a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mt. Manabu-Gulugod Baboy Climb and its Unexpected Twists

In my delusional mind, I compulsively devised an itinerary that would involve summiting two small mountains in a single day – Mt. Manabu in Sto. Tomas and Gulugod Baboy in Mabini. I've been to Gulugod Baboy before and thought we could climb it after we summit Manabu.  Being amazing friends of mine - Glee and Ren supported my idea and off our wholesome threesome went to embark on another adventure. 

Our original plan was supposed to go like this :

SAT : Summit  Mt.Manabu (Sto Tomas, Batangas), go down and climb Mt. Gulugod Baboy (Mabini, Batangas) and camp there.
SUN : Descent G. Baboy – Check in at Phil Pan Diving Resort for some snorkeling and be back in Manila by 5:00 PM. It seemed simple enough at that time.


But what actually happened was:
February 16, 2008
6:00 AM – Saturday
Our bus left Manila to our destination - San Pedro in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Bus fare was less than 95 pesos. The ride took about two hours.

8:00 AM
We had breakfast in an eatery near the tricycle station where we had to take a trike to Barangay Sulok.

8:21 AM
We boarded a trike to Brgy. Sulok. When we got there, we paid 10 pesos for the registration in the barangay hall. They also offered to guide us but we declined. They gave us their cellphone number though just in case we get lost so we can call for help. We again boarded the tricycle to take us to the jumpoff.

8:57 AM – Start of Trek. Sky was very cloudy with a threat of rain. We start off excitedly.
After a few minutes…trail stopped.


Opps…where is that trail?!


After several minutes of going in circles, we spotted a kid who showed us the right way. We mistakenly took a wrong turn which almost lead us to another mountain. Way to go Christine!

After one hour…we ran into two other kids on their way to their hut and accompanied us on our trek, generously offering free guideship.


We spotted a shed with a man selling buko juice freshly picked from coconut trees around the area. We were only too happy to get a chance to sit down and have our heavy bags off our backs for a few minutes. We excitedly bought buko juice to drink and refresh ourselves. The buko was at 10 pesos per piece. One sip, and we were all smiling. It tasted so fresh and it was even a bit cold because of the weather on the mountain.


I had a sudden vision of myself drinking buko juice while chilling in the summit. I bought another buko to take with me to the top right before we left. Since it was slightly open, I had to carry it on one free hand. I knew it would be challenging but I didn't care - I'm taking my buko to the summit.



After several more minutes, I was cursing at the buko and Ren and Glee were laughing at my ordeal and calling me the buko queen. It felt extra heavy but I was very determined to take it with me to the top. The two kids who were willing to take us upto Mang Pirying’s hut – another place where we can rest, were even volunteering to carry my precious buko but I refused. I don’t believe in passing my load to other people.


After walking several meters, we finally arrived at Mang Pirying’s hut and we stopped for a few minutes to rest and chat with the mountain’s famous man. His hut has become a popular rest stop for mountaineers scaling Manabu. He even offered kapeng barako. He told us we were less than an hour away from the summit. This got us psyched and again we started our hike with more vigor.

We finally arrived at the campsite which was 5 minutes away from the summit. We looked at the view with awe. Near the summit, you can already see numerous mountains and the nearby barangays below you.

One group was already there and we chatted with them for a few seconds. We searched for a more isolated spot where we can do restroom breaks and changed our clothes. Though the summit was already beckoning us, the call of our hungry bellies were much stronger so we chose to cook our food first in Glee’s brand new cook set and took our lunch.


We later regretted that decision. After an hour, fog began to build up in Manabu and when we reached the summit, the only view we can see was the huge white cross filled with vandals of irresponsible people, the ferns and plants and more fog blocking what would have been a great sight. We just made the most out of it by taking pictures of ourselves and some videos.  

                      

We immediately went down after that and spent a few minutes talking and laughing at our campsite. When we had recharged, we packed our bags and made our way to Mabini, Batangas. When we finally got down the mountain, we already abandoned the idea of climbing another mountain. Instead, we decided to make a campsite and go snorkeling at Phil Pan resort which is near the jump-off to Gulugod Baboy.


