Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Batad-Banaue Half-Marathon

As part of my training for a long hike we did last October, I joined the Batad-Banaue Marathon, a destination run organized by Baguio-based running group, Team Malaya

*Blog about our long hike in Mt. Kitanglad & Dulang-Dulang here

Participants had the option to register in either a 21K (half-mary) or a 42K. The route, which  is one of the major draws to this event gave us the opportunity to enjoy a cold, scenic run from the Banaue town proper to the remote community of Batad. It was held August 24, 2014, an excellent time to view the rice terraces as it's greenest from  August-September.  
 A shot of the Banaue Rice Terraces located at the viewing deck called "Side View Point"

Blogger friend Ferdz (Ironwulf.net), my colleague Ian, and I registered for the 21KM division which meant we only ran until the saddle area in Batad while those who joined the marathon had to go down all the way to the community. 

Ferdz and I traveled together from Manila  two days before the run to have more time to adjust to the thinner, cooler weather, relax and gorge on food!
Harvest from the rice terraces as seen from the Side View Deck which can be seen along the road in Banaue
On our first day,  we enjoyed the pool at Banaue hotel where Ferdz was checked in. It was near the garden and I was struck with excitement when I saw it. There's an excellent view of nearby mountains and it was deserted too so we had it to ourselves the entire afternoon! 


The deepest end of the pool is  12 feet with a diving board over it. I've never seen a recreational pool as deep as this one - even the Olympic-size pool where I swim goes only  up to 5 feet. :)

 I was traveling on a budget so I spent the night at People's Lodge near the town proper. I got a 250-Peso private room that had 2 single beds in it, a huge mirror, fan, a desk and a chair and that's about it. Rooms have no sockets so  you can only charge your gadgets at their restaurant downstairs. T&B was outside but it was near my room. I would most likely stay here again because the staff is nice, rooms are clean and place has a good vibe.

Breakfast at the restaurant balcony of People's Lodge 
The following day, we claimed our race kits and attended the briefing.  I was happy to see familiar faces from the sky running community and even happier when I found out that two other close friends, Mariel and Kian was in the area for a valiant family project involving the rice terraces. 
After the briefing, there was a carbo loading party for the participants! Chicken tinola and mounds of rice were served to fellow participants while a band played using native instruments.

And here's our private carbo loading party with Mariel and Kian. This was taken at Las Vegas Lodge & Resto. I enjoyed dining here because they have interesting interiors - a mix of travel memorabilia and native decors. More importantly, food is decent. I love their curry rice  which comes with fresh mixed vegetables. Prices of the meals here range from 70 Pesos above. 


Breakfast the following day were measly pieces of dark chocolate and a bottle of Pocari Sweat. I promised myself to consume more after the run. :P  

Both the 21K and 42K started at the same time at around 5:00 AM and although our route was not as visually rewarding as with the 42K, we were able to see more mountains and other sections of the rice terraces around Banaue.
Ferdz and I at the starting line. The happy look on my face was due to thoughts of what I'll be eating after the run. :P (Photo taken by Kian Vicera)

Here's a shot taken 40 minutes into the run. Our route was mostly on a smooth road. 

And since we started early, we were able to see the sun rising above the mountains at the side of the road. :) 


The road going to Batad is uphill, quite a challenge to the thighs. Prior to the run, I did a combination of swimming, stairs training, a little road running, training on an elliptical machine to prepare and it was quite effective to get me to the finish line. I'm not a fast runner, never had the will to train to be faster but I can finish with a ginormous smile on my face. Hehe! :) 

Ferdz and I ran our respective paces which meant I was pretty much alone until the 40th minute, when I stopped at the first aid station and saw my colleague Ian with his friendly mountaineer friends. 
With Ian & Euan at one of the aid stations, at this point, we still had 8KM til we get to the turn-around point.
Photo borrowed from Lira
I ran with them until we reached the turn-around point which was at the Batad saddle. 
From there, some  decided to take a side trip down to Batad since the organizers allowed it. I had hiked to the community  years ago and was beginning to feel tired and hungry so I headed  back with Ian.

