Puerto Princesa – Day Tour

We reached Puerto Princesa from El Nido at around 2:00 pm and we still had a few hours to spare before our flight back to Manila. (Note: from the ticket we thought our flight was 6:50 pm, only to realize a bit too late that it was moved to 8:00 pm and it was declared on our boarding pass when we did the early web check-in. We could have done so much more in 2 hrs, Lol). But first, we had to eat lunch. Unfortunately, Kalui and Kinabuchs won’t be open until around 6 in the evening, so we asked the driver where we can have a good lunch and he dropped us at Ugong Rock Grill & Bar.  The food was great and satisfying enough for our hungry tummies after a 5 hour drive from El Nido. From there we found a tricycle driver who were offering to take us around the city. So while eating, we decided on which places we can visit that can be squeezed in to the 3 hours free time we have. Tourism accredited tricycles (normally painted in white and blue) have a fixed rate of Php 600 (good for 4 persons), and would already cover a lot of the popular tourist attractions in Puerto Princesa. Initially we only wanted to go to Baker’s Hill, but upon discussion with our driver, we found out that some of the places are located within short distance of one another so finally we were set: Crocodile Farm, Baker’s Hill, Mitra Ranch and the Souvenir shop (for Pasalubong). See my previous post here and here. 🙂 Crocodile Farm About 20 minutes away from the airport, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, most commonly known by the locals as ‘Crocodile Farm’ is both a tourist attraction and research facility dedicated to crocodiles. Crocodiles from young to old can be seen here. They also sell crocodile sisig if you are keen on eating it. One highlight of our visit here is being able to carry a small crocodile for photo taking.

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Welcome!

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El Nido, Palawan

The 2nd day of our 3D2N El Nido trip was the actual day dedicated to exploring the beautiful islands surrounding El Nido.

El Nido is situated in Bacuit Bay, in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan, and is bordered by the Linapacan Strait in the north, the Sulu Sea in the east, and the West Philippine Sea in the west. I was able to explore another municipality in Palawan, Coron, which is found in the Busuanga Island also in the northern part of Palawan province, about 3-4 years ago and I was already amazed by the beauty of Coron. I had my hopes up for El Nido as most people say it is way better than Coron.  While I agree with that, I still have to say that Coron has its great points as well. It’s actually unfair to compare them because they have their own beauty.  For now, let me tell you about our El Nido adventure. 🙂

There are 4-5 Island Hopping tours you can choose from, and some tour agency can actually combine 2 tours in one day. During my email conversations with Paula, she suggested combining Tour A and C since we will only have one day to have the island hopping. However, since our time of visit was during the rainy season, we just opted to choose Tour A as it is the most famous among tourists.  More information about the Tour choices can be found here.

So early next day we leisurely had our breakfast near the beach. Breakfast was provided by Hadefe of course, which was a simple Filipino breakfast of sinangag (fried rice), egg and tapa (cured beef). We were told previously that the boat will fetch us at 9:00 am near our cottage, but they fetched the other family first before they fetched us since the food was still being prepared in their kitchen. Anyways, after finally boarding the boat (we didn’t get the front seats, bummer!), we were off for our Island Hopping Tour A, which was mostly centered around Miniloc Island.

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El Nido – The Preparation

Finally, some sun, swim and saaand! 🙂

We have been planning this trip since January this year, because I was scheduled to have my holiday in the Philippines on August, and to make a long story short, we decided on El Nido! We booked our flights to Puerto Princessa via AirAsia since direct flights to El Nido are quite expensive. Then we decided on whether to plan ourselves or just book a travel agency to take care of everything. So the latter won 😛

We availed of the 3D2N tour from Our Restless Feet Travel and Tours which included the following:

Our Restless Feet is actually owned by Paula Peralejo (remember Ang TV! days?, she is also Rica Peralejos’ sister) and her husband, and I was communicating with her through email since January. It was fairly easy to talk to her, and she was very willing to answer all of my inquiries. We chose the Hadefe Cottages since we’ve read good reviews about it. After confirming everything, we just deposited the total amount on her account and we were set. After that she sent me a service voucher complete with all the information we would need during our trip, as well as recommendations for dinner and tips on saving money for tricycle fees.  I’ve always been a DIY kind of traveler, but hiring Our Restless Feet services was actually also a very good idea. So after all has been set, nothing to do but wait for the day of our trip! 🙂

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Villa Escudero

Villa Escudero

San Pablo City, Laguna

November 30, 2012

Another vacation gone so fast. I went back home to the Philippines last weekend to attend yet another wedding for the year in which I am part of the entourage as secondary sponsor (again). Due to time constraint, we were only able to plan for a quick getaway from the city with my family to Villa Escudero on Bonifacio Day.

Villa Escudero is a coconut plantation located in San Pablo, Laguna, just within the border of Tiaong, Quezon province in the Philippines. It is a famous tourist destination and just two to three hours away from Manila. Before going there though, make sure that you have made reservations in advance. I think they’re quite strict on this so they can control the crowd visiting the place. We went there on a PH public holiday so we made sure to make reservations before heading there. For more information about their amenities and how to do reservations, check the Villa Escudero website. We booked the day tour, which in my opinion is enough since there isn’t much to do. But if you want to relax and just stay overnight to rest and enjoy the peace and quiet, you can book one of their rooms.

