The CARAMOAN ISLANDS Adventure

I’m currently in the state of rejuvenating my skin from sunburn last week. Aside with my toasted skin arms, everything that happened for 3 days in Caramoan Island is absolutely amazing! Let me share you what happened so if there’s still at least 3 days remaining in your vacation, you can still visit Caramoan Islands.

Let me share to you my adventure and the secrets of Caramoan Islands.

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The Caramoan Peninsula is located at Camarines Sur, near the City of Naga. The municipality covers approximately 277.41 sq.kilometers with approximately 41 miles of irregular coastline surrounded by the vast ocean, bay, seas, and swamps. It is 500 kilometers from Metro Manila which gives you a hint that you’ll be spending almost half of your day travelling by bus. A real pain in the butt. But looking info and photos in the internet is nothing compared to the real experience, so we planned our adventure and immediately booked a trip to Naga City to make this out-of-town before it become straight out-of-paper(a drawing).

We got a tour guide and settled all the payments including food, a place to sleep, and a boat that can take us to the islands. As the day finally came, we packed our gears, charged our gadgets, and board the bus going Naga City.

There are 2 ways to get to Caramoan: You can either ride a plane to avoid the dancing PUVs and busses on zigzag and cliff-sides, or spend a night riding a bus then: tricycle, van, boat, and van again to reach the ideal Villas of Caramoan. Plane is the fastest way to get there but it’s very expensive. The boat is big. It can accommodate 1 whole bus passengers in one trip.

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The boat ride is more than 2 hours. You can’t feel the sunny weather because of the cold breeze from the vast sea. The boat constantly slows down whenever we go near an island over very low waters. The crewmen are so careful not to hit the sea floor and the starfishes around.

The next day, our tour guide came to pick us up. We arrived to check-in at La Vila De Leonila Tourist Inn, Caramoan. The area is booming with tourist inns, beer houses, sea food restaurants, and souvenir shops. Upon walking around, we noticed that some shops have a distinctive familiar merchandise of Survivor Philippines.

We got there late and missed the chance to check the nearby islands. But there’s still time so after an hour of resting, we set sail and managed to visit 2 of the 5 islands on the list: The Laos Island and Matukad Island. The Laos Island is like 2 small islands divided by sand bar while Matukad Island is the home to the two mythical Bangus (milkfish). According to the Legend, no one knows how the fresh water fishes get in that mysterious lagoon and how they survived for a long time.

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The next day, we climbed the Mt. Caglago – Grotto of Our Lady of Peace, Bugtong Island. We endured the 500+ steps and reached the top with 360 view of Caramoan. Then jumped to the next island of floating cottages to eat our lunch, the Manlawi Island with 2 hectares of Sand Bar during low tide, holding the record of the biggest sand bar in the Philippines. you can literally walk on water. After lunch, our boatmen showed their boat-driving skill to avoid hitting stones and sea creatures to get us close to Guinahoan Island and see a real light house up-close. After that, we chose Cotivas Island as our final Island for our wondrous adventure before heading back to the inn.

 

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Our tour guide was planning to visit a specific island where tourists are not allowed to take photos. But unfortunately, the visiting window is too narrow (plus we’re a bunch of rule-breakers too). This should be a secret island but locals will tell it to you anyway. I won’t tell you, so that you will discover it yourself. The souvenir shops, the amount of foreigners, and the flags will tell you. Something that proves the beauty of our islands internationally. A secret that will keep Caramoan a top tourist destination for decades.

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On our 3rd and last day, we visited the old town church to thank God and ask for protection on our long journey back to our homes. We bought pasalubongs and souvenirs and finally said goodbye to the inn keepers of the villa at Caramoan, and to our awesome tour guide.

It’s one of the best adventures of my life. The effort and budget I gave is worth it. I wish I can show everything to you, but like what I’ve said, info and photos in the internet is nothing compared to the real experience. If you’re going there, do me a favor:

“Be a responsible tourist and please keep the secret.” okay?

