Iloilo Guimaras Trip 2011

Nobody was prepared for what was to come in our Iloilo-Guimaras trip. For one, Iloilo isn’t one of the more popular tourist spots. People don’t go about bludgeoning each other for an Iloilo promo fare, unlike, for example, Palawan or Bohol. But tracing my roots to this beautiful Panay province, I excitedly booked roundtrip tickets and prepared our travel itinerary. Together with six of my friends, we braved stormy open seas and endured a series of unfortunate events for this one amazing, unique experience.

First stop was Iloilo. this province has several nice beaches too in Guimbal, Carles, and Concepcion. However, the highlights of our trip were the visit to old churches, food tripping, and savoring the rural experience in the faraway rice fields of Oton.

Molo Church

The weather could be better, but it didn’t stop us from taking wonderful pictures of Miagao and Molo church. We also took a long drive to UP Iloilo, majority of the group being UP graduates. The atmosphere there isn’t really too far from the ambience in UP Diliman with the campus’s vast expanse and the blossoming flora within and around the area. We had lunch at Breakthrough with a menu of crabmeat, baked talaba, pork sisig, and a unique dessert of honey in coconut milk. After a long day of rain, we went back to our cozy little home right smack in the heart of hectares and hectares of rice paddies. We had to cross the several muddy rice paddy bridges called “pilapil.” This proved to be a big challenge to our balance systems but it was a good exercise, with all the calories we had to burn from a hefty breakfast of Ted’s la Paz batchoy and all that Breakthrough goodness.

Our second day wasn’t smooth sailing either. The really bad weather scared the wits out of us, and we almost didn’t push through with our Guimaras trip. The 15-minute boat ride to Guimaras, although relatively short, still posed a threat since we had to traverse the open seas. Counting on the years of experience of our bangkeros, we gingerly boarded the Banca. Once in Guimaras, we found a glint of hope with The promise of a sunnier day. We hired a multi cab for a one-hour drive (half of which is on rough roads) to our resort: La Puerta Al Paraizo. The long drive was indeed all worth it when we get to see the breathtaking view from our room terrace.

La Puerta Al Paraizo, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

Several islets and rock formations were visible from our room. We took half the day exploring the area, taking quite a number of wonderful pictures. The La Puerta staff were exceptional, making sure that all our needs were tended to with a smile. The food was also amazing. You have to try their fish in black beans, chicken chili, and chopsuey. Their meals are good for sharing, so if you’re traveling in a big group you get to save more. During the night, we played cards under the splendid sky, with the sound of waves crashing in the background and with the smooth, fine sand under our toes. We stayed in a fan room, and the lack of a/c wasn’t too much of a problem. we still slept well as the morning breeze and perfect view welcomed us in the morning. And although we enjoyed the view from our resort, we refused to leave without exploring the nearby islands. We rubbed sunblock on our faces, readied our sunglasses, and donned our swimsuits, unaware of the impending doom that is to follow. the Weather appeared okay when we left, Mister Sun being very visible in the afternoon sky. We passed by a long row of mangroves, this being a first for all of us. It was a rare thing to jumpstart your island hopping with this kind of view. after several minutes, the rain started  pouring. It was raining cats and dogs! We only got to Taklong Island Marine Reserve for a bit of swimming. It was quite a disappointment not being able to see the sea turtles and several more wonderful spots for snorkeling. This will be in our list of must-sees if we ever get to have another chance to visit the island. On our way back to Iloilo, we took a side trip to the Guisi Lighthouse. The beach view from there is amazing. The ruins also offered a different kind of flavor in this trip. If we just had the luxury of time, we could’ve went down the narrow staircase leading to the Guisi beach breakwater.

Guisi Lighthouse

Iloilo’s weather was better when we reached the wharf. We went directly to Tatoy’s for a much deserved lunch and ordered native chicken, pork sisig, beef tapa, crablets, and five platters of baked talaba. It had really been a sumptuous feast!

