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 :
Rates & Pictures of rooms here
Website :
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)
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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Events : Mapawa Trail Run, Cagayan de Oro

I love destination runs because it involves travel, exercise, gives you the opportunity to meet new friends and access to trails that would be challenging to visit if you're organizing a run on your own. 

Here's an exciting running event presented by my favorite outdoor superstore, R.O.X.!  

Join the R.O.X. Mapawa Trail Run! 
Date: October 26, 2014
Race Venue: Mapawa Nature Park, Cagayan De Oro City
Distances: 11K, 22K, 42K
For registration, visit R.O.X. Ayala Centrio, 2nd Level, Centrio Mall, Cagayan de Oro 
(Store Hours : 10AM-8PM)
Fees :
11K - PHP 600.00
22K - PHP 800.00
42K - PHP 1,200.00
If you're based outside CDO, you can register through : 
Bank: BDO
Acct Name: Mapawa Nature Park Corp.
Acct Number: 322-000-9586
Email scanned copy of deposit slip and details to
Registration period : June 26 - October 20, 2014
Race Briefing: October 24, 2014 | 6:00 PM | Ayala Centrio Activity Center
Some tips :) 

Facebook Page : R.O.X. Philippines
Twitter : @ROX_Philippines

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Running Event : Salomon Citytrail 2014 Philippines

"just because you are not out there in the big mountains and the wilderness, it doesn't mean you can't find freedom" - Anna Frost, Trail Runner & Salomon Athlete

Click on image to enlarge
When I don’t get to hike or travel and I find myself craving for scenery and a little bit of adventure, I go out for a run and just wander off. It was through this that I discovered interesting places – deserted alleys, red light districts, museums and parks. In one occasion, I even boarded a boat that cruised over Pasig river (blog here). 

So I’m quite excited to share with you details of the Salomon Citytrail 2014 which will be held on September 7, 2014 in the historic district of Intramuros, Manila, a former political center of the Spanish regime in East Asia. 

Salomon Brand Manager & Triathlete, Janice Tanada sharing a preview of the run during the CItytrail launch
This event promises to be fun and informative as the route will pass other historical landmarks within Intramuros. 

Date : September 7, 2014, Sunday
Gun Start : 4:00 PM, Fort Santiago 
Registration Information: 
August 1 to August 29 - Salomon stores (List here)
August 30 - September 5 - R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street (FB Page : R.O.X.)
Online Registration : Runners Runner (there's a 7% processing fee which seems fair if you're far from the registration venues)
Facebook Event Page: Salomon Citytrail 2014
Fees : 
P900 - 6km  category
P1,200 - 12km category 
Inclusions : 
All registrants will get a race bib, timing chip, Salomon Citytrail singlet, Citytrail cap, post race meal and a historical running tour of Intramuros City. 

12km finishers will get a Citytrail Finisher’s medal. Top three male and female winners per distance will be awarded with R.O.X. gift certificates, Salomon products, and other freebies. Salomon items and products from sponsors will also be given away to lucky participants on the day of the event

Baggage & Parking Information : 
There will be ample parking space during the event. Baggage counters will be situated near the Start/Finish line at Fort Santiago.

Gears : This will be a green event, meaning, cups will not be provided at the hydration station so you need to bring your own water bottles or hydration belts. 

If you're looking for new shoes, do consider, Salomon X-Scream. These colorful shoes are designed for those who do a combination of mountain and road running. It retails at P6,490.00 and is available in Salomon Stores in Glorietta 3, SM Aura, SM Megamall & R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street. 
Salomon X-Scream

Click here for the Gear Review by Pharmaton MVP & CityTrail Race director TJ Isla

Salomon Philippines
Facebook Account: Salomon Pilipinas
Instagram: @salomonph

Related blog on Salomon Citytrail 2014 : Do check out sir Rene Villarta's (jazzrunner) post.

This running activity is spearheaded by Salomon Philippines which is under the Primer Group of Companies, the retail company that brought other big brands here in the Philippines such as The North Face, Columbia, JanSport and more! 

See you there! :) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Where to Stay in Naga City : Eurotel

A view of Naga River near the side entrance of Eurotel 
Just recently, I joined blogger friends on a two day adventure around Naga City and its nearby municipalities to check out several waterfalls, old churches, a pebble beach and most importantly, its restaurants (teehee!). 

Our accommodation was Eurotel, a hotel situated beside Naga River which serves as the starting point for the fluvial parade of the Penafrancia Festival, the city is known for. 
This festival is held every September in honor of the Our Lady of Penafrancia. For 2014, the highlights will be on September 12, 2014 (road procession from Penafrancia Shrine to Naga Metropolitan Cathedral) and on September 20, 2014 the fluvial Procession where the image of the Virgin is returned from Naga Metropolitan Cathedral to Pe├▒afrancia Shrine. *Note that final schedule of the activities will be released on August 15.

