Tuesday, November 30, 2010

escape pagbilao

the mud didn't stop us from trekking, the rain didn't stop us from swimming. a beach year-ender trip during the weekend with Nina, Chid, Che, Jeng, Gerard, Jarvik, Jonee and Upper. the whole post of Escape Pagbilao comes by end of this year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

it ain't all in japanese after all

equipped with a map of Tokyo's train network, an Ipod, a guide for the transfer from Narita International Airport to the hotel, and a small Japanese book on an early flight to Japan kept me busy for the entire four-hour trip crossing the East China sea.as the plane was descending, a wide flat field with thriving trees under a humid climate came into view from the window. a first look of an archipelago with great cultural wealth and big technological industries. the Land of the Rising Sun.with all the instruction on my guide for the transfer from Narita to Tokyo, i expected a complex and busy airport. but in contrast to this, the airport was so systematic that despite being one of the largest hub, it was not difficult to move around as signs were also in English. it ain't all in Japanese after all.though Haneda Airport which is also known as Tokyo International Airport is the closest airport to the city, Narita International Airport handles the most number of international flights making it the central gateway to Tokyo from the rest of the world.
one can take a cab, a bus or a train to get to Tokyo from here. the 50minute bus as convenient which at the same time gives a nice view of a transition from wide green fields to the urban city of Tokyo. the escape Japan series begins here. a great experience of both the old and modern Japan. with the words "arigato" and "wakaranai" as the only word that i had in mind when i arrived in Tokyo.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

escape pagbilao

if it is white sand beach with a bit of trekking (15minutes) to a secluded beach... i say it should be this beach in Pagbilao. i never knew that there's a beach in Quezon this nice where one can explore without taking a boat trip.
to end this year, i decided to open this trip to the readers of eskapo and to everyone who simply wanted to escape from the busy streets of Manila.
here are the trip details:


what: Escape Pagbilao
when: Nov 28, 2010
where: Pagbilao Quezon
how much: P1,100
includes: transportation and lunch

van leaves Shell Mckinley (Makati) at 5:00am and back to Makati by 9:00pm. deadline of confirmation will be on nov 23.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

what you need to know about alibijaban

my two guides were not wearing slippers even after we saw several sea urchins while crossing the long beach coast of Alibijaban island. it's not that they don't have slippers, in fact they were carrying their slippers.the kapitana assigned two kids to guide me in the East side of the island and explore more what they claim as their island paradise. so if you thought you've seen what Alibijaban is about on my last post, think again. here are some things you need to know about this island.
it isn't unexplored but not exploited. very few knew that as early as 1981, Alibijaban island was already declared as a wilderness area covering an area of 430hectares. a secret well kept by the province of Quezon. expect sandbars.the small community in the island is composed of Tagalogs but majority are Bisaya. this was a big surprise for me that even their kapitana is Bisaya. this though did not create major conflict as they stand together in preserving the islands natural resources.don't be surprised if you learn from the locals that some sea turtles visit the island. this island being part of Ragay gulf is home to some endemic sea creatures and a large part of the area is still covered by mangroves. didn't have the chance to snorkel but by the look of the water from the boat, you know that snorkel is a great activity.
almost the entire island is flat but not plain. if you expect it just to be plain white sand island beach with coconut trees in the middle, explore the island by walking. one of my favorite spot is the wooden boat remains in its Eastern coast.after a long walk, i was convinced with the idea of the kapitana of placing a welcome arch that says "welcome to an island paradise" and let me add "an island of nice people".how to get there:
take a bus to Lucena Grand Terminal and take a bus going to San Andres. this will take about 5-6hours or best yet to take the van in SM Lucena which also goes directly to San Andres. this trip will just be around 4hours - i recommend this option.

location:
island: Alibijaban
province: Quezon
boat take off point: San Andres, Quezon

escape factor:
boat trip experience: 3.0
beachscape: 4.0
beach sand: 4.0
seclusion: 4.5
overall escape factor: 4.0

GPS location
13^ 20' 30.48" N
122^ 43' 8.6" E

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

eskapo open beach trip

ending another great year in travel with a beach trip and a metro outdoor open invites. to start is an open beach trip to my favorite beach in Quezon province which is just around 3hours road trip from Manila.it will be a day trip on Nov 28 (Sunday) since Nov 29 is a holiday. we'll leave Manila at 3:00am and back by 10:00pm. for those interested, email me at i.dongho@gmail.com.

for those who can't get out of Manila watch out for the outdoor open invite within the Metro. this will be sometime December. posting details soon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

alibijaban island

i went there without knowing anyone in the island but with a goal to find and meet the kapitana, the village's chieftain. with almost indefinite schedule of boat trips, i had to rent a small boat from a local who was buying some goods in the coastal town of San Andres.
a view of the island's white sand strip from the town port and a mere 30-minute boat ride to the island was just perfect to beam up the excitement. there, one would have to wait for the boat man to buy the gasoline needed for the trip.a blue sky alone on a rainy season was already a rewarding. just when we reached the islands coast, i immediately asked if the kapitana was there as if i've known her for quite some time. a typical Philippine fishing village with boats lined up along the coast and nipa huts behind coconut trees.with an island name that's so unusual, i asked the boat man how they call it and said it's commonly pronounced as "Alibihaban" pointing to one of the boats with a name spelled as how they call it.the island with a small community has kept its white sand coast clean and beautiful. a local said that they maintain it this clean and would usually be untidy on very few occasions which happens after a typhoon has swept the gulf.as the boatman led me to the house of the kapitana, i can't help but miss my own island province. the island has a school right beside the beach with classrooms under beautiful shading trees. just imagine a school with a beach as the playground. a group of people under one huge tree waved at me with smiles like they were expecting me. in contrast to some of the residents of the coastal town of San Andres who were a bit hesitant in seeing a stranger with a camera.when we reached the chieftain's house, kids beside a mini shop requested for a group shot with smiles which reflected natural and genuine Filipino hospitality. as we went in their backyard, the kapitana welcomed me and immediatley asked if i'm from an environmental group. i said "no. i'm just here to explore the island" and she smiled.the kapitana introduced me to some of the locals and introduced me to them as the engineer, as they would usually refer the visitors of the island through their profession. we had a chat as she was curious how i discovered the island and what led me to visiting it.after that chat, she asked one person to bring me around the nearby beach line. and when we returned, a special seafood meal from the day's catch was served over a bamboo table. again, i ended up realizing that beyond beautiful island beaches, the people's hospitality are its most priceless gem.photo above of a lady is the Kapitana Editha Paghubasan who personally wants to invite people to visit the island. just look for her when you visit the island.

location:island: Alibijaban
province: Quezon
boat take off point: San Andres, Quezon

escape factor:boat trip experience: 3.0
beachscape: 4.0
beach sand: 4.0
seclusion: 4.5
overall escape factor: 4.0

GPS location
13^ 20' 30.48" N
122^ 43' 8.6" E

Saturday, November 6, 2010

the quezon less seen

that was on a Saturday on a three day long weekend when i decided to explore this island which i discovered through Google Earth. took a three-hour bus ride to Lucena, Quezon province's capital city. only to learn that from Lucena it takes another six hours bus trip.
if there's something that pulls out this part of Quezon province from the rest of its popular towns, it would be its isolation from Maharlika highway. i almost decided not to proceed as i though it would just be 3hours max from Lucena. i took the chance, i can't deny the island of Alibijaban was just something too bad to miss. it's this kind of trip where when you board a ride, everyone seems to know each other but you. so when they ask, "who are you visiting there?" all that i can answer is "i am going to Alibijaban island".
one thing great about going solo, you don't have someone to talk to but the locals... for a six-hour road trip. passing by the towns of Pagbilao, P. Burgos, Agdangan, Unisan, Pitogo, Macalelon, General Luna, Catanauan, San Narciso, Mulanay then finally San Andres, the take-off point to the island.majority of the trip, we passed by concrete roads and some which were still being paved. within a year, for sure trips there will be faster. main transportation between towns are tricycles, which somehow serves like a jeepney by the look of the number of people that it accommodates.it took rounds of songs on my playlist and some chat with some of the passengers. they gave an idea of what was in their town and the island but they were a bit hesitant. just to discover, that it was actually very rare to see a stranger going to their town.arrived at 7:00pm to the town of San Andres, it was too late for me to cross to the island. so i decided to stay overnight with a family who welcomed me to their home. an early boat trip to the island the next day deserved a good sleep.

location:
island: Luzon island
town: San Andres, Quezon

GPS location
13^ 19' 22.3" N
122^ 40' 38.0" E

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ever heard of this island?

have you tried searching for an island through Google Earth and found something interesting and decided to explore it? i've been doing this in search for some of the best islands in the country. when i first saw this island, i was immediately drawn to discover it. here's a short series of a trip to an island less explored and often missed out town that's few miles off the shore of Luzon island. have you ever heard of Alibijaban island?

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