Mt. Pamitinan x Mt. Hapunang Banoy Twin Day Hike

I am always a beach guy without the beach body and I never liked hiking (of course I had no idea this view is waiting for me, I just placed it here to capture your eyes in finishing my blog laughs).

I don’t have the time for it”, “I just don’t like exhausting my muscles and sweating profusely” were my reasons why I didn’t partake with friends whenever they schedule a climb. Some of you (with brows raised) would ask, “Then why blog about it?

Simple. I thought, “Oh my god, look at that view, you look like my next mistake.” That would be a deadly mistake so be careful guys!

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After my first official twin day hike, I had a change of heart. I learned to love hiking in less than 12 hours (setting aside the gallons of sweat I excreted, multiple cuts I endured, sore muscles and dead toe nails).

Stay with me as we climb and quickly escape to the peak.

Peaks of Mt. Pamitinan (+426 m) left and Mt. Binacayan (+424 m) right.

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To do that, I will need a lot of help. Good thing my wanderjunkie, Daryl, basically did everything – itinerary x expenses x few reminders prior to the climb. She really pushed me to give hiking a go and I wouldn’t wanna see her efforts put to waste.

The original group of 10 hikers was trimmed down to just the two of us. I can’t blame them for backing out due to rescheduling and erratic weather.

Compromise was our ever young and fit, ate guide. You can call her Myrlyn. And yes we were older than her.This escape was a lot of surprises… Can’t wait to see what’s installed for me.

Since I was on a night shift, Daryl and I agreed to meet at the office when my shift ended at around 5am Saturday morning. We hopped on the bus that took us to Cubao. Dropped by McDonald’s for a takeout breakfast and aboard an FX (with Eastwood sign) that will take us to then Montalban, now Rodriguez, Rizal. Took tricycle instead of jeepney to Brgy. Wawa (jumpoff point) since we were running late.

Local guide was required for the climb and after registering at the DENR office, we’re good to go. We started the ascend at quarter past 8 am. I could only hope for a trail as inviting as this hanging bridge.

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And look at this lovely trail. I said to myself even though I had no sleep and drank a few beers (after my shift as I waited for Daryl; hashtag defensive), I would be able to keep up. I mean, this stairway to heaven, why would I not, right? Plus I have two lovely ladies as my guide. Couldn’t be any luckier than that.

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I was wrong. Zoom in to my face.

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So wrong I was already contemplating on how on earth will I reach the summit, let alone another mountain! But that’s not who I am as a person, I finish what I started. With no gloves on together with my very comfortable running shoes, I pushed myself further. And my shoes died after.

Myrlyn ate guide paved us the way to what seemed like an uncharted territory. Daryl, on the other hand, taught me some basic mountaineering etiquette. For one, always greet co-hikers you meet along the trail. A quick “Good Morning/Afternoon, Ingat po” wouldn’t hurt. To my astonishment, we did encounter a couple of hikers descending, “If they reached the summit, so can I.” The trail was comprised of assaults below and bouldering above.

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Be fully equipped, should you decide to conquer these trails – pack light, wear elastic and comfy clothes, slip on hiking shoes/sandals, thick gloves will be handy, prepare trail food and bring enough water. We reached summit at around 10:15 am, oh boy, the evergreen Sierra Madre washed my weariness away.

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I’m on the edge of glory.

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And here we were at summit 1 Mt. Pamitinan, casually laughing our worries off.

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Wait for me, wait for me!

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All smiles at summit 2 from these two gorgeous girls while I squeezed in my daily crunches slash fixing my cap. Yes we’re the crazy trio who laughed out loud the whole time we’re climbing – shouting acronyms to the hikers we met along the way PMYT to ate who’s having a hard time rock climbing – Push Mo ‘Yan ‘Te; SYL to confused kuya – See You Later among others. I even heard them murmuring as we passed, “That chick’s their guide?” and then I will look at them – “Why? Do I look like a guide to you?” Of course in a friendly way! No harm done – we’re just enjoying our climb 🙂

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We decided to descend at around 10:45 am and reached the Mt. Hapunang Banoy junction at around 11:15 am. Since we started the climb late, we decided to change the initial plan. Besides, Daryl got curious of that protruding rock (zoom in below) waving at us as we climb – Mt Hapunang Banoy (+460 m) it is! Itinerary x expenses listed below.