(Please Like Naga Smiles to the World on Facebook for updates on the Penafrancia Festival. :) Naga Travel information at Pinoy Adventurista’s blog)

Swift check-in
I was assigned to a Studio room which has a beautiful picture of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France at the head of a queen-sized bed. It has its own private t&b, aircon, cable tv, safe and  free WIFI. I was also grateful for the complimentary water bottles as I had just arrived from a 12 hour bus ride from Manila the night before. 

Comfy bed
Eurotel has its own restaurant with the price range of the food ranging from 150 Pesos above which is quite reasonable for its taste. An overnight stay also comes with free breakfast. Buffet was available during our stay. The variants were simple, not too many options but I was quite satisfied with what was available. 
Breakfast is practically the first thing on my mind every morning!
Its location is across People's Mall and is 10-15 minutes away by tricycle from SM Naga and the central bus terminal (where you can catch a bus back to Manila). 

From the hotel, you can explore the city on foot (ideally early morning or during the evening to avoid the heat). The Oragon, a scultpure which depicts the bravery of the Bicolanos is a few feet away from the hotel.  From the Oragon, you can continue on foot to Plaza Rizal, which honors the Philippines' national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal (located along General Luna street). Another worthwhile stopover is Quince Martires along Penafrancia street, a plaza honoring the 15 Bicolano martyrs during the Spanish colonization. To read more about Naga City attractions visit their local government website.
So there you go, if you're visiting Naga, consider Eurotel. Staff are friendly (not overly attentive which is good because I want to be left alone) and despite being dubbed as a businessman's hotel, I actually felt at home. 

Eurotel Naga

#2 General Luna corner Riverside Road Bgy Dinaga, Naga City

Manila Line / Tel. No.+63 544-725321 / 6686131 
Mobile No. +63 0922-3100303
Email :
Website : Eurotel - Naga

Rates at 1,500-2850 Pesos depending on room type. 

Disclaimer : 
Our 2-day Naga adventure was made possible by Naga Tourism office and Naga Excursions.

Related Post :

Friday, August 1, 2014

Puerto Galera Series : Da Pirmeda

After several hours of touring under the suns, I was ecstatic when I finally felt some cold air brushed against my skin as our jeepney moved higher up the mountains. Though the rough road was relentlessly bumpy on some sections, the sides of the road were abundant with trees, its rich green hues complemented the sky which was as blue as a lap pool. 

Our group comprised of fellow travel bloggers and writers, led by tourism officer ms. Aileen Bareng  stopped 10 minutes away from our destination as the road was  a little too steep for our vehicle. As we were around an altitude of 2,000 feet, we were rewarded with the views of Verde island passage and other nearby islands. 

Owned by a member of the Mangyan-Iraya tribe, Leo Banaag, Da Pirmeda was built with a purpose to share Mangyan culture to others while providing a haven for travelers who want a quiet mountain get-away. 
Near the entrance, you can find a map of the place, its amenities and activities you can try
There are two pools with cool water running continously from the mountains. Fellow bloggers were quick to reference Singapore's Merlion at the sight of the water shooting from the pipe perched on a tree branch. With its clear inviting waters, I regretted not having extra clothes so I could take a quick dip. 

Overnight jungle tours which can cover up to a distance of 37 kilometers can also be arranged for 3,800 Pesos/head as well as survival skills training (500 Pesos/head). 

I got pretty excited when Leo brought out a traditional bow and arrow. As a fan of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games book series,  I couldn't help but dream about being a bad ass archer - which I later found out, was a lot harder than I imagined. :P 

With Leo teaching us how to use the bow, we took turns hitting our unfortunate target, the trunk of a coconut tree situated near a cliff. I managed to hit the grass close to the tree. While it was a futile attempt, I was pretty happy I got to hold a bow and shoot an arrow. 

As I savored the view of the ocean and the thick foliage around me, I made a mental note to come back, swim at the pool and spend a night here for a quiet time and perhaps, try the jungle trail. 

Rates :
Entrance fee is at 250 Pesos. The rates are backpacker friendly too - there's huts for 250-450 Pesos/night which can be shared by 2-3 persons. 

One of my companions on this trip, sir Amadis Ma. Guerrero also wrote a very helpful article on Da Pirmeda. Read about it via Inquirer.

How to get to Da Pirmeda? You can bike, hike (it's a steep, hour hike) or hire a jeep from the city center. Resort's contact details below. 

