La Union: Surfing + Pugo Adventure Camp

With nothing to do one weekend last August, I saw a post in CS FB page from Plan B Adventure Madness about their Baguio-La Union Road Trip and decided to join. It was only the day before when we asked for details and confirmed just few hours before the trip. Lucky enough we were able to secure 2 slots.

After the success of our Baguio Day Trip and Chasing Waterfalls Trip here in La Union, we celebrated it with a bang! We had drinks, we ate, we sang, we played cards and we had never ending socials. More time for us to get to know each other. I can’t even remember what time we slept. 🙂

They don't look excited at all

They don’t look excited at all

The next morning, everyone was excited to finally surf. Yes! My first time to surf! I went to Baler few weeks before this event but failed to surf and this time I made sure to do it. 🙂 So after breakfast, we packed all our bags then went to the beach.

I think I did okay as a first timer. Haha!

554525_10151825696398464_597971226_n

After surfing, we went to Thunderbird Resorts La Union  for a quick glimpse and photo opportunity. Before getting in, your driver must leave an ID. They have residences, casino and different amenities one can enjoy.

Thunderbird Resorts

Thunderbirds Resort

Thunderbird Resorts

Plan B Adventure at Thunderbird Resorts

Thunderbird Resorts

Thunderbird Resorts

Okay it  was time for us to leave and head straight to Pugo Adventure Camp. It took us less than 2 hours to reach the camp using Google Maps and the direction given was pretty accurate. This place is perfect for family, friends and team building activies. They offer different outdoor activities such as Zip Line, Rappelling, Wall Climbing, Paint Ball, ATV, Water Tubing and Target Shooting.  They also have swimming pools for kids and adults. They also a mini zoo inside and cottages to accommodate small and big groups. Enjoy the pics!

PUGAD Pugo Adventure Camp Map

Registration Area

Cottages Along the River

Starting Point of the Highest Zipline

Wall Climbing Facility

View from the Top

Socials at the Pool

Too little time with so much things to do. I will definitely go back here with friends. It was 5PM when we checked out and packed all our things. This is one of the coolest road trip we had with random people. Everyone managed to get along with each other very well.

Time to Go

This was part of my Baguio-La Union Trip last August 24-26, 2013.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Around U-Ugong Park

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Gigantes Islands Travel Guide

Thanks Chito! See you Gigantes this October!!!

Liquid Druid's travel blog

The Gigantes Islands, with all its beaches, caves and rich marine life, is a real gem in the rough in the province of Iloilo.  Its sheer distance from Iloilo City and the rest of the Panay mainland however ensures that it almost always gets bypassed as a tourism destination of beach goers and backpackers in favor of the much nearer municipality of Concepcion or the more accessible province of Guimaras.

View original post 1,905 more words

Mt Isarog: Hiking at the Heart of Camarines Sur

Soaring at 1966 MASL, Mt Isarog is a paradise at the heart of Camarines Sur. It has rich biodiversity with its very own mossy forests and verdant crater, an overview of Bicol Peninsula, and a glimpse of majestic Mt. Mayon. Mt Isarog is the second highest mountain in Bicol.

View from Mt Isarog Peak

After 1 week of stay here in Bicol seeing once and again the jaw-dropping view of the white sand island of Calaguas and visiting my relatives and friends from different parts of Bicol, my last stop was Naga. Our group REDM or Relax, Extremely Daring Mountaineers, made this hike possible lead by Dio with help from Jojo Villareal of Kaddlagan Outdoor Shop in Naga. Jojo took care of our permit, guides and transportation going to the jump off at Panicuason. (See details of Itinerary and Expenses of this hike by clicking here.)

Since I was already in Bicol before the event, I stayed in Naga the night before.  I stayed at Sunny View Hotel and paid just 450 pesos. It was an air-conditioned room with cable TV, hot & cold shower and a comfy bed. It’s located just passed the bridge after you turn left coming from SM Naga. Their cheapest room costs just 250 pesos, perfect if you’re on a tight budget and is looking for a place to sleep.

Contact Details: (054) 473-9848 / 473-8771

Room Rates (per night)
Single Fan Room P 250
Matrimonial Fan Room P 350
Singe Air-con P 450
Matrimonial Air-con P 550
Twin Air-con P 550
Triple Air-con P 800
Family Room P 1200
Extra Person P 100
Extra Mattress P 100

Photos of are available on my other entry. Simply click here.

