a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

100-Peso Adventure : Makati Park & Garden & Pasig River

I woke up that morning broke, but eager to explore.


With some running gear on, I walked out of the house with a destination in mind -  a park which caught my attention on my home the other day. Checking good, old reliable Google map I took mental notes on how to get there on foot and threw away all worries that I’d get lost. (I’m quite bad with city directions, you know :P)  

Roughly 4 kilometers away from home, after an hour of dodging cars and wandering around like an excited field tripper, I arrived at the main gate of Makati Park & Garden. Opened in April 2000, this serene, well-manicured escape within the city was a project of former mayor Jejomar Binay.
A monument built in honor of one of the Philippines' famous hero, Andres Bonifacio
There are no entrance or parking fees to be paid. The guards, were quite welcoming and got curious when I took out my camera to take photos. It was one of the few things that fit inside my teeny tiny waist pack from Nathan Sports. (Okay, I just need to talk about it a little bit because this is a good brand.  My waist pack’s a discontinued model – Shadow Pak, but it’s still quite reliable, contents don’t bounce off and after moving around, I actually forget I have a mound of essentials strapped near my butt. :P)
Plants near the Bonifacio monument
So the guards, were friendly and even asked where I came from since I had this excited, goofy expression on my face after seeing my immediate surrounding which was even more awesome than I imagined. I was surrounded by trees, flowers and shrubbery. No vandals on walls, clean grounds, friendly street sweepers and best thing of all – no crowd!

They found it funny that I actually just came from a neighbor city but acted like I just arrived in the country. I think that when you stop being excited about things, life becomes heartbreaking-bland so I try to find things that excite me each day, such as this park. :) 
Flowers, I love them alive! 
Perhaps a downside, but I'm not going to throw any judgments  as I don't have enough information about it, are the huge cages of birds in the park. Personally, I prefer  seeing animals in their natural habitat. They look very healthy though, plump actually, the color of their feathers were vibrant and the cages looked clean. 
Stone benches with a good view of the lagoon where you can relax, preferably when the sun's down :P
I ignored the heat and the thirst  that was settling in my throat as the sun pierced through the tree branches. I had a cap on and felt enamored to roam some more. 

Even stone paths allows runners and walkers to be able to circle the park. I perceive it to be around 500 meters per round. :P There's also a bunch of gazebos where small groups can gather. 

Another happy sight for me apart from the plants and enormous trees was the view on top of the amphitheater  Supposedly a venue for events, it can also be used for stairs training if you're planning a hike soon. 

I climbed up, peeped curiously over the edge and was surprised to see... 
(left) 50-meter pool; (right) kiddie pool
Ahh, the turquiose man-made wonders of Makati Aqua Sports Arena (MASA)! :) It's just next door and is open to the public from Tuesday-Sunday, 8 AM-12 noon, then 1 PM-8 PM. Non-Makati residents like me will have to pay a hefty 150 Pesos while fortunate residents only have to pay 50 Pesos (ID required).

There's a 7 Eleven across MASA where I bought some Pocari Sweat (37 Pesos). It was an excellent choice for rehydrating after a long hot walk. After that, I was ready to walk home again. 
Pasig River's one of the views when you take a stroll along JP Rizal Avenue. It's not actually a pretty scene with
the dark water and garbage along the bank.  
To cap off my adventure, I boarded a motorized boat (different from the Pasig River Ferry  service) that transports passengers from Guadalupe to Mandaluyong. I didn't know it existed and only found out about it that morning while I was walking along JP Rizal Street and happened to glance at the water. The boat had a green roof, a color I love so dearly, which is why I was drawn to it. The short ride lasted for barely a minute and cost just 4 Pesos. From Mandaluyong, I hailed a tricycle home (30 Pesos). At 11:00 AM, the heat just became overbearing!
Friendly boatman gamely posing for a souvenir shot :)
This little escapade of mine left me with some change from my 100-Peso budget and though my destination wasn't as exotic or as daring as I wanted it to be, it felt very good to just get out there and see new things. 

Makati Park & Garden
Dr Jose P. Rizal Extension, Makati ‎(across University of Makati)
Open daily until 9:00 PM (forgot what time it opens)
Map here


Notes : 
When walking along JP Rizal Street, walk in the morning and walk with a brave swagger. Standard precautionary measures must be taken. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bacolod Series : Reasons to Visit the City of Smiles

Bucolid  side of Negros Occidental.Taken while in a tricycle to Bacolod-Silay International Airport
Mt. Kanlaon, one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the Philippines and a dream outdoor destination of mine, can be found in Negros Island.  If coming from Manila, the most common entry point is via Bacolod City in the province of Negros Occidental where Bacolod-Silay International Airport is.

