Saturday, December 31, 2011

nineteen of my most memorable trips in 2011

the entire year closes with another chapter of unforgettable journeys. from finding enchanting island beaches to celebrating years in trekking. new friends came along the way while treasuring the ones i've traveled again. all these filled a year with my most memorable escapes.

[19] Calm Waters of Pinaitan Beach (Bagac, Bataan) 
place: this place is often set just as a side trip to a visit to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar by day and by night. there are several beaches that the locals would offer but Pinaitan beach was the nicest that i've seen in the area. too bad that some parts of the beach starts accumulating trash coming from the West Philippine Sea.
experience: this beach covers a wide area of low deep beach shore. it looked like a big swimming pool similar to the beach of Tondol in Anda Pangasinan.
the bonus: finding these elevated tree shades on one of the beach coast near Pinaitan.

[18] An Almost Forgotten Town (Lubuagan, Kalinga)
place: a quick look of the houses, you will know that it used to be a booming little town. interesting old structures of houses with rusty dark roofs is the town's value next to its extensive rice terraces. this became the headquarters of the former president Emilio Aguinaldo in 1900.
experience: passing in between these lined houses while on top of the jeepney was memorable. if not of the limited availability of public transportation from Tinglayan to Tabuk, i could have took time exploring the houses.
the bonus: i've never seen acacia trees as many as the ones in the road from Lubuagan to Tabuk.
[17] One Stop. Fresh Air (Iriga, Camarines Sur)
place: after the adrenaline rush from wakeboarding at CWC, all we deserve was a good sleep and fresh air of the province. it was my first time to stay overnight in Iriga as it has always been just a pass-by town. the view of Mt. Iriga from almost any part of the town was just beautiful.
experience: we thought we would end our night eating ice cream and sleep. not until the barangay captain requested to pick us up, with two tricycles, from where we were staying and invited us for a dinner of Bicol's best. a courtesy call. Iriga style.
the bonus: a short walk of our friend's land that showcased pili trees. we brought home our share of pili nuts. 
post/link:
iriga - camarines sur
[16] Family Fun Water Fun (Subic, Zambales)
place: though it would still be best to see dolphins and seal lions in its natural habitat, Ocean Adventure Subic gave the kids the opportunity to be amazed at what these creatures are capable of up close. the facility includes aquariums and amphitheaters featuring sea lions and their fun acts.
experience: what made this trip special was the time together with our nephews and nieces who came from the province. the joy of seeing the dolphins and bottle-nose dolphins. 
the bonus: we made a stopover at The Lighthouse in Subic and waited until sunset.