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We descended further from the junction and had lunch at the local tindahan instead, we had trail food but I begged to buy ice cold buko juice there (sorry na). By the time we finished lunch, the sky turned dark and let out its angry roars. I was hesitant since I was already stuffed and ready to hit the sack. But Daryl won’t back down. She said, “If this weather proved to be a hindrance halfway to our ascend then let’s go back. I just didn’t want to quit when we haven’t even tried it out yet.” And she’s right. F yeah let’s do it.

We started ascending again at 12:45 pm and were welcomed by slippery, muddy trails, plus zero visibility cliffs. We didn’t get the chance to take as much photos cause we’re dripping wet. Those slippery, sharp, 90 degree assaults and sharp limestone were the hardest parts of the trail. It took us about one and half hours to get to the peak. Blame it on the weather, better be slow than sorry.

Then again, the view was worth the risks! Thank God for clearing the sky when we climaxed to the peak.

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Let’s take a closer look…

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We descended at around 2:30 pm and reached jump off point by 4:30 pm. Since we’re all wet and dirty, Myrlyn insisted on having a quick shower at her crib with no extra charge. What an angel!

I’m ready for more harder trails. Til next time! Peace out!

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Itinerary x Expenses

August 29, 2015

5:45 am Bus (SM North to Cubao) – 12

6:00 am Take out breakfast at McDonald’s – 40

6:15 am FX to Eastwood Montalban – 50

8:15 am Tricycle to Brgy Wawa (jump off point) – 20

8:30 am Register at DENR – 2 (yes, just 2 friggin pesos)

8:45 am Ascend: Mt. Pamitinan

10:15 am Summit

10:45 Descend

11:15 Mt. Hapunang Banoy junction then descend to local tindahan

11:45 – 12:45 pm Lunch

12:45 pm Ascend: Mt. Hapunang Banoy

2:30 pm Summit

2:45 pm Descend

4:30 pm Jump off point

4: 45 pm Freshen up at Myrlyn’s

6:00 pm Tricycle to terminal – 30

6:15 pm Van to Cubao – 50

9:00 pm Cubao…let’s call it a day

Ate guide Myrlyn’s fee: 800 (400 per pax)

So call her maybe:

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I shelled out approximately PHP 800 for one whole day x twin day hike (I have added my trail food and additional transportation costs). The more hikers, the cheaper it gets!

All photos taken were courtesy of thewanderjunkie. Do check Daryl out, I mean the blog, not her.

Stay tuned to my next escape!

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4D/3N Boracay in less than 7K

Yeah! You read it right! I spent less than 7 thousand pesos (< $150) for my 4 days/ 3 nights stay in Boracay. Well if not for my katangahan and alcohol addiction (that’s overstatement; an exaggeration for this literary piece), anyway, I would have spent way less.

Boracay in all its glory can shut you up and take all your hard-earned money. BUT my quick escape will show you that it’s possible to spend less and enjoy more…

Boracay has been consistently named one of the best, if not, the best beach in the world. And I felt terrible having to live with the fact that most of my friends got to set foot on that island. Even other nationalities fell in love with Boracay while I sulked in misery.

But not anymore.

A friend from Couchsurfing hooked us up with a roundtrip ticket (dated July 25-28) to Boracay via Cebu Pac. It was worth a staggering 700 pesos. I was skeptical at first… Kidding! Hahah I jumped right in the second he offered to book me one.

I’m guilty of the airport selfie… (sungit ni ate)

We landed on a one fine, hot afternoon in Kalibo. Opposite to the Pagasa forecast, thank God. It took us about an hour and half to reach Caticlan port and about 20 minute boat ride to get to my dream destination this year.

Day 1

The boat selfie… (I can see you Boracay)

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Well now it’s a dream come true! I’m in frigging Boracay!

My jaw dropped as soon as I saw the beach front. Since it’s off peak season, less hotties, cheap hotel rates, affordable foodporn certainly went unnoticed. Yeah, there will always be a compromise. But on second thought, less populated Boracay allowed me to fully enjoy the island (which was really the point why I was here in the first place and not the sizzling bods I secretly hoped for… Hmmmm)

Okay enough selfies for one day (sorry I just can’t help taking these picturesque views with myself spoiling it hahah)

My friends and I hopped from one station to another. We really took our time to see all the establishments this island has to offer. And we can conveniently choose where to eat,  to chill,  to drink due to low volume of tourists on our goddamn time. How cool is that?!