Our Iloilo-Guimaras trip had it’s highs and lows. If the weather was on our side, our trip could’ve been completely different. But in my heart, there’s been no regret. We were able to make do with what we have, with flying colors. We found ways to amuse ourselves. We took the liberty of taking wonderful pictures. We ate to our hearts’ content. We were taking a leisure trip with no pressing schedules. We lay down on the beach under a clear night sky. We got a taste of authentic rural life. In my heart, truly, there is no regret. Only a yearning to have more of these wonderful times.. Only a hope that sometime in the future, I could visit this really amazing place once again, in the company of good friends.🙂

Bicolandia!!!

Once upon a time, I didn’t pay much attention to Bicol. For one, my beach vocab was limited to Boracay and Palawan. Likewise, my very much novice self just has the picture of fruit-shake-on-a-white-beach for a vacation. Noticing this pattern in my domestic explorations, I decided to mix things up a bit. Thus, the Naga-Legazpi-Caramoan itinerary was drafted and voila, I got my little Bicolandia adventure.

CWC surely has a lot to offer. With Naga being our jump-off point, wakeboarding was first on our list. We checked in at Ecovillage — a decent home away from home. We cramped seven giddy people into their large villa. The bathroom has hazy mirrors and fair drainage, but it didn’t bother us much since we spent most of our time outside. What got us into a bit of trouble was the frequent blackout episodes which, I heard, were common in the region. In totality, I feel that this place will suit the cheapskate (or, should I say, practical) backpacker spirit in you. If you’re looking into a glass half full (which I’m in the habit of doing), you can say 265 per night in Ecovillage gets you value for your money.

After pulling an all-nighter (thanks to Pinoy Henyo headed by our gamemaster, Karina Ignacio), we prepped ourselves for a Legazpi day tour. Ms. Janet Alibin has been very gracious and generous of her time and energy as she willingly assumed the role of tour guide/driver/host. We had our brunch at Cena Una, a haven for food trippers. I got myself a plate of warm white rice with Tinutungan (smoked chicken with laing). I was devouring everything on my plate and fell silent for a good 10 minutes. Compliments to the chef!🙂

Cena Una's Tinutungan

Later that day we also got to Cagsawa Ruins. We were somewhat prepared, albeit with a heavy heart, to go back to Naga empty-handed, with Mt. Mayon disappearing in a haze of clouds. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. We parked for a while and waited for the sky to clear up. In a few minutes, Mt. Mayon showed up. Its beauty is nothing short of majestic. It sure has the shape of a perfect cone — whoever described it as that in our elementary textbooks is not in any way exaggerating. It made me feel tiny, in the literal and figurative sense.

Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga, Albay

After several more pit stops (Embarcadero, Bigg’s Diner), we rode a van back to Naga. A few rounds of charades and a hearty dinner from the CWC cafeteria, and we hit the sack for a 4am trip the next day. We arrived at Sabang Port at 6am, hoping against hope that being cradled in the shoulders of porters to the banca is just another urban legend. Hinting at the bitterness of my next statement, you will deduce that I was dead wrong. I gingerly positioned myself on Manong Porter’s shoulders, doing the lamest balancing act to save my new Blackberry and dignity from being all soaked up. I was feeling sorry for Manong Porter because I know I’m not the skinniest person around. I also feel sorry for myself for stepping on poo, the scent of which wafted under my nostrils for the entire migraine-inducing Sabang to Guijalo trip. It wasn’t the best boat ride ever, I would’ve even nominated it for the worst one. Anyhow, we were just so glad to finally reach Guijalo and being several minutes away from the famed Gota Beach.

Our relief was short-lived, however. Another wave of panic came through us as we saw our white van pulling away amidst our futile efforts to frantically wave at the driver, backpacks and rollaway bags in tow. I feel anger stirring inside me, knowing that we have only half the day to enjoy Gota. After about an hour, the driver got back for us, apologizing for the miscommunication that occurred between the previous driver and Gota management. I was rehearsing my spiel to demand something out of what inconvenience we suffered but arrived at Gota with smiling, welcoming faces from the warm staff. We forgot all about our earlier misadventure and settled into our cozy cabanas. 

receiving area, medium cabana, gota village

bedroom, medium cabana, gota village

bathroom, medium cabana, gota village

We toured around the Survivor tribal council sites!🙂

survivor sweden tribal council site, gota village

At 3pm, we decided to go hiking and rapelling in the limestone cliffs!

