hello there fellow traveler, fellow citizen of the world, fellow vt addict! hope this homepage finds you well and in good spirits!

my apologies, will continue writing on all my pages as soon as i have time, or as soon as i lose my writer's block - whichever comes first. still haven't fully adjusted to being back in the rat race since arriving from tibet. my head is literally still in the clouds! (apologies also to stephen hawking for the title of my homepage)

the writer's block set in just as i finished writing the first page of an article about the alhambra for an architectural magazine. went there with my 84-year-old grandfather, one of the many highlights of our great european adventure (we were like al pacino and chris o'donnell in "scent of a woman" - only slower). well, several years have gone by, my grandfather has since passed away, and still the article sits unfinished. sigh! baby steps, baby steps.

i am hoping that my discovering this site will get me going again - it's always inspiring to read about other people's experiences and how they view the world.

hey, i actually wrote something. writer's block is officially over!


i started my travels when i was four years old. while going through my mom's stuff one day, i discovered an old disneyland brochure, the kind complete with a layout of the park and colorful diagrams. would simply close my eyes and there i was on the jungle cruise each time - without paying any entrance fees.

my first real trip out of the country was to new york. i was twelve, it was april, and spring was in the air. the day after i arrived, there was a blizzard - only the 5th time in US history that a blizzard hit new york in april.

my second trip out of the country was, again, to new york. i was fourteen, it was april, and spring was in the air. the day after i arrived, there was a blizzard - only the 6th time in US history that a blizzard hit new york in april.

hey, at least i didn't have to go far to make my first snow angel.

my first snowball blackeye followed not long after that.

third time out came two years later, i was in honolulu, hawaii. while snorkling in fifteen feet of water at hanauma bay, i was promptly attacked by a large parrot fish. i don't exactly know what the statistics are for parrot fish attacks on humans because, well, i haven't come across any. still researching.

don't get me wrong, had a blast! got to go surfing for the first time - at famous sandy beach, no less! to top it off, i didn't get dismembered by any sharks and i didn't smash my head on the reef.


when i was eighteen, i packed half a suitcase worth of shorts and tank-tops for a two-week vacation in LA. i ended up staying longer, much longer.

as soon as i decided to stay, i had to get a car, an apartment, and more than three jobs to pay for the car and the apartment. had a 9am-6pm job in an urban renewal firm in brentwood then moonlighted at a 6pm-9pm job in century city mall (i either had to leave the 1st job early or arrive at the 2nd job late). on weekends, i moved boxes, parked cars, danced at a strip club - you know, nothing out of the ordinary.

while sitting on a park bench one day, i met OJ Simpson. i really did, he used the atm right beside me - but this was way before his white bronco joyride.

that has nothing to do with anything, really.

it suffices to say that it was during this time that i truly came of age, that i discovered my real self, that i learned how to dance the cabbage patch. i left as a gangly teenager and i came back a man - complete with an employee of the month badge and a chicago bulls ticket stub in my wallet (proof of once breathing the same air as michael jordan) to show for all the time i spent in the U.S.

things were different. the innocence was lost. then again, some may argue i never had much of it anyway.


after i got my degree in architecture, i decided to escape to the U.S. west coast for a break - partly because the travel bug bit me again, partly because it had been five years since i went anywhere, but mostly because i wanted to get over somebody.

everyday, i slept til 2pm. when i was awake, i gorged on 99cent bigmacs, whoppers, and jumbojacks to regain a little weight i'd lost, then chain-smoked on the balcony (staring into the distance, of course) while listening to U2's "with or without you," sting's "why should i cry for you?" and a few other mildly-biased-against-women songs.

after a month, i was over her. i was also coughing like a barking dog and had gained thirty pounds - a small price to pay for emotional freedom, right?

this proved i was ready for another adventure. my folks were going to tour mexico and asked if i wanted to come along. hmmm, do i want to go to mexico? is a frog's ass watertight?

for two weeks and all along the central mexican mountains, i ended up lugging for them two duffle bags each filled with about a hundred pounds of fragile talavera plates and tiles (no wonder they invited me!). scholeosis and the cholula let-down notwithstanding (pls. refer to my cholula page), no regrets! it was amazing to experience aztec culture and architecture first hand!

it was also amazing that women kept coming up to me thinking i was a certain telenovela celebrity. i should really go back to mexico.

btw, have long since stopped smoking.


that's because the adventure i had with my lolo (that's filipino for grandfather) was truly memorable. if you walk around europe with an 84-year-old guy for 6 weeks, you will:

1. sit on a lot of benches.
2. notice the design of every single manhole cover that you slowly pass by.
3. not always make it to the public toilet in time.

you will also meet a lot of women. well, actually, he met a lot of women. i was just the guy on the side keeping him steady. he quickly endeared himself to everyone we encountered along the way, both human and pigeon. you will also have to arrange a twenty-minute headstart with your guide everytime you join a walking tour.

during all of our plane, train, boat, and bus rides, he told me all about our family's colorful history as well as fascinating stories of his childhood. you'll notice him wearing an eyepatch in our pictures; his eye, part of his nose, and his pinky finger were taken out by grenade shrapnel during WWII. sadly, his baby daughter, my would-be aunt, was killed by the same grenade.

once - ok, four times - i lost him, as in i totally lost sight of him for what seemed like hours. hey, the train station in rome is crazy, anyone can get lost there, right? and how was i to know that the wheelchair's handbrake was defective when we stopped on top of that hill at the norwegian outdoor folk museum? i admit, though, the florence fiasco (pls. see my florence page) was all my fault. please don't tell anyone, even my family doesn't know about this.

the important thing is that we somehow made it back safe. i miss you, lolo. thank you for the adventure of a lifetime! God bless you!


