Coron, Palawan 2017

My third trip to Coron is a bit remarkable compared to my other trips.

Since I had folks visiting from the US, we stayed at a more decent place, Busuanga Bay Lodge (I usually stay at boutique hotels that are less pricey 😊). This place was established in 2013 by its Canadian owner and his Filipino  partners. They picked a great part of the island with an amazing view.

We had this part of the property to ourselves, that’s our room at the corner.


All rooms have a view of the bay. We got one right by the shore.


Instead of the usual island hopping trips, we took the recommended trips by the hotel which only included three stops – Lusong Gun Boat (ship wreck from WWII), Coral Garden and South Cay Island.

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We rode an outrigger boat to the islands

We snorkled about a mile of lavish coral reef with plenty of fishes with varying sizes and colors. Too bad I was not able to bring my underwater camera with me.

South Cay Island was exclusive to guests of Busuanga Bay Lodge. We were lucky to be the only guests at the island the entire Saturday afternoon. It was such a wonderful experience to be on a beautiful island by yourself. There were some rainshowers throughout our stay but it was enough to cool the place down from the hot and very humid weather.

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We had a view of the other beautiful islands around South Cay

Apart from the new sights and places, the most remarkable about this trip is being able to experience it with someone special. Thanks, Gabriel, for being with me on this trip ❤

Palawan Adventure 2014: Nacpan Beach, El Nido

Nacpan Beach is not part of our itinerary. Mang Berf, our van driver from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, told us to visit it since we have enough time that afternoon after we reach El Nido. I quickly did some research and all the blogs I checked raved about it. With a little bit of convincing my friend, Edward, agreed to go. One interesting fact about the place was that there are actually two beaches in the area and they share the same landmass. The area is also called Twin Beaches.

Getting There

There are three ways to get to Nacpan Beach:

1) By van which costs about Php 2,500. The van can accommodate 10-12 people. It’s economical for a group.
2) By tricycle. It costs around Php 150 per person. This is the least comfortable ride because of the road condition – muddy, uneven – and when it rains you will surely get wet.
3) By motor bike. There are a lot of rental shops for motorbikes in the town proper. The rent is about Php 700.

Edward and I decided to take the van option with Mang Berf as our driver. Instead of the usual fee, he only charged us Php 2,000 (Php goes to the middleman). We’re glad we took this option since I don’t think we will endure the very bumpy 45-minute ride by tricycle.

Before we got to the beach, we made a quick stop at an outpost where we were asked to register. I expected a short list of visitors since this is one of the less popular places. Surprisingly, there were two pages of visitors names for the day. Those who were listed before us were French, Canadians, Israelis, etc.

Kyla’s Cocina

We had our lunch at Kyla’s Cocina where you can get a good meal at Php 200.

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We sat facing the ocean to enjoy the view while eating.

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The View: Nacpan Beach

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The View: Calitang Beach

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Twin Beaches

We went up the hill for a view of the two beaches.

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I was accompanied up the hill by Rolando, who showed me an easier trail.

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Until next visit, Nacpan Beach.

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Palawan Adventure 2014: Getting to El Nido

For his birthday week this year, my bestfriend and I decided to go to the beautiful islands of Palawan. Edward has not traveled much outside Manila even when he was still living here. He now lives in Singapore, so it would be good to take him to some well known beautiful islands.

Delayed Flight

His flight from Singapore was scheduled to arrive at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, October 7. It was already 2:45 PM and he still wasn’t out at the arrival area. I went to the check-in counter for our flight to Puerto Princesa which was scheduled to leave at 3:40 PM. I was worried we might miss our flight even if we already checked-in online. Gladly, he was able to join me at the check-in counter a few minutes later. One thing one must consider when traveling in October is the weather. Even if there is no typhoon, most of the flights can still be delayed because of the strong rains due to monsoon. Our flight was delayed for an hour. It was past 6:00 PM when we got to Puerto Princesa.

Quick Night Stay

We chose to stay the night in Puerto Princesa, and just travel early the next day to El Nido. El Nido is 5 to 7 hours away from Puerto Princesa – 5 if by van, 7 if by bus. I think there is also a ferry to El Nido, but I did not get to research it. There are no direct commercial flights from Manila to El Nido. You get a special direct flight if you are staying at El Nido Resorts, a quite expensive resort.

We stayed at Go Hotel, which is near the San Jose Terminal for buses and vans that go to El Nido and neighboring towns. The hotel is right beside Robinsons Mall where we bought last minute stuff – chips, toiletries, bottled water. For a quick night stay, Go Hotel is awesome. We got it for only Php 1,200 including airport transfer. Our room has twin beds, TV, A/C and warm shower. Since we were leaving before 6:00 AM the next day, the hotel had our breakfast packed so we can bring it with us.

