Sunday, March 19, 2017

Taiwan 2017

First post for 2017 :D
Video clip I edited for our Feb 2017 trip to Taiwan 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Japan 2015 Photos

Wearing a yukata while admiring our shukubo's garden

Shojin Ryoji. Patunay na bawal akong maging vegetarian. XD

Welcome to Hogwarts! :)

Ang sophisticated ni Kitty White

Kuha ni kuyang poging foreigner. Sana sa kanya na lang ako nagpapicture. :P

At Kiyomizudera's Kayasu Pagoda - a visit here is said to bring about an easy and safe childbirth o_O
will come back here when I become preggers :P

Feeling close kay Shrek

Tokyo's Imperial Palace East Garden

At Odaiba District

At Disney Sea

With Hachi

Hello Gundam!

Tao po!

Parating na mga pirates!

Japan Travel Notes (Summer, 2015)

Rafi and I travelled to Japan from August 27 to Sept 3, 2015. We went to four main areas - Tokyo, Kyoto, Koyasan and Osaka.

August 27: arrival in Osaka, stay in KIX airport for the night
August 28-30: Tokyo (Shibuya, Akihabara, Odaiba, Imperial Palace, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Disney Sea)
August 30-Sept 1: Kyoto (Kinkakuji, Philosopher's Path, Ginkakuji, Gion, Shijo, Kiyomizuderamae, Fushimi Inarii, Arashiyama area - Sagano Scenic Train, Bamboo Grove, Tenryujiimae)
Sept 1-2: Koyasan (Ekoin, Kongobujimae, Daimon Gate, Onsen experience, Shojin ryoji meal, Temple Stay, Buddhist morning ritual, Goma Fire ritual, Okunoinmae)
Sept 2-3: Osaka (Dotombori / Namba, Ichiran Ramen, Don Quijote, Umeda, USJ)
On transportation
·         JR Pass is definitely convenient to use if you want to travel across cities - just show your pass to the train officer and you can get on the platform and ride on any JR line train. However, it may not necessarily be cheaper. It helps to plan your itinerary well. It gives value for your money if you are to use Shinkansen a lot of times during your travel. A trip from Osaka to Tokyo will set you back by around JPY 8000. If you plan to travel the same distance for about three or more times, then getting a JR Pass will definitely save you a lot. However, in our case, I felt we could have saved a bit more should we estimated how much it would cost to travel from Osaka to Tokyo, Tokyo to Kyoto, Kyoto to Koyasan, Koyasan to Osaka beforehand. I think it would still not cost JPY 29000.
·         Make sure you ride the right train line and be prepared to pay extra should you accidentally ride an express line instead of an ordinary one. This happened to us during our trip to Koyasan. We rode a Rapid Express train. While our JR Pass and Kansai Thru Pass was acceptable on the Koya-line, we had to pay an extra JPY 700+ each, since what we rode was a rapid express train.
·         In Kyoto, buying the 1-day/2-day/3-day passes will save you money (especially if you want to avoid a lot of walking). A bus ride could cost around JPY 230 while a day pass is only JPY 600. There is also a combination of bus and train ride in Kyoto (about JPY 1200/ day) but we did not use it since we felt that bus pass is sufficient enough for us (given the sites that we want to see around Kyoto).
·         Kansai thru Pass is also a good option to use around Kansai Area (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, etc.). It is already acceptable in buses and subway. There are 1 day / 2 day and 3 day options that you can choose from depending on how long you want to stay in Kyoto and the sites you want to see. It also comes with coupons that you can show to their partner merchants to get discounts. We were not able to use them though because we cannot read Japanese. XD
On accommodation
·         We were able to save one night of accommodation cost since we decided to stay in the airport on our first night in Osaka. It was a cost-efficient way for us since we arrived in the airport at 8pm and was able to complete immigration requirements after about two hours, so going out of the airport was not really a good option, especially that our plan is to head to Tokyo first thing the following morning.
·         Tokyo hotel is much more expensive than hotels in Kyoto or Osaka. Consider staying in hostels or guesthouses if you want to save.
·         We booked our hotels using We preferred to use this versus Agoda since 1) they have free cancellation options (important for us during that time since we booked prior to applying for a Japan Visa), 2) you can pay cash on the day of your arrival and 3) their rates are sometimes lower
·         Booking early is important. Hotels and other accommodations in Japan gets booked quickly. We tried to check on cheaper accommodations a week before our flight (cause i realized JPY 21000 for two nights in Tokyo might be too much compared to JPY 10650 for two nights in Kyoto)  and most of the hotels and guesthouses with affordable rates are already fully booked. What are left are those hotels that cost JPY 40000 a night. Too costly for us!
·         We used Airbnb on our last day in Osaka.

