Mount Batolusong (Rizal,  PH) 

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” – John Muir, Our National Parks

Work has been pretty overwhelming the past 3 months. To top that, the traffic and some unexpected raining here and there added more stress than the usual. Well you can say it is really a busy (and anxiety-provoking) metro life.

So when a former colleague invited me to a climb, I did not have a second thought at saying “yes”. And so one weekend, together with some past and present workmates, we excitedly and joyfully made our way to Mount Batolusong — a relatively easy mountain to trek in San Andres, Tanay, Rizal. 

On the way to the mountain peak, we were already greeted by a spectacular display of cottony clouds as the horizon preps up in welcoming a new day. My heart was beaming with so much happiness as it is one of my favorite views whenever I go on a climb. 

There was never a dull moment during our sauntering. Every one of us enjoyed sharing stories related to work, love and adventures. Every now and then we had to stop to catch our breath, kid around, blurt out some infectious laugh, and of course – marvel at the stunning greenery the surrounding serrated and rolling landscape offers. 

Being away from a nature spree the past months, this mountain climbing activity I did with good friends made me feel rejuvenated. I wish I could do this every week (if only work and other responsibilities would allow me to).  Nonetheless, I am thankful that I had an awesome weekend with nature and people who shares the same passion as I do.

Thank you to Marielle, Vlad,  Robi,  Yan and Pam for this delightfully climbing experience. Til the next hike. Do not be a wanted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri”juan”…

Kiltepan Peak (Where Broken Hearts Go)

Where do broken hearts go?

And so the song asks…

I could vividly remember this one conversation I had with a good friend of mine, about my plans a month after I had a major, major heart break. She, too, was a victim of this sinful crime of passion and was then, on the verge of picking up her shattered pieces.  “We” were sharing the same “spotlight”.

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So what’s your plan?” – she reluctantly asked me.

I knew I gave her a blank stare, followed by a deep sigh. I didn’t know exactly what to utter and just opted to kid around and say…

I don’t know… What do you think? Where do broken hearts go? – I smirked, only to laugh quietly when my friend started singing that line from a Whitney Houston song.

This happened long time before the now infamous movie “That Thing Called Tadhana (Destiny)” made the song and the line “Where do broken hearts go” popular again. It became tremendously popular not only for the movie’s lovely story but also because of the movie’s setting – Baguio and Sagada.

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One particular spot in Sagada that captured the eyes and the heart of the movie-goers and travel aficionados is Kiltepan Peak.

The Kiltepan Peak is considered by most people visiting the cool and idyllic town of Sagada in Mountain Province as the best vantage point to look out for the sunrise. It gives a view of the Kiltepan Rice Terraces where one stands atop a chasm that is around 1, 640 meters above sea level. What makes this place even more captivating is when the sun rises gradually as it starts to fill the sky and the seemingly floating sea of clouds with vibrant colors.

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If you want to see this beauty, one should really wake up pretty early in the morning (maybe around 4 am since it requires some lengthy uphill walk from the town center). Well, others opt to arrange a transportation to the campsite of the peak. But for me, the approximately 3 kilometers walk is a great way to start a day in Sagada. Despite the chilly walk, the silhouette of tall pine trees along the way is still a sight to behold. Plus that unsullied air that you get to breathe is very relaxing to the senses.

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Upon arriving at the peak, one will be stunned with what you’ll see.  Today, a lot of people flock their way to this now famed peak. I am just too glad that it wasn’t hyped yet when I got the chance to visit it on 3 occasions with friends. My experience at Kiltepan Peak is really remarkable, I got lost for words. The sea of clouds, the golden sun and the verdant surroundings were beyond grand.

So did I come here when I was broken-hearted? Well yes, several times. Did it really help me mend my broken heart? Somehow. But at the end of the day, when I am resting inside my room, I would still hear my heart say, “Lester, I was here all day and night long. I am still here. Still shattered. Still crying. Still asking a lot of questions.

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So where do broken hearts go? Kiltepan Peak in Sagada. Maybe.

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

Molo (Iloilo City, PH)

Iloilo – the City of Love, is also known for its beautiful churches and old houses. Molo, one of the city’s 7 districts, used to be a separate town, and a place most Chinese residents used to live – hence it was once called as Iloilo’s Binondo. Today, Molo is home to some of Iloilo’s stunning and most-visited landmarks.

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The most notable from among these is the extraordinary Church of St. Anne Parish (or simply, Molo Church). The church was built in 1831 in honor of St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, and grandmother of Jesus Christ. This Gothic and Renaissance styled church is at times dubbed as a “Feminist or Women’s Church”. This is so because of the 16 life-size statues of women saints seen on the aisle pillars inside the church. These women saints are: Santa Apolonia, Santa Cecilia, Santa Clara, Santa Felicia, Santa Genoveva, Santa Ines, Santa Isabel, Santa Juliana, Santa Lucia, Santa Magdalena, Santa Marcelina, Santa Margarita, and Santa Marta, Santa Monica, Santa Rose de Lima, and Santa Teresa.