But fate has its way of pushing you to take the road less travelled - after we climbed down Mt. Manabu, we got lost on our way to Mabini, Batangas from Sto. Tomas and we turned up on the shores of Gold Mines Beach resort in Anilao around 10 PM. We couldn’t afford to hire a jeep that would directly take us to Phil Pan so we opted to pitch a tent there because that was how far the jeep could take us.

Since we arrived very late, the resort owner was a bit suspicious at first to let us in. She asked where we’re from and we told her our sob story of getting misdirected in another barangay in Lipa. She was quite nice and empathized with us and she charged us with a minimal camping fee of 100 pesos.

By the time we were able to put up our tents and clean ourselves a bit we were too tired to open the liquor we’ve been carrying for over 10 hours.

We woke up around 7:00 AM, Sunday morning to the sound of our growling stomachs.

When I got out of the tent, I realized that the area we camped was directly in front of the docking area of yachts and several small diving boats. On the left side of the shore was a huge mountain. It was an amazing sight of commercialism and nature working in harmony. Although there were a lot of people and boats in the area, I couldn’t see any garbage in sight. The water was also crystal clear and not brownish which is usually the color of the water in a lot of piers. Glancing at the water, you can see that there are still tons of seaweeds on the ocean floor. There were several kids happily swimming in the water and I was even tempted to take a dip myself. It was just beautiful. I was able to have a chat with the mom of the resort owner and she told me that their community really takes good care of their resources. The public schools in the area also organizes a coastal clean-up annually after the summer. No wonder the place has maintain its purity.



After having our brunch and fixing our stuffs, we headed to our original destination – Phil Pan Diving Resort which is a 45-minute tricycle ride (80 pesos per trike) from Gold Mines. I really wanted to go back in Phil Pan and bring my good friends Glee and Ren so they can witness the colorful fishes under its waters. We arrived there a little after 12 noon.

I have always loved the people in Phil Pan Diving Resort. They always give a warm welcome to mountaineers and would often offer discounts. In our case, entrance was at 60 pesos and the cottages were at 300 pesos but since we were only three, the nice lady (one of their staffs) told us that we can just pay 300 pesos for everything.
We were utterly delighted. Unfortunately though, when we parked our bags in one of the cottages, we were welcomed by a raging sea, cold weather and a little rain. I gulped, the water looked like it wanted to swallow us. There was almost no shore. The waves were banging through the cemented area near our cottage.

But we really wanted to take a swim. Glee and Ren had just bought their own goggles and wanted to test it in the ocean. We decided it can’t be the bad. We saw three 3 brave kids doing somersaults in the water and none of them has drowned yet.


After a few minutes of summoning courage, we finally made it into the ocean. We dived for fishes and we weren’t disappointed. As soon as I dipped my head and searched the water, I immediately saw tons of small colorful fishes in their natural habitat. We even saw a fish that had neon yellow tail and purple scales. Even if my open wound ached severely from the salt water, the view underneath was worth it. Water was a bit cold but we soon grew accustomed to swimming in it.


We checked out at 4:00 PM and dined  at Balayan View Restaurant – a two minute-walk from Phil Pan resort. There we feasted on Chicken curry, sinigang na baboy and nilagang manok (variands range from 65-75 pesos; rice at 10 pesos). Through its window you get a good view of the water and several houses in the area.  



I arrived home 10 PM Sunday night with a headache and a body that craved for sleep but with mental vigor for the coming work week. Once again, I was able to spend my weekend with amazing company and was able to engage in a great adventure! :)







Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Backpacking in Bicol - Some Travel Info

Hello!

I just came back from a four-day backpacking trip in Bicol. Me and my friend Julienne were able to explore Sorsogon and a bit of Albay. People in these areas are one of the warmest people I have encountered in my entire life and I hope I can go back some time soon. I particularly liked Bulusan in Sorsogon because of its beautiful, very plush rice fields. People there seem to be smiling all the time – the people in the resort, the children walking to school, even people catching the jeep. It’s like everyone has a reason to smile and everyone carries a beautiful aura. 