[15] Food Trip in Lion City (Singapore) 
place: it is a fine city and home to many oriental cuisine. i visited Singapore three times this year because of my work and in every visit, i would try different specialty. one of my favorite is the popular Bak Kut Teh or meat bone tea. the spicier the better. other favorites includes the famous chicken rice, the Indian masala tea with prata and the Morrocan kebab. 
experience: though most would consider Singapore as expensive, the best food are usually found on those restaurants on secluded spots offering cheap but tasty food.
the bonus: i would prefer walking when i go to these places as on the side i would check out some interesting structures like the wall-by-wall shop houses in Arab street and Little India.
[14] Trekking Coastal Hills (Calaguas, Camarines Norte)
place: ever since i visited this island, i can't help but explore more of its topography. on my visit this year, i had the chance to see the Western coast and trekked up a hill that offers a view of two long beach coasts and for the first time realized that the island actually has a small lake on this part. this requires me to update my map of the island.
experience: this time, i was with a group of 25 and despite the odds it was fun.from road trip to boat trip... it was laugh time.
the bonus: we had Carlo and Tina's son Gab with us and also celebrated Carlo's birthday.
[13] Outreach in Pinatubo (Tarlac and Pampanga) 
place: let's say this is the nth time for me to trek this crater lake and i've seen the changes. its famous cyan colored lake was for few months brownish but later regained its famous cyan colored waters.
experience: it was my first time to incorporate outreach for this trip and along with the 31 who join and supported, we were able to distribute used books, used clothes and school supplies to the small aeta community.
the bonus: the site again offers the people to cross to the other side of the lake. view from there is really amazing.
[12] Retracing Old Times (Zamboanga)
place: an old city that is thriving to make a return in regaining more visitors despite the news of bombings. now with some additional developments like the Paseo del Mar, the old charm of Fort Pilar and Pasonanca remains a popular site.
experience: when i was growing up i would often go to Zamboanga as it is just about 30minutes away from Isabela city with a fastcraft to buy comics, toys and game cards but i rarely go to these spots. so returning to retrace back the popular sites of the city was a good experience.
the bonus: it was my first time to visit the stilt houses of Rio Hondo.
posts/links:
[11] Trekking On Grassy Humps Batulao (Nasugbu, Cavite)
place: Batulao's camel back topography is its unique feature. it is beautiful from afar as seen from the church of Caleruega but being on top of its humps gives an even better view. it is quite rare for a mountain to be beautiful from these two perspective.
experience: celebrated my 10th year in trekking here and on that day, the sky and the clouds made a great display of sunset.
the bonus: meeting a 60 year old Japanese who shared his experience of trekking both in Japan and the Philippines. we even surprised us was that he was actually doing a day hike for Batulao.
post/link:
[10] Above The Clouds in Pico de Loro (Ternate, Cavite)
place: the most interesting aspect of this mountain is the trail itself which is composed of downhill and uphill treks. one part of the campsite is covered by several bamboo shoots that adds shade to the site. its most famous feature is its summit with a rock monolith.
experience: this was the second mountain of the first Eskapo Mountain Series. i joined a group of experienced and first time climbers. our descend was memorable as it was raining.
the bonus: we were like above the clouds when we arrived at the camp site. it was the best reward after an hour long assault.
post/link:
[9] Sobrevivimos Batad (Batad, Banaue)
place: one long portion of the terraces was destroyed by the typhoon yet its amphitheater formed paddies remains majestic. trekking over cemented walkways and fascinated at its grandeur.
experience: it was my first time to ride on a topload with almost 20people. we were passing by rough slippery road over steep ravines. we were at the point of deciding to walk rather than continuing the ride but we survived that ride. the night was spent with rice wine and laughter that led to a foreign couple asking us to keep our voice down.
the bonus: we made a sudden turn to visit for the first time the rice terraces of Bangaan. also one of the most interesting terraces of Banaue.

[8] Waterfalls and Pines (Imugan, Nueva Vizcaya)
place: the province of Nueva Vizcaya connects the three major mountain range of Luzon namely Cordillera Mountain Range, Sierra Madre Mountain Range and Caraballo Mountain Range. thus having a great diversity of flora and fauna. among its popular feature is its waterfalls close proximity and the beautiful pine forest of Salacsac.
experience: having to meet Pastor Rice who have a great knowledge of preserving ancestral domain was the highlight of our trip there.
the bonus: despite the occasional rains and drizzle on that day, when we reached the waterfalls, it gave us a perfect timing for a shot of the falls.
posts/links:
he served and loved imugan
imugan - mountain destination
nueva vizcaya - eskapo mountain series 

[7] Mysterious Lake Mapanuepe (Aglao, Zambales)
place: the village that was submerged after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption with the church cross as the only visible pole from the entire village.but apart from the lake, the entire site is a place to behold. with great mountain backdrops and lahar remains still at its vastness.
experience: while waiting for our food which was cooked by a local, we had our chance to play bingo which we never won as they had their own rule of winning. we only realized that after we already finished playing rounds.
the bonus: it was a Sunday when we went there and there was no public transport available to return to the city. but with the help of the village chieftain, we were able to hitchhike with some of the workers who were going back to the city on that day.
[6] Exploring South (Dalaguete, Cebu)
place: there's more to exploring island beaches in the north and churches in the city in Cebu. the south has a combination of this with well preserved century old churches and above all the province's highest peak. Osmena peak rivals the hills of Bohol with an elevated feature thus adding the adventure on reaching its summit.
experience: with just a day hike on our itinerary for the Osmena Peak trek and the idea of capturing sunset. we had to descend and trek by night with a risk of the trek and some unwanted elements.
bonus: we found a humble abode in the barangay hall of Mantalongon to spend the night.
posts/links:
[5] Swimming With The Gentle Giants (Donsol, Sorsogon)
place: a sleepy town turned to a world renowned tourist destination because of the gentle giants that flock Donsol from February to May. it is seasonal as recommended by the locals, it is best to go there on February when the whale sharks are still in large numbers.
experience: the excitement of seeing these giants up close is unexplainable. on some instance it would come so quickly that each moment seeing it from head to tail is just fantastic.
bonus: despite the cloudy skies and going there on May, which is already the beginning of their migration to the North, we manage to see three whale sightings and seven encounters.
post/link:

