Before my blog grew and gained followers, they were the first ones who supported my passion for free. They liked my posts, shared my blog and invited their friends to like my page even without me asking for it. It’s funny that even without me telling them, they would pause before eating because they know I will take photos of the food first, candidly saying to me “O picturan mo na”. They have been willing subjects of my pictorials, whether modeling for food or a place that I will feature on my blog. They are my photographers, models, editors, and artists. When I am with them, they will say “Ito friend, magandang shot sa blog mo” or “Ito friend, kunan kita dito”. They would even take photos on their own mobile phones and later send it to me so I can use them for my articles. Sometimes, they would speak to restaurant owners or tour guides to get the important details I can write for my blog.

These people know how much my blog means to me. Without them, I will not achieve my milestones in blogging. They are also there to remind me whenever I don’t have the mood for writing. They know my frustrations and joys and constantly encourage me to pursue my dreams. Realizing their huge contribution in my passion, I would like to dedicate this post to them. I call them the Diamond in the Rough Squad: people who may have same or different interests as mine; but are very supportive in this journey.

Jeremie Lorenzo (Jem)

Jem is my good friend since 2001. We met at the church and became close when both of us participated in the church ministries as new believers. She lives in Comembo which is near my place so we often go to church together. We are part of the F4 gang together with Jhoi and Karen. Jem loves the outdoors like me but she is more of the hardcore type who’s fond of climbing difficult mountains and skateboarding. What I like about Jem is that she has a good memory of our itinerary details. When I forget something about a trip, I’ll ask her about it. She is the quiet type of person but is a good listener. We have similarities in our personalities. I can to talk to her about anything under the sun and she never judged me for my actions or opinions. She is one of my oldest friends (not only in age and in our friendship tenure) that she knows me too well. We were supposed to go to Siargao last March, but it was cancelled because of the ECQ. Some of my memorable trips with Jem include Samar, Leyte, Batanes, and Caramoan. We both love eating pasta and Lugaw.

You can see Jem’s appearances on the blog here. Jem also owns the Superjlow Travel and Tours, a travel agency for your local and international travels.

Eileen Placido (Kit)

Kit and I have been friends since Grade 6. We are part of an all-female group called Kasintre (K53) together with our batchmates in CSR (Colegio de Sta. Rosa). We became really close when we communicated again after college. Kit and I are both family-oriented and we share the same faith. We also both love cooking. She is interested in Asian culture, particularly Japanese. She is good in directions and is a well-organized traveler. When we went to Taiwan, she took charge of the itinerary and directions. She has traveled to Japan twice and seems to master their language and culture. I admire Kit for being selfless and thoughtful. She finds ways to express her love to her family and friends, even in small things. She also reminds me of anchoring my faith in God always. Kit often brings me to the unique restaurants in Mandaluyong where we enjoy discovering delicious cuisines and amazing art. She loves conversing with the locals that helps me gather interesting information for my write-ups. We both love Japanese and Filipino food. Kit’s cameo roles can be found in these posts: Goto Believe: Gourmet Lugaw for the Win, Celebration of Food and Friendship at Nanbantei of Tokyo BGC, Taiwan Travels, A Review on Yayoi Japanese Teishoku BGC + Reunion with Kasintre, Ram N’ Go: Japinoy Street Ramen on the Go!

Catherine Redona (Cath/Ming)

Cath was my officemate in SB Cards and now in FactSet. We share the same birthday, August 16. We both love eating and traveling. In fact, she was part of my milestone in traveling as she was my companion in my first trip abroad in Phuket, Thailand. I cannot enumerate all our favorite foods but definitely, we love seafood. Cath transformed into a more refined, athletic person who engaged lately in hiking and fitness activities. Cath is the most straightforward in our group; she is not afraid to speak her mind especially if it shows her concern for you. I admire her for being resilient and adaptable to changes. She changed her lifestyle, improved her skills, started new hobbies, and investments. In my blog, you’ll often see her with me in the islands or beaches, or dining in restaurants. I also like her photography style so I often use her photos for my blog. She has the “eye for details” which I sometimes don’t have. My last trip with her was in Zamboanga where we attended the wedding of Fatma. In our long years of friendship, she already knows my preferences for food and travel. Funny, but she also considers if the hotel or resort we are staying has a bathtub or jacuzzi because she knows it’s my favorite. Our remarkable trips include Ilocos, Zamboanga, Palawan, Thailand, Iloilo and Gigantes where you can see her special appearances too. For food adventures, she was with me here: Cobalabamba: The Newest Fil-Mex Cantina in Venice, Bag of Happiness in Bag O’Shrimps.