 

yours truly, rapelling (50m), gota village (shot by Ayeth Torres)

 

Thanks to our rapelling guides, we came out slightly scathed but alive!🙂 After a very much deserved hearty dinner, we headed back to our cabana for some dvds and snooze. The next day, we were informed that the weather is good enough for island hopping. We went to Lajos, Matukad, and Hunongan Beach, where I had the fortune of having a close encounter with a Philippine Eagle fondly called Kiko, a regular visitor of the island. I got to pet him and felt very grateful for this rare experience. Not everyone gets to see, or touch, a rare species in the wild. It was a special and perfect moment to cap off our trip.

 

Reviewing the itinerary that we didn’t actually follow and some misfortunes here and there, I must say our Bicolandia experiences had been varied and different. From all the food trips, wakeboarding (epic fail!), trekking, rapelling, land travels, and boat rides we had to endure, I am crossing out one more item in my Must-Do List, and adding one more post to my list of unforgettable things.🙂

 

Camsur Escapade 4d/3n Itinerary – Naga-Legazpi-Caramoan, Feb 2011

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Day 1 (February 11)

4:10pm      ETD MNL-NAGA via Airphil Express

5:20pm      ETA NAGA Airport

6:00pm      Check in at Ecovillage, CWC Sports Complex

7:00pm      Wakeboarding, Tour Around CWC

 

 

Day 2 (February 12)

6:00am       NAGA to LEGAZPI via Filcab

7:30am       ETA Mt. Mayon, picture taking

10:00am     Buffet Brunch at Cena Una, Daraga, Albay

1:00pm        leave for Naga

3:00pm        Arrival at Ecovillage

4:00pm        Wakeboarding, tour around Ecovillage

7:30pm        Dinner at Bigg’s Diner, Naga

 

 

Day 3 (February 13)

6:00am         Naga Central Terminal, Naga to Sabang Port via Filcab (breakfast of Libby’s and Gardenia                            hehe)

7:30am         Arrival at Sabang Port, ride boat to Guijalo Port

8:45am         Arrival at Guijalo Port, free pickup by Gota Admin

9:30am         Arrival at Gota Beach Resort

10:00am       Island Hopping (Matukad, Hunongan, Lahos, Sabitang-Laya, Tabgon, Malarad)

6:00pm         Back to Gota Beach Resort, swimming in active beach

7:30pm         Dinner

 

 

Day 4 (February 14, Araw ng mga Puso haha)

6:00am         Sunrise! Pichur Pichur ang masisipag gumising

7:00am         Breakfast or swimming

9:30am         Leave Gota Beach Resort to Guijalo Port

11:00am       Leave Guijalo Port to Sabang Port

1:00pm         Arrival at Naga Proper, Late Lunch, Sight-seeing at Naga

2:30pm         Leave for NAGA Airport

5:20pm         ETD NAGA to MNL

6:30pm         ETA MNL

 

 

Breakdown of Expenses (per person):

Day 1

250                Terminal Fee NAIA

265                Ecovillage Overnight Stay

350                Wakeboarding

200                Dinner

Total: 1065php

 

Day 2

300                 Roundtrip NAGA-LEGAZPI-NAGA

500                 Cena Una Buffet (not sure, max na yan)

265                 Ecovillage Overnight Stay

200                 Dinner

Total: 1265php

 

Day 3

100                 Naga to Sabang Filcab Van

120                 Sabang to Guijalo Port Boat Ride

300                 Brunch at Gota Beach Resort

300                 Boat Rental for Island Hopping

300                 Dinner at Gota Beach Resort

1500               Room Rate Gota Beach Resort

Total: 2520php

 

Day 4

120                  Guijalo Port to Sabang Port

100                  Sabang Port to Naga

200                  Lunch at Bigg’s

120                  Terminal Fee Naga Airport

Total: 540php

 

 

GRANDEST TOTAL (haha): 5390php

 

*pwede pa tayo magtipid ng konti sa food.. max na yung mga nilagay ko dyan. don’t worry guys when all else fails, there’s always de lata.

