PH: National Museum of Natural History

Last month, I celebrated my birthday and I decided to finally check out the National Museum of Natural History. It is one of the three national museums found in Luneta Park, and its doors only opened last May 18 after a major renovation.

Back to travel posts! Last month, I celebrated my birthday and I decided to finally check out the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. It is one of the three national museums found in Luneta Park, and its doors only opened last May 18 after a major renovation.

We were expecting the crowd to be just small but lo and behold, there was a field trip even if it was on a Saturday. Also, the free entrance may have enticed more citizens to visit the place so there was a looooong line when we arrived before lunch. (Quick amusing story — a guy asked me about the long wait in line… and turned out that the lady with her is my colleague from our NCL office. Hello Ila!)

If you’re bringing a bag with you, take note that bags bigger than the size of a short bond paper is required to be deposited in their baggage counter.

Upon entering the museum, you will immediately see this iconic DNA Tree of Life structure in the courtyard. It houses an elevator which takes you directly from ground floor to 5th floor and vice-versa.

 

Before I continue with telling what you can see inside the museum, I was lucky enough that in the conference I attended last Sept 13, the organizer invited Architect Dominic Galicia and he gave a talk on “Reinventing the Museum Experience”.

During the whole talk, you can feel his passion for his craft. Some of the things he shared is how they had to search and see the old blueprints such as Toledo “drawings” dating back to 1930s. Even if part of the building may be old or damaged, he firmly believes that it can be reborn. He also mentioned how he wants to be faithful to the story that is why he wants to know the background of the building/s to be renovated.

He suggested to us to do the processional route of taking the elevator all the way to 5th floor then from there, visit each exhibit and go down each level until you return to ground floor… And that’s what my friends and I did!

 

All 5th floor exhibits were still under construction, but pretty interesting because these will be about biodiversity, geology, and life through time. We went down to 4th floor which showcased different types of forests in PH as well as the types of animals that one can find there.

 

 

 

I think it was on the 4th floor where we encountered these familiar names from one of our high school classes:

After going down the ramp that led us to 3rd floor, couldn’t help but capture these awesome details by the arch and one of the front doors of the museum:

In the same corridor where I took the photos above, Tomas Bernardo’s orchid paintings were mounted as a gallery.

A common orchid found throughout PH

 

Theme for 3rd floor seems to be aquatic / marine life — mangroves, beaches, life thousands of meters under the sea (or ocean).

 

Collared Kingfisher

Crown of Thorns — sea star with pungent, poisonous thorns

 

 

When we returned to the courtyard area, near the ramp, we noticed recreation of dinosaur bones!

One of the highlights for us is seeing the skeleton of Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile in captivity.

 

When we finished touring the last floor, we headed for lunch at Bugis Singapore Street Food. Sharing the food pics I took before closing this entry:

 

Aaand, that’s it. A geeky way to celebrate my birthday but I had fun anyway. Cheers to my late 20s time! 🙂

Mole Removal Procedure

This is not travel related but I figured that it might be helpful to others who are looking into mole removal procedures in PH, especially in Metro Manila. I searched for online forums regarding this topic but most are dated late 2000s to early 2010s, and did not mention any recommended doctor to do the procedure.

This is not travel related but I figured that it might be helpful to others who are looking into mole removal procedures in PH, especially in Metro Manila. I searched for online forums regarding this topic but most are dated late 2000s to early 2010s, and did not mention any recommended doctor to do the procedure.

In 2014, my mole on the lower lip line area was still at its original dot size, but fast forward to 2016, I noticed it getting bigger. Even my family noticed it so I decided to go to two different dermatologists accredited by my HMO. They had conflicting recommendations as Doctor A recommended shaving the mole while Doctor B wants me to undergo surgery (local anaesthesia). It didn’t really bother me at that time so I didn’t proceed with removing it.

And now come this year, I noticed that it significantly got bigger and now bulging at the lower lip line. So I did a new round of research and I found a reputable derma clinic in Makati. Doctor C recommended surgery but told me that my lower lip line will be altered — 100% chance. I paid the 800-pesos consultation fee and asked some more follow up questions via SMS, including if she had previous experience with same case as mine. That question was dodged… so I never came back.

I decided to ask our new family doctor for a reco on dermatologist. She gave me Got Doc Bib’s contact (Dr. Genevieve De Guzman of CHI Skin and Laser Clinic). So I went there and gave her the whole history of my journey. She said that my lower lip line will definitely be altered BUT if I go to a cosmetic surgeon, that concern should not be an issue. She recommended Doc Brian Ang and reassured me that all patients she referred to him were happy with the results of their procedure.