We reached the plantation after two hours drive from Muntinlupa City. Upon arrival, we were directed to the reception hall where we gave our reservation info and they gave us tickets for the museum tour, carabao rides and buffet lunch. We were also given welcome drinks of sago at gulaman. Afterwards, we were directed to the AERA Memorial Museum. From the outside it looks like a Catholic church, though inside are a lot of historical and religious artifacts displayed (cameras are strictly prohibited inside the museum). After the tour, we boarded a carabao-drawn cart ride accompanied a singer and musician serenading us with Filipino folk songs, which is quite cool as we were able to sing along with them the ‘Ang Pipit‘ song, while they take us to the resort proper.

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Taal Trekking the 2nd time around

emerald waters of Taal crater

emerald waters of Taal crater

Taal Volcano is a complex volcano located in LuzonIsland of the Philippines. It has been called the smallest active volcano. Taal Volcano is actually a volcano within a lake which used to be an old crater. Surrounded by the province of Cavite and Batangas, it is located about 50 km south of Metro Manila.

It doesn’t take an experienced mountaineer to trek Taal Volcano due to its fairly easy trail. Also, tourists have the option of riding a horse from the ground to the top. This would be my second time to trek Taal, and Taal being the 2nd mountain I climbed. The first one was Mt. Daguldol in San Juan, Batangas, and that has a steep upward path that could be a challenge for someone unexperienced and even not physically prepared such as myself. The trek to Taal is fairly easy in comparison.

So one early Friday morning, we traveled from Muntinlupa to Tagaytay, then asked for directions from the police station near the Olivarez Rotonda. The policeman asked a local to come with us and guide us on the way to Talisay, Batangas, which served as the drop-off point in reaching the Taal crater. There are three main roads that link Tagaytay City to the lake and the volcano. One is Diokno Highway near the border to Nasugbu, Batangas; the other is just behind the Tagaytay Rotunda (but this is a very steep road); and the most preferred way is the Ligaya Drive near the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa road, which leads to the town of Talisay, Batangas. The first time I went there, we commuted so the jeep took the Ligaya Drive. This time we brought our own vehicle and took the road just behind the Rotonda. After 30 minutes of driving slowly on a steep road, we reached a fork in the road and the local who came with us directed us to the left, to a resort named Tantiongco’s Resort where we can hire a boat that would take us to Taal lake. After discussing the price for a boat, they offfered us all the usual necessities such as the boat rental to and from the resort, tour guide during trekking, life jacket, cottage and parking for 2500 php, for 4 persons. There is also a tourist fee of 50 php per person which we chose to pay together with the boat ride. They also offered us horse rides but we refused as we are bent on doing the trek on foot. So after all the payments have been done, we rode a boat for a 30 minute ride to get to the island where the taal lake is situated.

boat ride

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Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

Pagudpud is a coastal resort town in the northernmost tip of Luzon. It is probably the farthest place north of the Philippines I’ve been to so far. Often hailed as the “Boracay” of the North, Pagudpud is truly a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the beach in solitary.

I went home for a short vacation for two main reasons: to attend the wedding of my dear friend of which I am part of the entourage and to have our house blessing. But I also didn’t miss the chance to hit the beach since I wasn’t able to do it during the summer. So after little planning and impromptu booking for airline tickets, me and my friend, along with her boyfriend and another friend, decided to go to Pagudpud.

We booked our airline tickets from Cebu Pacific, with Laoag City as the place of destination. We arrived at the Laoag International Airport at 09:30 pm on June 11 and arranged a van to pick us up and take us to the resort we have booked. During the drive to Pagudpud, we discussed about the possible tours we could do during our brief visit. Since we will have a whole 2 days to go around the place, we listed out the possible places we could visit. Fortunately for us, the driver of the van offered to be our designated driver during our stay at Pagudpud. So after almost 2 hours of traveling from Laoag City to Pagudpud, we arrived at the resort, settled in for the night and asked the driver to pick us up in the morning.

The resort we booked is Pagudpud Rinnovati Resort. It is a walking distance from Saud Beach. There were also a lot of resorts beside it as well, such as Apo Idon Resort, Evangeline Beach Resort, Terra Rika Beach and Dive Resort to name a few.

We decided to divide the tour into two destinations, the South part and the North Part. On the first day, we went for a tour of the north part of Pagudpud. This would comprise of the following: Kabigan Falls, Patapat Viaduct, Paraiso ni Anton, Agua Grande, Timmantang Rock, Bantay Abot Cave and Blue Lagoon.

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Calaguas paradise

the boat and the islandSummer is almost here, and I envy the people at home who are getting ready and planning for their beach escapades for summer. I’ve been to other asian countries mostly for cultural and historical landmarks, but for beaches, I’d rather go to the many different islands of the Philippines. So far, I’ve been to 5 different beach destinations, and this post is about the most recent beach escapade I had when I was still in my country.

The Calaguas is a group of islands in the Philippine province of Camarines Norte. It includes the following islands such as Tinaga Island, Guintinua Island, Maculabo Island and several other minor islands. Munting Buhangin is part of the Tinaga Island where nowadays are getting famous for tourists despite the lack of fancy accommodations.

We got to avail the Calaguas Island Tour Package from Melvic Brinas (tour coordinator) for 2D/1N package with mla-daet-mla bus ticket for PhP 3200 per person (see http://calaguas-melvic.blogspot.com/). Since we’re only 3 persons going, we decided to avail of a package, nevermind that we have to be with other groups.

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