a journal on travel and hiking around the Philippines and overseas

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Review : Asus ZenFone 2 Laser

Check out my experience using an Asus ZenFone 2! :)

Hiking 6 peaks over the weekend

Click to read about one of my all-time favorite hiking adventures. :)

Osprey Pack : Nova

My new reliable backpacking buddy

Hiking in Bukidnon

A day hike to Mt. Kitanglad and Dulang-Dulang

Sunday, July 10, 2016

11 Essentials in my Beach Bag

Even  if summer's long gone, it doesn't mean we forget about the beach - especially when we live in an archipelago like the Philippines surrounded by all these gorgeous beaches! 

Related Read : 30 Best Beaches in the Philippines - According to Travel Bloggers

Just last week - end of June and the start of hot choco season, I traveled to Bohol with fellow bloggers for a relaxing 3 day stay at Amorita Resort.  Built on a limestone cliff, it is one of the first resorts near the stretch of the famed Alona beach of Panglao island and a favored escape for families and honeymooners (the place, with its interiors and layout just screams, "FALL IN LOOOVE NOW!").  That was one of the most relaxing trips I've ever done and it has inspired me to come up with this post. 

*I still ended up going home with a back pain because, well, I can get really restless, tell you about it in another post which I link here once I'm done with it. :P
Cliff view of Alona beach in Panglao, Bohol 
Here's a list of what I normally bring on trips to the beach. If you're not into beaches, you can also use this as  guide on what to give to your  beach loving friends and family. :)

1. SUNGLASSES 
More than just an accessory, it serves as protection for your eyes against the sun's UV rays - too much exposure to which can damage your eyes and cause cataract, so make sure you choose a pair that offers UV protection. (Source : Mayo Clinic).  

Awesome news! Sunnies, a Filipino brand that offers affordable and stylish sunglasses are now available in Philippines Air Asia flight (check out flights for your next beach getaway here). No need to stress out if you forget to pack a pair! There's a catalogue in the pocket of the seat in front of you. Available designs on board were carefully selected to make sure there's a style for everyone. 
My favorite pair of Sunnies.
(I realized I should have worn my sunglasses but I'm not fond of selfies, I love food porn though :P)
If you want to purchase ahead of time, you can check out their list of stores or purchase online through their website, Sunnies Studios.  (I love their kiosk at the Fashion Hall of SM Mega Mall. That's where I bought my first pair of Sunnies. You see, I've always struggled with picking which style would suit the shape of my face which is  a mix of angular and round and the girl at the booth was very accommodating and helped me find a pair which I really love!

P.S. If you're wearing prescription glasses, you can go for transition lenses that darken when exposed to certain types of light so it's like you're wearing sunglasses. Inquire at an optical shop. 

2. REEF-FRIENDLY SUNSCREEN
We can all be ambassadors of nature preservation by being  mindful of the products we use.  Sunscreens  that contain ingredients such as paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone can contribute to coral bleaching when it washes off. (Source : National Geographic | Swimmers' Sunscreen Killing Off Coral). Coral bleaching, which is primarily caused by global warming (changes in the water temperature), drives away algae that gives corals its color that may lead to its death. (More info here.) 

*Sunscreen, as opposed to sunblock feels lighter and not visible when applied. 

Looking for a reef-friendly sunscreen? Consider these two brands I've tried. (I'm quite happy with both which is why I'm sharing it to you :)).  First one is Safe Sea. It helps prevent jellyfish stings without being harmful to marine life. I bought one at Watsons, around 500 Pesos for a 125 ML bottle, SPF 50. The bottle's almost empty so I'm now using Human Nature's SafeProtect, another reef-friendly sunscreen which was given to me when I attended a Coastival (post here). It offers both UVA protection & UVB protection and has SPF 30, which blocks 97% of the UVB rays (SPF 50 blocks about 98%).  It's good to my skin too - my skin glows when I'm using it and  it doesn't dry up . (Details where to buy here).   

*More info on Safe Sea here

Tip : Choose products that offers protection from both UVA & UVB radiation. UVA rays causes premature aging while UVB protection causes sunburn and can potentially damage the deeper layer of the skin which can cause cancer. If you're concerned about your skin tone and premature aging, choose the one that offers a maximum PA rating, PA++++ (4 pluses). Human Nature's SafeProtect has PA++++. 

Related reads : 

How to choose the right sunscreen?
Does a higher SPF sunscreen always protect your skin better?

