Surf up Baler

This trip is just a spur of a moment. I wanted to travel on 11-11-11 but since I don’t have any available leave credits at work, I can only do out-of-town trip close to Manila during my days off. Me and my colleague decided to head to Baler, Aurora for an overnight trip doing sightseeing and of course,, surfing!

———- u-n-d-e-r-c-o-n-s-t-r-u-c-t-i-o-n ————-

~~11.12-13.11/Baler,Aurora

El Nido peeps goes to Misibis!

Finally, the long wait is over! Me and my El Nido friends were excited for this trip not only we were getting huge discount on staying in Misibis Bay but this is some sort of a reunion with ex-El Nido employees since some of them are now part of the management team of Misibis Bay Resort

———- u-n-d-e-r-c-o-n-s-t-r-u-c-t-i-o-n ————-

~~09.22-25.11/Albay, Bicol

Aquanaut Diving in Manila Ocean Park

My El Nido Friends decided to meet up to finally discuss our upcoming trip to Misibis Bay. It’s less than a month and we have yet to book our flights and no definite dates yet! It’s hard to set a specific date due to conflict of our work schedules and to top it off, we have 2 kids joining us so we have to consider also their school schedule. We meet up, as always, in Manila Ocean Park. It’s becoming our meeting place since Lesley’s been working there for 2 years now. Since Friday is my day off, I went straight to MOP while Buboy and Jona followed since both of them are working on ortigas area. We ate at Dencio’s grill while discussing our trip to Legazpi. Obviously, our accommodation would be in Misibis Bay since Ian, Arlie and Rex are working there and would give us friendly huge discount!. Our main concern is our travel date and of course hopefully we could spot a cheap fare to Legazpi. After our sumptous treat by Buboy and it’s to early to go home, Lesley showed us around. She never failed to treat us whenever there’s a new attraction in their park so we’re very excited to try Aquanaut especially if it’s for free! Aquanaut is basically new in Manila Ocean Park. It costs Php900 for 10 minutes only. We were lucky enough to avail it for free and stay inside the aquarium for almost 30mins. We even had our photos saved on Usb, we’re so spoiled! There’s also a Musical Fountain show but we just decided not to see it anymore. ~~~ 08.12.11 / Manila Ocean Park, Manila

Travel Tour Expo

This is not my first time attending a Travel Tour Expo. Being in a local travel industry for a long time, I’ve also experienced being one the exhibitors doing the ingress and egress during the exhibit. This year’s theme is  “Biyahe Sale ng Bayan”. From it’s title alone, we were hoping that this is the biggest once in a lifetime offer which is the great opportunity to book and buy package tours.

I went yesterday to the 22nd Philippine Travelmart Expo at SMX Convention Center. Me and Glen were hoping that there would be a Seair promo to Batanes which is our main purpose of going there. Glen came ahead of me and he went around already to see if there are promos available, but dang, there’s none!. I came after lunch at around 2pm and Glen is waiting at Go nuts Donuts. When I saw him, I immediately asked about promo to Batanes. He sadly said none. We’re both upset but nevertheless we still went inside out of curiosity if there were cheap steals we can grabbed off. Most of the exhibitors are local hotels. The area is divided among region so it will be easy for travel enthusiasts to roam around. I spotted the booth of El Nido Resort, the company I used to worked with. But I don’t know the people manning their booth. I also spotted Apple and Sheila, my co-workers from my previous company, the former being at Friday’s Resort now manning the booth for Misibis Bay and the latter at El Nido Resort now manning the booth for Bellaroca. Nothing much to offer for this year’s expo just similar to the promos being offered online. We picked up some brochures for our future trips and then watched the Collegiate Dance Competition represented by each region. We did not finished the program, left the place with just pamphlets on hand, what a loser! hahaha. Well, we still decided to push through with our Batanes trip next year no matter what! 🙂  ~~~09.02.11 / SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City

Nibbling our way to Chinatown

It was a gloomy Saturday morning  of August 6, Pinoy Volunteer Group decided to do a walking tour within Chinatown in Manila and this free tour is offered by Jeffrey Yap, also one of our fellow volunteer. This is the first time that the group had a non-volunteer activity.

