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Up up north. Palaui Island, Sta. Ana, Cagayan

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It all started with a friend’s solo trip dream to Palaui Island… But with the clingy friends that we are, four of us went on to this adventure.

View from Cape Engaño

Amazing Race: We booked a 6PM Florida bus trip bound for Tuguegarao(located at Kamias). It was almost 5pm when we all gathered up at Shaw Blvd. Getting a cab was a struggle at that time because it was rush hour, so after 5 mins of trying and because of time constraint, we decided to take the MRT instead. But heck! MRT was fully loaded as usual so taking it is not an option (Did I mention we are carrying full packs? Yeah. We’ve got those big bags and thought of taking the MRT, duh? lol) On to the next route, take a bus. Time check: 15mins past 5pm and we are still on EDSA looking for a bus or a cab. Dah dah dah dah dah… Let me cut the story short. We FINALLY were able to get on a ride and made it to Florida bus station just 5 minutes before boarding. Yes, for some lucky charm that we probably have at that time, we (or the bus) braved EDSA during rush hour from Shaw to Kamias for only a little over 30minutes.

And the real journey began…

We departed at exactly 6.15pm. Reached the first stop over in Tarlac after 2.5 hrs. Went on for the next 10hrs straight without stop over. Oh our butts! Last stop was in Isabela which was just 2 hrs away from Tugs. After another 4hr van ride, we finally arrived at Sta, Ana, Cagayan. We are now 15 minutes away from the island of Palaui.

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Transportation:

You can take a plane to Tuguegarao and then take a van to Sta. Ana.
OR take a bus (14-15hrs) to Tuguegarao then a van to Sta. Ana (3-4hrs). Our team chose the latter since some of us joined in the last minute.

Please be sure to book your tickets EARLY. You don’t want a 14+hr bus ride without a comfortable seat.
Bring a neck pillow
For transpo from Cagayan to Manila, I suggest to take the buses from Sta. Ana straight to Manila to avoid the hassle of booking a ticket in Tuguegarao.
*We had to spend a night in Florida bus station in Tugs because the buses are already fully booked when we got there (we arrived in Tugs at 3pm)

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Itinerary:

Here’s a suggested Itinerary and budget breakdown (Thanks to Kar)

Day 0 – April 30 (Thursday)

06:00 PM                             Departure from Victory Liner Kamias

Day 1 – May 1 (Friday)

09:00 AM                             ETA Tuguegarao/Lunch
10:00 AM                             (Optional: Side trip to cave)
12:00 NN                              Take van to Sta. Ana Cagayan
04:00 PM                             Register at CEZA – Tourist center/Buy food
04:30 PM                             Take boat to Palaui from San Vicente port
05:00 PM                             ETA Punta Verde, Palaui/Set up tent
06:00 AM                             Prepare dinner/Socials
10:00 PM                             Lights out

Day 2 – May 2 (Saturday)

05:00 AM                             Wake up call/Prepare breakfast and lunch
06:00 AM                             Start trek to Cape Engaño
10:00 AM                             ETA Cape Engaño/Lunch
12:00 NN                              Start descent (Optional: go to waterfalls)
04:00 PM                             ETA Punta Verde
06:00 PM                             Prepare dinner/Socials
10:00 PM                             Lights out

Day 3 – May 3 (Sunday)

05:00 AM                             Wake up call/Prepare breakfast/Break camp
06:00 AM                             Take boat to Anguib Beach
07:00 AM                             ETA Anguib Beach
11:00 AM                             Back to San Vicente port/Lunch /free time
01:00 PM                              Depart  from Sta. Ana. Take Bus to Manila

Day 4 – May 4 (Monday)

05:00 AM                             ETA Manila

Budget:

Transpo (Roundtrip Manila – Sta. Ana Cagayan – Manila) = 2000
Registration at CEZA – 70.00
Boat (Roundtrip Sta. Ana – Punta Verde – Anguib – Punta Verde) – 2500 + 600 for overnight(2nights) = 3100
Guide to cape Engaño (max of 4pax) = 300.00
Tent – 250/night/pax (2 nights) = 500
Food (safe budget) = 1000

For 4 pax:

2000+70+775+75+500+1000=4420

Transpo breakdown:

Florida bus from Kamias (1st class) = 750
Tryc to terminal = 15
Van from Tugs to Sta. Ana = 200
Tryc to San Vicente port = 15
Bus from Sta. Ana to Manila = 800-900

Accommodation:

Punta Verde offers a lot of Homestay lodging. Standard room can house 4 guests @ P250/head/night. Same fee applies if you want to pitch tents in the front yard.
There are other homestay camps there that charges higher than the standard rate. So, if you do not have a contact there, you can just leave the works at the tourist center.
All the fees will be collected at the tourist center.

