Friday, October 22, 2010

Exploring Bohol-Cebu-Panglao Island

February 20-22, 2010

Cha and I went on a three-day tour to three of the most visited and beautiful places in our country—Bohol, Cebu and Panglao Island. This trip turned out to be one of the most fun that we've had. I’d like to share our itinerary:

Day 1

08:35- Mla ETD, NAIA Terminal 3 (Cebu Pacific)

09:50- Tag ETA

10:00- Start of the Bohol Countryside Tour

Blood Compact (historical site)

Baclayon Church (old church)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The 24-hour Negros Escape: Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, Manapla

Negros may not have the mighty mountains of Sagada nor can its beaches be compared to the ones in Palawan but its sugarcane plantation in the countryside is amazing and overwhelming. Even from the aerial view, one can already see the sprawling greens of sugarcanes, and true to what I already know, Negros indeed is a sugarlandia.

Known as the Land of the Sugar Barons, Negros Occidental is a good spot to learn the heritage and lifestyle of its opulent residents during their heydays. We visited some of its heritage houses and mansions, and from the stories of the people we met there, it was like stepping back in time when these landed people were living high and languid. Before the sugar industry crashed in 1980s, we were told about their grand balls, the carriage pulled by mighty horses, and their other excesses in life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My CORONific Experience!

Coron has amazing lagoons like this one near Kayangan Lake

Sept. 19- 21, 2010
Coron, Palawan

I first learned about Coron way back in my grade school years when my father was invited for a cockfight there. I vividly remember how we devoured the  cashew nuts he brought home from that trip. It was the first time I have ever tasted cashew nuts so it was like a huge feast at home. But apart from the cashew nuts story, he made no mention of how Coron was like as a small town in Palawan.

From the time of my father’s visit up until today, Coron had significantly grown to become a very popular tourist destination. So when my sister Cha told me that she wanted to book a flight to Coron, I pleaded to tag along. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

My travel companions were Cha, Janet, Vicki, Jane, Myles, Cathy, Susan, Gemma, Ana, Sancai, Alma, Imee, Tin and Angie. Thanks to them, the trip was fun and easy even when some things got a little awry along the way.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pahiyas Festival

Lucban, Quezon
Majayjay-Liliw-Nagcarlan, Laguna

May 15, 2010. Food-nature-road trip with my favorite travel mates to one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines--Pahiyas Festival. It was my 3rd Pahiyas already but the colorful kipings and the vibe in Lucban just make me want to come back again and again. Also, the trip to the lovely churches in Liliw and Majayjay was simply awesome.
Our Itinerary:
PAHIYAS Festival
Lucban, Quezon, Philippines

04:30am – Assembly at McDO Edsa Central (near Teleperformance Bldg)
05:00am – Departure to Lucban, Quezon;
09:00am – ETA Lucban, Quezon; Free time to roam around the festival
12:00pm — Lunch; Free time
02:30pm — Depart for Liliw and Nagcarlan
03:30pm — Sidetrip: Liliw and Nagcarlan for sandal shopping and visit at the church and underground cemetery
05:30pm — Depart for Manila, dinner stopover on the way home
10:00pm — ETA Manila

Foodtrip Pilipinas: Best Tastes of Binondo

Binondo, also known as the oldest Chinatown in the world, was established in 1594 as a settlement for the Chinese migrants arriving and trading in Manila. Although dominated by Filipino-Chinese merchants nowadays, Binondo become a cultural melting pot for many other migrants, like Muslims and Spaniards, which makes it an interesting cultural place to visit... and to sample food. 

Dong Bei dumplings
Frog legs 
Tea egg 
Lord Stow’s egg tart
Sugarcane juice
Fried siopao
Liver steak
Iced brewed coffee
Kiampong rice

Peeking through the Manila Metropolitan Theater

Whenever I pass by Lawton area in Manila, I can’t help but imagine some crazy-scary scenes inside the Manila Metropolitan Theater. I would visualize lovely women dolled up to catch a gala show. The long lines of vintage cars passing in front its intricately-designed fa├žade. The red curtain and the red carpet. All glamorous. But, when the reality dawns on me that I’m looking at a severely dilapidated infrastructure, my mind would easily shift to scary thoughts. Now, there would be ghosts hovering the entire place. And the lights would dim.

