Tuesday, December 23

The Kingdom of Batanes

Basco (Naidi) Lighthouse from a distance

Batanes… ah!  In my three decades of existence, I have never dreamed about a place so much as I did about B. Ever since I was a child I would often yearn to go to Scotland to experience that European magic.  But of course we all know that going to the far west is not exactly a walk in the park.  So I have turned my gaze to my homeland, and found an even more mesmerizing place.

Just last year, I have seen the influx of excited travelers as they all stepped foot for the first time on the once-unreachable Kingdom of Batanes.  And I, as a self-proclaimed Princess of Batanes, couldn’t help but smile.  Did I get envious?  Not really.  For me, Batanes is a special place.  It is where I see myself getting married.  It is where I see myself walking around aimlessly for hours.  It is where I see myself talking to inaminate objects like that lone lighthouse.  

I felt no rush then to land on her shores.  There will be a perfect time for that.  I can hear things with my heartbeat.  And B is quietly telling me that there will be the right time for our own love story.

On the last day of the 11th month of the year, I found myself rushing to the airport, a bag pack on my shoulder and the most precious ticket clasped in between my fingers.  Yes, I was really going to my kingdom.  Butterflies were doing cartwheels in my stomach. I was jittery. It was like seeing a potential partner on our first date. 

As the clouds parted, I caught a glimpse of her rugged terrain.  Our plane skirted above the coastline, it reminded me of a raptor slowly hovering over its prey, constantly aiming and adjusting.  Our pilot was very good as the wheels of the plane landed with just a soft thud.  Finally, in a few minutes, my feet landed and touched Batanes soil.  I remember closing my eyes just for a bit.  Freedom was what I felt.  It helped discern the inscrutable feeling.  Yes, I said to myself, I am finally in Batanes. : ))


Other Parts in This Series

Part 1  You Are On It!

Tuesday, December 16

Davao: Life Is Indeed Here

After visiting General Santos City and Lake Sebu of South Cotabato, my friend and I spent the next two days in Davao City. It was my first time here.  But due to lack of time, we only get to visit the town proper and a nearby resort in the island of Samal.

I will definitely pay Davao City another visit again so I could explore all it has to offer.  For the meantime, our friend and host Glen toured us around with what our limited time offered us.  
UP Mindanao

St. Peter Church

Davao City Hall

Our first afternoon was spent visiting UP Mindanao, St. Peter Church and Davao City Hall.  I got giddy when I saw a Mamang Sorbetero (dirty ice cream vendor) who was poised across the church.  I made tikim (taste) the Durian-flavored ice-cream for only Php 10.  

We spent the next morning beach-bumming at the nearby Costa Pacifica Resort in Samal Island. I was happy when Glen told us that we were already in Davao del Norte by just crossing the waters after 15 minutes.  Yahoo! Another province off my bucket-list.

Costa Marina Beach Resort

It is advisable to visit the island during weekday.  Aside from a small family, we had the beach all to ourselves. The weather was perfect and the waters cool to the skin.  I swam happily. The mermaid has conquered another beach! 

After six hours under the sun, we headed back to the city and had our last meal together at Lachi's.  

Tuesday, December 9

Lake Sebu: The Paradise of the Dreamweavers

Upon watching the indie film K'Na, The Dreamweaver, I knew immediately that I had to step foot in Lake Sebu and mingle with the colorful T'boli people.  The opportunity presented itself when my friend Mai asked me to come with her trip.  Without second thoughts, I booked my ticket even if I knew my budget will be blown way out of proportion.  It is Lake Sebu! I told myself.  It is where K'Na fell in love. And I knew I needed to feel that love too. 

Tuesday, December 2

Wander Photo: Brave in Bangalore

It has been more than a year since I stepped foot in India. Until now I still can not believe that I was able to land my itchy feet in that colorful country.

Here's to lifetime of beautiful memories, starting off with being brave in Bangalore.

Friday, November 28

Microtel Gensan by Wyndham: The Better Choice

Everyone deserves a good place to stay if traveling to an unfamiliar territory.  If you are visiting General Santos City either for business or as a jump-off point to nearby towns, Microtel GenSan is a great place to stay.
Ideal Location
Tucked inside the posh Valley High (a complex of restaurants) along Pan Philippine Highway, this clean-looking hotel is easy to find and is just under 30 minutes from General Santos City Airport.  Shuttle can be arranged but the hotel is also accessible by public transportation.

