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…
This place came about after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo 20+ years ago. It displaced a lot of people and affected their livelihood. Now, thousands of tourists visit it to revel in the beauty that was created.
For this trip, my sisters and I joined Vagabond Pinas who arranged everything. We met in Cubao and left at around 2:30 AM. We arrived in Capas, Tarlac at 5:30 AM, got registered and got assigned to our guide and 4×4 ride.
My first time to join a trek. The highest point in Luzon – Mt. Pulag at 2,922 meters above sea level.
From Baguio, we took a jeepney and rode two and a half hours to this local restaurant where we had early breakfast at 5:30 AM.
On our way to the mountain, we dropped by the Ambuklao Dam, which is the primary water source in the Mountain Province.
We stopped by DENR (Department of Environment and National Resources) for an orientation on the Do’s and Don’t’s inside the Mt. Pulag National Park.
We stopped at the Ranger Station to meet with our guide. We found out that you can pay porters (locals in the area) to carry your backpack for you. We hired one to help with our stuff for the 5km climb.
Here’s Jersey, our very patient tour guide who let us take several stops to catch our breath on the way up. We took the Ambangeg trail, which is also called the Executive trail because it was the easiest of the 3 trails going to the summit. However, for a beginner like me, it was still a difficult climb.
We passed by several springs, which are clean water sources where we can refill our bottles.
Late lunch was served by our trek organizers, Vagabond Pinas.
Before the day ended, we walked around. We are still 2 km away from the summit. We will climb the remainin 2km in the morning to view the sunrise.
We missed the sunset because of the rain and the clouds. But I got this nice shot instead of the clouds and mountains around us.
The next day, Jersey woke us up at 3:00 AM to get ready for the one hour climb to the summit. We had a quick coffee prepared by our Vagabond Pinas friends, then we were on our way.
Almost missed the glorious sunrise because of the difficult and slippery climb. We made it in time!
This place was more than a library. I actually did not get to see the library and the museums because it was a Free Day (every 1st Thursday of every month) and tickets can only be reserved online or by phone. They don’t sell tickets on Free Day.
But there was so much to see even if you don’t enter the buildings. There were several themed gardens around the area.
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).
When I got to the beach, this was the sight that welcomed me.
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.
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.
By the time Roldan and Albert were done with their massage, the water has reached the table. It was high tide!
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 🙂
A few minutes later, we were all asked to take our seats. The doors were opened, and the radiant bride walked in.
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.
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.
After cocktails, we were asked to join the newly weds for some pictures with the sunset in the background.
A section by the beach was setup for dinner.
Got this beautiful shot of the reception area and the bluish sky after the sun set and the little moon came out.
We welcomed the newly weds to the party with sparklers!
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! 😉
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
By mid-afternoon, our group started pitching our tents. My sister and I shared one tent.
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.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning, the sky was almost clear and the beach was much lovelier.
Had a quick breakfast before we headed off for a bit of hiking in the hills.
It was starting to rain on our way on our way down.
We got ready to leave by noon.
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.