We were also able to encounter a lot of interesting people in Amor Farm resort in Donsol where we checked in for two nights for the Whale shark encounter. Majority of the visitors in that area were foreigners. We met an American, Koreans, Chinese, French and Polish people. Actually, we hardly saw any fellow Filipinos except the locals and the crew from the ABS CBN who were filming the whaleshark interaction. Most of the travelers we met were serious backpackers who have been all over the world. Talking to these people was an enlightening experience. We were introduced to each other’s cultural eccentricities and other stuff. This backpacking experience has certainly helped expanded my views on life and the way I travel.

I will write about my experiences in another post. For the mean time, let me share some information on getting around Sorsogon and Albay. Hope you will go here too and experience the wonderful people and sights in the Bicol region. I certainly have to go back here because I still missed Catanduanes, Masbate, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur – the other provinces in the Bicol region.


TRIP ROUTE :
Destinations:
Sorsogon: Dancalan Beach, Mt. Bulusan, Donsol

Albay : Tabaco, Tiwi


February 6, 2008 – Wednesday
8:00 PM - Departure from Cubao bus station to Irosin (Sorsogon) via Silver Star Bus; Please take note that the buses to Bicol region do not make trips the whole day so it’s better to call the bus companies prior to departure. Siler Star Bus Rate : 750 pesos/head (air-conditioned; no restrooms; 4 stops for restroom breaks); Cubao Bus station is located at the back of Ali Mall ; If you’ve never been there, just ask the security guards in the area for directions for the buses bound for Bicol; it took us about 20 minutes to walk from the MRT station to the bus station

NOTE : We were also told that bus fares to Bicol vary whether it’s peak season or not; during the peak season - that would be during the holidays and summer (April-May), bus rates are higher.


Some Information on bus schedules :
There are tons of buses bound to several provinces in the Bicol region but the ones I asked were:
Penafrancia Bus LineP: +63.2.913.1528+63.2.736.4101Legaspi (Aircon) : daily 730 am; 6pm; 8pm ;9pm ;10pm
Isarog Bus LineP: +63.2.913.3551
Legaspi (Aircon) : 730pm (1 seater); 830 (2 seater)


February 7, 2008 - Thursday
9:00 AM – Arrival in Irosin, Sorsogon; Ride a trike to Irosin Public Market
9-9:20 AM – Breakfast at El Amigo Kitchenette in Irosin
9:20-10:15 AM – Travel from Irosin to the town of Bulusan via Bulusan bound jeeps (Fare : 18/head)
10:15 AM – Ride a tricycle to Bulusan town proper to Dancalan beach (7 pesos per head);
10:15 AM – Free time in Dancalan Beach
Dancalan Beach
Very nice beach, the pics and videos I have uploaded cannot justify the beauty of the place. Sand is almost white; ideal place for snorkeling; very quiet place.

Rates :
Entrance Fee : 10 pesos
Cottage (With roof and table) – 100 pesos/day
Rooms : quite expensive – 1000 pesos for 12 hours so if you stay for 24 hours, that would be 2000 pesos. It’s kinda outrageous considering that it’s a government owned resort and there are other resorts and lodging houses in the area that are charging much cheaper.
11:30 AM – Ride another trike to Villa Luisa Celeste Resort (6 pesos per head); stayed there for a night


Rates at Villa Luisa Celeste :
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 even 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 -- +63920-9077950Luisa Frayna -- +63920-9060969Villa Luisa Celeste -- +63910-6512447


February 8, 2008 – Friday
Destination : Lake Bulusan and Donsol, Sorsogon
7:00 AM – Hitched a ride to Lake Bulusan
7:30 AM – Arrival in Lake Bulusan via resort owner's vehicle. If you’re not that lucky, you may hire a tricycle to take you there for 300 pesos round trip; 150/trip; we were told that it’s very safe to walk from the main road towards lake Bulusan; If you decide to walk, it may take you an hour or more from the Mt. Bulusan signboard.
Entrance Fee : Lake Bulusan – 10 pesos/head


WHAT LAKE BULUSAN OFFERS :


