Dingalan, Aurora: A Fun-Filled Day of Adventure

Packed with exciting adventure and with a beautiful landscape teeming with life, Dingalan in the province of Aurora is an ideal spot for travelers and adventure buffs! So aside from the popular surfing spot in Baler, try considering Dingalan in your bucket list and immerse yourselves in its natural wonders from the rugged cliff, beach, waterfalls, rock formations and caves.

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the beautiful landscape of Mountain View

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Minor Climb No. 5: The Grotto, Mt Maculot and The Rockies

One of the favorites and famous hiking destinations near Metro Manila is Mt. Maculot situated at the heart of Cuenca in Batangas. It has three focal destinations: the Grotto (510 MASL), the Rockies (706 MASL), and the Summit (930 MASL). For the venturesome trekkers, they choose the traverse trail which will start at the Rockies to Summit and ends at Grotto (4/9 difficulty)Some choose the Rockies only (3/9 difficulty).

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standing at the other side of the Rockies where the “buwis-buhay” shot was being done

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The stillness charm of Sumlang Lake in Camalig, Albay

Sumlang Lake is one of the newest attractions in Camalig, Albay that promises a lovely feel of serenity and tranquility. I was glad this is part of our visit to my home town this summer of 2017 with Lignon Hills in Legazpi City as our final leg.

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Ilocos Norte Adventure: Part I – Paoay Church, Plaza del Norte and Malacanang of the North

Before we bid good-bye to Vigan we took a quick visit to Calle Crisologo to have a picture of this prime tourist attraction in broad daylight. And it’s good to see the cobbled pathway with less crowd compared the other night.

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the imposing Paoay Church with the massive buttresses

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Paguriran Lake: In My Little Conquer

The nestled lagoon in the middle of an island, a natural sanctuary for giant seafaring turtles, fills with saltwater during high tide.

This was the caption of the March to April 2007 page of PNOC’s (Philippine National Oil Company) calendar with their theme, “Our Undiscovered Country” with the stunning picture of Paguriran Lake in Bacon, Sorsogon. Imagine an enclosed lagoon in the middle of an island? I jotted it down in my brown notebook and vowed to visit it in the future. Below the main picture were small pictures of Vera Falls which I visited last year (so thankful) and the other was Naghaso Boiling Lake (next target to explore), both were found in Albay.

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the scenic view atop the jagged rocks

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Part Two of our Caramoan Dream Tour

I stepped out of bed early to savor the cool breeze and the fresh morning scent of Caramoan. There was no sunshine photo because the sky was gloomy. A bit dismayed, I took a quiet walk on the peaceful road, amused to see early riser locals and pleased to smell the sweet wafting fragrance of flowers. Oh I just can’t sustain my excitement and happiness looking at the pleasing sights.

Good morning lovely Caramoan!

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the long stretch of creamy white sand of Sabitang Laya

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Bulusan Lake: Into Exciting Route and Awesome View

Bulusan Lake also known as “Switzerland of the Orient” lies at the heart of Bulusan Volcano National Park. It is a protected rainforest and wildlife sanctuary located in Barangay San Roque.  Its center attraction is the Mt. Bulusan which is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines.  The lake has two mountain peaks, the Sharp Peak and Mt. Hormahan and in between is Lake Aguingay.

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There are two options in getting there. One is through Maharlika Highway, passing towns of Casiguran, Juban and Irosin. The other option is at Gubat to Barcelona.

Travel time coming from our hometown in Malinao took us four hours in getting to Gubat. We took a room reservation for overnight stay in Rizal Beach around noon time, ate our lunch and headed to Bulusan Lake. The muggy weather tempted us to swim in the resort but we have to escape momentarily to complete our Sorsogon escapade.

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From Gubat, we passed the town of Barcelona. As we get closer to Bulusan, the view gets greener and the air smells so fresher. Vast rice fields were in our right and at left was the scenic view of Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed watching the rustic countryside. It was so wonderful looking at those golden grains which any moment from now is ready for harvest.

When we reached the town proper of Bulusan we asked the locals of the right direction. It’s good that we were heading to the right way. We saw a signboard “8 km to Bulusan Lake”, so we assumed we were so near.

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At first the wide road was well-paved, later there were portions under construction.  As we went up, my buddies started to panic as the road became rougher and stiffer. My hubby had difficulty in traversing the “scary rough road”, but he had maneuvered the steering wheel very well.

I really had no idea this would be the road situation. It seemed we were heading to an endless journey. Soon we were enclosed by canopy of trees.The small and narrow road was well-paved again. Sound of kuliglig (cricket) got louder and louder. Surprisingly, it was getting cooler as we entered a forested trail. Going to the lake was a combination of exciting anticipation and fear sprinkled by suspense as we were nearing the climax of our trip.