if you have my luck or my warped way of interpreting signs, that is.

not airport signs (didn't board the wrong plane, ok?!) - just signs like, oh, getting bombarded by tv documentary after tv documentary about the bird flu situation in cambodia right after i booked my ticket. was i being told something? was it an omen? or, was it just bird flu week on the discovery channel? whatever it was, it got so bad that i decided to postpone my trip to angkor and just go to china instead.

i was really planning to go to china, anyway. and, since it was one and the same visa, i decided to go to tibet as well - come to think of it, that's where i really wanted to go in the first place! ever since tintin suddenly screamed "CHANG!" thus turning the lounge of their hotel topsy-turvy and bringing capt. haddock as close as he'd ever been to a massive heart attack (in the literary classic, "tintin in tibet"), i've been bent on seeing this mysterious realm high up in the himalayas.

even with just half the recommended preparation time, off to tibet i went.

BEST TRIP EVER!!! the reverberating gongs, the spinning prayer wheels, the incense in the air, the beautiful locals, the chanting monks, and the altogether bright colors of the culture really got me feeling high - i believe the lack of oxygen which made it seem as if everything was in slow motion had a little to do with it as well.

i eventually made it to historic cambodia a few months later, more bird flu documentaries notwithstanding.

moral of the story? if you're going to book angkor, don't watch tv.


i've added a few (ok, not a few) choice personal pages below. before you read on, just a WARNING:

though i believe i'm a tried and tested traveler in every sense, the contents of my pages -especially the travelogues- are the direct result of a warped mind deprived of sleep and, worse, good conversation.

be that as it may, please find some measure of good in the literature below as a lot of valuable time at work was wasted while writing it.

lastly, pages may at times contain truth but, rest assured, this is purely unintentional. ;-)

  • Intro Updated Dec 17, 2012
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Comments (288)

  • Odinnthor's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Hey Miko, - sorry I missed your Birthday my friend. Hope it was glorious........d:o)

    • Odinnthor's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 12:24 PM

      Hey Miko, good to hear from you! All is well so far, - I have some health issues, but hey it takes a lot to kill a Viking eh? Getting a manuscript ready for publishers in Iceland so will be hitting the road in the coming months. Take care of yourself mon ami. Be safe..........d:o)

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      Jun 15, 2015 at 8:28 AM

      Good to hear from you too, Erik! Sorry for the delayed reply, haven't been on VT much lately. Sorry to hear about the health issues, I hope you feel better soon my friend. Also going through some health problems myself, let's hope things get better for us both! Great, good luck with your manuscript submission! That's something to look forward to. keep me posted! Have a submission end of this month as well, my research paper will be published in the US. It's been so stressful, will be really relieved when it's done! Be safe and be well too!

  • planxty's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Hello again Miko,

    just dropping by to wish you a very happy birthday and a great year to come with lots of travels.

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      Jun 15, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      Haha, you high living guy, you! Good to hear from you. Touch and go here as well, but that's life. Back in Manila since last year, though I was just in Tokyo last week for a few days. And where's your next destination?

    • planxty's Profile Photo
      Jun 16, 2015 at 1:14 AM

      Hello mate,

      off to Canada on Thursday for six weeks. Lynne (RavensWing) and I have bought a new campervan (RV) so we are round the Rockies and West Coast for a few weeks. After that, back to UK for a few gigs / festivals and then back to Asia for our winter.

      Hope to catch up soon,


  • kahnjetta's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    Happy Birthday!

  • Waalewiener's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    Happy Birthday Miko have a great day

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 11:07 AM

      Thanks a lot, Hansi! Had a great birthday and I'm doing well. Hope all is well with you and Lori!

  • SOLODANCER's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    Naku, Miko, saan ka na ngayon querido amigo? Still in Nippon? Thinking of you even more this birthday of yours with the best of wishes and much more. Sa Imperial Palace ba ang celebracion natin? I trust everything is going just about perfect Miko and there is happiness indeed!

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 11:10 AM

      Salamat, Gabriel! Eto, nandito na ulit ako sa Manila, tapos na ang 2 years ko sa Tokyo. Sana nga nasa imperial palace ang party para masaya tayong lahat, haha! Ok naman ako, sana ikaw din. Ingat lagi!

  • Homanded's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 4:51 AM

    Happy Birthday Miko! I know you are safe and sound and living the adventure via your fb page!!!

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      Thanks Homer! Haha, just trying to live my midlife years as best as I can (though it's a lot more boring than you think). Hope all is well with you and Eddie.

  • DAO's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 4:13 AM

    Maligayang Bati sa Iyong Kaarawan! May handaan ba? Kambing?

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      Jun 15, 2015 at 8:35 AM

      Sorry for the late reply, been crazy busy lately. How was the Euromeet? Hope I can join you guys in another one of those soon. Where you off to next?

    • DAO's Profile Photo
      Jun 15, 2015 at 8:49 AM

      Good,lots of booze and sex,but no violence. Long story but no plans. Hopefully in 2 months

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 4:03 AM

    Here's wishing you a very "Happy Birthday" Miko and hope you have a fun day celebrating with family and friends. Hope you are well and happy. xxx Lori and Hansi

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 10:59 AM

      Thanks a lot, Lori and Hansi! Had a great birthday and I'm doing well. Hope you both are, too!

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 1:44 AM

    Happy birthday Miko.

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      Thanks a lot, Claus. Hope all is well with you!

  • unravelau's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2015 at 1:33 AM

    I do hope that you have a great birthday Miko. Regards, Carole.

    • mavl's Profile Photo
      May 4, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      I did, thanks a lot, Carole. Hope all is well!

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