Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Latest Adventure

Due to my recent fatal attraction to this guy who plainly sees me as a pal, I have decided to channel my energies to gardening while I go devise other methods for our friendship to advance to the next level. I really hope I won’t have to use what I learned in our knot tying course or resort to using chemistry (as in mixing drug with liquor) just to get him. He seems such a nice guy and I really like him. The thing is – I’m like a sister to him. Oh malice, when will you ever cross his heart so he can see me as someone to spend forever with?! Bwahahaha!

Anyway – back to rechanneling my energy - I just bought a Basil plant kit from the hardware and in less than 10 minutes, my plant was ready for cultivation. The instructions that came in with the kit was a no brainer. It would be ludicrous for someone to get confused with it and if you’re interested to try gardening, you may want to start with those grow kits or seedlings you can purchase in hardwares and groceries. I saw some herbs and flower seeds that cost less than 80 pesos. My Basil kit only costs 124.75 pesos and it includes the soil, seedlings, pot and saucer. There are tons of accessories for gardening which I find amusing like those “name tags”, the different pots and more!
The makers of this kit certainly made things easier for starters like me. I have never owned a plant in my life and this is such a painless way to introduce oneself to gardening.  I’m currently testing how far this new endeavor of mine would go. I really love plants and it’s about time I learn to manage them. While I was preparing my plant, my mom wailed. She told me this is what old maids do. Hahaha! Well, I’m too young to be an old maid. It’s not like I have someone at the moment, I would rather be productive than wait and - I would rather be alone than be miserable with someone.
The name of my baby is Cleopatra Wichita. Don’t ask me how I came up with that name. It’s just something I came up a few minutes before I bought the kit. I’ll post her pictures as soon as her leaves grow. The little paper manual that came with the kit mentioned that it will only take a few days before the leaves show up. Yihaaa! Can’t wait, I’ll use the basil for pesto. Yum yum..and while I go wait for the leaves to grow, I got to do some reading about basil !
Here's some of Cleopatra's baby pics....TADAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Connie's First Camping Trip in Anawangin Cove

Cawnie is my friend from work who just underwent her first ever camping trip last weekend. I was with her for the experience and it was just as memorable for me.

Our destination was one of my favorites – Anawangin Cove in San Antonio, Zambales. With us were several people from my outdoor group from work. We were divided into three batches, each leaving Manila in different schedules. Our trio comprised of my cheerful friend Connie and eternally sour Anthony left at 5:30 AM from Victory Liner Cubao and by 12 noon, our group had already reached the cove – that’s after a four hour bus ride to Olongapo, 45 minutes bus to San Antonio, 20 minutes trike ride to Pundakit and lastly a 30 minute boat ride to my beloved cove.

Though it’s already my sixth visit to Anawangin, I still had a lot of firsts:
1. First ever camping trip with Connie and Anthony
2. First time to go “snorkeling” in the river – Yes river! I didn’t know there were a lot of fishes there. We saw some colorful and interesting species – one type we saw was this adorable box fish which looked like a small tilapia that swallowed a rat.
3. First time I saw a boat get turned upside down by the powerful Pundakit waves. The boat was on its way to the shore to pick us up when it capsized. It took another 20 minutes for them to set up another boat and for us to trek to the other side of the beach while lugging our heavy bags to avoid the strong waves.
4. First time to visit Pundakit Falls (actually, I'm not sure if that's its real name, I forgot to ask our boatman)
5. First time to use my new green hammock – finally! Yay! I bought it a few months ago and I’ve been dying to use it. I had this fantasy of lying on that hammock while sipping cold lemonade while in Anawangin Cove. Well, that fantasy finally came true – except that I wasn’t sipping lemonade – I was munching on seaweed while staring at the trees, feeling the wind on my body. It was heavenly!

Our group went home Sunday after lunch with huge smiles on our faces and distressed spirits – even Anthony was able to release a smile when he was there. I was especially glad that everything went well because it was Connie’s first camping trip and she’s just getting acquainted to the world of backpacking.

Sunset watchin
View of the shore
Dinner and Socials with the rest of the group

Some Notes When Visiting Anawangin Cove:
1. Whatever you bring into the island, please take it back with you. Do not leave your garbage with them because the caretakers just burn them or bury them in a compost.

