Thursday, December 31, 2009

seventeen of my most memorable trips of 2009

here are seventeen of my most memorable trips of 2009. a year filled with great trips along with great travel buddies and unforgettable experience. it was a year of searching the beautiful beaches of Luzon, dropping by historical churches and ancestral houses and journeying some of the country's unusual spots.

[17] Hot Air Balloon (Clark Field, Pampanga)
attending several times now, yet those giant balloons always have that appeal as they easily bring out great photos. this year though was quite different as the inclusion of the powered paragliding which dominated at the end of the balloon show. most likely, i'm still attending this event this year.[16] Old and Historical (Liliw and Nagcarlan, Laguna)
one of the most famous daytrips in Luzon would be a trip around the old and historical towns of Laguna. this year, we made stops at two towns Liliw and Nagcarlan. the underground cemetery remains to have stories of a hidden deeper and longer path. good that it is now under the National Historical Institute and still owned by the church.[15] Power Palace and a Shot of Beer (San Miguel, Manila)
invited by the witty and friendly Ivan Man Dy for a trip inside the president's compound, the Malacanang palace. their tour of Old Manila Walks is highly recommended as they have some of the secrets or less-known facts of Manila. the guided tour ended with delicious and heavy merienda at La Cocina de Tita Moning.[14] Around Gaspar Island (Buenavista, Marinduque)
our sidetrip after the Moriones festival was one of the three islands of Marinduque. this island has a pebble bar beach on its main docking area but a trip around the island will expose some secluded beach coast with fine white sand and crystal clear waters. our guide even mentioned that there's a cave on one side of the island.[13] Heritage Town of Taal (Taal, Batangas)
walking around this this town with several ancestral house well preserved or refurbished. one of which is the Villavicencio house, considered to be unique because of its design and color. but one couldn't miss out dropping by the country's biggest church and the miraculous church of Caysasay. we had our chance to get to the bell tower where one can see the whole town of Taal.[12] Trekking Pinatubo (Capas, Tarlac)
twice this year yet different from each trip as i was with two different groups and with changes on the area in just a span of eight months. the highlight of the last trip was the 4x4 race ride which will be posted soon. this crater lake never fail to amaze me. still as stunning though the development in one way will disappoint those who crave for adventure.[11] Diplomat Hotel in Baguio (Mirador hill, Baguio)
went there to bring my cousin and tour around the usual spots yet included two of the unusual stops. one is the Maryknoll Ecological Park, a walk following a route that displays each stage of how the universe was formed but one of my favorite stop was the ruins of the Diplomat Hotel. intrigued by the rumors of it being haunted yet ended up appreciating its structure.[10] Dasol and Around (Dasol, Pangasinan)
not one of the usual beach trips as main concern would be accessibility. what made it more challenging was we traveled in the area at night while it was raining so hard. a boat trip to an island and some other beach coast was fine but there was not much to see. the partly submerged wooden wreck captured my attention the most.[9] Tondol Beach (Anda, Pangasinan)
our community's summer outing there was one of the best as we rented one big house. we arrived there at night and it was only in the morning, when we saw this beach with crystal clear waters. some parts were already developed yet the beach is at its best during sunset when the water recedes and expands its low level flat area. cross the island and it will complete your Tondol beach experience.[8] Hidden Pagbilao Beach (Pagbilao, Quezon)
an unexpected and unplanned trip. it was when we were in Cagbalete island that a group invited us to join them to a beach in Quezon. hidden behind hills is this private owned beach. whether you stay in the cottages or just merely sit down below the coconut trees, you'll love the view. an add on to the beautiful beach is a small cave. perfect for swimming.[7] Exploring Cagbalete Island (Cagbalete, Quezon)
one of the destinations that i made sure i'll explore that year. an hour away from the coastal town of Mauban. the docking area has a beach with houses along its shoreline, which destroyed what could have been a very beautiful beach. in contrast, the other side of the island looked untouched. an area with pine trees lined up along its shoreline is my favorite. it has one of the largest area of sand ripples during low tide and the flat rocks are mysterious to me.[6] Mairaira Beach and Around(Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte)
it is where the mountains meet the beach. a beach so beautiful which is now gaining popularity, more known as Blue Lagoon for its bluish shore during summer. great waves during the rainy season transforms it to a surfing haven. the view around it are beautiful, drop by the nearby Bantay Abot to get a view of Patapat's coastal highway. sand are not as white but the great view compensates it.[5] Moriones Festival in Marinduque (Boac, Marinduque)
authentic that its origins rooted from way back. now it is a mix of devotion, tradition and a festival. mainly based on the story of the conversion of the Roman soldier Longinus. hundreds of this masked person can be found around town during the festival that happens in several towns. one of the best festival i've been. not so loud beats makes this festival interesting, you have to be there and experience it.[4] Halsema Highway (Benguet and Mountain province)
i consider this as my best six hour drive ever since i started traveling. the views are stunning from rice paddies, pine trees on steep mountain edges, the unusual house walls, view of Chico river and mountains covered with fogs. to journey on each of the towns along the way will be my next goal. it is also considered as the highest highway in the country.[3] Spelunking in Sagada (Sagada, Mountain province)
four hours inside the country's deepest cave, this one you shouldn't miss. technically challenging yet very fulfilling once you completed the cave connection from Lumiang cave to Sumaguing cave. but an option to do just Sumaguing will be still be rewarding as the rock formations are amazing. Sagada as a whole is a great place for those who enjoy trekking and food tripping.[2] Kapurpurawan Rock Formation (Burgos, Ilocos Norte)
naturally beautiful formations of this large coastal rock located along the coast of the town of Burgos. also secluded that one needs to take a torturous tricycle ride from the highway. but it's not the only thing one can see there. its environment itself is quite unique. the plants, the rocky hills are amazing. not the usual view one can get anywhere.[1] Batad Rice Terraces (Banaue, Ifugao)
the country's greatest man-made structure built as a livelihood and ended up to be one of the world's most admired community. it has sustained the method of rice terracing at exceedingly high levels. if one looks at the rocks that holds the paddies, you won't believe how those rocks were brought to the top without any modern construction equipments. it reveals the country's splendor. other rice terraces in the province of Ifugao are unique from each other giving us enough reason to go back there again and again.the whole week will be dedicated to Eskapo's second anniversary. up next my second anniversary post with a list of all those who travelled with me and followed this blog.