The Pros of staying in Airbnb accommodation
o    I like staying in Airbnb accommodation because it feels more comfortable and homey compared to the sterile, formal feel of staying in hotels.
o   Most have kitchen utilities that you can use in case you want to cook your own food or bring take out food from restaurants. Most hotels would not have these kitchen equipments (e.g. microwave, utensils, etc.).
o   Our accoommodation also allowed us to use their free portable wifi for our travel around Osaka - definitely a plus since wifi is essential if you want to avoid getting lost :D
o   Some accommodations are cheaper than hotels.

The Cons of staying in Airbnb accommodation
o   It's difficult to find an accommodation with flexible cancellation policy so we ended up booking hotels via
o   It's rare to find an Airbnb accommodation within the heart of the city. ours was about 15 minutes train ride away from Namba. But it was not really a problem since we all know that train rides and bus rides in Japan operates like clockwork
On Navigating around
·         We booked a portable wifi (through prior to our arrival in Japan. We reckon it could save us a lot more than using our cellular data. Roaming charges are just too steep and also consumes battery a lot more. Our 7-day rental of the portable wifi cost around PhP 1900++, whereas roaming charges cost around P500/day, if I am not mistaken
·         While a lot of places in Japan offers free wifi - airport, hotel, restaurants, there are places which still do not. Unless you have planned your itinerary so well including how to go from one site to another, what train lines to use, which platforms to go to, then you do not have to use a portable wifi. But if you are like us who want to keep their itinerary quite flexible, then wifi is essential.
·         Most of the blogs we read suggested downloading Hyperdia to make navigating around Japan easier. However, when we tried downloading it, we found that download was restricted for residents of certain countries, Philippines excluded. So we ended up using their web-version. But most of the time, we just relied on Google to help us navigate and we felt it was just as accurate and reliable as Hyperdia. Details on the time of train departure, number of minutes the travel would take, cost of fare, and which platform you should go are already included in the details.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

South Cebu Travel Notes July 4-5 2015

Above details our itinerary and expenses during my travel to South Cebu with office buddies Berna and Liaa on July 4-5. 

 For Canyoneering: Raymund Sande of Badian Kawasan Canyoneering Adventure (mobile number: 0932 607 9016)
Chateau de Tan-awan: Ate Veny (mobile number: 09179127783); ate Josephine hooked us up with kuya Roger, a habal-habal driver who toured us to Tumalog and assisted us with Whale Shark Watching and Sumilon trip

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Recap of My 2014

2014 had been a great year to me in terms of travel and adventure. We’ve been out for almost every month of the year enabling me to get some respite from work, bond with friends and love ones and rejuvenate my energy to face the demands of my job.

First off, we started the year with a climb in the majestic peak of Mt. Pinatubo in January together with Kuya Ja & ate Pearl, Jex & Jean, Rick & Antoi.

February was spent TWICE in the north. First was around valentine weekend in Baguio together with Rafi’s folks followed by another trip to the Mountain Province, specifically in Sagada together with Andeng, Tin and Biteng. 

LOWCAL also had a quick trip at Bataan where we enjoyed the shores of Westnuk Resort.

