Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cheap Accommodation : Cebu City - Verbena Pension House

Sharing some information on a good place to stay when in Cebu City. 

Cebu City  (Last Stay : Dec. 2011)
Verbena Pension House
584-A Don Gil Garcia St., Capitol Site, Cebu City
Walking distance from Fuente Circle 

Rates : Standard single/double start at 750 Pesos with free breakfast-2,470 (Family Rooms, good for 6)
Website : www.verbenapensionhouse.com
Tel. Nos.:
+63 (Country Code) 
(032) 253-4440
(032) 253-0203
(032) 412-3990
(032) 253-3430
Fax : (032) 256-0280 
Mobile : 0922 870 2034
0927 9986 288

Facilities & Amenities : 
• Fully Air Conditioned Rooms
• Cable Television
• Cafeteria & Minibar (Deluxe rooms)
• Hot & Cold Shower
• On-call massage
• Transportation & Tour Assistance 
• Refrigerators (Deluxe rooms)
• PABX Telephone System
• Free WiFi Internet Access
• Safety Deposit Box

Location Map: (Please click on the  photo to see it better.)

Best Itinerary in 24 Hours for 2011! - Southern Cebu

While I also relish lazy travels, there are times when  I'm left with no other option but to squeeze in several activities within a day to address time and budget constraints so I can explore more. 

Here's  my top itinerary pick for the most number of fun activities in a day for 2011. :)
Many thanks to the friends who helped come up with this Itinerary (Doi, Ed and Maou)
Location : Southern Cebu
Route : Oslob-Boljoon-Dalaguete-Tisa
Activities : Swimming in Oslob, Boljoon Heritage Walk (pronounced as Bol-ho-on), Osmeña Peak Day Hike, Siomai sa Tisa food trip
Budget : Minus the airfare from Manila to Cebu which I was able to reimburse from my company less the tax and the terminal fee, total expenses amount to less than 1,500 Pesos!

Our hectic adventure began by waking up in the wee hours to catch a 3:30 AM bus bound  for Oslob from the Cebu South Bus Terminal. The ride's about 2.5-3 hours  (156 Pesos).  The bus dropped us directly in front of a resort in Tan-awan.

After swimming, we hailed a Cebu City bound bus going to Boljoon which is 30 minutes away .

In Boljoon, not to be missed are the Patrocino de Maria Church (commonly known as Boljoon Church & declared as a National Historical Landmark), its museum located within the same complex that houses artifacts dug from the old cemetery grounds and the ancestral homes dating from 1880's to early 1900's. Also another reason for a visit are the roasted chicken and meat balls from an eatery by the roadside a few blocks from  the Boljoon Church. :P Yummy!

Patrocino de Maria Church Complex (Photo Source : EazyTraveler.com)
Escuela Catolica, established 1940 (Photo Source : EazyTraveler.com)
(Photo Source : EazyTraveler.com)
Third stop was Osmena Peak which is in Dalaguete, a municipality 30 minutes away. We hitched a ride to Brgy. Mantalongon with Cris who joined us for the day tour which allowed us to save on transportation expenses. 

Up until the road where the vehicle can pass, we did an hour-long relaxing cool hike up Osmena Peak. :)

Here we watched the sunset and hiked our way down using headlamps. Prior to our hike, Doi had negotiated with the Habal-habal drivers to pick us up at 7PM, at the rough road 30 minutes from the summit, so we can have a ride back to the main highway where there are buses back to Cebu City. 

