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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Barefoot Runner, Eddie Vega

It's Monday and for a lot of us in the workforce, it's the start of another hectic week so I'd like to help ease the stress and share with you some inspiring news. :) 

Western Union has launched, "Heroes for Better", an advocacy campaign that recognizes Filipinos around the world who have made an enormous positive impact in the lives of others in their own little way.
The Barefoot Bandito in one of his marathons. (Photo provided by Laira Legaspi)
One of them is Eddie Vega, also known as the "Barefoot Bandito". He has completed a full marathon in all 50 states in the US and a Guiness World Record Holder for the Most Barefoot Marathons Run in One Year. His purpose - to help children who cannot afford shoes.

To date, he has ran 129 marathons barefoot that helped raised funds for over 15,000 school children by partnering with social enterprise, Soles4Souls

To know more about his story, please watch the video below (this gave me goosebumps!). If this post has inspired you, please feel free to share his story. :) 

To view more stories of goodness from our fellow Filipinos, please visit Heroes for Better

Related Article:
CNN Philippines - Eddie Vega, the Barefoot Runner Gives Back

To learn how you can support Soles4Souls, visit their website.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Where to Stay in Cabanatuan : Microtel by Wyndham

After a day of touring Tarlac (post here), our group traveled two hours farther north to the city of Cabanatuan, the Philippines' Tricycle capital with over 30,000 registered 3-wheeled vehicles.  I was joined by Argie from Philippine Star, Paolo from Hospitality News Philippines and Dandi, our host, Microtel's Marketing Communications manager. 

Sweltering heat, the sun’s last hurrah for summer welcomed us when we arrived in Microtel, our base for a half-day travel around the city's tourist spots. There was some wind but with the overbearing heat, I won't be surprise if the temperature was at 40 C.

Our visit was very timely. Microtel Cabanatuan was recently awarded a Certificate of Excellence (2015) by travel site, Trip Advisor.  Other branches that received the same distinction are Tarlac and Baguio; the latter, consistently awarded since 2011. :) 
The lobby,  a cozy place to hang-out outside your room
As soon as we got in, I was immediately drawn to the lobby's design. The paintings on the wall, big couches and potted plants in various nooks gave out a cool, relaxing vibe, a contrast to the hot weather outside. 

Ms. Lita Budomo, the amiable Resident manager handed us card keys for a quick look at the hotel's facilities. I was sent to one of its 50 rooms, suite 106. It's at the ground floor with a good view of the pool at the back. 
Suite room (Photo from Microtel)
All suites have a queen size bed, mini kitchen & sink, microwave oven,  refrigerator, sofa sleeper and a tub. The rest of the room types sans these amenities also has a flat screen cable tv, dryer, telephone, radio clock and a seat by the window, a nice set-up for this scenario in my head -  a quiet morning with a cup of coffee in my hand. :) 

Although we're not spending a night here, I know from experience with their two other branches that their beds are magnetizing, queen sized chiropractor approved mattresses, the type that's so comfortable, it makes you just want to stay indoors. I'm not exaggerating, unless of course you have the same bed at home :P. It makes  you feel so refreshed even with just a few hours of shut-eye. 
The pool at the back of the hotel. Photo from Microtel
There are two complimentary water bottles in every room and if you need more, there is a water dispenser in the lobby where you can get a refill. There is also free flowing coffee and tea in a nook beside the vending machine where you can purchase snacks.

After going around, we stepped out for lunch at Liquid Bar & Restaurant, a partner establishment located just beside the hotel. The dining area is dim and cozy - for me, a nice set-up for business mixed with pleasure type of gatherings.
Liquid Bar & Restaurant (Photo from Microtel)
Caldereta, Crispy Pata & Longganisa 
Their menu is a combination of Filipino and Western dishes catering to the varying palettes of its clientele. Dishes are beautifully plated and taste as good as it looks. If you love coffee, I recommend trying Darker forest, a blended drink that has a shot of espresso, dark chocolate and caramel,  topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry. It's a fitting dessert after a heavy meal. 

Microtel offers value for money without sacrificing comfort, a mid-priced, no frills hotel that offers a bit of luxury.  Carrying the branding of Wyndham, one of world's largest hospitality companies, Microtel promises to deliver consistent service across all its branches nationwide, something that I witnessed on this 3 day media tour. 

Traveling around the Philippines? Check out their website to locate a Microtel branch. 

Microtel by Wyndham 
Sta. Arcadia, Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija
Rates : Start at 2,300 PHP for a room with 2 Queen beds
Other room types : 
1 Queen Bed 
1 Queen Bed Suite 
Other facilities : Wifi access, Massage (on-call), 24-hr vending area, photocopy, fax and mailing services, safety deposit box at the Front Desk and ample parking space 

Places of Interest in Nueva Ecija : 
Aquino-Diokno Memorial
Group shot with ms. Cely Ollero (lady in glasses, wearing an ID) , our tour guide and the cook at the time senator Benigno Aquino and Pepe Diokno were incarcerated  in Fort Magsaysay
Located inside Fort Magsaysay, this former headquarters of the  1st Military Security Detachment was converted as a detention center for political prisoners Benigno Aquino and Jose Diokno where they were held from March 12, 1973 to April 11, 1973. During this time, Martial Law was in effect and both were held in solitary confinement with no information as to when they will be released.

Here, they endured mental torture. Between their rooms is an empty room which prevented them from directly talking to each other. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas was played throughout the day and it was summer! Visits by their families were limited and they can only see each other through a screen with a few feet of space that prevented them from touching each other. 

Our tour guide Ms. Cely Ollero was  a former admin staff and cook at the facility during the incarceration of Benigno Aquino and Jose Diokno.  She interacted with them directly! She's such a pleasant woman and enthusiastically answered all our questions. 

Although there was not much to see, I found our visit very enriching. Sans the political aspect, learning about what kept them busy during their capture was amusing. I cannot imagine being confined in a little space with not much to do. How they stayed sane with meditaion and exercising is admirable. (just last year, I had chicken pox and could not go out for nearly a month. I had internet access  but not being able to go out whenever I wanted was  torture for me). 

Aquino-Diokno Shrine
Fort Magsaysay
Palayan City, Nueva Ecija
Visiting Hours :Mon-Fri, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM 
*Group tours and weekend visits can be done by coordinating in advance

Museo Novo Ecijano
The provincial capitol in Palayan city houses a museum filled with artifacts and an exhibit of tourist spots and festivals around Nueva Ecija. 

Minalungao National Park - a recommended destination for outdoor lovers. More travel information on Kirk Anatomy

Lakewood Golf & Country Club 

Location : Km. 111 Maharlika Highway, Sumacab Este
Cabanatuan City
+63 44 806 1722
Facebook Page

Find out about other tourist spots in Nueva Ecija on  Lakbay Nueva Ecija blog.
If you only have 3 hours in Cabanatuan, here's a helpful post from Pinoy Adventurista - 3 Hour Tour Around Cabanatuan

Acknowledgment :
This trip was made possible by Microtel by Wyndham. Thank you! :) 

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