Solo Travel: Baguio

I wanted to get away for a few days for some ME time before I go back to work on January 6. I checked for flights to Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and to local places like Bohol, Samar and Aklan, but decided to go somewhere near my home province so I could join my dad during the new year celeration.

Glad I picked Baguio because I get to enjoy the cool weather, the mountain views, and the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Forest House Bed and Breakfast

This place was my first pick because of the pretty rooms, its view of the mountains and the great food.

They only have four rooms and I picked the smallest one: Keanu.

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Breakfast is included and I had mine served in my room.

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You can hang out with friends in the common areas an get food and drinks served.

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Azotea Greens

Was originally planning on going to Oh My Gulay for dinner, but I wanted to try something new. Found Azotea Greens in the same building. They are a vegetarian restaurant. They have paintings that are hung around the area that I think are for sale in support of local artists.

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I decided to get Vegetable Medley which is a mix of boiled sayote, cabbage, zucchini, young corn, baguio beans, potato and mushroom.

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I almost finished my plate when something caught my eye.

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Major EWWW!!! I quietly told the waitress, she apologized and offered to serve me a new plate. I told her I was already full and it was okay. A few minutes later, the owner approached me and apologized and asked if he could get me some dessert and drinks. I just ordered their wheatgrass green tea with apple. They did not make me pay for the Vegetable Medley. On my way out, the wife of the owner approached me, apologized and told me that the kitchen staff has been reminded to clean the ingredients more diligently. The veggie worm was totally unexpected because of how she instructed the staff to clean them. They use an ozonizer and they lightly brush the vegetablea after they are ozonized. I understood what she was talking about becuase I also have an ozonizer at home. I told her it was okay and I would still go back to their restaurant. The owners are good, kind people and I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again 🙂

North Haven Spa

To be continued.

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My Bestfriend’s Birthday Weekend

It’s been four years since he last came home. Even if I saw him last February and last July, it was still different having him back in the country. And I’m glad my bestfriend, Edward, decided to spend his birthday weekend in Manila with me. Yes, I made him fly on his birthday!

I almost did not recognize him when I went to pick him up at the airport – the longer than usual hair, the mustache, the goatee. But I forgot to take a picture!

Took Edward to F1 Hotel where we stayed overnight. Picked it because I wanted a place close to Bonifacio High Street where Edward has never been to before. I booked a deluxe room. When we checked in, was pleasantly surprised that they upgraded our room to a suite!

First thing we did was to find a barbershop for Edward’s haircut. Glad we bumped into one of my officemates, Paolo, who showed us where the nearest one was. (Yeah, don’t have any idea where to find one.

2nd’s

Took Edward to one of the best restaurants in the area, 2nd’s. Got one of their bestsellers, beef steak, and Edward’s choice, lamb shank caldereta.

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Because we were so full from our heavy meal, we walked around the area and went to Market Market to buy me some medicines for my colds. Bad decision because it was raining hard and we had a small umbrella. We got really wet. Worse, on our way back, I decided to buy cakes for to go so we can eat the cakes while watching tv back at the hotel. Well, while walking at the parking lot, the 2 boxes of cake fell, only one survived. Yay, we still got to eat one cake! Lol

Breakfast

Had buffet for breakfast

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And took pictures by the pool

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My sisters picked us up around 10am for a trip to Batangas.

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Acuaverde

We spent the weekend at Acuaverde in Laiya, San Juan, Batangas.

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We were joined later in the afternoon by my friend, Quennie, and her family.

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Morning fun

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Lunch in Tagaytay

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And a rainbow to cap the weekend

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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.

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On our way to the mountain, we dropped by the Ambuklao Dam, which is the primary water source in the Mountain Province.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We passed by several springs, which are clean water sources where we can refill our bottles.

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Late lunch was served by our trek organizers, Vagabond Pinas.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

 

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Weekend Getaway: Baler (Aug 24-25, 2013)

We were supposed to climb Mt. Pulag this weekend, but because of the heavy rains in the north, the climb was canceled. My sister and her friend suggested a trip to Baler instead. I heard Baler is a great place. I didn’t know what to expect but I agreed to go anyway. It’s always fun to discover new and beautiful places 😉

The travel from Manila to Baler is 5 hours. So, we had several stops on the way for food and for pictures 🙂

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We didn’t make any reservations at any resort. We just went and asked which resorts had available rooms. We stayed at Aliya Surf Resort.

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Ditumbo Mother Falls

Since there were no big waves yet for surfing, we opted to take the Eco-Tour provided by the resort.

First, we went to see the biggest falls in the province, te Ditumbo Falls. We took a tricycle from the resort to the area near the falls. Then, we walked 1.3 kilometers to climb up the mountain and cross the river to get to the falls.

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Balete Tree

Another attraction in the area was this large balete tree. It was daunting and kinda scary. Visitors were encouraged to climb inside the trunk of the tree.

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Surfing

Early the next day, people at the resort started to get ready for surfing. The waves were weak at first, then big waves started to form. The beautiful mountain range served as a backdrop for the surfing enthusiasts.

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City Tour

We went around the city to check out the museum and other historic places in Baler.

