For the longest time, I felt like a part of me had been missing. Whenever I come home to my hometown, I’m appalled by how much the place has changed. Even our house is completely unrecognizable. The trees that I grew up climbing, the grass covering our backyard, they are gone. Long gone. What’s there now are pavements. Concrete floors with nothing but dust. Yes, dust is what’s left of my early years.

Last month my friends and I decided to spend a weekend at Casa San Pablo for a brainstorming. “Great,” I thought, “finally, a place to think that’s so different from the concrete box we work in.” So we packed our bags, drove to San Pablo City, Laguna and checked in to Casa San Pablo. We weren’t blown away. No, not blown away. What was there was a whisper, a gentle breath reminding me of the things I had lost.

I went there for an inspiration. It was there. But there was something else. I found my childhood at Casa San Pablo.

When we were young, we had a wider, more sensitive perception. We noticed everything that was new, that was strange, that was curious.

But as we grow up, as the world becomes more familiar, we tend to ignore the small things that captured our attention when we were kids. The novelty wears out. The strangeness fades away. The curiosity now has the potential to kill the cat. These small things are exactly what makes Casa San Pablo special. It is not just a place to stay or eat or have fun. It is an ocean. Everywhere you look, your eyes get flooded with memories of your juvenile years and your heart, ah, your heart drowns.

The restaurant is not just a restaurant. It is a time machine. The ambiance takes you on a ride to the moment when you hang at the kitchen while your mother was cooking. And the food makes you remember why you love food in the first place.

And as you walk around the place, you remember the days when a small paper animal was your bestfriend…

And the rain was a welcome playmate, not a buzzkill…

And the sun used to smile not burn…

The days when we first noticed that symmetry is easily broken…

Yet there’s symmetry in things you don’t expect. You just have to look for it.

The days when you could still see oddness in beauty…

And beauty in oddness…

The days when you could spot what made you happy. No matter how far…

No matter how hidden…

No matter how small…

Everything contained a possibility of happiness, of life…

The days when we would dance even when no one was looking…

Especially when no one was looking…

When the only thing that mattered was that your mother was there…

And the illusion that your dad would never break. Or leave. Ever…

And the ignorance that all homes were never broken…

And the lie that you will never, ever be alone.

How I missed those days.

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Yoshke Dimen


  1. opo natry na ng office namin ang Casa San Pablo, actually twice…it was a wonderful experience…i never thought na may ganung place sa San Pablo…when you’re inside parang nasa ibang place ka…

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is so beautifully written and the photos are wonderful! Ive been there myself and i loved that it felt like home. The food was delicious and the owners of the place were very warm. I would love to visit Casa San Pablo again :)

  3. Emmanuel Espiritu says:

    My wife and I will probably visit Casa San Pablo the next time we go on vacation to the Philippines. I enjoyed reading The Poor Traveler essay.

    Am sure we’ll enjoy being “tourists in our own country.”

  4. nina says:

    Such a beautiful entry to match a beautiful place. Your entry made me miss Casa San Pablo so much!

  5. Dennis Orila Pama says:

    the pictures and the words tells so much. i like the interaction between the person and the place, the way it gives life to the little things that make the casa unique. i sure will find this place the next time i come to san pablo.

  6. Des Inabangan says:

    Bravo!!! Very well written…’Love to visit San Pablo one of this days!

  7. Des Inabangan says:

    Bravo!!! Very well written…’Love to visit CASA San Pablo one of this days!

  8. count me a follower of -the poor traveler- it brings out the adventure side of me=reading about places and experiences=and looking forward that i too would be part of that “walking traveler”…

  9. Ruzz says:

    you’re pix are have a way with words too. :) i’m a fan!

  10. Nilda Pille says:

    This is really sweet. It really remind me my childhood. How the things was simple and beautiful.

  11. This is wonderfully written and the photos are a work of art. You captured the beauty of the place and really took me back to my childhood. Your fifth photo made me smile and feel sad at the same time. The expression on the straw pig’s face is heart-wrenching. Thank you for this.

  12. dulce cordova says:

    hi! me and my husband together with my son (10y.o) had a plan to take a vacation probably white sand beach destination.. can u suggest me a nice place where we can go? we want a peaceful destination.. not a crowded one. where we can stay 3days there.. luzon area could do :) thanx!