Unfortunately, the past two attempts to get to the summit were spoiled by either bad weather or a personal event. The sunny side of these unsuccessful attempts is that it has given me the time to scour the city and eventually fall in love with it. 
Lacson Street, a bustling part of the city. Getting inns and hotels on this side is
quite convenient when moving around Bacolod. Taken at the overpass in front of Robinson's Place
Below’s a rundown on why you should visit the City of Smiles, nicknamed as such for its friendly populace:

1. Food!!! 

Fellow foodies, this can very well be the sole reason to hop on a plane to Bacolod.  Cafes serving affordable, moist, yummy cakes, strong cups of coffee and good tea such as Felicia’s (their chocolate cake’s a bestseller!) and Calea are a MUST visit.  For satisfying full meals go to Aboy’s, Sharyn’s Cansi House, 21 and Mushu. Chicken lovers should also pay homage to a local dish called chicken inasal - grilled chicken marinated in calamansi, pepper, vinegar and annatto. Best place to try this is Manokan Country, an entire block of eateries located at the back of SM, North Wing – that side along F.M. Ferrero Street. (Google Map here) Aida’s has friendly, efficient service, airy atmosphere and plenty of tables (and I need not mention that food is just delightful!)

2. Great for both solo or group travelers 
Enjoying fresh coconut at Pana-ad stadium after a morning run :)
Whether you’re craving for a time alone or organizing a trip for the entire fambam, Bacolod will not make you sweat blood or leave you penniless and toiling soil for the rest of  your life.
Travel itineraries and budget tips are posted online by :
Pinoy Adventurista - Bacolod | Journeying James - Budget-Friendly Bacolod

3. Structures –this city showcases a mix of old and modern establishments, all accessible via public transportation.  For a glimpse of Bacolod’s past, visit Negros Museum along Gatuslao Street (I heard the museum cafĂ© also serves good food! :P). 

Within the area is the provincial capitol and the lagoon which is an excellent walking or running area. 750 meters away is the San Sebastian Cathedral built in 1876. For street art, coffee or cold beer, hang-out at the Art District located along Lacson Street.  Note that most of the bars open at 5:00 PM onwards.  


If you’re a sports enthusiast, you can take an Alijis-bound jeep from downtown  to Pana-ad Park & Stadium. They also have a track area and pool open to the public from 7am-5pm (entrance fee at 40 Pesos, swim suit and cap required)/ It’s roughly 30 minutes when taking public transpo as the driver takes numerous stops. Outside Masskara Festival, you can allot two full days when visiting the spots mentioned above.  



For updates on new developments and tourist spots around the city, hit the Like button of SkyscraperCityBacolod on Facebook.  

4.  MassKara Festival – Festival enthusiasts flock the city held every October with a bulk of the celebration on the 3rd week closest to the city’s Charter anniversary – October 19. Its main highlight is the street dance competition along Lacson street where you can witness dancers  in flamboyant costumes and masks.
MassKara Festival's trademark are the colorful masks worn by participants. Photo taken at Pana-ad Park & Stadium 
For updates, check out their Facebook page  or visit 2014 Masskara Festival 2014 Schedule + Updates by Byahilo.com 

5.  Cheap Accommodation – there’s a slew of decent places to sleep in, majority of which are along Lacson Street. Among those I found that offers great deals that’s located along/near Lacson street, have decent wifi connection and aircon rooms are a. K’MAS (a few blocks away from Art District) I stayed here for a night. Rates start at 500 Pesos for airconditioned rooms with cable tv and wifi at the front desk.  (It’s a little outdated but bearable).  B. Go Hotels (a fave!) located at the back of Robinson’s Place and Central City Walk. Book early through their website to get standard rooms as low as 700 Pesos a night. 

Also in a convenient location is L’ Fisher  Ecotel  (starts at 989 Pesos). L’ Fisher Hotel which is right beside it is also popular for business travelers but it costs 3,500-above Pesos a night.

TripAdvisor offers excellent reviews which can help you decide where to stay.  

6.  Easy to reach  & get around – public transportation is easy to find from the airport and around the city. There’s plenty of taxi, tricycles and PUV’s. Asking for directions from people isn’t tricky either.  Dialect is Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) but almost everyone, at least the one’s I talked to could understand  basic Tagalog or English. I also tried to pick up a few words and found these ones very useful :
“Lugar lang” - when going down from the jeep; “Manaog sa –insert destination- (used to answer the driver when asked where you’re going); unsa  - what, asa / dis-a / aha - where; gi-unsa – how; pila – how much?


Public Utility Vehicles all over the city
From Bacolod, you can also visit nearby provinces such as Iloilo (via ferry) and Negros Oriental (via bus, this is where Dumaguete is).

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