The following day, I met up with them at Naga Central Bus Terminal who all came from Manila. We went for a quick breakfast at a nearby food stall then went to buy return tickets for Manila then off we go!

After securing our tickets, we went to Peñafrancia Shrine for a quick stop as well as to get some supplies from a nearby grocery and market place.

 

After getting all the supplies needed and some picture-taking, we then head to Brgy Panicuason which served as the jump off of our hike. Travel time is around 30 minutes. We secured guide and fixed all our stuff before the actual ascend.

Off course non-stop picture-taking on our way up going to DENR for registration…

After registration, our trek began. The ascend was very gradual and relaxed. The only challenging part was actually seeing Limatiks (bloodsuckers). Everyone was conscious or should I say paranoid of having a close encounter with the little creature. Haha! Despite this everyone managed to stop whenever there’s an opportunity for a quick snapshot along the trail.

Limatiks were more active during the first 2 hours of trek and as you get higher the less chance of getting a close encounter. We decided to have lunch at Camp 1. The trail is mostly mossy forest-covered with big trees. Few more stops at Camp 2 and Camp 3 until we decided to stop at Camp 4 at around 5:30PM where we pitched our tent. We wanted to go to Camp 5 but water source were closer at Camp 4.

After pitching our tent, dinner was prepared then finally we had a chance to eat a full meal.We had Pasta and Bicol Express. Yum! Dinner was followed by Socials where we talk about all sorts of things, experiences, plans, and to simply have some fun. Camp 4 is pretty much safe from Limatiks. Luckily!

During our socials we managed to finish 7 bottles of GSM Mojito and 1 bottle of Emperador Light but no effect to everyone. It was cold that night but pretty much manageable as long as you have jacket.

The following day, wake up call was 6AM. After coffee and light breakfast, we started trekking the summit. Trail was easy because we didn’t have any backpacks but it would be quite challenging if you have one as you have to crawl at some point and go under or over some branches or roots to move forward.

We reached the summit 2 hours after at around 9AM. We didn’t manage to see the crater view as it was all covered with clouds, we went further up and climbed the trees to see the view from the top. It was magnificent! Thank God!

Slowly the clouds covered the view so after almost an hour after few snapshots and group photos we hurriedly descended to reach the Campsite to prepare for brunch (breakfast and lunch). Some took water whilst some started cleaning and cooking.

After brunch, we started packing our things and cleaning our surrounding following the “Leave No Trace” policy. It was a bit challenging going down since the trail are slippery and are all covered with trees, you won’t see any beam of light touching the ground.

It was around 3:30PM when we reached the DENR station. Whilst waiting for the rest, we decided to go to Malabsay Falls which is roughly 15 minutes walk. Entrance fee is free of charge if you hiked Mt Isarog but if not, you have to pay 10 pesos.

We just wanted to see the falls out of curiosity but due to its grandeur and beauty we decided to take a dip on its ice-cold water. It was a relaxing feeling. The enjoyment didn’t last as we had to immediately go back to get to the jump off. After taking some photos we went back to DENR to get our things and trek back to  jump off station (GSP Camp Maria Aurora).

Due to lack of area where we could shower and tidy up, we went to Sulat Pool to clean up and change clothes before heading back to the main city. Entrance fee costs 50 pesos and cottage rental costs 150 pesos. The don’t have a descent restroom or shower room so don’t expect anything. Water is abundant as it all comes from the mountain.

We managed to leave Panicuason at around 6PM and arrived at Naga City Bus Terminal at around 6:30PM. Our scheduled departure was at 7:15PM and with so little time to spend, some decided to have a quick dinner and some just bought food. We wanted to catch a later departure but since most are fully booked we had no choice but to get the 7:15 bus

Only if we had more time to spend here…

This was my very first hike here in Bicol and is definitely going to be one of the most memorable. More than the Limatiks, cold breeze of air, beautiful flora and fauna, amazing view from the top, good friends, warm smiles and happy faces, it’s the unexplainable feeling and contentment only nature can fulfill that makes it memorable.

Camarines Sur has indeed a lot of things to offer. I know haven’t seen much about this place but simply having the opportunity to hike at the heart of Camarines Sur, you’ll surely fall in love and ask for more. Undeniably one of the best in Bicol and a must visit.