Our group chose to pitch tents because we wanted to feel like ala “Survivors”. LOL

Our tents finally set to house us for 2 nights
Our tents finally set to house us for 2 nights

Note: Electricity is not a huge problem as their facilities have solar power. So charging your gadgets won’t be a struggle. Fee is P20 per gadget until it is fully charged.

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6PM, Palaui Island

Food:

To save on expenses, you can cook your own food. Buffet meals in Punta Verde are just expensive. Average meal costs from 150-250. So if you want to save, bring your own cook set and prepare your own food.

There are stores in Palaui Island, so should your provisions come short there are mini sari sari stores there where you can buy food/booze. Rates are not very far from Manila.

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Anguib Beach
Last kilometer up north
Last kilometer up north
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Start of trek to Cape Engaño
beach bums
beach bums

Things To Do:

Visit Cape Engaño lighthouse, beach bumming at Anguib Beach, siesta at your homestay, swimming, trekking (to the lighthouse), camping, and a lot of picture taking.

I have so much more to say about this trip but I don’t want to spill everything out on this page. It’s better if you go and experience it yourself. *wink*

Bring some friends. Who knows you might have a better experience and story to tell than I. :)

Thanks for reading.

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The waves are calling…… Baler

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The waves are calling… Yeah. The surfer wanna be in me. :p

I just checked one of my 2014’s to do list. (I know, it’s 2015 now. This post is long overdue so please forgive me. :p)

I’ve read a lot of write ups and tips on Baler Trips and I would like to share what this small community up north had offered us.

Travel:

Travel time is approximately 7-8 hrs with 3 stop overs.

If you easily get dizzy on long trips, you might wanna bring white flower to keep you to your senses or just take bonamine before getting on the bus. The trip can get bumpy and zigzag-y at some point.

I felt like we were travelling to Sagada when we entered Nueva Ecija. The road is uphill and resembles that of Sagada. I thought that it was just cool that you have to pass through a mountain to go to a beach. Yes, that’s another Baler experience that doesn’t always get published.

When you reached Baler town proper, you can just hire a tricycle to take you to your hotel for only P15/head.

Accommodation:

If you do not have any prior booking, you can just ask the tricycle driver to help you look for a place.

For budget travelers, you can find places to stay for as low as 600/night. To those who wants luxurious accommodation, Costa Pacifica offers accommodation that starts from 3k up to 15k/night.

Here are some of the beach front resorts that we personally checked
Costa Pacifica
Bay-ler View
Aliya Surf Camp & Resort
Bay’s Inn

We could have gotten rooms for 800/night but we wanted a room at the beach front. We chose Bay-ler View. Why?

We got a room that’s good for 3-4 persons with a price that’s good for 2.
P1800/night with free breakfast (2) +wifi + hot/cold bath + toiletries and a bunch of super accommodating crew. PLUS it’s beach front!!

Things to do:

SURF of course. Standard rate is P350/hr with instructor. P200/hr for board rental.

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ECO TOUR for P800/tricycle (there’s just the two of us so it would be cheaper when you are in a larger group)

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*wear sunblock/bring a brolly as it could get really hot during the tour. Unless you want to have your tan before hitting the beach. :)
*Ermita Hill – there is a view deck here where you can see the whole stretch of Sabang. To me, this place is Tagatay-ish. If you have the energy, you can climb up to the cross which would take approximately 5-10mins. That’s 200+ steps by the way…

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*Museo de Baler/ Aurora Quezon Ancestral House and Baler Church – this part of the tour is more of a sight –seeing thing. You get to see preserved old stuff, that’s all. Some of them aren’t even old.  I’m sorry but I didn’t feel like I was in a real museum or ancestral house. BTW: You have to register and drop some donations before you can enter Museo de Baler and the Ancestral House.

*Balete Tree – they used to allow tourists to climb this tree up to the top but just recently (summer of 2014), only climbing halfway is allowed as the roots have gone weak overtime and it could be risky if they tolerate climbing it all the way up. Need help with photo ops? Don’t worry though; the tour guides in the Millennium Tree are good photographers. Lol. Yes, so don’t hesitate to hand them your cameras. You’ll be surprised with how pro they could be in capturing your climbing moments [for a small fee of P50, well it’s more like a donation so you can give any amount).

*Mother Falls/ Ditumabo Falls – rocky road from the high way up to the jump off and a short trek en route to the mother falls. Your tour guide would tell you why they call it mother falls. Ok fine, I’m sharing it. Lol. It’s because there are smaller falls which they call the baby falls and then, there is Father falls (a bigger one) but they don’t include it in the ECO tour as getting there could take half a day and it’s regulated by a different locality.