That same week, I visited Doc Brian in his Cardinal Santos Medical Center clinic. He took a quick look on my mole after I shared all details and then told me that I didn’t have to worry with my lower lip line. I felt 100% confident with him so we chose a date for the procedure right away.

On the day of the procedure, no tedious preparation. I just brought myself and the Philhealth docs required to waive OR fees.

When Doc Brian arrived, we went inside one of the OR rooms. The nurse assisting him told me that it will be a very quick procedure — about 10 minutes or less.

My eyes and nose were covered with a thick cloth so that I won’t get “blinded” by the bright lights used during the procedure. Doc Brian started with injecting anaesthesia in my lips. I remember feeling 3 pricks then my lips started to numb (and feel super thick haha). This was the only painful part in the whole procedure, but the pain level is bearable. Take note that surface of the lips are thin hence more sensitive to pressure and pain.

Indeed it was quick because after what felt like 10 minutes (or even less), I could feel that Doc Brian was already stitching the wound. After putting a bandage on my lower lip, Doc Brian told me that he was successful in removing the mole so there is zero chance for it to come back. But he recommended to still have it undergo biopsy just to confirm his assessment that it is non-cancerous.

 

A week after, I went back to his clinic so that he can remove the remaining stitches. He also informed me that the biopsy declared the mole to be non-cancerous and completely removed. He prescribed a tube of Dermatix for so that the scarring will be reduced and the procedure area will be softer.

Now, almost 4 months has passed since the my mole was removed so here’s a before-and-after illustration. 🙂

 

 

Hope this post is helpful to those who are looking into mole removal. 🙂

PH, Bataan: Where to Stay (and Eat)

T and I are not familiar with the geography of Bataan so we opted to look for our accommodation via Airbnb…

But it is with a heavy heart as I write this because back in mid-July, Tita Rose informed me that his husband, Tito Rod, passed away.

T and I are not familiar with the geography of Bataan so we opted to look for our accommodation via Airbnb. We chose this listing from Tita Rose (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16801373) and we absolutely loved our stay. But it is with a heavy heart as I write this because back in mid-July, Tita Rose informed me that his husband, Tito Rod, passed away.

With a mix of nostalgia and sadness as I recall our stay in their lovely home, below are the reasons why we had a great time there. Currently uncertain if Tita Rose is opening again their home for Airbnb but still check it.

  • Lively hosts – we enjoyed exchanging stories and they check our itinerary per day to ensure our day is sulit
  • Clean bedroom (with air-con) and bathroom
  • Accessible by bus as the place is located along the road
  • Easy to go to highlight spots in Bataan such as Five Fingers and Dambana ng Kagitingan, which are located in opposite areas
  • Delicious food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (note that this is NOT free; request this in advance)
  • Big, private pool that is regularly cleaned
  • Good Wi-Fi connection

Highly recommend their place if you are looking for an accommodation in Bataan. 🙂 As for where to eat, we were supposed to go to Orion and Balanga for food trip but we just got really lazy to go out during our last day.

We only dined out during our first day and we enjoyed the food in the two places we went to:

IMA FLORA’S PAMANGAN (07:00 to 22:00)

Gov. J.J. Linao AlaUli, Pilar, Bataan (0998 564 0275)

Buffet carinderia-style for only Php 200. They have a separate ala carte menu in case you find buffet to be too much for you. Most of the food choices are Kapampangan dishes and everything we ate there tasted good. Perfect meal after our full day of touring Bataan (from Dambana ng Kagitingan to Pawikan Conservation Center).

Ima Flora’s Pamangan is located near the intersection of the main highway, along the road going to Mt. Samat / Dambana ng Kagitingan.

CHOCO-LATÉ DE BATIROL (07:00 to 23:00)

Gov. J.J. Linao AlaUli, Pilar, Bataan (0943 488 9382)

Just a walking distance from Ima Flora’s Pamangan! Quite easy to miss but this place is located within the area of the only gas station in the intersection of Bataan Provincial Highway and Gov. J.J. Linao road. This is the same Choco-laté de Batirol as the one in Baguio.

T and I had our dessert here after the buffet in Ima Flora’s Pamangan. Best decision ever because their hot chocolate drink was just too good! We felt guilty though because we did not get to finish our orders of turon and suman – stomach was already too full from the buffet.


