, well, it’s the Japanese word for “planner.” Since it’s Japanese it is pronounced as te-cho, not te-ko as I originally thought (sorry, I was thinking in English at that time). The difference between Techo A6 and Original A6 is the language it’s written in. Techo A6 is in English while Original A6 is in Japanese. Cousin and Weeks are available in Japanese only.

There’s also the Hobonichi Avec which is a six-month version of the planner. That means you get two books (January-June and July-December) instead of one for a year. It is available in both A6 and A5 sizes. Finally, if you’re looking for something more long-term, then you can avail the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo.


Another fun aspect of using Hobonichis is selecting its cover. There are many wonderful designs to choose from in the Hobonichi store. As for me, I bought the Hobonichi Techo A6 because I liked its simple black cover with the Japanese characters for “techo” printed on the front. It’s so classy that I don’t think of buying a cover for it.


When I bought my Hobonichi, it came with a free pen…


…and a dice that will supposedly help you decide what kind of meal you’ll have for the day. Based on this picture, mine’s steamed vegetables (*yuck*).


There’s so much to love about the Hobonichi. First is, of course, the amazing tomoe river paper that makes up its pages. It’s so thin but it holds inks so well. It can take watercolor and your average brush pens. Alcohol-based pens will see a little bleed-through, though.

Second is its 180-degree binding. This kind of binding allows the Hobonichi to stay flat no matter which page you open. I’ve only encountered this in spring notebooks and God knows how annoying it is when your hand hits the binding. In the Hobonichi, lying flat is effortless.


I also love the 4-mm grid pages which makes it easy to draw and plot my washi tapes and other ephemera.


Another plus point that is unique to the A6 is that it’s very portable. As I’ve said earlier, it fits snugly in my shoulder bag without adding so much weight (the TN is heavy in comparison because of all my inserts).

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s inside the Hobonichi Techo A6:


The first spread is an overview of the current year and the next one.


Next is a monthly log spread, covering 16 months from December of the previous year to March of the following year. I didn’t know what to use this page for so I turned this into a tracker page instead.


The more traditional month grid follows. Again, it gives you an overview of the month.


Then, of course, there are the daily pages. At the start of every month, you’ll get a blank lined page for some general notes or whatnot. You’ll also find some quotes at the bottom of the daily pages. These quotes were lifted from the Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun website.


At the very back, you’ll find additional dotted pages for extra notes.


It also has a reference guide on clothing sizes and a conversion table.


The last few pages are dedicated to some information on Japanese culture and history. Here are some important dates on the Japanese calendar.


A very brief timeline of Japan’s history.


And, finally, some Japanese folk tales. Good read.

I use my Hobonichi as a diary so this is where I go all out on the stickers and washi tapes. Here’s a little flip-through of my Hobonichi as of the second week of January. Again, I apologize for the poor video and my ugly hands.

Where to Buy

This, I think, is the next question on your mind. The TN and Hobonichi are pretty hard to come by here in the Philippines. Of course, you can buy them through their respective websites (TN, Hobonichi), but, since it will be coming from Japan, delivery fees can be quite expensive. Add to that the long waiting time and the sad state of our post office/customs which could pose more problems. As far as I know, Scribe is the only actual store that carries them. The rest are sold online. Some notable websites include Everything Calligraphy and Crafty Lane (this is where I bought my Hobonichi). If you know more stores that sell these notebooks, please let me know. 🙂

Whew! Sorry for the long post. I’m just really too excited when I talk about the things I like. Anyway, I hope you still found this useful. I’ll try to blog about my journaling journey as it goes on. There are still so many things to learn and look forward to. I’m glad my TN and Hobonichi will help me take note of every step along the way. ❤


2017 Favorites

Only a few hours left before the year ends and, as is custom during this time, I am wrapping up my favorite cultural consumptions for 2017. This is by no means a very extensive list because, to be honest, I haven’t been as enthusiastic in reading books, listening to music, or watching movies this year compared to previous ones. That’s what happens when you start developing a short attention span and when you’re trying to stay afloat in this thing called life.