[4] Home Bound (Isabela, Basilan)
place: filled with diversity of belief and culture. this island province remains on the watch list for tourists yet in exchange of that, this province has preserved its pristine beaches and natural resources. among its highly recommended spot are the wide areas of rubber tree plantations. 
experience: after five years, it was only this year when i had the chance to return to my home province. tagging along bloggers who were interested in taking a peek of Basilan.
bonus: it was my first time to see the old airport which is already damaged. it is located on top of a remote plateau several kilometers away from the city.
posts/links:

[3] Welcoming The Year (Sagada, Mountain Province)
 place: Sagada remains one of my favorite spot for walking and trekking activities matched with some of the best cave system in the country. but even the mere fact of being there and trying the food that Sagada offers is worth it.
experience: going there isn't new to me but finally able to bring my parents made it memorable. celebrated the new year bringing with us the family tradition of eating three raisins to make three wishes plus the experience of dancing with the locals with the beat of the gong. the night i wished i was an igorot.
the bonus: we did the Cordillera loop of Manila-Baguio-Sagada-Bontoc-Banaue-Manila. i should say that this route is one of the best in the country and is also included in the world's list of most unforgettable journeys.
[2] Finding A Family (Tinglayan, Kalinga)
place: the journey itself to this part of the island of Luzon is tough. probably the most dangerous road trip ive had. but the view is stunning from two sides of hills and the winding Chico river. another unique feature of this simple town of Tinglayan is that its livestock including hogs are freely roaming around the village.
experience: it was a trip that we've spent so much time communing with the locals and the town's influential chieftain and a German who married a Filipina. who later established an inn for tourists. we were offered free authentic barako coffee every morning by the locals and finally finding the few remaining women with a traditional tattoo on their body.
i was overwhelmed with the locals treatment that when we left the village after our three-day stay, it felt like i was also leaving my own home.
bonus: i was given a Kalinga name "Pagtan" by the town's oldest chieftain. 
posts/links:  
[1] Backpacking El Nido (El Nido, Palawan)  
place: whether one explores El Nido by boat, by bike or by trekking, one will always end a day in fascination of how this part of the Philippines can be so enchanting. beautiful from  almost any perspective. hopping to a portion of the 45 beach islands. walking to a quarter of the town's land area. cycling as far as one can reach.
experience: I cannot believe that there is indeed a place where I will be awed day by day. I even ended up contemplating of finding a job or just make a silly reason that will require me to stay there. spent each day and night with other backpackers from other countries who shared the same amazement of the islands. plus a time communing with the locals to find some of El Nido's hidden gems.
the bonus: i got a book from a foreign tourist who was also traveling solo. 
posts/links:
looking back at the times of the year when i was lining up to check-in for a flight or for a bus ticket reservation, i realized that all these we learned by following a procedure. but loving the places and relating with people along the way, it comes naturally. something we inherit from Him.

cheers to more escapes in 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

osmena peak

 
just a day before this trek, the group that i was supposed to join, cancelled it due to emergency reasons. but i was there for the weekend for one ultimate goal. to trek Osmena peak. so it must happen even if it takes me to go there alone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

south cebu

i consider Cebu as my second home yet like most locals to their own province, they have not seen its entirety. of the five years that i stayed in Cebu, i never had the chance to explore its Southern side. it was always the beaches of Mactan and the North that i visit.
the South has some of the nicest old churches and the province's highest peak. here to feature the third mountain to the Eskapo Mountain Series and a glimpse of the side of Cebu that i never knew.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

pico de loro trail: mountain series

 
it took me some time to choose the mountain in the Southern Tagalog region for the second trek of Eskapo Mountain Series. a region that envelopes a great number of day hike mountain trails. not until a group posted for an open trip to Pico de Loro, Cavite's most iconic and highest peak.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

el encuentro allan barredo y oggie ramos

if i talk about outstanding outdoor and portrait shots, i'll definitely refer you to Allan and Oggie. dispatched to photo assignments oftentimes featuring landscapes and people. beyond these, great stories always came along with it. here to feature my two good friends and their brief travel profile.
                          
