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!