Category: Travel (Byahe ni Dewo)


Okay, this post is long overdue (same with the rest of my travels for the past 5 years that never made it to this blog as of yet haha).

I booked a trip to Japan via Cebu Pacific 9 months prior because of a promo (only Php6800 round-trip). Back then (December 2014), they still have fuel surcharge so it’s really a very good deal. The trip I booked was not until September 2015 and this was supposedly a solo trip. I initially planned on backpacking in Japan for the 1st time and avail of the Japan Rail Pass for one week.

Lo and behold, my brother and 4 more friends joined me in this trip. I didn’t get to do my original plan but I can tell you that it’s six times the fun with these folks.

Here’s a quick preview of the 1st leg of our Japan trip and of course the 1st stop is no other than Tokyo, the country’s capital. We also visited Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya afterwards.

Before my 1st trip to El Nido, Palawan last year (September 2016), I’ve been to Palawan 3 times but in other areas (once in Puerto Princesa and twice in Coron). If you will ask me which one is my favorite, I can say El Nido right now but that’s not final because San Vicente and Amanpulo are still in my bucket list.

This was a post birthday trip and we stayed in El Nido Resorts’ Pangulasian Island. Trip Advisor ranked this as the #1 resort not only in Palawan but in the Philippines. After spending 3 days there, I will have to agree. It feels like Paradise!

This amateur video won’t give enough justice to describe this experience but I’m just gonna give it a try. At least I had a great time using Quik (the GoPro video editing app) for the 1st time. 🙂

I’m a newbie in video editing and I only used a video editing app from my iPhone. I’ll update this post with my detailed review of my Staycation in one of the newest hotels in Manila. I’ve stayed for my birthday September of last year and I totally loved it. I’m hoping to go back again this year.

Meanwhile, just check out the video below.

I came from Bulacan and I’ve been living in Metro Manila since college days from 1999 to present (yes it’s been almost 2 decades) so believe me when I tell you that when you talk about horrible traffic, toxic noise and pollution, overcrowded places and the like; I totally understand and feel what you mean.

Staycation

Living in the city (I reside in Makati) has its own pros and cons. And yes, urban living can be really stressful especially  I you can’t get that much needed vacation or out of town/country trips. But sometimes, a break from your daily routine is the very thing you need like enjoying a weekend outside your own place but still within the city. Yes, I mean trying to have some staycation.

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What are you waiting for? Let’s go! 🙂

Selling Period: March 15 – 19, 2017

exPH INT LP Banner

PAL Anniversary Seat Sale 2017 (Domestic)

PAL Anniversary Seat Sale 2017 (International)

img_3570This blog was last updated in 2010 or 6 yrs. ago when I still have all the time in the world to write about stuff haha. I’m still very busy with a full-time corporate job, a start-up travel agency and of course I’ve been traveling locally and abroad. I guess if you’re really passionate about something, you can (should) always find time to do it.

My goal is to feature a previous travel adventure/destination at least once a month and hopefully increase the frequency soon.

Friends and travel mates, let me know what you want to see first by choosing from the choices below. The top location (1 each for local and international) will be featured by the end of the month (hopefully :))

Local

  1. Canyoneering in Cebu
  2. El Nido, Palawan
  3. Manila Staycation Ideas
  4. Trek to Kalinga (Buscalan Village) – Meeting Wang-Od
  5. Caving Adventure in Pinipisakan Falls, Samar
  6. Beach Glamping Experience
  7. Top Beaches in the Philippines
  8. Sagada, Mountain Province

 

International

  1. Phuket, Thailand
  2. Bagan, Myanmar
  3. California (Los Angeles or San Francisco)
  4. San Antonio, Texas
  5. Dubai
  6. Sri Lanka Journey
  7. Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya)
  8. Xi’an, China (Terracota Warriors)
  9. Seam Reap, Cambodia
  10. Taiwan

 

Let me know! 🙂

He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. – Psalm 72:8 (NIV)

I turned 28 years old last month. A turning point in anyone’s life could be a major decision like going abroad, starting a family, venturing into a new business or for me; it’s a simple as discovering new things that you can be really passionate about such as diving.