We absolutely had a great time in Bataan and we’ll be back for sure to try more food places in the area. Also curious with Camaya Coast because our Airbnb hosts recommended this place.

PH, Bataan (Day 2): Five Fingers Tour

T and I availed the Economy Tour, which costs Php 999 and already includes the following: boat ride, tour proper, packed lunch, and snacks. Aside from this good deal, what convinced us to book this tour is their assurance that their group is authorized by LGU Mariveles and Bataan Tourism as well as being featured in travel pages and TV shows. Click here to find their page dedicated for the FIVE FINGERS TOUR.

NOVEMBER 16, 2017

We started our 2nd day in Bataan early because we joined a group tour for Five Fingers. Our Airbnb host offers breakfast for a certain fee and we availed that since we were not sure if there was any food establishment near the meet-up point for the tour.

From our Airbnb, we took a jeep bound for Mariveles since no bus was passing by. Upon arriving at the port, we met with the tour guides from Bataan Weather Page (BWP). They were responsive to our messages, especially when we got lost trying to find the meet-up location.

T and I availed the Economy Tour, which costs Php 999 and already includes the following: boat ride, tour proper, packed lunch, and snacks. Aside from this good deal, what convinced us to book this tour is their assurance that their group is authorized by LGU Mariveles and Bataan Tourism as well as being featured in travel pages and TV shows. Click here to find their page dedicated for the FIVE FINGERS TOUR.

I wasn’t paying attention to the names of each spot we visited but I’ll mention the various activities we did during the tour.

Our first stop was where we would do trekking. The guides told us that it would only be a “pabebe trek” but most of us concluded that it was not. We were lucky that it was a sunny day so we didn’t have to worry about muddy paths or accidentally slipping up while climbing or going down.

Still, despite having a bit of difficulty, the scenery at the top was worth every sweat!

 

After this, we hopped to different areas around Five Fingers where one of the highlights was cliff diving. The first cliff diving spot had a height of 25 feet while the second one was about 40 feet.

Snorkeling was an activity mentioned in their page but we didn’t visit any place to do this. Quite a bummer because T and I brought our own snorkelling gear. 😦 We went to a spot though with lots of sea urchin and rocky places for pictures so that compensated it na?

Our last stop during this tour was a beach with fine sand. We were the only people there so we had the place to ourselves. BWP provided us free lunch so none in the group had to cook anymore, yay! After lunch, we spent another hour swimming in this area… we even found a starfish!

We went home around 3PM and spent the remaining hours in our Airbnb, relaxing and chatting with our hosts. I’ll be sharing more details on our Airbnb hosts and their place in the next post!

PH, Bataan (Day 1): Pawikan Conservation Center

After our visit in Las Casas, we went to PAWIKAN CONSERVATION CENTER in Morong, Bataan. We read in a lot of online articles that Pawikan Festival is celebrated here annually – during the last Sunday of November. We thought that since the festival was just 2 weeks away, we could already see some baby pawikans.

NOVEMBER 15, 2017

After our visit in Las Casas, we went to PAWIKAN CONSERVATION CENTER in Morong, Bataan. We read in a lot of online articles that Pawikan Festival is celebrated here annually – during the last Sunday of November. We thought that since the festival was just 2 weeks away, we could already see some baby pawikans.

Lo and behold, we only saw two adult pawikan swimming in a small aquarium-like area. There was also one small pawikan swimming in a water-filled styro container.

We asked around and they informed us that we were a week or two earlier before the peak season of hatching. It was still an interesting visit because we got to see the hatchery, where they safeguard the eggs of pawikan.

As the area is a breeding ground for pawikan, we knew the sea was just nearby and strolled along the shore. It was already late afternoon so the sun was starting to set…

Oh well, this gives us another reason to go back to Bataan, right? 🙂

PH, Bataan (Day 1): Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

We visited LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR as our 2nd stop and this site is located in Bagac, Bataan. The literal translation for the name of the place is “Acuzar’s Filipino/Philippines Houses”, which is accurate as the restored Spanish-Filipino houses found in this area are Jose Acuzar’s property. It is amazing to learn that the houses here were carefully dismantled and meticulously re-assembled to preserve everything.

NOVEMBER 15, 2017

We visited LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR as our 2nd stop and this site is located in Bagac, Bataan. The literal translation for the name of the place is “Acuzar’s Filipino/Philippines Houses”, which is accurate as the restored Spanish-Filipino houses found in this area are Jose Acuzar’s property. It is amazing to learn that the houses here were carefully dismantled and meticulously re-assembled to preserve everything.