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The church is said to be made of interweaved sections of lime-coated bamboo mixed with sand. The imposing façade is also made of limestone. The two pointed towers, painted in a reddish hue adds more charm to the church. Inside the church, one would immediately be drawn into the wooden altar decorated with remarkable paintings. The ceiling showcases murals of the Pentecost. Everything is just so beautiful.

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Molo Plaza. Just in front of the church is a beautifully maintained plaza. The main landmark is a pavilion which features the statues of 6 Greek goddesses — Aphrodite (beauty/love), Artemis (fertility/wilderness), Athena (war), Demeter (agriculture), Hera (marriage), and Hestia (domesticity). It truly adds up beauty to the entire place. I have noticed that the plaza seems to be a favorite hang-out place from among locals. Well it doesn’t come as a surprise since the area is really clean and peaceful.

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Molo Mansion: Just across the plaza is a newly opened ancestral structure — Yusay-Consing Mansion. Built in the 1920s by a prominent couple in Molo, the mansion was said to be in a run-down state when SM Land Inc. bought the property. Good thing, they decided to restore and preserve this cultural structure. Now, it is one of the added must-visit sights in the area.

The mansion showcases a cultural retail store (Kultura), selling an assortment of homegrown products like accessories, home decors and innovative souvenir items.There is also an art room where Ilonggo artists’ craft are displayed (too bad, this was close during my visit).

Café Panay & Table Matters: At the back side of this mansion are two eateries that serve Ilonggo cuisine. These are: Cafe Panay and Table Matters.

Cafe Panay primarily serves Ilonggo delicacies like Fried Ibos, Pancit Molo, a pasta called Tabagak, Tablea (chocolate) drinks and Iloilo coffee. I tried their Fried Ibos and Tablea and they were really good.

Table Matters, on the other hand, serves refreshments like healthy juices and “merienda” (snacks) under an old balete tree. I did try their Blue Ternate ice cream, a dessert made from a blue colored flower. It was surprisingly delectable.

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(Thanks to Sir Homer for the ttreat!). The Molo Mansion, opens 8:00AM to 8:00PM daily.

How to Reach Molo District:

From Manila, fly your way to Iloilo. Iloilo Airport is about 30 minutes (approximately 19 km) away from Iloilo City. You may ride a van that is city bound and it usually drops off passengers at SM City Iloilo. From there, one can either take a taxi or jeepney. Almost all jeepneys routes with “Molo” or “Arevalo” on its name will pass by the plaza or near it including Villa Arevalo, Molo Mandurriao, Molo Baluarte, Oton Anhawan, and Oton Derecho. Molo Church can be found beside Molo Plaza, the central landmark in Molo District. Molo Museum is just across the plaza.

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

May Bisyo Ako: Isang Pag-Amin

May Bisyo Ako…

“ May bisyo ako, ngayon ko lang napagtanto.

May bisyo ako, pano ba nagumpisa eto?

May bisyo ako, nakaka-adik eto.

May bisyo ako, may mga kontra dito.

May bisyo ako, ewan ko lang kung gusto nyo.

May bisyo ako – pero hindi alak, yosi o bato.

May bisyo ako, bisyong mahal ko.

May bisyo ako, at eto ang nilalaman ng blog ko.”

Dicasalarin Cove, baler, Aurora.
Dicasalarin Cove, baler, Aurora.

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/dicasalarin-cove-aurora-ph/

Ang mundo ay isang libro, at ang mga taong hindi marunong maglakbay – isang pahina lang ang kanilang nabasa…” – iyan ang nakaukit na sipi sa utak ko.

Alas-kwatro ng hapon. SM Megamall.

“Isa akong galang guro.” Iyan ang bigla kong nasambit sa isang kaibigang matagal ko ng hindi nakikita, nito lamang nakaraang Martes ng nasa Maynila ako. Kakagaling ko lang mula sa byahe ko sa Coron, Palawan. Bago ako umuwi ng Baguio, naisipan ko munang mag-Megamall – para kumaen at tumingin ng pwedeng mabili. Nasa Goldilocks ako nun, malapit ko ng maubos ang binili kong Lumpiang Hubad ng may biglang nagsalita:

“Wow, long time no see… Kumusta ka na?”

Iginala ko ang paningin ko para hanapin kung saan galing yung boses na sumambit ng mga katagang iyon. Napatitig lang ako sa isang lalaking magara ang suot at mejo may kasosyalan ang dating. Actually, I did not recognize him, he looks familiar pero parang nagrerewind pa ang utak ko kung saang bang bahagi ng buhay ko nakilala itong taong kasalukuyang papalapit sa akin. Inabot niya ang kanan nyang kamay para makipaghand-shake sabay sambit ng pangalan ko at tila tuwang tuwa na nakita ako…

Cagbatan Island, Coron, Palawan.
Cagbatan Island, Coron, Palawan.

“Lester… Mark Lester Romulo…”

Bago pa niya mabuo ang medyo kahabaan kong pangalan, bigla ko ng naalala kung sino ang kaharap at kakamayan ko… Isa siya sa mga kaklase ko nung nasa high-school at ngayon, isa ng bigtime na empleyado (hindi nya dinisclose ang position nya pero isa daw sya sa mga Upper ups) sa isang malaking company sa Manila.