A 360 degree picturesque view of the lake; you can even trek the area around the lake for about one hour and a half (that’s including the time to take pictures); you can also rent kayaks in Brgy. San Roque if you want to ride one. You may coordinate with Eileen for the kayaks (please send me a message for her cellphone number)


10:30 AM – Depart Lake Bulusan via motorbike ; we originally planned to walk from Lake Bulusan to the main road but we saw this guy with a motorbike setting up his fishing gear near the like and we decided to negotiate with him for a ride to the town where we can board a trike back to Irosin. We paid him 50 pesos for that challenging ride to the tricycle station; ride took around 10 minutes;
11:30 AM – Arrival in Irosin Public market;
11:00-11:40 AM – Lunch in El Amigo Kitchenette near Irosin Public Market; This is a good place to eat. The food seems clean and food is priced reasonably – around 40 pesos per rice meal or even less for mami and other soups.
11:40 AM – 1:00 PM – Bus Ride from Irosin to Sorsogon city
1:00 PM – 2:20 PM – Bus Ride from Sorsogon City to Pilar
2:20 PM – 4:00 PM – Jeepney ride from Pilar to Donsol town proper; ask jeepney driver to drop you off at the Donsol tricycle station
4:00 PM-4:15 PM – Tricycle ride from Donsol to Brgy. Dancalan
4:15 PM – Early Registration for Butanding Interaction
4:30 PM – Check in at Amor Farm beach resort
Rates :
Cheapest : 800 pesos net – good for two persons; fan room; double sized bed with private toilet and bath; food not included

Amenities : Can arrange vans and other tours such as Butanding Interaction and Firefly watching; has its own restaurant which is open from 6AM-11PM; the food they serve is quite famous among tourists because of its excellent taste, reasonable price (most expensive in the menu is 150 pesos excluding liquor) and most of all its excellent customer service; less than 10 minutes away from the Butanding Interaction Center on foot.


My Experience : If I return to Donsol, I will definitely book here again; food is great; place is very quiet and the staff are so friendly and treats you well – not like those other resorts who give preferential treatmet to foreigners. They don’t even expect you to give them tips. The whole place is filled with shrubs, flowers and trees. I slept very well here – mattress is very comfy and beddings are clean.
Other Tours You May want to Try : *Fireflies watching – 1250 pesos/boat; if you are traveling alone, you may coordinate with the resort and ask them to include you with the other groups so you can share the cost with them; each boat can accommodate upto 5 persons so that’s 250 pesos/head
Manta Bowl Tour Package – since I don’t do SCUBA diving, I didn’t inquire anymore but this seemed like such an interesting trip. In this tour, you get to dive with Manta rays.
For Booking and other inquiries, please contact :
Agnes - 0917-694-1687


February 9, 2008 – Saturday
6:00 AM – Wake up call;

6:45 AM – Breakfast at Shoreline beach resort; we had kinunot – shark meat served with coconut milk (don’t be alarmed, the shark they serve is different from the endangered species of sharks), sayote chopseuy and rice. Food here is a little more expensive than the one in Amor Farm. Shoreline is a new resort which opened last year. We talked to the manager, room here is at 1,500 per night (airconditioned).
7:30 AM – Walk to the Butanding Interaction Center; make arrangements with the staff to include us with other groups so we can lessen the expenses (boat is at 3,500 pesos which seats about 7 people plus 4 boat crew) ; if you can gather 7 people in a group, you will only pay 500 pesos for the boat + 100 registration fee (for Filipinos, 300 pesos for foreigners) + 300 pesos (snorkeling gear which includes a pair of fins, goggles, and masks; if you already have a mask and snorkel but no fins, you may rent a pair for 150 pesos – good enough for the entire day
8:10 AM - Search for whale sharks; a plus – we saw four dolphins