6000php for this super great itinerary! hahaha! C’mon guys lezgow!🙂🙂🙂

 

 

Other helpful sites:

CamSur Water Sports Complex (http://www.camsurwatersportscomplex.com)

Gota Beach Resort and Islands (http://www.caramoanislands.com)

Alternative accommodations in Caramoan (http://www.lakwatseradeprimera.com/caramoan-accommodation/)

Balay Cena Una, Daraga, Albay Review (http://www.foodtrippings.com/filipino/albay-food-tour-series-2-balay-cena-una/)

 

 

Contact numbers:

Ecovillage – Camsur Water Sports Complex (+63 54 477 5636, +63 928 554 6223)

Gota Beach Resort Reservations (+63 54 477 3349, 63 54 477 3344, 63 54 477 3347)

Gota Beach Resort Pick-up from Guijalo (+63 921 292 6227, +63 909 954 7889)


our palawan trip itinerary

Beautiful is much of an understatement for everything that is Palawan. Its quiet charm, awesome cuisine, the scenic destinations, and its people’s good sense of humor and innate love for their town makes the Palawan experience well worth the 13k damage to the pocket.

This was our foolproof itinerary that allowed us to savor most of what Palawan has to offer (Puerto Princesa, El Nido, food tripping).

march 10, tuesday

1645 – Arrival at Puerto Princesa via Cebu Pacific

1715 – check in at Lola Itang’s House

1830 – Kinabuch dinner, 250/pax for a group of 5

2000 – back at Lola Itang

expenses:

545 – one way fare

200 – terminal fee, NAIA Terminal 3

250 – Kinabuch dinner

14 – tricycle to and from Lola Itang


total : 1009 php

march 11, wednesday

0700 – van pick up, leave for Sabang

0930 – arrival at Sabang beach

1000 – board boat to Underground River

1030 – Registration at the Underground River

1115 – Underground River tour via paddleboat with boatman slash stand up comedian Kuya Angelo

1200 – leave Underground River; boat back to Sabang beach

1230 – lunch at Sabang beach

1400 – van back to Lola Itang

1600 – arrival at Lola Itang

1700 – snack at Itoy’s

1845 – dinner at Ka Lui

2030 – back at Lola Itang

underground river

underground river

underground river other view

underground river other view

expenses:

100 – snack (Itoy’s)

250 – dinner (Ka Lui)

30 – tricycle fare

total : 380 php

march 12, thursday

0730 – van pick up to Hunda Bay

0900 – arrival at Hunda bay port

0930 – boat leaves for Pandan Island

1000 – arrival at Pandan Island; snorkeling

1200 – lunch at Pandan Island

1330 – arrival at Snake Island

1500 – arrival at Starfish Island

1600 – back to Hunda bay port

1730 – back at Lola Itang

1830 – buy pasalubong at market

1930 – Badjao Seafront dinner

2100 – back at Lola Itang

pandan island, hunda bay

pandan island, hunda bay

talisay tree, pandan island

talisay tree, pandan island

snake island, hunda bay

snake island, hunda bay

starfish island, hunda bay

starfish island, hunda bay

the skies of starfish island

the skies of starfish island

expenses:

250 – dinner at Badjao

30 – tricycle fare

total: 280 php

march 13, friday

0700 – van pick up by Fortwally to El Nido

0930 – stopover at Roxas

1330 – arrival at El Nido

1400 – check in at Marina Garden Resort

1600 – snacks at Barrack’s Cafe and fishball + queck queck at a local stall

1730 – quick dip at El Nido town beach

1930 – dinner at a carinderia

2100 – back at Marina Garden

expenses:

100 – snacks

75 – dinner

10 – tricycle fare

total: 185 php


march 14, saturday

0730 – board Krisolo 2 motorized banca, Tour A + C

0830 – Tapiutan Island snorkeling

1030 – Matinloc Island shrine

1145 – Secret Beach

1230 – Big Lagoon

1330 – Simizu Island, late lunch, snorkeling

1500 – Small Lagoon

1600 – Seven Commando Beach

1745 – back to El Nido town proper

1930 – dinner at carinderia

expenses:

700 – boat tours

75 – dinner

75 – snorkeling gear

big lagoon entrance, el nido, palawan

big lagoon entrance, el nido, palawan

miniloc island, el nido, palawan

matinloc island, el nido, palawan

matinloc island, el nido, palawan

matinloc island, el nido, palawan

secret beach, el nido, palawan

secret beach, el nido, palawan

seven commando beach, el nido, palawan

seven commando beach, el nido, palawan

 

our island hopping team

our island hopping team

 

expenses: 850 php

march 15, sunday

0800 – leave El Nido by Fortwally van

1200 – Chaolong lunch

1415 – arrival at PP, baywalk picture taking

1445 – Palawan Capitol picture taking

1515 – check in at Puerto Princesa airport

1800 – arrival at NAIA terminal 3 (delayed flight)

expenses:

3000 – airfare

40 – terminal fee

30 – breakfast

100 – lunch

total: 3170 php

plus: 4500 per person Puerto Princesa package

palawan provincial capitol

palawan provincial capitolchao long vietnamese rice noodles

final palawan itinerary

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After a hundred text messages, several phone calls, and a tad too many precious hours spent in front of the computer googling palawan-related keywords, the accommodations and airline tickets are finally settled and the itinerary finalized. Just the thought that I’ll be setting foot in Palawan barely a month from now makes me feel all giddy in excitement. Palawan’s turquoise waters, virgin beaches, limestone cliffs, and fresh seafood concoctions surely won’t disappoint.

march 10, tuesday

Arrival at Puerto Princesa via Cebu Pacific: 445pm

Check in at Lola Itang’s House

Tour around the city, dinner at Ka Lui

expenses:

545 – promo airfare (paid already)

200 – dinner

———–

745 php

march 11, wednesday

Underground River whole day tour, with breakfast at pension house and lunch provided

expenses:

100 – dinner

march 12, thursday

Honda Bay whole day tour with breakfast at pension house and lunch provided

Expenses:

100 – dinner

march 13, friday

leave for El Nido, Palawan

Fort Wally Shuttle Terminal @ San Jose : 7am (09209815702)

Arrive at El Nido at 3pm

Check in at Marina Garden Resort (09266840691)

Dinner

Expenses:

600 – van transfer Puerto Princesa to El Nido

600 – 3 days/2 nights accommodation at Marina Garden Resort

150 – dinner

———–

1350 php

march 14, saturday

Whole day island hopping at El Nido c/o El Nido Boat Tours – Ms. Beth Fabregas (09275460691)

Expenses:

1000 – whole day island hopping + equipment rentals

400 – meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

————

1400 php

march 15

Fort Wally Shuttle Terminal @ El Nido: leave at 7am

arrival at Puerto Princesa airport: 3pm

flight via Cebu Pacific at 500pm

Arrival at Manila at 615pm

Expenses:

2200 – airfare via Cebu pacific Puerto Princesa to Manila

600 – van transfer El Nido to Puerto Princesa

400 – meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

———-

3200 php

plus: 4500 php – 4days/3 nights Puerto Princesa package, inclusive of tours, breakfasts, picnic lunches, van and airport transfers, and registration fees

TOTAL (6 days/5 nights Puerto Princesa-Underground River-Honda Bay-El Nido trip)

11395php

Pwede pa lumiit yung expenses when we cut back on our meal expenses. so tipid tipid na lang (mag-tasty na lang or something).

other contacts and numbers that might come in handy:

boat transfers Sabang-El Nido and El Nido-Sabang: 09084370675

El Nido boat tours: elnidoboat@yahoo.com.ph, 09275460691

Makulay Lodge: 09156273518

Rosanna’s Cottage: 09206054631

helpful websites:

http://elnidopalawan.com

http://elnidotourism.com

http://elnidotours.com

http://elnidoboutiqueandartcafe.com



off we go! VAMOS!

ilocos (laoag-pagudpud-vigan) itinerary

ITINERARY:

June 12

830pm – arrive at Laoag

900pm – check in – hotel

930pm – eat dinner, tour around Laoag

12am – sleep

June 13

530am – wake up

630am – leave hotel

700am – eat breakfast

730 to 12pm – Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (Burgos), Bangui Windmills, packed lunch, Patapat Bridge

2pm – check in at Kapuluan, swim , tour around Pagudpud , Blue Lagoon

June 14

12 pm – check out – Kapuluan

12 pm onwards – churches (Paoay, Laoag), food trip

6 pm – check in at hotel

7 pm – dinner, tour around Laoag

12 pm – sleep

June 15

5 am – wake up, eat breakfast

6 am – leave for Vigan

8am onwards – tour around Vigan (Pagburnayan, St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza Burgos, Plaza Salcedo, Baluarte)

4pm – leave for Laoag

6pm – check in for boarding

pagudpud is love.

