Tuesday, August 30, 2011

big lagoon miniloc el nido

if you remember way back 2004, Amazing Race (US Version) Season 5 had its second to the last stop in the Philippines and the roadblock on climbing the towering karst of El Nido was considered one of the most challenging. i included two clips from the episode below.
“despite the difficult challenges, we enjoyed every place we went. specially Palawan”  Season 4 winner Chip and Kim claimed after an interview of their experience of the race. the platform used in that roadblock is now set at Miniloc's big lagoon relocated from Lagen island.

the scrapped walls in the channel to the big lagoon seemed to have been trimmed intentionally. flat downwards touching the shallow waters on its inlet. as we cruised through, water got deeper. 
 
this huge lagoon could have been a large dome and dangerous species is still believed to be dwelling in its deep dark waters. so not one from the group dared jump off. one round cruise inside this lagoon and had our way out on the same channel.
this stop of tour A is just a cruise-and-see as we've had a long time swimming in the small lagoon. both lagoons are actually located at the same side of the island with just a  limestone wall separating it.
video clips from Amazing Race Season 5 (US Version) when they had the roadblock challenge in El Nido Palawan. thanks to cfs224 for uploading and saving the video.


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

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

isolation: 4.5
overall escape factor: 5.0

GPS location:

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

choose philippines

those who want to share their own story of traveling in the Philippines can join Choose Philippines. local network ABS-CBN releases its tourism promotional video.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

small lagoon miniloc island

"this is not small. it is just smaller than the big lagoon" i said to myself while i was swimming through an almost hidden inlet to one of Miniloc island's secret lagoon. i was already running out of breath. thinking that the lagoon was small by its name, i swam without a lifevest trying to cross to the other point. struggled swimming as there was no clear spot to stand and rest on but the crystal clear waters was just irresistible.this was our first stop to one of El Nido's infamous package tours to the enchanting islands of Bacuit Bay. from afar, Miniloc island looked like just one plain karst island but as we moved closer, it revealed the opening to what was believed to be sinkholes thousands of years ago.the view to this body of water enclosed by the mix of gray spikes and lush green mix of shrubs was therapeutic. i believe it is karstification at its best. i was impressed that even though the there is increase of tourists to this part of El Nido, the towering cliffs are free from vandalism. the Tagbanwas knew what it meant to preserve the area. they definitely deserve to be keepers to the Philippines jewel.recommended activities:
[1] swimming. the clear and calm waters makes it a perfect spot for swimming. there's not much to see underwater except for plain white sand and some rocks to stand on.
[2] paddling. kayaks for rent are available outside and inside the small lagoon. this gives you the opportunity to bring your camera and get upclose to the limestone walls.
[3] nothing. even by staying at the boat surrounded by these clustered karst is relaxing.

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

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 within the along the main streets of El Nido offers standardized tour packages which includes island hopping and lunch.

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


escape factor:
accessibility: 4.5
boat trip: 5.0
seascape: 5.0
topography: 5.0
isolation: 4.0
overall escape factor: 4.5

GPS location:

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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

el nido coast

El Nido Palawan has two faces and many, who has not been there, only knew one. expensive and luxurious, a usual impression of most people to this side of Palawan.
apparently, El Nido's main beach coast has a good number of cheap lodges and resorts with fairly comfy room accommodations. this coast is home to backpackers coming from different countries, mostly from Europe.
most of these lodges stand side by side almost sharing the same wall while others separated by narrow alleyways. but some few resorts has small sandy lawns and puny cottages. an obvious shift of nipa made cottages to concrete buildings defines the growing population of tourists.
unlike most of the beaches in the island of Palawan, the main town coast has a short beach shore. surprisingly, even at low tide. possibly because the lodges were built too close to the shoreline.
its beige-colored sand and cyan waters under the towering limestone karst completes El Nido's beach cove. the view of all the white-motored boats scattered in its cove and the nearby Cadlao island is relaxing.
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)

location:
island: Greater Palawan Island
province: Palawan
gateway: El Nido/Puerto Princesa

escape factor:
accessibility: 3.5
road trip: 3.5
beach view: 4.5
beach: 4.0
isolation: 3.5
overall escape factor: 4.0

GPS location:

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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

on a six-hour road trip

this year, i took this long trip to a town attracted by thousands of tourist from different countries. everyone coming to relax and see the country's crown jewel. it took me an hour flight and six-hour road trip.
on a six hour road trip, i...
1. met one lady from Cebu who was traveling solo to meet her friend who went ahead
2. finished three chapters of Paul Theroux "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
3. had two hours of sleep along the road
4. ate lumpia and tortang talong during the stopover
5. an Australian nurse who was also traveling solo on her 40s, gave me a book of Ken Follet
6. got a discount coupon for a van trip back to its gateway

Sunday, August 14, 2011

circle of influence : travel

even at an early age of five i was already traveling with my parents on long hours of boat trips to visit our relatives in Iloilo, Bacolod, Romblon and Manila. after graduating from high school i had to transfer to Cebu to finish college and later got a job in Laguna and now in Makati. thus, traveling by boat, by plane or by the road was a norm. but what kept me from exploring places was a number of people who i would like to feature in this post.