3. DRY BAG or A WATERPROOF POUCH
Keep your stuff dry when you go island hopping or engage in water sports like kayaking by putting them inside dry bags or waterproof pouches. These are reusable and if you're using a reliable brand, it lasts for years! Though it can be more expensive than using plastic bags, it's worth the investment. It's more expensive to replace a gadget you know :).  (Price range is 1,000 Pesos above, depending on capacity and the brand) so ask around, utilize social media to get insights from users before buying one. I have a dry bag from Osprey but I have not tried submerging it under the water so I'm unable to vouch for it yet. 

Tip : Reliable dry bag brands (based on friends suggestions) that can be purchased in the Philippines include Sea to Summit (FB page here) & Blood Red

A dry bag saves you from worrying about your stuff  when you go on a water adventure
 (Photo taken at Dumaluan beach in Panglao island, Bohol)
If you don't have a budget for a dry bag yet, you can also put your stuff inside resealable plastic bags (which you can reuse after). Ziploc - I use the one for freezer storage because it looks thicker and is very easy to seal. Some resealable bags are cheap but it's so hard to close it. 

4. BEACH BLANKET 
Do you love hanging out by the shore but don't like having sand all over you? Bring a beach blanket! Go for a brand that is sand repellent so you don't contribute to the thinning shoreline. 

If you're looking for a sand repellent  beach blanket, check out Lagu

I have one which I won from a friend's blog giveaway, teehee! I don't just use it for the beach, it has also protected me from cold and light rain (Testimonial : forgot my jacket on a recent rainy trip to Baguio  and I used my beach blanket to shield myself from the rain. No boyfie but Lagu kept me warm.)

Lagu Beach blanket retails at 999 Pesos. It's an awesome gift for yourself and love ones if you ask me! You can buy it in stores or online. Visit Lagu for more details.

Kudos to brands that promote environmental conservation! :) 
P.S. It's also available in Philippines AirAsia flights as part of their inflight merchandise!

5. CLARIFYING SHAMPOO
As part of my training for an open water swimming event,  I swim thrice a week in a chlorinated pool and about once a month on open water.  While this routine helps me prepare, I noticed my hair is always dry and it has been falling off at an alarming rate. Every time I touch my hair, I end up with several strands between my fingers. Recently, I switched to using a clarifying shampoo from Human Nature that help remove impurities in the hair. It has helped addressed my concern with falling hair (I think using a Strengthening conditioner after greatly helped too). It  also feels lighter and cleaner each time, especially after a two hour swim! 

You can buy it from Robinsons Department store, Robinsons Supermarket and Robinsons Selection. You can also buy it online. Check it out here. (Price : 200 ML - 149.75 Pesos
400 ML - 319.75 Pesos)

6. STRENGTHENING CONDITIONER 
I can never ever skip using a conditioner these days now that my hair is extra dry. I'm almost always under the sun and falling hair is a concern, especially since I'm approaching mid 30s.  Reco : Try the strengthening conditioner from Human Nature. I prefer the Cool Peppermint variant - I love the smell of mint and that cooling effect on my scalp. 

7. LOTION 
I don't like having dry skin because it makes me itch so I make sure I apply one after spending time in the water. Fortunately, I have loads of lotion  given by family and from some blog collaboration, hehe! I'd love to try the all-natural lotion once I finished all these bottles I have. :) (Don't like lotion? Another option is virgin coconut oil from the drugstore.)


Travel Tip : If you're taking a plane and not checking in your luggage, ensure you put all the liquids in 100 ML containers. 

8. ECO FRIENDLY FLIP FLOPS
I'm loving my latest pair from Banana Peel's Earth Hour collection. These pretty, nature-inspired design feature glow-in-the-dark straps - I can easily find my slippers in the dark! :). It's made from eco-friendly and non-harmful materials. The print is made from non-toxic paint too. Most importantly, the straps and soles are soft and I can walk far in these. 
Eco-friendly slippers from Banana Peel. 
Banana Peel also offer a line with skid-proof outsoles so you don't easily slip off, perfect if your adventure involves walking on natural trails like waterfalls and rivers. (To buy online or find a branch closest to you, visit  their website here). 

9. FIRST AID KIT
The hiker in me can't seem to go anywhere without bringing a first aid kit. It's a good habit to keep though because you'll never know who might need it. My kit has bandages, medicine for diarrhea, fever, pain reliever and Betadine. (Reminder : Be careful when giving meds as some people are allergic to paracetamol.) Bandages can be used to cover a cut in case you brush up some rocks while swimming. 