February 10, 2008
7:00 AM – check out at Amor Farm; board tricycle to Donsol town proper
7:15 AM - ride private vans to Legazpi City (I forgot the exact rates; it’s less than 50 pesos/head); They will be waiting for the van to fill up with passengers so if you’re catching a flight or bus trip, better allot an extra hour for this.
9:15 AM – Legazpi City; from Legazpi City van terminal , walk towards the Airconditioned buses terminal
9:20 AM – found out that we missed the last morning trip to Manila which leaves at 9:00 AM; the next earliest trip back to Manila will be at 4:30 PM.
11:00 AM – Ride a private van to Tabaco City (my friend’s hometown)
11:45 AM – ETA : Tabaco City; lunch in Chowking Tabaco City; Dropped by Jules’ house; From Tabaco City, we rode a jeepney to Tiwi, Albay
1:15 PM – Arrival in Tiwi, Albay, snack time in DJC – Tiwi’s most famous halo-halo restaurant.
5:00 PM – Depart Tabaco City for Manila via Goldline Bus (Fare is at 600 pesos – airconditioned with toilet; two meal stopovers – one in Naga and the other one in Lucena City; two stops for gas)


February 10, 2008
4:30 AM – Arrival in Manila
IDEAL POCKET MONEY FOR THIS TRIP : 6,000 pesos (includes food, accommodation, snacks, some shopping, butanding interaction )


OTHER SOURCES :
http://www.wowbicol.com/whaleshark2.htm
http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/Philippines/Province_of_Sorsogon/Donsol-1400509/Restaurants-Donsol-BR-1.html
http://bicolhomepage.com/contents/july07/villa_luisa_celeste.html


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Puerto Princessa Experience

Written : Feb 5, '08 3:02 PM
Photos by: Olay Rullan and Fernan Santos

Last February 2007, me and three other friends booked a flight to Puerto Princessa on a whim. It was during one of those one-peso domestic seat sale and we knew that it would only take minutes before the slots were gone for good. With a swipe of a credit card, we immediately purchased tickets online for a September flight. Only problem was, we were pretty much clueless on what Palawan had to offer aside from great beaches. So me and my friend Tina came up decent itinerary as none of us wanted to waste any minute getting lost and asking for directions. The internet and the ever-reliable blog community proved to be efficient resources, and in less than a week, we were able to form a three-day itinerary which contained everything we wanted – tons of places to eat, the beach and relaxation.

So it was last September that we found ourselves on the tarmac of the Puerto Princess airport. Though it was officially the rainy season the air carried the intensity of summer. As we exited the airport, hotel personnel armed with placards scrawled with unfamiliar names waited for us across the street. I spotted a girl clad in a green uniform. She greeted us with a warm, friendly smile. As we walked towards the parking area, she started to give a description of our hotel. She said it was a one and a half hour drive to our hotel but I knew from the web advertisement that it was only minutes away from the airport. I rechecked the placard she was holding and realized I had grabbed the wrong girl! Fortunately, we found the right person to bring us to our hotel when we returned to the airport.
We got our first glimpse of Puerto Princessa as we drove a hired van with transparent ceiling panels. Unlike Manila, the streets are abundant with trees and the air amazingly fresh! It was quite rural and did not feel like a city at all. We checked in at the Lucky Garden Inn and Suites after a 5 minute ride. It was one of the cheapest and best rated places we found online, thanks to tripadvisor.com patrons. At nearly P300 a night (actually it’s more like 1,190 (net) a night but we split it between four people) the rooms came with air-conditioning, cable TV, and most importantly, showers with hot and cold water because one of our group threatened that we deal with her with no bath for three days if we opt for the cheaper rooms with plain showers. No complaints from me because barely 5 minutes into the inn lobby, I immediately liked the place. It felt like home and the staffs were friendly and professional. We had to pay first before we get to our rooms though.
A few minutes later, we began our Palawan adventure!
Day 1 - ISLAND HOPPING

