Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Feature : Save money for your next travels with Shopback

Not everyone enjoys malls or have the time or energy to visit one, especially if you’re someone who’s either hiking or swimming or just sleeping or eating :P. (ehem!)

I only go when I really, really have to and it’s a chore I just have to get over and done with.

Fortunately, it’s so much easier these days to just buy stuff online and it’s become more secure too which is why I love online shopping. It’s just so convenient and if I see several options online, I have time to do more research or ask around (thank you Social media!) before making a purchase.

Since I love shopping online, I got excited when Shopback invited me to try out their platform. Shopback is a website that helps you get the best deals and discounts on 300+ stores, plus Cashback! Cashback is really just "getting cash back" when you make a purchase passing through Shopback’s site.

ShopBack works with merchants who reward them with a commission when referring a customer to shop on their site. When you spend online through ShopBack, they give
you a portion of your purchase back as Cashback.

Just recently, I had to buy a MicroSD card for my Supremo 4K action cam. I decided to go to a mall and sadly, not only did it stress me out having to talk to sales people (I wasn’t feeling sociable that day), I also didn’t find anything that suited my needs.

The next day, I followed a friend’s advice to check out Lazada and in a few minutes, I was able to buy one, a reliable MicroSD card that came at a good price!  I only wished I learned about ShopBack before I bought one.  (Lazada vouchers and promotions up for grabs  at ShopBack!

So, how to get Started with ShopBack?
Go to ShopBack website. Create your profile – either use your Facebook login or sign in using your email address.

Here are some screenshots that explain how Shopback works : 

You can request for payout once you've reached Redeemable Cashback of P300.00
Bonus can only be cashed out when your Redeemable Cashback reaches P300.00

How to get your cash?
You can get your cash through PayPal or bank account:
Security Bank
Globe GCash

For easier access, you can also download its app on Google Play, Apple App Store or through Shopback Cashback Buddy website (for laptops and desktops only)

You also get a PHP100 Bonus on your first purchase. Cool deal eh?

For travelers, below’s a screenshot of ShopBack’s partner merchants. I have an upcoming trip soon and I’m looking forward to getting good deals on accommodation.  

Over-all, ShopBack presents another fun and creative way of giving customers a discount, a treat for us online shoppers. J

Need more information on ShopBack? Check out these articles about their service on Inquirer, Manila Times and The Philippine Star

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hiking in La Trinidad : Tayawan View Deck and Mt. Kalugong

After hiking Mt. Yangbew (post here), my friend and I walked back to Tawang Barangay Hall. Just outside its building is a path that leads to our next stop, Tayawan view deck. 
 Similar to the start to Mt. Yangbew, we were welcomed by a steep trail, but thankfully, not as "breath-taking". 

Interestingly, there is a cemetery built on a mountainside along the trail, so we walked  quietly as we passed tombs out of respect for the deceased. 

It took around 30 minutes to get to the shed  of Tayawan View Deck. Fortunately, we had the spot to ourselves. It was almost 12 noon and the sun was out to play but we could hardly feel its heat as the breeze was cool. Once again, we put on our jackets, slumped on the benches and ate our snacks. 

From where we sat, we can see houses and other structures in La Trinidad. Gazing down, everything looked like tiny, colorful Legos scattered at the foot of mountains. 
Tayawan View Deck in Barangay Tawang, La Trinidad
From Tayawan view deck, we followed a trail to Mt. Kalugong, our last stop.
Again, the trail was easy to spot and unlike the first two trails we did, it was much easier but still scenic. Along the way, we spotted huge rock formations at the side of the trail.
Trail from Tayawan view deck to Mt. Kalugong
Behind us, a view of Mt. Yangbew. It was amusing to see where we were a few hours earlier. :)

The hike from Tayawan to Mt. Kalugong took less than an hour. We emerged at the side of the eco park where we found nice picnic tables, tree swings and traditional huts. There's also a store selling snacks. After paying the entrance fee (50 Pesos), we explored the area to check out more rock formations.
One of the numerous areas in Mt. Kalugong where you can see La Trinidad.
To be honest, climbing over rock formations has become very scary for me every since my rock climbing accident in 2009 where my left leg got stitched up and took months before I fully recovered.  If it wasn't for my brave friend Jules, I may have skipped the rocks at Mt. Kalugong, which would be a shame because seeing clouds hovering over the town below was beautiful, truly a must see for nature lovers!

Mt. Kalugong has several small peaks that can accommodate several small groups. Though there were other visitors, we enjoyed a quiet time and even met the friendly manager of its cliff side cafe! (Check it out here.)

On the way down, we took the road to Barangay Cruz which is close to the main road to La Trinidad where you can take a jeep or cab back to Baguio city. This is also the road used by non-hikers or people who just want to enjoy the park's facilities at Mt. Kalugong. You can actually take your vehicle or cab all the way up to the entrance. 

