Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Wholesome Threesome - Part 1

They say three's a crowd but for me and two other friends, that meant - thrice the fun, thrice as many destinations visited and thrice the adventure!

Meet our lovely trio - me, the couple - Ren and Glee. We started our adventures with just the three of us in 2008, but the year before that, we traveled with a bigger group. We were all novices at mountain climbing and backpacking but instead of waiting for groups to join, we organized our own adventures and chose to see the bright side in everything that happened during our trips. So every wholesome threesome trip is a great trip! We used to call our intimate trio as the Happy Three Friends. We weren't splurgers at traveling but our experiences during our numerous, uncomfortable but fun trips surely created fond memories I would treasure forever.

Phil Pan Dive Resort, Mabini, Batangas
As a trio, we've gone mountain climbing in Mt. Arayat and Mt. Manabu, had backpacking trips in Ilocos Norte. Other times, we'd go with my other friends who are also avid travelers.

Mt. Arayat

Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte
Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation, Ilocos Norte
Cafe Herencia, Ilocos Norte
We haven't traveled much this 2010. With Ren migrating to Canada and several changes occuring in our careers, I doubt that a reunion will occur any time this year. We are still good friends but things in our lives  have changed and so we must adjust. I promise myself we'd have another adventure together. Maybe it won't be just us trio but with our other friends as well. (I miss you both Glee and Ren!) At least Glee's still in Manila (I'm just not sure for how long, wink wink) so hopefully we can still travel together some time soon.

What's great is that I still have my bffee's to travel with. It's another wholesome threesome thing with Jules and Tan (old friends from college). Soon, it's going to be a quadruple thing with our newest friend Ceejay - who happens to be  one of Tan's closest friend from his new mountaineering group. :p

New Travel Buddies  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Dear Zambales

With its bountiful natural resources, not so crowded beaches and its cheery, friendly locals - I find myself falling in love with Zambales - These are the same reasons why it's one of my favorite places to disappear. There's just too many wonderful places to see!

One of my fondest trips in Zambales was on a hot summer, two years ago when I rode an ordinary public bus with a family friend who I consider as my sister. I believe that was her first backpacking trip. From Manila, we rode an aircon bus from Pasay, then got down in Olongapo and boarded an ordinary bus to Sta. Cruz, the last municipality in Zambales which comes before the province of Pangasinan.

The bus ride, though humid and a bit uncomfortable, consoled us with great views of the ocean and mountainsides. It was such a delightful sight that I could not help but let a smile escape from my lips.

We stayed at the Seasun resort which I researched from the internet. It was still under construction at that time. At that trip, we were able to explore Hermana Island an isolated beach with almost white and not so fine sand. We had to hitch a ride with another group we met at the resort to save on the boat fees.

Zambales is also the home of my popular and no longer a secret favorite hideaway – Anawangin Cove in the municipality of San Antonio.

Aside from Anawangin, another emerging camping spot, 30 minutes farther by boat is Nagsasa Cove.

The municipality after San Antonio - San Narciso is home to Crystal beach, a favorite surfing spot.

Move a little farther to the north and you will reach Palauig, jump-off to Mt. Tapulao - my favorite hiking destination.  It's long, ardous winding trails has made a lot of mountaineers shed some tears (me included!). The terrain is not actually difficult. It's the length of hike with not much views is what gets the best of most people who have been here. It makes you feel like you're walking on the same trail for hours! If you're looking for a hiking challenge, this is the place to experience it.

I could go on and on about why I love Zambales but what I'd really want to see is for you to get out of your houses and take that bus. So let me share with you how to get there without private transportation :

Here's how to get to Zambales from Manila:
1. Ride a Victory Liner bus from their terminal in Monumento, Caloocan - it goes straight to Iba/Sta. Cruz;
Contact Info: #+63(02)361-1506 to 10
Address: 713 Rizal Avenue Extension, Caloocan City
(call for the bus schedules, the website information is not accurate)
Travel Time : 4-5 hours from Caloocan;
Fare : 337 pesos (Caloocan to Iba) as of June 2008. It's cheaper if you're not going all the way to Iba.