The sun cannot be found in sight, but the good thing is it is not raining either. We don’t want to rain obviously because we will be having our tour on foot.  Before we start our tour, Jeff gave us an orientation and told us that aside from museum and temple tour, we will also visit 5 food stops for food tasting.  All smiles when we hear the word FOOD!, since most of us decided not to have our breakfast at home since we will indulge ourselves on Chinese cuisine.

Our first stop is The Calvo Building located in Escolta built in 1938. It has a museum inside where you can see photographs of how an Old Manila look like.  Special added features are the amazing collection of antique bottle and newspaper publication. It is really amazing how they were able to keep and preserve it for the young generation. A good place for an educational tour.

And who said there’s no Movie Theater during this era? well think I again, this Capitol Theater is very popular among movie-goers.

The highlight of this tour is food tasting… the most-awaited! Our first stop is Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant where we feasted on the authentic Chinese Premium Chicken. By far this is one of the best chicken I ever tasted. I am not a food critic but this chicken is sooo delicious and I wouldn’t mind recommend it to my friend to visit this place. It looks very simple, like an ordinary fried chicken, but once you taste, you will definitely ask for more!

 

Our second stop is New Po-Heng Lumpia House. By the name itself, obviously we will be eating lumpia. I was hoping before we enter the restaurant I said to myself it should be lumpiang shanghai because I don’t eat fresh lumpia. But taraaann… they serve fresh lumpia to customers. Of course I don’t have a choice, it’s either i’ll eat it or watch my friends eat their food. Oh boy this is a food tour so I don’t have any excuse not to taste it just for a bite! Well very simple, if at first bite I don’t like it, then I will not eat it!  But unbelievable, I was able to consume it in less than 10 minutes and my friends don’t believe me that I don’t eat fresh lumpia.  Well this is the first time and I won’t hesitate to go back again to this place. Another resto that can be recommended to friends.

Before heading to our third food stop, we spotted some of an unusual scene that can only be found in Binondo.

       

Our third food stop is Dong Bei Dumpling Food House. They serve different kind of dumplings and this time we will try their traditional steam dumpling and the not so traditional pancake dumpling.  When Jeff told us that we will eat pancake, what cross it to my mind is the usual pancake serve for breakfast. At the back of my mind I was thinking to my delight that we will be eating something sweet this time.  Again I was surprised, after eating steam dumpling, they serve right infront of me is the pancake dumpling. It’s called pancake mainly because they serve it like a pancake itself.  Dumplings here are okay just like similar to any chinese resto who served dumplings.

Fourth stop is Masuki Mami House. Their specialties are mami and siopao which were the staple food for an old Chinese family.  This time we will be tasting their asado siopao. Yummy!!!! taste even better than kowloon. Another place to recommend! 😛

Before we headed to our last food stop, we went to Chinese Buddhist Temple. We were accompanied by a chinese boy named Willy. Their temple is a sacred place for them where they say their prayers, meditate and offer food to their Buddha. Inside the temple you can find a big table in the center with chinese ornaments in it. We noticed several heart shaped made of wood on top of the table and in front of it are small pews all line up. The thing is you will get a pair of those wooden piece, you will kneel down on the pew, make a wish then shake that piece and throw on the floor. If both piece fell on opposite side, it’s a yes. But if it fell on the same side, it’s a no. Most of us wanted to try that traditional chinese ritual and we did not notice that we were already creating noise inside the temple. Some of us laughing, some of us kept on trying over and over again just to get a yes as an answer. This Chinese old lady notices our noise and scolded us. She told us it’s better to leave the place since we’re not respecting their temple.  We don’t really intend to make a noise inside the temple it’s just that we were just carried away with this chinese ritual that all of us wanted to try. We left the place and apologize to the old lady.

Our last food stop is Ling Nam Restaurant. This restaurant is popular that can be found on the malls within the city. Our last meal for the day is Beef Wanton Noodle Soup!  Save the best for last! You can never leave Chinatown without tasting their wanton! What a way to end this tour,, burp! 😛  ~~~08.06.11 / Binondo, Manila

Conquer Sagada

June is considered a rainy season in the Philippines. But luckily there’s no rain in sight when we had our trip to Sagada.