Food:

Every blog I have read about Baler has written about the rolling stores. So let me just reinforce. Yes, you can satisfy your hunger at a lower price . This place is not located along the beach though, it is beside Museo de Baler. Takes about 5 minutes on a tricycle.

There are a lot of food choices in the town proper. There is Gerry Shans (Buffet type P199/head), Trenchies and Yolly’s. All these three are along the way if you are walking from Museo de Baler. Note: there are a lot of restaurants/food houses that you can dine in at the town proper. You just need to explore. Just walk, walk, walk and walk.

Please don’t forget to try their Pako(Fern) Salad. You can find this delish in almost every food corner in Baler. BUT! Bay-ler View has the best Pako Salad. Yes, their dressing is just oh-so-yum!

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There are also a good number of vendors selling suman. I’ve tried their suman so many times before (pasalubong from friends) so I didn’t buy any during our stay.

If you are not on a group tour or did not rent a van, please take note that the last bus trip from Baler to Cubao/Pasay leaves at 11am. So be mindful of the time. There are joy buses(P700 I think) that leaves as late as 230pm but you have to reserve seat on the day of your arrival as the bus fills up easily.

That is it pansit! I wish i could have written more but I’ll stop here. Baka lalong hindi ko maipost eh. :p

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Thanks for reading! :)

D2K Preparation

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ALRIGHT!

I’m starting to get nervous on this voyage. This is it!! And we are going to start our training this weekend.

I know that I am not the first person/lady to traverse D2K but to me, this is something special. This trip to Bukidnon will be my first in Mindanao, first Major climb on a major mountain, first mountain traverse and it would be my first time to be part of a ritual. On further note, the leader of the tribe that will hold the ritual the night before we climb happened to be my boyfriend’s mom’s family (so can I say my boyfriend’s extended family?)

I’m really eggzoited!! let me share with you what is on our March calendar. Maybe we’ll meet somewhere along the trail. :D

March 2 – MakTrav (dayhike)
March 15-16 – Tapulao
March 23 – Tarak Traverse (dayhike)
March 30 – Cristobal Traverse (dayhike)
rest/carbo loading/rehydrating
Apr 7-10 – Dulang-dulang – Kitanglad Traverse :D

Soooo there!

Wish me luck! :)

Mt. Batulao Dayhike

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Hey there, pader! 

I was stressed these past few days and I want to go up high and distress. So I invited a couple of friends to join me in a dayhike near Manila. There were a few who said they’re joining but eventually cancelled for a number of reasons. Oh well… Initially, I planned on climbing Mt. Talamitam but ended up picking Mt. Batulao just beacuse.

I went up with a friend who had no choice but to join because I’m still climbing even solo. 

At the Evercrest. Just right after we get off the bus.
At the Evercrest. Just right after we get off the bus.

 The bus we boarded left the Coastal Mall Terminal at 730AM bound for Nasugbu, and we reached Evercrest at 930AM. It was Baguio cold and the sky was starting to get dark. I knew then that it’s not going to be a dry climb. We prepped up and took a tricycle to the jump-off and at 10AM, we’re at the trail head where we met some of the USTMC applicants, they’re a big group (30-50 I think). It was muddy all the way upto the first Kubo. Imagine how “basag” the trail was due to the number of hikers. I tried to take some photos but the trail required me to hold on to practically anything (even the butt of the guy ahead of me) just so I don’t slip or fall, so, I stopped the attempt. I don’t wanna go swimming in the mud just to get a selfie. Lol!

Just right before my shoes bonded with the welcoming Batulao mud.
Just right before my shoes bonded with the welcoming Batulao mud.
Where's the sun?
Where’s the sun?

We did a traverse taking the New to Old Trail. I though this would be an easy climb (well yeah, really, there is no easy climb) I guess this would’ve been easier(and beautifuler) if it didn’t rain.   

It started raining when we took a take 5 at Peak 7. Obviously, clearing is scarce so we managed ourselves with a white background. It drizzled when we reached the Knife’s edge. I managed to easily go up to the edge and only felt the pang when I’m already at the top. The wind got stronger, the fog thicker and I started to tremble. Maybe because I was cold already or it was just plain scary. We continued our ascent up to the summit where we contented ourselves with selfies due to lack of view. It rained just after we had our lunch. (Drenched much?) I’d say Batulao’s trail is pretty easy compared to that of Tarak. (Duh?) 

