Tara Let’s Go Asia Random Trip 1: Discovering Rizal

Ever went on a Random Trip with total strangers? Quite interesting right? Well, I know at least two people from this trip when Tara Let’s Go Asia first held their meet-up. Few days before the actual trip, I saw the below on my feeds and went through the details. There was no specific Itinerary or plan and all you have to do is to bring yourself and enjoy. The concept was new to me so we joined. It’s a chance to meet Random People and do some Random Stuff to a Random Destination.  Kewl!

We arrived just in time and waited for a few minutes then off we go. Wondering how we’re going to get to our destination? Yes! a Jeepney. An Air-conditioned Jeepney! It’s bigger than a normal jeepney, more of like a mini-bus only that it’s locally made. 🙂

Just few minutes after leaving the parking lot near El Pueblo a traffic enforcer stopped us to query what the heck the Jeepney is doing Ortigas. The jeepney rented plies through Makati area and since we’re at Ortigas it’s normal for an officer to stop a public vehicle that is out of its normal route. It’s very important if you consider renting one to have a permit, drivers know this so don’t worry.

To start of the trip, our 1st Stop was Antipolo Cathedral – Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine. The Jesuits administered the church from 1591 to 1768. Built by the Rev. Juan de Salazar S.J., the church was ready for Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje in 1632. The church was greatly damaged during the Chinese uprising of 1639 and in the earthquakes of 1645, 1824 and 1883. For three centuries now, this church has been the object of pilgrimages all over the Philippines. People go here to get blessings before going on a trip.

Just before leaving the area, two of our foreign friends tried our local kakanin known as Suman.

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Our 2nd Stop. Situated in Brgy Bombongan Morong Rizal, we went to U-Ugong Park (Bantayog ng Kalinangan). The park is owned by Mr. Rafael Pacheco, a locally and internationally recognized artist because of his paintings. Filipinos from various status recognize the extraordinary of “Mang Paeng” and is now considered as the Father of Bare- Hand Painting in the Philippines. When you visit the place you’ll see almost all of his artworks. During the early 60’s-early 80’s Uugong park was known for its beautiful waterfalls. It is a usual summer picnic location for families and friends. Uugong means echo, which has been derived from the loud echo or sound produced by the strong current flow of the falls. The place right now needs a lot of help. The used to be vibrant place now seems to be slowly decaying if no attention will be given soon enough. Mr Pacheco who suffered from stroke was glad enough to talk to us and showed us his artworks. He has a very good sense of humor.  It was truly an honor to meet him in person.

Mr Pacheco’s Paintings

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Around U-Ugong Park

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Somewhere in Tanay Rizal, we had a thrilling adventure to Tanay’s Calinawan Cave which is our 3rd Stop. Bust just before getting there, we had lunch at a random eatery. Our damage? Just roughly 40 pesos including a glass or two of Soda. 🙂

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Going back to Calinawan Cave, the cave is a 20 minute drive from Daranak Falls. The hill where the cave is called Rawang. which have been strong-holds of Filipino resistance fighters against colonizers. To get to Calinawan it’s better to bring your own mode of transportation or else you’ll have to endure a long walk unless you’re into it. Entrance Fee is 20 pesos per head and Guide Fee is 200 per group of 5. The entrance to the cave is a small stair-like passage going down. Along the way the guide will tell you different stories and show different rock formations. Living stalagmites and stalactites are still present in the cave which is a good sign. Several movie productions have been made in this caves making it popular to some. Along the way, a small black bird fell on the ground. According to our guide the bird produces birds nest which is used in making the famous birds nest soup. It took us roughly 30 minutes to finish the trek. The exit is grand, you will need to pass through the two big rock formations towering at around 30 feet.

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After Calinawan Cave, it was time to take a dip at Daranak Falls, our 4th Stop. Daranak Falls is located in Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, a few minutes from Tanay market. It is a government-owned park and part of the laguna watershed. Entrance fee is 20 pesos per head for adults and 15 pesos for kids. They are only open from 8AM to 5PM. To get more information, please visit my other post here. Picnic tables are available for a minimal cost. Toilets and Shower Rooms are available for just 5 pesos per use.

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What to do after? Haha. Yes! It was time to eat… Not sure yet where until we pass by this interesting restaurant along the highway. Our 5th Stop, Kata Cafe it is! It is located at Delfin Tongohan St., cor. Manila East Road, Tanay, Rizal. Surprisingly we thought food would be expensive until we saw the menu and the food was served. OMG! It was a hefty serving for a price of small serving you’ll normally get if you buy it in Metro Manila. The food was delish and I highly recommend people to go here and try their food. The place was cozy as well. Very inviting and relaxed. Nice place for a chitchat and to hangout with friends. A nice escape form hustle and bustle of the city.

