Thailand: Temple Run Valentine's Edition

I so wanted to buy one of these colorful lanterns, but it was too expensive. More details soon. :)

Thailand: Temple Run Valentine's Edition

It is much easier to go around Bangkok if your hotel is just five cartwheels away from the BTS station. More details soon. :)

Thailand: Temple Run Valentine's Edition

Temple run minus the devil monkey, zip line, coins and caves. Found a lot of 'gems' though. More details soon. :)

26 May 2011

Zambales: Taliyasen Cove

Do you want a vacation spot where you'll feel like you have the whole place just for yourself? The sun, sky, clouds, water, sand.. all yours? Well, you should try to visit Talisayen Cove.

Talisayen Cove is similar to its neighboring coves Anawangin and Nagsasa -- they only have beach huts where visitors can stay. However, Talisayen Cove offers a more quiet and relaxed environment.

We paid Php265 for a 3-hour bus ride from the Victory Liner Bus Terminal in Caloocan to San Antonio, Zambales. Then from Brgy. Pundaquit, it's a 45-minute boat ride going to Talisayen Cove (well, we left at 3:00AM, so the sea was still in deep sleep, thus, the fast travel time.)

As soon as we reached the place, I patiently waited for the sunrise before I surveyed the area for possible picture-perfect views. And it was worth the wait, and here's what I saw:

Click here for hi-res image

It was almost a deserted island. One will truly enjoy the beauty of this place -- no loitering tourists, no camping tents, no parked boats. It's just you and Mother Nature. :)

Bato-bato sa dagat. Bow. :)

We stayed in one of the beach huts situated along the shore. However, none of us slept inside it. I chose to sleep on a 'duyan', some decided to lie down on a 'papag', while the others stayed in their camp tents. I guess we just wanted to fully enjoy the fresh, salty air outside the hut. At night, the generator is turned on to provide electricity to each beach hut. So, no need to worry if you camera/mobile phone batteries are almost empty. :)

Prior to my trip here, I did some research about this place, and found out that there is a grotto built on top of a mountain. Unfortunately, I forgot that there are concrete steps going to the grotto. What I did was I literally climbed my way up through tall grasses, thorny branches, and slippery rocks, which later on I realized was actually a shortcut. Anyway, which ever path I take, there's only one destination.. the panoramic view of Talisayen Cove.

I was with them during my 2nd climb, and this time
I used the concrete steps. :)

Another hidden spot is what I shall call the Talisayen Falls (haha, I really don't know if it has a name). We reached one of the 'connecting' mini-falls after almost 2 hours of trekking.

That's all for now, carabao! If you are interested in visiting Talisayen Cove, you can go to their Facebook page for reservations. :)

18 May 2011

Quezon: Pahiyas Festival 2011

It's my first time to visit the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. And all along, I thought those colorful leaf-shaped decors were made of Japanese papers. I think I should really do some more researching. Haha :)

Pahiyas Festival is a colorful celebration held every 15th of May in Lucban, Quezon in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. It is their form of thanksgiving for a good harvest with a grand display of agricultural harvests, rice wafers and handicrafts that paint each and every home in this town.

The culminating event of the Pahiyas Festival starts with a Holy mass in the Lucban Church, that was first built and 1595.

After the mass, it is followed by a procession of the image of San Isidro Labrador, followed by the image of his wife, Sta. Maria de la Cabeza, who carries a basket with triangulo biscuits, which are given to the children.

San Isidro Labrador

Sta. Maria de la Cabeza

It is said that the houses along the route of the procession will be blessed with bountiful harvest in the coming seasons. The decorations usually depend on the homeowner's livelihood. A rice farmer will have brightly-colored, leaf-shaped rice wafers called kiping (yeah, yeah, they're not made of Japanese paper).

Kiping is made from rice paste spread on a leaf and steamed for at least 30 minutes. After steaming, each leaf is dried until it is ready for peeling. These are usually arranged in layers of chandeliers called aranya.

They say that to avoid cracks on kiping,
complete silence must be observed
while mixing the rice paste. Shhhh.

After the festival, these can be cooked (grilled or fried) and eaten as chips. Edible decors are cool! :)

For other farmers, fruits and vegetables will be on display. As for those who make handicrafts, their houses are decorated with hats, bags and place mats. A butcher will have garlands of longganisang Lucban.

Aside from the extravagant decors, the cheerful smiles from the locals (and their pets.. haha) looking out of their windows added to the colorful and festive mood of the town.

