Category Archives: Travel Blogs

CAGAYAN DE ORO – “A Daring Adventure”

Tagged as the City of Golden Friendship, this beautiful place is a widely-known tourist destination for those who seek fun and daring adventure. Cagayan de Oro was the first place in Mindanao that I had set foot in. It was special and very memorable.

It was summer in 2013 when two of my highschool friends (Bharny & Eliane ) and I decided an abrupt trip to CDO so we can experience the “White River Rafting” the place is popular of. I am adventurous, but I have this fear of speed and height when combined. At the time, I wasn’t sure of what I will face to. I just thought it would be fun just rafting through those rapids, and boy, was I wrong. It was perfect!

Getting There

Since we were all from Cebu, and we needed a budget friendly expense, we decided to travel by boat. It’s roughly around 8 – 9 hours trip, so we have to book an air-conditioned cabin in Trans-Asia ferry for a good night sleep. At the time, it costs around Php 1115.00 including the terminal fee. Night time is the best schedule and we took this so we can get on with our first activity once we arrive.

Cabin Area

It was my first time staying on a big boat longer than 3 hours so I was very excited. It’s really comfortable but you just have to mind your belongings as the sleeping units provided are open to public. We woke up at around 4am to witness the sunrise. We had to play around a bit and took some shots to amuse ourselves. The sunrise was so lovely just looking at it from the boat reminding me of the simple pleasures in life.

Waiting for Sunrise.

Accomodation

One of my friends has a relative in the city of Cagayan de Oro. We stayed there for a total of 3 days. They were so kind to let us stay in their home. They even prepared breakfast when we arrived. We were a bit shy but they were so accommodating. This is a natural gesture of Filipinos, and we  have received this warm hospitality from them. There is no doubt that Cagayan de Oro is really the City of Golden Friendship. Thank you, Auntie Nelia Calma and family for welcoming us!

Auntie Nelia Calma and Family

There are a lot of budget hotels to stay in Cagayan de Oro. There are also packages that include accommodation and adventure. At this time, it should no longer be difficult to get tour packages as the Travel Agencies in the Philippines have boomed a lot because of social media. We only booked for a tour guide so we can roam around the city and to the tourist spots in Cagayan de Oro. Since we have a lot of time and the neighboring province, Bukidnon, is just a two hour drive, we didn’t let it slip without a visit.

Bukidnon – Pineapple Field

White Water River Rafting

On our first day, it was very sunny so we headed straight to do the White Water Rafting. The day before was raining and we feared that the next day it might rain again. We were not that prepared, but there isn’t much to prepare of. Just wear your rash-guard and all the gears required will be provided by them. There is an office where you can get changed and keep your valuables in their lockers and just claim them after the activity. It was almost an hour drive before we reached the starting point and we had a stopover at Makahambus Cave. They said it houses a colony of bats, it was dark but it wasn’t that creepy at all. At the end of the cave is a veranda overlooking the Cagayan River, which will be the river we will be rafting through in some minutes later. Usually, the river is white and clear, hence the name white water river. But since it rained the night before, then we have to endure the muddy colour of the water, anyway, it didn’t bother us at all.

Makahambus Cave – with new friend, Henry (joiner)

We had the Beginner’s Rafting and there were 15 rapids that we have to pass against. I felt excited as I thought, they were all easy. And boy was I wrong again. Haha To me, it was the most extreme adventure I have faced to at the time, but it was the most enjoyable. White water rafting is navigating through a heavy flowing Cagayan River with strong rapids that makes the watersport much more enjoyable. We had a very funny and delightful guide, so the whole trip was fantastic. Every time we came close to a rapid, the guide would tell us to pose for a picture and hold our oars up. This was a trick he would do so we would lose our balance and snap out a funny picture of us. Well, it worked for some couple of times until we realized they were all traps.