For details of the Itinerary and Expenses, click here.

Bicol Trip: After Calaguas & Before Mt Isarog

No plans, No nothing. The title says it all. Given 5 days without any specific plan this was how our trip went whilst in Bicol. Random Visit to friends and family.

Daet – Naga – Matacon – Legaspi – Rangas – Legaspi – Matacon – Naga

So after Calaguas. Tired and sticky, we went straight to Malayan Tourist Inn for a quick shower. To no avail, all shower rooms are being used and we badly needed to take a shower with so little time left for us to catch the last trip to Daet via UV Express. Ate Karina of Malayan Tourist Inn offered to bring us to their house to get a shower. Her daughter hurriedly took the motorcycle and assisted us all the way. It only took us roughly 5 minutes to finish. It was quickest shower we’ve had. ☺

Back in the Inn located right in front of the terminal, we found out that the last trip just left. No way!!! Good thing Ate Karina gave us an alternative option to get to Daet.

Luck was still on our side when another passenger going to Daet asked us to go with him and share the fare expenses. We rented a tricycle for 250 pesos to get to Talobatib. It was roughly a 30-minute ride. At Talobatib, we tried waited for a Daet bound bus until we’ve decided to have dinner at a local diner, Paksiwan Sa Centro. We were halfway through finishing our food when a bus arrived. We decided to catch the next one but after almost an hour, no bus seems be stopping anymore.

Not taking any chances, we took another tricycle ride to get to Labo together with 7 other passenger and paid 20 pesos per head. I literally rode at the back side of the tricycle standing all the way holding my big backpack. Nice! It was a 15-minute chilly ride to get to the van terminal (UV Express) at Labo right beside a drugstore. We paid 25 pesos each to get to Daet which only took 20 minutes.

We stayed for a night at friends house. I also had the chance to see my god daughter. Cute!

We had few drinks and lots of catching up.

The following day after leaving my friend’s house and before heading further south, since my Lola who’s in the hospital wanted a Formosa Pineapple, we went to the Public Market and bought 5 pieces of Pineapple. It costs 20 pesos per piece. Tricycle fare costs 10 pesos
per head.

We then rode a tricycle again going to Daet Central Terminal to catch a van going to Naga. Tricycle fare from the Public Market to the Central Terminal costs 25 pesos. Van Fare via UV Express from Daet to Naga costs 180 pesos per head. We left Daet at around 3PM and arrived 2.5 hours after. Not that sleepy, I think I played Candy Crush all throughout the trip whilst my girlfriend was sleeping. Haha.

Before catching a bus bound for Legaspi, we had some few snacks. We then checked the departure times of buses leaving for Legaspi, Last trip is 6PM so instead of going around, we hopped on the bus to secure a good seat. We paid 70 pesos and asked the despatcher to stop at Matacon Centro. It was roughly an hour and a half ride.

We’ve decided to visit my Lolo and my cousins on my mom’s side. My uncle picked us up and much to our surprise everyone was like anticipating our arrival. It was nice seeing them all again. An endless conversation talking about anything under the sun.

Since we’ve spent so much time on the road, a much needed sleep was all we wanted. We slept for a good 10 hours. We had late breakfast and off we left again for another long trip to see my father’s hometown. It’s been 10 years since the last time I visited the place.

Just before we left, my Lolo required us to have lunch first. After lunch, we then walked along the Old PNR Railway going to the highway to get a bus going to Legaspi.

After 30 minutes of waiting, that’s 1230PM, a bus came. It was slow a 2-hour ride. It would normally take only an hour if you take a van via UV express. At Legaspi Central Terminal, we took a van instead of a bus going to Rangas Juban via Bulan to cut our travel time. Fare costs 150 pesos.

From Legaspi Grand Terminal anyone can pretty much go anywhere in Bicol wih lots of option to choose from. Either via Van, Bus or Jeepney. Savemore Supermarket is situated right next to the van terminal for anyone who wants to do last minute grocery or simply grab a food before heading anywhere.

We left Legaspi at around 3PM and arrived at Rangas 2 hours after. It was drizzling when we arrived. It was like Dejavu. We walked along the road as if we perfectly know where we’re going. We stopped for a quick bite of street food then my cousin saw us  and assisted us to get to my Aunt’s house and Lolo’s house.