So ayun, since I was about to finish what I was eating at paalis na rin sana ako, he asked kung pwede kaming magkuwentuhan… (Akalain nyong may taong interesadong alamin kung ano na ang mga pagbabago sa buhay ko??) Since gabi pa yung kinuha kong byahe pabalik ng Baguio at ilang oras pa ang hihintayin ko bago mag-out mula sa trabaho yung kapatid ko, eh napagpasyahan kong paunlakan ang kanyang imbitasyon na magkwentuhan kami at magkape (kahit na hindi naman talaga ako nagkakape).

Nagsasa Cove, San Antonio, Zambales
Nagsasa Cove, San Antonio, Zambales 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/nagsasa-cove/

Bago kami nagpunta sa isang coffeeshop, dumaan muna kami sa Parking Area para ihatid yung mga pinamili nya dahil hinihintay daw ito ng kanyang pinsan. Tinanong pa niya ako kung saan ko daw gustong magkape – syempre pa, since hindi naman talaga ako mahilig sa kape (nasabi ko na ata eto sa itaas na paragraph), sinabi ko na lang na kahit saan. As I have expected, sa isang kilalang coffeeshop na kinalolokohan ng maraming Pinoy kami nagtuloy… Alam nyo na iyun, di ko na babanggitin dito dahil hindi ko nais ipromote yung kapehan na’yun dahil masyadong mahal…

Aslom Island, Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro.
Aslom Island, Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro. 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/beauty-of-bulalacao-oriental-mindoro-ph/

Nagumpisa ang kwentuhan sa tanungan kung saan na si ganito – si ganyan, pinagkwentuhan ang ilan sa mga kaklase namin noon. Andami nyang kwento, noon ko lang narealize na madaldal din pala siya. Hindi kasi sya ganun nung high-school kami. Isa kasi siya sa mga taong napapanis ang laway sa classroom dahil di mo to kakakitaan na dumadaldal. Nagumpisa na rin syang magkwento tungkol sa sarili nya – mula nung college sya hanggang sa kanyang mga experiences sa pakikipagsapalaran sa trabaho at ang mabilis na pag-unlad sa kanyang buhay. From being a plain company worker to a big boss in a large firm in Manila; from someone who rents a cheap apartment into becoming an elite condo-dweller; ipinagmalaki din nya na X00,000.00 ang sweldo nya kada-buwan, at syempre pa, ang bagong bago nyang tsekot na kanina lang ay nakita kong nakaparke. (Medyo nayabangan ako sa kanya nung una pero napagtanto ko na okay lang kasi talaga namang may maipagyayabang sya, kahit na unti-unti na akong nanliliit at na-iinggit sa mga oras na iyon).  Gusto ko din kasi iyong mga na-achieve nya. Magandang tirahan, malaking sweldo, magarang kotse, magarang buhay. Pero wala pa ako ng mga iyon.

Boracay island, Malay, Aklan.
Boracay island, Malay, Aklan. 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/boracay-aklan-philippines/

Akala ko hindi na siya matatapos sa kanyang talumpati tungkol sa sarili niya ng bigla siyang magtanong. “Ikaw naman Lester, kuwento ka naman… Anong bago bukod sa medyo pagkadagdag mo ng konting laman?” Pangiti nitong sabi.

Halos pagpawisan ako sa kinauupuan ko. Hindi dahil sa mainit yung kapeng iniinom ko, kundi dahil sa nakakatakot nyang tanong. Isang lagok ko pa sa mapait na kape tsaka taas-noo kong sinabi na “ako ay isang galang guro” —  isang accidental educator (kung tawagin ng ilang propesyonal) sa isang unibersidad sa Baguio na nahuhumaling sa paglalakbay.

Skycyce Adventure, Eden Nature Park, Toril, Davao City.
Skycyce Adventure, Eden Nature Park, Toril, Davao City. 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/skycycling-101-davao-city-ph/

Mukha syang puzzled at parang napapailing sa narinig nya mula sa akin. Naisip nya siguro na ang weird ko naman. Iyon kasi yung mababasa mo sa noo nya. Kaya ayun, ako naman ang nag-umpisang magkwento.

Isa ako sa mga Pilipinong nagtatrabaho sa isa sa mga private academic institutions na lumalagare ng ikabubuhay 6 days in a week at sinuswelduhan ng sakto lamang para sa pansariling gastos. No car, no condo unit o apartment man lang. May mga savings din naman ako, but then, most of the time, napupunta ito sa one and only na bisyo ko – ang gumala o maglakbay sa mas magandang salita. Nakahiligan kong pumunta kung saan saan. Ibinahagi ko sa kanya ang pagbisita ko sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Pilipinas. Buong galak kong kinwento ang mga bundok na naakyat ko at yung mga di malilimutang moments sa mga lugar na ito. Dahil sa pambihirang talent ko sa paggagala, nararating ko ang mga nakakamanghang lugar na dati rati eh sa mga libro ko lang nakikita o kaya sa mga Travelogue magazines ko langnasisilayan.