2. Please remember that it’s not a resort. Please respect the quietness of the place and the privacy of others.

3. Forget your cellphone because there’s no cellphone signal – no electricity either.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trekking Around Lake Bulusan

It was February 2008 when me and my friend Jules went on a backpacking adventure in the Bicol region.
Armed with our backpacks and several pages of printed information straight off the internet, we set off to explore Sorsogon and Albay. Our primary target was to head to the open sea and swim with the whale sharks - but that’s another story.
One of the places we visited that weren’t part of the plan was Lake Bulusan in the province of Sorsogon. This is found near the base of a volcano with the same name . Seeing this lake for the very first time was like entering another dimension – a place of solitude and beauty. I took several pictures but it’s not enough to capture the beauty of this place (and it's also because I'm not much of a photographer, hehe)
We were the only visitors there when we arrived at around 8 in the morning. From Villa Luisa Celeste where we checked in the previous night, we hitched a ride with the resort owner’s dad. He took us all the way to the entrance of the lake instead of letting us walk several kilometers from the main road. We were grateful that we were able to save time since we were heading for Donsol the same day. The ride from the resort to Lake Bulusan took around 45 minutes.
Several meters from the entrance was a scene that made me feel like I'm in a painting. There were several men fishing around the lake with their small, old-fashioned boats. There was fog hovering over the lake. Surrounding the lake was a thick forest where you can go around to get a full view of the lake from all angles.
The scene was quite surreal. At first we were a bit confused where to go since there weren’t any signboards. As we were looking around, we found a path to our right where we excitedly made our way to start our trek. Once we entered the forest, we lost our cellphone signal and our mini trekking escapade began.
After our trek, we met Eileen – one of the custodians of Lake Bulusan. We chatted with her and her companion for several minutes and she told us all about the people who visit lake Bulusan. According to her, lots of foreigners visit and camp in the area - some even travel solo, while some were on bicycles, scooters and on foot. Though the area was pretty remote, it was nice to know that even non-Filipinos appreciate the beauty of the place.
After our short hike, we paid this guy to give us a ride on his motorbike to the nearest tricycle terminal. We had no choice because it was a long walk from where we were and aside from the caretaker and some locals, there was no one!  It took only about 10 minutes from Lake Bulusan to the nearest trike terminal but it felt like forever for me. I was praying very hard (as in very hard!)  as we zipped down the mountains. I just hate motorbikes! :P  Prayers worked and we got down safely. I'm just so grateful I didn't pee in my shorts! Haha!
There are several lodges along the area near the municipal hall. You can just ask the tricycle drivers when you get there but I would recommend staying where we went – Villa Luisa Celeste.
Rates at Villa Luisa Celeste as of Feb 2008 :
800 pesos net per room (cheapest room available which is good for 2-3 persons; air-conditioned; has own private toilet and bath; bigger rooms available at a higher price;) Other amenities : own beach front; swimming pool;
85 pesos/set meal (one main dish; big serving of rice; dessert) – you have to give a heads up as soon as you check in so they can prepare for it.

My Experience : the owners especially Luisa Frayna, were very warm and accommodating. Her dad was the one who gave us a ride to Lake Bulusan. The accommodations were clean and their meals are well-proportioned; taste is good, it’s made for international pallet.

CONTACT INFORMATION : Celeste Frayna -- +63920-9077950 Luisa Frayna -- +63920-9060969Villa Luisa Celeste -- +63910-6512447

Monday, September 15, 2008

Red Corner Gym Operates Until 12AM + Offers Discounts to Students!

Some time ago, I met with my good friend Jules and she looked really blooming at that time. I asked her what’s the buzz and she said she was taking boxing classes in Red Corner (that nice gym located in the 5F of Holiday Inn). She also told me boxing was really enjoyable plus there were tons of great looking guys… Wow.. sweating with the gym guys sounds so pleasant hahahaha…I have been intrigued with Red Corner Gym since then. I was curious because this is one of the few gyms in the country that is pro to alternative ways of getting fit. Who likes working out with gym equipment all the time?! It can get boring after some time. Well, for me at least…

A few months ago, I finally went to Red Corner to check out their facilities and inquired….

And guess what?!

Red Corner is offering discounts to students –yes to students..it’s too bad, I’m not a student anymore but who knows, I may get lucky one day and get a free work out (ahem ahem..Red Corner people! Bwahahaha!)