Trying a pose

Each rapid has its own name, but I only remember one, The Pacquaio rapid. It was the strongest “obstacle” or rapid we’ve encountered in the river rafting. The other guide took a video of our demise, they all fell down from the inflatable raft except me. Haha (video below)

 

Stopping in the middle of the river for a jump

Bharny, one of my friends got caught in a small whirlpool and the current was really strong. She didn’t go up for 2 minutes or maybe less so we got worried. The guide hurriedly rescued her and got her up from the water. It was the scariest experience for her, but everything went fine. No need to be scared though, the guides are skilled for their jobs and they won’t leave you behind. We ended the activity with a very memorable experience.

We conquered the Cagayan River Rafting!

City Tour

After the river rafting, we headed to the city to change and start a 3-hour tour. Just enough time to roam around the city and see the beauty of Cagayan. First, we visited the Divine Mercy Shrine. It features the 15-meter statue of Jesus as the focal point of the hills that overlooks the bay. Just like other holy places, you must dress decently. Since we wore shorts at the time, “sayas” or skirts were lent to us so we can enter the shrine. The place is really beautiful and holy. They have a daily schedule for the mass. We were able to attend the 3 o’clock mass but didn’t have time to climb going to the statue. They also limit the people in each schedule.

Divine Mercy Statue, people visible climbing the statue
A veranda overlooking the Southern Mindanao Bay

After this, we headed to the nature park they call – Malasag Eco-Tourism Village and Gardens. It doesn’t just let you get in touch with nature, but also to the native tribes that still exist in their province. They will dance with you and pose for a picture. They have a mini zoo with some endemic animals in it. There are also native souvenir items that you can buy that’s locally made by the villagers in the area. There is also a pool and rooms that you can rent for overnight stays. Definitely a good place to visit when you go to CDO.

The Portal
With the Villagers

Villas on the Hills

Bukidnon

Our second day was spent enjoying the neighbor province of Cagayan de Oro, which is Bukidnon. The place is famous for its huge production of pineapples and other agricultural products. They have enormous farms of pineapple and you can smell them everywhere.

The biggest PINEAPPLE!

There are a lot of activities that you can do in Bukidnon. We made sure we tried the first longest dual zipline in Asia. Like I said, I wasn’t into extreme adventure, and to me this was one of them. But then again, I have friends who are so into it. It took me a while to get the courage and I am glad I did try it because it felt good.. and scary at the same time. We took the unlimited zipline ride and it costs 600 per person at the time. You can also do gocarting, zorb, ATV and other sport activities in the area.

Gearing Up!
A souvenir photo that captured the fun moment

Aside from the recreational activities that Dahilayan Adventure Park offers, the place is also a beauty. It is a bit commercialized, but you can still see how they preserved nature. I somehow tagged it as mini-Baguio because of all the big Pine Trees everywhere in the park. There are also some figures that you can pose and take pictures with.

The Forest Park of Pines
Bharny with her piggy lover
We found love in a hopeless place 😀

Before we head home, our guide said we can do a stopover at a newly built small Eco-adventure park at the time. Ofcourse, we wanted to see it. The place is called Kampo Juan. The place is also a beauty. It didn’t have that much activities available yet.

One operating was the Anicycle, or the skybiking. It’s a bicycle hanging 100 feet from the ground and you have to pedal to move the bike forward. It is held with cables and the bikers are provided with harness for safety. Well, it’s too extreme for me, I couldn’t do it so I just have to take a picture with it in stationary.

Anicycle

The place is really cool. There was only a treehouse at the time that overlooks a river and the rock mountains. It wasn’t that developed but it was really breathtaking and relaxing. The furniture they used were recycled from old tires and plastics. Such pretty display of creativity and a great aide to nature.

Chairs and Tables made of tires
Just relaxing
The Treehouse

We ended the day full of fun and filled with adventure. Third day was spent on shopping and looking for “pasalubong” or delicacies that we can take home with us. The popular delicacy is pastel bread (we tried the malunggay), roasted cashew nuts, and pineapple – and I mean the whole fruit itself.

It was such a wonderful experience and I have savored the moment as I wasn’t sure when I could come back. Definitely one of the best travels that I had. It’s true what they say, Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a Storyteller.

Thank you for reading my story. 🙂

Ciao!!