  13. lavender says:

    you are one good writer!
    thanks for the infos about your travels. this will surely help me for my future journeys!

  14. Catherine San Buenaventura Sampayo says:

    Really? Im really like to go there… S gate pa lang sobrang ganda n… Hay… How i wish….

  15. Jhade says:

    i’ve read some of your blogs which are informative and helpful but this one prompted me to drop a comment. It was written from the heart, really nice and wonderful.

  16. Evangeline Juco says:

    Where exactly is Casa San Pablo ? Have you heard of SULYAP in San Pablo? Google it and you ‘ll be amazed !

  17. Peeka Boo says:

    I got teary-eyed while reading your blog and looking at those pictures… i’m a fan already!

  18. Mimi says:

    I so love all the photos that you’ve been taken and my heart really touched by your words… It brings back my childhood memories too. Very well said. I am also a poor traveler…poor in experience and wanted to explore the world if possible maybe one day, who knows.

  19. Césare Fortún says:

    This made me feel
    melancholic but is so beautiful l thought l should share. Reminds me of my beautiful childhood vacation destination places of the old in Mindanao which are now lost
    forever. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Dianna Pie says:

    I loooove it! So beautifully written, made me ‘feel’ all of my childhood moments, and the photos…wow! Allow me to share this, thank you.❤

  21. Lola Lacy says:

    This has been the best piece so far ever written here! Are the articles in the poor traveler written by different authors? If they’ve been written by the same one, then I believe Casa San Pablo has given the writer his muse! Well written, well done!

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Nope, it’s different. :) Villa Escudero is near the Quezon border.:)

  22. Janice Celino says:

    @ms lhie grande, yes the place– Casa San Pablo is different from Villa Escudero. Casa San Pablo is situated in the heart of San Pablo while Villa Escudero is in the boundary of Tiaong Quezon and San Pablo Laguna.

  23. Geremy Austria says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog, thankful that I found this! Just so happen na nghahanap ako ng blog about padre burgos in quezon. Nabookmarked ko na to together with my favorite travel blogs! I am amazed how you took pictures and detailing your getaway! Nagbrowse ako ng mga common na napuntahan and happy na maalala ung mga un! Whahaha!

    Sametime Status:

    I’d rather have misadventures than have “missed adventures.” – Poor Traveler ^_^

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Glad to be of help, Geremy! Enjoy your trips!!! :D And please visit this site again if you have time. :)

  24. Geremy Austria says:

    I would love to, can I ask anu gamit mong camera? ngbbalak pa lang kc ako bumili ng SLR eh, and nakita ko na maganda quality ng pictures na nakukuha mu! hehehe

  25. Geremy Austria says:

    isa pa sir? anung mga lens? para may idea ako sa mga must have! astig kc talaga mga kuha mo eh!! idol! apir!

  26. maria theresa chavez says:

    So inspiring and it really brings back the memories when i was still in my childhood years.

  27. Loved the photo captions in telling your story … none of the objects in Casa San Pablo reminded me of my childhood, I was surrounded by much different elements, and yet it also did bring me to a more innocent time nevertheless as it did you. Wonderfully written and shot.

  28. JB & Renee says:

    Many people write well, but not everyone can write with so much soul. The way you express yourself, relating back to your own experiences, your thoughtfulness, your powers of observation, your ability to find meaning in the smallest, seemingly most insignificant of things, is truly an inspiration. Love this post.

  29. Elaine Joyce Borejon says:

    Nostalgia. This was the most beautifully written posts of all the travel blog posts I’ve read.

  30. Nonette Lib says:

    Wow, such a beautifully crafted blog. If I have to be sexy about it, I could have reached intellectual ejaculation. Surprised? Well, I don’t have orgasm just ejack haha….Oh, my Freudian slip…congrats Yoskie/Vins for this inspiring piece of literature.

  31. actually sir Rae Mond home town ng father ko yan. visit lng kmi every summer nung bata p ako then jan n din ako nag college at nag asawa. maganda nga daw jan sa casa san pablo. . . =) visit ka pg nauwi ka. . . sama mo ko. =)

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