The Travel Factor group met at Florida bus station in Espana, Manila, right in front of my alma mater, UST. We will be travelling at night straight to Banaue, Mt. Province so I know it’s gonna be a long journey for about 8-hour drive. Me and Flok we’re seated together and both of us are first-timers to Sagada, excited much! She slept during the journey and I did not. Well I just had about 1-hour nap and I know it’s not enough because when we reach Sagada, our first activity is spelunking! Say what?!  I’ll do spelunking without getting any decent sleep! arghh!

At around 630am, we arrived Mt. Province. What a fresh of breath air! We headed straight to Banaue rice terraces to took some souvenir shots. The place is amazing, it’s like a field of dreams and I never imagined that these terraces are carved by the Ifugaos ages ago and I wouldn’t mind going back to this place again.

        

After clicks and pose, it’s time for breakfast. We ate at Hidden Valley Restaurant and they only served 2 types of meal, longsilog or pancake. I opted the former. After breakfast, it’s top load time, yipee!!! ! It will take around 3-4 hours to drive before we reach Sagada.  We will be riding a jeepney and we had a chance to seat on top of the jeep. And since we are 12, it’s impossible for all of us to be seated on top at the same time so we decided to do it into 2 batch. I belong to the second batch. We drive around the zigzag road and experience a close encounter of the rice terraces without zooming in the camera. Everything in sight are all greens…rolling hills everywhere…the beauty is overwhelming! Take turns and it’s time for us to be on top of the jeep. It’s a different feeling when you’re seated on top because every time we swerve either to the left or to the right, it’s like we’re dropping off on the edge of the cliff. We kept on shouting as if we will fell off. I think the driver is doing that intentionally so it will be more fun and exciting! Robert is brave enough to took a video while we’re on top. He’s not holding on to the rails and wouldn’t mind if his iPhone would fell off. He needs to take a video of us on top of the jeep and he made it, good job Roberta! hahahaha! 🙂

        

        

We arrived at Alibama Inn at 11am. This will be our home for 3 nights. Actually the house has 5 rooms and we occupied the 4 rooms. I am sharing room with Flok. Unfortunately there’s no heater on the shower. Well what do we expect, this is a backpacking tour so everything we had are the basics. After we freshen up and had a quick lunch, it spelunking time!

        

     

  Let’s hit if off to Sumaguing and Lumiang Cave. Only the brave can go inside the cave and I think I am one of them. Since I am claustrophobic,  Jess asked me first if I can make it and I said yes but on the back of my mind I have apprehension of doing it, me inside the cave for 5-6 hrs?, it’s cold, it’s dark!!! will I survive?!?!  But contrary to what I expect, it’s not that scary as I expect it to be.  As we go along the way, the surface become slippery, the rocks are getting steeper to climb and the bad thing is I felt so sleepy already not to mention tired and hungry as well. I guess the rest of us are!  But nevertheless, we conquer our first day,,, the Cave Connection Adventure! whew!

         

  

        

        

     

        

Day 2, another task is waiting for us. But before we face our adventure for the day, we first went to Kiltepan Tower for sunrise viewing. Some of the group wake up early while the rest still hiding behind their sheets. You can’t blame them, the coldness in Sagada is different that you may want to stay in bed all day long.  Naturally I won’t let it pass not seeing the sunrise in Sagada.  When we arrive at Kiltepan, there were already tourist on site. Wow, the panoramic view is beyond amazing! If I have a chance to stay there all day, I would. Just sitting around on top of the mountain, seeing clouds covering the mountains, contemplating about LIFE! God is so powerful he created such scenery no one could ever do so!