For the admission fee, we paid Php 1,500 which includes access to the site, free guided tours, and towel + refreshments at the end of the tour.

Jeepneys inside the site are free of charge so it is easy to go from one place to another. The houses though are quite near to each other so we just walked. We only rode the jeepney to and from the entrance building.

Since we were there at past 12NN and the next walking tour would only start at 1:30PM, T and I decided to roam around the area first.

 

We went inside the open building near the walking tour area. We saw religious relics inside as well as exhibits with photos of historical churches and accompanying information about them.

 

Found a few nice spots to take own portrait pictures before the free tour started…

T and I took turns taking pictures in this vintage-looking vehicle. We initially thought it was a resting area because it was situated under a lot of trees, providing cool shade for tired visitors.

 

But one of the staff approached us and told us if we would be going to the beach area… Apparently this vehicle actually moves but follows a schedule, which is every 30 minutes. Since the free walking tour was about to start, we politely declined.

The free walking tour started on time so yay. It was really hot and humid during our visit but our tour guide, despite wearing long sleeves top and long skirt, carried on with the whole tour with a big smile. It was as if the scorching heat didn’t affect her! She told us the stories, origin, and controversies related to each casa we visited.

 

Aside from the informative tour, another advantage of joining is gaining access to casas that are not open to the public such as Casa Biñan and Casa Baliuag.

 

 

 

[Fun fact on the last two pictures: Shooting location for Gen. Luna’s Spoliarium-like death scene in “Heneral Luna” movie]

We were also lucky to chance upon a wedding that day. We only saw it from a distance though… Their wedding reception was already set up earlier that afternoon.

If we weren’t in a hurry to visit the next location, we would have done other activities in this area such as strolling along the beach area, doing the river cruise or kalesa ride, and visiting Hotel de Oriente.

 

All in all, I’d say this is one of the must visits in Bataan. T and I enjoyed our short trip here. 😊

 

 

PH, Bataan (Day 1): Dambana ng Kagitingan

T and I went to DAMBANA NG KAGITINGAN (Shrine of Valor), a historical shrine built on Mount Samat to honor the Filipinos and Americans who fought during World War II.

Before seeing the iconic 92-meter cross, we encountered the colonnade which houses sculptures made by National Artist Napoleon Abueva and stained glass murals designed by Cenon Rivera.

NOVEMBER 15, 2017

Because of the ASEAN holidays back in Nov 2017, T and I spontaneously thought of going out of town for the long weekend. She suggested Bataan and since I haven’t been there, I agreed to go there.

From Cubao, we rode an air-conditioned Genesis bus bound for Mariveles. We overestimated our travel time and reached the area of our Airbnb at 5AM. There were no street lights and we hopped off the bus at the wrong drop off… Good thing we were already near the Airbnb and I was able to contact the host before our phone’s signal turned to nil.

After catching some sleep, T and I went to DAMBANA NG KAGITINGAN (Shrine of Valor), a historical shrine built on Mount Samat to honor the Filipinos and Americans who fought during World War II.

Before seeing the iconic 92-meter cross, we encountered the colonnade which houses sculptures made by National Artist Napoleon Abueva and stained glass murals designed by Cenon Rivera.

 

 

Near the colonnade is the entrance to the underground museum, where war memorabilia are displayed – weaponry, uniforms, photos from the war, path of the Death March, and miniature display of mountains and their use during the war.

 

 

Our final stop was the cross but to get there, we had to climb hundreds of steps that zigzagged the area.

Upon reaching the cross, I was in awe of how huge it was. The sculptures found at the base of the cross were also works of Abueva.

 

 

 

The staff said that we would have a better panoramic view of Bataan if we go to the viewing gallery inside the cross. Unfortunately, during our visit, the elevator was under maintenance so we didn’t get to see it.

Still, there are other spots around the area where you can get a scenic view of Bataan. Our tricycle driver showed us one location and it was just breath-taking.

Next location we visited was Las Casas – stay tuned for the next post under Bataan 2017 trip.

PH, Rizal: Masungi Georeserve (Take 2)

Didn’t expect I would be back in Masungi Georeserve after a year. This time, I went with friends from work and while it was a holiday, the fees we paid were priced with their weekday rate (Php 1,500.00).

The scenery I saw during this trip though was the opposite of what I experienced during the previous year.

AUGUST 21, 2017

Didn’t expect I would be back in Masungi Georeserve after a year. 😊 This time, I went with friends from work and while it was a holiday, the fees we paid were priced with their weekday rate (Php 1,500.00).