2. Ride a Victory Liner bus from their terminal in Pasay or in Cubao (tell the cab driver or bus driver, the one with trips to Olongapo because there's another Victory Liner terminal in Cubao (with trips to Tuguegarao, no Olongapo trips there). Board a bus to Olongapo and at the Victory Liner terminal in Olongapo, board another bus to Sta. Cruz. Both Pasay and Cubao have trips to Iba (in Zambales) as well but they don't have a definite sched.

Click here for a map of Zambales

Don't feel like camping in Anawangin Cove? Here's a list of resorts in Zambales.

Now it's your turn to grab your backpacks and explore Zambales!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Going Farther

When I was in grade school, I considered it a huge feat for discovering this huge vacant lot within our village with tall grasses and trees sprawled around it. It looked like a mini forest and I felt strongly drawn to it. Me and my cousin got there on foot. We just walked out of the house – at the time when kidnapping was at its peak and weren’t allowed to wander very far. That day, we somehow managed to escape the eagle eye of my mother and walked as far as our little feet could take us. Our gears back then were a reliable pair of girly slippers and cotton shirts and shorts. We were tired and sweaty by the time we got there but the blow of the wind and the sight of nature amidst an urban setting recharged us and we made our way back home safely as if nothing happened.

I then got into the Girl Scouts movement where I didn’t excel. I was assigned the boring posts. I’m either the cheerleader or the grub leader. Back then, everybody knew it’s the patrol leader who does everything. Haha! The grub leader was just a sorry excuse for a post, at least that’s what it was in our batch. What I enjoyed most about it was the camping part but the other parts like the bonfire and cheering – ewww!

My dad also used to take us everywhere and it is in Nueva Ecija where I experienced my first real hiking trip. My relatives led us to this river which we could reach by doing a short hike inside the woods. Along the way, I saw a spring – the first real spring I’ve seen in my entire life. It was at the same trip when I have fallen inlove with nature.

When I got into college, I finally joined a mountaineering club which enabled me to travel all over Luzon. My first climb with the group was in Morong, Bataan. We rode a ferry and trekked for three hours to get to our campsite which was several feet away from this waterfalls. My first tentmate became one of my best friends. It was also in that club were I was able to find other great friends I could trust.

Since then, the list of destinations I wanted to see became longer and year after year, I am able to tick some off those list. But then, it is replaced with another and I know my list has reached infinity. I realized that it is when you see more when you know  there’s still more you missed. It is a fact that I accept with humility and I am thankful for what I have seen and will be seeing in the future.

So here are some entries in my list (in no particular order) which I dying to do. Damn, they farther and farther and expensive! I need a new job soon.

1. Machu Picchu, Peru
2. Costa Rica
3. Guam
4. Sri Lanka
5. Hike in Nepal
6. Hike in the Amazon
7. Do some hiking around the Grand Canyon
8. Ride an ultralight plane in Bukidnon
9. Go skydiving somewhere in the Philippines
10. Visit one of my bestfriends in Alberta
11. Visit my friends in Melbourne
12. Visit my friend in New Jersey
13. Iloilo
14. Siquijor
15. Dumaguete
16. Cotabato City for Le Rosa Bakeshop!
17. Go to outerspace! It sounds crazy but no, there are actually tours for outerspace already offered in Russia but they cost a fortune!
18. Hiking in Africa!

Proverbs 16:3

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Philippine Beach Football National Championship in Boracay!

"Finalists from all legs will compete in the 2010 National Beach Football Championship which will be held in Fairways & Bluewaters, Boracay on October 15-17. There are side pocket events such as International Footvolley where countries like Spain, Singapore and Brazil will participate and a Guinness World Record attempt on the longest Beach Football Game.
All in all, the BFAP will be bringing more than a thousand football spectators including local and international players, team and league officials, media, and game personnel to bring the biggest beach football spectacle of the year in Boracay."

Event Highlights:
• 1 weekend of Competition, National Beach Football, International Footvolley and the Guinness World Record attempt on the longest beach football game.
• Players: top football teams in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, International Footvolley Players residential communities
Please contact the BFAP Secretary General - reacelinevilla@yahoo.com/09267419999 (former UP Diliman Women's Football Team Captain) for more details.

Fellow footballers, please pass this around. See you in Boracay!

Here is the official venue website. It seems like an awesome place to stay when in Boracay (looks expensive too, hehe!).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Philippine Online Contests 2010 (and Overseas)

Four months left in 2010 and there is no stopping of the good things that are coming your way!