        

    

    

        

Back to Alibaba, had our breakfast and it’s time to trek this time to Bomod-ok Falls. Everyone is ready, camera in tow, food to supply our trek and of course our walking stick! We needed that especially if walking uphill the terrain.  All we’re lined up while walking, taking shots here and there. We’re like inside the Farmville, seeing the farmers doing their harvest. After 2 hours walking under the heat of the sun with sweat all over, we finally reached the falls. There are already group of tourist there when we arrived so we look for a spot where we can leave our things just in case some decided to dip into the running water. I did not go into the water but insteas decided to sit atop of a big rock so I have a good view to took a shot of the falls. Locals were offering a free massage, I grab the opportunity. Just gave the boys some chocolates and 20 pesos as a token. After an hour of bonding time at the falls, it’s time to hit the fields and do the walking again for another 2 hours, whew! This time with the scorching heat of the sun and it already reached it’s peak since it is already 2pm. The nice thing is there are locals along the way who sell Gatorade. Can you believe they are selling Gatorade in the middle of the fields? The locals already anticipate that tourist would be needing that because trekking to reach the falls is no joke. It’s a bit expensive but who cares, if you’re thirsty and feels like being dehydrated already, you can’t really think of how much would it be. At 4pm we’re done and finally conquer our second adventure…. Trek to Bomod-ok Falls!! whew!!!

        

        

        

     

     

Back to homebase at Alibaba, we’re supposed to have sunset viewing at Lake Danum but due to thick fog, we just decided to have an early dinner at Yoghurt House and then happy hour at Salt and Pepper Bar.

        

     

        

This is our last day in Sagada. Up and early again for our last tour, this time we will be vising St. Mary’s Episcopal church, Calvary Hills, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins. After our morning tour, it’s all by ourselves. Some went back to Alibaba to pack their things, other went to public market to do some last minute shopping.  Me, Flok, Jess, Becx and Grace decided to drop by at Lemon Pie house.  A tour to Sagada is not complete without tasting the best lemon pie in the North.

        

     

So all our bags are packed and ready to go home.  Back to reality,,, back again to being a corporate slave!!! Till my next journey…   ~~~07.10-12.11 / Sagada, Mountain Province

        

        

North Haven Spa

A visit to Baguio City is not complete without dropping by at North Haven Spa. They offer a one-of-a-kind mountain spa experience that will make you come back to this place.  Sadly, for those living in the Metro, you have to travel up north to be able to visit this place.  They offer different kind of packages depending on one’s needs but my favorite is The Strawberry Bliss Package. The spa is located in Ferguson Road, a little bit hard to find. But once you reach the place, you would never imagine that there’s such a place like this in the quiet neighborhood. It is decorated with the traditional Cordillera charm, the soothing scent and welcoming staff would greet you.  The kind of service they provide to their guests are beyond expectations. A spa experience in this summer capital of the country is truly heavenly. ~~~05.05.11 / Baguio City, Benguet

Roadtrip to Bataan

I love roadtrips! I can’t remember how many times I drove from Manila to Bataan, either with family, friends or by myself. Going to Bataan I usually take the route of San Fernando exit but going home I usually take SCTEX. I love driving to SCTEX during late afternoon, I don’t know why.

We had a yearly visit to Bataan every January when Tita Rita came for a visit from the US. She usually visit her old classmates and friends and of course our remaining relatives living there. We always stay in Montemar Beach Club. It is the only decent semi-private resort in Bagac, Bataan. Years ago, this is open for members only until they decided to open this to the public.

        

        

        

During our visit to Bataan, before going home and nothing to do, me and my niece decided to go to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar to pass time. It is a newly tourist attraction in the province of Bataan. It has a 19th century ambiance, staff were dressed up similar during the Spanish Colonial period.  Accommodation to the resort are ancestral houses, some are original and some are replicas. I’ve heard that the heritage houses were transported all the way from Cavite just to preserve the authenticity of the resort.  It is a good place to do educational tour especially for the students. I don’t have any idea how much is the day tour. We we’re able to go there for free. One of our relative who has a water business in Bagac is the supplier for Las Casas.  So when the driver went there to deliver water and collect empty bins, we decided to join the ride so we can see Las Casas and take pictures. Good thing is that the tourist guides and guards don’t call our attention while we’re taking pictures for the fact the we did not pay any entrance fees. Maybe  because the driver told the guard that we are relatives of his boss. We stay there for 30 minutes only, enough to take picture on the attraction. There are still work in progress on the resort, since it is basically new. With just 2 to 3 hour drive from Manila, this can be a good choice for a quick weekend getaway! ~~~ 01.09.11 / Bagac, Bataan