Kawaii!! *dies*


The warm reception of the locals, ice-cold buko juice, tasty pansit habhab and the unexpected sight of friends in the middle of human traffic along the streets made the Pahiyas experience bearable (despite the extreme heat) for a first time visitor like me...

..and for a young explorer like Dora.

09 May 2011

Oriental Mindoro: The Golden Isle [Part 2]

And there's more! :)

Also located in Mansalay, is the Buktot White Sand Beach. Some say it's Mindoro's "Little Boracay", only more tranquil and peaceful. This virgin island is ideal for family or barkada outings, with just the sun, white sand, clear waters and the blue sky to do all the works.

Fact: You can only make Karla Turista swim on clear waters.

For just Php20 entrance fee, you can fully enjoy your stay in this hidden paradise. Cottage rentals ranges from Php40 - Php100. And seeing goats around the area is free of charge. :)


Also, make sure to catch the lovely sunset on the other side of the beach. Just the perfect way to end your stay in Buktot Beach. :)

From Mansalay, we go to Roxas where De Calidad Restaurant is located. They serve pastas, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and the best halo-halo in town!

Beat the summer heat for just Php38! What's different in this particular halo-halo is that it's topped with gulaman and cheese! :)

The cheese on top balances the sweetness of the whole thing.
Photo by Glenn Pareno

And oooh, unlimited sugar! Yey!

And our last stop -- Pinamalayan, "Paradise at the end of the rainbow". This paradise is the home of John-nette Banana Chips! The best banana chips in the whole world! Great pasalubong for your loved ones. :) You can buy them at Php15, Php25 or Php45, depending on package size.

Try shaking a pack of banana chips and find out
how crispy those bananas are.

That's it, pansit! I'm looking forward to another trip to Oriental Mindoro... maybe with you? Yes? :)

08 May 2011

Oriental Mindoro: The Golden Isle

"When Spaniards discovered the Philippine archipelago they called this island with a rugged terrain and an irregular coastline "Mina de Oro" (Mine of Gold) - a gold mine of agriculture, mineral and aquatic resources. Since then, Oriental Mindoro came to be known as the Golden Isle."
-- from


When I told some of my friends that I'll be going to Mindoro, most of them instantly asked: "Puerto Galera?" And I said no. I've never been to Puerto Galera, but I'm so sure that there are more "gold" aside from this famous beach in Oriental Mindoro.

Via RO-RO (roll-on roll-off) vessel, our trip from Port of Batangas to Port of Calapan is approximately 2-3 hours. If you want a faster transport, you can take the SuperCat that can get you to Oriental Mindoro in just an hour or less.

We rode the Besto Shipping Lines. It took us almost 3 hours! It's one slow ferry. :|

Trip with my two best brothers, Glenn and Ely.

Upon reaching Calapan City, it's another 2-3 hours drive to Mansalay. Along the way, we saw rice fields, rice mills, rice fields, rice mills and rice fields. Did I mention rice fields? Haha! No wonder this province is known to be the Rice Granary of Southern Tagalog. It's just a nice sight while traveling. The green fields, blue sky, white clouds, colorful clothed farmers, carabaos.. :)

The farmers saw us taking their photos, and they were
kind enough to wave and smile back at us!

Our first stop, Cabalwa Beach. It's a long stretch of white sand in Barangay Cabalwa in Mansalay. As far as I know, this is open to everyone. No entrance fees. I tried googling Cabalwa Beach, but no blogs or articles are written about it. I guess this place is still waiting to be discovered, though a private resort owned by a German is in the works.

Ely and I walking towards the rocky part of the beach.
Photo taken by Glenn Pareno

If you walk a few more kilometers, you will be greeted by rocks of various shapes and sizes. Literally, this is one 'rocky' beach. There were too many rocks that this friend of mine even thought of balancing pieces of rocks to create his masterpiece.

Ely, taking a photo of his 'rocky' masterpiece

We also found this heart-shaped geofact. I'm amazed how Mother Nature came up with this piece of art. Or this is a sign that I'll soon find the love of my life? Haha! Just kidding. I'd like to believe that this is a mark telling us that we should really love and take good care of our natural wonders. :)

Click here for more!