 

ILOCOS – “A Marvelous Heritage”

A place rich of spectacular history – Ilocos is a collision of nature and man-made tourist spots. Three of its popular tourist spots have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site among other 6 designated places in the Philippines. They describe them as places of importance to cultural or natural heritage. Ilocos is also most known as the residence of the late president Ferdinand Marcos and his regime that lasted 20 years. It was great to look back and visit these places and be reminded about how it was in the past.

I have a fascination with old and historical places. The ruins, the antiques, and anything old, I just admire them. When I was in gradeschool, I only see those eye-catching destinations on the covers my notebooks. One that I particularly fell in love with was Vigan. I told myself that one day, I will visit this place. Twenty years after, they all came into reality. I have found the love to explore and experience new places. Taste the food and learn about their tradition and culture. I like to understand how things are in the other parts of the world. This is the reason why I like to write these experiences so when I grow much older than I already am, I can look back to these memories.

No matter how late it may be, I will try to inspire myself to put all of these experiences into writing. I am not good with labeling myself. I travel to places because I love to and budget has always been in consideration. I travel in my own expense. So, there are a lot of places that I wish I could go but do not have the luxury to. However, I am also thankful for every opportunity because I got to be in places not everyone else may have been. Just dream on, and move to reach that dream. Do not worry about how people will label you, if you love what you do then go for it. May you be a Tourist, a Backpacker, an Adventurous Traveller, a Mountaineer, a Beach buddy or a simple Local Sightseer – enjoy your time, enjoy all the moments and enjoy your life. Be spontaneous, or plan it out, it doesnt matter. What matters is you spend your time to things that makes you feel alive. So go ahead and list Ilocos as one of your destination – haha!

Why Ilocos?

Social Media has reached its peak and is still soaring across the sky. So, one post caught my attention in 2015. I saw a huge desert-like hills of sand and sun. I got intrigued and asked my friends if they would be interested. I was at my emotional state, I was about to end a longtime relationship (of which we will not discuss). For having crazy friends, as random as it may be, we booked tickets 2 weeks before the unplanned travel and without itineraries. So random, but I gathered 6 friends to travel with me. We were all excited. I was most excited because I will get to see Vigan in real life!

A day before we travel, I found a good tour package that we needed and just right for our budget. I suggest you do the same to ease your travel worries and let them do all the work. If you wish to know which tour agency it was, just message me. So we got to visit a lot of places for 2 days for as low as 1800 PHP each. That includes accommodation, breakfast, service ride and some entrances. Our whole duration of stay is for 4 days and 3 nights. Two of these nights were spent on the bus to save time. I will give some details about how our trip went.

The Preparation

As soon as we arrive from Cebu to Manila, we booked tickets for the bus going to Laoag City. The nearest bus terminal is in Partas. Travel time is about 8-9 hours. This is too much time if you travel in the morning. Instead of wasting one day, we all decided to book a ticket for 8PM departure. We arrived in Laoag by 7 AM and our tour van has been waiting for us. We took our breakfast first, and went to check-in in our hotel and was given time to freshen up and then go right ahead on our first tour.

Let me first introduce you to my Ilocos Travel Buddies.
From Left to Right – Deanne, Reina, Glyza, Bharny, Giodelyn, Graeola, and Me!

Ilocos Norte:

First stop – The Sinking Bell Tower

This is a local version of the Leaning tower of Pisa. Located in Laoag City, this Sinking Bell Tower is at 45m tall and is called a sinking tower because of its massive weight built on a sandy ground. Its weight with the loose foundation makes it sink an inch every year.

The Cape Bojeador lighthouse

Still a functional simple lighthouse built in the Spanish era with brick walls and is one of the highest elevated lighthouse in the Philippines.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. A long trek down in the winding road under the heat of the sun, and you will reach this awe-inspiring site. Passing through you will see some windmills built around the area. The rock formation is white in color and that is why it is named Kapurpuruwan, “puraw” means white. Once you get there, you will find the natural beauty of this formation created by number of years of ocean waves crashing and eroding the natural structure.

Bangui Windmills

This is the pride of the Ilocanos. To have their own sustaining renewable energy and power up their households by generating electricity through a natural resource – the wind! The Bangui wind farm has provided 40% of Ilocos Electric Supply. It may not be the first of its kind in Asia but having it here in the Philippines is something to be proud of. Situated along the Bangui Bay in Laoag city, the windmills spread in an arc formation with tri-blades and is 70 meters high.