Just last Sunday, June 20, along with about 130 participants, I had the chance to enter this famous art deco building designed by the Filipino architect Juan M. de Guzman Arellano. The free tour was organized by the Filipinas Stamp Collectors' Club. We seized the place not for ghost hunting but to just explore and somehow get a glimpse of this long forgotten landmark.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2009

Feb 15, 2009. Clark, Pampanga

This trip with my highschool friends and Eric was one of the most enjoyable that we've had.

Early that sunday morning, we ganged up inside Meg's van and headed to Pampanga. Luckily, we were just in time when the balloons were being inflated and had a nice view while one by one each balloon made its way up in the air.

The entrance fee to the venue was P100. Inside there are exhibits from different avaition schools, sort-of military parade, display of anything that flies and wide array of food stalls. There are also other activities lined up for the day like paraglide, skydive, balloon night glow, kite flying, etc.

Pasinaya 2010: CCP Open House Festival

Feb 7, 2010. Another fun Sunday with a funny good friend. When Megs Sorra texted me about the Pasinaya 2010, I didn’t hesitate a moment and immediately decided to spend my Sunday afternoon there. Heck, I would never miss this opportunity to enter the great walls and halls of what I thought of as an elitist Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), I told myself. Well, I still think after I went there that it’s an elitist venue for arts.

I was with my good highschool friend Ami Pitajen. It was so much fun! At the entrance, we gave a P20 donation. My cheapo self sang with praises! haha As it turned out, all the theatres inside CCP became venues for various cultural and artistic performances. We’ve seen different folk songs, musical instruments and some other acts.

Exploring Ilocandia

This trip to Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur pushed my love affair with backpacking Pilipinas to a different level. It was an absolutely amazing weekend where we learned a lot about our culture and at the same time our eyes feasted on  the beautiful scenery only Ilocandia can offer. 

Cha and I joined the group tour organized by Travel Factor. It was supposed to be a photography tour but since our camera was so-so compared to other travelers, we had the advantage of just enjoying the Ilocos scenes--less the hassles brought by setting up DSLRs and tripods. ok now, i'm sour-graping.

Our itinerary included San Agustin Church, Paoay Church, Burgos, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Capurpurawan Rock, Bangui Windmills, Pagudpud Beaches, Kaibigan Falls, Patapat bridge and Vigan.

Of these places, probably the most that I felt excited about was the sunset visit to Bangui Windmills. These 20 beautiful structures light up the quaint little town of Bangui!

DJC Halo Halo, Tiwi, Albay

There's so many things that make me want to go back to Legazpi again and again -- old friends, food, Mt. Mayon. And every trip to Legazpi is never complete without a stop for the good old favorite DJC Halo Halo.

Sunset in Manila Bay

There isn't any other way to describe the sunset in Manila Bay other than the word "Fascinating."
As soon as the great sun touches the horizon, the colors of the sky imitates a beautiful painting in a broad canvass.

The best time to go there is early 5p.m. I give credit to the local government of Manila for taking back the old Manila Bay scenes. Unlike when there was a deluge of bars/restos around, the idea of "promanading along the bay"seems to have lost it's touch because of too much consumerism in the area. For now, one can just enjoy the sunset in the long stretch of Manila Bay along with group of families having a great bonding time, lovers enjoying each others moments, vendors selling various products, photographers waiting for the shot of the day and just regular yuppies taking a respite from the grueling hours at work.

Not too bad for a free experience! Have a great Manila Bay experience too! =)

My Beloved Palumbanes Island

If there are two islands in our country that I feel deeply rooted to, these are Catanduanes and Palumbanes Island. Catanduanes, my own province is where I spent most of my childhood years, while Palumbanes Island is where I spent most of my childhood summer days.

Palumbanes sits at the northern part of Catanduanes, a part of the town of Caramoran. It has a local community where fishing is the main source of living. During the typhoon months, where the sea could be dangerous to small fishing vessels, the villagers opt to backyard farming (they plant rice and camote, and raise poultry).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Conquer Corregidor

Barracks used by the soldiers who fought during World War 2

One of the lessons I learned during this trip is that although Corregidor is geographically near Bataan, it is politically part of Cavite. And so the address   is Corregidor Island, Cavite.

