Philippines: The Top 12 Beaches

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


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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Mt. Pinatubo Adventure (3/2/2014)

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.

Vagabond Pinas

Mobile:+63 917 852 2845

Bought 'walking sticks' from these kids who were hoping to earn some lunch money from their merch.
Bought ‘walking sticks’ from these kids who were hoping to earn some lunch money from their merch.


Rest stop before we continued our journey up the volcano. This 4x4 was our ride in the rugged terrain.
Rest stop before we continued our journey up the volcano. This 4×4 was our ride in the rugged terrain.
With our handy walking stick
With our handy walking stick
Already tired! We're not even half way yet!
Already tired! We’re not even half way yet!
We passed by this small Aeta community on our way up
We passed by this small Aeta community on our way up



With our guide
With our guide
We're close to the crater!
We’re close to the crater!
Almost there!
Almost there!


Jumpshot... fail. Lol
Totally did not expect this view! Water accumulated at the crater creating this majestic view.


Jump shot.... fail
Jump shot…. fail
Enjoying the view at the crater. According to our guide, some tourists set up camp here and stay over night. Permit has to be secured at DENR.
Enjoying the view at the crater. According to our guide, some tourists set up camp here and stay over night. Permit has to be secured at DENR.


We left the crater around noon. It was scorching hot!
We left the crater around noon. It was scorching hot!
Aeta kids and their mothers
Aeta kids and their mothers
Tried talking to them but they don't understand me.
Tried talking to them but they don’t understand me.


Rest stop on the way down
Rest stop on the way down
4x4's waiting of their passengers
4×4’s waiting of their passengers
Yep, we passed through this shallow river
Yep, we passed through this shallow river
These kids didn't mind the heat and the dust. According to our guide, they like watching tourists that visit their 'domain'.
These kids didn’t mind the heat and the dust. According to our guide, they like watching tourists that visit their ‘domain’.
Until next time, Mt. Pinatubo!
Until next time, Mt. Pinatubo!

Trek to Mt. Pulag (Aug 31-Sept 1)

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!

























Huntington Library (Los Angeles, California)

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.

Chinese Garden







Japanese Garden







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).


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.

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.

My view during the massage
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 🙂

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.

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.


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


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.




Veggies, oysters, lechon


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

Glorious sunset
Sweet and beautiful…. hello, low tide


A section by the beach was setup for dinner.

Our table assignments



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!

With Albert and my best buddy in college, Joseph
Nikki, Wong, Albert and Kaye’s friend
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.


Breakfast area outside



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.


Pagsanjan Falls

Went to Laguna for a weekend getaway with my sisters in Pagsanjan to see the majestic falls.


We stayed at a place called Villa Socorro Agri-Eco Village. It’s a cool, quiet place. They also have a banana plantation within their premises and a banana chips production plant.



Since we arrived late in Pagsanjan, we decided to try some of the must try places in the area.

We tried the best halo-halo in Pagsanjan – Aling Taleng’s Halo Halo.


And ate dinner at one of their popular restaurants – Calle Arco. We liked it so much we had lunch the next day at the same restaurant.


The next day, we woke up early for a boat ride to the falls. We were told tha the best time to go is early in the morning.


It was a very interesting boat ride. I will let the pictures (video to follow) speak for themselves.
















The Falls!



Going Through the Falls


Behind the Falls




All wet on the ride back from behind the falls.



On our way back, we filmed the boat ride.

Tree Planting

That same afternoon after we got back from the falls, we did our share of planting a tree in the Eco village.



Did a little sight seeing, too. This shelter was apparently featured in some American movies.



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.


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 or