 I was browsing the web  when I came across several online contests that sparked my interest because the prizes are amazing! I am also including some seat sales and other interesting announcements on this list.

1. World Nomads (travel insurance provider) - all you have to do, is share something about a previous trip that went oh so wrong! Contest details here
What you can win :
Option One
Give Back: Go native in Fiji
Join the Tribe in Vorovoro, Fiji with Tribewanted.com, living on the beach and learning local Fijian customs.
Option Two
Learn a Skill: Tango in Argentina
Study Spanish and Argentinean Tango with GoLearnTo.com in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires.*
Option Three
Immerse Yourself: Discover Turkey
Discover the Turkey Trails with Tucan Travel, an authentic travel experience mixing culture and history.
Option Four
Get Off the Beaten Path: Cycle through Cambodia

2. Pantene I Commit to Change
- More details here
What you can win : Ipad

3. Air Asia  Seat Sale to Japan!
Booking is from September 23-26, 2010

Travel Period is from December 9, 2010- July 31, 2011
Fly from KL to Haneda, Tokyo for as low as 1,547 Pesos, one way, all in!
Log on to their website for more details

4. Pinoy Mountaineer - online source for Philippine Mountaineering destinations is coming up with an 18-person expedition to Nepal. This one's another dream of mine. :) Hope I can go.
Excerpt :
"PinoyMountaineer.com is floating the idea of forming a team of 18 persons who will be going on an 18-day expedition to Nepal to climb Imja Tse, popularly known as Island Peak, and visit the veritable Everest Base Camp. We have received offers of affordable, very mountaineer-friendly rates for the said expedition. The goal is to set the budget to within P100,000/person."
More details here.

By the way, my friends and I started a Facebook group that aims to facilitate the sharing of travel information among Filipino backpackers, if you have Facebook, please join our group. Click here to join:
Pinoy Backpackers . See you online! :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The TNF Thrill of the Trail Bohol Experience

I'm back from a great weekend in Bohol which was a mixture of work and play. I was there for the R.O.X. Signature Tours First Bohol Promotional Tour and to participate in the trail running event organized by The North Face.  My joints are aching but I'm wearing a proud smile on my face. It was one hell of a trail made even more challenging by our lack of training. Haha! What's new?! (Not that I'm proud of lacking the discipline to train).

Me and two other close friends joined the 22 KM Trail run division. It was only our second time to join a that category. The race was held in Danao, approximately two hours away from Tagbilaran city.  There was also a 10 KM division which would have sufficed our capacity but we opted for the longer route because views are so much better when you take the more ardous trail and that's the only reason why we chose it.  

 I haven't trained in weeks because I was busy with several things (excuses, excuses) but what I was banking on were my nerves of steel. As I've said, I am myself's biggest fan, haha! Running around the chocolate hills is a dream of mine and I am so happy that another dream came true this year. That's one thing off my consistently changing bucket list.

I arrived in Bohol Friday morning to work - toured with this amazing group (hi Dennis, sir Ebong, Lian, Anna, Jojo and Janice!) , fixed some hotel arrangements, etc. etc. It was crazy! We did the Panglao tour in the morning and kayaked a total of 10KM (tama ba Buzzy?) in the evening. Then the following day, we toured the Bohol countryside.

On the actual race day, we had to get up at past 2am to travel to Danao. The private van we hired arrived earlier than expected which gave us about an hour to warm-up  which I wasn't able to do because I had to fix some logistical requirements for the race. I also ran into a long lost friend from college who happens to be the brand manager for Nature Valley. Hehe! I was so shocked to see her that we just chatted away and a few seconds before the race started, I realized I haven't stretched adequately. (Bad!) so right before gun start, I had to do some kind of stretching so as not to injure myself. Running 22Km without training was stupid enough as it is.

I started strongly the first few kilometers. I was able to ran past a lot of people then after about two hours, my lack of training began to take its toll. I began to feel so tired so I slowed down. I saw lots of people overtaking me. Suddenly, my delusion of a strong finish melted away and I just wanted my ordeal to be over. The sun was high and tormented the rest of us who were left on the trail. 10 kilometers from the finish line, I was already on auto-pilot mode. I no longer had the strength to run. I was so tired and ironically felt sleepy. What was left was my will to cross the finish line. It would have been extra difficult had it not been for my two other friends who caught up with me along the trail and promised to cross the finish line with me. Along the way, we passed several small barangays who cheered us on. I guess they were pretty surprised that there were still runners along the way. We also met some sari-sari store owners who generously offered us drinking water from their own pitchers without asking for anything in return.