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Boracay is picturesque. But there’s no doubt about it, Pagudpud is a getaway place you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in for a quiet vacation. The perfect blend of pristine sandy beaches, superb accommodations, and a very sparse tourist population makes Pagudpud the perfect spot for the ultimate me-time, tens of miles away from the madness of urban living.

We packed our beach-ready luggage, left our humble hotel in Laoag City, and drove a distance to Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud. Of course, little sidetrips were very much welcome.

We got off our main route and sidetracked a bit, to find this gem of a sight.

the patapat viaduct

After savoring our sweet time taking pictures, we headed back to our real destination.. Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud. The short drive going there from the main road still offered us a good enough reason to click away.

Kapuluan Vista Resort’s your best bet. it’s not in the popular Saud beach strip, so one would expect more peace and quiet. As this place just seemed to be too far-flung for comfort, we were quite surprised at how stress-free our stay proved to be. our room’s a cozy place with a loft. There are glass doors on one end to give you a good view of the beach as well as the inviting cottages in the beachfront. The clean sheets and white curtains that flutter in the soft breeze adds to the drama of the entire thing. The bathroom’s clean, and there’s satellite TV. And yes, there’s a pool outside where you can get a view of the hills. Pat can swim freely because she can’t possibly drown there.. the deepest would be 5ft. The water is warm, and we had the pool to ourselves. Kapuluan gave us a genuine nature experience.

in front of kapuluan beach resort

inside kapuluan

kapuluan’s huts

A little caution, though, because the waves in Pagudpud could maim you.. they’re really strong. You can go surfing a couple of meters from the shore.🙂

But the best part? Spending time with good friends away from work.

xeres. pat. ice. coco. ayeth.

I would love to go back there.

Nostalgic Vigan

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I once promised myself that if I can finally afford to travel, I’d go to Vigan. Being broke never felt this good. At least, I spent it on things worthwhile, like savoring the afternoon sunshine through the cobblestone path of Crisologo Street, hearing the clip-clop of hooves while riding the calesa, having a shot at pottery, dining in a Spanish-inspired Jollibee outlet miles away from work, and simply spending the last day of my vacation with a bunch of good friends. We hopped onto our very reliable minivan and off we went for a tour around town!

destinations:

Calle Mena Crisologo – This place is love! Motorized vehicles are not allowed to enter so one has no choice but to go on foot. This comes not without an advantage, as you get to revel all the more at the structures’ awesome architecture and the place’s rustic feel.

St. Augustine Church and Bantay belfry – This church is one of the oldest in Ilocos. The belfry has been used during the war times as a watchtower.

Bantay Belfry atop the Calvario Hill

Bantay Belfry atop the Calvario Hill

Bantay belfry - front view

staircase at the entrance

a top view of the staircase

St. Augustine Church

Vigan Cathedral – What was I thinking? I only took a picture of the church’s side, with the calesas all lined up😦

St. Pauls Cathedral

Vigan Cathedral

Pinagburnayan – We all marveled at the superb skills of these people. You can’t just sit there and pretend you can do pottery. I did, and my “masterpiece” was everything short of a pot. Manong (picture below) had been too kind to tell his own story and offer us a glimpse of the culture, hardwork, and love behind these clay jars. You can visit them there and they’d be more than willing to tour you around.

master and masterpiece-in-the-making

the masterpiece : vigan clay jar

Baluarte – A crazy ostrich came running after us. We almost had to volunteer to pet a gargantuan python. Baluarte offered a fun and organized trip-to-the-zoo kind of thing. Chavit must be one hell of a millionaire to maintain an amazing place like this.

welcome to baluarte!

welcome to baluarte!

too close for comfort

the camels : too close for comfort

a peaceful ostrich can be a pretty sight - but not when they start to chase you

free-to-lounge-around ostriches can cause heart attacks

Aside from the awesome structures and culture uniquely Vigan, we also delighted ourselves in Vigan empanada (which is a must try. It tastes even better than that of Laoag’s), rice cake or Ilocos bibingka, and Chichacorn.