Calaguas Island, Vinzons, Camarines Norte
Calaguas Island, Vinzons, Camarines Norte

Mas naging madaldal din ako sa pagkwento ko, naibahagi ko sa kanya kung paano ako nagumpisang mawili sa ganitong klaseng bisyo at kung ano iyong mga dahilan kung bakit ninanais kong pagkagastusan ang ganitong bagay. Sinabi ko sa kanya na masaya sa pakiramdam kung may bagong kakilala, o angmakakita ng magandang tanawin, ang malaman ang kultura ng iba at syempre pa – yung exhilarating feeling na hindi mo alam kung ano ang susunod na mangyayari… Wika ko nga, travelling has been a great teacher… Andami kong natutunan sa paglalakbay ko… Para bang nagbabasa ka ng isang libro na punong puno ng kwento…

Maniwaya Island, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque
Maniwaya Island, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/marinduque-the-heart-of-the-philippines/

At times, napapansin ko na napapakagat na lang siya ng labi at napapakunot ng noo. Pakiwari ko nga O.A na ako sa paningin nya. I was not so certain if naintindihan ba nya o naabsorb pa ba nya mga sinasabi ko tungkol sa sarili ko; o baka napipilitan na lang siyang makinig para lang hindi ako mapahiya.

Paglaon, nabanggit din nya na gusto nya rin daw magtravel kung saan-saan. Gusto niya daw makita ang mga vinta ng Zamboanga o kaya eh makatungtung ng ruruk ng isang bundok gaya ng mga nakwento ko na sa kanya. Muli nyang ipinagmalaki na marami siyang pwedeng gastusin na pera pero dahil nga sa mataas nyang posisyon sa company kung saan sya nagtatrabaho, eh wala daw siyang oras para sa sarili nya at sa ganitong klaseng bisyo.

Racuh A Payaman, Mahatao, Batanes
Racuh A Payaman, Mahatao, Batanes 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/breathtaking-batanes-sabtang-island-philippines/

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/breathtaking-batanes-basco-philippines/

Biglang nawala lahat ng panliliit at pagkainggit na naramdaman ko. Naisip ko na lang sa sarili ko – marami nga siyang pera, hindi naman niya nakukuhang maenjoy yung sinasabi nyang desire to travel kung saan saan.

Sabi pa nya – noon daw, nung naguumpisa pa lang siyang magtrabaho, naisip na nyang maglakbay. Eh ang kaso, wala daw siyang pera. Pero ngayon namang marami na siyang pera, wala naman daw siyang oras.  Pagkarinig ko pa lang sa mga sinabi nya, sobrang nalungkot ako para sa kanya.

Mount Apo, Davao - North Cotabato Border
Mount Apo, Davao – North Cotabato Border 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/mount-apo-king-of-philippine-peaks/

Nagflashback tuloy sa utak ko yung nabasa kong article sa isang magazine about a man who have been dreaming to travel before he dies. Actually, nasa bucket list ng taong ito na makita ang pag-labas ng araw sa Mount Pulag at ang paglubog ng araw sa mala-paraisong dagat ng Palawan. This man was so pre-occupied with his work, and most of the time, ended up doing more work kaya hindi niya magawa-gawa yung matagal nya ng nais gawin – ang maglakbay. He would usually reason out that “money is more important than anything else”.  Hindi nya narealize na hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon eh aayon sa kanya ang panahon. Kaya ayun, namatay siya na di man lang nakakamit yung matagal nya ng ninanais.

Ika nga ng isa sa mga nakasama ko sa climb — “I think if you love doing something, you’ll find the time and place for it…”

My 1st Mount Pulag climb, and the main reason why my wanderlust spirit was ignited.
My 1st Mount Pulag climb, and the main reason why my wanderlust spirit was ignited.

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/mount-pulag/

Most of the time, there are a lot of things that we like postponing because we don’t have much time for these things. And it is sad to note na madalas, itong mga bagay na lagi nating ipinagpapaliban ay iyong mga bagay na mahalaga sa atin. Things that we instantly trade for bigger opportunities that involves more money. Most of the time nga, pera ang nagiging basis natin to gauge success. More money, the more successful a person is.

But I beg to disagree… hindi kasi ganun ang pananaw ko sa buhay.  Hindi ako naniniwala na pera ang batayan ng tagumpay. If that’s the case, then, masaya sana lahat ng mga mayayamang tao dahil sila yung may maraming pera. Pero hindi eh. They may have all the riches in this world, but they don’t have the time to enjoy it –they don’t know how to enjoy their lives.

Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao
Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/batad-rice-terraces/

Bago ko tapusin itong medyo napahabang blog na ito, bakit di nyo pagisipan tong mga iiwan kong tanong?

Bakit ka ba nag-iipon ng pera? Para saan ba ang mga iniipon mong pera sa bangko?

Well I am not saying that saving our money is bad. Pero para saan ba at nag-iipon tayo? Future. Oo naman. Para sa future. Pero sana, wag din nating kalimutan yung present – yung mga gusto mong gawin ngayon na tingin mo eh makakapagpasaya sayo. Baka naman, uugod-ugod ka na eh yung pangarap mong magbunjee jumping eh nabaon na sa limot dahil nga hindi mo na kaya kahit na marami ka pang pera…

With friends at Salagdoong Beach, Maria, Siquijor
With friends at Salagdoong Beach, Maria, Siquijor 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/salagdoong-beach-siquijor-philippines/

Sa mahigit 2 oras na nakaupo ako sa bangkang patungong Banana Island, napagtanto ko na every person isn’t given the chance to do the things I am capable of doing. So, kung may pwede kang gawin na sa tingin mo eh makakapagpasaya sayo, aba! Don’t wait too long.. Do what makes you happy. Travel. Explore the World. Tandaan – Lahat ng tao, gustong maging masaya, eh ano pa ba ang silbi ng buhay kung hindi mo rin lang ito ma-achieve.