10. DURABLE WATER BOTTLE 

Keeping yourself hydrated has a lot of benefits - you think clearly, your skin looks fresh and more! (Tip: Drink before you feel thirsty to avoid getting dehydrated). I usually bring a water bottle with me so I can  drink while traveling and fill it up again at the hotel. If you're also into hiking, best to get one that won't shatter easily. My mind has the tendency to wander and think about random things (Can you relate? Like, you need to brush your teeth and suddenly, you remember a photo of a rainbow cake you saw online and you suddenly decide you have to get one later so you need to rearrange your day just so you can squeeze a quick trip to a cafe!). As a result, I often drop things - including my phone (Samsung S5 is so durable!) which is why a  reliable water bottle is exactly what I need in my life. 

Tip :  Nalgene is a really good brand!  I have not broken any  bottle and I take them everywhere! :P You can buy one from R.O.X., Conquer Outdoor Shop (Robinson's Forum in Mandaluyong). Price depends on the size and model. 

11. GARBAGE BAG 
Again, this is another "habit" from hiking. I can't seem to pack my bag without bringing my own trash bag so I can dispose waste properly.  Being an outdoor lover means doing your share in preserving the beauty of nature. For beach trips, I just bring a  small bag where I can put  food wrappers and other rubbish. It was also very useful when I went on trip once and this adorable little girl puked inside the van. :P 

How about you? What's in your beach bag? Please feel free to share! :) 



Saturday, June 25, 2016

Advocacy : Cebu Pacific Partners with UNICEF for Children's Health & Nutrition

While I believe we make our own destiny and that we all have equal chances at succeeding in life, it does help when we're equipped with the physical and mental capacity to be the best that we can be. Sadly, many children are not given the adequate nourishment, which leads to stunting (read here), a condition that  impacts a child's physical and mental health and development. Its adverse impact carries on until adult life, impacting their ability to stay healthy, learn more and earn more. While the effects are irreversible, it is preventable. Here's how you can help. 

Starting July 1, 2016, passengers in all Cebu Pacific flights from Manila hub will be given an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children by donating any amount during their flight through UNICEF's "Change for Good" Program. 
 Cebu Pacific President & CEO Lance Gokongwei and UNICEF Representative Lotta Sylwander.
(Photo from Stratworks)
"Change for Good  is  a global partnership between UNICEF and the international airline industry". Established in 1987,  the program aims to collect donations from passengers to be able to provide materials and services for vulnerable children in more than 150 countries. One of its programs, the First 1,000 Days Health and Nutrition is Cebu Pacific's chosen beneficiary for the Change for Good partnership. This initiative aims to provide proper health and nutrition to children and their mothers on the first 1000 days, a crucial point in a child's well-being and development,  spanning from a mother's pregnancy until the child reaches 2 years old.  (Are you a new mother? Read about the importance of a child's first 1000 days here)

Learn more about chronic malnutrition on Rappler.

Now, imagine if all children are given the adequate nutrition and assistance to help them succeed in life? What a better nation we could build together!

Cebu Pacific is the first airline partner of UNICEF’s  Change for Good program in the entire Southeast Asia. During the flight, after the onboard games, the crew will invite passengers to make a donation. Any amount from any currency is welcome! :) 
UNICEF Ambassador Gary Valenciano and Celebrity Advocate for Children Anne Curtis
with the Cebu Pacific cabin crew  during the launch of Change for Good 
(Photo from Stratworks)
The program will be initially rolled out for Cebu Pacific Manila hub before being implemented for the rest of the airline's hubs around the Philippines. 

If you're not flying soon, you can still donate or get more information on UNICEF's First 1000 Days Health & Nutrition Program through, 1000days.unicef.ph

Cebu Pacific Air, now on its 20th year of operations,  is the largest carrier in the Philippines air transportation industry , offerings its low-cost services to more destinations and routes with higher flight frequency within the Philippines than any other airlines. To book a flight, visit Cebu Pacific. (Side story: This is the airline that made it possible for me to travel extensively around the Philippines when I was in my mid 20s, through  its generous seat sales. Back then, I can get a round trip fare for as low as 56 Pesos!)