Might I add, we also stayed here in Station 1. No silly, I didn’t go to Boracay to waste money on hotels. But I’m not kidding either –  we did stay in Station 1 for three days and I paid 1350 pesos for my entire stay!  That’s 450 per night and it’s an A/C room of course.

Imagine I get to drink beer for 39 pesos in Station 1.

39 pesos for a beer, Station 1 and this goddamn view. I cannot stress it enough. This is the life!!!

Perks of off-peak season.

Since the night’s still young, I managed to invite a friend I haven’t seen for 13 long years (he’s now living here in Boracay). We’re friends during our freshman year in high school but due to personal matters he transferred in Kalibo. Thank you Rian for dropping by! I will see you again when I get back.

L-R: Mark (the I.T guy soon to be PAL cabin crew), Mik (Chief Finance Officer of Sen. Nancy Binay), Rian (Concierge in this freakin island!), myself, Darren (Attorney & businessman)

Please check out Fairways & Bluewater Resort and look for my buddy there. He gives discount! (Kidding!)

Day 2 

The “I woke up like this” selfie…

Behind is Balabag beach where the sun sets, while on the other side, Bulabog beach is where the sun rises and most of the water activities take place.

Speaking of water activities, Kuya Ferdinand and our group agreed on paying P1,700 for 5 activities which include:

Helmet diving (make sure to equalize!)

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The fifteen minute Fly Fish ride that will drain the shit out of you (so much competitiveness not to fall)

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Snorkeling (be careful not to step on anything, well that’s not really a problem here…it’s crystal clear!)

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Puka Beach (sea shells everywhere, perfect for pasalubong shopping!)

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10 meter cliff jumping in Magic Island (of course I jumped! Video will be posted if I have the funds to upgrade this site hehe)

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That my folks was a whole day run of fun activities. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world! Such a hot, tiring, yet exhilarating day in paradise.

We had so much fun during the day, it’s just right to reciprocate that during the night. Hashtag equality. This is the ever jampacked Exit Bar (at first I thought the bar was named that way cos people are already at the exit partying).

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To minimize beer expenses, you can buy a handful at sari-sari stores then bring those to the bar of your choosing. Voila, the rave is on! You can easily lose yourself in this island; just know your limits and you’ll be fine.

Day 3

My friends were knocked out last night so I sneaked out the room and started another selfie journey. Don’t waste that precious time on your bed people! You can do that at work (hehehe)

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Well I stand corrected as my friends did catch up with me. We scoured the shores of Boracay til we reached this far end of Station 1…

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Apparently, we are not alone. Look at that, you can even see the shadow of that guy snorkeling. So frrracking amazing!

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Thanks Mik for letting me borrow your breathtaking shots.

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And why would I not include the infamous Willy’s Rock where the grotto is situated:

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This sanctuary all to ourselves…

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I realized that even if we didn’t avail all the water sports being sold in our faces as we took the shores of Boracay, the feel of the water hitting your soles is more than enough.

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My first attempt on stand up paddle boarding. Mik and I got this deal for 275 pesos for 1 hour.

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Struggled at first but hey got to take this priceless cloudgasm. And yes I was standing when I took the photo, not defensive.

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Savoring our last night in paradise…

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Day 4

Last selfie stretch before I leave this already-taking-a-special-place-in-my-heart island..

I can lie on this beach for hours (or before the sun roasts my fair skin).

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So long, Boracay! You know I love you…

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Itinerary x Expenses

Day 0Php 700 Air fare via CebuPac (roundtrip)

Day 1 (approximately Php 1,600)

Breakfast at ILLY: 245

Kalibo to Caticlan (taxi + boat ride): 1,000 / 3pax (333/person)

Environmental fee: 100

Lunch at Island Chicken Inasal: 175 for inasal w rice, 90 for unlimited iced tea

Dinner at Victory Diver (seafood buffet): 280

1.5liter bottled water: 50 at station 3

Beer at Gerry’s (in front of Mito’s place): 70

Club Paraw entrance: 100 + 90 (san mig light)

Day 2 (approximately Php 1500)

Breakfast (beside Mito’s place): 130 (chicksilog w coffee)

Water activities 10am – 4:30 pm: 1,700 / 4pax (425/person)

Pasalubong: 100 (I have matured and definitely have the will power to limit myself from over spending on pasalubs)

Bottled water: 15 at Crystal Clear

Dinner at D Mall: 200

Beers at Exit Bar and District rooftop: 700 (sorry for party rocking)