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https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/bud-bongao/

And as I always, always say — Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust’… take it easy ebri’juan’…

Lester out —

Originally written on February 11, 2009 (22:35). Baguio City.

Burias Island (Masbate, PH)

Not all those who wander are lost. — J.R.R. Tolkien

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Seven thousand, one hundred seven islands (7, 107) – that is how plenty one can choose from when visiting the Philippines. Of these islands, a great number of them are undiscovered and pristine beaches. For the past months of my “wanderlusting”, I have been keen on discovering/re-discovering these “off the beaten” destinations.

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One of the greatest surprise is an island in the province of Masbate called Burias Island and its islets.An island made up of 2 municipalities (Claveria and San Pascual), it is one of the three major islands of the province. Imay not have set foot on mainland Burias during my recent visit, but, I was given the chance to see and experience the magnificent smaller islands of Burias that includes Dapa, Sombrero and Tinalisyan.

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The beauty of Burias is best travelled (and experienced) by boat and a night stay in one of the islands. There are 2 possible entries to these islands. The more common route is via Pasacao in Camarines Norte. However, our group opted to take the Quezon route (San Andres) because we also included the island of Alibijaban in our itinerary. (A separate write up will be posted soon regarding Alibijaban).

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So, after our short but awesome stop in Alibijaban Island, off we went to explore 3 of Burias’ islands. Our first stop is the oooooh sooooooo beautiful Dapa Island that boasts off its uber crystal clear turquoise water that is beyond inviting. I was as surprised as it wasn’t something I have expected to see. I really enjoyed taking photos in this island – from its rugged features, cave-like rock formations surrounding the island to its calm, beautiful water. Everything was just awesome! (Boat ride from Alibijaban to Dapa Island is around 2 hours).

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Then off we went to Sombrero Island. Sombrero means hat in English. It is called such because it features a rocky hill that looks like a large hat from afar. Unlike Dapa, it has a larger beach area. The island also has a resort with which visitors may stay for a night or so. From Dapa, Sombrero is about 45 minutes away.

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Our last stop (and the island we chose to stay for the night), is the picturesque, spectacular, lovely (insert all positive adjectives here) Tinalisayan Islet. As our boats gets nearer, my sense of exhilaration gets more intense. I was even more excited because the sun is about to set making the place more magical. Once the boat got docked, I hurriedly got out of the boat and made my way to the islets highest point. The place is beyond everything I have expected – the sandbar (that wasn’t so visible when we arrived), the coastline dotted with rust colored sand and stone, the setting sun proudly radiating its golden glow, and its over-all vibe! I quickly captured everything I could while it wasn’t totally dark yet.

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We were the only people in the islet. We did set up our tents and prepared dinner. I spent a few minutes gazing at the stars in the sky. Since I was pretty tired, I opted to hit the sack early. The following day, I woke up early to wait for the sunrise. It was pretty gloomy but the islands charm is undeniable. As the sun came out and added more warmth to the place, the islet’s sandbar also became more visible. It is even more stunning during low tide. I went to walk through it to its tip. Spent almost the entire morning taking photographs. I’m in love with this place! Really stunning!

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After lunch time, we were supposed to explore one more island – Animasola Island and Rock Formation. However, the weather suddenly became really gloomy due to a brewing typhoon. We decided to head back to mainland Quezon. The waters were rough as rain starts to set in. After 3 hours, we arrived at the port of San Andres.

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How to Get to Burias Island (by land):

As I have mentioned earlier, there are two possible routes one can take.

One, you can ride a bus (DLTB, Penafrancia Tours, Isarog Lines, RSL, Philtranco, Raymond) from the Cubao Terminal in Quezon City that is Naga City bound. Travel time will be around eight to nine hours. From there, ride a tricycle from CBD Terminal to Pasacao Van Terminal which is beside SM Naga. Ride a van headed for Pasacao Town, and once there, ride a pedicab, tell the driver to take you to the port. From the port, there are boats going to San Pascual, Masbate. The travel time is about two hours. Once in San Pascual, get a boat that will take you to the islands.

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Second, is via San Andres in Quezon Province. From Metro Manila, Superlines Transport have 3 daily direct trip to San Andres 4:30 AM, 2:30 PM, and 5:30 PM. However, the schedule may change without notice. If you miss these schedulesm you can take a Lucena City blound bus. Bus lines from like JAC Liner, Lucena Lines and DLTB, Tritran have daily trips to Lucena. Once in Lucena, take a Barney Auto Lines bus. There are also groups of Van operators in Lucena bound for San Andres. The van terminal is at the Pacific Mall and SM Lucena. Once in San Andres, proceed to the port and charter a boat going to the islands you wish to visit.