March was Bruhildas initiation in Baler. It was my second trip to the place but it was our first trip there as a trio. And it fanned everyone’s desire to do surfing again and again and again. So it wasn’t the first and only trip to Baler that we did for the year.

April was spent in the beautiful islands of Calaguas in Camarines Norte, where we stayed for two nights. On our last day, we had a side trip in Bagasbas where I did a bit of surfing again. :D

In April, the company where I work also treated us to an overnight stay in Pico Sands in Batangas

May was spent in the beaches of Padre Burgos in Quezon, one of which is the famed Borawan, together with Lowcal.

In June, Rafi, Andeng, Tina and Biteng gathered together again for another road trip in Subic. We went to Zoobic Safari and Clark this time around.

July was supposed to be spent discovering the Seven Lakes of San Pablo City and Liliw but work commitments and typhoon halted the plans so we moved it to August instead.

Also in August, I convinced Rafi that we spend the long weekend on a trip to a destination less travelled. And so we packed our things and braved the buses going up north to explore what Quirino Province has to offer. 

In September, the girls went to Baler again to satisfy our craving for surfing, this time with Peiglet.  This time around, we went to the breathtaking Dicasalarin Cove. There’s always something new to see in Baler! Plus the great food - Baler longganisa, Kusina Luntian's liempo and paco salad! I'm drooling every time I remember it. I just hope they get to serve food faster next time. ;)

In October, we got to travel twice up north again. First was with Lowcal in Ilocos Region and it felt awesome to go back to the place that sparked my interest to travel to other Philippine destinations. It was also great to see that there are more windmills now than when we first went there. Pagudpud however is not the same pristine and virgin strip of beach that I remember it to be.  But I was still happy that I got to try surfing here, and was able to do a couple of long rides despite the challenging waves.

One of the brightest, greatest highlight of my 2014 was when we finally got the chance to travel to Batanes, one of the ultimate travel destinations in my list – precisely because not everyone is able to go here due to its isolation, expensive transportation and unpredictable weather. What’s more awesome was that we stayed there for a week, enabling us to be laid back for 7 days but still do a bit of adventure as we went to Itbayat, the northernmost inhabited island of the Philippines. We were told that not everyone who visits Batanes is as courageous as us to brave the waves getting there and some are also not as lucky as us since others get stranded in the island for a few days due to bad weather.

November was spent again in Baler (my fourth time overall, and third time this year) with Andeng to celebrate her 27th birthday.

December was the most travelled month as we went to three destinations. First was in Taal Pusod Conservation Center to spend my birthday weekend. There is always joy and beauty to be found in simple things. No grandiose hotel accommodation nor luxurious food. But it makes for a perfect place to contemplate on things and be more grateful about all the blessings I received as I get a year wiser, sexier and prettier. ;)
Second for December was La Union with Bruhildas to satisfy our surfing craving again before we bid adieu to 2014. 

Finally, we went to Tagaytay with the whole family as part of our annual Christmas / year-ender tradition.

And as last hirit for the year, Lowcal celebrated our annual Christmas get-together in  Parque Espana in Alabang with games, exchange gifts and of course, lamon-galore. :)



I have started refurbishing our tiny home in QC. The loft now has its wall. The stairs have already been wood-ified. Shelf for entertainment set has already been mounted as well as kitchen shelf. Next project is to paint and install tiles, to be continued this year.


This year was a better one for the company. I’m glad that our stress and occasional sleepless night had finally paid off this year. Thus, we can smell bonus come summertime of 2015. Yay!!! :) What’s also great is that, I am able to change my attitude now, thanks to workmates/friends who made working in an ever stressful environment more bearable. I am not the whiner type and I tend to work on my own but having people to share sentiments with from time to time is a good way to relieve me of any heavy feeling I may have at any point in time at work. These people also helped me to view things in a more positive light. Regardless, I still hope that 2015 at work will still be kinder, less stressful and filled with more blessings.