Thursday, November 20

Help Save Boljoon's Ili Rock

I have fallen in love with this rustic town the moment i stepped foot on its shores.  Boljoon's center has successfully preserved its old-world charm and integrity, making it a possible UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate.  

It is beautiful.  Isn't it?  Now this view is gone forever.

The church and its surrounding complex, plus the natural fortress called Ili Rock, are the town's natural heritage sites.

I have heard recently from the town's budget/tourism officer Mr. Ronald Villanueva, that a road project helmed by the DPWH is currently undergoing without consulting the locals.  The project has caused the destruction of the natural formation of this fortress. 

Read Mr. Ronald Villanueva's interview with Cebu Daily News here

If you agree in preserving this natural site, sign the petition which was started by Mr. Balbino Guerrero on change.org, a resident of Cebu. 

Ili Rock Formation during my August 2014 visit.  

Ili Rock Formation as of today.

Totally unacceptable
I believe there is always a way around to help protect our heritage sites without the need of destroying it.  Seeing this photo, the Ili Rock has been damaged forever and has broke my heart at the same time.  

Help us save what is left of it.  Spread the word.  Share this post and sign the petition below.

Change.org:  Stop Defacing Boljoon's Ili Rock

Tuesday, November 18

Baroque Churches of the Philippines

As a lover of old churches, it was my secret mission to lay eyes on the four world renowned churches in the country.

The Philippines boasts of four churches listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Baroque Church Category

1.  San Agustin Church
     Intramuros, Manila

Photo by Edmaration.com

2.  Santa Maria Church
     Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur

3.  Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church
     Miagao, Iloilo

4.  San Agustin Church
     Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Also called as Paoay Church

Tuesday, November 11

Boljoon's Nuestra Señora de Patrocinio Parish Church

Boljoon is a heritage town.  Boljoon Church or the Patrocinio de Maria Parish serves as the town's main tourist attraction.  The parish was established in 1599 while the present church was finished in 1873.  A National Historical Marker stands before the church and is declared as a National Cultural Treasure.

Tuesday, November 4

Boljoon's Past Inside This Balay

Let us take a closer what's inside this Balay (house). This is the ancestral home of a former Church Monsignor. This is a must-do when visiting Boljoon as one can take a peek from Boljoon's cultural past.

Tuesday, October 28

The Varied Old Homes of Boljoon

But of course, a visit to a lovely heritage town like Boljoon would not be complete without discovering its pot of gold: its ancestral homes.

The old homes of Boljoon seems more on the mix of American-influence and of traditional architecture. I truly enjoyed walking along its oldest street (Patrocinio St.) and in the adjacent ones.  

Tuesday, October 21

Beauteous Boljoon

I knew I would be stepping foot on this tamed, religious town the moment I saw a picture of it over the internet. Boljoon (read as Bol-ho-on) came first to my knowledge in dear friend Ephraim's blog post over two years ago.  My mind did not need a long time to ponder, I knew I loved Boljoon even before going there.

Elevated view of Boljoon town proper with Ili Rock 

Nestled in a secluded cove protected by a natural rock formation called Ili Rock, it is no wonder as to why Boljoanon's forebears chose to settle here permanently.  A small strip of flat land is bounded by azure waters and thickly-forested curving hills.  Boljoon, in anybody's view, can be described as nothing but picturesque.  

Tuesday, October 14

Claveria's Remaining Ancestral Homes

This coastal town only has a few remaining ancestral homes which either have been turned to business establishments or remained the families' humble abode. 

Either way, I was still happy to see a few old homes that withstood the test of time.

Monday, October 6

The Mermaid in Moalboal

It was my first time in the province of Cebu.  I wonder how come I have skipped visiting this comely queen for many years now.  I guess because of the fact that Cebu has always been on the top of the list among Philippine destinations.
A recently cancelled trip abroad opened several windows of local travel for me.  After a three-day sojourn in the provinces of Ilocos SurIlocos Norte, Cagayan and Apayao, a hiatus was not in the horizon for I was headed to this island soon after.

Wednesday, October 1

I Stepped Foot in Apayao

I smiled a genuine smile as the scenes from a painting of a Philippine National Artist came to life before my eyes. Mountains as the backdrop, farms on the sides, two carabaos lounging in the river, the blue skies, a gentle river snaking from the mountains to the plains below and a gentle lady dreaming of a love from above.  

Yes, I stepped foot in Apayao.