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By Snow White
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Special thanks to my friends (you guys know who you are), to the people of La Villa De Leonila Tourist Inn, to our 2 rocking boatmen, and to our Tour guide Sir.Macky (0918-678-1103 or 0905-230-4464).

The Barkada Outing Attendance

Summer isn’t over and there are still places in your bucket list you need to visit on the next coming weekends. Bags are packed, Summer destinations are set, gadgets fully charged, and the day will never be complete without your friends! This is gonna be one amazing summer vacation because the officials of the team are present. And I’m sure, if your Barkada’s officials are present, every minute of your adventure’s gonna be great.

Since the outing is not a “drawing” anymore, let’s start naming these “officials” before hitting the beach. Here are the Barkada Outing Attendance.

Super Gran – The oldest, the most sensible, and the leader of the group. Super Gran is the grand daddy, the big brother, the final say, the one responsible for the actions of his best pals. He’s often the party starter and the house owner where the Barkada will round up before going out-of-town.

The Joker – He’s the life of the party. He will start everything with a punchline. A simple smirk and everyone will laugh. The group is dead without this guy. Everyone will agree and he won’t to crack a joke. Every time he talks, you will expect a joke following it. It could be a green joke, a smart joke, or a serious one but you will still blast a giant laugh because you thought it’s funny but it’s really serious.

DJ – This friend of yours has the most loudest speaker on her phone. Often a young and stylish lady, this girl have watched every single music video on the topic. She also wears earphones on her neck playing music in 100% which sounds like 75% of your phone volume. Her playlist could be chaotic but she knows which are reggae, kpop, mellow, and rock.

The Thinker – The serious type. This guys spends his journey sitting on the back seat. He could be the one among the group that isn’t laughing when the joker starts to talk that’s why most of the time getting roasted by the joker. He might be quiet but he is a very important person in the team. Days before the outing, you’ll see Super Gran talking to this guy for suggestions and recommendations. An adviser.

Baggage Counter – We sometimes call this guy as ‘Brando’, a wight-lifter, athlete, tall, dark and handsome hunk. The tank of the battle party. He will gladly accept the favor of carrying the excess bags of the ladies. He’s the selfie stick of the group because he has long arms. He can also also piggy-back everyone who’s tired except,

Fridge – the most heavy-weight among the group. He’s the sumo wrestler, she’s the ‘Babe in the City’. This person carries big bags of food but always getting worn-out carrying them. As heavy as real fridge, but reliable when you need an emergency snack. I don’t why but whenever the Fridge is a woman, she’s around 5’1 or 5′ flat in height with 25 or 26 of foot size which is the main reason why these guys always fell when the group is doing a mile hike.

Photographer – It’s always important to bring a camera when going out-of-town but the best camera is nothing without the skillful photographer. He takes picture of everything. Friends, landscape, sea shells, neighbors, skeletons, etc. He’s your friend who’s carrying a distinct bag that he often covers with his body when it’s about to get hit, or raising on the top of his head with full strength when walking on a 3-feet water. He has this expensive camera that costs his college semester tuition fee and he’s gonna die protecting it.

The Cat – The person who shouldn’t be here in the first place. This particular member of the group was just in school an hour ago and now spending a summer vacation with you guys in a remote island miles and miles away. That’s right, she’s currently snorkeling wearing her school uniform. “Ikaw, san aabot ang vacant mo?”

Counter-terrorist – Or sometimes called “Terrorist” depending if he looks like a Taliban. He’s the combat expert. The group’s security guard. He wears camouflage all the time. You can’t actually tell whether he’s going for a tour in an island or the battle zone of Scarborough Shoal. He carries flashlight, army knives, taser, probably a concealable pistol with live rounds in case of real trouble.

The Rich Kid – The Rich kid is wealthier than any of your family wealth combined. Even wealthier than Super Gran. This kid’s so rich if it isn’t it a government property, she’ll purchase it (Or maybe that’s exaggerated). She’s rich, alright? She” join the adventure with a big space on her bag -for souvenirs of course. She might be techie with gadgets she bought online a week ago for the trip. She doesn’t brought much since she can buy what she needs on the area. “I’m sure there’s a store there somewhere.”