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Human Nature Save Our Seas Coastival 2016

Last April 29, I participated in the 1st S.O.S (Save Our Seas) Coastival in San Juan, La Union. Organized by Human Nature, the country's largest manufacturer of natural personal care, this one day event was dubbed as an eco-friendly version of "Laboracay", the massive summer celebration that happens in Boracay island every Labor Day weekend. 
Arrival in Urbiztondo beach in time to witness a beautiful sunrise
Conservationists, fellow bloggers and other members of the media helped in building a sand art led by muralist and climate justice advocate, AG Sano, aka the Dolphin Guy (Story here).  The 180 meter long sand art was built  along Urbiztondo beach with the "leave no trace principles" in mind, using only sand, water and recycled wood rakes. Its creation was a call to encourage every Filipino to do their share in saving our Philippine seas. 

Responsible Travel Tip #1 : Use products with ingredients that won't harm the ocean. Most synthetic suncreens that contain ingredients like parabens, oxybenzone and benzonphenone can contribute to coral bleaching. (Related Read : National Geographic | Swimmers' Sunscreen Killing Off Coral) 
*Coral bleaching, which is primarily caused by global warming, drives away algae that gives corals its color and may also lead to its death. (More info about coral bleaching here.) 
AG Sano (in blue shirt) creating the outline 
After having breakfast at Urbiz Garden, we headed to the beach and assisted in reinforcing the outline of the sand art. While we were building it, I couldn't envision the outcome even as it was described to us. We were on a massive beach, raking sand and pouring water on it while the sun was merrily blasting. We stopped working on it a little before 9:00 AM as the heat became unbearable. We were told that we were resuming around 4:00 PM. 

I was happy for some down time as this gave us time to just enjoy the beach and mingle. We left Manila at 1:30 AM and none of us had a proper sleep. 

(Heading to the beach soon? Check out cool new summer shades from Ray Ban available at ZALORA)
Lazing on the beach :) 
Responsible Travel Tip #2 : Bring your own water bottle/container. Not only will it save you some money, you will be able to help reduce waste. 

Aside from participating in the sand art, we listed to performances by local artists  such as Paola Mauricio and Yellow Submarine.  There were also low environmental impact beach activities such as yoga, capoeira and poi.

Responsible Travel Tip #3 :
 When you spot a sea turtle/pawikan, an endangered specie, leave them alone. Do not come closer to avoid disrupting them from laying their eggs. Sea turtles eat jellyfish and keep their numbers at bay, allowing us humans to wade in the water. 


I  recently discovered that yoga is a good complement to swimming, my new sport, so I decided to join the session by Corey Wills. It's  only my second formal yoga class, since birth :P and  I suffered on the earlier parts. My face contorted like I've just seen a platter of crispy bacon get thrown in the garbage. It was tough, especially since my back muscles seem to be entangled and it's just painful to hold on to some of the poses, but when we finished, I felt refreshed and the tightness on my upper back caused by swimming had disappeared. 
Our yoga session with Corey Wills. Photo from Human Nature
After the activities, we gathered to the beach to work on some finishing touches on the sand art. Due to the heat, we needed to pour some water on the outlines so it can be more visible when the drone pass over it.
The 180 meter sand art. We're standing at the "O" part as the drone flew over us for  this 
monumental shot.  (Photo fr Human Nature)

Even as the sand art was finished, I couldn't picture what it was the we helped create - well, not until we finally saw the drone shot and saw how beautifully it turned out.  In retrospect, our work with the sand art is similar to how we can contribute to saving the environment. If each person did their share, our collective efforts  could lead to bigger and more effective results. :) 

The S.O.S Coastival 2016 was initiated  by Human Nature in partnership with WWF Philippines, CURMA (Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions), Save Philippine Seas and La Union Soul, an eco tourism movement by the local community. 

More tips on how to be a more eco-friendly traveler ->  17 Incredibly Easy Things You can Do to be a More Eco-Friendly Traveler

Sharing with you a video of the highlights at the 1st Human Nature S.O.S. Coastival : 

Where to buy environment-friendly personal care products?

For reef-friendly sunscreen and non toxic personal care products, visit Human Nature's website here.

Where to stay in La Union?
We stayed for a night in Chill'N, a new inn in San Juan, located 10 minutes on foot from Urbiztondo beach. It has its own pool, air conditioned rooms. 