29 April 2011

Cebu: A Close-To-Flying Adventure

If you're in search for adventure, then Cebu is one perfect place to go. Yes, you heard it right, Cebu. Aside from the tasty lechon Cebu, pu-so, otap & dried mangoes, Magellan's Cross and Taoist Temple, this long stretch of island also offers something great to feed your adventurous spirit.

Upon arriving Cebu City, I'm pretty sure you will not miss it's tallest hotel tower, the Crown Regency Hotel. Aside from it being the highest structure in the city, it also has the country's first Sky Experience Adventure treats: The Edge Coaster and The Sky Walk Extreme.

The Edge Coaster is an amusement ride that moves around the edge of 38th floor of the hotel, and it tilts from 30 degrees to 50 degrees. You'll feel like you're falling from the sky! Aside from that, you'll have an amazing view of the entire Cebu Metropolitan. As if you've travelled the whole city by just riding on a coaster.

You can be an instant Anakin Skywalker on The Sky Walk Extreme. Built just below the Edge Coaster, The Sky Walk offers daredevils to walk around the edge of the building through see-through platforms (to give you the feel of walking on Cebu sky!) and to look 37 floors down. (And ooh, you will be seen by people from inside the building haha!). Aside from walking, you'll be asked to do crazy stunts such as sitting on the edge of the platform with you legs dangled on the air, and the one leg stand.

I've tried both experience at night (and I was awarded a certificate to prove that I'm a survivor of the Sky Experience Adventure :D), and it was amazing to see Cebu City all lit up! Now, I'm curious to see the entire Cebu City at day time.. *wink wink* :)

28 April 2011

Zambales' Enchanted Castle

**This is a old blog entry from my LiveJournal.

Our college block has this annual summer get together. Last 2009, we decided to spend our summer in Subic, Zambales.

We checked in at Cliff Royale Subic Beach Resort, which is uniquely perched 25 meters above sea level. It offered us an amazing overlooking view of the Subic Bay, comfortable and colorful air-conditioned cottage houses and huge swimming pool with jacuzzi.

What comes to your mind when you hear the place Zambales? Of course, the Anawangin Cove, Capones Island and Potipot Island. But did you know that there is one tourist attraction that I'm sure is still missing in you must-see places list in this paradise? You can spot it right smack in the middle of the ocean. It is not an island -- but a white castle known as The Enchanted Castle. :)

From the Cliff Royale Subic Beach Resort, we took a boat ride going to Baloy Beach where this one of a kind attraction is located. According to a website I found, the place was originally called Gaviota Rock. The castle was built in late 1974 to be used as navigational guide for ships and a proposed oyster sea farm. I'm curious though how it was built, and how was it able to withstand natural sea disasters for more than 30 years! Well, that's really one ENCHANTED castle. :)

Marinduque: The Heart-Shaped Island

**This is an old travel blog post from 2010.

Way back in summer 2008, I attended the Youth for Christ Regional Conference in Marinduque. I've only known Marinduque through history book, and little did I know that the smallest province in Southern Tagalog has a lot to offer. :)

There is one interesting story behind Marinduque's name and shape. From Wikipedia: "Legend has it that the island of Marinduque was formed as a consequence of a tragic love affair between two people: Marina and Garduke. Marina's father, a local chieftain, did not approve of this affair and ordered the beheading of Garduke. Before this could be done, the couple sailed out to sea and drowned themselves, forming the island now called Marinduque." They're like the Pinoy version of Romeo and Juliet. :)

Via [1] Montenegro Lines from Lucena City, we reached the Balacanan Port in Mogpog, where we were greeted by this huge [2] grotto of Mama Mary and the [3] statues depicting the biggest festival in the island during observance of Holy Week, which is the Moriones Festival.

We were welcomed and honored by the these hospitable Marinduqueños by their custom called [4] Putong. Usually, the visitors are crowned with flowers (in my crown's case, it was made of some sort of branch, accented with feathers and a small Morion) while local women dance and sing for them. :)

One famous landmark in Marinduque is the Boac Cathedral. This pilot church of the province is located at Brgy. Mataas na Bayan (literally speaking). Too bad, I wasn't able to take a photo of the church itself, but I have a photo of this [5] huge bell that I believe was part of the original structure of Boac Cathedral.

My trip will not be complete without hitting the beach! And I was surprised that Marinduque actually has a [6][7] White Beach! It is a [8] long stretch of white sand & corals, surrounded by crystal clear waters and abundant aquatic life.

There are a lot more to explore in Marinduque, that is why I'll definetely come back here. :)