After dinner, we went to Binangonan Rizal in search for a cheap place to stay overnight until we ended up staying at Eastroad Apartelle. The place is located #8 Manila East Road Calumpang Hi-Way Binangonan, Rizal. Price starts at 150 pesos. Before ending the night, we had few beers and excellently picked videoke songs.

The following day, we’re off to an early start by having a quick breakfast. We then went to our 6th Stop, Angono Petroglyphs. The Angono Petroglyphs Site Museum is situated at the municipality of Binangonan, province of Rizal, three and a half kilometers southeast of the town of Angono. The museum is open Mondays-Fridays between 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. It was discovered in 1965 by National Artist, Carlos “Botong” Francisco during a field trip with a troop of boy scouts. He reported to the National Museum the existence of a cave with drawings of a primitive quality. The Angono Petroglyphs date back to circa late Neolithic. They are located in the rear recess of a cave, carved in a rock formation belonging to the Pleistocene Guadalupe Formation. There are 127 figures engraved into volcanic tuff that was soft enough to be worked on by a denser piece of stone. Unlike other examples of prehistoric art, there is no indication that colors were ever incorporated in the drawings.

It was amazing to see this kind of stuff for the very first time. I wonder if there’s more like this somewhere else. Only time will tell and the question is when? Hopefully it’s not yet late for us to see it.

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After seeing Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, it was time to go forward to our next destination. So we arrived on our 7th destination, Balaw-Balaw Restaurant & Art Gallery.  The main concept of the restaurant is to promote the culture and tradition of Angono by way of its food and arts. It is also a home to the “Higantes” the stars of the fluvial town fiesta every 23rd of November. Entrance fee to see the Art Gallery costs around 35 pesos. It might be free if you decided to eat here. Around 100 paintings of the late famous folk artist, Perdigon Vocalan are displayed in the Museum, influenced by National Artist, Carlos Botong Francisco. Vocalan’s paintings represent Angono’s rich cultural heritage and folklore. These paintings along with intricate sculptures were also inspired by Philippine Legends that are now immortalized by his works. The collection also features works by his 2 son, Rembrandt and Andre as well as other notable Filipino artists. The Museum’s design itself is a work of art with its Spanish Architecture and unmistakable Asian flare.

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Just few steps from Balaw-Balaw is the Nemiranda Art House and Atelier Cafe Restaurant, our last destination for the trip. The art gallery entrance costs around 50 pesos but is normally free for those who wish to eat here. On our way inside, one of the staff said that Nemi Miranda himself will be there. So without any second thought we decided to settle here for lunch. Nemesio R. Miranda Jr. “NEMIRANDA” was born on February 14, 1949 in Angono, Rizal, he attained his Bachelor of Fines Arts Degree at the University of Sto. Tomas. The place is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and is located at 10 Doña Elena Street, Doña Justa Village Phase 1, Barangay San Roque
Angono, Rizal.

So after seeing all the artworks, Nemi suddenly arrived and gladly accommodated us by spending 20-30 minutes of his time telling us stories, plans and developments in the world of arts, showing us his artworks and the history behind it. Wow! It was a memorable experience. He even told us that the house/art gallery itself was made of scrap wood from an old church/convent. He said he’s fond of scrap wood. He also holds art camp from time to time. A very down to earth man.

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I never thought this trip would be this much. The trip was concluded with a great meal served with fried Itik among other great varieties of local food.

This is what I love about Random Travel. You get to see places you never thought you would see and there’s a much more greater amount of appreciation. Being with people you don’t really know makes it more exciting. Everything is a surprise, a package full of unexpected things. A random trip you will truly remember. All you have to have is an open mind, welcoming aura and great appreciation of the nature and arts.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bag and go somewhere Random with no plans, just go! You’ll not only learn more about yourself, you’ll learn more about the place that surrounds you. 🙂

Happy Travels!

Calaguas Island: The 1.9K Challenge

Among the Calaguas Group of Islands, Mahabang Buhangin in Tinaga Island is the famous for many campers and backpackers. They said Boracay was like it decades ago before establishments and hotels flourished. Powdery White Sands, Crystal Blue Waters, What more can you ask for?

It was three years ago when I first laid my eyes on this wonderful island and for some reason kept me coming back every year afterwards. It was just last May when I visited this island for the 3rd time. To get here for the last 2 years I booked for a package worth 3.2K covering all expenses from Tranporation, Food, Tent and all and it was all fine but what difference would it make this time if I continue doing the same thing?

A thought came to me while at work. Why not do it as a challenge? I am sure others have tried it so why not? With the help of Simang Gala, we tried researching and asking friends for advise and finally agreed to do a 1.8K challenge. We thought it was impossible knowing how much we spend on food so we raised it to 1.9K to give ourselves some room for adhoc expenses. To make it more achievable we invited some of our friends. A lot have shown interest but only 11 of us pushed through.

May 25, we booked for the 745PM bus going to Paracale via SuperLines. Since they only have few AC bus bound for Paracale, we managed to secure tickets in the morning. It was originally just 9 of us till 2 decided to join few minutes before the scheduled departure. Lucky for them, there were 2 extra seats. Haha.

It was a long 9 hour journey with few stops along the way. The bus has spacious leg room considering the fare price is just 515 pesos. This is the cheapest way to go if you want to visit Calaguas on a tight budget, even less if you ride an ordinary bus.

Upon our arrival in the Town of Paracale, some of us waited in the Superlines Ticketing area to secure tickets going back to Manila, while other went to the Market and bought supplies. Each of us had a share of 200 pesos to cover for lunch, dinner, breakfast, snacks and booze. We then met up with Ricky our friendly boatman. He was very accommodating, he managed to secure all cooking utensils, block of ice, big ice box and our drinking.

It was half past 8 in the morning when we left the port. I was quite surprised by the calmness of the sea. I was sort of expecting a rough ride and lucky for us considering the size of our boat, it was quiet all throughout. The view was just spectacular on the entire 1 hour 45 minutes ride going to the famous long white beach of Calaguas Island in the town of Tinaga.

It was a jaw dropping view, though this was my third time here it feels like seeing it again for the first time. A big Wow!

We immediately jumped off the boat and walked along the white soft powdery sand sparkling under the heat of the sun. It was an amazing feeling. We chose a nice spot under the trees which served as a shed under the torturing heat of the sun. We rented a cottage which served as our cooking/dining and resting area.

Not wasting any time, some pitched their tents, some started cooking and well the rest just stared blankly at the horizon.

After preparing food and pitching our tents, we then had our lunch.  Yum!

So whats best to do after eating? Sleep… Haha.. It was siesta time for most us. Life is a Beach!

It was time to hit the beach and do lots of cam-whoring, haha.. super excessive..

Whilst some are having some fun, Simang Gala busily prepared our Snack. Pancit!

Much to our surprise, a sand castle was made near where we were staying. We waited for some people to finish having their pictures taken there then we took the spot. It was Free!

Time flew so fast that we didn’t notice it.

Just before sundown, dinner was prepared for everyone to enjoy. Guess what?

I don’t remember how much I ate. It was delish!

After dinner, we then had our socials near the shore. We had some few drinks, lots of laughter and endless storytelling. In the middle of all the happenings, a big surge of wind came, then the stars disappeared. Imagine whats next. Yes, the rain.. It took a while for the rain to stop until the following morning. Some even managed to sleep in the cottages. We thought of the rain as a blessing after seeing how wonderful it is to wake up seeing the beach.

Not even done with Breakfast, some headed to the rocks for more pictures.

And so a vibrant breakfast was served. Dig in!

After breakfast, it was time to hit the water again. Heaven!

Yes they were using umbrella. It was scorching hot!

Oh well, after all the fun it was time to leave. A place you’ll definitely comeback. A place you’ll always miss. A place where you’ll find peace and happiness. A place you’ll fall in love with over and over again. Yes, this was my third time and it won’t end there.

Saying goodbye is hard once you set foot on this paradise. So it’s definitely a till-we-meet-again. Agree?

So we thought it’s over. Our nice boatman offered to bring us somewhere before heading back to Paracale. We tried asking but he doesn’t seem to know that name of the place.

We immediately jumped off the boat wearing our life vest. Hahaha. I love the beach but I still don’t know how to do threading in the water. LOL

It was all fun. Around the island, you’ll get to see colorful starfish, big and small coral formations, blue jellyfish and sea urchins. We even had our lunch on the boat. Yes, the rice and dried fish was cooked whilst we are on board. Cool!

She doesn’t want to leave…

Oh well, we really needed to leave to catch the last trip to Daet. Yes, my Bicol trip is not yet over. Whilst the rest of the gang are all booked for Manila, me and my girlfriend are going to spend the rest of the week in Bicol.

In order to tidy up, we went to Malayan Tourist Inn.  This place is just near where the buses stop and it’s in front of a gas station and van terminal.

With so little time, since the last van going to Daet leaves at 5PM and all shower rooms are being used,  Ate Karina of Malayan Tourist Inn openly offered her house for us to take a bath. Her daughter even brought us to their house via motorbike. It was the quickest shower we had ever. In just about 5 minutes we’re back. Haha!

We repacked all our stuff as quickly as possible but then we were told that the last van already left. So what now? Ate Karina gave us option to get a bus or tricycle passing through Talobatib then get a bus going to Daet. Luckily another passenger was left who was also on his way to Daet so we took the chance and left.

Check the continuation of our adventure after Calaguas on my next entry.

Indeed 1.9K is definitely possible specially if you’re on a tight budget. It was a bit hard for some of us to stick to the planned budget but that’s where we had so much fun. Imagine the urge of buying tuna for dinner, a big No. Imagine buying loads of booze and soda, a big No. Adhoc expenses in the island, also a big No. But it was all OK. Everyone enjoyed every single minute of the trip, we all gained new friends, experienced something new, faced some of our fears and realized that there’s more to life than work.

Total Expenses = 1870 Pesos / Head
1100 Bus Fare vv / Head
400 Boat Fee / Head
150 Resort Entrance Fee / Head
20 Brgy Tax Fee / Head
200 Food (5 Meals) / Head

Contacts:

Ate Karina: 09157959350 (for accommodation and bus reservation in Paracale going to Manila) – Ate Karina can try to help you book for a ticket back to Manila during peak season. Try their restaurant, food is really nice. You can also take a shower for just 20 pesos or even get it free. ☺

Kuya Ricky: 09127365717 (boatman) – you can get a boat for as low as 3K depending on the number person. Kuya Ricky can also take care of your cooking utensils, drinking water (you just have to pay 50 pesos/5 Gallon), block of ice, icebox and grill at no extra cost. Text him for help.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 0 Day 2
1945 ETD Superlines Cubao 0700 Wake Up Call
Day 1 0730 Prepare Breakfast
0530 ETA Paracale Terminal 0830 Breakfast Time
0600 Market 0900 Free Time/Swim
0730 Secure Tix for Manila 1100 Break Camp/Tidy Up
0830 ETD Paracale Port 1200 ETD Calaguas
1015 ETA Calaguas Island 1230 ETA Unknown Island
1100 Prepare Lunch 1400 Lunch
1200 Lunch 1530 ETD Unknown Island
1400 Swim/Free Time 1645 Paracale Port
1600 Merienda 1700 Shower/Tidy Up
1630 Free Time 1800 Dinner
1800 Prepare Dinner 1945 ETD Paracale Port
1900 Dinner Time Day 3
2100 Socials 0400 ETA Manila

Mt. Isarog (Panicuason Trail) Itinerary and Expenses

Brgy. Panicuason, Naga city, Camarines Sur
1922 MASL – Major climb
Difficulty Level as per PM 5/9
Estimated Budget: Php 2000-2500

See details below:

via Mt. Isarog (Panicuason Trail).

Mt. Mayon via West Face Baligang Trail

Mt.Mayon is a Major Major climb (9/9 rating)
Trail Features: Treeline to Cogonal to Rock Scrambling w/ Sulphuric fumes at the Summit

see Mt. Mayon via West Face Baligang Trail.

Mt. Damas Traverse

Summit Camp

View From Trek Start Point

Falls

Lunch Time!

This climb won’t be possible without the help of Chad Torres and Game-Nest. Thank You!

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

via Mt. Damas Traverse.

Mt. Sicapoo Traverse

Approx Budget: Php3,500

MASL

  • Balbalitok Hill: 1100+masl
  • Saulay: 1286masl
  • Bubuos: 1410masl
  • Balbalite: 1585masl
  • Pakpako: 1620masl
  • Matalindong: 1685masl
  • Sicapoo: 2354masl
  • Timarid: 1527masl
  • Simagaysay: 1341masl

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

see Mt. Sicapoo Traverse.

Mt. Napulauan Traverse

ITINERARY (HUNGDUAN-HAPAO TRAVERSE)

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

via Mt. Napulauan Traverse.

Mt Batulao Traverse

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

via Mt Batulao Traverse.

Magalang-Arayat Traverse

Along the way

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

via Mt Arayat Traverse.

Bakun Trio

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

via Bakun Trio.