Jail-bait – The youngest but look like the same age with Super Gran. The first girl to be approached by the flirts. Her oldest age is 17 but look 28 on her 16. If she approached you, you’ll get jailed. If you approached her, you’ll get jailed. Plus a kick on the face by Brando. That’s better than NATO rounds, right?

Tour-guide – If the tour guide is one of your friends, I’m sure this person have reached many places with the big chance that he already visited your next destination twice. He knows the area and you guys will never be lost as long as you have this walking Dora’s Map. He blends in with locals as if he  grew up with them. He speaks and understand 9 local dialects in the Philippines even if we have only 8. But his monthly travels made his skin very dark because of sun burn which helps him look like one of the locals. I’m not a racist but inside a Barkada, there’s always that “well-done” friend.

And now that the officials of Barkada are all aboard, let’s hit the beach!

By SnowWhite
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The 10 must haves in your bag before going on a vacation

 

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Summer’s here!

It’s the time for weekly outdoor activities! Mountain climbing, swimming, biking, and lots of stuff aside sitting in front of the internet and reading fictional stories like what you’re doing 2 minutes ago. Get out! Time to have fun.

But before you pack those swimwear and fridge in your bag, here are some basic needs you should have this summer.

  1. Sun Screen
    If there’s something that your bag should have not just in summer, that’s the sun screen. Why? because science, my friend. The world’s getting warmer each year and countries near the equator are experiencing hot temperature under the rain. Isn’t that weird? Now imagine if it’s sunny day.
  2. Bottled Water
    Water. Not juice, not Ion energy drink, not coffee. WATER! Going under water, does not mean you’ll never get dehydrated. When you take a bath, you get dehydrated, pretty much the same with swimming. You sweat even under water, plus the sun heat that can fry an egg in minutes.
  3. Sun Glasses
    Do you wear glasses under the sun? I have a good fact here. Wearing a spectacle does amplify the sun’s harmful rays especially when you look directly to the sun. It doubles the radiation from a larger area than a 1mm diameter pupil through the eye’s pupil. That’s why optic shops offer graded glasses with Transition. Besides, you’re not in the beach for sole purpose of reading a book, right?
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  4. Power Banks
    Or any reliable power source for that matter. Technology is everywhere and some of them are made for isolate areas but they do still rely on electricity for power. You can buy many types of renewable energy power source online now.
  5. Resealable Bag
    Resealable bags are basically plastic bags that can be sealed. We cannot just leave our devices like phones, earphones, and other gadgets behind so we have no other choice but to bring them with us, even underwater. This is where resealable bags come in handy. You can also use them for your wet clothes or food.
  6. Survival Kit
    You’ll never know when the bad luck struck. Survival Kit includes thin long ropes, pocket knife, flash light, whistle, lighter, crackers, and ion water -All of which are neatly stored in a small compact pouch.
  7. First-Aid Kit
    Because no matter how careful you are, accidents do happen. And your medical kit just got the right equipment to do the job. Like the survival kit, it’s compact. It carries your medicine for common sicknesses like headache, pain, and itchiness.
  8. Back-up Phone
    This phone doesn’t have to be an iPhone. A simple phone capable to texting and calling will do. A phone that’s when got wet, it’s okay because you just got it for free -kind of phone. This particular phone should be fully charged whether you’re in a summer vacation or just at home. It’s purpose is to call for help in-case you got lost or stranded somewhere. These kind of phones also have a build-in flash light. So cute.
  9. Hygiene Kit
    Toothbrush, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, cologne, razor(if you’re not boarding a flight), feminine wash (for girls), facial cleanser, and mouth wash. Some inns doesn’t even have a good toilet room, what makes you think they will offer a free hygiene kit for their guests? And finally,
  10. Condoms
    Really. I’m serious. It’s more useful than just for sexual protection. Condoms are like balloons. They’re made of rubber, waterproof, and handy.
    (Just trust me, alright!? Put it in your bag! Ha! Ha!)

