Mount Kalugong (Benguet, PH)

“I like the mountains because they make me feel small,’ Jeff says. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.” — Mark Obmascik, Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled–and Knuckleheaded–Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

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Having lived in Baguio for over 15 years, I was able to see and experience places near the city not many people knew about. Being a self-confessed mountain-enthusiast, my weekends then were spent either pigging out in various Baguio City restaurant or sauntering my way to several mountains in Benguet. Now, if you are interested in marveling at a 360 degrees vista of the La Trinidad Valley, a chill and quick climb (less than an hour) to Mt. Kalugong Eco-Park is a place you might want to check out. It’s an eco-park, I know, however it is still a mountain top of sorts.

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Going through my write-ups about Benguet (and Cordillera) mountains I have scaled, I am surprised that only now am I making one for Mount Kalugong (considering that this is actually one of the first few mountains I have climbed in the area). Moreover, this mountain that boasts a beautiful rocky promontory in La Trinidad, is one of the well-known peaks in the capital town.

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By the way, the name Kalugong is a local term for “hat” as the rocky peak looks like a hat from afar. The climb actually is pretty easy as the road going to the park itself is established (at least at this point in time, unlike my first trek wayback 2009 when trail was not as good as what is now). The problem one might encounter now is when you start your walk while sun is already up or when it rains in the area (as the pine needles and rocks can be slippery).

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During the heyday, the main points of entry were a road in Barangay Tawang, and or via Sitio Tabangaoen in Barangay Balili (requiring someone to enter the premises of Benguet State University/ BSU). My friends and I would often use the latter as our point of entry and the former as our point of exit. Now a private property, the eco-park has undergone some developments that included a new entrance point which is via Barangay Cruz.

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Today, noticeable improvements were made that include traditional Cordilleran huts/houses, and some picnic tables. The highlight of going to Mount Kalugong is of course, making your way to the peak which is made up of amazing rock formations. Though it can be quite challenging to some (especially to those who have fear of heights), standing atop the sharp, naturally carved rocks is an adventure itself. The view from there is more than picturesque as it gives an outstanding vista of Baguio City and the La Trinidad Valley.

Another must experience is to have a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at the Kape-an, the cafe atop this mountain. Besides the great selection of hot and cold drinks, sumptuous cakes – the view of the entire La Trinidad valley is just impossible to ignore.

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How to Get to Mount Kalugong (the easiest way):

From Baguio City, take a jeep going to La Trinidad. Make sure that the jeepney passes by Barangay Upper Cruz and inform the driver that you are getting down at the Baguio Memorial Services in Barangay Cruz (upper). You will see a post that indicating which road leads to Mount Kalugong. Walk your way up through the road until you arrive at a fenced area, proceed inside and continue walking til the end of the road where you can see a welcome sign that indicates you have reached the eco-park.

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Don’t be a watsed soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

In Photos: Hong Kong

ong Kong is an autonomous territory, and a former British colony, located at the southeastern portion of China. It is one of the most visited travel destination at this side of Asia because of its a vibrant, skyscraper-studded skyline and the many natural and man-made attractions. It also boasts off its highly urbanized centers as it is a well-established global financial hub. Furthermore, Hong Kong is a shopping paradise, and a food destination. Day or night, Hong Kong is simply mesmerizing.

Here are some snapshots during my brief Hong Kong visit. Will add more soon.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. take it easy everyJuan.

Be a Travelspiration

So I just coined a new word for my self called “travelspiration”. I tried to google it up afterwards, and i’m pretty surprised some people use it too. Obvious as it is, “travelspiration” is a portmanteau of the words travel and inspiration.

Traveling has to be one of the most satisfying experiences a person can do in his/her lifetime. Many times, I have claimed that traveling awakens my soul, arouses my senses, and colors my world in a new hue. It is a way of living, it is my way of living…

So here are some thoughts that have personally inspired/ motivated me during my travels. I have made use some of my favorite travel photographs.

Warsaw PolandBratislava SlovakiaBucharest RomaniaRiga LatviaBudapest HungaryVienna AustriaVilnius LithuaniaComo ItalyReykjavik IcelandTallinn EstoniaYogya IndonesiaRotorua New Zealand

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJUAN.

*PS: Will add more as I travel around. You are most welcome to share these “travelspiration.

Borobudur & Prambanan: Indonesia’s Soul

Yogyakarta (often called “Jogja or Yogya”) is a city on the island of Java known for its beyond visible traditional arts, cultural and intellectual heritage – hence being regarded as Indonesia’s “soul”.

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This special region of Indonesia is sternly independent and protecting of its customs, and still headed by its sultan, whose Kraton (a royal palace) remains the center of traditional life, despite Yogya being a large urban centre – making it one of Indonesia’s most liveable (and lovable) city!

What makes it more lovable? Yogyakarta is home to two of Indonesia’s most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan!

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Set amongst dewy, forest-clad hills near the city of Yogyakarta is a structure built in about 800AD. Borobudur is regarded as one of the world’s most extraordinary temples. It is made up of 72 stupas — mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics, typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns) each containing a Buddha figure. I have to say that this is the ultimate splendor of this important sacred monument.

A succession of five square bases is thriven by three circular terraces with the 72 stupas around it. It is said that these signifies the transcendent passage from the life of desire, by way of meditation to Enlightenment. If the temple is viewed from atop, it looks like a lotus flower. (Too bad I don’t have a drone camera to capture such).

Today, Borobudur whose landscape is dominated by the Gunung Merapi Volcano is a UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site.

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Aside from Borobudur, another noteworthy UNESCO World Heritage Site is the 9th and 10th century Hindu complex of Prambanan. Prambanan is a temple devoted to Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma.

The main temple of Prambanan measures over 150 feet tall. Its towers appear to be neck crane-like with very elaborate reliefs. Some tourists say that Prambanan is reminiscent of Angkor Wat in Cambodia (which I have yet to see). Being one of the largest Hindu temples in the entire Southeast Asia, this temple is a must-see. And if you will ask me which between Borobudur and Prambanan I like better, I’d say – the later.

Things to take note of:
• Borobudur is open 6am-5pm, admission 75,000 Rp, but you can gain earlier access with a “sunrise ticket”, available through your hotel or a package tour.
• You may or may not have a local guide within the temple (costs around Rp75,000).
• Prambanan is also open 6am-5pm, admission is same with Borobudur.
• Make sure to wear something decent.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. take it easy ebri’juan’…

Nagudungan Hill (Calayan Island, PH)

Through this post, allow me to take you to the surreal Nagudungan Hill.

Nature’s work of art is something beyond remarkable. The Philippines’ landscape and seascape are authentication of nature’s spectacular creations. Our beaches are some of the best in the world, and what makes our coastline more picturesque, are amazing rock formations.

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The Babuyan Group of Islands in Northern Luzon boast off some of the most scenic seascapes in the country. One particular site that will leave you in awe is the Nagudungan Hill. I was speechless for a moment when I saw it the first time. It was like love at first sight.

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The easy trek to the windy hill is one of my most treasured experiences. Having scene several hills across the country – from the Vayang Rolling Hills of Batanes to the verdant Quitinday Hills of Albay, to the famed Chocolate Hills of Bohol (with which each of them are unique and special) – on a personal point of view, I find the hill the most beautiful and romantic, perhaps one of the most stunning, picturesque landcsape-seascape at this side of the Philippines.

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Upon reaching the top of the hills, you’ll be lost for words. You get to see a spectacular view of three white-sand dotted coves — Caniwara, Cibang and Cababaan; jaw-dropping rock formations everywhere, a simple lighthouse perched atop that adds charm to the place, and a number of Causarina/Australian Pine Trees that have withstood the strong winds that frequent the place. I am not very good with describing how beautiful a place is so I am leaving the photos in this write up to give justice to Nagudungan’s beauty.

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It felt surreal standing atop the rocks I have climbed. For a moment, I felt my heart beating triple time whenever I dare myself to walk through the edge of the beautiful cliffs of Nagudungan. I found myself at lost in finding the most appropriate superlatives. One of my favorite spot is a humongous hollow space resembling like a pit. Looking down, one will be mesmerized by some naturally formed nooks, striations and indentation. More rocks are found below with which large waves continuously batter.

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A visual spectacle indeed!

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Again, I’ll leave some of the photos I took for you my readers to get a glimpse of what this amazing place offers.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

 

Temple of Leah (Cebu City, PH)

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. – Khalil Gibran

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I have a soft spot for grand art pieces and architectural designs that is why I fancy of going to Italy and Greece someday… While I am still building my path towards achieving that dream, I satiate my love for such beauty by visiting places that offer amazing and eye-satiating art works.

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One of the newest attraction drawer of the Queen City of the South (Cebu) is the Temple of Leah — a work of art that is built as a sign of undying love. It is said that the temple was the brainchild of Mr. Teodorico Adarna, the grandfather of Philippine actress Ellen Adarna and owner of Queensland motels. The temple was constructed as a symbol of his undying love for her wife, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna.

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When it was opened to the public in February of this year (2015), the temple is still under-construction. I attempted to visit the place during my last 2 Cebu stint but my hectic schedule prevented me from doing so. My latest stay in Cebu gave me an opportunity to finally see this much talked about temple atop the mountainous side of the city, Busay.

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Upon reaching the gates of the temple, one would immediately notice the life-size sculptures, high pillars and the Roman-styled edifice. The construction is still on-going. Nonetheless, it still is a masterpiece that truly amazed me. The stairs leading inside the temple is guarded by two golden lion statues that somehow looks like roaring sentinels. Once you enter, more intricately designed sculptures will greet you and at the center is a 9-foot bronze statue of Leah. Really a feast to the sense of sight!

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The place also offers a stunning view of Cebu cityscape and mountainside. I promise to go back once the temple is finished and take more photos. I am not certain as to when I could set foot on a real ancient city like Rome, but my visit here at the Temple of Leah, in the meantime, made up for that yearning.

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How to Reach Temple of Leah:

Temple of Leah is located in Roosevelt St., Brgy. Busay Cebu City.

If you are coming from Manila, take a plane ride to Cebu via Mactan International Airport. Get a cab going to JY Square Mall. From there, cheapest way is to take a motorcycle (habal-habal) which is much preferred over a taxi as the way to Busay is quite steep and meandering.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

Tangadan Falls (La Union, PH)

“Behind the waterfall of love you’ll find me, hiding in a barrel.” — Jarod Kintz

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When you ask someone what should one do when in La Union, most often than not, that person will tell you to go to San Juan and surf. True enough, surfing at this coastal town is indeed the “it” thing to do in the Ilocandia’s smallest province. But, just like what I have mentioned in my previous “ElYu” blogs, there is more to La Union other than surfing.

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Slowly making abuzz among local travelers is LU’s well-kept secret (no more). A 40-plus feet picturesque and cascading waterfalls called Tangadan in the quiet and laidback town of San Gabriel. I, myself, have heard of this from a friend who hails from La Union.

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This natural beauty is located 3.5 kilometers from the boundary barangays of Duplas and Dagup in San Gabriel. Before trekking my way to this waterfall, I actually haven’t read anything that speaks about walking through some really luscious grounds and some bouldering and some knee-deep wading/river trekking. So there you go my friends, take that as part of the “expectation check”. So even before you decide to swim or jump off the pretty cliffs of Tangadan, make sure you are ready to get damp. Going to the waterfalls may take you an hour or so depending oin how muddy the terrain is and how good you are in maneuvering along the river banks. Nonetheless, once you reach the waterfalls, you will be mesmerized just like us.

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How To Reach Tangadan Falls:

From Manila, ride a Vigan or Laoag bound bus then inform the driver to drop you off at the San Juan municipal hall. In front of San Juan’s municipal Hall, there are jeepneys going to San Gabriel (this will take around 15-20 minutes). Once I San Gabriel, ride a tricycle going to the jump-off of Tangadan. Local guides are waiting there. If it is your first time to go to the waterfalls, I suggest that you take with you a local guide as the trail can be quite confusing.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Bontoc Museum (Mountain Province, PH)

The Bontoc Museum was founded by a Belgian nun whose aim was to preserve the history and heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera region particularly that of the Ifugao people. Hence, this museum houses an array of authentic artifacts and photos reflective of Ifugao’s culture.

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Before entering the museum, one will already be amazed with its façade and the building itself as it is patterned after a traditional Ifugao house. Once inside, the more will you be stunned with the various cultural treasures you’ll see.

The cultural and artistic assortment ranges from traditional costumes, tools used for hunting and farming, and various photographs of headhunter warriors and the like, and even American missionaries and their attempt to convert the locals of the region.  Even archaeological materials dug within the caverns of the Cordillera region plus some Chinese ceramics are displayed in the museum.

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At the back of the museum is a replica of an Ifugao village with several kind of houses. Visitors can even go inside these houses and have a closer look at various objects natives use for daily living. This is where one can take a lot of photos since taking pictures inside the museum is prohibited.

Admission Fee:  Php65

Opening Hours:  Monday to Saturday 8am – 5pm, Sunday 3:30 – 5pm

Address:  Bontoc, Mountain Province, Cordillera Administrative Region (The museum is near the plaza and basketball court for your reference).

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Don’t be was ted soul, be ‘juan’derlust’. Take it easy ebriwan.

Burot Beach (Batangas, PH)

“Life’s a beach” meaning life is nothing but wonderful, amazing… It is just like saying “Life is Good”. Who doesn’t like the beach? Well, at times it could be too sunshiny and sweaty and salty but who cares? The beach makes you relaxed, feel warm… we can have lots of fun in the water and the sand… it’s a place where one can enjoy life.

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This is Burot Beach in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines. And here, life is a beach!

The beach is a delightful world on its own — walking through scalding sand, listening to the sound of the crashing waves, getting blind by the sun, and smelling the salty scent of the air. Experience this and more!

More of this serene and pristine beach soon.

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It’s where I regain my faith and recharge my batteries. The beach.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

The Sunken Cemetery (Camiguin, PH)

“I dig art. With a shovel. In the cemetery.” — Jarod Kintz

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Perhaps, one of the most interesting tourist attraction I have been to is an underwater cemetery. Most of you might get shocked but there is such a place called The Sunken Cemetery in Catarman, Camiguin, Mindanao, Philippines.

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This unique cemetery features tombs underwater. It was believed that it was buried due to the eruption of Mount Vulcan Daan during the 1800s with only one giant cross seen above water. This landmark in the island province has become a picturesque spot to remember the deceased buried there.

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At present, very few of the remains of these gravestones can be seen during low tide. If you want to witness the underwater features of this place, you can snorkel or skin dive. Some may find it creepy, but because of the clear waters and teeming marine life in the area, it is still a delight to see. The place also becomes more magical during sundown.

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How to Get to The Sunken Cemetery:

From Manila, you can fly to Camiguin via Cebu. Also, you can fly to Cagayan de Oro City. Once in CDO, take a shuttle to Agora Terminal. From there, take a bus bound for Balingoan Port and ride a ferry going to Camiguin. Upon arrival in Benoni Port (Camiguin), you can either take a multi-cab or tricycle to the town of Catarman. From the highway, one can already see the giant cross.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…