Thursday, March 5, 2015

Summer 2015: 30 Magical Sunsets in the Philippines

The metro train was packed with afternoon commuters earger to go home from a busy day at work.
None of them would have probably noticed the stunning view from outside the train. At that moment, the late afternoon sun was about ready to set in Manila.

As the train sped off from one station to another, I noticed the swiftly changing dramatic hues outside. The sky was painted with a collage of colors -- from pink, bright orange, and red. The sun was catching up with the speed of the train and many times, it made attempts to peek through the skyscrapers in Makati.

When I finally reached my destination, the early evening breeze greeted me.

As I was walking home, I realized how magical sunset experiences in the countryside are for me. The seemingly ordinariness of sunset is something that I often take for granted amidst the crazy city life. This daily phenomenon seems so trivial for many of us that we often fail to appreciate and really see the calm and beauty of it. It's a reminder of a passing day, telling us that no matter how bad it had been, there's always another day waiting to make things better.

While I was traveling the 80 provinces of the Philippines, I have witnessed some of the most amazing sunsets, in some of the most beautiful settings -- beside the beach, atop a mountain, near the rice fields. Allow me to take you to some of these spots around the country.

Note: Some of the sunsets below are also included in the article I wrote for

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Project BookSail 2015: Limasawa Island

After the successful book drive for the schoolchildren in Palumbanes Island in Catanduanes, the BookSail volunteers were so fired up to start a new campaign for another island. But for some reason, we didn't get to pursue the plans. 

Until lately. The volunteers talked and decided that this project is so important not just for us, but most especially for the kids who have yet to see a library and who have very little access to books.

This year, we're set to continue the project. Another remote island, another set of schoolchildren.

This time we hope to send books and school supplies to the 205 pupils of Lugsongan Elementary School and Lugsongan Adventist Multigrade School in Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte.

You can be a part of this project, and we can be partners in making a meaningful difference to the lives of the kids there! We need your help.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

PSI Max Jim Tria: My job is not for the faint-hearted

Two years ago, during a small family reunion, you told me something I have never quite forgotten. 

"... not for the weak o faint-hearted ang trabaho ko."

While I felt pompous dishing out details of my adventures in Southern Mindanao, you were understandably silent about the specifics of your work. All I knew was that, you belong to an elite unit in the PNP Special Action Force. 

But now I truly understand what you meant back then. Indeed, your job is something that not so many people would take on. It entails stepping into the peripheries, and into the wild.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Dear Backpacking Pilipinas friends,

Let me greet you all a very happy 2015! May this new year bring you peace, happiness, and blessings way more than what you can imagine! And like many of you, I'm pretty excited for the many beautiful and meaningful days ahead! 

To start the year, I'm sharing with you this new project -- the Backpacking Pilipinas 2015 Calendar!

It contains 12 photos from 12 incredible destinations in the Philippines.  
Hint: Revel in the beauty of the Philippines -- from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi! :)

But it's more than just a calendar...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Footnotes from my travels around the 80 provinces of the Philippines

Growing up in a small, remote village in Catanduanes made me appreciate the value of travel through books and dreams.

I remember leafing through my Sibika at Kultura book --  making sense of our country's history and culture, and enjoying the pages showing the "Magagandang Tanawin ng Pilipinas." 

Back then, my idea of Manila was not about huge shopping malls or skyscrapers or traffic jam. Manila, back then, was about Luneta and Fort Santiago.

Early on,  the books taught me that the Philippines is dotted with famous tourist spots like the Banaue Rice Terraces, San Juanico Bridge, Magellan's Cross, Maria Cristina Falls, and Chocolate Hills.

More than anything, books taught me to dream.

For the past five years, I've been fortunate to have visited all the destinations that I have once read about and dreamed of seeing when I was a kid.

But my travels did not end there. Instead, I challenged myself to visit the more remote destinations in our country. I dared myself to visit 80 (of the 81) provinces of the Philippines before I turn 30 years old, a challenge I have completed last year.

Let me share with you some discoveries and lessons I learned while doing the 80 before 30 challenge.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Remembering Guiuan before Typhoon Yolanda

At 4:40 a.m. on November 8, 2013, the strongest recorded typhoon to have made landfall hit the shores of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The town was never the same after that. 

It would take years before many of us could get over the devastation brought by Typhoon Yolanda. Unfortunately for many people in that town, maybe never.

With the magnitude of its strength and gust, Yolanda's wrath was unimaginable. Watching the horrific scenes of its aftermath shown in the news was heartbreaking.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Walking Around Bangued, Abra

Abra is landlocked province and is bordered by the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Apayao, Mountain Province, and Kalinga.
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