The mechanics of the student promo goes like this – You will need to present a valid school ID, fill up some forms and pay only 999 pesos a month! You will have to remain a member for at least 3 months…That’s such a huge bargain for a gym that is catering to the “can afford” market or shall I say A or B market. For more details, please contact Red Corner directly (I’m not a salesperson nor is this a paid ad) or visit their gym for a free tour

They also have promos for groups – if you can form a group of ten and convince them to work out their lazy asses, you can very well get a discount.

Red Corner

5F Holiday Inn (There’s also an entrance inside Robinson’s Galleria), Ortigas, Pasig City

Operating Hours : 6:00AM-12:00 AM – Monday-Sunday ( how accommodating is that?!)

*Perks – free use of hotel pool, sauna area, gym equipments, unlimited boxing lessons, Muay Thai, lockers, shower rooms

Contact Number : (02)634-9943

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mama’s Kitchen - Iloilo

My brother just got back from a two month work training in Iloilo City and he brought back a lot of local goods. I think he slightly overdid the concept of bringing back pasalubong which worked as an advantage to my family’s appetite for great food . He had one luggage and a huge box of food. I was pretty amazed with everything that now lay in a huge pile on top of our dining table. I can’t wait to start nibbling on each one.

One of the goodies that he bought were from Mama’s Kitchen. It's the first time I’ve heard about it and when I saw the cookies out of its boxes, my mouth started salivating. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I love cookies! He got mango chewies and Tsokolate Pinipig Crunchies. I started off with the mango chewies which really stood up to its name. It is so easy to munch your way into it. Its texture reminded me so much of Mrs. Fields cookies. It’s amazing. I tend to stick to chocolate chip cookies so liking other flavors of cookies means that it’s really that good. 

The other type of cookie – the Tsokolate Pinipig crunchies which I tried the following morning were my favorite. I don’t like crunchy cookies but this one’s different. Each piece is so thin and crispy, you can probably finish one box in one sitting. It tastes weird but I loooove it. It’s a mixture of sweet and salty.

Mama's Kitchen survivors from our munching feast

The cookies come in cute boxes which makes it a nice take home treat to your love ones. I was told that each box of cookies are less than 100 pesos each (net weight 200-275 grams). It can be purchased in Deco’s Pasalubong Center in SM Delgado in Iloilo and in Arevalo (16 Osmena Street, Arevalo, Iloilo City).

I saw a blog about Mama’s Kitchen which is also worth checking out:
This blog has tons of information about what to eat in Iloilo and if you’re going there, you may want this as your reference :

Waaah..I wanna go to Iloilo…Hmm..Iloilo..future stop? Why not?! I just need to figure out how to squeeze it in my itinerary.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reuniting with My First Love

Woke up at around 5:30 this morning to do something I haven’t done in months – football practice!

The office football tournament is coming up this November and my beloved OSMA team is gearing up for some fierce competition. It’s going to be a 6 a side game (yes, I know, weird no?!) and we have 19 people in the line-up comprising of 3 gals and 16 other guys…as usual, only about 1/3 of the team showed up for practice today at the Sunken Garden in UP Diliman. We started off with some light drills – which I haven’t done in years. Seeing the cones in the field reminded me of coach Teng’s extensive “ball pealing” (aka ball feeling) drills and coach Toni’s slalom training (dribbling the ball around several cones) way back in High school.

After the drills, we had a scrimmage – 3 on 3 and that’s when reality struck - none of us (with the exception of Totti , the team organizer) were in good condition to last in one football game. I can’t believe it, I thought I had enough endurance, I just swam last Sunday. I have forgotten how intense football can be. Five minutes into the game and I was ready to puke, TJ was spitting on the grass, and most of us stopped running. I scored three goals though..hehehe…the lola still has game or maybe I just got lucky..bwahahaha…

The super short scrimmage game ended after several minutes and we proceeded with the training with practicing penalty shoot-out which is my weakness. Instead of aiming for that space between the goalee and the post, my ball is always headed straight for the goalee.

Milmar arrived after about an hour or so and we continued kicking until our legs gave up.