View at the Batad saddle
Had I been running alone, I would have taken an easy stroll back and ate as much dalanghita as I could, which was available at the aid stations. It was seedless, juicy and sweet!  However, Ian, who was used to competing in triathlons kept pushing - and the good thing about forcing yourself to run even when you don't feel like moving a muscle anymore is that  you can finish earlier and eat. :P 

Tremendously happy when I saw friends, Mariel and Kian right before we reached the finish line, they're awesome cheerleaders! (Photo borrowed from Kian Vicera)
Another pleasant thing was when we crossed the finish line after 4 hours 58 minutes, I was informed that I finished 10th among the female runners. To our surprise, they gave out recognition to the first 10 finishers for males and females per category.  Ferdz finished strongly at 8th. :)

Apart from the finisher's medal, I was able to take home extra souvenirs, a carved wood trophy and a certificate.  Thanks for the push Ian! 
I'm smiling so much because I just ate two sets of lunch :P (Photo take by Ferdz Decena)
If you're getting tired of road runs or need to take a breather from city life, I encourage you to train and join destination runs. Held in scenic locations,  it allows you to see gorgeous views, explore a place, meet new people, see old friends, work up a sweat and the most wonderful thing of all - running burns calories so you can indulge on food after! :) 

If you're thinking of joining trail runs or running at high altitudes, do consider joining the Philippine Skyrunning Association or participate in their training sessions or races. Like their FB page for timely updates.

There's also  some excellent trail running tips for beginners at Active.com

Check out Ferdz' post & review about the run  here. He posted some nice photos from the run. :) 

A copy of the race results of the Batad-Banaue marathon is posted at the Team Malaya site. They are also organizing several more runs in the coming months. Just check out their website or  like their Facebook Page.

Thanks team Malaya and congratulations to other runner friends who finished strongly - Ronald Wang, Kirk Patrick Ang, Rashel Pena and Cheryl Bihag, you inspire me! To Mariel, Kian, bffeees Jules, Tan and Mors salamat uli for cheering for me!


Travel Information :
How to Get to Banaue from Manila
Check out schedule of trips via Ohayami Trans
Website : http://www.ohayamitrans.com/
Fare : 450 Pesos (aircon)
Travel Time : 12 hours

Where to Stay in Banaue
Banaue Hotel 
Locatad near the Banaue tourism office but quite a walk to the town proper
You can book via Agoda
Rates start at 1,800+ 
*Their restaurant has amazing mountain views! :)

People's Lodge 
Poblacion, Banaue 
Mobile Nos. - +63 0935-189-5455 | +63 0919-532-5605
Email : jerwin_t@yahoo.com
Rates start at 250 Pesos/head
Free Wifi available, no sockets in the rooms, common toilet and shower
*I checked in alone and although the room I stayed in had two single beds, I was only asked to pay 250 Pesos. Nice! :)

Querencia Hotel & Restaurant 
Poblacion, Banaue
Mobile Nos. - : +63 0939-290-7703 | +63 917 841 0569
Just opened this 2014 and all rooms have a private t&b with hot shower and sockets, free wifi also available
Rates are around 500 Pesos/room (please call to verify, I forgot the exact rates, but it's around that amount)
Pictures of the place can be found at their FB Page here






Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hiking Log : Mt. Kitanglad-Dulang-Dulang Traverse in a Day

A mountain that has appealed to my fascination for trees, plants and long hikes is Mt. Dulang-Dulang. :) Located in the province of Bukidnon, it is known for its beautiful mossy forests and is the 2nd highest peak in the Philippines at 2,938 MASL. A trail exists that connects it to a volcano, Mt. Kitanglad, the country's 4th highest summit. 