Several months back, When AirPhil Express offered a round trip ticket from Manila to Davao for just 1,000 pesos; I booked a flight right away and contacted my Aunt whose family resides in Davao to let her know that I’m going there for a vacation. It’s either I climb Mt. Apo or I go for an open water diving certification; the latter I have been planning to do for more than a year now. My uncle, who is a certified diving instructor, offered his services so I started to see one of my dreams coming into reality.

DAY 1 started with the pool training in the morning and then we finished in the afternoon with a lecture to go over some of the important modules in the manual. Since there are only 2 students, we finished earlier than expected. The good thing is I was able to read the SDI training manual prior to the actual training. I had a hard time with the skills training on clearing the mask. Whenever I try to blow the water out, I keep on blowing from my mouth. Well, my uncle was very patient so I successfully did it after several tries. It’s really hard at the start to get yourself accustomed to breathing under water even if you are just under the pool and only a few feet deep. Well, the real adventure starts in the ocean.

DAY 2 started early for us to catch the diving boat courtesy of Carabao Diving Center. It is one of the newest diving centers in Davao City but they have gained the #1 status already. If you are looking for cheap buys, my uncle said this is the place you should visit. He was right! I got a pair of boots for just 1,000 pesos.

We went to Talikud Island, southwest from the famous Samal Island, and visited two diving sites. Just around 1 hour away, we started with Coral Gardens. It is famous for its sandy sea floor and base slopes. We had our first open water skills training here and we went as deep as 16.8 meters and stayed under the water for 39 minutes. Not bad for a beginner! Next stop is the Dapia dive site. I really had a hard time equalizing and my ears started to hurt but I managed to to go as deep as 20.8 meters. This one lasted for 44 minutes. This place has an amazing coral gardens and coral covered reefs. We tried to search for sea horses and although we did not find any, we had a feast of other sea creatures.

One of the cheapest open water diving certification in the country

DAY 3 – we went to Samal Island and again visited 2 diving sites to finish our certification. The first stop is San Juan. I’m not sure but I think this is the place where I found nemo and saw a sea snake for the first time in my life. We went as deep as 20 meters and the dive lasted 51 minutes. Lastly, we went to Marissa 2. The Marissa Dive site is actually 3 dive spots (1, 2 and 3) located southeast of Samal Island near Pearl Farm. It is a whole new world of unique deep sea features visible even at a shallow depth. The last dive was my deepest dive at 21.6 meters but my shortest dive because it only lasted for 27 minutes. Long story but let’s just say that I have to make an emergency ascent because of equipment malfunction.

My uncle trying to prevent me from ascending

Finding Nemo

My diving buddy Xandra and myself learning how to signal OK

The poisonous sea snake! Contrary to popular beliefs, this sea creature is very passive.

You can access my Multiply page to view more of the diving pictures.

My 28th birthday was the day I got certified as a diver. It was the same day when I literally ran out of air 10 meters deep and halfway through the dive because of an equipment malfunction. Thank God I managed to ascend just in time when the gauge showed 0% oxygen content.

Below is a video of “Still” – one of my all-time favorite songs courtesy of Hillsong Church. This video reminds me of one of my other struggles in the diving certification and that is trying to remain neutrally buoyant. A lot of times during the dive, I can’t keep myself from ascending. My uncle said, just remain calm and be still and you should see yourself go down in a few. It works! This song teaches us that despite our busy schedule wherein we are so much preoccupied with a lot of things and despite the daily challenges that we are facing, there is a God out there who can calm the raging seas and work in our lives. Under the water, I felt closer to God. I felt His creations spoke His majesty. Under the water, I have learned to be Still and experienced the beauty of God’s marvelous underwater creations.

The LORD does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. – NLT

A lot of my friends already asked me to visit other countries especially in the South East Asian region since they knew that I love to travel. I always say I wanted to and I think I can afford especially with the airfare promos being offered left and right. However, there’s only one reason why I can’t right now. I still don’t have a passport!

My friends are oftentimes surprised why I still don’t have one. I intend to but I have one major reason why I still can’t find myself in the DFA office. I don’t feel the urge yet to travel outside the Philippines given that I still have a lot of places to visit here. I started the passion to travel 2 years ago and since then I became an advocate of local tourism. My parents always ask me to limit it and start saving up for my future. However, the travels that I have made so far, although tiring, always make me feel rejuvenated with all the stress at work. I don’t think I will last working at night for almost 7 years now without it. After every trip, I always stand in awe of God’s creations. I could not thank Him enough for giving me eyes to explore the wonders of nature.

