Lost but not found

In the pursuit of recreating myself, I lost myself. I lost who I am, who I was, and who I wanted to be.


It’s winter, a cold Saturday night, I wanted to rush and type all what I feel inside. I feel like I have been holding it that even the most dormant volcano can’t handle the turmoil inside any longer.


Let me type. Let me share. Let me breathe without being judged.


I haven’t put my thoughts in paper (or this blog) in a while. I have been busy trying to run my life independently – thinking that I am strong enough to scribble in this clean white sheet of paper life has given me.


I moved to Canada more than a year ago, and to be frank, I have never felt more blessed. There are struggles, bumps, and clueless days – but mind you, I never felt so secured that the future is going to be okay.


But I don’t want to talk about the future. I want to talk about the present. Myself. Who I am and not who I can be, or who I might be. Let me talk about me questioning me why I can’t be me. Until now, even when typing, I feel like I have to stop and check on myself and what I am trying to express when I know I shouldn’t. I created this space so I can be exactly who I am.


But then, life probably is bored so it throws stuff on me – or more on people than stuff. New life, new people. New me….. Or so I thought so. But then, this is not me. I have been questioning myself lately – why can’t I speak up? Why do I sit quietly and even hide myself when I want to cry, or express myself? Why cant I raise my voice when I want to, but then I let people raise their voice on me thinking it will be better for them to express that way. Why can’t I listen to songs I want to, the songs that make me happy, no matter how lousy or corny the lyrics are? Why do I have to wait until I get into my car alone to be able to sing with all my heart? Why can’t I watch some nonsense comedy or chick flick when I want to? Why do I have to force myself to do something ‘sensible’ when at the end of the day, all I want is some nonsense stuff to relax myself from a day’s work? Why can’t I?


Because I am continuously judged. Because I am allowing others to shape my decisions and my preferences. And because I allow them to do so without even making them understand…. And I just sit there, listening whatever other people listen to, or pretending I’m interested to watch what they’re watching,…. Just not to be alone.


But I was used to being along, am I not? See this has been a long winding post. No ending. No point. But I need no judgement. I just need to breathe.


Breathe freely.


Breathe like I am breathing as me.DSC05287

Singapore to Kuala Lumpur via Aeroline Coach

Singapore has its beauty… and so does Malaysia. And for a person who lived in both countries, I have my share of stories of its wonders. Both countries have similarities and differences worth exploring. And you can even on a budget.

Continue reading “Singapore to Kuala Lumpur via Aeroline Coach”

Temple of Leah – A Symbol of Immortal Love

How far will you go to honor the love of your life? A question I wouldn’t have any answer yet – for the moment.

Continue reading “Temple of Leah – A Symbol of Immortal Love”

Cebu’s Sirao Garden

Finally arrived in Cebu with my friends since high school! And this one would be a memorable trip for us since we haven’t seen each other for years.

We arrived before lunch time in Cebu City, just had lunch, checked in, and headed straight right away to the “Little Amsterdam” in Cebu. Though most people come here through ‘habal-habal’ or backriding a motorcylce, we opted to rent a private van for the 5 of us for the whole afternoon.

The entrance fee is P50.00 per person (USD 1), locals and foreigners, and you can already take unlimited photos of the garden. You may check more of my photos on my Facebook page.

Overview of the place:
Sirao is a barangay in Busay, geographically, located 17 kms from the city proper.

Sirao Flower Garden, fondly dubbed as Little Amsterdam in Cebu, was a buzzing and trending topic that headlined our social media channels few years back. This hidden place has been flooding my Instagram feed with colorful beautiful flowers and stunning landscapes, so as a curious millenial, this became one of our ‘must-visit’ stop. With its immense popularity and extraordinary beauty, the place instantly became a hot-spot for selfies, nature photography and pre-nuptial pictorials.

Celosia is the main flower grown in Sirao Flower Farm. This flower is considered to be a genus of edible and ornamental plants of the Amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Its name was derived from the Ancient Greek word “kḗleos” which means “burning” and it refers to its flame-like flower heads.

The flowers are planted in tiers along both sides. There are also spaces provided in between tiers to allow the guests to pass through and take photos, and at the same time, protecting the plants from being stepped on.

Outside the garden, there are stalls selling drinks, corn, chips, and fruits to keep you refreshed.

My personal insight:

When we entered, my first thought was “Ito na ‘yun?” (This is it?). I was actually expecting more – a more beautiful and organized garden. It was still beautiful though. But at that time, there are plants stepped on and an area is still being cultivated for planting. Regardless, we still enjoyed the place despite the scorching heat and were able to take beautiful photos.

I would still recommend you to visit this garden. I’m sure, the owners are improving the area. We also noted that there are swimming pools on the other side of the garden which can be used by guests for an additional fee.

Head on to my Facebook page to see more of our beautiful photos!

After this spot, we headed to visit Temple of Leah, a very intriguing spot in Cebu. Check in out too!

Have you been to this place? How was your experience? Feel free to share!

Tagaytay in Half a Day

Because seriously, everyone appreciates even just a quick break from stress. Right?

Let me share with you then how I enjoyed half a day in Tagaytay City! If you’re from Metro Manila, some parts of Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas, you will easily reach Tagaytay in an hour and a half – or even less. Now that’s a major win-win! 😊

There are several ways to go to Tagaytay which you can easily find on the web – so I’ll leave that for you to research 😊 That time, I came from other parts of Cavite and just Wazed my destinations – no hassle 😊

So we arrived in Tagaytay at noon time, hungry and craving for good food! Before driving over, I researched on restaurants that serve the best Bulalo, since the place is known for it.

So first stop: Leslie’s Forest Garden Restaurant

Time spent: 1 hr and 30 minutes (photo-ops included!)

Oh, the place is just so relaxing! You will be welcomed by healthy green plants (thus, the forest garden name) and warm smiles of the staff and crew.

Also, we noted that the place is suitable for groups since the tables are big and spacious.

There are also some nipa huts outside where you can dine, and it’s free of charge! So you can actually dine outside, enjoy the cool breeze and the sight of Taal Lake and volcano.

We wanted to dine outside but since it was a weekend and tourists alike are flocking, there was a queue for nipa hut-dining, and given that we were already starving, we decided to just stay indoors. It was cool as well.

The menu:

What we ordered:

Of course, bulalo! And kare-kare (my all-time favorite) We were four but the serving was huge for us. So basically, they serve food for groups of 4-5 people. 😊 Even the platter of rice which they say was good for 4 wasn’t fully consumed. Just look at the food below.

And indeed, taste was awesome! Worth the bucks!

Now time to burn those calories and have fun!

Second stop: Sky Ranch

Time spent here: 2 hours

Ooooh, the kid in me! When we entered, there was a spacious covered area lined up with native delicacies. And moving forward, the big Sky Ranch logo.

Basically, if you are like me who are not into crazy rides and just want to roam around, feel and enjoy the good and fun vibes, this place is for you since unlike any other park, you just have to pay the individual entrance fee. And if you want to try a specific attraction, you can pay for the ride separately. Heads up though, the rides here are mostly for kids….. like, real kids, and not just the kids at heart. Spaces, seats, rides are smaller than those of the normal theme parks. So if you’re gifted with extra weight like me, it’s difficult to fit in. Haha!

But there are some activities for the young at heart too! First, the zipline. Second, the “perya” or the gaming area where you could just bring home those cute stuff toys, and lastly, the horse backriding area.

For those who are accompanying the playing kids, fret not! You can rent a gazebo where you can rest and just enjoy the view and the weather while waiting for the little ones to finish playing 😊

And off to our last stop: People’s Park in the Sky

Time spent here: 1 hour

Actually, this is where I enjoyed the most. This is where my body and mind was able to relax.

Entrance fee was only PhP 30.00, and there’s an option to hire a jeepney or a tricycle to bring you up. Me and my sister chose to walk to enjoy the view, and just everything. Since the weather was good, going up was not that tiring, there’s no rush to do it anyway.

We stayed here until sunset. Ahhh, it’s so relaxing. I’ll let my unedited photos speak for the experience itself. ❤

So for 6 hours (considering the travel time and traffic), I was able to destress. Something I really need for quite some time now.

All photos are can be found on my Facebook page 😊 Enjoy!

A Little Surprise on Valentines Day

Let me share with you how my Valentines Day ended. I really thought that this would end normally, like any other day. But then, unexpectedly, there are people who appreciates me and wanted my to feel their love through their simple gestures – these are my parents and my sister. 💕

The surprise started with this video. I was sending my SO an update of my whereabouts through this video. I was telling him that I am outside (by our veranda) and my sister just arrived. Before this, I was calling my sister asking her of her whereabouts since it’s past school hours and she isn’t home yet. I even joked that she was doing “lakwatsa” (Filipino term for wandering around for leisure). And then she blurted out, “Lakwatsa pala ha, eh para sayo ito” (Wandering around ha, but these are all for you). Turns out, she brought stuff to surprise me. 💕 💐💐💐🍩🍩🍩

She went home late because right after school, she went to buy bouquets of flowers and set of Valentine-special donuts for me. There are two bouquets – one is from my parents who are currently away and one is from my sister. They are so sweeeeeet to remember me today. 💐🌷⚘🌼🌱🌻🌹🥀

And yes, I took pictures even without makeup and in my house clothes. 😊💕

Beautiful flowers, right? Now that I’ve got a little bit older, I have this *feels* of not wanting anything to die, or wither, or just vanish. I know these flowers won’t last a lifetime, but at least let me try to keep them longer.