                                                    "el encuentro" 
allan barredo                                         blogger                                             oggie ramos
lantaw                                                      blog                                                       lagalog
incheon, korea                                   farthest north                           mandalay, myanmar
sarangani                                           farthest south                         yogyakarta, indonesia
japan                                                 farthest east                                       bislig, surigao
vietnam                                             farthest west                                  bagan, myanmar

manila to davao                               longest road trip                manila to ilocos (as driver)
manila to gensan                             longest boat trip                  manila to cagayan de oro
manila to seoul                               longest plane trip                           manila toindonesia
tokyo to osaka                                longest train trip                                 hanoi to lao cai

sagada, mountain province                 highest point                                  mt pulog, ifugao
palawan                                            deepest swim                               sandugan , siquijor
mt matutum                                        longest trek                              pinatubo delta trail
mt romelo during typhoon                    hardest trek                                          all of them

camera                                          item/s lost in a trip                             book "the shack"
bow and arrow                memorable item/s given/bought on a trip                   metal nats
live baby octopus, ant eggs               worst food eaten       expensive pa-sosi tasteless food

note: 
1. farthest places reached are referenced from Manila (with Manila to Europe as West and Manila to Guam as East).
2. records here are subject to update. as we know travelers break their records from time to time. records here are updated as of this posting

previously featured:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

salacsac pine forest

haven't seen so many pine cones in an area as much as the ones i've seen in Salacsac. it reminded me of the hills of Sagada less the tourists. a great spot for trekking and photo shoot.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

trekking imugan falls

almost all impressive mountain ranges are gifted with a majestic waterfalls. finding the nicest one could require long walks crossing mountains and muddy trails. oftentimes hidden.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

imugan : mountain destination

 
when we were there, it felt like it was 5:00pm the entire time because of the fog and the sleepy environ. we discovered this place through Ferdz "Ironwulf " Decena who has been to the place several times to cover the carbon trading initiative being done by the community. this time, i went there with Allan "Lantaw" Barredo to give a closer look on this part of Nueva Vizcaya.

Friday, November 4, 2011

mountain series : nueva vizcaya

not much has been known of the province of Nueva Vizcaya. it is the province that connects the three major mountain range of Luzon namely Cordillera Mountain Range, Sierra Madre Mountain Range and Caraballo Mountain Range. thus it has a diverse flora and fauna and has a great mountainscape that includes one of the longest trek route to Mt. Pulag. here is a quick background of my first pick of the mountain series.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

eskapo mountain series

trekking has never been better ever since i started ten years back. each peak reached imposes a unique challenge on its terrain. but it's not all about its topography. trekking is also about people behind each trek and the culture that surrounds the elevated land. eskapo mountain series will feature four mountains which i'll be trekking week by week in five weeks.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

this sleepy town - el nido

El Nido is a sleepy town... but not for long. progress is catching up. when i was there majority of the small by-the-beach inns were under renovation. but as much as one would notice the ongoing constructions, it remains a sleepy town at almost anytime of the day. 
 
the narrow Serena Street must be the busiest street but busy in El Nido means seeing ten people crossing path hopping from one travel agency to another. Rizal Street has the most number of those booking centers majority offering the standard tour package rates.
 
amidst the growing tourists in this part of Palawan, you won't see people or kids begging. most them  simply doing their daily chores and errands. treating tourists like they were just one of the locals. this makes El Nido an ideal tourist destination. 
 
i believe that what keeps El Nido from the massive tourists bunch is a good airport to cater bigger aircraft. but a year or two from now, the airport will soon be rehabilitated to cater medium-sized planes which will open its gates to local budget airlines. i say it won't be a sleepy town for long.

how to get there:
>>>from Manila:
option 1: Domestic airlines fly daily from Manila to Puerto Princesa (1-hour flight)
option 2: Direct flight from Manila to El Nido via Seair (as of this post, direct flights are not available).
>>>from Puerto Princesa to El Nido:
option 1: Take a van trip from Fort Wally Van Organization to El Nido (6-hour road trip).
option 2: Take the regular bus trip from the Puerto Princesa Central bus terminal (7-8hours road trip)
>>>from El Nido van terminal:
option 1: take a tricycle for a short ride to your hotel or to the main beach area if you did not reserve for a hotel.
option 2: if you are willing to walk, the main town area is just a walk away. but i don't recommend this if you have big backpacks and if you have a limited time in El Nido. (15mins walk)
>>>for Tour A:
several travel agency along the main streets of El Nido offers standardized tour packages which includes island hopping and lunch.


location:
island: Palawan island
province: Palawan
gateway: El Nido Coast
 

GPS location:

11^ 10" 46' N
119^ 23" 16' E

Monday, October 24, 2011

el encuentro chyng reyes y ga-el hilotin

i started this year traveling with two cool ladies who would go for a top load jeepney ride on a dusty and rough road. apart from being busy with their profession, these two has considered traveling as their passion. chyng and ga-el has proved that ladies can go solo on backpacking journeys. here to share their brief travel profile.      
                          