Chill'N 
Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union, Philippines 
For rates, get in touch with them through their facebook page, : http://www.facebook.com/chillnhotel/
Contact Numbers : 
+63 917 575 0414 (Mobile)
+63 (072) 252 25 33 (Landline)




Monday, May 2, 2016

Travel Wish List : Tangerang City, a Relaxing Stop after your Outdoor Adventures in Java, Indonesia

I live in the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia with lots of forests, scenic mountain views and where the sun joyfully blasts its rays almost the entire year. While I have taken the time exploring  my home (and there's still more to visit!),  I do get curious about other countries, especially our Asian neighbors. One country that has caught my interest for its outdoor destinations and the awesome fact that I don't need a visa for a visit is, Indonesia! :) Seeing photos from friends who have traveled here, its tourism tagline, Wonderful Indonesia seems like a very fitting description of what it can offer to nature lovers like me.
Screenshot from @indtravel, the official Instagram account of
 Indonesia Ministry Tourism where you can get ideas on where to go.
Since it'll be my first visit to Indonesia, an archipelago country that has over 17,000 islands (Source : CIA Fact Bookand exploring with limited time, I am carefully considering where to go. While I've come up with my initial hiking list which includes, Mt. Bromo in East Java, I am also checking out possible stops to complete my itinerary. 

Related Post : Check out my hiking adventures here.

One of the cities that came up is Tangerang City in the province of Banten. The nearest airport, also  in the same city is Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (IATA code, CGK), which serves those traveling to Greater Jakarta on the island of Java. To give you a perspective on its location, here's a map

Tangerang is known as an industrial and manufacturing hub. What got me curious about this city, you ask? It's for the simple reason that I don't know much about it nor do I know anyone who has visited the city! :P That means my eyes are not yet overly exposed to all the things I am about to see, which is refreshing. :)

Here is a list of destinations in and around Tangerang. I've only relied on the internet so please drop a comment  below if you have a recommendation. :) 

BENTENG HERITAGE MUSEUM 
Opened in 2011, the museum is in a  restored 2-storey 17th century style, Peranakan house, located at Pasar Lama Market, which I also want to check out  (exploring a market and all its stalls is an adventure on its own). It contains artifacts showcasing Chinese culture from 17th-19th century. It is also serves as a venue for Peranakan culinary festivals, wedding & fashion shows and community gatherings. 

Entrance fee  is from Rp. 25,000 to Rp. 125,000 per person, prices vary if you want to include a Peranakan meal.  To read  reviews on Trip advisor, click here.

*Peranakan refers to descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled and married  locals in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from the 10th Century to present. (Source Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania)

AL-AZHOM MOSQUE
an imposing structure and place of worship located near the City Hall and the Balekota Mall,  about 30 minutes from the international airport. I could not find a lot of information online with an English translation so I'd probably have to inquire when I get there. :P 

PARI ISLAND 
Not popular to  travelers, Pari island is an ideal beach escape if you're after some peace and quiet. Its name, Pari means "Ray fish". Early settlers trying to escape forced labor from Dutch colonists  saw many ray fish in its waters when they first came in, thus naming the island after the sea animal. (Source : Wonderful Indonesia)

Activities in the island include swimming, diving, fishing and snorkeling. Also worth visiting is a white sand beach,Pantai Pasir Perawan (Virgin beach). Although there is electricity, there are no hotels or resorts in the area, just homestays. Its description reminds me of a similar place here in the Philippines, Palaui island. (Post here

Getting around is through a bicycle which can be rented Rp. 15,000/hr or Rp 30,000
for the day. The island can be reached via three ports. However, the shortest travel is from Muara Saban Cituis Port in Tangerang, taking 1-1.5 hours

For photos and travel information on Pari Island, visit the official tourism website of Indonesia here

DINING & SHOPPING 
For outdoor dining and live music, Summarecon Mal Serpong at Sentra Gading Serpong is a promising destination. AEON Mall also, a Japanese themed mall at Jl. BSD Raya Utama is recommended for those who crave for Japanese food, if you don't have the budget or time to go to Japan yet. :P

WHERE TO STAY IN TANGERANG? 
Find best hotel through booking site, Traveloka. Here you can also book, Novotel Tangerang, a 4-star hotel, 45 minutes from Jakarta.  Summarecon Mal Serpong, the shopping mall I mentioned above is only 5.89 Kilometers away.
Screenshot of the pool from Novotel Tangerang from booking site, Traveloka
If you have other suggestions on other places (I'm looking for more outdoor destinations!), just leave a comment below or send me a  tweet, @jovialwanderer. Please also visit my Instagram account, @Jovialwanderer, I share a lot about hiking spots and food there! :P 





