AMAMI: The Hidden Jewel of Puerto Galera

Travel:  Philippines

By Njoli Brown

I’ve been to the Philippines quite a few times.  As often as not I’m able to build in some time to kick back, relax and enjoy some of the country’s amazing beaches.  You’ve probably all heard of Palawan and Boracay by now. As powerful and awesome as these places are sometimes you hit Manila and want to figure a way to the water without taking another flight.  Besides, there’s something worthwhile about travel by land and sea, having the opportunity to see the landscape as it transitions. Here’s where Puerto Galera comes in.

Puerto Galera, officially the Municipality of Puerto Galera, is a region in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is located at the north-westernmost part of Oriental Mindoro, at the south-western end of the Isla Verde Passage, maybe 3.5 hours from Manila (total travel).

When I first mentioned to my Filipino friends my thoughts of hitting this spot across the board, most of them tried to dissuade me.  Not because the beaches aren’t lovely but because the white beach area is know for some shady tourism and a bit of wild going ons.  Nevertheless, I did some research and decided to take a risk with a spot I found located about 10 minutes (by trike) from all the rowdiness.

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AMAMI Beach Resort is a unique haven designed in an eco-friendly style with structures built from native products and natural materials, coconuts, bamboo, woods, banana leaves and cotton.  The property is replete with hammocks, basket chairs, and shaded places to kick back. The food is clean and delicious! Prepared wonderfully with a menu both reflecting the italian cuisine of the owners and and filipino dishes taking advantage of local veggies, mangoes, honey and daily catches of fishes directly from the sea with no intermediate.

Sure, I went to check out the white beach area and… it was what it was.  But I’d definitely say AMAMI is a hidden jewel worth checking out and making the base for your stay.

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Earn Your Keep (the follow up…)

By Njoli Brown

Every summer I spend about a month and a half out in the Northwest.  I’m getting my hiking in, connecting with family and friends, yeah, hard life.  But I also consider this the time where I earn my keep.  I hit my boxing training a bit harder, I work my silat, try to make the rodas and capoeira classes I can and I double up my gym time when I’m not in the mountains.

Back in NYC I have a fantastic group of students and colleagues who’ve been generous over the past few years to work with me as I develop and to dedicate their time to learning what I have to teach.  Now, I’m lucky in having some fantastic teachers who’ve spent years giving me the tools and the kind of support it takes to let me feel confident imparting their gifts.  But all this being said, the worst thing an instructor can possibly do, is rest on his/her laurels.  How many of us have seen the result? Too many.

Now this is obviously taking into account those with debilitating injuries, mental or physical conditions (ie age, disease), etc.  Even so, I recall an event where my capoeira teacher taught his workshop from crutches.  I also know a student who spent her year of physical recovery translating articles and interviews of old mestres from Portuguese to English.  I figure, the least I can do is model the kind of consistent growth I ask of my students.

So, what does that look like.  No, it doesn’t have to mean an extra 4 days a week at the gym or a complete overhaul of your training regimen.  But what it does mean, is taking a good look at the holes in your game and exhibiting the kind of diligence it means to clean them up. Conditioning slipping? Perhaps show up that 20 minutes before class to jump rope (low impact on the knees and high return on the effort).  Be okay with showing your students what it looks like to work before you work.  Feel like you’re losing those fast hand mechanics?  Get yourself to a boxing gym and ask folks who know the science to help you clean up your technique.  Speed is as much muscle elasticity as it is strength. When was the last yoga class you hit.  Local community center… free.  Maybe I’m hurt and out to the physical game for a while but am I innovating in ways to train my mind?And maybe, just maybe, you need a reminder of what it’s like to not be good at something.

Push yourself, find the time and earn your keep.
*Thoughts? Suggestions? Definitely kick them down.