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At last we saw the signboard! I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Everyone now was shouting for joy when we reached the parking area.  We paid P10/head for the entrance fee (what a cheap rate).

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What was so amazing here in Bulusan Lake is that a large amount of body of water nestled at the foot of two mountains and at Bulusan Volcano. The view offered a unique serenity. Indeed, this is ideal for family outing. It was so awesome communing with nature in this magnificent wonder.

The greenish color of water is not suitable for swimming because of mud in the bottom. But there are water activities that surely everyone will enjoy like kayaking (P100), water bike (P600) and boat rental which accommodates two to five persons (P500).

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The densely forested Mt. Bulusan could be climbed by enthusiast mountaineer. Group of avid adventurer can camp at the crater summit. What you need is a local guide. Just ask for assistance at the information booth if you are planning to do these activities.

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We have no time to enjoy the water rides because we have to go back to Rizal Beach before it gets dark. It might be chaotic going down for there was no electricity along the road.  Anyway, we were so thankful that we saw another Sorsogon’s wonderful scenic spot.

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Next time we will take the route to Irosin so we can swim in the natural hot and cold springs. Perhaps next year if our schedule permits us to do so.

From beaches, waterfalls, rivers, caves and lakes, I’m proud to say that Bicol region offers so many natural wonders that are worth visiting.

Bye now Bulusan Lake, have to go back to Rizal Beach for a swim.

Tagaytay City – An Afternoon Escape

We enjoined my brother-in-law Noel to go with us in Tagaytay for a Saturday escape from the stiffing atmosphere in Manila. He’s been working abroad for so many years and before he leaves for another wonderful opportunity in California, we wanted him to see and explore some of our country’s exciting places to visit.

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We chose Picnic Grove, the most visited park in Tagaytay City. We’ve been to this park for so many times, but it’s nice to go back again and again because in every visit, there is an exciting activity to indulge with. We had an exciting ride in zipline the last time we went here.The other new activity is the Cable Car which is ideal for a family ride.

Entrance fee was P50/head.Rion was free of charge since she is one year old.

Noel is from Baguio.The cool climate in Tagaytay was an ordinary thing to him. What awed him much was the breathtaking view of Taal Volcano and the lake. He got so busy capturing photos of every scenic spot that amazed him much.

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Horseback riding is the oldest common activity in Tagaytay with rate of P150 to P200 depending on the sizes of horse.  Since we already tried this activity in Baguio, no one  from us wanted to do it again. So we headed down and occupied a picnic shed (P150) near the zipline station. We toured the eco-trail and just like our last visit, we enjoyed walking again to the concrete walkway with metal hand rails. We savored the moment looking at the panoramic view of Taal Volcano. It took us twenty minutes before we went back to our area.

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We let Noel roamed around at the lower part of the park where lots of people flocked to capture a better view of Taal Volcano. While sitting, we enjoyed watching those kites hovering in the blue sky.  Later, what was left were those two big bat kites soaring freely and so mighty.

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Since it was summer and week-end, rate of zipline with photo and a mug with photo too was P500. Whew! What a price.  It was only Pao and Miko who dared the ride again. We waited for their thrilling fly and cheered them up as soon as they were released into the air. Noel was scared to try it and so with my sister Gi. I guess it has something to do with age.hehehe.

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Everyone was starving when the two teens went back from their activity. We all sat together and eat our yummy meryenda. Bringing back the traditional picnic activity was really delightful.  I was thankful that there’s a park like this which keep family bonding so alive. An afternoon stay in Picnic Grove is indeed a relaxing family getaway.

There are lots of souvenir stores that sell t-shirts (100 to P250), key-chains (P35), table display (P75), bags and coin purse (prices depend on sizes and designs). Of course for every visit, it’s a must to buy cute collections. There are also fruit stands where we bought pine apple and banana in affordable prices.

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It was almost 7 pm when we finally bid good-bye to the park. Noel was very grateful visiting Tagaygay as he shared his valuable experiences on our way home. He appreciated the scenic view as well as the warmth of our family bonding.

I will never get tired being the organizer in our provincial getaway because my heart is always filled with joy when we are all together in a beautiful place like this. Indeed, It is a rewarding threat seeing their happy faces having fun. For the remaining days of my sister and her family here in the Philippines, we will bring them next to Boracay, Albay and Sorsogon for a more meaningful adventure.

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Villa Escudero: Finally!

What thrilled us to celebrate our mother’s 60th birthday at Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort is their unique dining experience on native cuisines in Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant and the showcase of Philippine’s rich cultural heritage.  We skipped the usual beach getaway this time to enjoy day tripping in the hacienda and embrace our unique culture.  Ika nga, “Iba ang Pinoy!”

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Provincial life, with its vast coconut plantation and with the smell of fresh country air is what Villa Escudero worthy to visit.  It is located in the Tiaong (Quezon) and Laguna (San Pablo City) boundary, a two and a half ride from Manila.