The Gang  (Photo Source : EazyTraveler.com)

Every great journey must be accompanied with great food! Our last stop was at Katipunan Street in Barangay Tisa which is popular for its siomai (steamed pork dumplings).   At night, the street fills up with siomai stalls where one can dine along a busy street. (siomai-6 Pesos each, Puso - rice wrapped in banana leaves are sold at 3 Pesos Each).  And guess who ate the most siomai for the night? It's that girl in green with a huge smile on her stuffed face! :P

Love in a wanton wrapper (Photo Source : EazyTraveler.com)

Breakdown of Expenses :

Fare from Cebu South Bus Terminal to Tan-awan, Oslob - 149 Pesos (ordinary bus)
Resort Entrance Fee -  100 Php 
Boat Fee for 40 minutes - 200 Php 
Optional Expense: Snorkeling Gear Rental with Flippers: 100 Php
Tan-awan to Boljoon Bus Ride -  around 20-30 Pesos. 
Osmena Peak - Registration Fee - 20 Pesos/head
Habal-Habal from Brgy. Mantalongon to Highway - 200 Pesos/Habal-habal
Bus from Dalaguete to Cebu City - 100 Pesos (ordinary)
Tricycle from Cebu to Tisa -  approximately 8 Pesos each (Can accommodate 7 persons)

Related Blog Posts of my Travel Buddies : 
Edcel Suyo - Soloflighted - http://soloflighted.com/2011/12/29/cebu-whale-shark-butanding-oslob/ 
Edcel Ceniza and Sheena Darunday - The Wandering Couple  - http://www.thewanderingcouple.com/2011/12/sidetrip-swimming-with-whale-sharks-in.html 
Andrew Mamangun - Trippings By Drew - http://trippingsbydrew.com/boljoon-cebu-a-church-a-walk-and-a-jump/ 
Edgar Yap - Eazy Traveler - http://www.eazytraveler.com/2012/01/osmena-peak-summiting-cebus-crown.html

Other References:
What Else to See in Boljoon 
Dalaguete's Official Website   

Monday, December 26, 2011

Osmena Peak - Finally!

I was browsing the web when I saw a photo of Osmeña Peak. It was taken at the summit and surrounding the area below it are smaller peaks - like Hershey's Kisses scattered on valleys! :) 

Two days before Christmas, together with friends and new-found friends, I finally set foot on this dream summit of mine.  :) It is not classified as an arduous climb but budget, time and a lot of other distractions prevented me from doing this earlier than planned.  However, when you want something so badly, things eventually fall into place. :)

Osmena Peak is located in Dalaguete, Cebu. Unlike most parts of Cebu, temperature here is low - similar to Benguet's. With its cooler climate, locals use portions of the land to plant vegetables which is why it's also dubbed as Cebu's Vegetable Basket. 

The trail to to the summit  has a relatively easy and forgiving terrain. You can just use slippers, however, it is recommended tha you use those types with good traction (Like those from Tribu, Sandugo, Habagat, Conquer or Merell).  It can be climbed in 2 hours or less starting from the Mantalongon Market or within 30 minutes if you hire a habal-habal (motorbike) up until the assault part.  A registration fee of 20 Pesos/head is paid near a makeshift "gate" near the summit. A guide is not required as the trail is highly visible and there's a nearby community where people are friendly and can be asked for directions. 

Yay, summit! Photo courtesy of EazyTraveler.com
For those looking for a more challenging reward, an option to traverse down Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu can be done, but a guide is required. An itinerary can be found at Pinoy Mountaineer

How to Get to Osmena Peak:
From Cebu City, grab a cab to South Bus Terminal and ride those buses plying the Oslob route. There's a 3:00 AM trip. Dalaguete (pronounced as Dala-get) is on the way (1.5 hours from the terminal). Fare is 100 pesos/head (ordinary). You will get off at a junction where you can take a habal-habal.  This is a commercial area where you can buy drinks or grab a quick meal. You will be paying 100 Pesos, one way, should you opt to ride up to the last 30 minutes of the hike, just before the assault part. It's cheaper if you get off at Mantalongon Market but hiking time is tripled. 

Last trip from junction back to Cebu City is at 10PM. 