Anyway, I don’t want to keep this longer than I should. Here are my favorites from 2017. Enjoy!


At the start of this year, I started a personal project called Conquer the TBR Everest as a way to address my guilt of having too many unread books on my shelves. Well, I did manage to finish 12 books, which is not bad for a recovering book hoarder. Anyway, I still have a long way to go in this project and, my aim is to at least finish 3/4 of my unread books by the end of next year.


My fave book this year is The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. I loved the many layers of the story and her world building – how she imagined what it’s like in a yet-to-be-realized anarcho-communist society. Overall, it takes a lot of creativity and understanding of the human condition for this book to be written. Le Guin simply took sci-fi to the next level and taught us that what it really does is to hold a mirror in front of us to expose our warts and all.


My runner-up would have to be Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise. The reputation of the novel precedes itself, due to the fact that Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz even before she could finish it. That it was written with so much compassion and ambition in the midst of such a dark time deserves a standing ovation.



Ugh Vol. 1 is, hands down, my most favorite comics of 2017. It is actually a compilation of the first three issues of Hulyen’s original zine. I really love Ugh because its neurotic millenial characters are very relatable and its humor irreverent, and absurd to the point of being ridiculously delightful.

Movies (International)


It’s a tight race for the first and second spot, but I eventually chose the coming-of-age love story Call Me By Your Name directed by Luca Guadagnino as the best movie I have watched this year. It’s such a beautiful and sensual tribute to the joys and passions of first love as well as the pain that comes with its departure. Complementing its beautiful story is the perfection of its location as well as its hauntingly beautiful music. It’s a very cohesive movie that I’d love to savor over and over again.


The second spot belongs to Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut that’s currently making the Internet rounds now as the highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes (as of press time). The praise is deserving because Lady Bird is all sorts of funny, and beautiful and tenderly heartbreaking at the same time. The Catholic school shenanigans, the family’s struggle of trying to hold on to the middle-class, and that deep desire to escape suburbia is something that has especially resonated with me in relation to my own experience growing up. It’s definitely a refreshing take on your typical bildungsroman.


And the third spot in my fave movies of the year is – Thor: Ragnarok! I’m glad that Marvel finally had some fun with Thor this time around. It is by no means perfect, but I really had a lot of fun watching this rambunctious, hilarious, and self-aware spectacle of clashing gods and aliens. It’s a peek into what Marvel can achieve at its best if it really tries.

Honorable Mentions: Star Wars The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman

Albums (International)

This one I’ll split into two – international and OPM (Original Philippine Music). I felt the need to separate them because, compared to the previous categories, I listen to a lot of music and it’s harder to narrow it down when there’s so much to choose from.


So for the international category, the runaway winner for my fave album is After Laughter by Paramore. At first, I was quite perplexed by this new album because it is so different from the Paramore I used to know. Their transition into full pop is quite jarring especially when you grew up listening to them lash out their feelings and frustrations with heavy guitar riffs and a chorus you can scream along, too. Yet, upon repeated play, I realized they are still the Paramore I loved – only older and more mature. The emo kids have grown up and instead of raging against the world, there is only a general sense of exhaustion and acceptance underneath the sheen of its upbeat melody – and I think it is an apt metaphor for adult life.


Earning the second spot on my fave album list is Melodrama by Lorde. It’s the perfect sequel to her first album Pure Heroine. Here, she’s finally escaped the stifling but safe environs of the suburbs and moved on to the big city, getting her heart broken a few times along the way but willing to risk again in this party filled with bodies jumping around and not caring what happens in the morning. But underneath the noise, the light, and the glitz is a lonely soul just wanting to connect and to feel again. Ah, so beautiful.