Now that all of the real necessities are inside the bag, you may now put your clothes in, extra socks, shoes, hats, extra money or whatever. It should only occupy 1/4th of your 10x12x12 (LxWxH) backpack. Remember, all of this are nothing if you’re not mentally prepared for anything. Your greatest equipment that can cover it all is your brain. Use it wisely.

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By Cinderella
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The Indestructable EDSA Commuter

Life is an Adventure.

Yeah, when you’re in EDSA, I doubt you’ll miss the challenges in life. Because that highway is the very manifestation of all danger you will ever encounter in the road.

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If you’re a commuter like me who rides over EDSA everyday, you know what I’m talking about. Car crashes, police checkpoints, thieves, authority bribery, flying buses off the sky ways, and every single bad luck you can experience when you commute. Just boarding on a cruising transport along EDSA highway is already a daily exercise for us, be it physically or mentally.

Here are the 7 proofs that you are a true Unbreakable EDSA Warrior:

1. You know the 13 MRT stations – It took me nearly a dozen of times riding the train just to remember the 13 MRT stations in correct order. I remember it was the days when all stations have free news paper stands beside every stairs, and O’Sullivan’s friends haven’t thought of bringing the Public Wi-Fi idea to the Philippines. And since we have that pact of not sharing the secret to true greatness, I will not tell you the 13 stations so that you’ll google it or see them for yourself.

2. You know your trademark – You know the logos of each establishment, you know the proper pronunciation of Pruegot, you know that it was called Blas F. Ople Building and not PEOA building, you know how many times ‘Shangri La Plaza’ changed their trademark, and you know how many SM malls are in standing beside EDSA.

3. You will avoid MRT Ayala Station on rush hour if you have the chance – You know the hellish experience of this particuar MRT station on 5 pm onward. After the first and hopefully the last time of getting lost in that labyrinth of a station, you will witness the real life “train to Busan” action as the desperate hundred commuters force their way inside the small train from a narrow platform. Believe me, you don’t wanna get off the train to Ayala station on that hour. And speaking of “rush hour”…

4. 7am and 5pm onward means trouble – If you’re riding the MRT, ‘Train to Busan’ experience. If you’re riding a bus or PUVs, it’s ‘300’. You can even imagine people yelling “SPARTAAA!” as they charge towards a bus that can only take two passengers.

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5. You have spare coins – You have spare coins ready to avoid bus tickets of returning the wrong amount of change. You stop the jeepney driver before asking “may barya ka?” because you throw the coins on his face like a flying shuriken (at least in your imagination). Coins are also for sneaky Badjaos climbing on-board and ask for a share. And lastly, because the tempting smell of freshly roasted nuts even if you don’t know where exactly they’re roasting them. Just sayin’.

6. You know the ‘Modus’ – You know every trick, every style, every distraction-strategy of a thief. They will do their best to rob or snatch your bag. And you immediately grab your pocket to make sure your phone is in there whenever you get off the bus. And you don’t trust the police for that.

7. Your bag defines you – There are materials that found in your bag but not all of them together. You have shoes glue ready to fix your shoe, pepper spray when you fight back, taser if you’re a bit sadist, ‘skyflakes’ because “baon sa bulsa, handa ang sikmura.”, and the vanishing umbrella because suddenly it wasn’t there when you need it most. Seriously, if a bus company sale all of the umbrellas left by the passengers, I bet they will get the equal boundary of one trip.

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8. No seat, no problem – Jeeps are always full on rush hours. So what we commuters do is to grab on those bars at the end of the jeepney’s roof and hang on tight. Literally. Ain’t no sun or rain can back us down. Besides if you haven’t tried it, you’re life in the Philippines will not be complete. Even girls on Nursing uniforms do it. Chivalry? Nah. We prefer the extreme!

9. The PNP logo – This is a good challenge for your friends. If you always ride in EDSA and have an observant eye, you probably noticed that one of Camp Crame’s wall logos facing EDSA highway is not embossed. For the challenge; What is the number of the wall with flat logo if you count all the logos starting from the camp’s EDSA gate going to Annapolis Avenue? Just ask for it.