We paid for the entrance fee (P1,200/head) at the main pavilion where we were entertained by gracious hosts wearing the traditional baro at saya.  Souvenir shop was inside the pavilion but as of the moment, it was still closed. To our delight, we were given refreshing ice cold teas. But our excitement was suspended to the air when we were informed that lunch at Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant is temporarily housed in the hacienda’s main hall due to the effect of typhoon Santi who had passed last October. The area was inconvenient to use because of high level of water.  Sayang!  Anyway, there are other amenities to enjoy so off we went for our day tripping.

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sculpture of typical Filipino barrio scene

A day trip includes buffet lunch, carabao-cart ride, Museum tour, swimming, bamboo rafting and watching Philippine Experience Show.

The Museum was closed that day so we just passed by and looked at it with admiration.  At the plaza, we saw sculpture of the Escudero ancestors and World War II memorabilia like war planes, cannons and tanks. There were also sculptures of typical Filipino barrio scenes.  Our little girl was amused looking at a little boy feeding piglets and later came closed and smiled.

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“Mutya” – Carabao-Driven Cart

Riding in a carabao-driven cart tickled the adrenalin rush.  I was excited because it was all our first time to experience the ride.  Our carabao was named Mutya.  As it moved slowly, we were serenaded by a girl and a boy wearing baro at saya singing original Filipino folk songs.

kame sa carabao-villaour carabao-cart ride with “Mutya”

Along the way we were greeted by stunning picturesque countryside view, lush and verdant landscape, fresh air and acres of coconut plantation.  There were again sculptures of Filipino scenes like man courting a woman and other barrio activities.  Indeed it was a feast for the eyes!  And our little buddies who were accustomed to urban living had enjoyed our cart ride.

Swimming Pool

We first indulged ourselves with a refreshing treat in the swimming pool.  It has two pools, one is for the adults and the other is for the kids. Swimsuit was strictly imposed. We were not allowed to wear t-shirt and short with zipper.  It’s good we brought our swim wears.

While they were busy on swimming activity, me and my hubby took time to explore the rest of the hacienda.  We went to see the rooms and houses.  We walked beside the blurry lake dotted by cottages and trees. Mount Cristobal was in the background.  It was a clear day and so wonderful to walk around.

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me and my son enjoying our swimming activity

 

Eat All You Can Buffet

Tired and hungry, we went to the restaurant for our “Eat All You Can” Buffet!   We lined up one by one to choose our desired foods to eat. There were kare-kare, beef caldereta, lechon manok, dried fish, steamed vegetables with deserts like banana cue and tapioca balls.  And later we were munching our yummy lunch!

Philippine Experience Show

By 2 pm we headed to the Coconut Pavilion to watch the Philippine Experience Show.  The resort’s staff and employees gracefully showcased various dances from Northern, Central and Southern Philippines.  I was so impressed by the choreography, colorful costumes and their graceful movement on stage.   Tinikling and Pandanggo sa Ilaw were so good to watch for. It reminded me of my elementary days where I used to perform cultural dance on stage.  The finale is the “Sinkil” which I admired the most and applauded much by the spectators.  It was indeed a lively show and a very good source of dance steps for school or company programs.

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manlalatik

Bamboo Rafting

No one from our buddies wanted to get out from the swimming pool so it was me and my hubby who tried bamboo rafting.  The raft was composed of long bamboos with two small chairs. When I stepped my first leg I thought I will fall, so I was very extra careful when I stepped my other leg.  I balanced myself before I sit.  Or else I will sink instantly.  My hubby rowed well.  My hands got tired paddling here, there and everywhere. My hubby used his full energy going back to the base.  Our shorts got wet.  But we maneuvered so well, we didn’t drop into the hazy lake like the other guests.

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should be careful upon sitting or you might sink on the water instantly

Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant

After all the activities, we set off to see Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant, the famed dining area in the hacienda. The 20-feet man-made waterfalls cascaded freely to the area where picnic tables and chairs are set.  But as of today, it was so clear. Never mind if we didn’t experience the hacienda’s unique lunch. There is another thing to enjoy in the area, that is to play with the waterfalls. The wall wasn’t flat at all. It had a curve where my buddies enjoyed the flowing water while laying their backs on that wall.

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this is what we saw in the waterfalls… no tables and chairs…

Our day trip ended up almost 6 pm. We went back to the entrance through the carabao-cart again.  Delighted, we gave courtesy tip to the three staff behind the ride.  Souvenir store was closed so we have no collections to keep.  Sad.

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we were given cold teas while paying at the cashier

Villa Escudero is rich in Filipino culture.  It’s good that we brought our kids and they enjoyed our day tripping. I was thankful that this resort was open to the public.

It was a memorable day and everyone of us had fun.