Palawan Escapade January 2018

My college roommates and I planned an out-of-town trip while all of us were in the Philippines (too bad one could not make it at the last minute). Since it was also my birthday week, celebrated my 40th with them and my love.

We decided to go to Puerto Princesa and El Nido in Palawan.

We landed in Puerto Princesa on the first day of the new year. We were greeted with a warm welcome at the airport.

After taking a quick lunch, we embarked on a five-hour trip by land to El Nido. On the way, we stopped by to get some pictures with the sunset.

Typhoon Agaton hit Palawan the next day, so boat tours were cancelled. We spent the day instead at Nacpan Beach which was about 40 minutes away from the El Nido town proper.

At the shack where we had lunch, we were the only Filipino group. Was glad to see that the island is getting some love from foreign folks.

Boat tours were still cancelled the next day so we went to Canopy Walk which was a few minutes away from town. Even if there was light rain, we enjoyed the ‘walk’ because of the great view.

We had lunch as Squidos which was one pf the original restaurants in the area.

We went to Las Cabanas in the afternoon to hang out and to hopefully get a view of the sunset.

Boat tours were finally allowed the next day. We decided to go to as many islands as we could.

First stop was Helicopter island.

Next was Hidden Beach. As the name implies, the beach was hidden behind rocks so we had to take a little bit of walk in the water through waves to get to the shore. It was worth it.

We then went to Matinloc Shrine for a quick stop before lunch.

Secret Beach was up next. Gabriel and I decided to skip it since it requires swimming through a small opening, which was a bit tough due to strong waves.

At the Small Lagoon, we rode a kayak to explore the area.

At the Big Lagoon, since it was high tide, we took the boat to look around. It was also an opportunity for everyone on the boat to take pictures of the tour’s highlight.

Our last stop was Seven Commandos. By then, the sun had set but we still had time for some swimming and photos.

We took the five-hour ride back to Puerto Princesa that evening. We were up by 4am the next day for an early morning tour to Underground River. We were the first to leave at the port!

By 10am, we were done! We had lunch at Ka Inatô before we headed to the airport for our flight back to Manila.

Thank you Aldhel, Rhona, Mark, Joaquin, Lucas and Gabriel for a wonderful week in Palawan (and for the pictures!) 🤗😊

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Sagada 2017

Went back to Sagada with my high school friends last February 2 to 5. We took a van from Manila at 1:30am and picked up more of our friends in La Union. We drove through Tagudin, Ilocos Sur to get to Sagada.

We stopped by Bessang Pass for bio break.


We got to Sagada at around noon, then had lunch at Misty Lodge which was about two kilometers from Sagada’s town proper. Their burger and tinola were really good.

St. Joseph Rest House

One of my friends booked us at St. Joseph Rest House. It is the best place to stay in Sagada with its wide ground coverage which makes it accessible through the church and through the market.

 

Mud surfing at Echo Valley Trail

First stop after lunch was hike through Echo Valley trail.



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Spelunking at Sumaging Cave

We went to Sumaging cave at 8 in the morning to ensure there won’t be that many people in the cave.

 

Hiking to Bomod-ok Falls

On our third day, we decided to wear our batch shirt. We took a different trail to avoid the throng of people who wanted to see the falls. I’m glad we did because the view along the trail was breathtaking.

When we arrived at the falls, it was full with people. After about half an hour, my friends and I were just the only ones left. We had the falls to ourselves!

On the way back, my friends opted to take the trail by the river. Turned out, we had to walk by the cliff!

We took a few stops to appreciate the view and enjoy the cool breeze.



Sea of Clouds

Saw this sea of clouds on our way from Sagada to Baguio. We parked by the road to take these awesome pictures.

VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/203144645

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.

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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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.

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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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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