Since we needed to fly from Manila to get here, we thought it was more economical to squeeze two peaks in one trip instead of going back for the other in a separate trip. :) 
Trees covered in moss at Mt. Dulang-Dulang
Among local mountaineers, this trail is nicknamed as D2-K, with the usual route starting at Mt. Dulang-Dulang and then on to Mt. Kitanglad. However,  we were advised by our friend from Bukidnon, Ben Maputi, that it's cheaper if we do a reverse so we decided to climb up via  Mt. Kitanglad then go down at Mt. Dulang-Dulang. 

Our small packs which helped us move under the trees! :)
Preparation :
Earlier during the year, I made a commitment to get fitter so I started training 10 months prior to the hike,  doing a variation of  swimming, running, football, stairs training and indoor biking, 3-5 times a week. A week before our trip, my quads were in its strongest form, at least that's what it felt at the time. :P  It proved to be beneficial as the Kitanglad-D2 trail is a very long, tough trail with lots of steep ascents and descents.  My main motivation for training then was to be fit enough so I can enjoy the views and not worry about catching my breath.  

The Journey:
October 14, 2014 – me and my two other bestfriends, the ever-sweet couple,  Mors and Tan took the first flight from Manila to Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental which is roughly an hour from Cagayan de Oro city. 
Breakfast at Missy Bonbon, Limketkai Mall. It was also Mors' birthday so we bought her a cake. :) 
I go crazy excited whenever I'm at Missy Bonbon. The interiors just gives out this happy breakfast vibe and I find myself ordering a lot whenever I'm here - say rice, bread, cakes, coffee and juice! :P 

From the airport, we rode a shuttle (150 Pesos e/c) that brought us directly in front of their  Limketkai Branch which is open daily from 6AM-10:30PM. Price range of food is 100-300 Pesos and you can buy pastries for your trip too!  

We then took a jeep to Agora bus terminal that took us to Bukidnon, the jump-off for our hiking adventure. Travel time from CDO to Bukidnon took around 3 hours and as soon as we arrived in Malaybalay city, we headed directly to the DENR office to secure our permits. 
My hiking buddies, Mors and Tan
Permits cost 170 Pesos/head (85 Pesos/mountain) and after an extensive briefing, we checked in at 1st Avenue Apartelle.  I've stayed here on a previous visit and it feels like a second home to me. It's just a multi-cab ride away from the town proper and the rooms are comfy and the rates - quite cheap at 400 Pesos/night for a private room with cable tv, private t&b and a fan, sweet deal! Malaybalay is a cold town so if you're used to tropical weather, you'd find it rather cold - think Baguio weather minus the chilly wind. 
The night before the hike, we loaded up on seafoods at Amadeo Restaurant. There was no electricity, thus the candle light dinner :P 
Time to hike!
At 5:00 AM the next day,  we were picked up by Ben from the hostel. With him were our two guides - his friend, the very energetic and friendly Joseph and Ben's brother, nice and quiet Nov. He drove us to the highway in Impasugong. From here, road condition is bad, not manageable for a car, so we took a 30-minute motorbike to Sitio Intavas. Here, we rode another motorbike to the Kitanglad jump-off because it was cheaper than getting a motorbike from the highway, all the way to the base of the mountain. It's 300 Pesos/head but if we take two motorbikes - it'll only cost us half its price! 

The butt-bruising ride to the base. We had to go down many times as the road was just too bumpy for two people on a bike
We started our ascent at 7AM. The trail of Mt. Kitanglad is thick with tree branches sticking out from the ground, I bumped my poor legs quite a lot. 