The only picture I could afford at the Knife's Edge. Nakatakot mag picture eh lol!
The only picture I could afford at the Knife’s Edge. Nakatakot mag picture eh lol!
The trail before Peak 10. (From New trail)
The trail before Peak 10. (From New trail)
Moment sa Summit! Hah!
Moment sa Summit! Hah!
View from the Old Trail. You can see Camp 6 and those pretty trees standing solo in Camp 1 and Camp 2(I think)
View from the Old Trail. You can see Camp 6 and those pretty trees standing solo in Camp 1 and Camp 2(I think)
The closest we got to a clearing.
The closest we got to a clearing.
Yes. My friend was quick enough to take a picture as I go down this steep descent.
Yes. My friend was quick enough to take a picture as I go down this steep descent.

Day hike reserved its own pros and cons versus an overnight camp. In a day hike, you don’t have to worry much about hydration, just bring your trail water and you are good. Packed lunch and 2 sets of clothing would do fine hence, a lighter pack. It’ll just take your already tired legs to another level of torture as there is no ample time for your lower bud to rest before going back to the trail, unless you are willing and ready to do a night trek. In my case, night trek is not yet on my list, with that, I made sure that we’ll make it back at the trail head before dark. Afraid of the dark much? Lol!

So there you have it! Please pardon me with my writing as I am no writer, really. :p

Mt. Batulao - Sept 14, 2013
Mt. Batulao – Sept 14, 2013

Pinaupong Manok

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Pinaupong manok is a chicken dish dry cooked in a palayok (earthenware pot), set on a sitting position placed on a bed of rock salt lined with banana leaf.  This process makes the pot acts like and oven and cooks the chicken using its own juices, the salt in the bottom prevents the chicken from burning while the banana leaf gives it a different aroma.

This was the most common way of baking chicken in the Philippines during the early days when gas ovens was not yet invented.  A really simple way of preparing chicken as traditional recipes only calls for chicken, salt, lemon grass and lots of patience as cooking this dish would take at least an hour per kilo of chicken.

I have a different version of Pinaupong Manok that my team and I cooked during our Team Building’s MasterChef challenge. Fortunately, our team won the challenge and since then, I have been getting requests (just from my co workers and some common friends) for its recipe.

I am no chef and I think this recipe was just a successful experiment. :)

Ingredients (Chicken)

3 whole chicken, size 14-16
1 whole onion, quartered
4-5 cloves garlic, pounded with skin on
½ thumb sized ginger, minced
3 stalks lemon grass
freshly ground black pepper
2 sachets of Magic Sarap
1 ltr. Sprite
rock salt
star anis (to add more flavor and enhance aroma)

Ingredients (Dipping Sauce)

½ cup melted butter
½ cup ginger, diced (smallest possible but not minced)
salt to taste
3 tbsp lemon/calamansi juice (optional)

Method

1. Generously rub chicken with salt. (to remove that thin layer of chicken skin)
2. Stuff the cavity with lemon grass, onion, and ginger.
3. Place all the ingredients in the pot with the chicken in sitting position (or whatever position as long as the chicken is half-submerged in sprite). Place in an open flame over stove or fire burner. Cook for 1-1 ½ hours or until chicken is tender.
4. Once cooked, you separate the chicken from the stalk or just serve it all together.
5. Sautee the ginger in melted butter. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.
6. Place chicken in a serving plate then serve with dipping sauce.

Here are some photos from our Team Build. :)

Just right before it was served.
Just right before it was served.
Your's truly "plating" the chicken.
Yours truly “plating” .
Served! :)
Served! :)
The winning Team served Pinaupong manok and mixed veggies. \m/
The winning Team served Pinaupong manok and mixed veggies. \m/

Tarak Ridge: A noob’s first major climb

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It has been years since I last went for a climb so; I considered this climb to Tarak Ridge a major one.
I was only given 3 days to prepare for this climb. As a result, I ended up wearing the wrong type of shoes, didn’t use the right bag, and lacked other essentials as I have my climbing stuff at my parent’s house. Thanks to Ron for the head lamp, Joed for the trekking pole and Angel for being the master. Haha!

We left Cubao at 8am and arrived at Brgy. Alas-asin past 11AM. We registered, changed clothes, and bought food; at 1215 we headed for the trail head. The first few minutes was like hell for me. It was so hot, my pack was heavy and I know It was not going to be easy breezy. Good thing, we had our first stop after 20 minutes. Thank goodness! I guess my body was just warming up, from that stop and on, I was all good.

Le start.
Le start.
Le start.
Le start.
Rocky, eh?
Rocky, eh?