My Lolo barely recognised me. He’s already 83 years old and is hard of hearing. I mentioned my Dad’s name then he smiled. It was seeing him again.

It was time for dinner so we went to my Aunt’s house. The rain continued…
We wanted to visit my Lola who’s in the Irosin District Hospital so despite the rain we asked if we could rent a tricycle going there. Whilst waiting, we watched a local news. My girlfriend was amazed by the fact that she’s watching a news in a local dialect she could barely understand. Not my first and I kind of like hearing it though I don’t have full knowledge of the dialect.

At around 8PM, we rode a tricycle to get to the hospital to finally see my Lola. It took us around 30 minutes to get there but it was well worth it. She took care of me since I was a kid and I couldn’t afford not to visit her given the fact that I was in Bicol. She was a bit sleepy when we came but got fueled up when we gave her the Formosa Pineapple she’s been craving for. She’s a fighter.

After almost an hour, we left. It was really cold as the rain continued all through the night. We slept early so we could leave early the following day. We managed to get the number of one of the van driver going to Legaspi who leaves Bulan at 6AM but failed to wake up early enough. The bed weather made as lazy to even grab a coffee. ☺

We failed to take a shower as well because it was so cold. Haha..

Just outside the house, Mt Bulusan can be seen. It’s an active volcano which I also plan to hike soon. It’s so near yet so far.

We started waiting for a ride back to Legaspi at 8AM but only able to get a bus after an hour via Queens. Fare costs 130 pesos.

It was 11AM when we reached Legaspi Central Terminal. As always even from the last time I was here, you’ll have a panoramic view of the majestic Mayon Volcano.

Minimum tricycle fare to get around downtown would cost you around 10 pesos per head. Fare cost may also vary depending on your destination.

We were suppose to stay here overnight but my girlfirend needed to catch a bus trip to Manila in the evening to attend to an important matter the following day. Not to waste time, we went straight to Embarcadero to grab some souvenir shirts at Bicol Shirt City and have lunch at Bigg’s Diner. We had Tuna Salpicao, Cajun Chicken and Porkchop with Laing. Yum!

My shoe needed some reinforcement for Mt Isarog climb so after lunch we looked for a repair shop stand. I was able to find one across LCC mall and paid 100 pesos. Not bad for quick fix. ☺

We wanted to look around and have a massge but since we lack time, we decided to just get a tricycle to get to the terminal. We did a quick stop at Savemore Supermarket to buy food for dinner then took a van going to Matacon (My Mom’s Hometown) via Iriga. The van left 4PM and arrived at Matacon an hour after. Fare costs 80 pesos (10 pesos higher than bus fare, half the time it will take you if you take bus).

My girlfriend prepared Chicken Afritada and Adobo for dinner while I packed her stuff. We had an early dinner for a better chance of getting a good seat for her going to Manila. After we left to bring her to the terminal, just few minutes after, a DLTB Cubao bound bus stopped. She didn’t want to leave and she was supposed to join the Mt Isarog Climb but had to go for something more important. It cost her 650 pesos. (Fare can range from 550-800 via AC Bus & 300-400 via Ordinary Bus)

Upon my return at my Lolo’s house, I slept early. Since they’ve got no TV and I am too lazy to go to my Uncle’s house, I decided to call it a day.

 Potable Water at My Lolo’s House

 Dirty Kitchen

The following day, after breakfast, I packed my things and prepped up before saying goodbye to everyone. I left for Naga just before lunchtime. Fare costs 70 pesos and it took me 2 hours to get to Naga Bus Terminal.

From the bus terminal, I walked for about 30 minutes just trying to look for Sampaguita Inn. I walked going to the right coming from SM Naga only to find out it was on the opposite direction. So I walked back passing SM Naga and the bridge. Just after the bridge you’ll see on your right the Sampaguita and Sunny View Hotel. I wanted to call Sampaguita Inn first to check availability but no one seems to be answering the phone so I took the chance of going there directly. To no avail, the cheapest rooms are all booked. I then went to Sunny View to check and it was the same. Both still have Single AC room and Sunny offers the cheapest at 450 pesos a night so I took it. It was a good deal! AC, Cable TV and Hot & Cold Shower.