Add to this the small rewards and surprises that I received towards the end of the year. Happiness calendar entry and 70-day challenge participation come to mind. :)


2014 will be quite difficult to top in terms of travel and adventure but I am hoping that my 2015 will still be filled with adventure. As of this writing, we already have two international destinations lined up for the year. So we’re currently saving up and preparing our visa for these trips. I am praying that the weather, political situations, etc in these destinations would all be conducive for travel. I am also hoping to be able to scratch at least two new provinces off my Philippine map.

I also aim to lose weight this year as I have gained so much weight in the past two years. Specifically, I wish to be at least 110lbs again this year. Declaring this, so I get more pressured to fulfill it! :P I wish to be stronger and fitter too, so I can stand up that surf board with more ease and grace the next time I go surfing. Hence, I will combine diet and active lifestyle to make this happen. Perhaps I should add running a 10k this year. Why not? J

Also, we got to save up for that car and wedding in the next 1-2 years.

Finally, go deeper and stronger in faith and prayer and thankfulness to the Lord this year.

May 2015 be more awesome, travel-filled, healthier and fitter, more abundant for everyone this year. J

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Travelling to Quirino Province: Another Philippine Destination Waiting to be Explored

I recently included being able to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines in my bucket list. Having this goal means I would also need to go to off-the-beaten destinations. This is the reason behind my decision to go to Quirino Province to make the most of the long weekend last August 21-25.

As a pastime, I like reading travel blogs and planning my own itinerary whenever we plan to travel. I tried doing the same for this trip but found that there are very few articles written about traveling to this place.  In fact, I have encountered a lot of people giving me a blank stare or asking me, “where is that?” or “what’s in there?” when I told them I’d be going to Quirino Province with Rafi. I couldn’t blame them though because Quirino Province is really not a popular tourist destination (just yet). Good thing though, the provincial website of Quirino posted contact details of their tourism office so I decided to contact them directly to help me plan the trip. Kuya Ian Nicolas was the one who helped me plan our itinerary for our two days and two nights of stay in their place.

Here’s a recount of those two awesome days that we spent in the province of Quirino.


August 20, 2014
Rafi and I planned to travel at night so we can start our tour the following day. We wanted to take the 8pm trip to Maddela via Five Star. We arrived at the terminal 10 minutes before 8 only to find out that no trip was going to Maddela that day and that the next trip would be 8pm the following day. I did not lose hope just yet as I know that there are other buses traveling up north. We could try to get into one of those trips and still arrive in Maddela morning the following day. So we went to Victory Liner in Kamias since they have several trips to Santiago and Tuguegarao. Unfortunately, we were told that the trips are already full and that we could line up as chance passengers. However, the queue was too long and we might not still be able to get into any bus until midnight. I was already thinking of ditching Quirino and going to the beach instead, particularly Baler or Zambales or even La Union. I told Rafi we should check out Genesis bus. The queue was short, however, when I tried contacting accommodations in Baler, I was told that they were already fully booked until August 24. My heart was almost crushed. I called kuya Ian to inform him that we might not be able to make it to Thursday and we’d catch the 8pm trip the following day. But he suggested that we travel in the morning instead, take the 7am trip so we could reach Quirino in the afternoon, take a rest and proceed with our tour Friday. That sounded like a good idea to me so my hopes were revived once more.

I also have apprehensions in the beginning because I thought travelling directly to this place is not as easy as travelling to other destinations in the northern part of the Philippines (e.g. Baguio, La Union, Tuguegarao or Santiago City). But then, I was wrong again. This experience taught me that there are at least two ways by which one could reach Quirino Province:
a.    You could ride a bus traveling directly to Maddela. These would include Five Star Bus, Florida (a.k.a. Dangwa) Bus, or Nelbusco. One way fare would cost you P489.00.
b.    You could also travel via buses going to Santiago, Isabela or Tuguegarao, Cagayan but get off at Cordon, Isabela. From here, you could ride a van going to Maddela. Fare from Cordon to their capitol in Cabarroguis costs P25.