Air was also quite thin up here and being a lowlander, I wasn't used to it. Every motion took a lot of effort and I found myself out of breath countless times even if my legs didn't feel tired at all. It felt as though my lungs weren't getting enough air so I would inhale as much air as I could which helped a bit. The views however, made up for the difficulty. There were flowering shrubs, ferns, truly a visual treat for a nature-lover! :) 
Fern and twisted tree trunks everywhere!
Apart from the forest cover, I was amused to discover the metal stairs that were put up in the steep sections to ensure the safety of hikers. Our friend Ben actually helped put it up, and while I prefer the trail in its natural form,  I think the permanent fixtures does benefit a frequently visited mountain such as this. Having these structures helps keep  the trail intact; everyone passes by a single trail instead of people hacking sections to overtake other hikers. 



After four hours of steady-paced trek and timed breaks of no more than 3 minutes each, we arrived at the summit of Mt. Kitanglad, which was still within schedule. Early on, our group had agreed that if we didn't make it to the summit by 12 noon, we will abort the traverse and head back to town.  
Group shot at the summit of Mt. Kitanglad
The summit had communication towers manned by a couple of friendly guys. DENR also has a bunkhouse here which can be rented out by hikers but advance coordination must be done. 

After a quick snack, we headed down the trail to Mt. Dulang-Dulang. Staggering drops welcomed as we made our way down which looked daunting but I enjoyed it as there were lots of grasses, albeit some were too sharp, for support.

It started to become uncomfortably colder  at this part and we wore our jackets until we finished the hike. 

We saw more mossy sections of the forest and I couldn't help marveling at it despite the fatigue and the cold. It was just gorgeous!  What's even better is that even if it rained, I didn't encounter any limatiks (leeches). 

My least favorite part of the trail was this section where we had to do some minor rock climbing. It only takes around 3 big steps to finish it but the foot holds are narrow and slippery. I had a rock climbing accident back in 2009 and I am still traumatized from it. Every time I have to climb over boulders, a feeling of dread overpowers me and it takes a lot out of me to get through it. (Post here)
This section already has ropes you can use for support
After another 5.5 hours, we safely made it to the summit of Mt. Dulang-Dulang. Our views were of surrounding mountains and dense foliage, a delightful view for plant lovers. We took quick shots and then headed to a lesser windy part of the trail for cover as it was so cold.  I shivered the entire time and we rested for  15 minutes to take a quick snack which comprised of grapes, crackers, nuts and chocolates. I wished I brought more food. 
Summit of Mt. Dulang-Dulang
We thought we'd be able to get down within 3 hours but fatigue had set in our group and the pace became unbearably slow. Still, we focused on taking steady, careful steps to avoid injury and further delay.

It was a very long trek down, grueling to the knees but we couldn't afford to stop because it was too cold, it's annoying. By 7:00 PM, I started feeling very sleepy and it felt as though my feet were moving on its own. 
Last group shot at 5:27 PM before it got really dark.
Famished but unable to stop for a break, Joseph and I munched on mint candy while walking.  (and this I have to share, Mentos Eucamint candy is a good emergency food for hikes. It's handy, light and it can suppress hunger. On shorter low altitude hikes, it's the only trail food I bring and it's enough to last me four hours on the trail.) 
Manny's Garden, named after the person who introduced Mt. Kitanglad as a hiking destination
My knees were fine up until we reached this long trail that terminates at the highway in Lantapan. The final two hours of our hike was the toughest on the legs It was a steady, steep trek down in a dirt road that was muddy and had too many lose rocks. It was just agonizing. 

By 11:00 PM, we reached  the main highway where Ben patiently waited for us. In the dark,  empty highway, I changed into dry clothes. Haha! Dinner was at Mindy's, a 24 hour casual restaurant that serves a hefty serving of soft, delicious bulalo (beef in clear stew) for less than 300 Pesos. Mindy's actually has a new name now but locals still refer to its old name. 

I have a bunch of superlatives  in my head that describes what I felt about the hike but to sum it up - it was very grueling yet fulfilling! Would I do it again? Heck no, but I'll most likely go back in any of the two mountains because of its enchanting mossy forests. :) 



Hiking the tallest peaks in the Philippines within a day is something I enjoy doing out of sheer love for jaw-dropping views without being away too long. It's a great way test your endurance and mental strength, gives you more time to enjoy the place where the mountain is and the best thing of all – you have minimal load on your back! 