Through our hotel, we rented a van to take us to the Sta. Lourdes Wharf where the boats to Honda Bay are docked. Honda Bay is one of the premier destinations in Puerto Princessa. It’s an island surrounded by white sandy beaches isolated from the modern world.
We reached Sta. Lourdes wharf in 30 minutes which, gratefully, has its own information center who is responsible for finding a boat you can rent for the day. Not having to endure any haggling with the boatmen (rates are standardized by the way about 1,100 per boat) we focused on nothing more but enjoying a whole day of Island hopping. But first, since none of us had time to eat since we arrived in Palawan, we immediately headed to Snake Island, the only island which
served food according to the locals. The boat ride from the wharf to Snake Island took about 30 minutes. Water looked so inviting I couldn’t help but soak my feet in the water while the boat was running (that’s after I asked the boatmen if there were sharks in the area – luckily they said there were none this side of Palawan). Along the way to Snake Island, we saw tons of corals, some birds and other islands like Cowrie island (home of cowrie shells) and Starfish island.
When our boat finally docked at Snake Island, we ordered food from a small nipa hut store which served grilled squid and other sea food. Snake Island doesn’t really have a “restaurant” but it has some little cabanas made out of coconut trees where you can hide from the sun and eat. There’s even a rest room near the swamp made of dried leaves. We ordered squid, tuna, a bit of corned beef, rice, and softdrinks. Guess what?! Everything added up to only 426 pesos. Food wasn’t the only thing we tried on the island, though. We went out on the water and feed some fish with bread we bought back at the docks. Our guide even took us to deeper waters to see a school of fish. It was quite scary at first because when you look into the water, you won’t be able to see the ocean floor but the school of fish was so amazing you’d forget how deep the water is. Now I know how the Little Mermaid felt like. Fishes are amazing creatures. They’re so friendly. However, we were warned to stay away from the pink fishes because it’s territorial and its bite stings a bit. I actually encountered one while I was swimming away from my friends and as soon as I spotted it in the water, I swam for my dear life to avoid unpleasant bites. I should say that the pink fish that got me swimming frantically was only about 5 inches long. Geez.

One of the highlights of the Honda Bay experience is Pambato Reef where you can skin dive for corals. We had to register first before going into the water. By the way, some of the other islands except Snake Island have entrance fees ranging from 30-50 pesos. The registration area here is pretty cool. It’s a small hut floating in the middle of the ocean. Entrance is at 50 pesos. From the hut, you need to go down three steps from a wooden ladder to get into the deep, blue sea. It actually took a while before two of my friends went into the water. It was a bit freaky! We swam around the area to tour the corals. Our guide’s really good. He’s well-trained, only 16 years old but he knew most of the corals. We saw soft corals, mushroom corals and a whole lot more.
Day 2 - A TOUR IN AN UNDERGROUND RIVER

The second day found us visiting the Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site which features unbelievable rock formations inside a cave which is navigable by a boat through an underground river. Reaching the Park though is a challenge on its own starting with a 2 ½ hour van ride from hotel to Sabang wharf with a stopover at a local store to buy water, food and insect repellant; two boat rides – from Sabang wharf to the entrance of the park and another boat ride into the underground river. All this to catch the 7:30 am start of the tour.
The view on the way to the park was enough reason to take the tour. It was really amazing! Water looked even cleaner this side of Palawan! After what seemed like 15-20 minutes, we reached the entrance of the Puerto Princess Subterranean River National Park. It also showcased some other animals like monkeys and lizards roaming freely around the park. We had to walk some 3-5 minutes over wooden planks towards the river entrance which was amidst a plush, thick forest. I was quite grateful for buying a mosquito repellant because there were mosquitoes everywhere. We had to wait about 20 minutes before getting on a boat. Even if it was not a peak season, there were a lot of people waiting for their turn to tour the underground river. Our guide informed us that we were 40 in the group all in all. I took advantage of the waiting time to take pictures by the dock. Due to the rainy season, the water was very murky and brown unlike the pictures I saw from other people’s blogs where the water was blue, quite disappointing because I was hoping to see beyond the water. Finally it was our turn to board the boat; we had to wear life vests and helmets before getting in though. Our boatman’s really funny and he knew the cave well. He was able to point out every amazing rock formation like the Cathedral, face of Jesus, vegetable garden, even this mushroom with a penis. It was quite dark and cold inside. There were tons of bats too which were hanging from the stalactites but they were all asleep. I’m not a cave person, so after 5 minutes, I began to feel bored and sleepy. I did enjoy the rock formations and drinking water from a stalactite though.