About 90 minutes after practically crawling the last 10 kilometers, we finally arrived at the finish line. What a dramatic finish it was! Me and my two other friends crossed the finish line in five hours - an hour after the cut-off. Behind us was an ambulance and several race marshalls who served as sweepers. The race director even came up to us and shook our hands for our courageous efforts.

We traveled back to Tagbilaran the same day and had dinner with some friends and several others we met during the trip. It was a great mix of people - we had fellow trail runners, media, PR and brand managers. We were able to chat about work and personal stuff and had a great laugh over things. It was such a relaxing evening, definitely one of the best times I've had. I would definitely want to join another TNF Trail run event. They really know how to give people both a challenge and a great time. 

I would like to thank the following groups for making this event successful.
The North Face and the race organizers for one amazing event.
Municipality of Danao for their generosity
Our Partners : R.O.X. Danao Adventure Park (race venue), Everest Outdoors, Nature Valley, Res Toe Run,
Media Partners : AXN, Runnerspeak, Sidetrip, Action & Fitness
Our Ofical Sorts Dink : 100 Plus
Our Official accommodation partner and race briefing venue in Tagbilaran: Metrocentre hotel  (thank you ms. Gretel and Ms. Evelyn and the rest of your team for the excellent service)
Our Transportation providers : Loy of NF Transport, Leslie of  Neverland Transport

Accommodation in Bohol:
Metrocentre Hotel - rates are available on their website
Tagbilaran : Tel. (6338)411-2599

Cebu : Tel. (6332)254-0449
Manila : Tel. (63 2)724-1051
Email : metroctr@metrocentrehotel.com
*You can get a room that's got excellent location, near ATM's, malls, churches. You can also buy your ferry tickets from them, buy from their 24-hour grocery with fair prices (like buying from a normal grocery), free wifi, and more. I love this hotel!

Van Rentals in Bohol:
Loy Domasin - 0918-7971473

L2-K Tours :
Tel. No.: (+6338) 412-0240
Mobile: +639273327786
Email: info@l2k-tours.com
Updated Rates available on their website

Ohhh by the way, congratulations also to the runners of the Milo Marathon. I met some of their organizers who stayed at the Metrocentre Hotel.

Special thanks to our good friend Josiah for supporting us in our crazy attempt to finish the 22KM course.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Time on A Horse

I used to detest horses. I occasionally ran into them on mountain climbing trips. They block the trail, they’re smelly and they poop everywhere.I also don’t like seeing them on movies as well and unless I have no other option, cowboy movies are a no-no for me.

All these changed when I was finally able to mount a real horse while in Bukidnon. We went to this resort farm called Cuadra and my hosts introduced me to this horse. I was told that it competes in show jumping events.

First time I approached it, I felt intimidated with its massive body. The cowboy told me that it was okay for me to touch its face. And so I did. Its texture was soft and its eyes – gentle. I couldn’t help but be charmed by it. Then I was asked to ride it. I had to step on a chair because it was so high and I had no riding experience. I was afraid I might hurt it because I had to grab on to this handle which was on its back to finally get on top of the horse. I felt like a princess as I sat on its back. Then we walked around the farm which was a bit challenging because I had to continually grab the reigns to make sure it goes to the right direction. It was a bit scary because of the possibility of it taking off and me losing control of the reigns. Since we didn’t have enough time, I was only able to spend a few minutes with the horse. Bitin. I want to go back and ride for real. Get out of the farm and ride in mountains and cross streams. There’s tons of places in Bukidnon where you can do that.

Now I understand how equestrians could fall in love with horses. They’re loveable creatures as it turned out and there’s a certain rush that comes with riding on top of horses and seeing things from a higher angle. I definitely want to do more of this! Hay, when again?

Needs to Go

"Many a man gets to the top of the ladder only to find that it's been leaning against the wrong wall." This is an excerpt from the book I'm currently reading - Million Dollar Habits by Robert Ringer. 

Right now, I am that man.

'Nuf said.

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