I'd like to share with you the blogs of my travel companions. Please check them out for more tales of travel and adventure! :) Thanks for the great time everyone! (and hello to CS  new found friends!)
Doi - The Travelling Feet
Drew - Trippings by Drew
Ed - Eazy Traveler
Edcel - SoloFlightEd
Edcel & Sheena - The Wandering Couple 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Search for the Kabayan Fire Mummies

As the bus swayed along the scenic rough road in Bokod, Benguet, I find myself feeling an odd mix of amusement and boredom. Me and two friend have been traveling since 11:00 PM the previous day and I haven’t slept much. It was already past 2:00 PM and we were still making our way through remote communities, passing through cliffs squeezed between mountains. The views were amazing but my ass was in pain. "Are we there yet?”. I sighed as I slumped on my elbow with my head out the window. We passed an area where clouds kissed the vast mountains that stretched for kilometers. It was astonishing that a community exists where this arduous journey ends.

After an hour or so, the bus made its final stop in front of the tourist center in Kabayan. Yay! I excitedly climbed down to stretch and take in our surroundings. The town is quiet. There weren't any other visitors in site and we received curious, friendly looks from the by-standers.

Everywhere we turned our heads, there were mountains! Even if the town is lined up with several 2-story buildings and humble establishments, it still gave off a rustic vibe. 

We asked around for a place to stay and we were directed to the Kabayan Coop Lodge, a few blocks from the tourist center (200 Pesos/head). After settling down, we walked to the Opdas Cave which is less than a 15 minute walk from where we were. It contains piles of skulls over stone shelves. It's estimated to be about 500-1,000 years old based on a tests done by Tokyo University.  There we met the amiable family of Baban Berong who discovered the cave in 1971. 

Our last stop for the day was the Kabayan National Museum which is situated in an elevated rough road behind mountains. Its structure reminded me of a chalet rather than a museum.  

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Tan
We retired early in the night as we agreed to meet with our guide at 7:00 AM. The plan was to traverse from Barangay Poblacion up to Mt. Timbak to see more mummies. Based from our research, estimated trekking time would be 6 hours through an uphill trail. I was excited and nervous. I haven’t done a hard hike in months.

It started off as an easy stroll down the mountains, passing cliffs with views of terraces planted with various crops. Agno River which supplies water to the Ambuklao Dam can also be seen, slinking across valleys. Air was cold and there were hardly any people in sight. As an avid hiker, I was having the time of my life!

We headed to Tinongchol Burial Rock which is a 3-storey boulder with holes where you can see coffins of deceased Ibalois. After taking photos, we resumed our hike and saw the inclined road ahead. We decided to rest at a view deck where we can see terraces and the rest of Kabayan.

After several minutes, the road started snaked upwards a rocky terrain. It's very reminiscent of the infamous long, winding, torturous trails of Mt. Tapulao in Zambales. What set the Kabayan trail apart were the picturesque mountain landscapes that became more breathtaking as we moved to a higher elevation. Total trekking time lasted 5 hours before we finally decided to knock at a local’s place, the only inhabited home we found during our hike. Our guide negotiated to rent out their jeep for a ride to Mt. Timbac. It was a wise decision because we weren’t even halfway to our destination.

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Tan
We rocked inside the vehicle for 30 minutes as we made our way up Mt. Timbac. Finally, we got to the caretaker’s house who keeps the key to the caves. It was another 15 minute hike down a series of stone steps. It started to drizzle and the fog was building everywhere. Though we were tired and haven’t consumed any substantial food since last night’s dinner, the tranquil atmosphere was enough to appease our hungry tummies.

We finally got to the caves where we encountered a signage – “No Picture Taking”, so I respected that. Even if I was amazed to find mummies in such a remote location, I treat them like departed loved ones. I wouldn’t want anyone removing the lid off a coffin for the sake of a wacky souvenir shot.

Our hike to Mt. Timbac took much longer than the time we spent viewing the burial grounds or the mummies but all of it was trivial because of the rewarding mountainous scenery. This definitely made its mark as one of the best hiking trails I've ever done. :) 

We capped off our weekend adventure by hailing a bus to Baguio at Kilometer 55. At Flying Gecko along Session Road, we gorged on comfort food and drinks to celebrate our fun-filled weekend.