After the boat ride, we headed to Taraw beach, walking distance from the Sabang wharf to eat lunch and swim. The water looked so inviting so I hurriedly ate buffet lunch which consisted of liempo, grilled fish, chicken adobo, adobong Kangkong, soup, rice and a serving of buco juice served in its shell. It was very, very, very good! I finished eating in 10 minutes then I immediately went into the water. I felt like I was in heaven! The sand was powdery soft! The water was so clear and not too salty. Unfortunately, we swam for only an hour, since we were part of the tour group and had to leave on the same time like everyone. We left the resort around 2:30 pm but we were able to do a little shopping here. A little tip: the sarong Capri pants are cheaper here by 5 pesos than in Sta. Lourdes wharf.
Day 3 - PUERTO PRINCESSA CITY TOUR
We decided to explore the city so we rented a tricycle for 500 pesos – that’s good enough for a whole day of touring. It rained so hard before we left so the weather was cold but comfortable. We were able to take a lot of great shots, something that is harder to do when you rent a van because they move quicker. We were able to go to Iwahig Penal Farm where I bought some trinkets. I believe the proceeds go to the funds of the prisoners. I got a statue made of Mabolo which normally sells 150 pesos everywhere else at half the price. They also sell cool key chains made out of plastic cups at 12 pcs for 100 pesos. The designs come in starfish, crocodile, seahorse, etc. I also got a dream catcher necklace embedded with real pearls at 50 pesos. We also visited the Crocodile Farm (where I got to feed a croc), Plaza Cuartel (a hide out of the Americans during World War II) and Immaculate Concepcion Church (one of the oldest churches in the country). We did the tour in about 5 hours. Our trike driver was really nice and he knew all the places, as well as historical data linked to the place. He’s actually trained by their tourism authority. It’s actually one of the things I love about Palawan – their tourism program is highly organized plus almost everyone speaks Filipino and English.
Along the way we were able to sample some local treats and experience some unforgettable dining in the city. Like the no-footwear policy and jaw-dropping delights from Ka Lui – one of the most popular restaurants in Puerto Princessa. It felt like being a visitor in an ancestral home and as soon as food is served, you feel like a little kid being offered the most delightful array of candies. There’s also the fear factor food experience at Kinabuch Bar and Grill where we sampled Tamilok, a type of worm harvested from trees. They serve it as it is plus vinegar on the side. They’re not moving anymore though. What it feels like : Chewy and super slippery. NBot all food in Palawan is exotic though, there’s Puerto Princessa’s answer to your coffee cravings: Itoy’s Coffee Haus and oine of the best foods I’ve eaten in my entire life: the pineapple rice with chicken barbeque at Balinsasayaw Grill. Ambiance is also plenty in Palawan with Badjao Seafront Restaurant – we came here particularly for its famous sunset view. This restaurant is located in an isolated part of the town near the ocean and as you eat, you can hear the waves from the shore and feel its cold breeze.
Three nights and four days is all the time we had to take in the beauty of Palawan. I know we’ve only seen a portion of the great things it had to offer but it was enough to leave a burning memory of a pleasurable vacation. By writing this, I hope to repay this town that had welcomed us like its own and convince you to visit and experience the magnificence of Palawan - the Last Frontier.

Monday, February 4, 2008

UP Gig Run - 2008

The UP Gig Run was held  last February 4 at the Diliman  campus and organized by the UP Mountaineers Environmental Committee (UP MENCOM). I love running near the Sunken Garden area because there's tons of trees, food  stalls and pretty people. Hehehe! It was a well-organized affair. The markers can easily be seen and water stations were adequately placed. Congrats UP MENCOM! :)




I placed 60th out of 148 female runners in the 5KM division. Ahehehe..not bad for a novice like me. My time was about 55 minutes something. My companions Mau, Olay and Glee also got very good results. Hope I can do better in my next run.


We ate the famous tapsilog at Rodic's after the race which made it an extra fun affair. I don't actually like tapsilog but if it's from Rodic's, I can eat it any time!

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