Several friends, mostly those who were passionate about skyrunning had already done this before and their encouragement, especially that of our best friend Jules and our Bukidnon friend Ben proved to be excellent support in making this possible. Thank you! :) 

HIKING INFORMATION  : 
Gears 
My backpack was a 14 Liter light pack that had 3.5 Liters of Gatorade and water which sufficed the entire trek. For snacks, I brought peanuts, a pack of grapes (really good trail food but a bit heavy, well, you'll eat it anyway), chocolates, waterproof jacket, headlamp,extra batteries, power bank, first aid kit, emergency blanket/rain coat, multi tool kit, cap, arm sleeves and gloves which were useful on clinging to sharp grasses. 

Contact Person

Guide/organizer  - Ben Maputi is very much familiar in organizing a one day traverse. He'll make sure you'll be fine.  :) Please CALL to make arrangements at  +63 0936-500-4147 

Other helpful Itineraries & Contact Information 
Sha Bedural - Kitanglad-D2 Traverse with their baby 
Pinoy Mountaineer - Mt. Dulang-Dulang | Mt. Kitanglad

Fees 
Guide fee - 1,500 Pesos for a full day traverse (I noticed that a good ratio of guide to hiker is 1 guide for two people)  
Climbing Permit - this must be secured at the DENR office in Malaybalay City. We secured ours one day before the climb and it's 170 Pesos for two mountains or 85 Pesos/mountain. 

Hiking Time 
A traverse from Mt. Kitanglad to Mt. Dulang-Dulang may range from 8 hours-16 hours depending on your training and preparation. My mountain inspiration, first Filipino to summit the 7 highest peaks in the world, Romi Garduce did the same route in just 8 hours last November while our group took twice as long. (Here's sir Romi's blog post about their climb).  

Preparation 
As mentioned earlier, I trained my ass off for this hike. After years of hiking, I've learned to never underestimate any mountain - no matter how tall it is.  I wanted to enjoy the trails and not be a liability to anyone. I specifically focused on the thigh and knee area which is needed in negotiating steep ascents and descents. I also loaded on protein weeks ahead. It's really depends on what your body needs but for me, protein loading works better than filling myself with carbs.  Training climbs are also ideal but I wasn't able to do much of those due to schedule issues. 

Upon arrival in Bukidnon, basic supplies can be bought at Gaisano mall; buses from CDO pass by this area. 

Travel Information 

How to get to Bukidnon
From Manila, take a plane to Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have early morning flights.
How to get to CDO from the airport : Airport Shuttle from Laguindingan Airport to CDO 
From CDO, take public transportation to Agora Bus Terminal. Buses to Bukidnon are 24 hours. Fee : 145 Pesos, aircon bus, travel time : 2.5-3 hours. 
Once in Malaybalay, you can ride a multi-cab to the DENR station - 7 Pesos/head. 

Where to Stay in Malaybalay City
My room at 1st Avenue Apartelle
1st Avenue Apartelle 
Address: Propia Street, Malaybalay City
Tel No. (088) 221-3224 or 0926-432-5382
Rates : 
Single Bed - P 400.00 (Non-Aircon, Private CR)
Double Deck Bed - P 550.00 (Non-Aircon, Private CR)
Single Bed - P 600.00 (Aircon, Private CR)

Twin Bed - P 750.00 (Aircon, Private CR)
More information available at Suroy Pilipinas
*You can get a useful map of Malaybalay city at the reception. 





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sands at SM by the Bay

Sands at SM by the Bay, Manila’s Newest Outdoor Sports and Event Destination, 
Now Open!

Back when I was actively playing football, I had to travel  from Manila to Subic to play in beach football tournaments. While it was fun to get out of the city with the team, it eventually got harder over the years to field a team due to the expenses and time involved to participate in out of town tournaments. 