My friend also wrote about our trip in a more scholarly tone. (Use of an online dictionary to peruse his article is advised, haha!) . Read about it at EAZY Traveler (Travel tips included).

Travel Reminders:
  • Avoid disruptive noise when walking around Kabayan.
  • Please treat the mummies as if you are visiting a departed love one. They are not art pieces or sculptures. They were people who once lived! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Where to Stay in Zamboanga City - Hermosa Hotel

In a recent trip to Zamboanga City, we requested a local contact to help us find cheap lodging. When budget is low, so are my expectations. As long as there are no  bed bugs, too much dust (because I get the allergies) and the place is safe,  I'm fine with it. 

We were booked at Hermosa Hotel which is about two blocks the opposite side of  Alavar's, a famous sea foods restaurant. It is located along Mayor Jaldon street, a busy street and is near to public transport, convenience stores and a BPI Bank. 

I got a great vibe as we stumbled our way into the hotel and walked into a small hall. I was initially expecting something very humble, like a two-story hostel with a bad facade. This one from the outside looked simple, cozy and respectable. 

It was about 7:00 pm and we just came from a long walk from Paseo Del Mar.  We were tired and sweaty as we checked in  at the front desk. As with most hostels, we had to pay in advance. The rate was 750 Pesos for a room with two single beds, a private t&b, aircon and cable television. Not bad at all!!! The lobby smelled clean which is normally a good sign. 

We were given rooms at the fourth floor and even if we had to exert a little more effort to reach our rooms, it was worth it. I felt happy when we entered the room and opened the lights. It's clean, very spacious and there are towels and soap. Being a traveler who's mostly at quaint communities, I am not used to accommodations that offers toiletries so it's a treat for me. Haha!

From the hotel, you can walk your way around Zamboanga towards the city hall, Plaza Pershing, Rizal street which is lined up with decades old Acacia trees and other places of interest around town. (Btw, a friend wrote a good DIY walking tour on his site, Get it Here).  If buying pasalubong, you can also walk to Canelar Street where you can find barter, a place popular for bargain souvenir hunts.

With its good location, budget-friendly rates, comfortable beds, good service, Hermosa Hotel is truly a great find. 

Hermosa Hotel
Mayor Jaldon Street, Zamboanga City, Philippines
Telephone +63 (062)991-2040 to 42

Standard - 700 Pesos
Deluxe - 750 Pesos
Superior - 850 Pesos

Room Facilities:
Hot & Cold Shower
Cable t.v.

Note : Review based on personal experience. While ours was a pleasant one and if I go back, I would still book here, I strongly suggest you research first before deciding on where you want to spend the night. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Tribute to a Great Friend and Fellow Hiker

A few years ago, I created a post  for one of the feeeew guy friends I have. You see, up until last year, I've always felt shy talking to guys (lil girl pa kasi, hahaha!) and so I treasured those limited number.  I made that post as he was leaving to pursue an employment opportunity overseas. The post was uploaded on a previous site which I had to shut down. As he is insisting I create a new one (:P), lol, as a loyal friend, I have obliged. (uhm, cge na nga, the truth is, I actually enjoyed writing this! eyes rolling

This time, I am creating this as a well-wisher's post as he commits to a lifetime of adventure with his kind, pretty, sexy partner! (Hola Sophia!)

Yton despite being the exact opposite of my bubbly, sunshine personality is someone I trust because he knows how to keep secrets and when to joke about it.  He's adventurous, loves football, mountains and traveling - sort of my male version. We even went to the same high school! 

He's the only one who's allowed to call me fat ass to my face without incurring any head injuries (to which I'd answer back with worse insults :P). His quick wit and ability to speak the truth in its rawest form is endearing. To friends and family, I am sure you would agree that these make up his eccentric charm. 