Day 3 (approximately Php 650)

Breakfast at Jasper’s: 80 (cornsilog w coffee)

Jonah’s shake: 120

Lunch at Big Meal J: 130

Stand up paddle boarding: 275/pax for 1 hour

Dinner at Caruso, Station1: Mik’s treat so hell yeah

Day 4 (approximately Php 2,500)

Breakfast at McDo: 130 (forgive me, this is my last day here)

Mito’s Inn: 1,350 for 3 day stay

Caticlan to Kalibo (boat x van): 250

Terminal fee at Caticlan port: 100

Terminal fee at Kalibo airport: 200

Pasalubong 2.0: 200

Dinner at Burger King, NAIA: 110 (I advised not to but we’re starving, so there)

Cab to Pasay: 100

Total Expenses: Php 6,950 (roundtrip air fare included!)

Baguio: The Other Itinerary

Baguio is one of the places I go to whenever nostalgia comes into play – very That Thing Called Tadhana eh? But long before the movie hype, I always felt the connection to this place and the feels this highly Koreanized (urbanized) city brought to my table. Definitely my cup of tea for hugot emotions and chick flick scenes. If you want to get lost – see this city and find yourself in the midst of Baguio’s comfy arms.

Speaking of hype, the recently concluded Forevermore (Pinoy TV series) shot most of its scenes here in the now famous attraction – Sitio La Presa (below). We were very fortunate to witness this location before the teleserye production even begins!

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Having been to the city a couple of times, my friends slash colleagues decided to shy away to some parts from the usual Baguio itineraries found online.

Want to spend just a weekend here and not exhaust your precious vacation leaves? We did it just over the weekend! Allow me to show you my quick trip up north…

We arrived in a chilly morning (perfect for snuggling under the sheets) after an overnight commute. As tempting as the bed weather was, we wasted no time savoring the city.

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C’mon, look at the view from our balcony. Who wouldn’t right? The city’s ambiance is goddamn inviting!

After settling in to our transient house, our group headed to Café By The Ruins- just the right place for carbo-loading. Breakfast set ranges from 200 to 400 php, kinda pricey but it’s worth a try. I had bacon, egg and brown rice; who doesn’t love bacon?

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Okay after the heavy breakfast (and its hefty price), I think we’re more than ready to brave this jam packed day. Next up, Kennon Road viewpoint leading to the ever welcoming Lion’s head. These terrains displayed how rich our lands are – it is our responsibility to preserve these.

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Yeah, I know. The lion looked weird from this angle. Maybe time for another repainting? (a very apt positioning Davies paint).

We continued our tour in Philippine Military Academy where I didn’t witness any cadets on training (just doing their rounds) – perhaps cos it’s a weekend. So we just strike a pose and roamed around.

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The climb to Mt. Sto. Tomas, Tuba, Benguet was really good for the lungs, no pun. Having to witness this view, my lungs getting a little cardio was a fair game.

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Here’s one exhausted runner from The North Face 100. I’d be too if I ran 100 km…the dedication and discipline these runners put to the sport is inspiring. I have never wholeheartedly attended any running event in my life (well there’s one back in college but I was forced to join for my organization). I guess I need to find the ‘fun’ in fun run.

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Below is the beautiful Sitio Pungayan in Mt. Kabuyao, Tuba, Benguet. Now they adopted the name Sitio La Presa. I wonder why.

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As we head back, we noticed a few shops (circa 2014) selling strawberry jams and wines. Please try to buy some – I tell you those are really good finds! Now thanks to LizQuen, retail industry there is absolutely booming. I do hope the quality of the product is retained.

We had lunch at Good Taste Restaurant where the food is great and its prices cheap. Win win! Then we visited Bell Church temple, the strawberry farm, Tam-awan village (photos below), and Lourdes grotto. That summed up our hectic afternoon.

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After a long day, we recuperated and freshened up at the transient house then headed back again to the city for dinner. I love traversing Session Road – you can wear three layers of clothing without sweating profusely as you take down the city’s sidewalks.

Our 2nd-slash-last day in Baguio started late with having lunch at Camp John Hay. We really took the time to lazily stroll and just enjoyed nature.

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Photos above will attest to that. Special mention to top left photo – that’s Bagras aka Rainbow tree (zoom in to its trunk) situated near Good Shepherd which is only open til 5:00 pm. Make sure to visit early for pasalubongs.

The Other Office capped off our Baguio experience – actually the alcohol game “Never Have I Ever” did. So let’s just leave the details out (not blog friendly! laughs). Its main courses range from 150-300 php per pax. I liked their concept of shying away to using office as work environment but an avenue to dine, enjoy the live band and have casual drinks.

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So friends, let’s do this again sometime! We can do our business meeting while we travel!

To the one reading this, sumama ka! 

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Here’s the itinerary for our quick escape to Baguio:

Day 1

12:00 mn             Travel to the north via Victory Liner

6:30 am               Arrival at Baguio x Check in at transient house

7:30 am               Breakfast at Café By The Ruins

9:00 am               Kennon Road Viewpoint picturesque scenes

9:30 am               Lion’s Head on point

10:00 am             Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Tour

11:00 am             Travel to Sto. Tomas, Baguio (where La Presa lays)

12:00 noon          Enjoying stops along the way

12:30 pm             Visit PicMar Heritage Lodge in Sto. Tomas x Have 5 Php Coffee

1:30 pm               On the way back, don’t forget to buy Strawberry Jam from sari sari store in Sto.Tomas (this is the bomb!)

2:00 PM               Lunch at Good Taste Restaurant

3:00 PM               Bell Church (Chinese Temple)

3:30 PM               Strawberry Farm, La Trinidad, Benguet

4:30 PM               Tam-Awan Village

6:00 PM               Lourdes Grotto while sipping Strawberry Taho

7:00 PM               Rest for city exploration at night

9:30 PM               Ukay Ukay Night Market beside Burnham Park

10:30 PM             Dinner at  50’s Diner

Day 2

9:00 AM               Breakfast at home (to balance out what we spent yesterday)

12:00 nn              Lunch at Pizza Volante, Camp John Hay (and then another round of spending)

1:00 PM               Nature Tripping at Camp John Hay (option to do Tree Top Adventure)

3:00 PM                Mile Hi Center (shopping at outlets x eat bibingka x puto bumbong)

4:00 PM               Good Shepherd Convent (option to try civet coffee though not worth it :P)

4:30 PM               Mines View (shopping, buy pasalubong)

6:30 PM               Dinner at The Other Office near Country Club (they offer cocktails with live band)

9:30 PM               At Victory Liner Terminal waiting for trip home

10:00 PM             Bus Trip Home

Malapascua – Kalanggaman

Hello fellow quickescapies, quickers, quickies! Yeah, I prefer the latter – quickies. Way catchy and very wholesome.

Anyway, I remembered this trip to be a bit tricky. My friends and I found a promo fare bound for Cebu and heck yeah booked it. Question was, will we be going North or South of Cebu? Since we’re more of beach guys, we picked north – where Malapascua and Bantayan lie. Then came another question, would it be Malapascua or Bantayan? The deciding factor was – Malapascua offered cliff jumping!

So let the quick escape begins…

We arrived on the island at past noon – hungry as we were, this spectacle eradicated anything we endured during the long trip.

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The view from our room in Blue Corals resort

And so we gave in to our grumbling stomachs… How can you not sit and eat here? I mean, seriously?

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How inviting!

After lunch, we availed the island tour package and hopped on the banca.

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I ❤ Malapascua

The tour’s last stop was the island’s infamous cliff (that’s why we’re here in the first place). But seeing the cliff from our banca made my guts turned.

I have never cliff jumped in my life and from my point of view (yes I’m the one with the sweaty green stripes shirt on) this couldn’t be fun as I was scared to death.

After of almost an hour of contemplating on the edge of the cliff, my friends and I decided to give it a go. I mentioned that we will definitely regret this if we don’t jump. I was the most scared among all of us and yet I was the first to jump!!! One off my bucket list!

Rise and shine! Normally when I’m on vacation, I usually wake up very early. I just savor every minute of my stay – I can always sleep on my bed and at work (kidding!) so why waste precious time in your hotel, right?

The Shores
The waters couldn’t get any clearer than this

Since we’re already in the northern tip of Cebu, we took another tour taking us to Kalanggaman Island, Leyte. Oh boy, this was definitely one for the books…

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I have never seen a sand bar as beautiful as that! What.A.View.

We headed back to Malapascua before dusk just in time for a disco-han in the area. Locals from all generations were seen losing themselves to the tune of Dayang – Dayang.