The sceneries I saw during this trip though was the opposite of what I experienced during the previous year. We had good weather in 2016 so pictures were also better: https://itskeanne.com/2017/04/09/masungi-georeserve/. But for this trip, it was raining and foggy. The only positive thing perhaps is that it wasn’t scorching hot and humid.

After our briefing and a short walk, we encountered the first rope course, which is LAMBAT (“fisherman’s net”). The side chosen by my friends in the photo above is the easier one as the other side has wide square holes which your foot can easily slip into.

Next rope course is still SAPOT, which mimics a spider’s web. Quite a bummer because all we could see around us was just fog.

Quite a long walk after to reach the next rope course. We crossed a short hanging bridge right after Sapot…

…We also had to go down here in SUUTAN, where we had to be careful of slippery rocks because of the heavy rain.

And finally, we reached this area. The new additions here were the swing-like seats made of ropes. There were plenty enough of these so we got to sit anywhere we wanted to. The rain poured heavier during this time so we took a long break here and ate our trail food a.k.a. chocolate and energy bars. Hehe.

 

 

We resumed our trek when the rain subsided and we arrived in PATAK (“drop”), which is an air house suspended above the trees.

After a quick break, we encountered another rope course which will lead us to the next major spot. Note that you will not wear any harness but good news now is that there are two course options to choose from: 1) what we did in 2016 which is just open space around; 2) cage-like barrier that will probably make you feel safer from falling (psychosomatic, I think).

We arrived in DUYAN (“hammock”) shortly after, which is one of the most popular spots in Masungi Georeserve. The guide will assure you of its safety as they used ropes and steel with strong quality that can withstand weight and pressure.

YUNGIB NI RUBEN was our next stop – quite dark and cold but still a lovely place to take a quick rest. The lamps inside made us feel like cave explorers out for an adventure.

TATAY (father) and NANAY (mother) were our last stops in 2016 but this time around, these were not because of the new attractions added. Both Tatay and Nanay are rock-formed peaks which give you a breathtaking 360 view of the surrounding nature and landscape.

We were fortunate enough that the rain and fog were gone by the time we arrived here so we finally got to see a good view.

Before we reach the official rest stop for the trek, we had to go down this looong rope course called BAYAWAK (“iguana”). The rope course is called as such because it mimics the general shape of the animal. For the faint-hearted, fret not as the guide will show the long flight of stairs where you can go down instead of doing this.

 

 

From Bayawak, LIWASAN (“park” or “plaza”) is just a short walk, which has pools of water that serve as birdbath. They have a resting area here where you get to eat the free sandwiches and drinks provided by MG team. We chose the tuna sandwich option when we booked but we also got free bananas as part of our snacks.

 

 

Another new addition in Masungi Georserve are the rope swings in different shapes and sizes just right outside Liwasan.

The exit I knew back in 2016 was a long walk uphill to get back to the entrance. This time around, they now have an easier access to the exit. We went through SAWA (a type of snake), which consists of a long bridge that directly connects to the garden with the briefing area.

Took us about 5 hours to complete the tour in Masungi, mostly because of long stops due to the rain. Still had fun even if we didn’t get to see the best views offered here because of the fog and rain.

PH, Leyte: Kalanggaman Island

The travel from Palompon to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND took about an hour. We left Palompon at 6:30AM and arrived in our destination at around 7:30AM.

We rented a cottage near the sandbar, which was less busier and noisier plus we had a great view while resting and eating.

JUNE 25-27, 2017

Our first local trip together – me and my best friend, K! Our main mission was to visit Kalanggaman Island in Leyte… so we first took a plane going to Tacloban. Then from Tacloban, we rode a van for 4 hours to get to Palompon.

Palompon is a small town and less urban than Tacloban so there are only a few restaurants to choose from as well as small groceries. Initially we booked our accommodation via Airbnb but Diana, the host, told me to directly transact with her instead so that we could get a room instead of the whole house. I think this one is an updated link and it looks very similar to the room we stayed in: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13145062?s=51.

We were welcomed by the host’s mom and we were happy to see that the room had aircon because the weather was hot at that time.

We did nothing during our first day except to eat and buy items to prepare for our island trip the next day…

Spotted working while on vacation!

