Wednesday, April 24

The Enchanting Enchantment of El Nido

I have been eyeing Palawan ever since I have I learned about Tabon Caves in my elementary years. Constant tuning in to TV Patrol back then made me remember the name Hagedorn synonymous to this sparsely-populated province.  Now that I am constantly traveling, one of the newly-crowned seven wonders of nature, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, always reminds me of the Philippines' last frontier.

It was supposed to be a nine-day trip with friend Marx.  However, due to unexpected changes it was narrowed down to four days last Holy Week.  I was not complaining since I thought nine days is actually very long to be spending in one place.  But then after researching on the places we were supposed to be traveling to, I had wished our nine-day vacation had happened.  

We departed from Manila to Puerto Princesa and arrived at around 8 AM on a hot Thursday morning.  Our van (Lexus Shuttle Service) reservation going to El Nido was at 9:30 AM.  We planned to have our breakfast at Bona's Chao Long but it was closed for the holidays (bummer!). Our trike driver dropped us off instead at Thanh-Tam.  We ordered Beef and Chicken noodles for P 55 each and French Bread with cheese at P55 which we split between ourselves.

Wednesday, April 17

A Perfect Weekend Getaway at Villa Socorro Agri-Eco Village and Farm Resort

Last March, I had the chance of spending an overnight stay in a cozy little farm in Pagsanjan, Laguna.  Knowing that this town is famous, dubbed as the 'Tourism Capital of Laguna',  led me to seek for another place to visit without dropping by at the most famous of its tourist attractions which is the Pagsanjan Falls.  Though I must admit the latter has been within my radar for quite some time now.  After some time ogling their old houses, straight I went to this resort to spend a perfect weekend.

Welcome to Villa Socorro

Family Favourites

The best family holidays are the ones where parents can relax and children can run riot on the beach, in the pool and in the kids' clubs. And what better place to do this than overseas, in a beautiful place like Portugal?

There are many countries within just a few hours flight time that can offer great resorts with perfect weather and excellent beaches. Most of these resorts are perfect for families with a whole host of activities and clubs for children of all ages, which will provide the parents with some well deserved time out. Portugal holidays are certainly among the most popular, with quaint whitewashed buildings, beautiful beaches and fabulous weather. It prides itself on providing top notch holiday facilities, great hospitality and every comfort you could require. There is a full range of restaurants serving everything from freshly caught local cuisine to bangers and mash with a dollop of ketchup - perfect for little fussy eaters!

Portugal holidays can be filled with sports activities, discovering the local history, shopping or the obligatory sunbathing. And in the evening you can choose from quiet beachside bars, medieval themed taverns or bright and busy discos. If you travel through a major travel agent such as Thomas Cook they will be able to advise you on the most suitable resort for your family. As well as deciding on the type of resort, you will also need to decide on what type of accommodation you want to stay in. Choose from self catering apartments and villas which is where you are entirely self sufficient, to luxury hotels which provide cost-effective all inclusive options, giving you everything from three meals a day to included extras such as drinks and even ice cream.

It's no wonder Portugal is such a family favourite.

*This is a guest post

Tuesday, April 16

Ilocos Norte Travel Guide

Travel up north for a great getaway that combines rest, relaxation, historical tours,
food quests and adventure. Whew! All that and more, in an Ilocos Norte trip.

Need to know

Ilocos Norte is located at the top of the Philippines. That is, if you're looking
at a map and not at the sky – you won't find it there.
The main dialect is Ilocano. Take note that their tone of speaking is hard and
can sound mean and harsh, so don't think that everybody’s getting mad at
your questions.
It is reachable by plane to the Laoag airport, or by a road trip that can go as
long as 12 hours.

Friday, April 12

Old Houses Galore: Pagsanjan

While visiting Pagsanjan, Laguna, I explored the town proper which made my trip smile-worthy. A real sucker for anything antique, walking along the road was definitely a win-win for me. I first saw those old, magnificent houses several years back on a road trip and I silently promised to myself that I would walk on foot just to stare up at them, definitely in awe.  

Locals and tourists are welcomed by the centuries-old town arch with old houses, some in bad shape but most in their best, dotting both sides of the main road. Even though it was almost noon, it was not a hindrance for me to don on a pretty dress and walk the streets like I was walking along the beach

Ah! blast from the past!

I got sad after seeing this once beautiful home turned to ashes!
I wonder how the owners must feel :-(

Dr. Rizal standing proud in the town's newly built plaza

Pagsanjan, Laguna Municipal Hall

Pagsanjan Church

I really wonder why the old churches in the Philippines is being re-painted. Perhaps the parish thinks it is the best step of preservation. However for me, old churches are in their most beautiful if kept in their original structure.
Located past the Church of Pagsanjan is the ancestral home of the first Filipino UP Dean, College of Liberal Arts (Kolehiyo ng Malalayang Sining), Conrado Benitez y Francia. It is my favorite among the old houses I have visited.  I assumed it was erected in 1919 since I saw this sign at the top of the stairs.Wow! Simply magnanimous. I wonder if any member of their family resides here.

This NHCP marker was erected in 1982

After my yummy-old-houses-weee photowalk, I happen to see this colorful banner. When I saw that 'Since 1933', the history buff in me decided I should not miss coming here. Aling Taleng's halo-halo was the answer to oh-so hot weather! 

Milky and creamy, that is how I describe their house specialty. Served at P 70 per glass, there are more old houses lining up Mabini street where the store is located.  

Aling Taleng's Special Halo-Halo served at P70 

Pagsanjan is more than just the famous falls. It has been said that due to the strategic location of the former town, a trading route was established at the point where Balanac and Bumbungan rivers meet. Pagsanjan, Laguna used to be the capital of the province (now the capital is Santa Cruz). It was a former barrio of Lumban, also a town in Laguna.   Pagsanjan seems to be a quiet town. But just like any other old Filipino town, its very core is rich in history. Worth visiting indeed. 

How to get here:

From Buendia LRT Station, ride Green Star bus line bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Fare at P 112 each.  From Sta. Cruz terminal, ride any jeep bound for Pagsanjan town proper.   

Thursday, April 4

Sulyap Bed & Breakfast

My love for the archaic, ancient, centenarian and venerable old houses lead me to the post-card perfect Sulyap Bed & Breakfast located in Brgy. Del Remedio, San Pablo City, Laguna.

There are two old houses in the compound which both came from different parts of the country.  The first one is the hotel's restaurant while the other one composes of five rooms: two upper floor rooms and three ground floor rooms.

Erected inside the Cocoland compound not far from Cosico Ave, one would feel she has been transported back in time.  A stay here overnight or dining in their restaurant would entitle guests to a free tour inside the hotel's museum.  For walk-in guests, fee is at P 100 per person which is open from 11 AM - 8 PM.