This tadpole-shaped island located at the entrance of Manila Bay served as a focal point for the naval defenses and was vital to the defense of Manila during the World War II. But nowadays because of its significance in Philippine history, it's included in the list of main tourist destinations in the country. 

Along with my sister Cha, we decided to spend a day in this historical island and joined the group tour organized by Suncruises. Because we made reservations prior to the trip, we had no problems getting our seats when we arrived in the docking area near CCP Complex on that clear Sunday morning. There were a handful of foreign and local tourists who joined us in this trip.  We left Manila Bay at around 8 a.m and reached Corregidor after about an hour and 15 minutes of ferry ride. Cars that resembles a tram were waiting for us in the docking area.  These were also the same tourist cars that we used exploring the whole island. We were brought to a hall where our lunch was served. And after the buffet lunch, we started the tour. 

We visited some of Corregidor's historical treasures, such as: 

Malinta Tunnel - This tunnel which was completed in 1922 was formerly an arsenal and underground hospital. Located under the Malinta hill, it served as bomb-proof headquarters for Fil-American troops during World War II.

Entrance of Malinta Tunnel. Inside, we watched a light and sound show where simulations of the bombings during the war were depicted.

Mt. Pinatubo Hike

Mt. Pinatubo in 2009

Mt. Pinatubo hike 2011

I obviously loved Mt. Pinatubo enough to make me hike its difficult terrain twice. She was "love at first sight."

I first scaled this mountain back in 2009 with my friends May and Megs, and that sunny Sunday was filled with so much adventure and laughter despite it being my first time to conquer a mountain. I was totally smitten by the beauty of the crater and I didn't expect that such sight could be a result of a grim and deadly disaster. I vowed to myself to return so I could let my other friends experience what I had while on the trail and the wow moment of actually seeing the crater for the first time.

Taal Volcano Hike

eerie and placid Taal Lake
August 22, 2009
Talisay, Batangas

Another beautiful Sunday. Hiking with Cha and Hiroe in Taal volcano, one of the smallest, lowest, most dangerous and most active volcanoes in the world, was a fun experience.

The sun was up brightly and light clouds were hanging in the sky, thanks to Hiroe's five teru teru boys. Making a teru teru boy (paper doll) is a Japanese way of wishing for a good weather on a planned trip. 

Hiroe and Cha enjoying the boat ride 

CWC, Cam Sur

September 19, 2009

Pili, Camarines Sur

Sakit ng katawan ang inabot ko nang mag magaling ako sa Camarines Sur Watersports Complex CWC. This was part of my one-day trip to Naga City to attend the Penafrancia Festival. And the whole experience turned out to be extremely fun!

How to get there: There are three ways to reach Pili, Camsur. Para sakin ang pinaka convenient ay private car. If wala, pwede na rin magtiis on an almost 9-hr bus ride (gaya ng ginawa ko). If flying by plane, you can reach Pili in just about 55 mins. Once there, there are options to stay at the cottages or cabanas na nakaset up sa cwc or you may opt to check in sa mga hotels sa Naga. Hindi din kayo magugutom dun kasi may mga food stalls and resto within the area.

Laid back Baler: Sunrises, Waves, History

DAWN. I couldn't resist doing a jump shot with this amazing sunrise on my background

My first impression of Baler was that it pretty much looks like other municipalities in my own province, Catanduanes -- lush trees, simple structure of houses, and the simplicity of the people. All things considered, it's a 4th class municipality tucked away from the busy metro, a place perfect for a quiet retreat.

COMMUNITY. group of fishermen gathering their early morning catch

We got to explore the town center in the afternoon. There, we found great places which are somehow distinctly Baler.

Our first stop was Museo de Baler. I was deeply disappointed upon knowing that it was only open during weekdays, but Jojo, the caretaker of the museum, was kind  to open the place exclusively for us. YEY! I realized how well kept and maintained the place was as soon as we entered. It is even air-conditioned! Aside from the photos and artifacts of our katutubo who once lived in Baler, the place also keeps facts about famous people there (like the Quezon and Angara clan).

