Disclaimer: All views expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent of any entity with which I have been, am now or will be affiliated.

Part 1

“We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it’s not what’s most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal.”
― Scott Jurek, Eat and Run

January 31 – Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines

We lose sight of the fact that the mind and body influence each other. From the 1st month of 2021, I promised myself to deepen my connection with my body – it is a vessel that I should always take care of. I want to have a connection with how I feed my body and exercise – because when I do these things I also feel good about myself.

I am already practicing new habits – waking up at 6 in the morning, I actually want it to be earlier than this like before the sun rises but I will work on improving this, practicing mindfulness (meditation), reading, sleeping well, connecting to people, exercising and feeding my body with the right food (this is quite hard though :p).

When I was in grade school, I hated going to PE classes and cheated in my class just to let the teacher know I did sit ups but I did not haha.

My plan for the first few months this year if not marathons is to have long distance walks along Metro Manila. My body craves big, varied movements that originates at the core of it. I also wanted to explore the city with which I have been living in for so long. It was shocking for me to find out I did not know anything about it because I was so engrossed in my comfort zone.

So I began searching for parks/mountains near me because nature has a way of humbling and energizing me. I also want to explore nearby cafes which has alfresco and garden concept, tourist destinations and the people that I can talk to near the area.

By walking, I am giving myself an avenue of life experience – the feeling and goal of exercising, gifts of friendship, the accomplishment and self-esteem. I always believe that we can all be transformed. Not overnight but overtime. Life is not a race.

January 21 – Intramuros, Manila (The Walled City) 10km walk

I have never explored Intramuros and I have been here all my life. I am just so shocked how ignorant I was in my own town.

Intramuros was one of the oldest districts of Manila, built on the south bank of the Pasig River around 1571, built by Spaniards and bound on all sides by moats and thick, high walls. It was the home to eight grand churches built by different religious orders.

We headed out at 7am for our walk in Intramuros with my sister in law and fellow walker Malen. 😉 I was so impressed by the murals in the underpass of Manila – it was not like this before, now it is clean and safer. We also visited Manila Cathedral which is a premier cathedral of the Philippines for obvious reason that it was the 1st cathedral of the Philippines. It was chosen to become a cathedral in 1581. The cathedral already went repairs for earthquake retrofitting in 2012 and reopened it’s doors after 2 years of renovation in 2014.

After we visited Manila Cathedral, we went to La Cathedral Cafe which is located right behind it. I love it so much! It gave us stunning view of the cathedral at the roof deck while having coffee.

Fort Santiago was unfortunately closed and we were not able to go to San Agustin Church. We plan to go soon and post it here on the 2nd part of our walking adventure.

January 22 – Paco Park and Cemetery 10km walk

Paco Park was once a cemetery during 1807 due to the outbreak of cholera. It was designed as a cemetery for the affluent and established aristocratic Spanish families who resided in the old Manila. It was converted into a park in 1966. Today, it is one of the popular wedding venues because of it’s garden like settings.

We headed out at 6am for our walk and we had coffee at Coffee Project after. I love Coffee Projects garden concept café, it is so relaxing. They also have bulletproof coffee but I am not a fan of it. I will stick with black coffee. 😉

Roxas, Boulevard – January 25
20km walk

We headed out quite late for the walk. It was already 630am when we went out in Roxas Boulevard. It is a popular waterfront in Manila which runs along the shores of Manila Bay – when we went here it was unfortunately closed because they were doing some works for the beach. It is also well known for beautiful sunset and stretch of coconut trees.

We also went to Rizal Park but was not there for long because the park closes at 9am everyday. We also head out to Harbour Square after. We were a bit sad that most establishments of our favorite hangout place are closed due to pandemic. 😦 I had great stories of my brother and I there. It was a good walk because it was not sunny until 12nn and we had a good rest along Pedro Gil for our Sunset African tea session in Coffee Bean.

Marikina City January 29 30km walk

Located in the eastern border of Metro Manila. It is known as the shoe capital of the Philippines for it’s famous shoe industry. It also contains the Our Lady of the Abandoned Church, the oldest church in the Marikina Valley. Marikina was the provincial capital of the Province of Manila under the First Philippine Republic from 1898 to 1899 during the Philippine Revolution.

This was our very first major walk by Malen haha. Our first attempt was on January 26 right after my fast. We were already on our 5km walk but decided to come back home because I was not feeling well. It was tough for me because I had a mistake of eating a lot after a fast. I had to recuperate for 2 days. We headed out again on January 29 at 6am.

It was actually tough because it was a very long walk and instead of trees, it was buildings and bustling cars that accompanied us. However, we still push through because we really wanted to see what’s out there.

After a 3 hour walk, we have reached the Marikina Riverbanks, if I have a bike we could have gone biking there too but it was okay. We also went to Rustic Mornings, I have been wanting to go here for almost 5 years. I did not know I needed to walk 30km just to taste their food haha. The Filipino food was amazing! I love everything about the cafe especially the ambiance. We also went to Shoe Museum, Ms. Judy was our docent. She educated us about the museum. It was nice to see different brands of shoes.

After that, we headed out to Our Lady of the Abandoned Church, I love the churches in the Philippines although I don’t go to church anymore haha I really appreciate the architecture of the churches here – they are awesome! We will have this as our goal too – to visit churches. Malen will pray for me haha.

Next stop was a coffee break at Cafe Kapitan just across the church. I love the coffee which was so cheap and creamy. The place itself is a 200 year old preserved house of Don Laureano Guevarra, also known as Kapitan Moy, Founder of the Marikina Shoe Industry. It retained the ambiance of old Marikina with Spanish influence. We also have gone to Marikina River Park which has a giant sculpture. It was able to withstand a lot of typhoons in the past. They call the statue Marikit Na, the woman in the folklore where the city got its name. When we come back to Marikina, we need to bike here.

We thought we were not going to survive the grueling heat of the sun on our way back home! I was planning to quit not because I was tired but because it was so hot. We only had coconut water with us and shades. We even forgot our caps. 😦 But thankfully, we just embraced the suffering and never gave up on this journey. I am glad Malen was with me to keep pushing the both of us to get through our goal. From a fasted state to walking on sunshine, looking forward to more adventures with my sister in law – a walker like me. 😀 We will never know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice.

Part 2 is coming up next week. I can’t wait to explore more with Malen while moving and being with nature! 😀

Maria, sometimes Niskie