Finally, I give the third spot to Chester Bennington’s last album with Linkin Park One More Light. Aside from being a complete departure from their nu-metal roots, this one is meaningful in relation to Chester’s tragic and untimely death. It encapsulates how hope and darkness keep fighting inside your head and you try to stay hopeful but you beg for help at the same time.

Albums (OPM)


OPM Music is really strong this year but out of all the strong contenders, my favorite would have to be KZ Tandingan’s Soul Supremacy. I’ve always believed in the talent of this woman ever since she auditioned and won X-Factor Philippines and her vocal prowess is in full showcase on this album. The swag is infectious; just a few minutes in and you’ll already find yourself bopping your head to every track. Total ear candy.


My other fave album is James Reid’s Palm Dreams. It’s quite amazing how such a mainstream artist like him could pull off an all-original album with that much R&B and trap music sensibilities knowing how conservative his Filipino fanbase is. But he did. He was able to push the music that he likes to his producers and made the ordinary people love his sensual outbursts (definitely no pabebe here). James Reid’s creative risk paid off and I’m glad it did. He just showed his contemporaries that he’s ahead of the game.


Listen to my fave songs from international artists here:

And you can listen to my fave songs from local artists here:

TV Series


This is the one that suffered the most this year. I’ve just mostly watched the same old series I’ve followed since the very beginning but most of them didn’t live up to what I expected of them (re: Sherlock, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead). Most of the new TV shows I attempted to watch, on the other hand, were left unfinished because they didn’t quite hook me enough in the first few episodes to sustain my interest. That’s why from the few series I managed to finish, I’m naming The Handmaid’s Tale as my favorite series of the year. It was the only one that kept me gripped to my seat and left me awake in the middle of the night to ponder things. The premise of the story is scary enough but seeing it being brought to life by an excellent cast (led by the amazing Elizabeth Moss) and knowing that we could be inching closer to that reality was really captivating and haunting at the same time.


The other TV series that I managed to finish without any hitch is the Korean drama My Love From the Star. It’s a cutesy love story between a time-traveling alien and a movie star. Weird and simple premise but they were able to make it work because of Jun Ji-Hyun and Kim Soo-Hyun’s undeniable chemistry and charm.

That’s it! 2017 was personally a good year for me and, I’m pretty sure, 2018 will be filled with more movies to watch, songs and albums to listen to, and books to read. Wishing everyone a prosperous and fun-filled new year!

December Roundup

Merry Christmas everyone! How was your celebration? Ours was a little quiet. We just attended mass and ate a light meal of Christmas ham, toasted bread, some fruits, and hot chocolate afterward.  Most people go all out on Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner but not my family; we’re a (weird) bunch of pretty somber people so parties of any kind are not our thing – which I am thankful for, actually. I prefer our simple celebration over the raucous ones. It’s intimate and beautiful in its own special way.

So far, December has been a pretty tiring affair – what with all the parties and year-end campaigns that needed immediate attention – but it was also the most fun. I am happy that I’m slowly easing into the office dynamics, I finally have my long-awaited planners for 2018, and I get to spend the holidays with the people closest to me. Looks like my year will end on a rather high note and it makes me hopeful for the days to come.

Well, enough of my personal ramblings. Let’s go to my casual consumption of pop culture and books.



I kind of hate myself for knowing how Disney+Pixar operates but still find myself crying on scenes where I know they intend for the audience to cry. Like, why Armi? Why do you always fall for it? Damn my shallow tears. I did enjoy Coco, though, even if it was very predictable. First of all, the animation is topnotch and the color palette is to die for. Pixar just gets better and better with every movie they produce. Attention to small details like the hair on arms and the fibers on clothing is simply amazing. Secondly, the song ‘Remember Me‘ gave me LSS for weeks. It’s such a beautiful song and Miguel’s vocals are on point. Finally, I liked that it actually has some very adult themes beneath its kiddie adventure facade. The movie talks about the importance of remembering our history in order to heal and how, sometimes, our dreams are empty if it is not shared. For a more nuanced and eloquent discussion on the merits of Coco as a film, I suggest you read this blog. 🙂