Monday, December 28, 2009

batad rice terraces

i can't believe that we were already walking along edges of the rice paddies, the country's greatest man made structure. built thousands of years at a stunning height. i didn't imagine it to be that high.Batad's famous giant amphitheater is even higher than The Colosseum in Rome and even older. our ancestors in this part of the archipelago were building this as a livelihood not knowing they were building a great world wonder."The Ifugao Rice Terraces are the priceless contribution of Philippine ancestors to humanity" as UNESCO states in its website and even considers it a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty. this statement made me so proud to be a Filipino.this reflects not just the ingenuity of the Ifugaos but the community that stood to preserve it. though it is now in the list of the world heritage in danger, i believe it will retain through the community's effort and support from the Filipinos.a path was made with some parts paved to protect the paddies and to limit unnecessary routes that leads to some of its delicate areas. there are few cottages along the main path mostly open shelters. a walk along the main walkway gives different views of the terraces. all equally awesome. our awesome Philippines.

Friday, December 25, 2009

a trek from batad's saddle

a view of the mountain range in Batad from the saddle reveals a great topography of Ifugao province. formed over years from earth's natural movement of its lithosperic plates.after an hour trip from Banaue central, we reached the saddle, Batad's drop off point for the trek down the steep cliff that leads to the village. one has the option to take a jeep, a van or a tricycle which i don't recommend to get to the saddle.a long part of the rice paddies can already be seen from here. those houses as seen in the photo above shows us where we are headed. expected trek time is 45minutes. wooden walking sticks are available here, it helps one to trek down safely.we wasted no time and started our way down. though there is not much to see along the way, a good company won't make this trek dragging. some areas are already cemented, but majority of the way are unpaved.you'll pass by small shelters that either offers a plain seat or sometimes with comfort rooms. almost halfway down, you'll find a souvenir shop. though at times it's closed. an invitation from a local to eat bettel nuts won't be unusual.spot views of paddies can be viewed along the way, showing bits of what was ahead of us. there's not much effort needed going down but i recommend that you pack light as the way back won't be easy. a sign that we were now approaching the village, is a cemented walkway which leads to a curve. we were also walking along the houses that we've seen from the saddle. and just few minutes from there, reveals the world famous Batad amphitheater. which comes up next. the a view of the 2000 year old rice paddies. for the contest in the previous post, i'm now revealing the winners! it was quite hard choosing as you did proved to be deserving. so the Peruvian hat goes to the following:

"what I'm thinking is baka eto na ang aking magiging lucky charm ko sa pagtra-travel" - Cyndirellaz

"i deserve that peruvian hat because i know it will look good on me and it will be my newest travel buddy for the coming year and the next, and the next." - Carlotta

and decided to give one more since it's Christmas.

"I deserve that peruvian hat because I haven't received any gifts yet. Seriously. " - Leoj

email me at i.dongho@gmail.com to check out how you'll claim your prize. thank you to all those who participated and have a blessed Christmas!

maligayang pasko! - you think you deserve this?

definitely the happiest season of the year, as we spend time with our family. people would travel back to their province for a reunion and celebrate one of the most important feast. but above all these, let's value the simplicity of how Christ was born in a manger. let not big celebrations and lots of money define this season. our humble heart and cheerful spirit will be more than enough.eskapo greets you a Merry Christmas! Maligayang Pasko! Felices Pascua! photo above was taken by Erick while we were in Batad rice terraces. this post can't end without giving out something on this day. i'm giving two eskapo Peruvian hats. just let me know why you deserve it. valid only to those within the country. contest runs from Dec 25 12:01 until 11:59pm.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

banaue to batad

crossing along mountain ridges of the Ifugao province was one that i anticipated the whole week before we went to Banaue. i believe the road trip to Cordillera never fail to amaze backpackers like us.on a Friday night, i met ironwulf, lagalog and erick at the Autobus terminal in Espana Manila. we were there on time and even had the chance to befriend Nuno, a backpacker from Portugal who was also going on a trip to Batad.the bus left relatively on time and we decided to rest on this trip to prepare for the treks, which we will be taking the next day. we took the bus bound for Banaue. a nine-hour trip from North of Manila.upon arriving in Banaue, we had our breakfast before taking the trip to Batad, our main destination. since the public jeepney to Batad is still at 3:00pm, we were offered an option to join a Korean family who was rented a van going to Batad's saddle. Batad's drop off point.we agreed with the price though a bit higher than the regular jeepney, still we made a great choice as taking the van was more comfortable. though to best experience there was to ride a jeepney and experience the topload ride.about an hour trip, we were again passing along mountains covered with fog. there were other foreign tourists who were taking the same route to the saddle. mostly backpackers.some parts of the road were still being repaired from landslides which may have been caused by the typhoons that passed months back. makes it unsafe to travel the Cordilleras when a typhoon enters the region.our van would stop once in a while to allow us to take shot of some of the view sites. showcasing rice terraces as if giving us a glimpse of what was ahead of us.coming up next the trek down to Batad's view point. also i'm announcing the winner for the Banaue series contest. the correct answer as to where i lost my favorite bonnet was in Marinduque. many might have guessed Sagada but just a note, i always bring a bonnet every time i travel. two guessed it right and the Tsuper magazine goes to Aline. thanks for all those who joined.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

banaue series - contest

ending the year with the Banaue series by trekking the eight wonder of the world. i was fortunate enough to be able to join again my favorite travel bloggers and photographers erick, ironwulf and lagalog.join this eskapo as we discover why the rice terraces of Ifugao is declared a heritage site by UNESCO. photo above was taken by ironwulf as we trekked along the rice paddies of Batad.

as you might notice, most of the time i wear bonnet, i lost my favorite one on one these trips. can you guess which of this place did i misplaced it?

[a] Cagbalete island
[b] Sagada
[c] Marinduque island
[d] Ilocos Norte

all the entries with cor
rect answers will be included in the raffle to win this extra large travel magazine.the winner gets the second issue of the travel magazine Tsuper which i featured last time. contest runs from 12:01am Monday until 11:49pm Tuesday.

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