Thursday, April 28, 2016

Urban Adventure : Where to Go in Quezon City

On  a recent media familiarization tour with Microtel Philippines, I was able to revisit and discover new destinations in Quezon City. I'm sharing with you the places we visited, plus a few more recommendations for you fellow nature lovers and foodies! :) (I know this is not the ultimate list, please do let me know if there are other places worth checking out. ;))

Quezon Memorial Park/Quezon Memorial Circle (Diliman)
Managed by the local government of Quezon city,  it  is dedicated in honor of the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon. Filled with tall trees, it is a good spot to run, bike or have a picnic. There is also sufficient parking space if bringing your own vehicle.   There are numerous picnic tables while others prefer to sit on the grassy area near its key feature, a  66 meter monument. At night, it lights up with a different combination of colors, making it even more visible from major roads near  the park. 
one of the numerous walkways inside Quezon Memorial Park
At the monument's base is a museum featuring memorabilia of the former president  and a mausoleum holding his remains and of his wife, Aurora. After going around, you can go shopping at the  souvenir center,get some refreshments from one of the  stalls selling coconuts and have a meal in one of the restaurants in the park. Entrance is free except if going to the amusement park. There is also a minimal parking fee (100 Pesos for buses, 20 Pesos for cars). Check out park fees here.
the 66 meter monument changing into  a combination of red and blue
Other parks in Quezon city include,Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife (you can drop by here when you go to Quezon Memorial Circle) and La Mesa Eco Park, which offers a lot of activities for the family and also has bike & trail running routes. 
Directions how to get here | Additional info on this website.)

Related read :  Makati Park & Garden and a boat ride on Pasig River

Quezon Heritage House (inside Quezon Memorial Circle) 
This is the  reconstructed vacation house of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, transferred from its original location in Gilmore St., New Manila. The project was a result of an agreement between the local government of Quezon city and the Quezon heirs, who donated some of the furniture on display here. 

Quezon City Experience (Diliman) 
Also within the vicinity of Quezon Memorial Park is Quezon City Experience or QCX, an interactive social museum featuring the history and culture of the city and its vision. All visits come with a free guided tour, taking at least an hour to complete its 16 galleries. (My favorite was the gallery featuring the city's urban legends :)) 

Operating Hours : 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM except Mondays
Fees : 
Students with ID – P80
Quezon City resident – P100 (must present valid ID with address)
Non-Quezon City resident – P150
Group of 50 – 20% discount
Group of 50 students – 30% discount
Senior citizens/Persons with disability/Solo parent – 20% discount
Family of 5 members – 20% discount

Free admission for children 6 years and below
See full feature on Rappler (click here)

UP Diliman Campus 
The state university has a lot of open spaces lined with huge trees that are accessible to the public. It is a very good spot to run, do a photowalk,bike or just relish the sight of greenery everywhere.  Sunken Garden is a huge grassy area where you can play team sports such as frisbee, rugby and football (I used to join an open group playing football here on weekends.) Also another beautiful spot in the campus is the Lagoon, an area filled with big trees and a swamp filled with lotus plants, creating a mysterious vibe. While I can imagine it as a good place for some quiet time, friends who studied here informed me that the place is more popularly known as a spot for lovers. 
The Lagoon in UP Diliman campus
Tip : Comfort rooms maybe a little challenging to find so better if you take your bathroom break before coming here. In case you can't hold it in, try the comfort room at Bahay ng Alumni along R. Magsaysay Ave. (You can also find Chocolate Kiss cafe here) or the restroom at the Church of the Holy Sacrifice. 

On Sundays, outsiders can also rent Japanese bikes through UP Bike Share, a student initiative promoting biking and environmental awareness, ran by the club with the same name. There are no fixed fees to rent out the bikes, any amount is accepted. To get more details, get in touch with them on Facebook, UP Bike Share.
Group shot in front of the Oblation with  Mike Laperal (UP Bike Share president)
& Elmo Mojares (Business Development officer)
Mystery Manila (Libis)
Test your problem solving skills  by working with your teammates in this themed escape room game.  If you are able to escape within 30 minutes, a token is given to each member of the team and your team name will be written on their wall of fame, along those who have completed it within significantly fast times. 
Group shot after we successfully got out of the escape room :)  (Photo from Marky of nomadicexperiences.com)
Rates :  starts at 400-550 PHP depending on number of players (Manila branches)
500-650 PHP (Boracay branch)
Number of Players Required : minimum of 2, maximum of 6 players
To book or get more information, check out their website, http://www.mysterymanila.com/
Facebook Page : Mystery Manila

Quezon City Food Trip?
Visit Maginhawa, a street known for its small restaurants and cafe. Over the years, nearby streets have also opened up, giving visitors more options.  Check out this guide from Travel Up.