Star Wars Episode IX: The Last Jedi

As a Star Wars fan, I was really super duper excited to see this one. The Force Awakens left us with so many unanswered questions and it was hinted that some of it will be answered in this movie. Lo and behold, the movie more than exceeded my expectations. Rian Johnson threw everything we know about Star Wars right out of the window and steered it into a new and exciting, albeit unknown, frontier. The movie is not perfect. I admit that I was quite confused at the start especially the Canto Bight part but once the third half of the movie set in and everything started falling into place – I was just completely blown away. There is some backlash about this new direction Star Wars is taking, with some ‘fans’ even petitioning that The Last Jedi be removed from the canon, but this article from Slash offers a pretty convincing defense of TLJ and why it’s worth your time.


The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

I finally finished this book after almost two months of reading it. Le Guin writes in very clear language but I still find her hard to read sometimes – probably because of all the scientific mumbo-jumbo contained in the story; I had to re-read several passages a couple of times before I could trust myself to move on. Once I hit my stride, however, there was no going back. The Dispossessed is a hauntingly beautiful book about two ideologically opposing societies and the one man who sought to break down the walls that separate them.

Consider the world building. It’s hard to imagine a place where there is no state. What is it like to have no governing bodies? No prisons, no police, no courts, no presidents or mayors or any sort of ‘world leader.’ It’s so far removed from our reality – a utopia – yet Le Guin makes it work and she works it well. Her Anarres is so convincing that you feel like you want to experience it somehow… you believe that something like it could work and you wonder why no one has tried it yet. That’s how strong her writing is.

I also like Shevek’s character. Despite his noble aspirations, he is still very much human in his choices and actions. He is intelligent but his intelligence did not come as a gift or as something he was born with. There were many passages in the book devoted to his struggle and there were also quite a couple of times when he questioned his capabilities, wondering whether he was on the right track or whether he has the answers at all. He was kind but he can also be cruel, generous but also sly, accommodating but aware. There is so much depth in his character that it makes his journey even more compelling and accessible.

What really sets The Dispossessed apart from other books are the questions it raises and the commentaries it espouses. It is not a leisurely book. Do not expect to be blown away by space battles or powerful world-destroyers like they do in other sci-fi stories. Rather it is a novel of ideas, ranging from philosophical, political, and even scientific ones. One overarching theme that resonated with me the most is the importance of change. Anarres, for all its revolutionary roots, has remained stagnant in its desire to maintain its status quo. They argue that the status quo represents peace for everyone and to desire differently is to ‘egoize’ or to be selfish. But it also means that they are closing themselves off from what they can offer to the other worlds – the realization of a community for all. Unfortunately, they have lost touch with their revolutionary spark. Shevek has realized that the people of Anarres have ceased to be free even if they claim otherwise. Thus, his ‘disobedience’ to the status quo is actually a callback to their beginnings and is the manifestation of the true spirit of their society. For a revolution to succeed, it needs to adapt, to change constantly.

At its best, science fiction not only offers us an escape but a way to examine our lives through a different lens. Beneath all the technological posturing and the focus on the future is a deep desire to understand humanity as it is now. Most of all, it gives us the idea that the future depends on what we make of it. This is what The Dispossessed brings to the table – it depicts what we can potentially achieve if we worked together and be truly revolutionary.

Travel Log: A Day at Masungi Georeserve (November 2017)

Let it be known that I, an asthmatic lampa with barely any athletic abilities and also a notorious couch potato who would rather pretend I’m not hungry than have to walk to the neighborhood sari-sari store at 12 noon to buy lunch, decided one day to leave the house and hike the garden trails of Masungi Georeserve. Hard to believe but it’s true. And the most surprising fact is that I really really enjoyed it.