Laoag Sand Dunes

This was the place that caught my eye on Facebook. Here
you get to experience the 4×4 ride. This is the PH version
of the Dubai Desert Safari. These sand dunes have
heights that range from 10-30 meters and is really an
enjoyable adventure ride experience. Must try and dont
forget to do the “padidit” or sandboarding.

      

Patapat Bridge
The signature pose

This is a 1.2 KM long bridge in Pagudpud. A long winding zigzaggy bridge with a view of the sea and the mountains on the side. You cant help but stop and enjoy the air. This is also the fourth longest bridge in the Philippines.

 Bacarra Domeless Tower

The tower that lost its dome after an earthquake, and that is all I can tell. It is now named as the “Dignified Domeless Belltower in Asia.”

Malacañang of the North

The official residence of the Marcos family. Behind the two-storey building is the legendary Paoay lake. Built with good architectural components and spacious interior. It also has a luscious garden on the rear side and a magnificent view of the lake from the terrace. Inside you can find some good stuff and things the family once used in the house.

Pagudpud Beaches
Hannah’s Beach Resort
At Timmangtang Rock
Bantay Abot Cave

It’s not really a cave, but a big rock/hill that was destroyed by an earthquake leaving a hole in it.

Ilocos Sur:

Paoay Church

This church is the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1896 with coral bricks and massive walls. A Baroque type of Architecture which has enormous and magnificent buttresses on the sides and back of the building.

Bantay Bell Tower
Within the area is a chapel in ruins that they still use but doesnt have a roof anymore.
Vigan

Well, finally! Im out of words. One of the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the few Spanish towns left in the Philippines. One of which is Intramuros. The structures have remained intact, and it is well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial Spanish architecture.

Off from my Bucket List

So, there goes my 2 day tour in Ilocos. I have had the chance to see the late president in his glass casket before he was eventually buried. We cannot take pictures in the museum and I am not sure how it is now. All his relics are still there.

We have enjoyed our stay and discovery. Definitely a good blast from the past. Dont forget to enjoy the delicacies such as the Ilocos empanada, bagnet, and their chorizo. At night in Vigan, they also play a fountain show and it’s also amazing. I had fun in Ilocos, and when I came back to Cebu, I have prepared the most significant decision of my life, to let go of the pain and let the good memories remain.

Enjoy some few pictures with my friends . . . .

The border in Pagudpud
Marcos Museum
Ilocos Empanada
Dinner at Grandpa’s in Vigan
At the Marcos mansion
Striking a pose
I <3 Vigan
The Calesa
View from Lighthouse
Going to the hole.
Hurray!
Thank you, Guys!

ALEGRIA – “Jumping through the Canyons”

First, I would like to thank you guys if you have read my first blog. If you haven’t, you can still catch up. You can see the links everywhere on this page.  I will not stress out too much formality in the blogs that I will be doing as I just want you guys to have fun reading them. I don’t need to make it perfect, because I surely can’t make it that way, but I would appreciate comments if you have some.

Well, I still remember the very first time I tried canyoneering, from the very first jump up to the last one. I even told myself, well – maybe I can do it again. Surprisingly, I did it two more times. It was crazy, and I can feel my internal organs jumbled everywhere inside my tummy and probably misplaced because I have been jumping a lot. That’s insanely funny and a made-up one, but is it possible? 😀

Anyway, I have had different experiences in each three groups that I was with; and summing it all up, it was extensively superb enjoyable and a terrific fun way to bond with your friends. If your childhood was filled with outdoor games and cool activities like climbing hills, sliding on mud, playing with dirt, swimming in clayish rivers or swamps and running under the rain, then imagine the same pleasure. If you didn’t experience any, then continue reading and I will try to show you how it was like.

What is Canyoneering?

