a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Human Nature Save Our Seas Coastival 2016

Last April 29, I participated in the 1st S.O.S (Save Our Seas) Coastival in San Juan, La Union. Organized by Human Nature, the country's largest manufacturer of natural personal care, this one day event was dubbed as an eco-friendly version of "Laboracay", the massive summer celebration that happens in Boracay island every Labor Day weekend. 
Arrival in Urbiztondo beach in time to witness a beautiful sunrise
Conservationists, fellow bloggers and other members of the media helped in building a sand art led by muralist and climate justice advocate, AG Sano, aka the Dolphin Guy (Story here).  The 180 meter long sand art was built  along Urbiztondo beach with the "leave no trace principles" in mind, using only sand, water and recycled wood rakes. Its creation was a call to encourage every Filipino to do their share in saving our Philippine seas. 

Responsible Travel Tip #1 : Use products with ingredients that won't harm the ocean. Most synthetic suncreens that contain ingredients like parabens, oxybenzone and benzonphenone can contribute to coral bleaching. (Related Read : National Geographic | Swimmers' Sunscreen Killing Off Coral) 
*Coral bleaching, which is primarily caused by global warming, drives away algae that gives corals its color and may also lead to its death. (More info about coral bleaching here.) 
AG Sano (in blue shirt) creating the outline 
After having breakfast at Urbiz Garden, we headed to the beach and assisted in reinforcing the outline of the sand art. While we were building it, I couldn't envision the outcome even as it was described to us. We were on a massive beach, raking sand and pouring water on it while the sun was merrily blasting. We stopped working on it a little before 9:00 AM as the heat became unbearable. We were told that we were resuming around 4:00 PM. 

I was happy for some down time as this gave us time to just enjoy the beach and mingle. We left Manila at 1:30 AM and none of us had a proper sleep. 

(Heading to the beach soon? Check out cool new summer shades from Ray Ban available at ZALORA)
Lazing on the beach :) 
Responsible Travel Tip #2 : Bring your own water bottle/container. Not only will it save you some money, you will be able to help reduce waste. 

Aside from participating in the sand art, we listed to performances by local artists  such as Paola Mauricio and Yellow Submarine.  There were also low environmental impact beach activities such as yoga, capoeira and poi.

Responsible Travel Tip #3 :
 When you spot a sea turtle/pawikan, an endangered specie, leave them alone. Do not come closer to avoid disrupting them from laying their eggs. Sea turtles eat jellyfish and keep their numbers at bay, allowing us humans to wade in the water. 


I  recently discovered that yoga is a good complement to swimming, my new sport, so I decided to join the session by Corey Wills. It's  only my second formal yoga class, since birth :P and  I suffered on the earlier parts. My face contorted like I've just seen a platter of crispy bacon get thrown in the garbage. It was tough, especially since my back muscles seem to be entangled and it's just painful to hold on to some of the poses, but when we finished, I felt refreshed and the tightness on my upper back caused by swimming had disappeared. 
Our yoga session with Corey Wills. Photo from Human Nature
After the activities, we gathered to the beach to work on some finishing touches on the sand art. Due to the heat, we needed to pour some water on the outlines so it can be more visible when the drone pass over it.
The 180 meter sand art. We're standing at the "O" part as the drone flew over us for  this 
monumental shot.  (Photo fr Human Nature)

Even as the sand art was finished, I couldn't picture what it was the we helped create - well, not until we finally saw the drone shot and saw how beautifully it turned out.  In retrospect, our work with the sand art is similar to how we can contribute to saving the environment. If each person did their share, our collective efforts  could lead to bigger and more effective results. :) 

The S.O.S Coastival 2016 was initiated  by Human Nature in partnership with WWF Philippines, CURMA (Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions), Save Philippine Seas and La Union Soul, an eco tourism movement by the local community. 

More tips on how to be a more eco-friendly traveler ->  17 Incredibly Easy Things You can Do to be a More Eco-Friendly Traveler

Sharing with you a video of the highlights at the 1st Human Nature S.O.S. Coastival : 

Where to buy environment-friendly personal care products?

For reef-friendly sunscreen and non toxic personal care products, visit Human Nature's website here.

Where to stay in La Union?
We stayed for a night in Chill'N, a new inn in San Juan, located 10 minutes on foot from Urbiztondo beach. It has its own pool, air conditioned rooms. 