Since I can’t sleep, I tried to list down all the places I have been to so far. I hope I can still remember everything. I still feel I have not traveled a lot compared to my friend Aileen. My list is nothing compared to her LOL.

  • May 2006 – General Santos and Davao City (with side trip to South Cotabato) – my first airplane experience via Cebu Pacific with Rose, Echel, Israel, Kathleen, Jodi and Ate Dess. I went to Davao just for 1 day then traveled to General Santos City for a short-term missions trip. I won’t forget the buffet meal in Davao city for just 100 pesos and the taxi drivers who will give you your change even if it’s just 1 peso.

  • November 2007 – Bicol Region by land. My longest land travel up until now. Of course, we went to the Cagsawa Church Ruins and climbed up to 2/3 of Mt. Mayon by car. The food was really great in this part of the country!

  • July 2008 – Boracay Island, Aklan Province – my first real vacation via Sea Air with my cousin Zeiy and my brother Meldrin. I even re-booked my ticket to stay for one more day just to try para-sailing!

  • March 2009 – Coron Island, Palawan (Busuanga) – my first vacation via Zest Air with my Mom and brother Gerald and still with Zeiy and Meldrin. I’m planning to go back there next year and try the diving sites. My first fun hike at Mt. Tapyas happened on the 1st day then we went to Maquinit Springs, the only saltwater lake in the Philippines. Siete Pecados I think is the one of the best snorkling site in Palawan. We also went to Kayangan Lake, the cleanest lake in the Philippines, Awesome!

  • June 2009 – Bohol Island – same group of people as Coron’s but now with Zeiy’s husband (her boyfriend back then). My first PAL experience (Philippine Airlines). This place is famous for Chocolate Hills, the Philippine Tarsiers (I think the smallest monkey in the world) and the white beach of Panglao.

  • September 2009 – Boracay Island – my 2nd visit to the island to celebrate my birthday with Gladys, Robin, Elai, Caloy, Echel and Elo.

  • November 2009 – Calbiga, Samar (with road trips to Calbayog and Catbalogan City, Samar) with Aileen, C2, Paolo, Xian, Lei and Erwin.. I only booked my flight 2 days before the trip. This was the first time that my plane left me because I went to the wrong terminal. I can say that this is the most extreme adventure I ever had by living inside the cave for 2 days. We explored the Longun-Gobingob caves, the largest karst formation in Southeast Asia. Despite all the challenges, I’m planning to go back there on October.

  • January 2010 – Caramoan Island and CWC Watersports Complex, Camarines Sur with the Calbiga group less Erwin but plus my brother Meldrin and Berto. Caramoan Island was great but it was raining when we visited. I definitely want to go back there. We had fun in CWC trying wakeboarding for the first time. I think I’m athletic but this is definitely not my sport!

  • February 2010 – Puerto Princesa, Palawan. First time to be with my family except for my brother Gerald. We went there along with my brother Derick and his wife Jodi, my brother Meldrin and my parents. Of course we went to Honda Bay for snorkling and to the Underground River.

  • May 2010 – Batanes Island with Jaja. We got a buy 1 take 1 Seair promo from a Travel Expo. It’s a totally different world out there. Check my related post for this trip.

  • June 2010 – Tacloban City, Leyte and Jiabong, Eastern Samar plus a trip to Calicoan Island Western Samar – with Aileen, Berto, Xian, Paolo and my brother Meldrin. This was our 2nd caving adventure. Aside from spelunking, the food trip is indeed worthwhile but the road trip was very tiring. We went to Stefanies to try the buffet twice. This is a must when going to Tacloban.

Future Trips

  • August 2010 – Dumaguete and Siquijor
  • September 2010 – Davao to learn scuba diving
  • October 2010 – back to Samar f0r 3rd spelunking adventure

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1 NIV)

After experiencing a very hot weather for the past several months, it started raining again in Manila. The weather bureau predicted that the rainy season will start next month. It’s a good thing that I got a chance to travel to an island in the Northern part of Luzon prior to the typhoon season. Of all the places I have visited so far, I can say that this is one of the best in terms of breathtaking views and scenery (Coron, Palawan is my other favorite). I am talking about no other than the island of Batanes.