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Hillocks

On our way back to Manila, we stopped by this quaint coffee shop along the highway in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.

We just wanted something hot to drink before continuing our long drive back to Manila. It turned out to be one nice chat with a wonderful family over hot choco.

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It’s a family business being run by the eldest in the family, Andromeda, who finished culinary school. Her dad built the coffee shop for her. Within the same building is their water filling station, named after one of the kids, Aegean. The family’s house was in the area at the top of the hill. It was kinda cool.

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Safari Lodge in Baguio

Last minute overnight trip to Baguio. Tried our luck at the Safari Lodge and they had a budget room available for us. It was my first time at this place. Maybe next time I’ll try their much better rooms. Was not able to take pictures of the rooms, but took some of their common areas.

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They also served complimentary breakfast. Got my self a longganisa meal.

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Safari Lodge is located along Leonard Wood Rd, right across the Botanical Garden and near Teachers’ Camp.

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A Historical Tour in Corregidor

Decided to join our Canadian guest for a trip to the historical island of Corregidor. I have heard about some great feedback about the tour but never got the chance before. I am glad I did now.

We were at the CCP terminal of Sun Cruises as early as 6:30 AM.

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We boarded the ferry at around 7:15 AM and left at 8:00 AM. Arrived at Corregidor Island shortly before 10:00 AM.

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We boarded the tram assigned to our group. We had Mang Bobby as our tour guide. He was a funny, interesting guy. Not as intense as Carlos Celdran but he was interesting on his own right.

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Malinta Tunnel

Mang Bobby introduced us to the tour by saying that this island was heavily fortified by the Americans from 1902 to 1932. It had hundreds of tunnels, many battery of guns and 5 regimens of American and Filipino soldiers.

Our first stop was at one of the main tunnels of the island that links the main island and the tail end. We also watched the lights and sounds show.

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Corregidor Inn

Had an early buffet lunch at the only hotel on the island. It had a good view of the water and the island.

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Middleside Barracks

Stopped by the ruins of the Middleside Barracks where a regimen of American soldiers lived during World War II.

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Battery Way

First of the battery of guns that we visited.

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Near the battery was the largest gun on the island.

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Spanish Light House

This is the oldest light house in the country. It is the highest point of the island.

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War Memorial

Before visiting the memorial, Mang Bobby took us to the edge of that area of the island to see the tail end of the island.

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Here’s a view of the Eternal Flame (of freedom, I think) and the White Dome at the memorial.

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Lorcha Dock

This is where MacArthur left the Philippines to go to Australia. He was actually in Australia when he said ‘I shall return.’

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Japanese Memorial

Last stop of our tour. The Japanese government did not know about the Japanese cemetery until 1986.

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It was a worthwhile trip. Great to know more about our history and how a lot of people sacrificed their lives for the country to get to where we are now.

We left the island at 2:30 PM and was back in Manila at 4:00 PM.

To book tours to the island, go to http://www.corregidorphilippines.com.

Walk this Way: A Walking Manila Tour by Carlos Celdran

It was definitely different from the other walking tours I have taken. The tour guide was like no other. The encounter with Carlos Celdran himself was a unique experience. He was so passionate and could get really intense on some topics particularly on the part when Manila was caught between the war of United States and Japan and thousands of Filipinos were killed and Manila was bombed, destroying the beautiful city. The 30+ mix of Filipinos and foreigners laughed and cried with him as he shared facts and events in the past that affected the way we are today in Manila (and Philippines in general).

Thank you, Carlos Celdran, for such an amazing experience. It was not only an informational tour but an eye opener even for us Filipinos. I will never look at certain things the same way again.

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Loved the calesa ride! Definitely an experience for our Canadian guest 🙂

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San Agustin Church. The oldest church in the Philippines. The only one of the 7 churches and 1 cathedral in Intramuros that survived the bombing in WWII.

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Last stop was a Barbara’s where halo-halo was served while Carlos was wrapping up the tour. Amazing tour! Carlos got a big applause from everyone.

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We walked a few meters a way to take a look at the Manila Cathedral which was under renovation.

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Love this poster! I will definitely take another Walk This Way tour 🙂

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For tour schedules, visit http://www.carlosceldran.com.

To reserve, text (63) 920 9092021.

Meeting place is at Fort Santiago, Santa Clara Street, Intramuros.

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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Holy Week 2013

Spent the holy week with family and friends in my home province, La Union.

My sister’s friend, May, and her family joined us for the trip.

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Our jazzies were all ready for the trip.

Our first stop was San Juan Surf Resort.

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Good morning! Surfer students getting ready.
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Three little kids
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With my very patient instructor, Jeff, after my first try at surfing.
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Orange diet

Good Friday

Met with my good friend, Rhea, in Aringay to join the procession. A lot of people joined.

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Commemorating the crucifixion

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Baguio

While most people are heading to the beach, we went up the mountains! We went to Baguio for some cool breeze. Had picnic in Cam John Hay and played with the kids.

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Later, we went to Mines View Park. Stopped to get some grilled corn.

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Pagsanjan Falls

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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The Falls!

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Going Through the Falls

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Behind the Falls

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All wet on the ride back from behind the falls.

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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.

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

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