National Geographic Society

"Inspiring People to Care About the Planet since 1888"
now running for more than 120years of great photos, places, people and stories. i grew up browsing National Geographic magazines at home and no matter how many times i would check each feature again and again, it always reminded me that we have a world too big for us to explore for a lifetime. the people behind that yellow portrait frame society has consistently make me love our planet and traveling.
Website: National Geographic


Howie Severino

"Work hard, read a lot, ask plenty of questions, love our country"
this was Howie's answer when i asked him what he wants the younger generation to learn from him. this was taken from one of my earliest post in this blog on an online interview with Howie. his passion to cover those often forgotten stories of people, culture and uncharted places has influenced me so much to explore. yet despite all the achievements he received as guru in making documentaries he remains one of the most humble journalist. also on that interview, he considered the Lamitan siege in Basilan as his most dangerous cover.
Blog: Sidetrip
Online Interview: Eskapo Jan 2008

Ferdinand "Ferdz" Decena
"Everything is the same everywhere, they’re just dancing on a different beat"

i discovered his blog when i was trying to find if somebody has already featured Malamawi island in Basilan in the internet. few months after that i had the chance to meet Ferdz on his exhibit entitled "Living by Water" which included photos of Basilan. his years of experience and achievements in photography, travel and blogging here and abroad cannot easily be surpassed. i always look up to him as he would always upgrade the mode of his blog and travel. i had the chance to travel with Ferdz in Batad and Palawan.
Blog: Ironwulf, Happy Foodies
Portfolio: Ferdz Decena

Rolly Magpayo
we were once on the same community way back in 2003 and i was always surprised when he would start checking people if they would like to donate some school supplies. soon, i learned that he was actually bringing these to remote places. his mission. he also worked as a volunteer for WWF and was assigned in Babuyan islands. though he did not directly influenced me to do mission trips, his actions alone were good enough to have made me consider doing volunteerism. did i mention h e is also a really good photographer?
Website/Portfolio: Rolly Magpayo

Oggie Ramos
"
The great unknown. You can only research so much but your actual experience would be different from what the internet or the books may tell you. Either way, you come out richer for the experience"
from an online interview i did with Oggie when i was just starting to blog. this was his reply when i asked him what makes every travel special. if there's a blogger who i've been following for the longest time, it would be Oggie. i've learned so much from this person on how he would connect himself to his photos. he writes really great stories matched with outstanding photos. each post from his blog is a great read. i am fortunate enough to have traveled with Oggie to Batad and Taal where i got great tips in photography.

Blog: Lagalog, Happy Foodies
Portfolio: Oggie Ramos
Online Interview: Bloggurs April 2008

Paul Theroux
"
Travel can induce such a distinct and nameless feeling of strangeness and disconnection in me that I feel insubstantial, like a puff of smoke, merely a ghost, a creepy revenant from the underworld, unobserved and watchful among real people, wandering, listening while remaining unseen."
first learned about this person through his book "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" when Oggie Ramos recommended me to read the part about Tokyo. in just few pages i was drawn to his stories. i don't have time to read thick books with small fonts but not with Paul's stories. he has his way of making each of his journey unique. he made me want to explore more of the countries that he visited. now i have three of his books.
Website: Paul Theroux

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

uno noche en la casa

with such a rare chance to explore ancestral houses at night, my two day stay at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar revealed that these houses are as majestic by night. our room was at third floor of Casa Escolta whose balcony gave us an overlooking view of the houses that surrounded Plaza Belmonte.though not all the houses are with lights and open to visitors by night, Casa Mexico and Casa Jaen alone can boast its beauty. the intricate ceilings and its chandelier kindles these empty rooms. outdoor dining experience at the resort was a great add to those staying there for an overnight. a night filled with Filipino cultural dances at Plaza Belmonte's ground. the highly applauded Tinikling, which is also the country's national dance, was the night's favorite.
though the resort gives one the experience of staying at some of these houses, there's nothing better than the idea of diffuse hotels or is more known as albergo diffuso in Italy. this was in the mountains of Abruzzi of a town called Santo Stefano.
i read about this in one of Arthur Frommer's magazine featuring an old forgotten village turned into a hotel. Daniele Kihlgren gave the idea of turning the entire ancient village into a hotel retaining it in its original site. same hope that could have done with the ancestral houses in the Philippines. thus, giving Vigan still the best reputation for heritage value.
how to get there:
Take a bus from Manila to Bagac Bataan.
From town center, you can take a tricycle entering a small almost one way street to the resort. It will just be few minutes from the bus drop off point.

location:
island: mainland Luzon
province: Bataan (Southwest)
gateway: Bagac

GPS location:

14^ 35" 60' N
120^ 23" 13' E

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