Caseylyn Santillan (Cassie)

Just like Ming, Cassie and I met at Security Bank Cards. When she resigned, she moved to FactSet together with Ming. Cassie is very sociable and friendly, she knows how to relate to different kinds of people including my Dad, who is very strict every time I travel. She’s been my “gatepass” so Dad can allow me to go home late. I just need to tell him I am with Cassie. Cassie and I share the penchant for travelling but she loves going to the beach very much. She can stay in the water for prolonged hours without getting bored or tired. When we travel, she is reliable for directions. Ming and I also learned a lot from her in getting good angles when posing for photos. Cassie is also a dog-lover like me. As both breadwinners in the family, we share the sentiments of working hard to provide for the family’s needs. She is very innovative and resourceful when it comes to that, which I truly admire. Living away from her family since college, she has become very independent. Unlike me and Ming, she is picky when it comes to food. HAHA! She doesn’t like onions, spices, seafood, or Kimchi (just to name a few). But she is so meticulous about cleanliness. She likes cleaning our room after a long day of traveling. She is the balancing act between me and Ming. She also does not get mad easily and she knows how to weigh situations and react to difficult people. Cassie’s aura poses can be found here: Guimaras: More than Sweet Mangoes and Crystalline Waters, Sigayan Bay Beach Resort: A Sweet Escape More Things to Love About Iloilo City, Palawan Travels, Shawarma Bros: Not Your Typical Shawarma, Bro, The Untold Secrets of Islas de Gigantes Traveling Essentials for the Smart Backpacker, Birthday 2017

Helen Raguirag (Ate H/ Lodi)

Ate Helen is a churchmate and a good friend in BBTP. We got close through Jem, after joining them in weekly skate sessions and hiking. Ate Helen pushed me to do things I can’t do, such as skateboarding and hiking. Like Jem, she is into extreme outdoor activities. She has climbed some of the difficult mountains in the country with Jem. She is good in arts and music. She is a licensed architect who loves to draw and paint during her spare time. She knows how to play the guitar and piano, and sings for the church from time to time. Although she is blessed with multiple talents, she is very down-to-earth. She can dwell in any type of conversation, whether about family, travel, arts, spirituality, nature — anything under the sun! Our minds align when we engage in deep conversations about life. She was my mentor in hiking. I remember my first climb to Mt. Sembrano, it was raining hard and the trail was slippery, but she assisted me all the way until I reach the summit and go back to the jump-off point. She is a good sweeper, as some of our friends would describe her. We just diverted my struggle through conversations. She knows how to interact with different kinds of people from all walks of life that I am not surprised why many people in the church got sad when she left for Samar. Not only do I admire her for expressing herself in varied forms of art, I also look up to her disposition and positive spirit. My most unforgettable trip with her was definitely our trip to her hometown, Guiuan Samar. We explored caves, beaches, historical places, ate a lot and laughed our hearts out.

Her presence in my blog can be found here: Six Daily Steals at 8 Cuts Burger Blends, Birthday 2017, Never Too Late at Early Bird Breakfast Club, Food Trip and Scenery at Guiuan, Samar: Sea Quest Lodge (Formerly Tanghay View Lodge), Something to Love about Loveshack SM Aura Wrong Ramen Burgos Circle: Not Really Wrong After All

Jaieen Marasigan (Jaika)

Last but not the least, my sister Jaika. Do I really need to write a description for this? Kidding! Anyway, Jaika is the number one beneficiary of my blogging incentives. Whenever I get GCs (gift certificates) from my events, I see to it that I treat her. Why not? She is always my photographer, driver, and assistant. And like I said in my birthday greeting for her, she loves to make “palibre”. We both love cooking but according to her, she is the better chef. She is an accountant by profession and a very hands-on dog mom to our furbabies. She is quite a perfectionist especially with household chores. She is good in handling our finances, and is very frugal. But I can say, she has grown to be more responsible now. We rely on each other when it comes to paying the bills, running errands for the family, or making big decisions for the future. Sometimes, our personalities clash because I don’t like it when she bosses around even if she is the youngest. However, she knows how to apologize when she is wrong. What I admire about her is she is goal-driven and a good manager of the household. She does her best to aim for her plans no matter what it takes. We love to eat seafood, Ramen, Korean food, Filipino food and milk tea.

You can see more of Jaika here and in these blog posts: A Birthday Staycation at One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites Amacena Restaurant at One Tagaytay Place Hotel and Suites Coffee, Desserts and Nature at Bag of Beans Athena, Tagaytay, Fab Airbnb Staycation at Wind Residences Tagaytay RSM Lutong Bahay: A Culinary Legend of Tagaytay, Cebu Travels, Celebration at Racks: Why is it a Family Thing up to the Present Another Story: The Story of a Whimsical Restaurant in Alabang Top-of-the-Line Staycation at Sofitel Philippine Plaza

Also special thanks to Chris, who’s been very supportive of my endeavors in blogging. He keeps me grounded with reality and not expect too much; but still do your best in everything. Thanks to Fatma, that even if she is working abroad, she is also my number one fan since high school. Thanks to my mom – without her I won’t be as articulate as I am now. Thanks also to my brother, Vince, for his huge fanbase 🙂

These people made huge impact to my blogging journey. Whether big or small efforts, they have shown their support unconditionally. As the quote says “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are”. Now that you’ve read about my friends, what similarities do we have?

What about you? Have you thanked the people who’ve helped you become a better person in your passion?