You’d know you’re in Cordon when you see this junction.

When we arrived at the Capitol after nine hours of traveling, we met with kuya Ian who gave us a brief orientation, introduced us to his colleagues in the tourism office and showed us to our accommodation, the Abrasa MPC Hotel. We had a few hours of rest before we decided to head out for dinner in Palm Restaurant.


Day 1 – Trip to Nantugao Falls and Sinipit Falls

Day 1 was devoted to trekking two waterfalls. We left our accommodation at 8am, travelled for about 30 minutes going to Barangay Baguio Village in Diffun, Quirino, where we started our trek. It took us about an hour and a half to reach Nuntagao Falls including two rest stops.

Kuya Ian and Kuya Chris prepared our lunch while we enjoyed dipping in the cold water of Nantugao Falls. There is no basin though in Nantugao but you can bathe from one of the cascades.

A few minutes before 2pm, we started our trip down to Sinipit Falls. The cascade of Sinipit Falls was shorter than Nantugao Falls but bathing here was better than in Nantugao Falls because it has a wider basin.

Kuya Ian enjoying the waters of Sinipit Falls

Kuya Ian and Kuya Chris cut our bathing short when they saw that the clouds above already look dark and heavy. They were worried that the rain might catch us and make the descent more difficult. Indeed, it rained and we had to be more careful going down because the trail was already slippery. The rain drops mixing with my sweat felt refreshing.

We got back to our accommodation before 5 pm, our bodies tired from the day’s activity so we decided to have our dinner early from the panciteria across. 

Pancit Batil Patong

Day 2 

River Boating in Siniit River

I was excited for this trip. I was actually hoping we could do white water rafting but kuya Ian already informed me ahead that they only do river boating as of the moment.

Our starting point was the Bimmapor Rock Formation, named as such because it resembles a ship (bapor). 
Palawan? Nah! This is in Quirino Province :)
The formidable Bimmapor Rock Formation, the starting point of our boat ride

Dropped by this place to take our morning snack :)

After an hour and a half of boating, we took our lunch at the picnic area located at the end point of the boat ride. It is overlooking the bridge connecting Quirino Province to Aurora. From there, we were told that it would take another 3 hours to get to Baler if you have private car.

Spelunking at Aglipay Caves

After lunch, we headed to Aglipay caves. We only entered 4 chambers. Some of the ingress is too narrow requiring us to do a duck walk or enter lying down. Because we were only two, we were allowed to have a view of the secret chamber in Cave 2. Inside there were more rock formation and a wider room and higher dome where more bats live undisturbed.

I was informed that Aglipay cave has 38 more chambers but only 4 is open to the public as the other chambers has still not been explored. This is one of the challenges that the tourism office of Quirino is currently experiencing, as exploring the cave to come up with a map would be costly.

Kuya Ian making his way inside Aglipay Cave Chamber #2

Spelunking in Aglipay Cave marked the end of our tour. We had a trip to catch at 7pm that same day. Kuya Ian and kuya Chris helped us secure a ticket for our trip back to Manila. For our souvenir, we dropped by the place where fossilized flowers where being made. We bought some to bring home. Kuya Chris also took care of buying us tibukoy as additional pasalubong. 

Kuya Ian also opened his home to us so we could change our clothes prior to our trip back and have a place to stay while we wait for 7pm. It is during this time where we got to know our tour guides more personally as we had the chance to chat with their family. Kuya Ian also shared to us the plans to promote Quirino Province as a tourist destination.

During our two day trip to Quirino, I believe that what we have explored is just the tip of the iceberg. From what I heard, there are still a lot of places of interest, activities and eco-destinations in the province waiting to be explored – more waterfalls, caves and many more. For instance, water tubing in Siniit river is now under trial phase and wake boarding park in the Capitol is now being constructed. I really hope that the plans of Quirino Province to promote their province as a tourist destination would prosper and that more Filipinos will know that this beautiful place exists.