I stayed in the island for 4 days and 3 nights (May 29-June 1, 2010) so this post will be the 1st of the series of blogs about this adventure. I can think of so many things to write about (the itinerary, the food, the culture/people and the accommodation) but I will try to finish everything in 4 parts.

Jaja and I bought the airline ticket as part of the SEAIR promo in a travel expo in SMX back in February. The deal was buy one take one so we booked it even with hesitations not knowing if we can really travel at the specified dates. On board a 30-seater Dornier plane via SEAIR, we left Manila at 8AM last May 29. The flight was 10 minutes ahead of schedule and we arrived in the Basco, Batanes airport almost 30 minutes ahead of the estimated arrival. We were picked up by our hotel service and arrived at Hiro’s Cafe at 10AM. Our contact there is Ms. Lydia (contact number 0915-940-4823). She was very accommodating and since our rooms are not yet ready because of the earlier arrival, she offered brunch for free. We had Tocilog as our first meal in the island.

After the meal, we went to Batanes Seaside Lodge and Restaurant (just 5 minutes away from Hiro’s cafe) for our standard check-in. Given that there’s only 2 of us and the usual rate for accommodation with tours caters to at least a group of 4, we got a real good deal at Php6,000/pax inclusive of room and board, full board meals, island tours and hotel transfers. At noon, we went back to Hiro’s cafe for our lunch. I thought it will just be another meal but to my surprise; they served lobsters, steamed lapu-lapu and more. The meals were served ala carte but the servings are really generous. I thought that this is just the hotel’s way of welcoming guests on the 1st day and then regular meals will be served afterward but I was totally wrong. I will write a full account of the food/cuisine in Batanes with some pictures probably next week. Let’s proceed to our Day 1 itinerary.

After lunch, we were introduced to the rest of the group that will be part of our tour. We have met Rachel and Anne plus the Castro Family (Ishi and her parents Mon and Millie).

We rode a jeepney and went towards the North of Basco at the Department of Agrarian Reform Beneficiary land, overlooking the rocky beach of Chadpidan, facing northen Island towards Taipei viewing the pastureland of the Ivatan Folks. The first stop was what they called the “Rolling Hills” wherein the ridges at the boundaries are with similarities to the pasture land of Holland.

Nice view of the rolling hills in Batan Island, Batanes with Anne and Rachel, the Castro family (Millie, Ishi and Mon), Jaja and myself

We then went to a beach with very large rock formations. The place is not suitable for swimming because of strong waves but a great view for photo shoot and our local tour guide Nelson calls the place “border/boulder beach”. I never had a chancee to confirm which is correct. I am still waiting for some more pictures from my friend but here’s a mono view of the place courtesy of Ironwulf.net.

The last stop for Day 1 was the Light House in Basco with breath taking view on its surroundings. We were supposed to go to Chanpan Fishing Village in Valugan (facing the Pacific Ocean) but it started raining and we had to walk around 1 kilomoter, the group decided to finish the tour at the lighthouse. We tried to climb the lighthouse to take some more pictures on top but the windows are closed because of strong winds. The tour guide assured us that there’s nothing to be disappointed about because Day 1 is just the beginning of what Batanes has to offer and there’s a lot more to come. He is exactly right. In the next posts, I will write about our trip to Sabtang Island and it’s unique Ivatan Homes; our visit to the Honesty store and to a grazing land popularly known as Marlboro Country and more.

Batanes Lighthouse

As I look back in my recent trip, I can’t help but thank God for His marvelous works. The song by Third Day that was also performed by Chris Tomlin (he just visited Manila last month) entitled “God of Wonders” speaks of God’s holiness and majesty through His creations. He is indeed the Lord of heaven and earth; the Lord of Ivatans and the small but awesome island called Batanes!

Coming Soon

Soon to be posted in my travel page – my recent visits this year to Caramoan, Puerto Princesa, Batanes, Siquijor and my past adventures to Boracay, Coron, Bohol and more…

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