Masungi Georeserve is a former logging hotbed turned conservation area situated within the grounds of Mt. Masungi in Baras, Rizal. Its name is derived from the Tagalog word “Masungki” meaning “jagged” which is used to describe its iconic karst formations that date back to over a million years old (it used to be submerged in water). What makes it unique from other mountain trails are the fun and exciting rope courses and carefully curated rock gardens that are scattered throughout the area. Its developers have painstakingly nurtured the place for almost 20 years and developed it into an environmentally sustainable tourism project that benefits both the mountain, as well as its ecosystem, and the townspeople of Baras, its major stakeholder.

On my part, I’ve always wanted to go to Masungi after seeing pictures of it for the first time almost 2 years ago. However, getting a slot wasn’t very easy. First, you have to go to their website and register. They only accept a minimum of 7 guests at a given time and the fee must be paid in full. If there are only 3 or 4 individuals in your group and you want to avail their tour, you’ll still have to shell out for 7 people. This is already disadvantageous to me as I prefer traveling solo or in small groups. Second is the availability of slots. Their weekends fill up fast because, of course, most people are free only during these times.

Thankfully, they have opened shared trails to address the first concern. Groups below 7 people can finally book a tour of the place without paying any additional fees. The only caveat is that these shared trails are available during weekdays only, as a way to decongest weekends and to allow more people to experience Masungi.

Luckily, I’ve mentioned in my previous post that the president declared a holiday on November 13-15 (Monday to Wednesday) and when it became official with the memo and TV announcements, I immediately took this as a chance to finally visit the place and stretch my muscles after sitting for hours on end in the office and in the condo. My friends and I booked a shared trail which they opened specifically for this holiday.

It was an adventure, indeed. We didn’t have any car so we had to commute and we winged it using the guide given by the Masungi Georeserve team over email and Google maps. Even though they claim that their trail is very easy with the paved pathways and rails and rope bridges, the trek was still challenging for me, owing to the fact that I’m not really that physically fit and also because we were out walking under the noonday sun. In fact, I was already short of breath and my knees were shaking even before we reached the middle of the trail. There were many times when I was tempted to shout “what the fuck did I get myself into,” especially when walking uphill, but I forgot about it when I saw the view from the top. Thankfully, I was grouped with very enthusiastic and friendly fellow travelers which made the climb more bearable. Our guide, Kuya Mac, was also very helpful and made sure we can catch our breath by making frequent stops.

The hike lasted around 4 hours and we crossed around 5 or 6 rope courses. At the end of the trail, we were served tuna sandwiches, cold kalamansi juice, and bananas. The best part would have to be the ice cold towels. Cold towels after a hot and sweaty afternoon = best feeling ever! It was definitely an afternoon well spent.

Enough of the blabber, though. Photo spam starts here. 🙂

This is the only sign you’ll see from the side of the road.
Silungan – the jump off point.
Paved pathways
Cloud rat


My trek buddies



Kuya Mac, our park ranger, telling us about Masungi’s past as an illegal logger’s haven. That installation is made out of a chainsaw and was put there to remind them of how far they’ve come in restoring the forest.
Trying to look chill even if my feet are already killing me. #poise

Sorry for the abundant back shots


At Patak, the raindrop shaped hanging house

Great place to rest

Yungib ni Ruben
Another one!
A view of Nanay from Tatay’s peak
A view of Ditse and Duyan from Tatay’s peak


Comfiest hammock ever
Going down the Bayawak’s back
Trail done! Time for snacks. 🙂
Finish line! Last course: the Sawa


Travel Notes:

  • Registration fee is P1500 for weekdays and P1800 for weekends. Visit their website to request a visit.
  • It’s better if you have a car because public transportation is quite unreliable in that area. But if you’re going to commute here’s what you’re going to do: In Cubao, ride an FX going to Cogeo. Asked to be dropped off at Gate 2. Go to Cogeo Public Market and get on the jeep going to Tanay, Rizal. You’ll have to wait around an hour (or maybe even more) here as the jeep won’t leave until all seats are filled. From Cogeo, it takes around 30-40 minutes to reach Masungi. Going home is a bit trickier. You’ll have to wait for a passing Cogeo jeep to pick you up. Because trips are few and far between, the jeeps that you will come across are often filled to the brim. What happened to me and my friends was that we took the first jeep that arrived even though all seats were taken (some were even on the roof). We ended up sitting right in the middle and we were there for like 3/4 of the entire ride. It was hard and super uncomfortable but we have no choice because we don’t know when the next jeep will come. Anyway, the FX fare from Cubao to Cogeo is around P35 and the jeep from Tanay to KM 47 / Masungi is P40 as of the time of writing.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Bring arm covers because it’s really hot especially when you’re on top of the cliffs. Water and biscuits are a must have, too. The park ranger will provide you with a helmet.
  • There’s a locker where you can keep your bags. Fee is P20, I think.
  • When you sign up for a trail visit, you’re also sponsoring one tree in their reforestation project. They said that they will invite us again after 10 years to see the progress of our tree. I’m already 38 by that time so… I don’t know if I will still have the strength to trek at that age. But it’s an exciting prospect to return again and I look forward to it. The future holds so much promise.

Comic Book Haul 2k17

Hello again, stranger! It’s December already and I do hate to say this because it’s such a cliche but time flies fast, indeed. I realize it’s already more than a month since I made my introductory post here about wanting to start blogging again. Oops. I’m such a joke. Remind me to not make any more promises about posting here regularly. Clearly, I don’t know how this thing works, okay?

Looking back, November has been a pretty busy month at work especially since I’m handling a retail store account so you can just imagine the inordinate amount of job requests they’re sending for their Christmas campaigns (re: a lot!). That’s why the three-day holiday the president declared last Nov 13-15 was a bit of a godsend for me because it gave me a breather from work which I spent on catching up with my pop culture consumptions (Stranger Things!) and basically just doing whatever the hell I want.

As luck would have it, the first day of my “vacation” – November 11 – is the first day of Komikon! I’ve waited for this the whole year because I missed last year’s convention and I felt really bad about it. I really made it a point to go this time because (a) I have to complete the volumes of the series I’m following (way overdue), (b) I want to discover new titles to obsess over, and (c) I’m a nerd.

So off I went to Komikon and — whoa! The crowd was crazy! I was there at least 20 minutes before 9am and the line going inside Unilab Bayanihan Center was already spilling to the sidewalk. Last time I went there in 2015, I just breezed right in, no lines at all (although it was a little past the opening time – but, still…!). Thankfully, the line didn’t take too long once it started moving and I got in without a hitch. Whew!

I already had some titles off the top of my mind so these were what I looked for as soon as I got in through those doors. Then after getting all of them, that’s when I started exploring new titles. I think I spent a total of just around 2 hours inside because it was too crowded and my introvert self was starting to panic. Also, I couldn’t risk buying more because stupid me forgot to bring an eco-bag and the paper bag where I placed all of my comics was starting to fall to pieces.

A week after Komikon, Komura happened. It’s a small book fair focusing on interactions between book lovers and creators more than actual profiteering – as per their press release. I was actually hesitant to go there because I don’t have someone to accompany me but, after finding out that Hulyen’s comic book UGH will be released there, I found the courage to venture alone.

Komura was held at Warehouse Eight, a co-working space in Chino Roces, Makati. I arrived there really early so I was able to roam around before it got too crowded. The place was small and very intimate; it seemed like the people there knew each other so I felt kind of… out of place, actually. Overall, it was fine. There was beer and coffee, music from live bands and beanie bag chairs to sit on when you just want to read. The sellers were kind enough to let the people browse their works and they sometimes engage in pleasant small talk especially if they feel like you’re interested but too shy to ask anything (i.e. me). But, as I said, my only real goal here was to get Hulyen’s UGH so once I bought it and had my copy signed, I was out. The only downside of leaving early was that I wasn’t able to maximize the P200 entrance fee for the event.

Anyway, here is my happy haul from both Komikon and Komura:


Tabi Po (story and art by Mervin Malonzo)

It’s currently being adapted as a TV series in Cignal TV’s Sari Sari Channel so when I dropped by their booth (Haliya Publishing), there was this huge set up of a balete tree where you can take pictures with a girl cosplaying as an aswang (edit: wait… is that Phoebe Walker of Seklusyon???). I watched the trailer on Facebook a few weeks back and I really liked it because it was different from the usual Filipino TV fare we’re all accustomed to (blood and gore, anyone?). So I thought, hey, why not read the source material and see what the original story’s like so I bought it. I was also glad to have shaken the hands of Mervin Malonzo. He was so cool about the fact that I discovered his comics through the TV show first and not the other way around (some people look down on you for that). He’s so kind and he talked to all of the people coming up to him and having their books and prints signed. So nice!

Kabuwanan (edited by Aliyah Luna)

It’s a compilation of one-shot comics from some of the best komikeras out today – Hulyen, Trizha Ko, Hannah Puyat & Laraine Gazmen, Lizette Daluz, Mich Cervantes & Pauline Rana, Kay Aranzanso, and Emiliana Kampilan / Dead Balagtas. I’ve always wanted to have this to serve as an inspiration for my still secret desire to make my own comics one day. Pfft. A girl can dream, right?

Muros #2 & #3 (story by Paulo Chikiamco, art by Borg Sinaban)

I already have Muros # 1 from the last time I visited Komikon and I was fortunate enough to get #2 and #3 to finally complete the story of Caloy Loyzaga and the Cemetery Girl. The story is like fantasy-noir (I made that one up) of a Taga-Sagot with a murky past who is on a mission to find a missing girl in a Manila that’s both familiar and totally alien at the same time.

Patay Kung Patay #3, #4, & #5 (story by Mike Alcazaren, script by Noel Pascual, art by AJ Bernardo)

This one is also included in my must-buy list from Komikon. It has become quite a hit because of its excellent straightforward storytelling and its not-so-subtle commentary on the prevailing power structures in Philippine society. I met Mike Alcazaren and he signed my copies so that’s really neat. 🙂 Originally set out for only 6 issues, the story will be having 2 more and I’m really excited to check out the next issues to see what will happen to the crew of TV8, the Muguerza family, and the mysterious figures leading the undead.

I’m a Legal Alien # 1 (story by Francis Concepcion, art by Patrick Concepcion)

Well, this one I was talked into buying by the writer himself, Francis Concepcion. He was able to convince me because I thought the story’s concept of discrimination and prejudice in the form of an alien vs human thing is really interesting and relevant, considering the times we live in today. They just released the third issue during this Komikon so that means I have a lot of catching up to do!

P*cha Edi Komiks Pa Rin Vol. 2 (by Toto Madayag)

It’s no secret that one of my favorite webcomics out there is Toto Madayag’s Libreng Komiks. His humor is irreverent and very observant of everyday realities which is something that I really dig. You know sometimes you just want a good laugh and that’s what Libreng Komiks (although it’s not ‘libre’ or free anymore LOL) give me. I’m so glad I got this compilation. I’m still looking for the first volume, though. Hope I can find one in the local bookstores.

Bakokak (story by Gerry Alanguilan, art by Kevin Ray Valentino)

Gerry Alanguilan is back! And this time he partnered with fellow Komikero Kevin Ray Valentino to come up with Bakokak, a story about a giant frog wreaking havoc in Metro Manila. This purchase is a no-brainer for me. I will buy anything with a Gerry Alanguilan on it. I just love his works! (Erm… except Rodski Patotski – that one, I didn’t like that much.) Anyway, I’m really interested how the Pinoy treatment of a giant monster invasion will turn out. It’s not like we have that kind of stories here owing to the fact that (a) the Philippines don’t really produce nuclear-shit to ever cause a weird mutation on innocent life forms (fecal matter & mining run-offs pwede pa), and (b) it would be laughable to see our government using advanced technologies like mechas to fight off monsters when they can’t even fix the fucking train. So yeah, this is something new and I’m sure it will be pretty enjoyable.

After Lambana (story by Eliza Victoria, art by Mervin Malonzo)

This one I bought at Komura. I know nothing about it except for the blurb at the back which says that it is a story about diwatas, and a man’s lonely search for a cure for his illness. I’m partial to stories using Philippine mythological characters so I took a chance on this.  At the same time, I really like Malonzo’s art style particularly for this one because of its psychedelic use of colors. So exciting!

UGH (by Hulyen)

UGH vol.1 is the long-awaited comics compilation of its first three issues and I’m so happy for Hulyen because people are finally noticing her stories and recognizing her talent (obviously, I’m a fan. Hulyen, please don’t get creeped out). LOL! I’m so attracted to the humor of UGH probably because I see so much of my own blunders and musings in the travails of her characters which are mostly bored Catholic-school educated Filipina millennial with a bit of an inner rebellious streak or a perpetually-tired and struggling corporate slave. I can’t wait to read it, and I can’t wait to see more sardonic stories and comics from Hulyen!


That’s about it. I’ve only read snippets from most of them because of my busy schedule but, after this campaign is over, I can finally chill over the weekend and maybe finish all of them. I’ll try to share my thoughts when I’m done (Keyword is TRY.).

If you have any suggestions of really awesome Filipino comics I should get my filthy hands next, please let me know, stranger. I’d love to read more of them. And I know there are a lot out there.


Hello, stranger! :)


Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 12.12.26 AM
chibi version of myself from

I don’t know how you ended up here but welcome to my little corner in the interwebz. My name is Armi and I’m a 20-something anxiety-ridden awkward introvert living and working in the chaotic urban jungle of Metro Manila, Philippines.

This blog has actually been in existence since the early part of this year as some sort of space for me to practice my writing. Three months and five posts later, I gave up. Well… cliche as it may sound but life happened. I’m an adult with real-life concerns and aspirations so whatever illusions of being a blogger I had took a backseat when the outside world came calling.

But I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that I simply got too lazy to keep up a blog. How many sites have I left for dead in the vast Internet wasteland? How many times have I lied to myself (like a bad boyfriend that keeps on promising he’ll never cheat again but keeps on texting other girls anyway) that I’ll keep on writing, that this will be different, that this is it – only to end up deleting everything after a while?

You might be wondering why I do this all over again if I know deep down in my black hole of a heart that it will probably end up as another half-forgotten blog? I mean, it’s not like anything has changed; my new work is much more demanding than before, I’m still not over my commitment issues, and I remain as high-strung as ever. So what’s the point?

I don’t know. Maybe there’s joy in the futility of trying and trying, like how Sisyphus probably enjoyed pushing that boulder up the hill. Or maybe because this is what I need at this particular point in time. Is it because I like the feeling of being able to start anew without much consequence (which I don’t get to do in the real world)? Does it even matter why I write?

Oh, fuck it. I’m just plain crazy. And I’m an oversharer – at least, on the Internet.

So, here we are again. You won’t find life-changing stuff here. Just a lot of incoherent babbling on things and places and stuff and hobbies that this dork likes.  I named it Wonder | Wander because I thought it sounded really witty (but I bet there are hundreds of blogs out there with the same name) and also because I feel like it encapsulates my being constantly curious. Yes, I may be lazy but I’m always curious about the world and the things around me. My mind wonders and wanders most of the time. And this curiosity is what fuels my writing.

If you’re still reading up to this point, stranger, I’d like to congratulate you. Really. It’s a remarkable feat of patience to endure this poor piece of an introduction. Next time, I promise, I’ll write something more useful. ‘Til then… bye! 🙂