Canyoning or mostly referred to as canyoneering is an outdoor trek that involves travelling down to rivers and streams within a canyon by means of walking, swimming, floating, climbing, and jumping. I call it river-trekking. The Philippines is blessed with a lot of natural resources, unique land and water forms, and exceptional sceneries that are recognized worldwide. Cebu, is one lucky island to have most of these resources readily available to man.  Alegria is located in the southern part of Cebu, and the best place to do canyoning. The area has clear flowing river water, which is named “Canlaob River”, and is a 7-kilometer trek before you exit to “Kawasan Falls”, and that would take for about 3-4 hours.

How to Get There?

From Cebu City, you have to pay a commuter bus from South Bus Terminal or hire a van to get there. Bus fare may be around 120 – 150 PHP and will be a short 3 – 4 hour ride. It is best to reserve or contact a guide to meet you when you arrive for a smooth adventure experience. No, you are not allowed to do canyoning without a guide, for safety facts that I don’t need to elaborate. It is also best that you get on the bus around 4am so you can arrive before 8:00 in the morning, and still have breakfast. If you have your own car service, you can park it at the parking area in Badian Church, which is also the exit area. When you arrive in Alegria, you have to register your names in the office and you will be given waivers and pay for environmental fee. Afterwhich, your contact will have you ride a “habal-habal” or a motorbike to bring you to the starting point. From there, you will be briefed about canyoning and all the safety measures you need to remember.

Gearing Up

It would be so much fun if you are doing this activity with your friends because you can get a lot of courage and support that you will need for your first jump. For your gears, you need prayers and strength. Haha Kidding aside, all you need is a light helmet for your head, life vest to help you float, sporting shoes or aqua shoes and a water-resistant camera or go-pros to record your memorable activity. If you don’t have aqua shoes and hesitate to use your rubber shoes, they could have you rent a pair for only 50php. In some cases, they can also lend a go-pro for you to use and pay for maybe 1000php or less.

 The First Jump

Oh, the first jump. You can never get to where you are heading if you don’t take your first leap. My first was not that quick. It took me one deep breath, one prayer, and one swallow of my own saliva before I did it. The trick is, do not think twice. If you aren’t ready, then take your time away from the jumping spot. Once you think you’re gonna go with it, then just take one deep breath and jump right away. If you do a long pause, you might lose the courage to, and fall on the rocks. Ouch! We don’t want that to happen. The first jump is a 15-meter high waterfall, and there are 6 more jumps that you need to do to finish the excursion.  It only takes one jump, and all the rest will be very easy for you.

The Experience

It’s very enjoyable because you won’t only have to do jumping but also do sliding down, swimming away with the rapids, get inside the caves and appreciate the beauty of nature with your snaps. Make sure to follow the main rule, “Take only pictures, Leave only footprints, and Kill only time.”

The 7th or last jump is optional. It is a 30ft-high jump. Out of the three times that I did canyoning, I only tried this last jump on my second and third. I didn’t have the courage to do so on the first, so no pressure on you. If you are more of the adventurous one, then go ahead. It is a satisfying one. Once the last jump is over, you will have to follow a trail to exit in Kawasan Falls. From there, you can enjoy swimming and take your lunch and rest. If you are still up for more, then take a jump in the second falls in Kawasan, which will be a 70-ft jump. I couldn’t dare do that, but my friends did. It’s too overwhelming for me, 30 feet is enough. LOL

This is one of the adventures I did in my life that makes me feel alive. And makes me realize that fear, is a wonderful emotion, only when you face it. That a challenge, is an adventure, only when you experience it. And time, is a memory, only when you make use of it. So, share your fear; share the challenge; and share your time with your friends and family. I did so and it was worth the while.

I feel like I needed to write more, but also I think I need to stop. Just go and enjoy some pictures with my friends. 😀

SAGADA – “A Stunning Sunrise”

If you also wonder about how the creations in the world just give you peace, calmness and stillness but still couldn’t find the right answers, then just stop.. you don’t need to. Just feel it, experience it and absorb the moment like there is no second time. I live in this kind of aphorism, to just feel the moment and do whatever it is that makes you happy.