After the training came my favorite part – eating with the team. The two other guys had to go ahead while the rest of us proceeded to Greenhills to eat and help hunt for Yton’s stuffs (he’s our goalee) He wanted a goalee’s jersey and a camping light. We dined at Gerry’s Grill and ate to our heart’s content. During brunch, we talked about football and other stuff – we were mostly teasing each other about our own unique attributes. Our favorite topic was Yton and his angsts. Bwahahah… That dude complains a lot but we like him anyway because we find him funny.. He’s the kind of guy who’s always in an irate mood and often raises his voice and curses which makes us all laugh because that’s just the way he is. He’s a nice guy though and quite good-looking too. ( I just have to add that just in case he drops by this blog post..bwahahaha…)

Our team is running this Wednesday to work on our endurance and hopefully we can continue practicing and be in shape for the tournament. Team OSMA will be playing with a vengeance and those who beat our team last year better be ready with their spare legs and health card. Hehehehe! (at least my trash talkin skills don’t need practicing).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Which Backpacker Personality Are You?

Find out which backpacker personality you fall under:

Got this from the Lonely Planet website.(http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bluelist/index.cfm?fa=main.viewList&list_id=11763)

I’m the eco-career breaker type. How about you? Share naman!

‘The (self-proclaimed) born-traveller’

Travelling isn’t a hobby; it’s a way of life. Eating from street stalls doesn’t register. Nor do you ask others where they’ve been – it can’t be to more places than you. You wear flip-flops you swapped with the Columbian barman and your bag contains no return plane ticket and no guidebook (but you do snatch cheeky glances at anybody else’s).

‘The gap year beer-guzzler’

You travel in packs on the hunt for beer and stripjoints. You found ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ eye-opening. Your daypack got stolen when you fell asleep on a bus and your parents have wired you money ever since. Trip highlight? Vang Vieng tubes in Laos, where you got ‘wasted and met loads of cool people’. You brought your laptop and mobile (mum tops it up.)

‘The eco-career breaker’

You charge from ‘BA’ to Quito in only 3 months. You travel solo and learn the local lingo. Always socially-responsible, you make sure your hard-earned (and partly inherited) cash goes into the pockets of the locals...but you do indulge in a latte from an expat-run bohemian café once in a while. You return bearded with stories of couchsurfing.

‘The champagne backpacker’

First stop - Cuba for 10 days of sun and salsa (travelling is ultimately a holiday). Next stop - Central America for a tour, which you stray from because, frankly, it’s like herding cattle. You don’t sweat at paying triple for a private room with en-suite. Your pack your wardrobe from home (no need to look shabby), including your $300 sunglasses.

‘The old-skool adrenalin junkie’

Dating back to the old-skool, you were a barman on Koh Phanang when the Full Moon parties were actually good. Always searching for the next adrenalin rush, your crammed caving, mountain-biking and surfing into a weekend in Scotland. You stay in hostels not because it’s cheap, but to meet people. Wraparound sunnies and boardies are all you need.

‘The 30-something soul searcher’

You sold your house to finance a trip to ‘find yourself’ (and, admit it, secretly to find love.) You look for worthy experiences like a spiritual retreat in India and volunteering in a Cambodian orphanage. Sometimes you find yourselves off the beaten track...but only by accident. Backpack essentials? A lipgloss, chick-lit novel and journal.

'The inseparable couple'

Your wedding guests sponsor your round-the-world honeymoon. After only a week at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Gambia your blog is updated with photos. Travelling with others doesn’t work, although sometimes spending 24/7 together makes conversation a little thin. Must-bring items include matching Karrimor zip-off trousers and a new pseudo-SLR camera.

A Lobster and My New Fave blog

It’s Friday and I just can’t wait for weekend to start. I don’t have any scheduled out of town trip but time away from work would be great..and guess what?! My friend gave me a lobster today. It’s so pretty! It is a bit smelly but who cares, it’s free lobster! Woot woot..Hehehe.. I cherish the fact that I do not have any allergic reactions whenever I consume it and I know I’m going to be smiling when I sleep tonight with that lobster in my stomach.
I also miss traveling so much and I am consoled by reading stories from other blogs and because I’ve done a lot of browsing, I now have a new favorite blog  - Langyaw

This guy did the Luzon-Visayas loop in 2007 for three weeks spending 4700 pesos which included transportation, terminal fees and accommodation. A huge chunk of his work involves traveling and he’s also ranked as a Grade A traveler according to the Lakbayan point system which you may also want to try here.
Read about his LVL loop blog here.


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