Museo de Baler
We got to explore the town center in the afternoon. There, we found great places which are somehow distinctly Baler.

Our first stop was Museo de Baler. I was deeply disappointed upon knowing that it’s only open during weekdays, but Kuya Jojo, the “curator,“ was kind  to open the place exclusively for us. YEY! As we entered, I realized how well kept and maintained the place was. It is even air-conditioned! Aside from the photos and artifacts of our katutubo who once lived in Baler, the place also keeps facts about famous people there (like the Quezon and Angara clan).

The prominence of these clans is apparent in most of the tourist and historical places in Baler. We went to Quezon Memorial Park where one can get a good doze of a lazy afternoon, nothing much to see except the statue of former President Manuel Quezon. Then we headed to Ermita Hill, a place being developed by the Angaras, as we were told. We also got a view of the Baler fishport. Then, we went to Baler Catholic Church where we witnessed a mass wedding being celebrated. We looked like the uninvited guests enthusiastically taking photos of the ceremony.hehe

Baler is a laid-back place where one can enjoy the comfort of a simple life.

Probably the most beautiful thing I’ll remember of this town is its beautiful sunrise at Sabang Beach. The sky looked like a broad canvas of colors:-) I also enjoyed swimming at the beach (even for a very limited time). 

One thing that puts Baler nowadays in the tourism map is its surfing bay area. However, during our stay there, the beach was so calm. No regrets, I might just be back to get stoked in the famous waves of Baler.

How to get there:

My friend and I took the 4.30 a.m. bus bound for Baler. At the time of our trip, only Genesis Bus Transport (Cubao-bus rate P394) has the Manila-Baler daily route. Travel time from Manila to Baler is approximately 8 hours.

Another option is to go straight to Cabanatuan City and from there take another 1 and a half hours ride to Baler. 

Upon arrival, trikes are available to get you to the place where you want to stay. Options are available either within the poblacion area or beachfront (3-5 mins away from poblacion- fare P10-13). The last trip of Genesis Bus bound for Mla is 9:30 am, daily.



3:00 am- meet up

4:30- ETD- Genesis Bus Terminal Cubao

12:30 ETA- Baler Terminal

01:00 Lunch

02:00 Bay INN check in

03:00 Start of Eco-Strip Tours/Baler tour
Dimadimalangat Islets/Lukso-Lukso
Baler Fishport,Ermita Hills
05:00 Cemento Beach/Cobra Reef (sunset and beach bum)

07:00 Dinner/ beach bum ulit

06:00 Breakfast

07:00 Walking tour of Baler
Sabutan Weaving
Suman Making
Pasalubong Center
Balete Tree (oldest in Asia)
History Trail (Baler Church, Quezon Park and Museo de Baler)
Ditumabo Falls


What to bring (note: travel light)

Comfortable shoes
Swim wear
Walking shorts
Shirt (bring extra)


Personal hygiene needs-toothbrush, soap, and shampoo


My unusual journey in Sagada

Banga-an Rice Terraces

May 1-3, 2009
Sagada, Mt. Province

I knew the moment we unloaded our bags from our bus that I’d be up to a great adventure in Sagada. Actually before we arrived there, we had already enjoyed the scenic Mt. Province - indeed, it is a province with a lot of mountains! The deep ravines, the majestic stretch of rice terraces, the simple structure of uphill houses, the long and winding Chico River, the cotton-cloudy sky kissing the mountains, the moist of fogs, the road’s delicate curves and ultimately the dominance of green. I later on realized that these were just a prelude to what we were up to in Sagada.

My travel mates included my sister Cha, my college classmates Ems and Precel, my new-found friend ate Melody and some other 60-strong adventurous urban folks (trip made possible by Travel Factor). It was a large group of tourists expecting to find some fun for the long weekend. We traveled more than 13 hours to get to Sagada.

bonfire with new-found friends in Sagada

group pic with ems, kuya edwin, cha, cel and ate melody

Amazing Anawangin

Anawangin Cove 
Jan 30-31, 2010 
Anawangin Cove, Zambales

This trip was so amazing and so exciting that I feel it’s a sin if I'll not share some important details to those who are planning to go to this incredible place. Hope this will help. :)

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