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For boat inquiry, contact Kuya Togs @ +63 910 787 0501 .

It was an awesome weekend getaway with equally adventurous people I just met. Special shout out to Sir Jolo of Team NaeNae for organizing this awesome trip. Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Photo galore:

Playa Tropical (Ilocos Norte, PH)

If you are in search for a relaxing beachfront resort in Ilocos, this Balinese-inspired resort in Currimao just might amuse your taste.
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Created in traditional Balinese architecture, Playa Tropical Resort’s picturesque villas, private pools, distinctive garden bathrooms and delicate interiors with Balinese art, is certainly a relaxing abode for you and your family.

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Features:

Playa Tropical resort comes with 5 two-storey Casas. Each casa has a private pool. The smaller (and cheaper ones) called Casitas house standard rooms that are as good and tidy as the Casas. In between the Casas and the Casitas is a pond that adds beauty to the place.

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At the ground floor is the resort’s inhouse restaurant-slash-cafe called Café Amarra. Some of the food they serve include Ilocano delicacies like poque-poque and longganisa. Although they are good, they are quite expensive.

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Near the seashore is the resort’s large Infinity Pool. There is also a playground for kids and a spa at one side.  One can also stroll along the beach area as it is just a stone’s throw away from the poolside. The sand may be grayish to black but it has to be one of the finest beach sand I have set foot on. One can wait til late afternoon as the sundown is really stunning at this side of Ilocos.

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Other amenities include the following: Wifi access, housekeeping service, Room service, car wash. They also have function rooms and game room. You may also ask them to arrange a tour around Ilocos Norte.

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Fo your reference, here are the room rates:

Deluxe Double (2 double beds, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 3,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,180 (Peak)

Deluxe King (1 king-sized bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 3,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,180 (Peak)

Premier Room (1 king-sized bed with couch, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 4,000 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,400 (Peak)

Royal Suite with Bathtub (1 canopy bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, bathtub) –  Php 5,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 6,380 (Peak)

Royal Suite with Jacuzzi (1 canopy bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, Jacuzzi) – Php 6,500 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 7,150 (Peak)

Casa Room (1 queen Sized bed and 3 single beds, 18 sqm private pool,cable television, mini-fridge, in-room safe, individually controlled air-conditioning, hot and cold water, separate toilet and bath) – Php 12,500 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 13,750 (Peak)

Please take note that prices maybe subject to change without prior notice. Also, rooms that are single or twin sharing have complementary breakfast.

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*Maximum of four adults in a room, 2 excess adults without breakfast

*Extra person: PhP 600 per person per night, PhP 800 (for Casa Room)

*Children 8 years old and below sharing bed with their parents are considered free of charge but without breakfast. 9 years old and above are considered adult with full charge rate.

*Check in time: 2 pm; Check out time: 12 noon. Early check in and late check out is subject to room availability on the day itself.

**If one opts for a day tour, the entrance and pool use is at 200Php/ person.

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Playa Tropical Resort Hotel, Barangay Victoria, Currimao, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Contact us through (+63) 917 570 0223 or (+63) 670 1211 or email us at stay@playatropical.com.ph

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So the next time you are feeling tired and you want an escape some where north, stay at Playa Tropical Resort. Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust.

Sitangkai: Seaweed Capital (Tawi-tawi, PH)

If there is one place in Tawi-tawi that was initially at the top of my list, that has to be the island municipality of Sitangkai. For several years, I have read that this sword-shaped island is the Philippines version of Venice where there are waterways and bridges, instead of roads and streets with a touch of Asian culture. With this narrative alone, it has confined my thoughts for quite some time. (Well who would not have wanted to see Venice?)

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And so, when I had the opportunity to visit Tawi-tawi (the Philippines southernmost province) I did not  let pass by the idea of visiting the famed floating market in the Philippines. During our 2nd day in Tawi-tawi, we made our way to Sitangkai. From afar, one would already notice how the island seems to float on water. It is very noticeable that most of the houses were standing on stilts.

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As we come nearer, we have noticed that despite the very clear waters surrounding the place, a lot of garbages were scattered floating. But I did not allow these sights to affect my excitement. We reached a wide canal to which our boatman remarked that we are now entering Sitangkai’s market. It was as if I was brought to a new world.

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Several smaller boats further greeted us until we docked at an area where there were lots of seaweeds being dried. Sitangkai is also known as the “seaweeds capital of the Philippines” due to the large production of seaweeds. From there, we started to walk our way further inside the market. According to our guide, before, one can reach the end of the canal by riding a boat. But now, that is no longer the practice since some areas of the canal has become more congested.

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It was a humbling experience seeing the life of our Tausug and Sama Dilaut brothers and sisters despite having mixed feelings during our quick walking tour of Sitangkai. The “Venice” I initially had in mind may not be the same with what I have seen personally, but the utter exquisiteness of the town’s core built on coral reefs plus the natural water passageways is purely beyond explanation. However, I am fervently wishing that the people and their leaders do something about the town’s garbage problem. Based on my observations, it looks like the people have the habit of just throwing their trashes into the waterways. I am not certain but I feel that the people are thinking the sea will anyhow wash this garbage away from them.