To my confidante, caring (as witnessed numerous times), scary adorable, forever smirking buddy, congratulations! This is my way of saying that you are loved - and that I want a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey or GPS for Christmas :P. 
I think this is the first time I've released this photo publicly. :P Photo courtesy of Connie
Camping Trip - Anawangin Cove
Spur of the moment waterfalls side trip in Brgy. Pundaquit

That's my old tent alongside Yton's Eureka (neighbors!)
Tree Planting - Mt. Cristobal (forgot who owns this photo. Pahiram!)
Football teammates!
Happy Lemon Treat!
To Yton and Sofia - May you have a million times the fun and twice the adventures we had!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unforgettable Misadventures

Sometimes, surviving a mishap is the main adventure. Here's some (and there's plenty more where that came from! haha!) of my life-altering accidents from way back. 

Warning : Unpleasant photo with blood, a few paragraphs away!

1. Got Run Over by a Boat - I was in my pre-teens, enjoying a family vacation in Batangas.I was happily swimming near the shore and waded a few feet away when suddenly, a small boat filled with passengers charged towards my direction! I hear a lady screamed "yung bataaaa!" ("The kid!").

I quickly dove under the boat and fortunately avoided the engine. As I raised my head to gasp for air, a part of the boat hits me on the face. Aaaargh.  It was the outrigger! To avoid getting dragged, I dove again and this time, I was able to get away from the boat. My face was swollen after that but I managed to join my family, a few minutes after the incident - for a boat ride. The irony!

2. 7 Stitches for the First Timer - two years ago, I agreed to join my friends to try rock climbing for the very first time in Montalban, Rizal. This area is famous for breathtaking views of  the Wawa Dam which was in the middle of mountains. It's a place that I've been wanting to see.  When it was my turn to climb, it started to rain making it more challenging to cling to the rocks.  My hand slipped,  I swung to my right and hit a jagged rock. It instantly ripped a portion of my left leg. I looked down and saw blood flowing from my leg. I felt dizzy. I looked at my wound again. There was an obvious tear on my leg and  white stuff was oozing out. To make matters worse, I had to go hike down the mountain to get to the hospital (uhm but before that, we ate first because I didn't want to lie in the ER with an empty stomach :P). It was so painful! I received a total of stitches on my left leg that evening and missed a magazine shoot the following day.

3. Drowning at Hamilo Cove - me and some friends borrowed a boat from the locals and paddled to the middle of the ocean. The water was a deep shade of blue and we can't see anything underneath. We dared each other to jump. Without thinking, I hopped off the boat.

I sunk and sunk and never got to the bottom. I felt so scared. I continued sinking because I started to panic. I did not want to die that way. I gathered every ounce of courage and tried to calm down. I started to float again until I got rose to the top. I couldn't climb back on the boat because it was too high for me.  A friend reached out with an oar and I grabbed it and managed to push myself up.

I did not swim after that. Up to this day, even if I'm already a better swimmer, I feel very afraid when I can't see the ocean floor.

4.  Surviving the Mob at a Football Game - I was on a dream trip. I flew to Malaysia to watch one of the world's most popular football clubs, Manchester United. They were playing an exhibition match against a local team. Football back then wasn't popular in Manila and games certainly weren't received just as well  as in most parts of the globe.  I've only seen huge crowds on t.v. and I never imagined it would be like that. It was a surreal experience seeing Wayne Rooney on the pitch, playing a few meters in front of me! After the game, I got stranded at the train station for about 2-3 hours because it was very difficult to get a ride because everyone went home at the same time. The guards  would limit the number of people inside the train station and would close the gates after the mob. I waited on the floor to be able to catch a ride back to my hostel in downtown KL.