Thursday, September 25

I Love Claveria

I was wedged in between rowdy teenagers and an elderly woman with lots of baggage.  The jeepney we were riding in was having a hard time maintaining its steady momentum as it wound its way up to the hill towards Sentinela.  The small sliding window behind me gave me a glimpse of a view worthy of a loud wow and solicited from me several omgs.  I think of the poor kid now who might have to deal with a hearing problem after that brief encounter with an excited traveler.

The view was magnificent.  The sea lapping around the gray sands of a long quiet beach.  The intricate rock formations jutting out from end to end.  Nothing but the solemn sea. A few kids litter the beach front, playing in their own private world.

Sentinela Beach, Claveria

Claveria has long been a dream destination for me. Located at the northernmost tip of Luzon Island, it is a quiet town worthy of my love.  Where everyone knows almost everybody.  A curious glance at you would cement their suspicion that you are either probably a first-time visitor or a recurring vacationer.  

My mermaid tail in Taggat Lagoon

The beach babe in me longed to immerse in the clean calm waters of Taggat Lagoon when it was low-tide.  Sentinela Cove's charm brought out the mermaid in me while the main beach fronting Pasaleng Bay caused quite a stir.  Locals were eager to watch as a red-tailed mermaid swam happily on their sleepy shores.

Someday I'll be Part Of Your World

Truly, I love Claveria.


How To Get Here
Florida (Sampaloc, Manila) air-con buses plies the Manila-Claveria route at P 800 per person

Monday, September 22

Finally, Ilocos Norte

So my good friend Journeying Pinay convincingly convinced me to tag along with here when she went home over the long weekend last August.  I was headed for Cebu the following week so I was contemplating if I will decide to join her.  Budget was the main concern but the power of finally seeing the unseen won me over.

From Vigan, we hopped on a jeepney going to Magsingal (P 20), then hopped on another bus to Paoay.  The Church of St. Augustine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the Baroque Churches in the Philippines.  

I paused a bit by its side and admired its massive fortress. Breath-taking that church was.  Another old beautiful church off my list.  

The Church of St. Augustine of Paoay.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thursday, September 18

Adams is The Garden of Eden

So somewhere up north I was able to cross a hanging bridge above a free-flowing river from the jungles.  I vividly remember the slightly swaying steel rods as it groaned under me and Hazel's weight.  Rusty and worn-out, the bridge could use a new smudge of re-painting but I think it's better left at its state (given no one would use it again).  It blends perfectly with its rural surroundings: towering trees with over sized leaves.  Yes, I was really in the middle of nowhere.

Tuesday, September 9

Sta. Maria Church and Pinsal Falls

My first venture in Ilocandia was back in April of this year when I visited the UNESCO Heritage Site of Vigan City. Little did I know that I would step foot on its vast lands again just after a few months.

I am glad to share two of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur's treasures:  Our Lady of the Assumption Church or more known as Sta. Maria Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Pinsal Falls, a lovely waterfall tucked in the hills of Brgy. Baballasioan.

Thursday, September 4

Under The Sea

Aug 16, 2014.  This was the date that I have scratched off another thing off my bucket list.  I was unaware that I would be able to do this very soon!  I convinced my college friend, and now my dive buddy, Chie, to take introductory dive classes with me out of the blue.  At first I thought we were just making conversation but I realized that we were actually going to jump in once we were on our way to Anilao, Batanggas.

We met our instructor, Jeroen at Bagalangit Dive Resort. We started our class as soon as we have settled in since we were his only students.  He showed us the different scuba gears we will be using and the proper way to take care of each. The classroom session lasted no more than 30 minutes. Soon after we were walking towards the sea.  Yes, the sea.

We were expecting a confined dive but we had no choice but to wade in the waters after Jeroen.  Heck, I thought.  I guessed the difference would not be that big as he made sure we got used to our surroundings first before diving into deeper waters.

The seabed where we first dived was not that colorful compared to ones I have seen online.  Nonetheless, the marine life that greeted us were more than enough to make me squeal under! I almost forgot that I had my mask on. 

This is the okay sign for scuba divers

Jeroen signaled that we will be going into the deeper parts. After our dive, he said that we went as deep at 12 meters or roughly 39 feet.  We swam up to the edge of an undersea cliff.  I knew that bottomless seas lay beyond as I could only see dark blue colors around me.  Seeing those fishes up close was the most enthralling experience I have in my traveling years.  Truly, the underworld is a different universe.  Sadly, it is being neglected by many and does not realize its unique role in our ecosystem.

We stopped in one area and watched in complete awe as the school of fishes swam in front of our eyes.  They were wearing vibrant colors like yellow and blue which made me almost chase them!  Of course I know that I can only appreciate their beauty from a distance.  