                                                    "el encuentro" 
chyng reyes                                            blogger                                            ga-el hilotin
no spam no virus no kiddin!                        blog                          the pinay solo backpacker
hong kong                                          farthest north                                  palaui, cagayan
bali, indonesia                                   farthest south                   cemero, lawang indonesia
malaybalay                                         farthest east                                 matnog, sorsogon
bangkok                                             farthest west                                bangkok, thailand

ho chi minh to siem reap                  longest road trip                 cemero, lawang indonesia
paracale to calaguas                        longest boat trip                                  manila to iloilo
clark to kuala lumpur                       longest plane trip                            manila to jakarta
kowloon bay to hong kong airport     longest train trip                       jakarta to yogyakarta

mt pulag                                             highest point                           mt bromo, indonesia
balicasag, bohol                                 deepest swim                                 el nido, palawan
cave connection, sagad                        longest trek                                    palaui, cagayan
tappiya falls, batad                              hardest trek                             tappiya falls, batad

personalized swiss knife                  item/s lost in a trip           id, debit card, memory card
bali singlet                     memorable item/s given/bought on a trip              javanese dolls
bibingkang abnoy                       worst/weirdest food eaten                           fried beetles

note: 
1. farthest places reached are referenced from Manila (with Manila to Europe as West and Manila to Guam as East).
2. records here are subject to update. as we know travelers break their records from time to time. records here are updated as of this posting. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

experience batad

experience the Philippine's finest cultural landmark this year as Eskapo sets another open invite to Ifugao. the invite includes a trek to Tappiyah Falls, Batad rice terraces (amphitheater) plus a side trip to Banaue Rice Terraces.
for details email me: i.dongho@gmail.com deadline of confirmation will be on Nov 8.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

seven commandos beach


if there was a place that i would like to build a hut and stay for a month, it would be in this piece of beach called Seven Commandos. i would guess that Alex Garland, author of "The Beach", spent some time on this beach.

often mistaken to be one of the 45 islands of Bacuit Bay but this beach is actually part of the greater Palawan island coast. got its name from the seven soldiers who stayed in this part of El Nido as shared by the locals.

 
unlike all the other stops in the El Nido package tour A, this is the only part that offered fresh coconut juice. irresistible fresh coconut juice. while waiting, i noticed a number of little dogs. when i started taking photos of these dogs, they started playing around my camera. 
the most interesting aspect of Seven Commandos beach are these little low flying birds on the inner portions of the beach. you can sit down in the middle of those shaded spots and watch these birds fly over you with some going fast as if to hit you.
 
you need not to go far to experience wild. when you observe closely, there are still monkeys jumping over trees. beyond the shade are impressive rock formations to hidden cave entrance.

among all the stops that we made in this tour, this part gave us the best experience of what it meant to be so close to nature. my kind of spot.

El Nido Tour A:
Seven Commandos Beach is part of El Nido standard Island Hopping package tour A which also includes a visit to Small Lagoon Miniloc island, Big Lagoon island, Hidden Beach, Shimizu and Pangalusian island.
Tour A package cost: P700/head. 

how to get there:
>>>from Manila:
option 1: Domestic airlines fly daily from Manila to Puerto Princesa (1-hour flight)
option 2: Direct flight from Manila to El Nido via Seair (as of this post, direct flights are not available).
>>>from Puerto Princesa to El Nido:
option 1: Take a van trip from Fort Wally Van Organization to El Nido (6-hour road trip).
option 2: Take the regular bus trip from the Puerto Princesa Central bus terminal (7-8hours road trip)
>>>from El Nido van terminal:
option 1: take a tricycle for a short ride to your hotel or to the main beach area if you did not reserve for a hotel.
option 2: if you are willing to walk, the main town area is just a walk away. but i don't recommend this if you have big backpacks and if you have a limited time in El Nido. (15mins walk)
>>>for Tour A:
several travel agency along the main streets of El Nido offers standardized tour packages which includes island hopping and lunch.


location:
island: Palawan island
province: Palawan
gateway: El Nido Coast

escape factor: 
accessibility: 5.0
beach: 4.5
boat trip: 5.0
seascape: 5.0
topography: 4.5
 

isolation: 5.0
overall escape factor: 4.8

GPS location:

11^ 10" 46' N
119^ 23" 16' E

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails