Cam Norte – The Municipalities

Come Forth to Cam North – The Series Pt. 2

Day 2    Municipalities of Camarines Norte

Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo named this tourism gem, Camarines, which means “storehouse.” CamNorte is indeed a storehouse of cultural heritage, natural resources and untouched treasures. It is surrounded by the fertile soil of Quezon and the popular CamSur provinces. Hence, a melting pot of Tagalog and Bicol cultures.

CamNorte is the richest province in terms of gold deposits. When the Spaniards arrived, they noticed that locals were wearing gold ornaments. This discovery catapulted the 1575 expedition to amass precious metals (Gold and Silver) in the province.  With more wealth comes great power. Hashtag Mercantilism.

The 12 municipalities are grouped into two congressional districts, the Tagalog speaking which consisted the following – Labo, Capalonga, Sta. Elena, Paracale and Jose Panganiban; and the Bicol speaking – Daet, Talisay, Vinzons, Mercedes, Basud, San Vicente and San Lorenzo Ruiz. It was indeed amazing that out of the 6 we got to visit, 3 of which were Tagalog, the other three, you guessed it right, the Bicol speaking municipalities. Let’s get to it shall we?

DAET

First stop at the tourism office where we were warmly welcomed by Sir Bong. He was very eager to introduce us to the best attractions CamNorte has to offer. We couldn’t wait to see them all.
Bantayog Monument – a 20 ft tall majestic monument that forever memorializes Jose Rizal’s legacy along with the province’s unsung heroes. It was built 2 years after Rizal’s execution and the first ever monument built for our National hero.

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Did you know that CamNorte was the site of first ever KKK outside Manila?

Bulawan Museum – founded in year 2000 which houses a glimpse of the province history, culture and tradition from Amorsolo paintings, silver spoons, tea pot, wine glass, Katana, gold ornaments and filigrees. I am encouraging everyone to visit museums to continue heritage and culture awareness especially to our younger generations. Museums symbolize our care to our identity and race.

Moturista – 1st Tourism Extreme Challenge held in Daet where motorists were tasked to complete the 500kms in 12 hours. This initiative aims to drive tourism while promoting road safety through a seminar. The event concluded with a beach party, no less.
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Bagasbas Beach – This mile-long stretch is a top destination for surfers due to its consistent waves throughout the year making it the country’s first surfing spot and the world’s 62nd. Surfing lessons are offered at Bagasbas Aqua center at P400 per hour including board rentals.

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Dare to go extreme? Aside from surfing, Bagasbas beach is also a host to another extreme sport – Kitesurfing. International Kiteboarding Competition and Kiteboard Tour Asia were held here. Get your adrenaline pumping at Mike’s Kiteboarding during northeast monsoon season from November to March.

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Side note: LTE coverage in Daet is phenomenal! I got to watch Game of Thrones season finale when we stopped by the capitol.

JOSE PANGANIBAN

We got a courtesy call from the Mayor himself, Mayor Dong Padilla, and was gracious enough to host us in his ranch and answer all our inquiries regarding his work and future projects to the municipality. The mayor proudly declared that while promoting tourism, CamNorte will still preserve its beaches by avoiding commercial infrastructures. There’s also a 700MW power plant to be built thus addressing the intermittent electricity in the province. Insofar as accommodation is concerned, he’s aware that the province is somewhat behind from its neighboring lands. This needs to be pushed to be at par with other hotels, he said. I definitely agree, we were staying at Jocelle’s Garden and I was a first-hand witness to their shortcomings. Another challenge the mayor is trying to address is accessibility. And this is a major major, cue in Venus Raj who by the way was also here to promote tourism for CamNorte. The plan is to build a regional airport in JPang for domestic flights then connecting it to Bicol International Airport via skyway. He mentioned that there’s a Belarus company investing in this endeavour.

Here’s mommy Lariza interviewing Mayor Dong.

More of mommy Lariza’s discoveries at Moments Around the Corner. From formal to snorkeling real quick…

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After the courtesy call, we were summoned to the municipal hall for lunch. What better way to burn those carbs? Check out JPang’s attractions!

Bulalacao Beach
Pagasa Beach

JSM Yellow to Green Organic farm


Parola Island

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SAN LORENZO RUIZ

Calling all thrill seekers, this is the municipality for you.  San Lorenzo Ruiz offers the newest adrenaline attraction and longest zip line in the Bicol region! Going to the site was a bumpy ride, so if you can bring a moped or an ATV that would be perfect since the roads are still under construction. In any case, do check out the 750-meter Matacong Zip Line and conquer your fears for only 250php when sitting and 350php superman swoosh pose.

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LABO

What better way to cool down from the zip line rush? We headed over to Binuang Falls where we got to have not one but three levels of rapids, it’s just a 15-20 minute hike to get to the top so no biggie.

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These seemingly endless adventures took a toll to our rumbling stomachs. Good thing, Villa Eusebia was next in our itinerary that served a sumptuous feast.

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And this restaurant comes with a goddamn view of Lake Labo. Loboc River feels, I know.

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Nap time! Where to? Well, I can recommend two great resorts to check in and chill; Maria Fatima Farm Resort and Paradiso Verde Farm where everything is organic.

PARACALE

Before our day comes to a close, we’re off to Paracale where we were welcomed by Julius and the hashtag #ParacaLetsGo. If this sunset won’t make you make your way here, I don’t know what is. Paracale is known as the Gold Town which also means “canal digger.” There are still small scale gold mining operations persist in the outskirts of the town. Then Julius led us to Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, established in 1611, making it 406 years old! Still standing fabulous as ever and not a single scratch from the deadly earthquake that hit its neighboring provinces where century old churches were damaged and others totally destroyed to the ground. Perhaps it can be attributed to the protection from the canonically miraculous image of Our Lady of Candelaria. Not far from this magnificent church is another century milestone – the leaning light house.

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MERCEDES

#LoveKoSiMercedes is the municipality’s tagline but it was hard at first since we had a gloomy and wet welcome, no thanks to the tropical storm making its way out of the country. The group was supposed to visit all the seven islands, famously Siete Pecados: Caringo, Canton, Quinapaguian, Malasugui, Caringo, Apuao Pequeña. Apuao Grande and Caringo islands. Due to heavy rains, we just managed to explore the last three.

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Nonetheless, these islands are perfect if you are longing for peace and quiet. The islands will give you privacy and perfect spot for self-realization.  It’s pretty obvious on the faces of my blogger friends casually walking from one island to another – Kenneth our Dubai Travel Blogger, Jerny of TheJerny.Com and Rona of Travel With Maria.

Going back, you are welcomed by their busy fish port where fresh seafood are being transported for public consumption.

 

[Continue Reading]                  Day 3  Unspoiled Beaches

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Finding Boo In South Cebu

Couchsurfing, popular site for travelers and backpackers, paved the way for me to meet new friends from all over the world, be exposed to different cultures and changed the way I live my life.

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I was doing my rounds in that site, casually helping (and promoting my blog) to travelers going to the Philippines. Then I found Megan; and right there and then, we clicked. I found myself spontaneously booking a flight for Cebu with her host – Mark. Crazy? No. That’s just an ordinary day in my book.

The group’s first meeting was at the airport before our flight to Cebu. No turning back now. Usually, I would have a vibe and know if I could get along with a person, when I met them; everything was just a perfect fit. Upon landing, we made our way to SM Seaside City Cebu, had a quick breakfast, took a shuttle for 100php/pax bound for Moalboal. We arrived at around 1pm, hired a tricycle for 100php/ 3pax taking us straight to Moalboal Backpacker Lodge in Panagsama Beach. This is a dormitory type of lodge with public restrooms & shower rooms, dirty kitchen, refrigerator, multiple electrical outlets and hammocks everywhere! I would definitely recommend this lodge – it’s cheap, clean, and walking distance from sardine run and sea turtles! So dope, right?!

After buying fresh fruits from the market, the three of us wasted no time and went plunging straight to Moalboal waters. There was a storm brewing at the time bringing currents; hence, the sardine run wasn’t as exquisite in the photos. Nonetheless, the experience itself was marvelous. Go ahead, dive in, and see for yourselves.

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Walwal Night

The Chili Bar is one of the busiest pubs in the area – and yes that’s pretty much where I ended the day. Hashtag shocking. I have found new friends, delved into deep conversations, discovered I can be a Colombian, exchanged travel tales, danced like no one was looking, sang til my vocal chords gave up, walked deserted streets at wee hours of the night. Thank you Jessica, Kyle, Doug, Jordin, Lisa, Wout, and especially to you Ana. Ana – you’re just sneaky cute – I actually thought of ditching Oslob and accompanying you one more night in Moalboal haha. I guess, I will have to book a flight to Shanghai and let me couch surf at your place. Then tour me around and teach me how to dance and I will sing whatever you requested. [Update] You’re back in the Philippines and we haven’t met again, how frustrating 😦

Woke up 2 hours later with a massive hangover – but it didn’t stop me from seizing that brand new day. The group had complimentary coffee with Lisa joining us. Thank heavens for the caffeine fix. After quick chit chats, we hopped on a nearby tricycle that brought us to the market then paid 29php each for the bus to take us to Matutinao/ Badian. There, we were welcomed by our guide to Kawasan falls. We had three activities lined up – falls jumping levels 1-3 (running jump, 50ft and 15ft jump); bamboo rafting and water slide w swing. It also included life jacket, entrance & guide fees. All for 600 php per pax, not bad.

Series of Unfortunate Events 

Here I was. Again. Finding myself at the edge of the cliff with wobbly knees but ready to jump. So I did. The camera wasn’t. When I surfaced, I immediately checked if the gopro was on the right angle. To my horror, it was gone. Our guide didn’t think twice, jumped after me and dived to retrieve it. Thank heavens he found it. Not long after that commotion, Mark and Megan jumped. We hiked to the next cliff – probably 50-60 ft high. The view was surreal.

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 After the jumps, I found a spot and captured some shots for my blog. Mark and Megan did some photo shoot on their own. Later when I joined them, my pole being broken was just a tip of the iceberg in terms of the shit the group fell into. Mark and Megan slipped while doing their shoot. Pretty sure Megan said she had a mild concussion while Mark, on the other hand, wounded himself and soaked his thousand dollar camera!

Alright, enough bad luck for one day (or so I thought). To counter these, I say coffee, I won’t get tired of coffee. Right, Megan?

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Crazy Travelers

Mark, being the very generous one, hired a taxi from Moalboal to Tan-awan, Oslob. What a selfless gesture! Thank you Mark. We arrived at around 9pm give or take; unfortunately, all of the hostels were fully booked. This was a Saturday night, so it’s given. Lo and behold, there’s a one good find (or probably just good luck) – Lirasan Store in front of Brumini Resort. We paid Php 800/night for the entire group; that’s roughly Php 270 per pax ($6!!). Oh did I mention, the back door cases of the GoPro were stolen in the lodge and I almost lost my phone. No biggie.

Allow me to introduce the final, integral part of the Crazy Travelers group – Fabio. Yes, out of nowhere, after we were settled in, he showed up alight a bus looking for accommodation. And by settling in, I mean rush fumigation of our room. It  would be best if I kept the specifics to myself. Good thing, our stay-in compound has one vacant room left. After catching up over dinner with our lives scattered across the world, we called it a night. For tomorrow, we are in for a sight of the mights.

Encounter With Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks is definitely one of the heated issues in the traveling community. Thanks to these gentle giants, I was able to fully grasp what travelling is all about – coexistence. It’s in this experience I saw how grand these life forms were and how intimidating their presence could be.

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 I have faith in our government and organizations that there will come a time where we can freely enjoy their humongous company without endangering their very existence.

And nope, our streak of bad luck continued when Megan’s flipper was kicked by one of the guides and was forever lost to oblivion.

[Tip]: Stay at a lodge near the whale sharks (Tan-awan, Oslob). Be early. Like 5:30 am early.

The Adventure Continues

Shrugging off the negativity, we set off to new adventures. We were done with the whale sharks by around 7:30 am. By 8:00 am, we were on our way to Samboan to see some majestic falls.

The falls took a toll in our rumbling stomachs. Our guide slash driver took us to a restaurant in Pebble Beach, Santander (the southern most part of Cebu where Dumaguete is a stone throw away). That might be a little exaggerated, but what I am exaggerating now is the fact that we saw dolphins casually passing through as we lay on the beach! What a treat!

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And we’re not just done yet. Not only the dolphins passed through but also this storm. Storm has no chill.

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We ran to the restaurant and grabbed a few beers. It’s Fabio’s last night in the Philippines so we’ll make the most out of it.

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We thought we lost you, gorgeous sunset. Hells yeah! FYI sunset in Pebble beach is stunning!

The Private Island

Fabio jetted off quite early in the morning bound for Cebu. We haven’t said goodbyes just see you later in Barcelona, right bruh?  By 7:30 am, we arrived at the reception (it’s just a 20 minute walk from Lirasan). After we paid 1,500 php per pax, off we go to the private island!

I highly recommend you guys to stop by this resort! Loads of stuff to do here, perfect for families, couples, backpackers; basically, everyone. You can snorkel in a marine protected area, kayak, fish feed, trek, play beach volleyball, badminton, chill in their pools or in the sand bar, why not. Loads of stuff to do – and did I mention there’s a lunch buffet included in the package? GUHREAT.

The City

Due to operational malfunction, Air Asia scheduled us on a separate, later flights. Mark and Megan took theirs while I opted to stay for one more day to explore the city. Hashtag one more.

Itinerary & Expenses

Day 1 (Cebu City – Moalboal)
6:00 am  Flight to Cebu via Air Asia
Transpo QC to NAIA (bus – 30php and cab – 100php)
Coffee – 53php
7:30 am   ETA Cebu
8:30 am   My Bus to SM City Cebu – 25php
9:15 am    Breakfast @ Sunburst – 100php
10:00 am Cab to SM Seaside – 120 php
Popcorn – 130php
10:30 am PUV to Moalboal – 100php/pax
1:30 pm    Moalboal market
Langka – 30php
2:00 pm   Moalboal Backpackers check in (400php/pax/day)
Snorkel rent – 150php
Unli Brewed Coffee – 80php
M O A L B O A L   A C T I V I T I E S
Sardine Run + Turtle Sightings
9:00 pm  Chili Bar
Beers – 500php (my total share)
Day 2 (Moalboal – Tan-awan, Oslob)
7:00 am Ride trike to market – 100php/3pax
Water – 25php
Paracetamol – 80php
7:30 am Market to Badian – 30php
8:00 am Badian
Breakfast – 50php
K A W A S A N   A D V E N T U R E
9:00 am Kawasan jumps + slide – 600php/pax
Tip to guide – 50php
Chips – 90php
Lunch @local eatery – 50php
2:00 pm The Coffee Shop -120php
3:00 pm Free time (Sardine Run)
7:00 pm Cab to Tan-awan, Oslob
8:30 pm  Lodge hunting at Oslob
9:00 pm Lirasan Store dinner – 100php
Beers – 90php
Day 3 (Oslob – Samboan – Santander)
5:30 am   Snooze off/ freshen up
6:00 am  Shuttle to whale shark drop off point -500php/pax (local); 1000php (foreigner)
6:30 am  Orientation
W H A L E S H A R K S   E N C O U N T E R
7:20 am  Brisk walk to our lodge to shower
8:30 am  Off to Samboan, Cebu
Tricycle rented for 1 day – 300php/pax
S A M B O A N   F A L L S
9:00 am  Aguinid Falls
Entrance – 20php/pax
Tip – 50php
Parking – 25php
11:00 am Hidden Falls
Entrance – 20php/pax
Tip – 50php
1:00 pm   Lunch at Pebble Beach – 160php
C H I L L I N ‘  A T   S A N T A N D E R   B E A C H
4:00 pm  Meryenda (beer + fries) -100php
Another round on me – 155php
6:30 pm   Back to Tan-awan
8:00 pm  Dinner at Brumini Resort – 280php
Day 4 (Sumilon – Cebu City)
7:00 am   Breakfast – 80php
7:30 am    Walk to Sumilon Resort reception – 1500php/pax
S U M I L O N   P R I V A T E   I S L A N D
1:30 pm     Back to lodge
Lirasan Lodge – 533php/pax for 2D/2N stay
2:30 pm    Bus to Cebu City – 149php
6:30 pm    Check in at Tr3ats – 350php/pax overnight
9:00pm     Dinner at Larsian -140php
Jeeps – 21php
Day 5 (Cebu City)
E X T E N D E D  S T A Y   I N   T H E   C I T Y 
Tr3ats 1 day stay – 900php
Breakfast – 100php
Jeeps – 21php
Lunch at Robinson’s Cyber Gate – 200php
Bar hopping – Booze – 1000php
Day 6 (Cebu – MNL)
B A C K   T O   R E A L I T Y
Cab to airport – 250php
Breakfast – 100php
Grab NAIA to Pasay terminal – 125php
Lunch – 170php

My Take Aways

Yeah, I may have not found my boo in south Cebu. But, to have these friends and the experience can somehow make up for it. Well, maybe not. But you get the point. 😀
S/O to Mark for that cab ride treat and some of your shots here were lit. Carol, as always, thank you for being generous – I still owe you dinner!
PS. Fabio, I still have the 70K IDR. I might have to use it in Bali someday haha 🙂
Quickie tip: Enjoy life like a kid!
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Cheers everyone!
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Quickies, out!
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INIDU ELNIDO

When one hit rock bottom, feel that pain, make it your drive to rise up and be whole again. I found myself in that state again. I said to myself…I do need you, El Nido. 

Travel. Make new friends. Enjoy.

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The Planning

Thanks to social media, it has now been really easy to spot on cheap af flights. When I saw promo flights from Air Asia almost a year ago, I immediately booked my entire famliy (we’re just three, maka-entire) bound for Puerto Princesa (PPS). They’ve been bugging me about my travels for the longest time – why am I the only one who traveled to nice places, rode a plane, you know the drill. So I figured for my mom’s 62nd birthday, I’ll take them to the place where I discovered my passion and love for traveling, Couchsurfing and travel blogging – El Nido.

Tip#1: If you’re planning to go to El Nido, allot at least 4 days in Palawan. Breakdown: 5-6 hours land travel from PPS to El Nido town. That’s 10-12 hours for round trip alone (combined with R&R that’s 1 day already). 3 days in El Nido is painstakingly enough to cover two island hopping tours then an inland tour on your last day. Remember to plan your travels ahead. It will definitely, definitely save you a lot of money and worry. Also for travelers on a budget, I suggest booking cheap inns in El Nido – island hopping will consume most of your energy, then what’s left off it for beach parties. Probably 2-4 hours will be allocated for sleeping, so. I always say why sleep in paradise when you can sleep at work? Well, this is just me.

Scratch that, forget everything I said. There won’t be enough days to digest these majestic slices of heaven.

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How much did I spend on the airfare? Roughly 700 pesos per pax. Yep, roundtrip. Here comes the hard part, I am a DIY traveler slash backpacker slash I can sleep on the beach if I have to – but my mom isn’t. This is our first ever trip together and I wanted them to have the best time. I am pretty sure El Nido won’t disappoint but the little things must be detailed and planned. Good thing, I have a wonderful friend. She hooked me up with an awesome, cheap quote from Kalipayan tours (below). Thanks, Lisa! Next up, Balesin? 😂

Note though, island hopping tours aren’t included in the quote. Pretty understandable, hence, I used another outlet – the DIY Travel Philippines facebook group. This group is amazing. I have never been active to any page or group til I came across this one on my feed. I highly encourage my traveler friends to add this group. Members and admins here were very helpful. So I was following a PPSxEl Nido thread on this group when I saw Michael Yao’s of Tripidito Travel comment. He mentioned 1900php per pax for Tours A&C – I immediately pm-ed him. Normally, Tour A cost 1200php per pax and Tour C for 1400php so it’s actually quite a nice deal. Yep, there are still way cheaper tours on the group but mostly are DIY on the island itself. I wanted to avail those but then again, I have a senior citizen in the midst – I opted for pre-booked tours for a smooth sailing trip. Thanks again Mike for making our lives easier on the island. Before I forget, you need to pay 200php as environmental fee once you start the tours. This is just a one time payment. So if you have multiple tours (say A,B,C), you’ll pay 200php that covers all those aforementioned.

Shall we start?

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The Arrival

We landed in Puerto Princesa on a one fine, humid night of June 8th. We checked in to Circon Business Inn and after settling down, went straight to Kinabuch’s for dinner. Kinda pricey but you’ll get your money’s worth. They even have this humongous TV screen – playing the NBA finals. Service was moderate to slow but the food made up for it. Es muy delicioso!

The Underground

Our van picked us up at around 7:30am the morning of June 9th then made our way to Sabang. We arrived at around 10:30am cos we had numerous stops  (picking up other people included in the tour and finalizing our permits) Even the Balikatan forces were there waiting for their cue to ride the boat that would take them to the infamous underground river. Good thing our fellow tour mates already had a reserved boat, we didn’t wait that much longer. This was my second time underground and I must say, the tour has improved a lot. Now we have this audio device where a synchronized voice over talked to us over our earphones as we pass through this magnificent creation. I found it very relaxing not to focus on what your boat guide had to say when you are seated in front of the boat. You just have to sit back and enjoy the view as you have a personalized voice guide muttering the underground wonders. The tour is about 45 min long and concluded in a sumptuous buffet lunch. I had a pleasure of talking to Fabi, my new found German friend. He introduced me to a place called Port Barton. Yes, that’s in Palawan. And I had no idea – shame on me.

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The City

The city tour is not my cup of tea. I wouldn’t take it if I was with my friends. But I wasn’t- so. Our half day city tour started at 9am of June 10. We visited Binuatan Creations, Mitra’s mansion and ranch, Baker’s Hill, Crocodile farm, bay walk, Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa Cathedral and my favorite and last stop – Pasalubong center (souvenir shops). At the end of the day, I pondered and realized, oh yeah, I did enjoy the city and discovered things on a more personal level than just reading them online. So hurry book a city tour if you have ample time in PPS- plus it’s one of the safest cities in the Philippines so why the hell not, right?

The Last Frontier

Right after we had lunch, the van picked us up for our 5hr journey to the highlight of our weeklong trip – El Nido. We safely arrived at our lodge – El Nido (Bacuit) Sands Inn at around 8pm night of June 10. Note that this inn is for backpackers, solo travelers, travelers on a tight budget- they have public toilets and showers. Since it’s our first night in paradise, we decided to splurge a bit and ate at the beach front. Food’s bordering on the average – guess we’re just paying for the ambiance and this view:

What a sight to behold – picturesque view from our balcony.

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The Tours

Tour A – Day 1

7 Commando Beach (yes, senyora was commanding me 7 times at the back, magsaing na daw ako)

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Paglugaban Beach (Shimizu at the time was so crowded; this was where we had lunch )

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Secret Lagoon (pardon my orgasm face)

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Big Lagoon (candid moment as we head out of this lagoon hashtag priceless)

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Small Lagoon (our first kayak!)

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Tour C – Day 2

Helicopter Island (the island all to ourselves)

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Talisay Beach / Matinloc Shrine (we just passed through since we don’t wanna pay entrance fee – had buffet lunch on the boat instead)

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Hidden Beach

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Secret Beach

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Snorkeling Area (wait for the underwater photos below, it’s so good!)

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Inland Tour – Day 3

Nacpan Beach (yup, my Nacpan-Ko-Daw-Nipples-Ko shot)

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Calitang Beach (Twin Beach) actually for me, that’s a trio beach – 3rd beach on the left side

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Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls

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Las Cabañas

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It’s a completely different world down under:

The Itinerary

Kalipayan Tours – June 8 to 15, 2016 (Island Hopping tours excluded)                            Contacts: Venus – +63977 711 4332 | Grazel – +63917 526 2008 (Kalipayan Tours & Circon)

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Tripidito Travel – Tours A & C

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Inland Tour
Contact Kuya Wames Niel – (0950) 500 5419
Negotiated 1500php (for 3 pax via his tricycle whole day) for the tour mentioned above. He even volunteered to be our guide for Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls where there’s a 200php charge per head. Trek to the falls took us 30 minutes one way (blame my mom ha! nope, amazing she managed to finish the trek at her age – well folks, age is just a number!) We saved 600 bucks! Started the tour at 9am ended at around 6:00pm.

The Expenses

Kalipayan Tours Php 20,100 (3 pax)

Tripidito Travel: Tours A&C Php 5,700 (1900 per pax)

Night 1 (PPS)
400 Grab Bacoor to Terminal 4, NAIA
200 Toll fee
350 Airport food
30 Tricycle to Kinabuch’s
930 Kinabuch’s (dinner for three)
30 Tricycle back to Circon Inn
105 Beers before bedtime
300 Essentials & groceries

Day 1
200 Shakes at Sabang
120 Environmental fee (40php per pax)
45 Bottled water
60 Coffee sachets
218 Take out dinner from guess what, McDonalds

Night 2
97 Essentials & groceries
265 ChowKing dinner

Day 2
135 Baked goodies from Baker’s Hill
294 Lunch – Jollibee
70 Plastic Bag for pasalubongs and extra baggages
110 Lunch part 2 at Halfway restaurant (roughly 100km to El Nido)

Night 3 (El Nido)
660 dinner by the beach; hence the expense  (first night so we splurged)
30 wet wipes

Day 3
170 water & coffee

Night 4
320 (8) RH beers at Bacuit Grill #happyhour
120 fries
180 sisig
140 (2) SML beers
140 (2) SML beers
100 mom’s dinner
50 tip
70 sprite
320 junk foods

Day 4
90 groceries water
90 meds for hangover and flu like symptoms

Night 5
250 dinner at a local carinderia
388 groceries

Day 5
60 water
100 entrance nacpan
10 bata
1700 inland tour (200 tip)
30 gate pass wfalls
320 food in nacpan
40 water in waterfalls

Night 5
66 Bottled water
60 Mom’s dinner
100 Beer from somewhere I can’t remember
720 Happy hour RH beers from Las Cabañas
150 Hotdog – recovery food
100 trike back to El Nido town

Day 6 (El Nido – am then PPS – pm)
30 Water
240 Lunch at local carinderia
122 Essentials & groceries
360 Lunch part 2at resto beside halfway
50 Tricycle to terminal
100 Tip to Bonbon (Sands Inn front desk)
20 Tricycle to Pasalubong center
16 Tricycle back to Circon Inn

Night 6
340 Lunch again at Jollibee
2110 Pasalubongs
500 Cake

Day 7
60 Tricycle to airport
600 Terminal fee (200php per pax)

Air Fare RT  Php 2,203.20 (all in for 3 pax)

Grand Total of Php 43,078.20 (for 3 pax)

Expenditures Analysis

We definitely saved a lot in terms of the tours I already pre-booked and thanks to my haggling skills on the inland tour I negotiated with Kuya Wames. However, half of the cost of our 1 week itinerary is attributed to the miscellaneous items we bought in the island which can be trimmed down exponentially with careful planning.

Tip#2: Before you start your way to El Nido, make sure to bring your essentials (or buy in the city) with you – water (if you rented a van or taking a public shuttle, bring those 5L gallons with you), toiletries and miscellaneous stuff for your rituals. Trust me, you’ll save a few hundred bucks!

Tip#3: You can definitely spend less compared to what was written here. I, myself, is a poor traveler. This trip is one exemption to the rule cos it’s a first of many – first family travel, their first time in Palawan, let alone El Nido, their first airplane ride, among others. There are many carinderias (local eatery) in the area just 3-5 minute walk from the beach where prices are comparable to carinderias in Metro Manila. Go explore, talk to people.

Tip#4: If you love alcohol like me, utilize the Happy Hour! Bars and restaurants scattered across the beach front had this happy hour from 4-7pm. Beers and cocktails were cheap af!

Tip#5: Take pictures, build memories, mingle with people i.e, below.

Shout out to my new found friends from around the world. See you around beautiful people.

Fabi – I have a contact now in Port Barton, I think she’ll give me discount. Hi Ma’am Josie hehe. I met her the day after we did the underground tour haha!

Linda & Candice – It was so nice meeting you ladies from our first night in El Nido to your last. So happy bumping with you in the streets from time to time 🙂

Jon – Don’t ever slip again haha you got me out of breath for like 2 seconds! See you in Guam or back here? You decide and stay alive! 😛

Pablo, Greta/Carla, Crusti – Thank you for being such an accommodating group. You made our last night in El Nido extra special! I’ll invite you in my “resort”, you tour me in Madrid? Deal?

Kuya Bangkero and Kuya Chefs, thank you for serving a sumptuous feast! Sa uulitin!

It took me 4 years to go back here. I’m surely hoping it won’t take another 4 years for me to experience another slice of heaven here on Earth. *cough* sponsors *cough*

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Til my next quick escape, El Nido.

Photos were taken using iPhone 6S+, GoPro Hero 4 and SJCAM 4000. Special thanks to Tinai and RB for lending their awesome gears. Videos and mini vlogs coming soon!

Cheers!

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Since there’s no Laboracay 2018

I have created a short video on my trip last year to one of the most pristine beaches in the country, in the world rather.

What’s Laboracay though? It is a summer beach party there in Boracay during the Labor Day weekend. Hence, the coined term Laboracay is born, Labor x Boracay, you don’t say?!

Escape with me and take a quick plunge to Boracay, Philippines!

PS. Videos taken using GoPro Hero4 and Hero3+. Check out the entire adventure here.

PPS. Laboracay can kiss my ass!

Til my next travel, quickies out!

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Super Siam (Part 1/3)

Let loose and let go of your inhibitions. Lose yourself in the process- for this is when you get a grip of what’s important in your life then you hold on to it. Tie it up, tight..Where else? In Tie-land. K.

October 24, 2015 (Manila – Bangkok)

It has been 2 years since I got a passport and for the longest time I had been itching to have it stamped. Jumping to first quarter of 2015, I pitched an idea to my friends – celebrate my 26th overseas! Oh boy, we’re ecstatic! One of my friends, Mac, works in Thailand; the other, Krista, in Singapore. We agreed to start the trip in Bangkok then fly to Kuala Lumpur then cross the border to Singapore. Country hopping it is!!! I could pretty much sum up my 2015 to the anticipation of our epic out of the country. Yeah I guess I’m the virgin – in international travel that is!

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Sawa(s)dee indeed!

I made it a point to be always involved in the pre-travel shennanigans – planning, booking hostels and finalizing itineraries. Well since it’s my birthday, I let my friends do the most of the dirty work. Come on, I was the one visiting them – technically Nikko (the guy who passed the test of friendship) and I were the guests of honor.

Fast forward to the night of October 24 with bags wrapped in my arms, we rode a pedicab to the airport hence avoiding these scalping cab drivers and the notorious laglag bala gang.

Since we had quite some time, Nikko and I had dinner before going to immigration. And so we ate and chill. Voila, we only had 15 minutes left prior boarding and we haven’t even passed the immigration! Let the running and rushing begin. Thankfully we were interviewed for at most 60 seconds then we ran to our designated gate and there they were already boarding the plane. Lucky us! Little did we know, we had set the pace of our entire travel – the Amazing Race Asia!

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Our friend Marcris welcomed us at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at around 12am BKK time. Our flight ETA was 11:50pm Manila time. Wait, what? (BKK time = Manila time minus 1 hour) Thus, complaining of waiting for us – can’t blame him. We took a cab; went straight to his place at Nontabhuri and introduced us to the legit mama (noodle soup) and drank a few beers to conclude my first and last peaceful night in Thailand.

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October 25 – Day (Bangkok)

We were greeted by a warm Bangkok sun telling us to get ready and fetch our dear friend Krista who’ll be arriving from Singapore. We insisted on commuting to immerse ourselves in the local scene. How did we go there?

  • Public utility van (PUV) to The Mall Ngamwongwan to exchange currencies (1 USD =  35.73 Baht)
  • Bus to Victory Monument.
  • Victory Monument BTS skytrain station on the Sukhumvit Line in Ratchathewi District to BTS Phaya Thai
  • Airport Link (Phaya Thai) to Suvarnabhumi

Krista was already waiting when we got there. Hashtag blame the traffic. Of course since we had the airport all to ourselves, we took our first group photo! More to follow, sorry!

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Yes, like Singapore, they have an efficient mass transit system – the BTS which is elevated while in SG it’s underground.

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We wasted no time exploring Siam Paragon (below) while stopping by Food Hall to take a quick lunch.

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And by lunch, I mean these…

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Kidding! Yes, I can jump from a 5 story building yet I can only look at these for 5 seconds, let alone eat it! Sorry, not my cup of tea. Well I might consider, if the price is right or I’m drunk. Most likely, the latter.

Why use cabs? They have tuktuk here!  We headed back to Victory monument where our next adventure awaits .

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Publishing the next part hopefully next week! For now, you can watch our adventures by clicking on these links below:

BKK x KL x SG (let’s take hopping to the next level)

 

Tuktuk ride!

 

Full Moon Party  (Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Thailand)

Stay tuned to our next escape!

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Captivating Calaguas

“One hell of a ride yet heaven when we arrived!”

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I have used that line back when we went to Dicasalarin Cove; but I think, the trip to Calaguas toppled it all in every aspect.

Why is that? Let’s go back to where my quick escape started…

But wait, check out first our happy faces and the beauty of Calaguas caught on cam here:

I am always a DIY person when it comes to traveling and soul searching. But whenever I’ll be organizing a trip for more than 8 pax, I’ll ask for someone else to do it for me – hence; Cookies Travel and Tours is my go to agent. Full list of itinerary and expenses below.

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Our group met at 9pm Friday night in SM North and braved the place where forever existed – EDSA. We stopped at 2nd pick up point in McDonald’s Buendia to meet the other groups the travel agency was hosting. All in, we’re about 4 groups (40 people displaced in 4 Grandia vans). This was the major setback – we didn’t have control over our time. We had to wait for other people to arrive, not to mention, how frequent they insisted on having stopovers after a couple of minutes cause they wanna pee (they’re already drinking along the way). Another thing that prolong our already long agony drive was that one van lost his way and we had to convene and discuss the plan (which I thought, they already had since they won’t be a travel agency for nothing, right?) Our estimated travel time of 7 hours became a dragging 12 hours. It’s safe to say I am reverting back to DIY trips be it a large group or what not. We reached Paracale, Camarines Norte at 9am.

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But that was not the worst part.

We only got half an hour before we board our boat– our group dispersed in buying last minute essentials – (2) 5 gallon water, plastic bags for waterproofing our things, pulutan, coffee and booze. We hopped on to a 25-capacity banca hoping against hope – a safe, smooth ride.

Safe? Debatable. Smooth? That was the craziest, bumpiest,stomach- turning, worst boat ride I experienced to date. We’re like survivor castaways (yes we’re dripping wet, wet from the rain and waves!) with no staff and crew to help if the boat stumbled over. A normal person could’ve endured that ride given enough rest. Luckily, our case was entirely the opposite. Hashtag no pun. The other groups had it worse, yup the ones I mentioned drinking, you can imagine how comfortable their trip was –stretch it to freaking two and half hours of seesaw motion.

Finally, our faces lit up when we saw the captivating Calaguas’ coast!

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Huge surfer waves welcomed us as we alight the boat. I couldn’t care less since I was already soaking wet – I jumped off as soon as we reached the shore. The struggle was real when we needed to transport our belongings off the boat.
Tips: Waterproof your things! Bring raincoat or plastic jacket too!

We were exhausted from the trip that waiting for our travel agency to cook us food would drove us nuts. Good thing, one of our friends, prepared a packed lunch good for 10 pax. What a relief. Another tip right there!

Now a bit energized, we faced yet another roadblock – setting up the Vango (the humongous 10 people tent where you can glamp all night long). After an hour, we managed to erect the goddamn shelter. And the food from our agent were ready too. Round 2 of Man Vs Food commenced.

With no cellular service, we were left to enjoy what we have around – good company, majestic view, fine sand, amazing beach. who am I to complain right?! Sometimes, it’s exhilarating to disconnect from the world and strengthen your relationship to the real connections you got – your family, your friends. The virtual world will still be there when you get back, trust me.

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With our phones just for snapping pics, playing JB songs, and occasionally as flash light, time surely can pass slowly. We partied the night around in our rented nipa hut and drank til we drop in the sand. Dancing and shouting  in the shore like crazy, oh boy, hashtag no regrets. I remembered sleeping in the tent only to wake up an hour later. That’s my body clock telling me to sleep anywhere but here.

I was greeted by a cool island breeze as I step out of the tent. My friends and I decided to play volleyball and cap it off by a morning swim.

Ronnie of PlanB tours invited us for a quick 10 minute hike to a hill at one end of the island. We got to see an awesome scenic view of Calaguas and its neighboring islands. What a sight!

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The waters of Calaguas isn’t for the weak of heart – especially when you easily get sea sick. But for those who can endure the ride – this piece of heaven is for you. Boracay can boast its impeccable white sand and crystal clear waters but Calaguas can rival its spotless, powdery sand and the serenity this virgin island has to offer.

Itinerary 

Day 1

9:00 pm Pick up point SM North

10:00 pm McDonald’s/ Shell Buendia bound for Paracale

9:00 am Paracale, Camarines Norte

9:00 – 10:00 am Waterproofing, last minute shopping

10:00 – 12:30 pm Epic boat ride

12:30 pm Lunch, set up tent

1: 30 – 6:00 pm Beach time

6:30 pm Dinner

7:00 pm – 5:00 am Walwal aka party all night long

Day 2

7:00 am – Breakfast

8:00 am – 11:30 am Volleyball, swim, hike

11:30 am – Depart Calaguas

1:30 pm – ETA Paracale port

7:00 pm – ETA Manila

Expenses:

Cookies Travel and Tour: Calaguas

2D/1N stay at P 2,999/head

Package includes:

Roundtrip van transfer

Environmental fee

Entrance fee

Roundtrip boat transfer

3 Meals – Lunch, Dinner and Breakfast

Personals (transpo and dinner at McDo)  x contribution (booze, food, essentials): approximately P 1,000
I’m pretty sure my friends won’t be back here anytime soon. As for me, I am open for any invites!

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Quezon Buffet – Best Sisig in the Metro

Traveling at my own cost really took a toll on my personal savings (or what’s left of it). Laughs – not really. Reviewing a newly opened buffet restaurant was definitely a breath of fresh air. Since it’s free, that’s where I gotta be.

When you had something for free and it was bad – you don’t have a say. On the contrary, if it was good and free at the same time – it’s like winning a raffle. In my case, a lottery.

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I arrived at Fisher Mall at half past four – way late from the 2:00 pm call time. Although, I came all the way from Cavite, I thought to myself, well if the event’s done, I deserved it cos of my ever reliable time management. Lo and behold, it’s as if the event waited for me. The counters were all served with sumptuous offerings. Other dishes being replenished as I salivate at the side.

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What Quezon Has To Offer

Quezon buffet boasts its decadence array of strong Filipino – Spanish tie through its immaculate dishes of gastronomic proportions.

I couldn’t even put to words my exact thoughts when I had my first sisig bite. It just exploded in my palate. Their sisig dish comes in three’s: Bangus, Chicken and Pork. I know sisig isn’t for everyone – but please take my word for it to drop by whenever you’re around the area.

I’m not skipping the best part (for most foodies). Not far where I left my heart lay another heart wrenching dish – lechon! Yes I’m not that of a huge fan; but, oh boy, the crispness, texture and flavor can be compared to the infamous Cebu’s Zubuchon. And they serve it at a buffet – how dope! Lechon Chili Belly all-you-want definitely sounds my cup of tea.

I know, I know these dishes must be paired with rice, right? Quezon buffet didn’t disappoint offering yet another scene stealer – Paella. Filled with mussels, pork bits and veggies. Kanin pa lang ulam na!

Other food choices include Beef Kare Kare, Sinigang sa Pula, Dinakdakan, Callos, Bulalo Steak among others. I had a few portions and came back to refill my plate. Nothing is going wrong for Chef Kalel and his team!

How rude of me not to talk about desserts! Their leche flan (crème caramel) and brazo de mercedes were to die for! Not literally of diabetes cos they have a balanced level of sucrose – not too sweet making me feel less guilty I gave in to temptation. Make your own halo-halo, turon with langka, sticky pudding with mango purée, palitaw and other kakanins completed the line up of the desserts. Very Pinoy, indeed.

Ambiance & Staff

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Faint lighting from their posh chandeliers wrapped around the banquet making the ambiance very cozy and relaxing. The restaurant can host around 200 people – perfect for all occasions. Although the opening was swamped (not seen in the photo) and looked undermanned, the staff were accommodating and more than willing to satisfy everyone’s needs. They sure replenish the food fast – perhaps because it’s the opening with media and celebrities gracing the event.

I do wish they continue this going forward – cos it makes or break a buffet restaurant.

Price

Absolutely affordable. Treat your family, friends, colleagues here. Quezon buffet will do the rest.

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So it is now safe to say I am a travel foodie. Thank you thewanderjunkie for accompanying me gatecrash this event.

We sure had a lot of laughs and our stomachs full.

Thanks again Quezon buffet for showcasing and being the forefront in promoting our rich Filipino cuisine.

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