While it is true that you don’t need to travel far to experience nature at its best, it is also just a way for me to escape from city stress and just get lost for a little while. Traveling is an inexpensive leisure, you just need to know where and how to get into a new destination reasonably. Sagada is one of the few tourist spots that’s really easy to go and by far one of the best. I have already considered it as one of my “happy places”.

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Sagada is located in the Mountain Province of Luzon in the Philippines. To get there coming from Manila, you just have to take a bus ride that will take 9-12 hours. I suggest you do a night trip so you can just sleep during the travel. If you aren’t used to long-hour bus rides, it is better that you do a stop-over in Baguio. Maybe do some tours first, do strawberry picking and enjoy the view. There are also a lot of beautiful places to visit in Baguio but we will talk about that in my upcoming blogs. You can always ask around in the Bus stops for departure times going to Sagada since the schedules change from time to time.

The Famous Klitepan Sunrise

You probably have heard of it, but I can tell you, it is a must see. What you see in the photographs is much better in real life. Klitepan is an area in Sagada where you can wait and watch the sun rise. You have to wake up early around 4:30 am, hike towards this hill and just wait for the sun to rise. I can tell you, it is worth the wait. I can’t explain how beautiful it is and how happy it makes you feel to just look at the beauty that nature has shared to us, it’s really hard to put it in words. This is not an exaggeration, maybe partly, but still you have to experience it to judge it for yourself.

Sagada has also become an asylum for those with broken hearts. Yeah, it is funny but maybe it is really therapeutic. It is famous now because of a local movie that features this province and excited a lot of people to visit the place. “Where do broken hearts go?” they sing, and the answer is Sagada.

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A Peculiar Culture

Sagada isn’t just known for its stunning sunrise. The infamous beliefs and culture of the people residing in this province has invited tourists all over the world to see and explore it themselves. I am talking about the Hanging Coffins at the entrances of caves. Yes, that is right. It is in their belief, (according to the tour guide that I talked to) that the coffins are hung at the faces of the caves or cliffs so that the soul of the dead is blessed eternally as well as to prevent the body from taken away by the beasts. He also added that once fluid of the body drops underneath and you caught it anywhere in your body, it will give you good luck. It sounded very odd, but every place has its own culture and that, I respect.

Sagada offers various types of excursion to show people around. A lot of the caves can be entered and some even have rivers inside. I made sure I could also experience the adventure trails inside the caves. It was fun; just make sure you are ready to get wet. I went in to maybe 3-4 caves, some are very wide and big and some you have to slump to get in. There are tour packages that you can choose depending on how much time you have and which places you want to go to. What is good about their rates is that they made sure it was standard for all. Everyone has to pay the same rate for a tour guide, which for me is better. If you wish to tip the guide for an excellent tour he did, then that’s up to you.

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Bomok-od Falls

I stayed in Sagada for 3 days and 2 nights, and that didn’t even seem enough for me. Our accommodation didn’t have AC, but it was absolutely unnecessary. At night, it is really cold and you would even wish to get a heater. We paid for our stay for as low as 250php per person per night. There are a lot of lodging inns around, and people are very helpful to show you which ones can fit in your budget.  Food is also amazing, just walk around and you can find small restaurants that can give you lavish meals.

On our third day and the last, we went to the highest waterfalls they have. They call it the “Bomok-od Falls”. You have to walk for an hour and hike down the mountain to reach the falls. The walk won’t seem to bother you because you will be passing by farm terraces. It is literally everywhere.

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It is very common in the art of farming industry in the Mountain Province to use farm terraces. These are proven to be a good use and method for water distribution. It is very impressive to me because it is a kind of technology that doesn’t even use any mechanism. Make sure you stop by and take a picture of the beautiful scenery like I did. 😀

When we reached to the waterfall, gosh, I am lost of words. Also, I was freezing because the water was so cold, you can freeze a soda drink in it.  I can’t possibly get in the water but some people did swim. Still, it was worth it. I couldn’t possibly enjoy my trip without some good friends around, good friends who take very good pictures. Now, that’s awesome. 😀

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I hope I had entertained you in this writing, and if you reached this last part of the blog, thank you!  I hope to write some more, the sooner the better. If you have any comments or suggestions, please hit up the comment box below, I would surely appreciate any inputs.