We took a tricycle to the terminal and the driver helped get a van for us. We originally wanted to take the RoRo bus, but apparently its franchise was suspended in August.

The Ride to El Nido

It was not a comfortable ride since the van is small and we were seated beside the driver, the only seats available because we were among the last few passengers to ride. But, it was okay since we got to chat with the driver about El Nido.

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The road goes around mountains so expect a lot of turns (a lot of sharp turns). There were few vehicles on the road, most are buses and vans going to El Nido and neighboring towns and some tricycles.

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Some parts of the road were still under construction especially those near El Nido, so it could get bumpy especially when it rains.

There were at least two stops along the way. We got to eat our breakfast at the first stop.

Our nice driver dropped us off at our hotel, while the rest of the passengers alighted at the terminal.

The Hotel: Ipil Suites

One of the recommended budget hotels in El Nido is Ipil Suites not only because it is relatively cheap but also because of its proximity to the port and to the town proper.

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The hotel also has a nice view from its lobby.

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Some Helpful Information About El Nido

– Bring enough cash for the duration of your stay.
– The only ATM available is FCB – First Consolidated Bank, a savings bank in Palawan.
– Only a few establishments accept credit card.
– Electricity is only available from 2:00 PM to 6:00 AM. This is for the entire town.
– Download google maps on your smartphone to help you get around. Sometimes your destination is only a block away but the tricycle driver won’t tell you.
– The environmental fee is good for 10 days. Get your ticket when you pay so you can reuse it everytime you book a tour especially if you book with different tour agencies.
– if you take the same van back to Puerto Princesa, they will offer to pick you up at the hotel so you don’t have to take a tricycle to the terminal. It’s free.

What To Bring

– Sunscreen
– Baseball cap
– Waterproof bag for your wallet and other personal belongings
– Sunglasses
– Snorkelling gear (or you can rent)
– Aqua shoes
– Waterproof camera
– Hand sanitiser (lunch is served in oen of the island where clean water is scarce)
– Mosquito repellant
– Headache tablets (I had migraine after our second island tour)
– Plastic bag (For wet clothes). A big plastic bag for your beach bag while on the boat would be ideal.

Philippines: The Top 12 Beaches

So many more beaches to visit in the Philippines! Panglao next!

winairtravel

I have always loved rankings of world beaches but when no Philippine beach appears on the lists, I would surely get disheartened. How could someone produce the list of the top 10 beaches in the world when in fact they have not seen all! They could have just came up with the title, “The best beaches we have seen so far!” Sometimes, you cannot fathom why a beach in filthy Kho Phangan in Thailand is ranked higher than the immaculate beach in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. CNN produced a list of the world’s 50 best beaches and it created overwhelming disapproval when beaches in the Greek Islands, in Bermuda and in the Philippines’ Palawan were missed out. Also, Yahoo Travel featured an article ranking the Philippines’ best beaches and I thought it was not so properly done, placing El Nido at the top without even singling out any of…

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Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan (4/19/2014)

Our family decided to take the 3-hour drive from our place in Aringay, La Union to Lucap Wharf in Alaminos, Pangasinan to visit one of the must see sights in the Philippines, the Hundred Islands. There are actually 123 islands. Our tour took us to probably a fifth of the islands. Among the known islands were Romulo Island (where Claudine Barreto shot some of her scenes for her show, Marina), South Island, Children’s Island, Governor’s Island, and Quezon Island. Quezon Island was the most popular and, expectedly, it had most of the visitors. We chose to drop off the Quezon Island, too, since it’s the one with most ‘sights’ to see.

For details about Hundred Islands – how to get there, things to do, places to stay etc. – visit http://www.hundredislands.ph.

With the family on our way to Alaminos, Pangasinan. My sister took this groupie while driving.
With the family on our way to Alaminos, Pangasinan. My sister took this groupie while driving.
On our way to the islands
On our way to the islands

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People can pitch tents and stay overnight on the island.

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Overcrowded Quezon Island

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Other islands from a distance

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A Beautiful Boracay Wedding (April 13, 2013)

Back in Boracay after 6 months!

Was blessed to be invited by my good friend, Bucky, at his wedding in Boracay this weekend. Bucky was my batchmate in college at the Ateneo de Manila University and we both stayed at the college dorm, Cervini Hall for the guys and Eliazo Hall for the girls. When he mentioned that the wedding will be in Boracay, didn’t think twice about it! I immediately booked my flight and hotel.

I arrived in Boracay last Friday night at 11:00 PM, two hours later than expected. The plane could not leave Manila because of some congestion in Kalibo. Apparently, flights to Caticlan were redirected to Kalibo because of some event. So, I did not get a chance to meet with dorm friends who were already in Boracay.