After check-in, I rested for few minutes then went to SM Naga to have some coffee. I noticed this fancy little coffee/cake shop called Rafabels on the west side of the mall and decided to grab one. The price was unimaginably low compared to most coffee shops you’ll find in Metro Manila. A good slice of Chocolate Cake and a cup of Cappuccino all under 150 pesos? Definitely a treat!

After coffee, I decided to try the Aloha Burger from Jollibee before heading back to the hotel. It was also great! Yum! It was time for me to rest for an early start the following day.

5 days just passed. It’s time for me to rest and prepare for an arduous climb going to Mt Isarog.

Check my next entry featuring my Mt Isarog Hike.

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

Cagayan Trip: Visit to Our Lady of Piat & Exploring Callao Cave

After the memorable experience in Palaui Island and seeing the majestic beauty of Nangaramoan Beach, we arrived back in Tuguegarao after more than 3 hours of travel. We were picked up at the van terminal and went back to Brgy Bagay to freshen up a bit.

Around half past 10, we’re back on the road. We went to Central Terminal along Buntuan Highway to catch a van going to Piat. It was an hour ride. Note: It’s an ordinary van, No airconditioning. Fare Cost: 60 Pesos.

Since most vans just stop at the terminal, you need to walk to get to Our Lady of Piat. It can easily be recognised by a marker along the road. Turn left going up to get to the basilica. If you go straight you’ll reach the local market.

For more than 400 years the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Piat has been a significant event in the lives of devotees of the people in the Cagayan Valley.

Feeling hungry and tired, we decided to look for a place where we could eat Pancit Cabagan. Instead of walking, we took a tricycle going to the market area because it was too hot. We went to Carmela’s Panciteria. You won’t get lost on your way here because most people know this place. Simply ask for directions or ask where to get Pancit Cabagan.

It was a delicious treat! Not bad if you imagine us travelling all the way here just to try an authentic Pancit Cabagan. You’ll get a Super Special Pancit Cabagan for just 50 pesos. Yummy!

With no time to waste after lunch, we immediately went to the van terminal to catch a ride going back to Tuguegarao.

This time it took us less than an hour to get back to Central Terminal.

Just before 3PM we rode a tricycle going to Callao Cave. Callao is pronounced as “Kalaw”. It is a cave with seven chambers located on the Province of Cagayan. It is one of the best known tourist attractions of the province. It is located in Barangays Magdalo and Quibal, Peñablanca, near Tuguegarao City, the capital city of the Province of Cagayan. It has a natural cathedral located at the first chamber, which was turned into a chapel by the local people.

Turn Right to get to Callao Cave.

Once you arrive in the place, you have to few along this road to get to the registration area.

There’s a 20 pesos charge to get in.

It takes 184 Steps to get to the Cave Entrance.

Finally Inside Callao Cave.

After Caving and before heading back home, we decide to treat ourselves with a yummy HaloHalo.

It was almost sundown so we decided to get closer to Cagayan River and witness yet another beautiful sunset.

An hour after leaving Callao, we’re back in Tuguegarao. Before going back to Brgy Bagay, we stopped at the nearest Alcala Carabao’s Milk Candy.

Back in Brgy Bagay, we washed up and packed all our stuff and went straight to Florida Bus Terminal. Luckily there were few bus still offering seats for 3. Only to realise we’re 4. Haha. Since seats available are only at the back, we took it. Lex who joined us in the trip decided to squeeze in but not all the way to Manila. He was able to book a flight from Cauayan to Manila. I didn’t even notice him leaving. Haha. It was a quick bus ride. We reached manila around 5 in the morning.

 

Cagayan Trip: The Unexplored Beauty of Nangaramoan Beach

Nangaramoan Beach. a highly recommended place to relax, unwind, escape from city life and feel the wonders of nature. This is located in Sta. Ana, which is at the tip of the province of Cagayan. The beach is very accessible via commute (quad-cycle) or private vehicle because of the newly cemented road leading to the beach area.

After an hour or so boat ride from Palaui back to Sta Ana, we went straight to Dampa Seafoods & Restaurant where they gave us free breakfast again.

We wanted to visit one of the famous beaches in the area so we asked them for recommendation. We only wanted to get direction on how to get there until they’ve decided to join us. Yes! Another free treat! Not only we got the chance to go there free, they also brought with us food for lunch. Fresh Sea Foods! Haha! Big Thanks to Tito and Tita.

It was a quick and easy ride because of the newly paved road leading to the beach. Once you get there, you’ll fall in love with the place.

Untouched… Peaceful… Clear...

Tito immediately spoke to the resort care taker to give us discount. I think we paid roughly 400 pesos. We started preparing for Lunch where we had Grilled Fish. Few hours after we arrived, Tita and Tito together with their kids decided to leave. Still full, we rested for a bit.

The sun on its peak, some of us decided to explore the beach and seriously get tanned. I don’t know how long we were out walking along the beach and exploring the caves and rock formation but we definitely enjoyed every minute of it.

More Pictures of Nangaramoan Beach

Just before sunset, we decided to cook for dinner. Cleo our official chef prepared for us Gatang Sitaw Kalabasa and Fried Tilapia. Whilst cooking, Simang Gala and I decided to visit the last marker we know. 651!

It was a bit dark already when we came there and barely noticed it. Haha! Just after few shots, we decided to go back.

Back at the beach, dinner was ready. We ate loads! It was a yummy treat!

After dinner, we had socials. We rented a Videoke machine to make the night more fun while having few shots and munching on a specially prepared Spicy Sizzling Pork by Cleo.

We didn’t sleep at all only to realise it’s almost 3 in the morning. Our service was early but because of the heavy rain around 3AM, we didn’t manage to prepare and fix our things up. It was a chilly morning when we left at around 5AM.

Last Photo taken before we left the beach.

We arrived in the van terminal at around 6AM and officially left Sta Ana going to Tuguegarao at 630AM.

The adventure continues as we travel back to Tuguegarao and visit Piat and Callao Cave. See full story on my next entry.

Cagayan Trip: Palaui Island + Cape Engano

Few months before this trip I applied for a 3 day leave so I could attend a friend’s wedding only to find out it was moved after my leave got approved. Not wasting any change, SimangGala and I decided to look for an interesting place to go until we came across a blog about Palaui Island. Right then and there we agreed to go and started planning. Since it wasn’t really well planned, only 3 of us went. It was early Thursday morning when we went to Florida Bus Terminal to catch the 3AM bus going to Tuguegarao. For some reason the bus left 4AM since the 5AM bus was cancelled.

We were supposed to look for the cheapest place to stay, fortunately SimangGala’s half brother lives in Tuguegarao. That’s few hundred pesos off of our expenses. It took us 13 long hours to get to our destination. Next time I would take the plane. Haha!

In Tuguegarao, we were picked up by SimangGala’s relative in the terminal.

We were brought to a well known panciteria serving Batil Patong. Excited as always when it comes to food, not knowing how big the portion is we immediately asked for the Special one.

Batil Patong is Tuguegarao’s own version of stir-fried noodles served with an egg topping and a side serving of egg drop soup. This is also served with loads of onions, chicharon, sliced pork, cabbage and beef strips. This dish won’t be complete without soy sauce, chilli and Calamansi.

We were surprised that you have to make your own mix to top off the dish. Clueless of what to do, we watched how the locals did it and voila we now have our very own Pancit Batil Patong. Delicious! Devine!

We couldn’t move after finishing the entire dish. So after eating, we decided to call it a day and went straight to Brgy Bagay where we stayed for a night. And yes it’s FREE!

Since we need to leave early the following day, we decided to rest. To no avail, we couldn’t sleep. We decided to just play cards while drinking coffee and chitchatting.

While playing, one of my friends commented on my foursquare post telling me that his friend who I also know was in Tuguegarao. I immediately sent him a message telling him of our whereabouts and our plan for the next couple of days. Luckily he decided to join us. From 3 we’re now up to 4. Yey!

It was 3 in the morning when we woke up. After drinking coffee and taking a bath, we went to the van terminal going to Sta Ana Cagayan.

Still very early, we decided to buy Hot Pandesal. Yummy!

The van left at exactly 5 am. It took us 3 hours to get to our destination; we were sleeping almost the entire time.

In Sta Ana Cagayan, a friend who was suppose to join us asked us to go straight to Dampa Seafoods and Restaurant to ask for his Aunt and Uncle to ask for help to get to Palaui.