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I wish that the locals realize how this appalling issue on trashes impact our environment and their future. And that an environmental catastrophe might sooner or later threaten this paradise in the middle of the Sulu Sea.

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How to Get to Sitangkai:

From Manila, ride a plane to Zamboanga City and another plane to to Bongao, the capital town of Tawi-Tawi. From the airport in Bongao, ride a tricycle to the Chinese Pier and look for the ferry (lantsa) going to Sitangkai. The boat (lantsa) ride will take you around 5-6 hours depending on the cargo load of the boat. It leaves Bongao around 10am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Alternatively, if you are already in Sibutu, you can charter a boat from Tandu Owak which is only about 45 minutes ride.

For assistance: Contact Ma’am Salve Pescadera of Tawi-Tawi Tourism Office at +63 910 671 6367 or +63 905 154 7865.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Guisi Beach & Lighthouse (Guimaras, PH)

Guimaras  –  one of the smaller island provinces in the Philippines, has been dubbed as the Philippines “Mango Country”. Visitors who flock their way to the more touristy Iloilo and Bacolod cities, would perceive Guimaras as a potential sidetrip.

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I was fortunate enough to have visited this province on 2 occasions (2012 and 2013). My desire to visit Guimaras wasn’t prompted by my taste buds’ yearning to savour their popular mangoes, but, by my wanderlust soul to visit some interesting sites I have read over the internet.

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And so during my 1st visit, I decided to check out the seemingly picture-perfect Guisi Beach in the outskirts of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. I hired a habal-habal driver to take me to this tucked destination.

Guisi Beach is a stretch of white sand (though not as whote and as fine as other beaches) with luxuriant palm trees dotted with some interesting rock formations. The water of the beach is an inviting shade of blue and green, despite not as crystal clear as other beaches I have been to. Nonetheless, the beach itself has this unique charm that will keep you drawn.

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When I arrived there, it was exactly how I have seen in it photos. Really picturesque! I personally love the rocks at one side of the beach. Also, I was fortunate because there weren’t many people then. A local mentioned that during the weekends, many locals flock their way to this beach. There are a couple of resorts within the area from which one could choose from in case you intend to stay overnight.

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After spending some time at the beach, my guide-slash-habal-habal driver suggested that I go and see the ruins of the old Guisi Lighthouse (formerly known as Faro de Punta Luzaran). I was happy to know that there was more to the beach. After a short walk towards a hilly site, the imposing ruins of the lighthouse greeted me.  This old lighthouse was built during the Spanish-colonial period. I asked permission to climb the top portion despite the obviously rusty tower. I was quite apprehensive while making my way to the top as the tower may no longer be that sturdy.  When I reached the top, I found myself opening my mouth but speechless. The view of Guisi Beach is indeed more than rewarding.

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Where to Stay near Guisi Beach:

Guisi Clearwater Resort:

Address: Guisi, Dolores, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Philippines

Contact No.: +639195636688

Room Rate: Starting from 700 php

Kenyama Beach Resort:

Address: Guisi, Dolores, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Philippines

Contact No.: 0998-3084049; 0939-9175495 (Smart); 0906-2709157 (Globe)

Website: http://kenyamaresort.jimdo.com/

Room Rate: Starting from 1200 php

Raymen Beach Resort:

Address: Alubihod, Poblacion, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Philippines

Contact No.: +63 33 396 0252

Website: http://raymenresort.com/

Room Rate: Starting from 600 php/room

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How to Get to Guisi in Nueva Valencia:

From Manila, one can reach Guimaras by plane via Iloilo (being the nearest).  Once you arrive in Iloilo, take a cab and tell the driver to take you to Ortiz Wharf (the motorboat wharf bound for Jordan). If you are coming from Cebu, travel by sea, (choose between Cokaliong Shipping Lines or Trans Asia Shipping Lines) for a 12-hour travel going to Iloilo.  Once you arrive in Iloilo, take a cab and tell the driver to take you to Ortiz Wharf.  You may also opt to take a jeepney to save money. Ask locals which jeepney passes by Ortiz Wharf.  Then Take the motorboat from Ortiz wharf going to Jordan.

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Travel time from Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Wharf  is around 15 minutes and the fare is Php 14. Once you arrive at the wharf, you can arrange for a shuttle or multicab at the tourism office which is just a few steps away from the arrival area. However, if you are alone or maybe just with another person, you can take a habal-habal. Travel time takes around an hour and the lowest fare for a group is Php 900.  The habal-habal ride takes a shorter travel time and fare differs depending on your haggling skills.

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I left Guisi with a smile on my face and my heart beaming with joy. There is no qualm the lighthouse and the beach of Guisi  are some of Guimaras’ must-see destinations. So, don’t  be a wasted soul, be  ‘juan’derlust.

Kalanggaman Island (Palompon, Leyte)

““Let the sea water wet your feet, and the sand be your seat…”

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The moment I saw several photos of my friend on an island’s sand bar and its ever clear turquoise waters wayback 2013, it never left my mind. Every now and then, I would seek for opportunities as to when I could possibly make my way to this indescribably beautiful island.