Chill'N 
Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union, Philippines 
For rates, get in touch with them through their facebook page, : http://www.facebook.com/chillnhotel/
Contact Numbers : 
+63 917 575 0414 (Mobile)
+63 (072) 252 25 33 (Landline)




Monday, May 2, 2016

Travel Wish List : Tangerang City, a Relaxing Stop after your Outdoor Adventures in Java, Indonesia

I live in the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia with lots of forests, scenic mountain views and where the sun joyfully blasts its rays almost the entire year. While I have taken the time exploring  my home (and there's still more to visit!),  I do get curious about other countries, especially our Asian neighbors. One country that has caught my interest for its outdoor destinations and the awesome fact that I don't need a visa for a visit is, Indonesia! :) Seeing photos from friends who have traveled here, its tourism tagline, Wonderful Indonesia seems like a very fitting description of what it can offer to nature lovers like me.
Screenshot from @indtravel, the official Instagram account of
 Indonesia Ministry Tourism where you can get ideas on where to go.
Since it'll be my first visit to Indonesia, an archipelago country that has over 17,000 islands (Source : CIA Fact Bookand exploring with limited time, I am carefully considering where to go. While I've come up with my initial hiking list which includes, Mt. Bromo in East Java, I am also checking out possible stops to complete my itinerary. 

Related Post : Check out my hiking adventures here.

One of the cities that came up is Tangerang City in the province of Banten. The nearest airport, also  in the same city is Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (IATA code, CGK), which serves those traveling to Greater Jakarta on the island of Java. To give you a perspective on its location, here's a map

Tangerang is known as an industrial and manufacturing hub. What got me curious about this city, you ask? It's for the simple reason that I don't know much about it nor do I know anyone who has visited the city! :P That means my eyes are not yet overly exposed to all the things I am about to see, which is refreshing. :)

Here is a list of destinations in and around Tangerang. I've only relied on the internet so please drop a comment  below if you have a recommendation. :) 

BENTENG HERITAGE MUSEUM 
Opened in 2011, the museum is in a  restored 2-storey 17th century style, Peranakan house, located at Pasar Lama Market, which I also want to check out  (exploring a market and all its stalls is an adventure on its own). It contains artifacts showcasing Chinese culture from 17th-19th century. It is also serves as a venue for Peranakan culinary festivals, wedding & fashion shows and community gatherings. 

Entrance fee  is from Rp. 25,000 to Rp. 125,000 per person, prices vary if you want to include a Peranakan meal.  To read  reviews on Trip advisor, click here.

*Peranakan refers to descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled and married  locals in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from the 10th Century to present. (Source Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania)

AL-AZHOM MOSQUE
an imposing structure and place of worship located near the City Hall and the Balekota Mall,  about 30 minutes from the international airport. I could not find a lot of information online with an English translation so I'd probably have to inquire when I get there. :P 

PARI ISLAND 
Not popular to  travelers, Pari island is an ideal beach escape if you're after some peace and quiet. Its name, Pari means "Ray fish". Early settlers trying to escape forced labor from Dutch colonists  saw many ray fish in its waters when they first came in, thus naming the island after the sea animal. (Source : Wonderful Indonesia)

Activities in the island include swimming, diving, fishing and snorkeling. Also worth visiting is a white sand beach,Pantai Pasir Perawan (Virgin beach). Although there is electricity, there are no hotels or resorts in the area, just homestays. Its description reminds me of a similar place here in the Philippines, Palaui island. (Post here

Getting around is through a bicycle which can be rented Rp. 15,000/hr or Rp 30,000
for the day. The island can be reached via three ports. However, the shortest travel is from Muara Saban Cituis Port in Tangerang, taking 1-1.5 hours

For photos and travel information on Pari Island, visit the official tourism website of Indonesia here

DINING & SHOPPING 
For outdoor dining and live music, Summarecon Mal Serpong at Sentra Gading Serpong is a promising destination. AEON Mall also, a Japanese themed mall at Jl. BSD Raya Utama is recommended for those who crave for Japanese food, if you don't have the budget or time to go to Japan yet. :P

WHERE TO STAY IN TANGERANG? 
Find best hotel through booking site, Traveloka. Here you can also book, Novotel Tangerang, a 4-star hotel, 45 minutes from Jakarta.  Summarecon Mal Serpong, the shopping mall I mentioned above is only 5.89 Kilometers away.
Screenshot of the pool from Novotel Tangerang from booking site, Traveloka
If you have other suggestions on other places (I'm looking for more outdoor destinations!), just leave a comment below or send me a  tweet, @jovialwanderer. Please also visit my Instagram account, @Jovialwanderer, I share a lot about hiking spots and food there! :P 





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