A few days before we got to Malapascua, this ship got to its shore first. We asked for the specifics but the locals said that the incident was already taken cared of.

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And this dog definitely don’t give a shhhh.

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Whenever I see your shores, I always feel an itch on my feet. I would love to go back and explore you more, Malapascua.

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Here’s our itinerary for the trip:

Day 1

6:00 am – Arrival: Mactan International Airport

Breakfast at McDonalds for a change (and since it’s early and no one else is open, yup justifying our action)

Cab to North Bus Terminal (around 20 mins)

7:30 am –  touchdown terminal

8:00 am – bus made its way to our destination

4 – 4.5 hour bus ride to Daanbantayan port (170php per person)

45 minute boat ride from Daanbantayan to Malapascua port (50php per person)

~12:45 pm arrival at Malapascua

Check in: Blue Corals Resort (600 php per person inclusive of breakfast)

1:00 – 6:00 pm Island Tour via boat ride  (300 php per person)

Cliff jumping is FREE!!!!

Dinner by the beach (price ranges from 200 – 500 php)


Day 2

9:00 am – check out then transfer to Bantigue Cove

Motorcycle rent to Bantigue 25php per pax (one way)

Check in is 400php per pax. You can opt not to change hotel during your stay, we just decided to witness local disco in Bantigue.

Motorcycle rent to Malapascua port

2 hour boat ride to Kalanggaman, Leyte (800 php per pax inclusive of lunch and drink)

11:30 am – arrival at Kalanggaman

Swimming, picture taking, boat rentals, epic white sand bar

4:00 pm – departure from island

6:00 pm – arrival at Malapascua

Dinner by the beach (since this is the last night we tried the buffet at 300 php)

Motorcycle rent to Bantigue

Local Disco!!!!


Day 3

6:00 – 10:00 am Swimming, Photo Op

11:00 am – Motorcycle rent back to port

Souvenir hunting then lunch

12:00 nn – Boat ride to Daanbantayan port

1:00 – 6:00 pm Bus ride back to Cebu city

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm last minute city shopping

10:00 pm – flight back to MNL

Expenses:

Php 1,200 – Airfare roundtrip

Day 1: Php 1,470 (breakdown below)

Breakfast at McDonald’s: 150

Cab to Terminal: 200 (50/pax)

Bus Fare: 170

Chips: 100

Boat Fare: 50

Check In (Blue Corals): 600/pax

Island Tour: 300/pax

Dinner: 150

Day 2: Php 2,600

Motorcycle rentals: 100

Check in (Bantigue): 400/pax

Kalanggaman Tour: 800/pax

Pasalubong hunting: 1000

Dinner: 300

Beers at Local Disco: 300 (approx 6)

Day 3: Php 1,870

Brunch: 250

Pasalubong hunting round 2: 500

Boat fare back to Daanbantayan: 50

Bus to Cebu City: 170

Chips for the road: 100

Cebu City last minute shopping: 800

TOTAL EXPENSES: Php 7,200 (airfare included)

Photo Credits to Carlo Garcia

Basking in Batanes Sun

 

 

  Booking Batanes

The age of social media revolutionized our way of life—from how we project ourselves to the world, to paving an avenue to meet new friends, to making us more aware of things that matter (world news perhaps?) and don’t (Entertainment? Mundane happenings in our friends lives? Advertisements?). But these things that don’t matter sometimes? They matter other times.  Like when we’re tired and wanting some bit of a break…these advertisements that we normally look past suddenly becomes our way out of the seemingly endless routine we find ourselves in every day. It’s either we give in to our impulse to shop for new shoes, clothes, gadgets OR give in to our wanderlust…even just for a few days. Yes, I’m talking about those travel adverts and those endless promos we stumble upon online (perhaps I can write a separate article on this, I’m deviating a bit (a lot) on the topic at hand). Anyway speaking of promos and wanderlust, my friend, Poli, came across this travel pass offered by SkyJet, one of the two airlines that fly to Batanes (circa 2014). But since SkyJet is facing a bit of turmoil at the moment, you can opt to book PAL Express for the meantime. Now, here goes my first tip: the key to cheap trips is to plan and book early (at most, a year prior to your travel).

booking batanes

We got the travel pass (roundtrip: 5,400php/pax) at the latter part of 2013 and decided to set foot on this magical island on March 2014.

Hello Batanes!

I hopped to an 80-seater chartered plane by 5:45am and got off at around 7:00am. Time for a touchdown selfie! I can recall how ecstatic I was seeing Batanes’ landscapes for the first time.

Since we were just three, Kuya Ryan Cardona hooked us up with a tricycle driver (instead of an A/C van) to guide us in the island. Another cheap negotiation right there. You may contact him at 0919 2795 963 or 0915 8034 582. Do check them out here BISUMI Tour and Services.

Day 1: March 28, 2014 Northern Batan Island Tour (click photos to enlarge)

  • Boulder Beach in Valugan
    Boulder Beach in Valugan
  • WWII Japanese Hideout/Tunnel
    WWII Japanese Hideout/Tunnel
  • Basco Idjang Viewing
    Basco Idjang Viewing
  • 2014-03-28 14.04.54
    Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge
  • PAGASA “Tukon” Radar Station (typical weather substation which I don’t have a photo of)
  • Mt. Carmel Chapel
    Mt. Carmel Chapel
  • Sto. Domingo Church
    Sto. Domingo Church
  • Vayang Rolling Hills
    Vayang Rolling Hills
  • Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills
    Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

After checking in and settling down at Batanes-DDD Habitat Lodging House, we ate our lunch at a nearby canteen and got ready for our half day tour. We followed the itinerary in that exact order as advised by our guide. We started our epic exploration by 2:00pm and ended at around 6:00pm. We were exhausted so we decided to splurge a bit on food, ordering an Ivatan platter at Pension Ivatan Hometel and Restaurant  (1500 php/3 to 5pax).

Ivatan Food Platter (Turmeric rice, Lobsters, Coconut crabs, Flying fish, Squid, Uvud balls, Pako, Liempo, Beef Ribs)
Ivatan Food Platter (Turmeric rice – native yellow rice due to yellow ginger or turmeric, Lobsters, Coconut crabs, Flying fish, Squid, Uvud balls, Pako, Liempo, Beef Ribs)

Day 2: March 29, 2014 Sabtang Island Tour

  • Registration at Sabtang Tourism Information Center (Php200/pax)
  • San Vicente Ferrer Church
    San Vicente Ferrer Church
  • Brgy. Savidug Stone Houses
    Brgy. Savidug Stone Houses
  • Sto. Thomas Chapel
    Sto. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
  • Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint
    Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint
  • Sabtang Weavers Association
    Sabtang Weavers Association
  • Brgy. Chavayan Stone Houses
    Brgy. Chavayan Stone Houses
  • Malakdang Lighthouse
    Malakdang Lighthouse
  • (30 minute travel back to Sinakan Centro)
  • Mayahaw (Natural Arc Formation)
    Mayahaw (Natural Arc Formation)
  • Morong Beach (swimming and snorkeling are optional)
    Morong Beach (swimming and snorkeling are optional)

Our 2nd day started early, after a quick breakfast, our guide led us to San Vicente Port/Radiwan Port in Ivana (30 minute ride from Batan). From the port, you can easily spot Sabtang; but danger lies in the water between these islands. I won’t lie, I am a beach guy, but the Batanes waters gave me the chills. When we rode the faluwa (traditional Ivatan boat), my heart pounced with excitement. Someday, I am going to swim and dive here. After 30 minutes of constant tidal wave bombardment (sea was calm according to locals), we reached Sabtang and met our cogon trike driver/guide. The 200 php environmental fee maybe burdensome; but once you’ve “seen” Sabtang, you might actually consider paying more just to conserve its beauty. To fully experience Sabtang, you can opt to stay overnight at Chavayan. Unfortunately, time is a luxury we don’t have, so we rode the last faluwa ride back Ivana port by 2:00pm. I left the island with a heavy heart, there were so many things the island has to offer yet I’ve got so little time.

Cogon topped tricycles
Cogon topped tricycles

We reached Batan at around 3:30pm. With ample time in our hands before dusk, we decided to explore the nearby streets. You can rent a bike and feel the Endless Love koreanovela vibe  under the 30°C warmth of the sun – not so Korean eh?

Rent a bike!
Rent a bike for a closer Batanes encounter!

There were a lot of souvenir shops scattered in the streets of Basco, the culprit behind my spending of 3000php for pasalubong (souvenirs) alone. I figured, this could probably be my first and last stay here so why not indulge (crossing my fingers – I really wish to get back there). My friends and I ate at a carinderia (local eatery) feeling the need to save up from yesterday’s sumptuous meal.