Da Pirmeda
Brgy. Baclayan, Puerto Galera
Contact Information : 
Leo Banaag - +63 0920-669-2668 (Mobile)
Aileen Barang (Puerto Galera Tourism Officer) -  
Tourism Information Center at +63 043-287-3051 (Landline) or +63 0927-901-2318 (Mobile)

How to Get to Puerto Galera? Visit PuertoGalera.Net

Related Post :
Check out our visit to a Mangyan Village in Talipanan
Curious about archery but no time to travel to far? Check out my post on Kodanda Archery Range in Makati!  Click here.:)  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Archery in the Philippines : Kodanda Archery Range, Makati

I’ve been wanting to try archery ever since I saw the Philippine Archery team in Philsports Arena where I used to go for a morning run. The team had started setting up just as I was finishing my last round on the track. It was a quiet scene, no balls being kicked around, no coaches yelling what to do and no loud banters. They raised their bow quietly, maintained their focus and hit the target. As someone who spent their adolescent years playing in a football team where yelling was mandatory as field was enormous, it was appealing. I supposed I’m just being human, drawn to what's different. :P 
Inside Kodanda Archery Range
The accessibility of archery ranges in the city was a struggle for anyone who’s interested to try this sport. I didn’t even know any archers back then. Fortunately - and you’re even luckier if you live near Makati, there’s Kodanda Archery Range at Makati Cinema Square. 

Opened in July 2013, this 7-lane, fully air-conditioned facility inside a mall gives everyone who's at least 7 years old and above a chance to try out archery. The rate of 550 Pesos/hour is inclusive of international-standard equipment, protective gear and basic coaching from expert instructors. You need to pay an additional Php30.00 for the target paper though which you can bring home after, so it sums up to 580 Pesos which is still cheaper compared to other ranges in the city. There is no membership required which is great if you just want to try it at least once. (Php 200.00 is the range rental per person, per hour if you your own gear.) 

Group packages up to 15 people are also available which would be a good bonding activity for peers or families. 
They also have a shop where you can buy bows, arrows and novelty items related to archery.
I had no idea how I'd fair with archery but I've always wanted to try it so I eagerly accepted Kodanda's invite. After a short lesson on how to use the bow, release arrows, proper form,  I was shooting like I was hunting for food. :P There's something addicting about focusing on that yellow target and releasing arrows. It feels therapeutic. :)
Unlike the rest of my companions who hit the bull's eye on their first session,
I completely missed it,  I'll get it next time! :P
Fun Facts!

  • In the 2012 London Olympics, two of the eleven-member Philippine contingent, Mark Javier and Rachel Anne Cabral, are proud archers. 
  • Syd Fraginal, a former Philippine National Team archer who was once a record-holder in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is a full-time coach at Kodanda Archery Range. 
  • Kodanda Archery Range now holds Fun Shoot Competition almost every month. 
  • There's a branch of Aida's Chicken on the floor above Kodanda where you can eat after your work-out. :P Aida's a popular chicken joint in Bacolod, my fave! Aida's branch here in Makati serves more dishes but twice as expensive but service and food is good. 
What to Wear?
Rubber shoes or a footwear with a good grip is a must. Slippers not allowed. You don't want to slip on the floor in the middle of shooting an arrow. :P Wear something comfortable. remember, you will be raising one of your elbows most of the time.

Keep in Mind :
Archery requires focus so avoid disruptive noise.   Do not talk in a loud voice while others are shooting.  Do not talk to another archer who prefers to be silent.  Do not disturb people with loud mobile phone ringtones or speaking on the phone.
Lessons Offered :
  • Php6,000.00 for ten (10) sessions, one (1) hour per session 
  • Student will be issued a Certificate of Completion after the ten (10) sessions
  • Fees include the use of the archery range, rental of international-standard equipment and protective gear, and target paper.   
  • Dedicated coaching on basic or advanced archery from one of our expert instructors:
  • Syd Nerickzon Fraginal ( former Phil. player, sea games record holder)
  • Ronalyn Alvarez (former NCR Team member, Palarong pambansa winner)
  • Ronna May Alvarez (former member of developmental team of the Phil.)
  • Sessions will be adjusted to the student’s schedule 

Contact Information : 
Reservations and further inquiries, call +63(02)621.9109 and (0932)843.6614, look for May.  
Email address : 
Facebook page: Kodanda Archery Range

Kodanda Archery Range
Upper Basement, Makati Cinema Square
Makati City, Philippines 
Business Hours : Mon - Sun: 10:30 - 19:30


Stat Counter