The wedding was not until 2:00 in the afternoon. So, I decided to have a relaxing morning by the beach. Got my simple breakfast at One Crescent Place before heading out to the beach. In my beach bag was a book, sunblock, my phones, phone charger and, of course, some money. I planned on having a massage at some point by the beach. Yes, massage by the beach. And it only costs PHP 400 at most (around US$ 10).

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When I got to the beach, this was the sight that welcomed me.

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While walking by the beach to look for a good spot to hang out, I accidentally saw Roldan, another dorm friend from Ateneo waiting for his breakfast at Jony’s. Then we were joined by Albert who was checked in at Jony’s along with his fiance, Cor. Albert is also from the dorm. We went to Jonah’s for some fruitshake. Their milkshake is a must-try. Albert got an avocado milkshake, I got a mango milkshake and I think Roldan got a banana-mango milkshake.

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At Jonah’s with Albert, Cor, and Roldan.

Since we still had time, we decided to get a massage by the beach. We went back to Jony’s and they helped get a masseuse for us.

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My view during the massage
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Roldan and Albert getting their massage. Look how close we were to the water.

By the time Roldan and Albert were done with their massage, the water has reached the table. It was high tide!

The Wedding

Got to the Holy Rosary Parish church a little bit before 2:00 PM. It was so cool to see these cool Cervini guys again. Back in college, there was a group of 15 guys in Cervini who called themselves the ‘Lonely Hearts Club’. Their goal was to make sure all of them find the one for them and get married someday. Bucky was the President. He is now officially resigned, the third to the last to get married 🙂

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Roldan, Me, Joseph, Bucky (the groom!), Wong, Albert, Cor

A few minutes later, we were all asked to take our seats. The doors were opened, and the radiant bride walked in.

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Kaye was so lovely and elegant in her bridal gown

Father Lito Mangulabnan, SJ, who was our Head Prefect for a period of time at the dorm, officiated the wedding. He knew Bucky well. During homily, he assured Kaye that she was marrying a really good man.

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You may now kiss the bride!
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All excited for the newly weds!
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Ride to the reception

Cocktails

The newly weds served cocktails at Sea Wind. Wong hosted the event along with one of Kaye’s lady friends. Wong was hilarious! I think he did a great job making the program fun for everyone.

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Veggies, oysters, lechon

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After cocktails, we were asked to join the newly weds for some pictures with the sunset in the background.

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Glorious sunset
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Sweet and beautiful…. hello, low tide

Dinner

A section by the beach was setup for dinner.

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Our table assignments

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Got this beautiful shot of the reception area and the bluish sky after the sun set and the little moon came out.

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We welcomed the newly weds to the party with sparklers!

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Kaye’s bestfriend opened the party with a heart-felt message to Kaye and Bucky. Then, he surprised them with a number from their friends – a dragon dance! According to Wong, the dragon dance was for prosperity and fertility! 😉

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I was just telling the guys at my table that I wanted to watch a fire dance by the beach. Then, these wonderful people came in! According to Wong, the fire dance was also for fertility! Lol

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During dinner, Kaye’s father asked if he could sit with us at our table. He was overwhelmed by the entire thing. But he was very happy for his daughter. He went on to share with us how they brought in the butchered cow that was roasted on the spot for the wedding. They hired a boat from Bacolod to Aklan. They brought all the stuff they needed to roast and the men who will do it.

Dancing ensued after the dinner and program. Fun times!

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With Albert and my best buddy in college, Joseph
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Nikki, Wong, Albert and Kaye’s friend
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Woohoo!
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Everyone on their feet dancing and drinking

It was so warm that night that the guys, led by Wong, took off their white shirts and danced the night away. Even the groom took off his shirt! Haha! By the way, Wong – as Bucky asked throughout the event, how did you get that physique? ;D

Unfortunately, I could not stay long at the party since my flight the next day was at 9:30 AM. I had to leave the hotel at around 6:00 AM. Boracay is about two hours away from Kalibo. I needed to take a 15-minute boat ride to Caticlan, then another an hour and a half land trip by van to Kalibo airport. There is also an airport in Caticlan but the flight I got was in Kalibo.

One Crescent Place

This boutique hotel was not on the beach front, but it was right behind the church and was only 3 minutes away from the beach on foot. Found it on Expedia. Why I picked it? The rates were reasonable, the reviews were good, and it was close to the church. I actually did not know where the church was except that it is in Station 1.