Pansit Cabagan and Igado
Pansit Cabagan and Igado
Lomi
Lomi

Day 3: March 30, 2014 Southern Batan Tour

  • Paderes Point and Cliff Road, Chawa Viewing Deck
    Paderes Point and Cliff Road, Chawa Viewing Deck
  • Mahatao Boat Shelter Port (very Game of Thrones location)
    Mahatao Boat Shelter Port (very Game of Thrones location)
  • San Carlos Borromeo Church
    San Carlos Borromeo Church
  • Mahatao Spanish Lighthouse
    Mahatao Spanish Lighthouse
  • Mahatao Tayid Lighthouse
    Mahatao Tayid Lighthouse
  • Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Hills)
    Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Hills)
  • Alapad Hills and Rock formation
    Alapad Hills and Rock formation
  • Lo-Ran Old Naval Base
    Lo-Ran Old Naval Base
  • Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Itbud
    Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Itbud
  • Ruins of Song-song
    Ruins of Song-song
  • San Antonio de Florencia Church in Uyugan
    San Antonio de Florencia Church in Uyugan
  • Honesty Store (near Ivana Port, you can swing by here before going to Sabtang, Day 2)
    Honesty Store (near Ivana Port, you can swing by here before going to Sabtang, Day 2)
  • San Jose de Ivana Church and Ruins (you can squeeze this too in Day 2)
    San Jose de Ivana Church and Ruins (you can squeeze this too in Day 2)
  • House of Dakay
    House of Dakay
  • Old Spanish Bridge
    Old Spanish Bridge
  • White Beach
    White Beach
  • Hohmoron Lagoon
    Hohmoron Lagoon

Wow, I got tired typing these places. But, that was never the case back then, when we were jumping from one place to another, crossing place after place off of our list. The whole day tour started at 9:00am. I went out with my hoodie, prepared to face the Batanes sun and boy was I in awe-gasm the whole time. We capped the day off with a beer or two while I sang my heart out in a karaoke at a local bar we found while roaming around. On one hand, I wanted for Basco to have rave bars and a wild nightlife. On the other, I wanted to preserve its serene atmosphere. Maybe it’s just the alcohol messing with my head.

A friendly reminder: Bring as much cash with you if you’re an impulsive buyer. There’s only one ATM at Basco. It so happened when we were there, the machine was defective. I was short in cash and didn’t know how in the world will I get back to Manila. Good thing, my friend Migs always had emergency cash in times of dire need.

Day 4: Departure

When I posted the photos on my facebook page, I couldn’t help composing a few lines to the tune of Royals as I describe my Batanes feels:

I’ve never seen Batanes in the flesh
Its steep cliffs and rolling hills like the movie
And I’m not proud, this isn’t my address
These picturesque towns with my multiple selfies.

 

End Notes, Tips and Advice

Please utilize the different social media platforms to your advantage. Be patient in finding seat sales of various airlines or travel sites. These promos are there, trust me, you just have to exert extra effort in getting one that fits you and your budget. Your little effort can save you a lot of money. I know Batanes is one of, if not, the most expensive travel destinations here in PH. But hey, don’t fret. You can work your way around it with careful planning. Search for promos and book early! Scout all the available itineraries online, mix and match those to your preference. A DIY trip can be tedious but rewarding at the same time.

Batanes is indeed a precious gem in the north boasting its impeccable cliffs and landscapes. Yes, we can google images, bookmark blogs, and play vimeo or gopro videos of Batanes. But the one thing that strikes me as I brush my existence in this wonderful island is the locals. The people, you can’t just search them in the web—you have to experience socializing with them yourselves. They are the most kind and most honest people I have ever met. One example is our guide. I can remember how he would always nod and smile to the people he met on the road as he drove us to different locations. At first, I thought they knew each other; but when we got to the southern part of Batan, he’s still nodding and smiling at everybody. This is when I thought to myself, this couldn’t be, maybe he’s a politician or a barangay officer. Then it hit me, that’s their nature. Simple as that. He even told us that you can leave your bike at the side of the road and come back the next day and your bike will still be there, unscathed, untouched. Hence, the Honesty Store – you probably heard a thing or two about this magnificent concept.

It was an honor meeting you, Batanes. You showed me places I couldn’t even put into words. What made my trip more special was meeting the locals, thank you for welcoming us with such warmth and purity. Til we meet again.

Dios Mamajes!
Dios Mamajes Batanes!