Which is why I am very pleased to share about the launch of Sands at SM by the Bay which would pave the way to beach tournaments within the city.  


Press Release
Sands at SM by the BAY is the only beach-themed, multi-purpose, outdoor sand court in the city. With an impressive and spacious court area measuring 28x18 meters, Sands is an ideal facility for outdoor sports such as beach volleyball, beach tennis, football and sepak takraw. Sands in also the perfect venue for product launches and beach-themed parties without the hassle of travelling outside the city. 

At the launch were former DLSU Lady Spikers and now professional volleyball league players Melissa Gohing, Michelle Datuin, Petron Beach Volleyball Champion, Aileen Abuel , and former Shakey’s V-League MVP and now Super Liga pro player Rachel Ann Daquis. Joining this roster of local personalities were trade partners and heads of sports and lifestyle brands, as well as friends from the media. To complete the beach vibe, the event was capped off by vibrant performances by fire dancers and percussionists set against the Manila Bay sunset. The event was made possible with the support of Roxy, Quicksilver, Mikasa, The Lab Gastropub, Oceana and The Roadhouse Manila Bay. 

Open for private bookings, corporate and sport-related functions, Sands is conveniently located at the north area of SM by the BAY grounds.  While it has always been a must-visit outdoor entertainment and amusement destination for the entire family, with the addition of Sands, SM by the BAY now promises a more enjoyable experience for people with active lifestyles. 

For inquiries and reservations please contact SM by the BAY at 
Email : thesmbythebay@gmail.com.  
Facebook : facebook.com/smbythebay/ 
Twitter and Instagram: @smbythebay

*All photos used in this post are from Sands at SM by the Bay. More pictures can be viewed at their FB page - SANDS at SM by the BAY.

Berghaus Urban Adventure Games 2014

Here's an exciting event that combines the use of technology & physical activity. 

Berghaus,  a UK-based outdoor brand has collaborated with Cyburban (FB Page here), an adventure game which allows you to organize your own tours, scavenger hunts and more with less manpower!

Ari Bancale of Cyburban shared  some interesting details about this game : 
"Form a team of 3,the Berghaus Urban Adventure Games will give you challenges for the mind and body that requires you to be at your peak performance levels. Run through parkour obstacles. Test your strength at the CrossFit stations. Solve riddles, puzzles, and run around the Circuit Grounds to look for objects in a digitized scavenger hunt.

Different skill levels are provided for the right fitness levels of your team. Teams under the fun category can expect casual thrills. Competitive teams will find the obstacle combos to be a real challenge. And, the core adventurers of the Elite category will be sent out to the City of Manila to validate their endurance and street smarts.

This is the first of a new genre of adventure games where skill is more important than time. Do you have the courage to live for adventure?"



This is a sample QR Code that the teams will be looking for during the event :

It reminds me of Amazing Race wherein you do challenges and search for the next clue.Kara Santos of Traveling Up blog, along with fellow bloggers did a dry run of the adventure game (and I felt bad I wasn't able to go!). Read her blog, it should give you a pretty good idea on what's in store on the actual date. :) 

Before you register, note that you will need to at least have one android phone per team and you will be providing your own internet access during the event.  You also need to bring extra batteries, power banks or back-up phones. For more details, visit the event website - Cyburban - Berghaus 

Last Day of Registration is on November 12, 2014! :) 
Berghaus 2014
Urban Adventure Games
Date : November 15, 2014, Saturday
Time : For the Fun teams, orientation is at 730am. Teams will be released in waves starting at 8am. For the Competitive teams, orientation is at 530am. Teams will be released in waves starting at 6am.
Venue : Circuit Makati (check out Our Awesome Planet for directions on how to get to here)