The day after Valentines Day.

Given that fact, the next day, I went to the home and furniture shop to buy small flower vases to place these flowers and some pots where I can replant some.

Now this is what I did:

After that, I dismantled the bouquets and just arranged the flowers randomly in the vases.

There were five small vases with beautiful flowers. I would place these in (1) my room, (2) my sister’s room, (3) dining area, (4) living room, and (5) patio. 💐🌸🌹

Lovely! But since it has gone dark and I couldn’t replant anymore, I have to pass and just do the replanting the next day.

The day after….

The above photos are the flowers I chose to replant. 🙂

Since I lack soil, I couldn’t replant anymore the white roses. The petals are already falling off and I don’t think it can still wait until I get a bag of soil for it. However, in order to make it last longer, I placed it in a used but cleaned wine bottle. This wine was consumed during my pre-Valentine date with my SO early this February 💕🍾🍷

So here’s my whole set of babies, I am happy to share them all with you! 💕

That’s all for my Valentines Day and the days after. Now your turn! How did your Valentines Day go? Did you celebrate it? I’d loooooove to hear your stories on the comment box below 💕

The Farmer’s Daughter – A Hidden Gem

Cold weather, warm people, great food….. Authentic local dishes! This is the perfect place to try if you want to try authentic Cordillera dishes. And guess what? It’s worth every penny!

Continue reading “The Farmer’s Daughter – A Hidden Gem”

2018 Leibster Award Nomination

AAAAAAAAAH! Yours truly is nominated for the Liebster Award 2018 by The Barefoot Backpackers. I am so honoured for this and excited to be part of this movement. Sending you thanks and love from the Philippines, Jareena and Ari! ❤ Please visit their blog for tips on how to travel the world on a budget. Yes, guys – on a budget!

About the Liebster Award:

The Liebster Award was created in order to promote new blogs and support the growing blogging community. Itis an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Liebster award main

There you go! Now my time to answer The Barefoot Backpackers’questions. Let’s start! 🙂

  1. What inspired you to create your blog?

I have always believed that life is short and that we must make the most out it… So, with this blog, I would like to share my experiences – discoveries, adventures and misfortunes, hoping to inspire people, especially women like me, to go forth and see the world’s beauty and madness and unlock its mysteries.

Let’s just say that I am a bit futuristic… So, one goal I have in mind on why I started blogging is that I would like my future kids and grandchildren (and grand-grand-grandchildren) to see how crazy yet beautiful life could be through my experiences and discoveries, and how I am able to conquer challenges one step at a time – talk about setting a good (hopefully?) example to them!

  1. How do you think you differ from other bloggers in your niche?

I have seen bloggers discovering places outside their home country, and for years before I got into blogging, I was also doing the same. I’ve been to 13 countries (as of date of writing) yet I haven’t visited enough of my own. And to tell you, Philippines has a lot to offer. So I would say, this time, I will focus more on exploring, discovering, and promoting my own hometown and country. Support local!

  1. What are a few goals you have for the next 5 years?

In terms of travelling and blogging, my goal would be to help promote my own town and country through my blog, photos, and other social media platforms.

I would also love to create a business that will support local groups in my hometown, especially talented yet underprivileged women, and expose their talent and craft to the world.

Of course, finally visit Europe. It’s such a dream quite difficult to attain for me due to complexity of visa application. But…. I’ll get there!

  1. Where is your next travel destination and why?

This year, I would like to discover more of my country since in 2017 I was backpacking around Southeast East. I am from the Philippines, and my country has a lot of places to be proud of. We are an archipelago with pristine beaches, beautiful mountains, and warm people. So up on my list are the following and the accompanying reasons:

  • Sagada, Mountain Province – I’d love to experience that peace of mind I’ve been longing for.
  • Bantayan Island and Oslob, Cebu – My goal is to explore the island on a bicycle, and of course, swim with the whale sharks!
  • Siargao – Undiscovered paradise. I’d like to get there before everyone else does.

But of course, I would still want to discover the beauty outside my hometown. Thus, my next travel international travel destinations would be:

  • Taiwan – visa-free for Filipino passport holders, FINALLY!!!!!
  • Vietnam (Hanoi and Hoi An) – I fell in love with Vietnam during my second visit. However, due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to explore more. So this time, it’s on top of my list!
  • Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Thailand – I’ve been to Thailand twice in 2017 and my first one was in 2013, and I am not able to visit these two places. This year, I’ll make sure to go for this.
  1. What is your least favorite thing about traveling and why?

LEAST favorite! Well, probably being rushed. I have this trait of wanting to take my own sweet time in discovering one place and experiencing culture. So as much as possible, I don’t take organized trips where you are limited to a specific time to see spots and experience things. So, starting this year 2018, I would go for “Less quantity, more quality”. Meaning, not into rushing to see most number of places at a time, but more into experiencing more of that place.

  1. What is a quote you live by and what does it mean to you?

I live by the quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”. That’s by Walt Disney. I am basically a dreamer, a planner, and a doer. So most of the time, if things don’t go my way, I feel frustrated about it. However, since I always hold on to my dreams, I take my time to recover and get back on my feet again. Eyes on the goal.

  1. How did you come up with your blog name?

I have named my blog after myself – Valerie Buaquen ©– simply because I want people to remember me and my actions with my real name. I believe that in my simple ways, I can create an impact to this beautiful world of ours.

liebster award.png

Now onto my nominations, questions, and the rules!

The rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award with a link back to their blog and a small excerpt about them.
  • Nominate 5-10 new bloggers who you appreciate and create new questions for them to answer. You can ask them to share something silly about themselves, how they started their blog, etc.
  • Finally, leave a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them and make sure you link their blogs on your post!
  • Also, post a photo of the Liebster Award logo on your post and/or your blog homepage!

My questions for the new nominees:

  1. What inspired you to create your blog?
  2. If you’re not blogging now, what do you think would you be doing?
  3. If you only have $50 to spend for 3 days of travelling abroad, how would you spend it?
  4. If you would have a superpower, what would it be and why?
  5. If you were to create a mobile application for travel, what would it be and what is it for?
  6. Would you rather be thorns in a cactus or thorns in a rose?
  7. What (or who) do you think you are in your past life?

My nominations:

I would love to pass on the love to the following people:

  1. The Travel Tool
  2. Hello Conchita
  3. My Soul Travels
  4. Kimie
  5. Cassidy Culp
  6. Ask Erica
  7. The Outcast Journey

Once again, thank you so much The Barefoot Backpackers for this nomination! ❤


Valerie Buaquen

Discovering Taipa, Macau

Macau is famous for being the ‘Las Vegas of the East’ due to the number of grand casinos in the area like MGM, The Venetian, Wynn…. name it. But if you want to escape the glitz of the casinos and duck into the old Macau, try Portuguese restaurants, visit cute alleys, and just get a laidback feel, you must visit Taipa Village in Macau.

Continue reading “Discovering Taipa, Macau”

Vanilla Cafe

If you’re into gregorian, cute and girly, pastel and floral interiors, here’s one place you must check out in Baguio City!

When I first heard of this place, I honestly thought this would be just a coffee and dessert spot in Baguio. Located at Kamiseta Hotel, Outlook Drive, this could be just the cutest cafe I have been to in the area – cutest in a sense that it feels magical. But there’s more than meets the eye!

My good friend, Mona, and I both love taking photos. And we too love exploring different cuisines from different restaurants. So after seeing Instagram photos of this place, we decided to give this charming one a try.

We headed to this place for lunch, with the eagerness to take instagrammable photos afterwards. Turns out, this cafe serves (and is restricted to) lunch buffet from 11:00 – 14:00 for the price of PhP 298.00 (6 USD) per person for adults and PhP 149.00 (3 USD) for kids.

Once you enter the main entrance for the hotel and the cafe, you will be overwhelmed with how regal, gregorian, yet so girly the place is.

On the left is a small staircase going down to the cafe (on the left) and to a small Kamiseta (clothes store) boutique (on the right). (Kamiseta once had a branch at SM Baguio.)

And once you turn to your left to enter the cafe….. taddah!

We were quite excited to take photos but since we arrived at 13:20 and buffet spread will only be until 14:00, we decided to have lunch first.

We both love the buttered fish fillet 💛 I also enjoyed their honey chicken wings and hawaiian pork bbq. 🤗

Unlimited flavored drinks are offered for a separate price of PhP 59.00 (1.20 USD) on top of the PhP 298.00.

Done with lunch! Let me share with you their range of cupcake products.

Our tummies couldn’t occupy these sweets anymore as much as we still love to try ’em all. But….. next time!

Let me show you now how the whole cafe looks. They also have outdoor dining area if you want to feel the beautiful weather of Baguio. Enjoy!

We really enjoyed our meal, our conversations, and the place itself! More photos of this place, here! 😊

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