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Fastforward 2015. July. Rainy season in the Philippines. And I found my way going to Leyte – the home of the very paradise-like Kalanggaman Island. This uninhabited island that is 753 meters in length, is now considered a dream beach destination, not only in the Visayas, but in the entire Philippines. Located in the municipality of Palompon and the province of Leyte, it is known for its stunning sandbar that seem to stretch endlessly into the cerulean waters. The white coralline and sand shoreline and crystal clear waters along both sides of the island adds more beauty to this pristine place.

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FYI: In 2013, the island gained attention after a big cruise ship stopped there to let its guest relax for a few hours.

There are no resorts on Kalanggaman Island. However, the local government of Palompon have established some basic amenities for the comfort of visitors. There are also policemen stationed on the island for the guests ‘security If you intend to stay overnight in the island, make sure to bring your tent and food as there are no available cottages for sleeping and store to buy food.

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So if you want to relax and perhaps, get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, take time to go and see Kalanggaman Island. Bring with you a book to read or walk along and capture how photogenic the island is. Wait for the sun to set or rise, or just laze around and get your skin some sunshine vitamin early in the morning. Of course, swimming and snorkelling are some of the usual activities one can do.

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*Take note of the following reminders: 

Regular Rate (Day Tour)
International Tourists – P500
Non-Palompon Tourists – P150
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P40
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P30
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P20
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P120
Overnight Rates
International Tourists – P750
Non-Palompon Tourists – P225
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P60
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P45
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P30
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P180

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The rates for pumpboats (round trip) are as follow:

P3,000 – for 15 people and below
P3,500 – for 25 people and below
P4,000 – for 30 people and below

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Where to Stay in Palompon Town:

Hutton Lodge
Cor. San Francisco St. & Evangelista St.
Contact number: (053) 338-3098Juan Titang Beach Resort
Brgy. Buaya, Sabang
Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: 0917 741 0259
PACCI House
Rizal Street, Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: (053) 338-2880Whispering Beach Mini Hotel
P. Del Rosario Ext., Brgy. Guiwan I
Contacts numbers: (053) 338-2135/555-8045

*I personally stayed at PACCI House as it is the nearest to the Liberty Park where one has to pay the necessary fees.

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How to Reach Kalanggaman Island?

Fastest way is by air. From Manila, go to Palompon, Leyte via Tacloban Airport or Cebu Airport (a.k.a. Mactan International Airport).

From Tacloban Airport, ride a van going to Palompon. Van rides are found at the Abucay terminal in Tacloban. Trip takes about 4 hours.

From Cebu Airport, ride a taxi and choose from among the following location of shipping lines:

Super Shuttle Ferry (Bogo, Cebu – Palompon Leyte)
– Bogo, Cebu to Palompon, Leyte at 12:00PM daily
– Palompon, Leyte to Bogo, Cebu at 7:30PM daily

Super Shuttle Ferry’s office is located at 38 Gorordo Ave, Cebu City

Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc. (Cebu City – Palompon Leyte)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon at 08:00 PM (Mon, Thu)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon at 12:00 NN (Sun)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1 at 08:00 AM Tue, Fri)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1 at 10:00 PM (Sun)

Once in Palompon, go to Palompon Liberty Park and pay the necessary fees for the Kalanggaman EcoTour. The boat ride from this point to Kalanggaman Island takes about an hour for regular boats .

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

Kaangrian Falls (Ilocos Norte, PH)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

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The town of Burgos in Ilcoos Norte is often visited for two famous landmarks – Kapurpurawan Rock Formations and Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. And just for the past year, relatively new attractions like Palpalokada and Burgos’windmills are also gaining their momentum as must-visit places. Little would people know that the town also have noteworthy waterfalls. One of which is Kaangrian Falls (the other being Tanap Avis Falls which I will blog separately).

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The word “kaangrian “ came from the Ilocano term “naangri” which literally translates into “smelly or stinky” in English. If I haven’t seen photos of this waterfall prior to my visit and knowing that is the exact translation of its name, I may not have wanted to visit it. Hahaha.This multi-tiered waterfalls are located in an outskirt Barangay Paayas Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Reaching it requires going through a dirt path with farm land views, and some walking through narrow and quite steep terrain. (FYI: This waterfalls was discovered in 1998 when the local government was looking for a good water source).

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According to locals I have met, the best time to come visit Kaangrian is during the rainy season (July to November) to see it in its full glory. I went there one summer day in April. I was quite apprehensive at first since I know that I might not see anything wonderful. When I arrived at the place, the water flow wasn’t as cascading as what I have seen in photos but I was still happy to see it. I even spent some time dipping into its cold water. Surprisingly, a lot of people were also there having picnic and swimming.

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I promised to myself I will come back some time soon. Perhaps with friends and loved ones… and I will make sure I will see it in its over-flowing state.

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How to Reach Kaangrian Falls:

From Metro Manila, ride a bus bound for Claveria, Cagayan and inform your driver to drop you off at Burgos town proper. Since buses directly going to Cagayan is quite scarce, the more common way is via Laoag.. From Manila, ride any bus bound for Laoag, then from Laoag, you can either take a van or bus bound for Cagayan.

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Once in Burgos, pay a visit to the municipal hall. You have to sign up in the visitors list and they will give you a guide if you don’t have one. I went to Kaangrian and Tanap-Avis by hiring a tricycle.

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