If you're looking for a place that serves international food prepared the authentic way, I recommend Millie's All Day Dining located inside Microtel UP Ayala Techno Hub. :) 
Grilled pork chop with sauteed potatoes at Millie's All-day Dining 
Where to Stay in Quezon City?  
If you plan on spending the night in Quezon City, consider Microtel by Wyndham, a chain of hotels offering the same great quality in each location.  In the Philippines, it currently has 13 branches with two hotels in Quezon City,  Microtel UP Technohub, along Commonwealth Avenue and Microtel Acropolis, along E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue. Other than the assurance of offering quality service and accommodation at reasonable rates, it's their chiropractor approved mattresses that's so good to sleep in and makes you feel so refreshed after that I'm crazy about!  Also a big plus for me, being always thirsty, are the water dispensers where you can get as much drinking water as you need with no extra charge. 

Microtel UP Technohub - recommended for staycationers or those attending a function in Quezon City. It is also being booked for wedding shoots for its nice garden and pool area. 
Microtel UP Technohub's very spacious pool area, a very good place to hang out early in the morning or later in the evening. The pool is actually square shape and probably about 10 meters long. (Photo from Microtel PH website)
Address : UP-Ayala Land Technohub, Commonwealth Avenue, 
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines  
Rates : Starts at 3,200+ PHP per  night depending on room type and when you book.  Discounted rates offered in Agoda. Click here.
Website : Microtel UP Technohub

Microtel Acropolis - Located just across Eastwood city, it is recommended for business travelers or those from out of town, running errands in the city.  I love their buffet breakfast,  offered by its partner restaurant, Silver Tie Cafe and Bistro, and is included in your overnight stay. 
Double queen room at Microtel Acropolis (Photo from Microtel PH website)
Address : E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Brgy. Bagumbayan, Quezon City
Rates : starts at 3,300+ PHP per  night depending on room type and when you book
Website : Microtel Acropolis
Other Microtel by Wyndham branches  : Baguio, Batangas, Boracay, Cabanatuan, Eagle Ridge Cavite, Davao, General Santos city, Mall of Asia (Manila), Palawan, South Forbes (Laguna) & Tarlac

For  bookings and more information, visit their website, Microtel Philippines.

Related Posts : 
Hassle Free Stays at Microtel by Pinoy Adventurista
Weekend Ideas in Quezon City by Outrigger PH

Monday, April 25, 2016

Where to Stay in Bataan After an Adventure

Looking for a place to stay after hiking and traveling around Bataan? Check out this list! 

See related post : Where to go around Bataan? (includes hiking and biking destinations and suggestions on where to eat after!)

THE ORIENTAL (MARIVELES) 
The Oriental is a new hotel located within the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB), recommended for both business travelers and staycationersWith its location away from the noise of the main road, on top of a hill,  it offers views of Mariveles bay and its mountain range. It has 24 rooms and 8 different room types, its own bar, two restaurants - Cocoon restaurant and Forest Grill (to open soon) and an indoor and outdoor spa. We stayed here for a night when we covered the  11th Padyakan sa Bataan, an annual bike race organized by the provincial tourism office of Bataan.  My roomie couldn't make it  so I had two beds for myself. The room is cozy and with the heavy drapes, comfy couch, coffee and tea making facility,  I could stay here the entire day! :P My favorite part of the room though is the  backdoor exit that led to its lounge and circular pool. 
Pool area. Wish I was able to take a dip here!
The hotel is not accessible to public transpo and if bringing your own vehicle, there is a ample parking space. The hotel also offers shuttle services for those who are commuting. 

Rates : 5,000+ PHP/night (They're currently offering introductory rates from 3,000-4,000 PHP!) You can book through their website listed below. 
You can also get discounted room rates via Agoda, visit this link to book a room today. 
Amenities : Wi-Fi access, Cable TV, 24-hour security, In-room safe and Safety deposit box, In-room coffee and tea making facility, Hot and cold shower, Complimentary bottled water
Address : Freeport Area of Bataan Compound Brgy. Malaya, Mariveles Bataan
Contact Numbers : +63 (02) 536 1111 / (02 536 9999 / +63 906 223 4358
Other branches include The Oriental 
Website : http://www.bataan.theorientalhotels.com/
Reviews : You can also check out reviews by other guests on Trip Advisor by going to this link

Here are some more pictures of The Oriental :
The view at Forest Grill, one of the restaurants inside The Oriental Hotel in Mariveles
Two beds for me. I was given a Twin Deluxe that had a backdoor entrance going to the pool.
The rooms are actually more spacious than in the photo.
MT. TARAK GUEST HOUSE & RESTAURANT (MARIVELES) 
We had our dinner here and while waiting for our food, we were toured by their staff around the property. Behind the restaurant are two inviting pools, an adult and a kiddie pool and a few steps away is a cluster of small houses with air-conditioned rooms  for those spending a night. Since they were fully booked, we were not able to view any of the rooms but there are pictures on this blog.

About a hundred feet away, there is an enormous  space with two more bigger pools, cabanas and tables under a tree, a good venue for day trippers who want to relax with friends. I think all the space could accommodate about 100 people. 

one of the four pools at Mt. Tarak Guest House and Restaurant
During our visit, we chanced on several groups on a picnic and enjoying the pool but still, the entire place gave out a relaxing, quiet vibe. Perhaps, all the space and trees mitigated the noise. We also enjoyed the food here, a fusion of international cuisine. I love the paella, brocoli and mushroom with drowned in melted cheese and their specialty, a chicken dish called Pollo Iberico Antojo. 

Room Rates : 2,000 PHP for a solo room/ 2,500 PHP for a room with two beds
200 PHP for day trippers who want to use the swimming pool 
Address : Maap Road, Barangay Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines
Contact Numbers : Mobile - +63 0917 534 28 87 | Landline -   +63 (047) 6121093 
Facebook Page : Mt. Tarak Guest House and Restaurant
Click here to book via  Agoda

CROWN ROYALE (BALANGA) 
Its decent accommodation and location, being very accessible to public transpo and other establishments are its main draw. Located along Capitol drive, a major road near the city center, this hotel  is close to  banks, spa, a convenience store, a branch of The Beanery (Bataan's famous cafe), Starbucks and Chowking (Chinese fastfood). It is less than 10 minutes away from the town plaza, Plaza Mayor Ciudad de Balanga and the city hall. 
Picture taken from the lobby, featuring the restaurant at Crown Royale. Photo taken by Kara Santos of traveling-up.com
2 beds for 1. My bedroom at Crown Royale
Rates : 
1,700 PHP for One Double Size Bed (1 double bed)
2,300 for Twin Deluxe (2 single beds)
*These are air conditioned rooms. Please confirm the rates when you inquire as this may change any time. 
Get discounted rates when you book via Agoda. Click here.
Address : Capitol Drive, San Jose, Balanga, Bataan
Website : http://crownroyalehotel.com/

THE PLAZA HOTEL (BALANGA) 
For a mix of business and pleasure, check out The Plaza, a hotel at the city center featuring 34 classy rooms. When we stayed here, my roomie and I, both avid hikers,  were given a  room with  a good mountain view. Checking the location from Google map, my guess is  it's Mt. Natib. (Tip : For a mountain view, ask for a room facing the Balanga cathedral, an 18th Century old church). The Plaza is  within the same complex as Plaza Mayor Ciudad de Balanga, a beautiful complex designed after the Plaza Mayor located in the  old city of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Also within the complex are two restaurants serving good food, Cafe Kyoto (Japanese cuisine) and Stregato Gelateria. 
A view of Balanga cathedral and the rest of the town from our room at The Plaza.
our classy room at The Plaza
Rates :  room rates start at 3,200 PHP (Single/Double occupancy)
3,680 PHP (Plaza View Deluxe/Junior Suite)
4,960 PHP (Maria Clara/Ibarra/Presidential suite)
Address : Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga, Balanga City, Bataan
Contact Numbers : +63(047) 237 1037  - landline
+63 917 310 5083  / 0998 5411741 - mobile numbers
Website : http://www.theplazahotelbalanga.com/
Discounted rates offered here via Agoda.
A review of The Plaza is posted  here.

For a list of resorts in Bataan, check out this list from Out of Town. For more places to visit around Bataan, do check out this post from Love Mindanao. 

Acknowledgement : This post was made in collaboration with Osprey Packs Philippines and the Provincial Tourism office of Bataan. Thank you for showing us the beauty of Bataan! :) 

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