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10. When in doubt, 123 your way out – We don’t want to use this last part but let’s admit it, sometimes we unconsciously or simply forgot to pay the fare. Consider that a blessing. Never do it on a daily basis.

Did you got all of these? I’m sure you do.

By: “Snow White”

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GOKINJO: The Ultimate Unli-Ramen Experience

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…should’ve visited Gokinjo goodness sooner!

Recently, people started talking about a Ramen house located in Marikina City that offers unlimited bowls of Ramen for only P250. And wow, it was the best Ramen trip I have ever experienced.

Ramen is a well-known Japanese dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth, after flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweeds, menma, green onions, and other ingredients that will stop you from reading this paragraph and start boarding a cab to #43 Rainbow street, Marikina. And I just did,

Because we got the chance to try Gokinjo’s finest Ramens!

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Gokinjo is located at 43 Rainbow street, Marikina. Near the corner of Lilac street. the district is like Quezon City’s Maginhawa Food Park. Themed restaurants are everywhere and the street is booming with night lights and food aromas.

Gokinjo is easy to find. Google maps is so aware of its location, they could even provide you a dozen of routes just to make sure you will get there. The Marikina road traffic is just right for you to arrive in Gokinjo with a hungry tummy, enough for 3 bowls of mouth-watering Ramen.

the crew of the store is so accommodating that i’d be the bad guy if I didn’t let them took a picture of us. The waitresses came in like The Flash, very attentive. And they laugh with us in our jokes. The whole crew were standing behind us like they’re ready to take our next order and they’re gonna do it in full force just to satisfy us.

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All the ramens were delicious. the P350 unli-ramen where we can try all the different flavors is amazing. The tantanmen “na hinding hindi mo matatantanan” (pun intended) is the best of them all, only P250. Not too salty, not too sweet. Just right.

The sake shot made my friend forgot where he lives. I really wanna try a round too but I don’t wanna go home at Quezon City and wake up in Quiapo fish port the next morning. Looking at my tipsy friend makes me think that the sake was so authentic, he can now speak Japanese. Gokinjo Banzai!

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The Dark Chocolate brownie is a one-of-a-kind brownie with mind-boggling ribbon-like caramel garnish. Yes, I started an argument whether the garnish is a frozen tape or what. Good thing, the standby crew, stopped the debate once and for all by giving the answer it was a fried pasta. The brownie’s so good topped with vanilla ice cream. A real winner.

 

I don’t always eat Ramen. But why I do, I unli Tantanmen.

Gonna return? oh yes, why not?

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By “Snow White”

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Unexpected Japan

I think Japan is a land of nature lovers. Harmony and peace can be seen everywhere. Even by just looking on their house fences, empty streets, or even street signs. There’s always something that makes you feel…”Yes. This is Japan.”

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Fishpond canals

Yes those are side walks with living Kois swimming freely. Recently, Japan learned that side walk drainage canals can also be artistic. We all know these delicate fishes can’t survive on dirty tanks which proves that these street waters are well-maintained clean. The Japanese people are well known for their light artistic touches that keeps them feel relaxed and stress free. These fishes are fed by residents and tourist who passes on these streets.

Spirit Animals

When you visit Japan, you will notice an animal statue sitting right on the next corner. No wonder the stone dogs, cats, raccoons, dragons, and frogs of Japan could out-number the Egyptians statues. Some of them treat these animal figures as spirits or guardians. They dress them, offer food, and light incense on them. Their technology is far more advanced than any of us, yet they still manage to keep their tradition and superstitious side.

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Who would have guessed that narrow, almost dead looking, streets can be a good spot for establishments? Ramen houses, tattoo parlors, and Bars are located on these narrow streets with only lamps or street signs direction to guide you. People also agrees that hidden Ramen houses serve the best Ramon bowl than restaurants inside malls. Yes, the place is not pleasing to eyes and a black cat might likely to jump out anytime, it will be covered with the delicious smell of boiling Ramen soup.

Snow on Summer

Not literally snow. But they fall and lump the streets like snow. The cherry blossom petals when blown by the wind turns every scenery into paradise. These Cherry blossom trees are so beautiful, you just wanna lie under them and forget everything. It’s pinkish petals can cover an entire field and color a creek. The tree has many varieties that can be seen not only in Japan but also in China, Korea, Netherlands, Brazil, and in United States.

Under the rain

tumblr_ojgwc4UoHz1symnfoo1_500.gifYou can feel the warmth everywhere you look. Even under the rain, you can see how the Japanese art blend in to weather to make another masterpiece. The Japanese tradition that’s been carved on roofs and walls expresses strong emotions. Even a simple rain(like that on the picture) could make you feel so mush sadness.

I haven’t been in Japan. But by just watching documentaries about them, animes, live actions, and photos, gosh it’s my ultimate dream to live there someday.

 

Field Trip inside the Quezon Heritage House

Have you tried visiting the Quezon Heritage House? Oh, you’ll love it. It’ll complete your title ‘Batang QC‘ experience. As for me, this is an experience I won’t dare to miss.

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Aside the whooping 8 x 8 (sometimes 10 x 10) lanes of the longest highway in Metro Manila, The Commonwealth Highway, there are other great things in Quezon City. Its history can be seen everywhere, and most of it are inside the QC Memorial Circle.

When they say Quezon City, who would forget the person behind it? Manuel L. Quezon (MLQ), the 2nd President of the Philippine Republic, and the President of Commonwealth of the Philippines. And recently, his rest house was the new attraction in the block.

Manuel L. Quezon’s rest house is originally located at Gilmore street, New Manila but since the lot is about to get sold, the house was moved inside The QC Memorial Circle. Although it suffered minimal damages while being moved, the city government has successfully completed and opened the house for tourist attraction.

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The House:

My historic tour started with the historic steps of the house. They managed to move the stairs except they only moved the 18 of the 19 original steps (must’ve been destroyed upon removal).On the 2nd floor, you will be greeted by these Machuca tiles which just like Tour Guide Elise said, “only the wealthy could afford”. All the doors were the original doors and made of wood.

The first room is Donia Aurora’s bedroom. The wooden bed that came from United States has the symbol of eagle on it’s upper part. Donia Aurora’s rosary are also sitting on it’s pillow, well preserved, beside the bed.

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The next is Manuel L. Quezon’s Master’s Bedroom. On the middle, sits the Atay bed where His Excellency takes a rest from long days of work and Tuberculosis illness. The bed is made of wood like Donia Aurora’s bed with a squash-like design on the corner. If the squash is up-side down, the bed is for female.On the side, stands his wardrobe of authentic Gatsby fashion and clothing accessories: classy suits, bow ties, stetson Amsterdam hats, and his stylish walking sticks.

Next to his room is his nurse’s bedroom. It’s important that she’s beside Manuel L Quezon for medical reasons.

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Out of these bedrooms is the family room with a round table for card games. Below the window is a giant plant box -gift to Donia Aurora on her birthday February 19, 1941, by Mr. and Mrs. Tapia. The dining room on the same floor has a kitchen but no stove since on their days, the meals are cooked to the back exit outside.

Found on the dark corner of the family room entrance is a narrow steel spiral staircase. and below was big guest room with the collections of his books and certificates when he was still in senate. Cozy seats and wooden tables with the image of Jesus Christ and Mary on the sides. In-cased in a glass box is MLQ’s statute wearing his tux.

Donia Aurora is the founder of Red Cross. Surprisingly, the first ever Red Cross Head Quarters was actually inside the Quezon Rest House.

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The kids’ bedrooms ares also on the 1st floor. Inside are beds for each, a giant cabinets with the other made of glass, some old journals and authentic traditional gowns, all well-preserved.

Behind the house is pool. They decided to turn the pool into a fountain for tourist display, though.

Inside QC Memorial Circle is the perfect place where the heritage house should belong. Right next to the remains of MLQ himself, in the center of a great, green, and growing Quezon City.

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Special thanks to my tour guide; Elise, and the Quezon City Government.