How to Get to Mt. Kalugong 
From the jeepney terminal along Magsaysay Avenue in Baguio city, take a jeep bound for La Trinidad and asked to be dropped off at Barangay Cruz (Upper). Your marker would be Baguio Memorial Services which is an establishment along the main road. From there, ask for directions to Mt. Kalugong. You can also take a cab either from Baguio or La Trinidad town proper until you're close to the park entrance. Take note that Mt. Kalugong is in Barangay Tawang but is accessible from Barangay Cruz. 

Entrance Fee : 50 PHP

Check out my post about other easy hike in La Trinidad, Mt. Yangbew. :)

Other helpful resources:


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hiking in La Trinidad : Mt. Yangbew

To kickoff 2017, I  returned to the Cordillera region with one of my closest friends, Jules. We wanted to take it easy  so we decided to try a couple of short but very scenic trails in Benguet I found online (References posted below). 

Barangay Tawang in La Trinidad,the capital of the province of Benguet  is less than an hour from Baguio city and features several accessible, scenic mountain trails - Mt. Yangbew (also known as Mt. Jambo), Tayawan view deck and Mt. Kalugong. These are all beginner-friendly or as the younger Pinoy millenials would say, pabebe-friendly. :P
Facing one of the several clusters of rock formationat the summit of Mt. Yangbew in La Trinidad, Benguet
 (Photo taken by Jules Picato)
Since we were taking a super early bus ride,  (1:30 AM early! :P), we made sure  we got nice, comfy seats. Fortunately, with 3 days prior to the trip, we were able to book online via iWantSeats.

In five hours, we arrived in the City of Pines and walked towards Session Road to hunt for a hotel. Fortunately, a vacant room was immediately available at Benguet Prime Hotel so we were able to leave our bags.  We took our sweet time and grabbed a simple breakfast at Zola, a 24 hour restaurant along Session road. 
Tawang Barangay Hall located a few blocks off the main road. 

From Session Road, we took  a cab to Barangay Tawang in La Trinidad. Taking Ambiong road, travel time took less about 30 minutes, maybe even less. After registering at the barangay hall, we walked about a kilometer or two towards the trailhead of Mt. Yangbew. Guides are not required but should you need one, you can inquire at the reception.  Personally, with only one trail leading to the summit from the jump off, I can't imagine anyone getting lost in its trails. 
A view of La Trinidad from Mt. Yangbew
It takes an hour to get to peak, if you take it  slow. The trail is relatively easy - nothing technical. You basically just walk your way to the top. The most difficult part for me was this steep, sweat-inducing cement road at the start of the hike. It was a shock to our lowlander lungs!  

After this section, we went up a mildly steep dirt road and took numerous stops  along the way because the view of La Trinidad from behind is so nice! The weather was perfect - bright, clear blue skies and though it was past 9:00 AM, it was still cold and the sun was gentle on the skin. We actually wore our jackets while hiking because it still felt very chilly. 
My yogi friend Jules 

The peak is so enormous, there's a riding trail for horses! There's also stunning views everywhere, which includes the entire La Trinidad and other mountains in the Cordilleras. From afar, we saw the radio transmitters from Mt. Cabuyao in Tuba,which are shaped like the ears of Mickey Mouse.  

There's so much to see at the peak that we spent about an hour, admiring the view and taking tons of souvenir shots. 

Mt. Yangbew, with its scenic peak and short, beginner-friendly trails is a recommended mountain for those who are looking for a quick hike close to Baguio. 

Our next stop was Tayawan View Deck which has a trail at the side of Tawang Barangay Hall (Post here).

Environmental Rates as of January 2017 (in Philippine Pesos)
Local hikers and bikers - 30 PHP
Local Students - 25 PHP
Foreigners - 50 PHP
Campers, those who are spending the night (foreign and local) - 100 PHP
Notes : 
- Walk-in hikers, campers and bikers are welcome.
- Bring your own trash back down with you. 

How to Get to Mt. Yangbew
From Manila, take a bus to Baguio.  The closest terminals from NAIA airport are Victory Liner and Genesis, both in Pasay  (just refer to Google maps to locate the terminals). Joy Bus is the deluxe bus service of Genesis, which we took. You can book online via iWantSeats or PinoyTravel. I prefer the former because I can choose seats in advance. However, payment mode is through bank deposit. For online payments, try the latter. I haven't booked with them but my colleagues have and it's legit. 

From Baguio city, take a cab to Tawang Barangay Hall in La Trinidad. Our driver took Ambiong road to avoid the traffic and our fare was 120+/- PHP. (Note : GrabTaxi, a ride hailing service is now in Baguio. Download the app to book a cab). You can also take a jeep bound for Tomay from Magsaysay Avenue in Baguio and asked to be dropped off at the junction to Brgy. Tawang.

Where to Stay in Baguio?
I prefer staying close to Session road and my favorite hotels in the area are Hotel 45 Main which is almost, always fully booked, City Center Hotel (2000+/-/night) and Benguet Prime Hotel (starts at 2000 PHP/night). I also usually check Agoda. Click here to search for excellent deals on your accommodation. 

Visit below sites for additional information : 

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