5. Bike Crash - Nuvali
It was my first week at my new job as travel specialist when I was asked to join my colleagues to test a trail bike route for a competition they were organizing. Despite my history of bike accidents way back from childhood, I had to go. It was a hot day and I was trailing behind everybody else. I finally approached what seemed an easy part of the trail and it was downhill. I was having fun and did not expect the sharp turn ahead and the huge tree that stood by the bend. The bike slamed over an ant hill and I flew off  the seat. My face hit the trunk of a tree and my body crashed on top of an anthill. I let out an intense scream - the highest pitched scream I could spit out from my diaphragm. For a few seconds, I stayed in position, afraid that something broke. Apart from the burning sensation on my cheek that collided with the tree and the ants that started attacking me, all bones were intact. I stood up and brushed off the ants. Whew, I was in pain but glad that I was fine.

A handsome colleague rushed to my side asked me what happened. I answered in a cool tone, "uh, I fell.". (wished I said, "I fell for you". hahahaha!) After that, I spent the entire time walking the bike instead of riding it. :P

Thanks to gorgeous Sharon for loaning me her posh Merida bike - and sorry for crashing your bike.

With all these accidents, I learned to use my head before doing anything. I've also developed a positive mindset that whatever happens, it's going to be a great adventure! If I haven't experienced all these, I won't be as smiley as I am today and while I am trying to take every necessary precaution when traveling, I learned to calculate risks and have fun at the same time! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Zamboanga-Basilan Birthday Weekend

I just hit 30 and though I'm excited that I'm still here for another year, I'm feeling a little anxious about growing old so I cling to the cliche that life begins at 40 - which means that the party's just getting staaaarted!!! :P  With that comforting thought,  I swore to myself that it’s going to be a blast each day I got older. 

And what’s a great  way to jump-start new beginnings? Travel to Mindanao with a travel expert and confidante!

My friend Jules of TrailRunningMistress works with an NGO and flies to Mindanao almost on a weekly basis, so when I told her I wanted to go to Basilan for my birthday, she agreed! :)

Here’s a  rundown of my happy, little adventures over the past weekend:

1. Got friendly with the cab driver  - and I don’t mean getting it on. :P  It’s just that drivers in general are great sources of information so I normally converse with them. When I boarded the cab, the driver took a quick glance at me and asked if I was a mountaineer. I guess it might have been the  Tribu slippers that gave it away. Or maybe the leg muscles. :P Haha!  He shared some information on mountains which I haven’t heard about – Mt. Malasimbo in Dinalupihan, Bataan and this other mountain with a lake at the summit in Leyte. I have new mountains to climb! Yay! I haven’t reached my next destination and I already have new ones on my list. :P

2. Chill time –   I rarely get to sit still to read through a magazine and enjoy a cup of coffee so this one's a  huge treat for me. Cebu Pacific's in-house magazine, Smile is one of my favorite travel magazines. It has inspiring photos and substantial  information to help you plan your next destination.Way to go Cebu Pac!

3. Touchdown  Zamboanga, Basilan Bound!!!  If you want to get to Basilan from Manila, Zamboanga is your main jump-off. From here, several ferry trips are available starting at 6:45 AM (More info. from Pinoy Adventurista's Blog) 

As this was my first time in Zamboanga, I felt very eager to  wander around as we exited the airport.  The scene wasn't as quiet as I expected it to be as there seemed to be a lot more people waiting outside than the number of people who came. We approached one of the tricycles lined up at the parking area, a few blocks away.  The tricycle fare costs 100 Pesos (good for 2). Note to Travelers: Do not agree in paying 100 Pesos/head which was originally what was asked from us. Good thing my friend knows her way around. The ride's about 30 minutes to the pier. Along the way, I was able to take in a bit of Zamboanga. The roads are wide,  the clouds partially covered the sky (my kinda weather!) and as it was only past 8:00 AM, there were hardly any people on the streets. The city gave out a charming vibe and I smiled again as the tricycle whisked us away. 

4.  Basilan Baby!  - my friend coordinated with the head of the rubber processing plant who warmly welcomed us. He toured us around the plant and shared with us how rubber is made. Of course I could not recall anything after that :P I was busy ogling at the heavy machinery around. Those things are so sexy!

5.  4WD Ride Around Basilan - after the rubber processing 101, we rode a jeep, accompanied by a military escort to see mountains, listen to birds and visit several  plantations - black pepper, lanzones, rubber nursery and  coffeee! Yay, mountains!

6.  Back in Zamboanga - Early dinner  at Lantaka Hotel by the Sea.We took the 3:30 PM regular ferry back to Zamboanga, which was cheaper than the fast crafts (100 Pesos, First Class). Before 5:00 PM, we've reached the port. As always, we were famished from hopping around Isabela City. My friend recommended Lantaka along Valderrosa Street because of the view.  This 50-year old hotel is famous for its romantic view of the ocean, ambiance and refillable coffe which is  best taken as it is - no sugar or cream. At 70 Pesos (refillable) a cup, this one's definitely caught my heart. Food's a bit more than what I'm willing to pay for though, since I'm such a cheapskate. :P It's around 200 Pesos above + SC, which is justifiable. The restaurants in Puerto Princessa are cheaper though and ambiance is just as nice. :)

7.  Best Dessert in Town - Knicker Bocker  - Paseo Del Mar which is situated beside the Celebes Sea  is  perhaps the most popular place to hang-out, listen to music or party with the locals. It also has numerous  stalls around its vicinity. One of which sells the best halo-halo I've ever tasted called the Knicker Bocker. I've tried the epic ones such as Tiwi, Albay's DJC, Camiguin's Cafe 1914 and  Pampanga's Razon's but this one tops them all.  It's originally served at the Hacienda de Palmeras Restaurant located along Pasonanca Road in Brgy. Sta. Maria.  At 65 Pesos, you get a  heaping portion of fruits, topped with strawberry ice cream. Totally worth your money and must not be shared with anyone. :)

8.  Night Stroll -  to lessen the load in our tummies in preparation for breakfast the following morning (yeah, that's how we foodies roll!), we walked around the streets near Paseo Del Mar to our hotel - Casa Hermosa along Mayor Jaldon St. We passed by Fort Pilar which was which was the main settlement of the Spaniards when they ruled Zamboanga for almost three hundred years. Within its vicinity is the National Museum which was already closed when we got there. 

9.  Morning walk   - we left the hotel around 7:00 AM and  walked  from our hotel to the town proper. This time, we get to see the decades old Acacia trees along Rizal Street. Each tree had a tag that contained information about its age and its specie. We also passed by Plaza Pershing and the City Hall which is an imposing structure along Valderossa Street. After two breakfasts, we set off for Barter in Barangay Canelar which is about a 30 minute walk from where we started. It is a popular souvenir center which has numerous stalls that sell goods from Malaysia, pearls, jewelry and native cloths. Malongs here  can be bought at 140 Pesos, depending on the material.

10. Pilgrimage hike up Pulong Bato. The jump-off is at Barangay Abong-Abong where you will pass by the  Cesar Climaco  Freedom Park. It spans  54 hectares  and was named after Zamboanga's hero.(There was an Eddie Garcia movie about him :P). This is also where he's buried. It's a short hike up and  takes 20 minutes to one hour starting from the base, depending on your photo stops. :P  The hike ends at a view deck marked with a cross coupled with a  view of the Basilan island to the north.

On your way down, you can also  check out the Upper Pasonanca Suspension Bridge. I chickened out and could not move a muscle after making a few steps :P . Acrophobia attack - full force!

We capped off our relaxed backpacking weekend with coffee and light chat at Lantaka Hotel by the Sea (must try one last time before departure). 

Flight was delayed which gave us time to get our massages at the airport (100 Pesos - 30 minutes!). As we boarded the plane back to Manila, I can't help but feel bad that vacay time was over. It was too short! Normally, I'd be homesick after being away from home for a day but there's just too much to see that I know I missed a lot. For now, I'd content myself with memories of this short but happy trip. 

Travel Information:
Visit these blogs! :)
Eazy Traveler - Zamboanga DIY Walking Tour
Pinoy Adventurista - Travel Guide to Basilan

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