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Breakfast area outside

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It was a very neat place and the room was cozy. But, what I liked most was the service. When I told the guy during check-in that I will miss breakfast on Sunday, since it is normally served at 7:00 AM, he said they can serve my breakfast before 6:00 AM. And they did, and they made sure I was already awake to take my breakfast at 5:45 AM.

https://www.facebook.com/onecrescentplace/

http://www.onecrescentplace.com/

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Boracay Getaway (September 2012)

Instant weekend getaway to accompany some visitors at work who wanted to visit Boracay.

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We checked in at Discovery Shores. Immediately went to the shore when we arrived. Look at that view!

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Got these awesome welcome sweets in my room.

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Here are some pictures we took while walking by the beach.

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We went island hopping the next day. I forgot what this island was named, but it was such a pristine place.

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Our food was prepared by our boatman when we got to the island. Hmm, so delicious!

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Back at the white beach, we took pictures of the grotto.

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Went to this little coffee shop named Real Coffee. They were known for their calamansi muffins.

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These are what you see when you walk by the beach near Station 2. A lot of people will approach you to convince you to try the various island activities.

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Took this picture while drinking a mango milkshake from Jonah’s. A must try in Boracay.

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Here’s a view of the island from the plane on our way back to Manila.

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Summer 2012: Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte

I’ve never heard of Calaguas Island before. When my sister asked if I wanted to join her and her friends to a packaged tour to the island, I was hesitant. What’s in that place? I looked it up and I saw a natural beauty – white sand, blue sea, green mountains – somewhere in Camarines Norte.  People who go there stay in tents and cook their own food. There is no electricity on the island and you bring your own drinking water. Interesting. It’s gonna be a great adventure. So, I signed up for a trip from March 30 – April 1.

We met at around 9:00 PM at the Shell gas station along Edsa/Ayala. The organizer was a group called Vagabond Pinas. We were going with another group and they were all from Chevron Phils. There were 2 vans – one with our group – me, my sister and her friends, May and Pao – and the other the Chevron peeps.  We were 2 hours late from the original time we were supposed to leave, but I just took that time to either read my Hunger Games book or take a nap.

We left at around 10:00 PM.  I slept through most of the 7 hour-trip. We had a quick stop in Daet for breakfast  and to buy some stuff.  While walking around we saw this wide variety of rice cakes being sold. We got samples of each!

Rice Cakes!

The ride to the port took less than five minutes. This is where we had our bags put in large plastic bags so they are protected from water during the boat ride to the island.

One of the outrigger boats to Calaguas Island

We passed through this little body of water before we got to the sea. There were kids maneuvering their canoe as well.

When we got to the sea, we had to get everything covered in plastic. There were huge waves and it rained a lot. I wish I wore my swimsuit during  the boat ride. My shirt and jeans were soaking wet when we arrived on the island  almost two hours later. But, it didn’t  matter. The island that welcomed us was such a beauty!

Welcome to Calaguas Island!

It was sunny for a bit then it went overcast with some rains. It was a bit gloomy that afternoon, but it did not dampen our spirits as we walked down the shore and took pictures. There were only a few of us on the beach. And I did not see a single foreigner. Definitely, this place is not yet known.

The other groups and their tents

By mid-afternoon, our group started pitching our tents. My sister and I shared one tent.

With my sister, May and Beth
What’s inside our tent
Our wet stuff
Cow sled
Poso. Where we fetch water for bathing and for flushing the toilet.
Spent the rest of the afternoon in this cabana where I took a nap, listened to music and read a book 
My pillow, music source and book
Almost sunset – my view from the cabana
Attempt at capturing sunset

There was no electricity on the island. So we lighted lamps as we ate the sumptuous dinner prepared by our organizer. The group had a campfire as they shared stories and had drinks. I decided to just stay in our tent and sleep early since my head started throbbing. The sound of the waves from the nearby beach quickly lulled me to sleep.

Was up by 5:00 AM the next morning and felt well-rested and refreshed. The sun was just rising, too.

Sunrise in Calaguas Island

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, the sky was almost clear and the beach was much lovelier.

Good mornng

Attempt at some yoga

Had a quick breakfast before we headed off for a bit of hiking in the hills.

Corned beef, scrambed eggs and rice for breakfast
Iyah, May, Pao
We are headed to that hill
We’re on our way
Cow and its calf
Passing through the swamp
Half-way I think
This girl was our guide along with her brother (at the back)
Almost there
Empty hut at the top of the hill
With the Chevron peeps

It was starting to rain on our way on our way down.

Uh-oh

We got ready to leave by noon.

The group with the Vagabond Pinas crew
Bye, Calaguas Island

I hope we could stay longer to relax and enjoy the scenery. I hope the next time I visit the place, it won’t be commercialized yet and we still get to sleep in tents.

For more information about Vagabond Pinas and their upcoming tours, visit http://www.vagabondpinas.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/vagabondpinas.