This event is part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival.  If you opt not to join the race, drop by and enjoy the activities at the festival. From 6AM-12MN, inspiring, award-winning films that capture the essence of adventure and celebrate human prowess. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Where to Stay in Tagaytay : Our Melting Pot Hostel

Another destination that I love visiting is Tagaytay city.  With just a short two hour travel from Manila (or 3 hours by public transpo), you get to enjoy natural cool air, see Taal volcano (which is also a hiking destination), the lake around it and gorge on good food from the gazillion restaurants in the area.  It's also a favorite stop of mine for food & coffee after hiking Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas, which is just a few minutes away. 
Taal Volcano on a dreary weather
However, this place has this stigma of being hard on the frugal traveler wanting to spend a night here, with most hotels charging at least 2,000 Pesos/night (roughly 45 USD). It may not be that much for a high earner but if you're traveling solo or got a minimal budget, it would take a toll on your pocket. 

Fortunately, Our Melting Pot Hostel (OMP) (which also has a branch near Makati Avenue) has made its way to the highlands.  Catering to backpackers and budget travelers, this hostel offers comfortable, secure and most importantly -  reasonably priced place to rest. 

It is located in an uneventful neighborhood, a few blocks off the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, near Cool Breeze Hotel. You can actually walk to the main highway. I love that it's strategically located close to the main road, yet far enough that you won't hear vehicle noises. 
Facade of Our Melting Pot Hostel
Braving the rainy weather from Manila, I did a spur of the moment trip with blogger friends ShawnDong Ho and Miss Litratista, Chamee. Leaving Makati at around 12 midnight, we arrived at OMP after two hours (with one stopover and Dom's careful driving). 

Unlike most hostels, there is no front desk. It's like we're walking into a relative's home. We were asked to take off our footwear which I didn't mind because the floor seemed clean.  We were warmly welcomed by one of the owners despite us arriving close to the witching hour :P. 

I wasn't fully comprehending what was going on around me  as I was feeling groggy from fatigue as I just came from a hike earlier that day, but I remember feeling instantly at home as we were given a quick short tour on where the bathrooms and other facilities are. We were also told that there were a handful of guests, one group was out and a couple was already sleeping soundly in a room near the kitchen. 
Common area where you can watch DVD's or chat with other guests
Finally, time to sleep! The bed was comfortable and clean. I didn't have trouble flying off to dreamland. With Tagaytay's cool weather, you won't really need aircon, at least if you're someone who's accustomed to  a 27 C temperature.  :P
Twin room 
Toilet & Bath was just a couple of steps away from our room. We were provided towels too which was great because I only had soiled clothes from the hike. I even had to borrow a shirt from my friend Shawn!

*When staying here, it's advisable to bring your own toiletries as individually packed soap and shampoo won't be provided. There's some liquid soap and shampoo in the bathroom but it's for everyone's use. 

An overnight stay ranges from 970 Pesos-1,350 Pesos for the private rooms (just 485 Pesos/head if you share a room with someone!), while it's just 470 Pesos/head for a 6 bed mixed dorm room.  It comes with free breakfast which consists of banana, bread, peanut butter, jams, one egg, and coffee, tea or juice;  If you need more food, you can walk or drive to Starbucks or Yellow Cab Pizza along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway. 
My favorite part of the day - breakfast! :) 
We enjoyed a quiet chatter over breakfast and trying on the various spreads (My fave was combining peanut butter and guava jelly on my sandwich). After a few minutes, some guests came out of their rooms and we gave way for their turn at the dining table. 
View of the dining area from the common area

OMP has an enormous balcony with a view of the neighborhood where you can set up a small quiet party)
There's a big gazebo at the side of the house. This would be a nice place for a quiet time early in the morning. 


With its good location, basic amenities, comfortable beds and a homey atmosphere, OMP is certainly a great option when looking for a cheap place to stay when visiting Tagaytay.

Our Melting Pot Hostel
75 Smokey Hill, Maharlika Subdivision, Tagaytay, Philippines
Mobile Number : +63 09174000960
Email : omphostel.tagaytay@gmail.com
Rates & Pictures of rooms here
Website :  http://www.ourmeltingpottagaytay.com/
Facebook Page 
Map here

Note : 
Our overnight stay was courtesy of OMP but all opinions expressed through this post are my own. Hope you enjoy your stay here as well! :) 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Camarines Sur : White Pebble Beach

Weather's been dreary the past couple of weeks but I'm not complaining because I'm loving the snuggle weather but to all my beach lover friends and to everyone who misses the warmth of summer, this post is for you! :) 


If you're traveling to Naga City and would like to add some sea therapy in your itinerary, there's an unusual beach in Barangay Bagulatao in the municipality of Minalabac, Camarines Sur. Its shoreline is glistening with pebbles, pebbles everywhere! 

Travel time takes 45 minutes by private transportation and roads going here are partially rough which adds a little thrill to the trip. 

What I find particularly appealing about this type of beaches is that the pebbles look like precious rocks when the sun hits its surface! 


There are also other small resorts in the area but our group was only able to visit White Pebble Beach Resort. 

Just across is the privately-owned Bicol Shell Museum which houses an enormous collection of shells. 



Frankly, I'd rather see shells in its natural environment but the collection's rather fascinating with all the various species having eye-catching colors and shapes.  It seemed the owners put a lot effort to label the displays and provide information for its visitors. 



After a short tour, you can have a short picnic in one of the huts - think fresh buko juice, grilled seafood with breeze swirling around you. :)

There aren't many stores in the area so it's advisable to bring food and drinks. 

Cottages for rent

Guests can also spend a comfortable night inside the resthouse of White Pebble Beach Resort, a spacious bungalow that has its own videoke machine and a billiards table but what I really like is its porch where you can just hang-out. 


Porch fronting the beach
Other places that can be visited is a small cave (see photos here) which is five minutes away by boat and a small falls where you can bathe with fresh water.

Whether you're just looking for a side trip or an overnight excursion, pebble beach, with its proximity to Naga city,  humble amenities, is a good option if you're traveling with a group.  

This trip was made possible by Naga Tourism, NagaX (you can book tours in Naga or CamSur through them), our host from the tourism of Minalabac - Vhongz Cambe. Thank you! :) 

White Pebbles Beach Resort
Barangay Bagulatao, Minalabac, Camarines Sur 
Facebook Page : White Pebbles Beach Resort 
Contact Numbers : 
+63 (054) 472-9606 (Landline)
+63 09052806366 or 09395869147  (Mobile Numbers)
Email: whitepebbles@rocketmail.com
Business Hours : 
For day trips : 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Overnight : 5:00 pm to 7:00 am 

Rates : 
Beach Resthouse - P3,000 to 3,500 
Capacity: 20 persons
Amenities Include : Videoke, Billiard Table, 2 bedrooms w/ single bed each, 5 sofa bed, ceiling fan, kitchen/gas range & refrigerator
Closed cottages: 
1 single bed – P750 – 1,000 | Capacity – 2 persons
3 single bed – P500 – 1,800 | Capacity – 6 persons. Extra person – 50 each. Excess hour – 50/hour

Open cottages: P500 / 700 | Capacity – 12 persons. Extra person – 20 each. Excess hour – 50/hour
*Thanks to Kara of Travel Up for gathering this info

How to get here : 
If you're staying in Eurotel Naga, you can approach the front desk to rent a van.  Contact details at their website. Some more helpful information  is available via Naga City deck blog,

For more details/accounts about this beach getaway near Naga city, please do check out my blogger friends' posts : 
Life Beyond 8to5  - White Pebble Beach, Camarines Sur
Travel Up - White Pebble Beach Near Naga City

Related Posts : 
Where to Stay in Naga - Eurotel 
Waterfalls Hiking in Camarines Sur

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