We were surprised to be given free breakfast. After breakfast, some of us decided to go to the market to get some supplies. Since there is no electricity/market in the island, it’s best if you buy or bring anything you need and make a checklist to avoid missing anything.

Before leaving Sta Ana, we were offered yet another FREE treat, this time, Lunch.

Colorful way of getting around the town. This is what they call Quadcycle.

The sun was out so we thought it would be a calm and smooth ride going to the island. Apparently not, this reminds me of the boat ride going to Calaguas. Rough! To add to that, we don’t have life jackets. Haha! This explains why we don’t have many pictures taken while on the boat.

It took us almost an hour to get to Engano Cove. Due to its shape, the water facing Engano Cove is generally calm. Right after setting foot on the island, we went straight to the island marker and took some photos.

With Simang Gala

Not ready yet to set camp, we left our stuff near the camping area and went to Cape Engano Lighthouse.

View of Palaui Island on our way up

More Pictures

Ate Maya, a local resident.

View of Dos Hermanas from the Light House

More Pictures taken from the Cape Engano Light House

After making some few conversations with Maya, she offered to bring us to the waterfalls. We never saw any blog post about the waterfalls so out of curiosity we decided to go. To get there we passed by Leonardo’s Trail.

The rain started to fall on our way there which according to Maya is better so we could enjoy the water. It was refreshing and at the same time relaxing.

Maya offered to show us where they are staying and to show us some of the souvenir she created herself.

Back in the campsite, we pitched our tent and prepared for an early dinner.

We had Bicol Express and Adobong Pusit. Yumyum!

After dinner, even before sunset, we then had some few tequila shots.

Colorful Sunset at Cape Engano.

We slept really early because of the heavy rain. We just couldn’t imagine how we survived the long cold night waking up all drenched in rain water the following day. It was such an experience. We somehow managed to secure all our important belongings dry and safe.

Very early in the morning, we tried to dry up all our wet clothes while preparing breakfast. Thinking about the heavy rain last night, we thought we won’t be picked up by our boat. With all smiles we saw the boat from the horizon moving closer. We offered them food but they seem to just ignore us.

730 AM, till we meet again. We rode the boat going back to Sta Ana.

This is yet another memorable backpacking/camping experience.

Follow the story on my next entry as we visit the beautiful NANGARAMOAN BEACH.

Subic Bay Trip

Quick Trip to Subic

Date: May 05, 2013
Location: Halfmoon Beach Resort, Subic Bay

HOW TO GET HERE: 

Travelling by Land from Manila
Subic Bay Freeport Zone is 110 kms. North of Manila, the Philippines’ capital city, where Saulog Transit and Victory Liner air-conditioned buses provide passengers regular transport services to and from Olongapo City terminal. A short jeepney ride takes you from the Victory Liner terminal to the Freeport, while Saulog Transit terminal is just a stone’s throw away from the vicinity.

Travel via Victory Liner Terminal
Main stations from Manila are Pasay (Edsa, Pasay), Caloocan (713 Rizal Avenue Extension, Caloocan City) and Cubao (EDSA, Cubao). Buses’ schedule (either Zambales or Olongapo) is from 4:00 AM with 1 hour interval.

Travelling by car via Lubao and rural road (Approx. time of travel: 3 hours)
From Manila take the North Luzon Expressway all the way to San Fernando exit and pass thru towns of Pampanga (Bacolor, Guagua, Lubao) and Bataan (Dinalupihan) to the Subic Bay Freeport Expressway (Tipo Road, Bataan).

Travelling by car via SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) (Approx. time of travel: 1.5 hours)
From Manila and any point in Luzon. Take the North Luzon Expressway all the way pass San Fernando through Dau and exits to the Subic Bay Freeport Expressway (Tipo Road, Bataan).

(Source of above information: subic.com)

Of the many options we had when we came here few months ago, we chose Halfmoon Beach Resort. It is roughly an eight (8) hectare beach property formerly known as Kale Beach Resort. With its long stretch sand and 30 big big cottages, is a perfect place for total escape from crowded and spoiled beaches. This place is also perfect for team building.

Address:
Purok 6 National High Way Road
Lower Kalaklan
Olongapo City Zambales 2200 Philippines

Hours of operation:

Tuesdays to Sundays :
6:00 am to 6:00 pm

Mobile number : +639334100455

GALLERY