There was still so much to see and experience in Vigan, although the luxury of time was the one important thing we lacked.. we went there for a day tour and being the snoozeheads that we were, we started the trip an hour behind schedule. We reluctantly headed back to Laoag to catch our flight back to Manila.

So if ever I’d still have some moolah and time to spare in the near future, I’d definitely go back to Vigan.

boracay is not it for nothing

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In a weird but very much welcome stroke of luck, i got dragged to boracay on two separate occasions. Everyone knows about Boracay, not a single Filipino soul didn’t want to go there. My experience wasn’t so smooth-sailing, however, and my Bora travel accounts will be tainted by a hint of bitterness at the uncooperative weather conditions that welcomed us when we arrived on a rainy night after a 7-hour bumpy bus ride from Iloilo. We had a flat tricycle tire and it took us eons to find our cheap but decent place (’twas called Seabird, located in Station One) arranged by our very accommodating aunt who happens to live in the island. That night, my gang was too tired and pissed to actually revel at the beauty of a Boracay night but I would stop at nothing to make the most out of this trip. So off I went to take a look at the infamous Boracay sandcastle. I felt awed enough to actually hand over some moolah to the master behind the soaked, nonetheless pretty, masterpiece.

Some say Boracay’s overrated. It could be true, but being the wide-eyed novice traveler that I was, I found it so painfully beautiful in daylight, its white sandy beaches and glistening blue waters leaving me practically stunned. I’ve never seen something quite that pretty before in real life. I was starstruck. It was a blissful moment.

Bora’s waters are cool and shallow. It’s not too much of a dangerous thing to go a couple of extra meters from the safety of the shore. Those who’d want to have a close encounter with little water creatures will have a blast. It’s just bad that I do get scared to the core even with tiny, colorful, playful fishes. It sucks.

There are a few food places a little farther from the shorelines that are easy on the pocket if you’re in for some carinderia ambience. But being first timers, we wanted to splurge a little, so we ate at Shenna’s Beach Resort and Restaurant at the seaside. The food wasn’t spectacular, but it’s not bad either. We ate chicken schnitzel, fish fillet, and sweet and sour chicken and drank some fizzy soda. The next day, we strolled along D’ Mall and bought some yummy, calorie-packed crepes.

Well, leaving Boracay is something we’re not too keen about. But we’re too broke to stay. Bloody great.

In its entirety, my Boracay experience has been really memorable. “Boracay na naman!”, I often hear people say. But I’m pretty sure there is a handful of good reasons keeping the people interested. It may not be the most virgin, moreso the most quiet, beach in the planet. But that part in us that loves to party should, at times, be allowed to take over. We can all just let go in sheer abandon and enjoy what the island has to offer for surely, it’ll not be the famous BORACAY for nothing.

iloilo loco

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Iloilo Loco

October – November 2007

Amidst the fast-paced, hurried, urban life I have been used to, I always have to resist the impulse of buying me a roundtrip ticket to Iloilo for a much-deserved break. I trace my roots to this wonderful Panay province of fond childhood memories.

The new Iloilo airport at Sta. Barbara exudes class and swagger. Upon touchdown, we just had to take some pictures.

We headed straight to our aged-but-rocking-it home right smack in the heart of the vast expanse of rice paddies. It’s a wonderful nostalgic moment.

emo cousin

emo cousin

the moldy, nonchalant cactus

the moldy, nonchalant, backyard cactus

the zoomed rotting wall

stuck in a rot : the zoomed rotting wall

the lovely green hue

the lovely green hue

sleeping cousin

sleeping cousin

Of course, the trip won’t be complete without a tour around town. We went to a couple of old churches on board the ever-reliable owner type jeep.

molo church

molo church

molo church, up close

molo church, up close

jaro church

jaro church

…And me with the rest of the gang on a plaza in front of Molo Church.

amoy gas kami

amoy gas kami

Several days into our vacation, and our trips to the city grew more and more frequent. Maybe it’s the urban soul in us craving for sound, pace, and malls. However, the reasonable time I spent in our laidback, rural lair genuinely made me stop, think, and feel grateful for having had to experience the best of both worlds.🙂