After 40 minutes it was time to go up. We were running out of air.  It was unbelievable. As I am writing this post, I can still feel the calmness and serenity of being underwater. The silence of the seas came back with me.  I can safely say that I have found a second home, a second world under the seas.  

I know that from now on I will keep yearning for more dives to be reunited with my brothers and sisters.

After all, I am a mermaid. :))

Monday, September 1

The Mermaid Learned to Bike

August 2014 was a big month for me.  All weekends were booked.  I smile as I remembered a friend saying I was just like a celebrity, you need to have a scheduled appointment if you want to see me. :-)

It was the second weekend.  Me and friend Chie went to San Pablo, Laguna.  I was seriously having doubts if I would be able to learn to pedal that very same day. You see, I am not really an active person. But I have always been a huge fan of sports like basketball, boxing and has become curious about wrestling ever since I was a little girl. Watching your older brother and cousin watch wrestlers wrestle each other would make you an automatic fan! I recall pretending as Hulk Hogan or Butterbean or Ultimate Warrior.  There came a time that I was looking into buying an MMA and BJJ gear for a possible professional wrestling career. Humor me, please! 

But Chie was nothing but all encouragement to me.  I patted myself mentally as I tried not to panic.  I remember saying to myself this is now or never.  I need to master the art of biking asap.  Learning to bike was very crucial in my travel plans for the later part of this year. So I drank in my friend's enthusiasm.  I will learn to bike.  I will be able to bike.

After having lunch at our favorite hideaway, we went to the lake and chose one bike to rent.  Was it normal to feel shy at not knowing how to bike at my age?  We were sharing our private joke as I scolded my friend to not talk so loudly!  

She chose a pink bike of medium height for me.  It was cute.  The decor on the saddle read Eco Pal.  Yes, that pink bike became my pal for the next two hours.

I was glad that my friend was very patient in coaching me. She kept on pushing me to continue as at first I wanted to give up.  It was very tiring and I easily got thirsty!  

My friend will not let up.  She held my bike at the back while I was pedaling.  We did this after a few tries and when she finally released me after the last, I found myself pedaling and biking all by myself! It was not perfect yet.  I was forming the letter S all the way as my heart kept thumping against my rib cage, half conscious of any wandering passersby and cars that might roar by.

I finally got the hang of it after a few more sessions.  My friend was like a proud mother sending her child off to her first day of school.  She was all ears as she videoed my historical accomplishment. 

As soon as I was confident enough that I could bike for longer distances.  She rented her own and together we explored the 3.7 km distance of the lake.  It was a very nice experience for me as we were not only having a great time bonding, I could also feel my body working hard after so many years of no serious physical activity.

After touring the lake for another round, we returned our two-wheeled buddies and had our snack.  I was very happy for what I did. We already have plans of biking in Cambodia while exploring the temples of Siem Reap.

But first, there in the not so distant future is my Batanes. Yay!

Tuesday, August 26

Our Melting Pot: You Can Never Go Wrong With Kindness

Nowadays, it is rare to find a place we can truly call home aside from the one where we grew up in.  For those living in the city, we sometimes find ourselves yearning to commune with nature to attain peace and solemnity even just for a while.  

Melting Pot Hostel in Tagaytay is one such kind of a place. Serene and peaceful - almost like a beach house to me. You might think that this one in Tagaytay is a resort because of its color.  But hey, I guess that pretty sums up what kind of vibe this hostel is trying to get across.  A place where we can truly relax and just be ourselves.

Our Melting Pot hostel facade

Early in June we were give the privilege to attend the housewarming of its Tagaytay branch. The hostel looked just like the homes surrounding.  Entering its doors was like going to a neighbor next door.  You will feel instantly welcome and at home.

Some of these coins are in the US currency!

Mr. Ronald Tepora, one of the founding owners, greeted us with arms open wide and gladly shared with us how they started. While waiting for lunch to be served, we learned the humble beginnings of the hostel.  What really stuck with me is that part of your rent will proceed to their chosen charity.  No explanation needed.

Hostel gazebo
Ground floor double-bedded room with private toilet and bath

Do consider staying at the Melting Pot Hostel if vacationing is more than what you have in mind.  Here you can not only gain new friends, but you can know yourself better once more by doing things with purpose and reason.  

Facebook:  Our Melting Pot Tagaytay
Address:  No.75 Smokey Hill Maharlika Subdivision
                  4210 Tagaytay, Tagaytay, Philippines

Mobile:   63915.105.9459

Introductory Rates: