Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, June 30, 2012

PHL360 – The Philippines’ First Reality Travel Web Series

Photo Credit : PHL360.com
PHL360 is the brain child of several travel bloggers who have made their mark in the social media scene. This web series aims to bring travel closer to people by sharing the experiences of 8 travelers with different personalities as they go around the country  discovering places and promoting advocacies with their assigned partners. 

If you’ve had a busy week and didn’t have time to watch PHL360’s first episode, hook into the web this weekend and watch the 20-minute video introducing the cast and what the show’s about.  

Photos below was taken at the kick-off party and special screening where I reunited with old blogger friends and met some new ones! 

Filipino Travel Bloggers -  For Blog updates,  click here  
Post-event chitchat. Photo courtesy of : http://www.elaljanelasola.com/

The Cast :
Photo Credit : PHL360.com
We all received this postcard during the launch. :)
Hooray to adventure buff, Dominic Hormigos, aka Dong Ho! (I’m being biased because I’ve known Dom for two years now :P He’s officially the first travel blogger I’ve met. Gay, you’re not included because I’ve known you since pre-blogging days! :P) 

I can’t wait for the next episode!

Congratulations  to the hard-working and passionate cast and crew of PHL360! :)

Website : http://phl360.com
Twitter : https://twitter.com/phl360
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/PHL360

Friday, June 29, 2012

Places to Explore when in Makati

Every morning, I wake up torn between two activities that are close to my heart –whether to head  straight to the dining table to enjoy a delightful breakfast or put on my rubber shoes to sweat the "extra blessings" off.

This particular morning, I made a compromise. I gulped down a bowl of soup and got into my usual work-out attire. I managed to push myself out of the house past 8:00 AM. Since it was a Friday, there was a build up of cars on the road and there was ridiculous honking everywhere. It was chaotic until I got to Rockwell where there’s less commotion. The trees lined up along the street near Bel-Air definitely soothed my nerves. 

I walked past a bronze marker on the ground behind a large bush. Engraved on it is a brief history of Rockwell and all I can remember from it was that Rockwell was formerly owned by MERALCO. 

I walked farther and my reliable legs led me to Museo ng Makati along J.P. Rizal Street in Barangay Poblacion.  The building was Makati’s former town hall with the original structure built in 1918. It was renovated in 1991 which converted it into a museum. 

It’s pretty small but I find the limited space quite charming. I felt as though I was just visiting a friend’s house filled with interesting ornaments. An elderly and friendly MAPSA lady stood by the entrance. After signing the log book and getting some fact sheets, I asked permission to take some photos with my reliable 2MP phone. :P

The Museo ng Makati houses a collection of photographs of old and present Makati, Manila Wares (pots with quality that exceeds the existing ones), Filipiniana and antique books, old porcelain, paintings by renowned artist Edgar Fernandez and more. What I particularly love about this museum is they made an effort to label and explain the importance of some of the artifacts. 

 Trivia Trivia! It’s believed that Stegodons once roamed the land of Makati during the ice age. These are extinct breed of elephants with long tusks and thick fur.

The museum only has two floors and it didn’t take me more than an hour to explore. I chatted briefly with one of the custodians, a member of the MAPSA (Makati Police Safety Assistance) and he showed me another room where there were paintings of former Makati mayors.  The two folks I talked to where really friendly and quite eager to answer questions and I found myself extra cheery as I exited the place. They’ve definitely passed on positive vibes on me. 

My next stop was Burgos Street which is lined up with bars that illuminate with a gazillion colored bulbs at night - lady oil wrestling, that sort of thing. I love going in and around the alleys around this side of town during the morning where it’s much more quiet. Here, ladies in skimpy shorts is a normal sight. (How come I don’t see gigolos with bulging biceps?! Just kidding! :P)

I ducked in another street and went inside A.Venue. It’s a mini mall where you can dine, hang-out in bars, get your nails done and do some shopping. There wasn't much to see as only a couple of stores were open. 

Across A.Venue is the Our Melting Pot Hostel which is a favorite among foreign and local backpackers needing an affordable and comfortable place to stay.

My last stop was the Power Plant Mall. It was already past 10AM and it was getting hot!  I went in to cool a bit and hoped the sun would go into hiding by the time I got out. It was supposed to be a rainy day after all. A favorite area of mine  at the Powerplant mall is the Lower Ground which is a foodie’s haven. There’s a row of restaurants on both sides and food stalls lined up at the center walkway. If you're craving for comfort food, you are assured  to find one here. 

I walked briefly around the mall and when I got out, the sun was obscured behind the clouds. Yipee. I got home quickly where I was able to devour my brunch before I dozed off. 

Other interesting places to visit in Makati are the Guadalupe Ruins in Bernardino St., Saints Peter and Paul Church built in 1620, Ayala Museum near Greenbelt Mall (which I hear has awesome collection of paintings and artifacts), Greenbelt Park, Nielson Tower - the old site of the Philippines’ first commercial airport, located beside the Ayala Triangle (where you can find good restaurants :P. Don't miss Banapple! :)). 

Ayala Triangle gardens
Craving for some me time and don’t want to spend much? Just explore your neighborhood! 

Museong Makati
Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM ,
Telephone Numbers : +63 (02) 896-0277 / 895-8926
Admission is free.

Makati Website : makati.gov.ph 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Makati's Urban Trail

These days, I find it a struggle to drag myself outside for a run. I know this isn't just a phase but a confirmation that I am ready to shift my priorities  on where I spend my time and exert energy. I won't be detailing it here but what I can tell you is that part of it involves some changes on my weekly routine. 

I'll be spending more time devoting it to my neglected passions - reading and writing. While those are enriching activities, I just can't forego intense physical activity so I'd still be hiking monthly and in between hikes, go out for long walks to clear my head. 

Fortunately, I don't have to travel far to escape from the buzz of the city. A few minutes away from home is my new refuge - the urban trail from Mandaluyong to Makati which I've been exploring for months now every morning when I'm in the mood to sweat. I wander around and duck into alleys starting from the area near Boni. Avenue towards the bridge over Pasig river then to Rockwell Center and finally to Burgos Street which dazzles at night with flashing lights from the countless bars around it. 

As I can't help but be obsessive about the things I enjoy, here's some trivia about my walking route : :P 

Trivia #1 : Did you know that there are still fishes swimming at the Pasig River? In the photo below, the black specks in the water are the crowd of fishes. This sight never fails to amuse me because I had this ignorant misconception that the water in Pasig River is too dirty for any biological organism apart from bacteria to survive in it.  (Back in 2008, huge fishes called "Imelda" were found swimming at the Pasig River and were featured on GMA News. Watch it here.)

Trivia #2 : Rockwell Center was built on a former thermal plant owned by MERALCO. It was named after James Chapman Rockwell, MERALCO's first president.  Trivia 2.5 - I do my warm-ups here, right behind that flowery shrub. :P. This is also where a towering Christmas tree is decorated during the yuletide season. 

Trivia #3 - A few blocks from Rockwell Center are various interesting establishments. And by interesting, I pertain to restaurants, bars and cafes that serve great food. :P Among the popular ones include Ziggurat, which serves a fusion of dishes from Middle East, India and Africa,  for the caffeine and pastry lovers - Paris Delice, Handlebar which claims to have the longest happy hour in the Philippines from Sunday-Wednesday, the sophisticated cuisine of Savoy Bistro (menu here) and Turkish restaurant - Combos Bread Company Bakery & Café (great review here). 

For now, I'v just been exploring the areas near Makati and Mandaluyong. I'm hoping I can go farther in the next few months, perhaps, find my way from home to Manila or maybe even Laguna on foot. Who knows?  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Eyes on Bukidnon

Hi! I'm happy to share with you that my write-up on Bukidnon, a place I consider as an adventurer's haven is now up on Dispatch Mag Online. :)

Hope you can find time to drop by and read about the activities you can do when in Bukidnon.Click here for the article. 

Love hiking? Check out this list of day hike destinations here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guiltless Fantasy : Tirad Peak

Tirad Peak was introduced as a hiking destination in February 2010 at the 2nd Annual Charity Climb organized by Gideon Lasco of PinoyMountaineer. It has been on my  wish list since I saw a video taken by one of the participants. Incidentally, the people in the video are acquaintances I've hiked with in Mt. Cristobal. Small world indeed! :) 

This fairly new hiking trail takes 6-8 hours to summit and  requires two days  due to the  travel time from Manila to Candon, Ilocos Sur.  From Candon, it will take another 2 hours to get to Gregorio del Pilar where the trail starts. 

The commute is tedious but with views that can both visually and literally take your breath away - (check out those steep ravines!), the discomfort becomes insignificant. Now the only question is, when?

Itinerary of Tirad Peak is available here. A traverse can also be done starting from Ilocos Sur to Sagada, Mountain Province. More info. here.:) 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nothing But Positive Vibes - Circle Hostel : San Felipe, Zambales

I'm in love with mountains and  treading uneven terrains but once in a while, I venture into the deep blue sea to wallow in its waters, bask in the sand and build packed sand balls to throw at unsuspecting pals. :P  

Last weekend, Gay (Pinay Travel Junkie) and I had an intimate college reunionwith another friend from college, Joey who demanded a beach getaway for his birthday. Joining our adventure was Dong Ho of Eskapo, an old friend from  two years back. 

Since everyone was busy with something, we were only able to allot one day for our trip. We took the 2AM bus to Olongapo from the Victory Liner Pasay and got to Zambales after eating and laughing over breakfast   at around 9AM.

Our destination was Sitio Liw-Liwa in San Felipe, Zambales.   This place is known as a surfer's haven. It's not ideal for frolickers like me who prefer to swim or go under in search of seaweeds and adorable water creatures but what particularly drew us to this place was Circle Hostel

Circle Hostel opened late November 2010 and is fast becoming a favorite among surfers who are looking for a unique and cheap accommodation. For a day trip, we only paid 150 Pesos each, which  included access to the  common area. It's a  hut where air flows freely and where guests can lie down on hammocks strapped to the posts. Here, you can also meet other visitors or choose to ignore them - whichever you prefer. People who choose to stay here seem to exude a carefree and accepting spirit so you can be just you. 

We spent a considerable portion of our time, talking, sleeping and munching on junk food. 

Another reason to visit the place is to check-out the art on its walls. I love the positive messages and the happy colors painted all over the hostel. They also have brushes and paint which you can borrow. 

Naturally, I couldn't resist borrowing the paint even if my art skills - if it can be called as such is still the same as it was back when I was still in grade school :P. Here's what Dom and I did on the walls. It's pre-school inspired. Haha! (We didn't do the green paint, just the yellow and blue). 

Of course, we  had to check out the beach where we played over and under the feisty waves which were strong enough to bring us back to shore. Surfing lessons were outside our budget and it's not really our thing so we skipped that part.  I wanted to venture farther to the area past the relentless waves but as I had several water accidents in the past and did not see any lifeguards, I opted to stay close to shore. :p

                                                      Video taken by Gay

The relaxing vibe at Sitio Liw-Liwa tempted us to stay behind and abandon the hectic lives we left in the city but our responsible side prevailed and we  headed back home close to sunset.   

Travel Information : 
The Circle Hostel FB Page- for rates, bookings and other inquiries, check out their Facebook Page.

You can also check out this travel guide from Pinoy Adventurista. 
*Thanks  Mervin for sharing some very helpful info. on your blog! :) 

Belated Happy birthday Joey! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Post for Dispatch Mag : Day Hike Adventures

Hola fellow adventurers! I'm sharing with you some happy news. :) Starting this June, I'll be contributing several articles on travel and adventure at Dispatch MagOnline. :) Dispatch Magazine used to be a newsletter given as a freebie in R.O.X., Southeast Asia's  biggest outdoor superstore which is owned by the Primer Group of Companies. The Primer Group is the same company that brought in several reputable brands such as The North Face, Columbia, Sanuk, Mountain Hardware and more.    

Dispatch Mag is now independent from R.O.X.  (but still under the Primer Group) and is now available online for the perusing pleasure of the tech savvy adventurers! 

My first post is up (Read here). Hope you can drop by to check out the list  of mountains near Manila where you can satiate your desire for a one day outdoor get-away. 

It truly is  a dream come true for me to be able to write about adventure and make some money out of it so I can support my lust for the outdoors. Haha!  Thanks to Upper Viceo and Bim  Legisniana for giving me a shot at this. :) 

Mt. Pulag - Love, the Second Time Around

Though I've been hiking for quite some time now, my first ascent to Luzon's highest peak - Mt. Pulag was only last March 2012, when I joined a friends' post wedding event. They had just tied the knot a day before our trip and were hiking via the Ambangeg-Ambangeg Trail. Since it was my first time, I decided to do a traverse  and go down via the Akiki Trail so I could see more views and take advantage of the short time I was there. 

While Mt. Pulag was impressive the first time around with its diverse species of trees and plants,  I burned myself out with the obsession of seeing the Akiki Trail and on descending quickly to catch the last trip back to Baguio. I was pretty much  catching my breath the entire time that I didn't get to enjoy much. 

Fortunately, I  had the chance to go back again last May 12-13 with fellow bloggers and several old friends. This time around, I took my sweet time - walked leisurely along the trails, stared appreciatively at trees, took photos and videos of things that caught my eye. It was still tiring but fun! 

Since I had ample time to digest the view, I found myself falling in love with Mt. Pulag's landscapes, the way clouds affectionately descend on it its peaks and the twisted branches of trees where we walked. It's hard to ignore its beauty when you take some time to slow down and drop the other things in your head. ;)

I must go back for a day hike! :) 
The whole gang at Camp 1 
 Peak 2  - one of the 4 peaks where one can witness Mt. Pulag's famous sea of clouds sunrise. 
Our campsite at Camp 2

Our post climb celebration was filled with caffeine and happy chatters at Kaffeeklatsch, a hidden gem for cafe lovers in Baguio City. (Thanks to Erick Dantoc for bringing us here! :) )
Photo by : Gay Emami

I did mention that I was in the company of fellow bloggers. Here are their sites and their posts about our trip. Hope you can  visit theirs as well. :) 
Izah - Tripadora : Photo: Hame wave? It’s More Fun In the Philippines 
Gay - PinayTravelJunkie
Erick - RoadWorthyMan : Mt. Pulag - Heaven on Earth
Marky - Nomadic Experiences : Video - Mt. Pulag, Benguet

If you need travel information about Pulag, expenses, guides, etc., please check my other post - High Altitude Honeymoon in Mt. Pulag

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