We took the trail that was made by the locals. It’s pretty established spare for some minor confusing paths (thanks to Angel and his awesome navigation skills). The trail we took did not cross Aling Kurding’s sari-sari store (unlike most of the blogs I read, they all took the usual trail).

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Here’s one of our many 5-minute stops.

The trail was steep and it really tested my endurance. At some points, they had me lead our ascent so that I don’t get behind (obviously their pace is way quicker than mine). We reached the Papaya River at past 3PM.
Papaya River
Here’s where the Papaya River is, same place where we had our lunch. I went up along with 3 other guys. Yep! I’m the muse. Fact: I’ve got more guy friends than girl friends. Does that make me a tomboy? Lol.

Papaya RiverPapaya River
The Papaya River : Cold and clean stream water :D The boys did a quick wash up here while I dipped my dead tired feet. It was refreshing! (Images courtesy of Ron)

We continued our ascent but this time, Master Angel led the group. He was so quick and I was forced to keep up with his pace. The trail required us to hold on to roots/branches and go up and down on rocks. Phew! We reached the Ridge after about 2hrs. (We had to stop for almost 30 minutes because we don’t want to catch up with the group who was ahead of us). It was raining when we reached the ridge and I was so glad because we finally made it only to find out that there’s no more space at the ridge for us to set camp. So, we decided to continue the assault to the summit and set camp there.
We reached the summit roughly after 30 mins. Finally, it’s time for us to set camp. Wee!  Tents have been set, we had dinner, then socials followed. We just didn’t know that the place we chose to set camp on was the photo op spot.

Morning shot at the summit IMG-20130811-00369
(Left Image – myself. Right Image – Ron hanging our clothes to dry while Joed…uhm..I’m not sure what was he doing)

Just right after we had breakfast, a group of mountaineers greeted us a good morning while our clothes hanging on the tree branches greeted them back. We weren’t prepared for it. Lol! Soon after, a couple more groups came by and had their picture taking. At 10AM, we decided to break camp.

Mt Tarak

Le view at the summit.

Coffee morning! :)
Coffee morning! :)
Selfies. Yes, it's plural.
Selfies. Yes, it’s plural.
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Ron’s tree shot.
Got a clearing.
Got a clearing.
I wore my volleybal shoes to Tarak.
I wore my volleyball shoes to Tarak.
Joed, Clang and Angel
Joed, Clang and Angel
It's us three, again.
Clang, Ron and Joed. (2nd peak)
View from the summit.
View from the summit.

We headed north with plans on visiting the Pantingan Falls. It was a sunny morning; we were all jovial and keyed up for another challenge. An hour and a half has passed (1230) and we noticed that the trail was continuously going up as we have crossed 3 peaks. No sign or even sound of water by far, so, the team decided to rest for a few minutes. At this point, we knew that we are already doing a traverse. The team huddled and decided to abort since we don’t have enough water to compensate for a traverse (especially we didn’t really know how close we are to a water source or if there is even one).

Mt Tarak Mt Tarak
(Left Image – this was when we still didn’t know that we’re headed to a traverse. See the energy? Right image – We’re at the 3rd peak near the Japanese Garden. This was when we realized that we took the wrong trail. Felt a bit of frustration save for the view, it was breath taking, so we just enjoyed it. )

So, we headed back to camp and continued our descent to the ridge. We rested for a couple more minutes there and enjoyed the refreshing drizzle brought to us by the nearing Typhoon Labuyo. At 3PM we’re back at the Papaya River. We had sumptuous lunch to replenish our energy. Haha! After lunch, I decided to take a plunge in the river’s cold water as Angel took a nap while the other two tried to stop their bleeding from their limatik bites.

Abort mission! Haha! It's time to head down.
Abort mission! Haha! It’s time to head down.
At the Papaya River. Ain't it a mess? :p
At the Papaya River. Ain’t it a mess? :p
Yes, Angel? Joed?
Yes, Angel? Joed?
I still managed to give a thumbs up! (y)
I still managed to give a thumbs up! (y)

The limatik victim.

For some reason, all three of them were limatik victims. They told me that limatiks hate girls (oh yeah, whatever boys… lol). After a good rest, we all geared up for our descent. Past 6PM, we’re back at the trail head.

Overall, my first major climb has awaken the sleeping mountaineer in me. I’m hungry for more. Here’s a quote to cap this off. “Climb the mountain not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world” – Anonymous.

Thanks for reading!
Mt. Mariveles Tarak Ridge – Aug 10-11, 2013

Thanks for reading! :)

Blue Lady Arsenals

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Blue Lady Arsenals

It’s the time of the year again. That’s our logo for the upcoming ADP Sportsfest 2013 :)
Wish our team luck! :)