Next day, we got up early to go to Palompon Eco-Tourism Office and rent a boat.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You need to reserve ahead of time because there is a limit to the number of tourists they allow to visit in a day. In this way, they prevent the island from being abused by a large wave of people. Check out this link for more details: http://kalanggaman-island.com/kalanggaman-rates-and-entrance-fee.html

We rented a boat for us two, which costs Php 3,000.00. Share per person would definitely be cheaper for a large group. There is an option to join another group so that the cost per pax would be lower but the time we want to go back to Palompon is different so we had to rent our own.

The travel from Palompon to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND took about an hour. We left Palompon at 6:30AM and arrived in our destination at around 7:30AM.

We rented a cottage near the sandbar, which was less busier and noisier plus we had a great view while resting and eating.

It was still low tide so we explored first the sandbar while there was still sand to walk on. There is a warning board there not to swim during high tide because of riptides.

After walking around, we went back to the main area where people were swimming.

The place was really beautiful to look at – different shades of blue for the sea and white sand everywhere. The only thing we were disappointed was that we read in a lot of blogs (and even in the office) that snorkeling is a recommended activity. We snorkeled for about an hour but we only saw less than 5 small fish. The rest was just people and floating seaweed. ☹

We went back to our cottage to eat early lunch but decided to go back to the sandbar because the outer edge was already submerged in water.

We didn’t go to the outer edge though because we were scared to get pulled by a riptide. We only walked a few meters then ran back to dry sand. Haha!

Admired these sceneries while eating our lunch…

The morning didn’t end well though because while we were eating chocolates for desserts we saw a lot of people going to the sandbar area to swim even if there was a large board already warning people not to. A few minutes later, I called K’s attention because I thought I spotted someone flailing in the middle of the sea… true enough, it was a middle-aged man who got pulled by the riptide.

Rescue team went to save him immediately… everything happened fast because we couldn’t see the guy anymore and 3-4 rescue persons dived into the sea. They got the guy and tried to revive him for a long time. He was eventually taken to a boat to ride back to Palompon while CPR was being continued.

I heard locals muttering that the tourism would be affected especially if the issue would be in nationwide news… all because of not following warning signs. Some blamed the guy, some blamed the staff in the island for not having a life guard stationed near the sandbar. But bottom line is, can’t we just follow instructions and warnings because these wouldn’t be there if there is no harm or danger that would possibly befall you.

My HS friends and I saw the same thing in Magalawa Island (Zambales) – people were swimming in the sandbar area even if there was a huge sign saying not to because of riptide or strong undercurrents. Thankfully at that time, no one got hurt.

We headed back to Palompon after the incident, 3-4 hours earlier than our intended departure from the island. We just stayed in our lodging and watched Running Man to keep our boredom at bay.

The next day, we left early in the morning so that we can have lunch in Tacloban. Tricycle drivers in the van terminal tried to rip us off by charging us Php 150 going to Ocho Seafood and Grill. The last one I just had to answer back that their rate was way more expensive than a taxi so he explained that he would have to pass by small streets to get us to the place otherwise we would have to walk about 5 minutes from the drop off. We told him it was fine so we were only charged Php 50 for the trip. Whew.

No pictures of our lunch in OCHO SEAFOOD AND GRILL but it was such a joy because we finally got to eat really delicious food + everything we had was fresh seafood. It is like dampa style because you get to choose raw seafood then ask them to cook it the way you want it. Highly recommend the place although it gets full even during weekday lunch time.

Our last stop before going to airport was JOSE KARLOS COFFEE where we had hot tea and desserts while watching another episode of Running Man. We went to the airport by riding a jeepney because there was no other option unless you rented a car to go there.

 

Conclusion after this trip – Cambodia is still the best trip we had together. There were other annoying incidents in this Leyte trip which I choose not to share anymore because it might just be a case of bad luck as others seemed to have enjoyed their time in Leyte.

Mount Pulag

DIFFICULTY LEVEL (according to TA site): 4/10

Last December, Tin and I spontaneously booked a hike in Mt. Pulag (via Ambangeg) with Trail Adventours. It was scheduled in late January, which meant that we would be there in one of its coldest days (a lot of people say Jan-Feb are the coldest months).

JANUARY 21-22, 2017

DIFFICULTY LEVEL (according to TA site): 4/10

Last December, Tin and I spontaneously booked a hike in Mt. Pulag (via Ambangeg) with Trail Adventours. It was scheduled in late January, which meant that we would be there in one of its coldest days (a lot of people say Jan-Feb are the coldest months).

Our main guide was Jeric, who happened to be one of our main guides in the Gulugod-Baboy hike so it was nice to see a familiar face. We had a pre-climb briefing a few days before the hike but those who were unable to attend did not have to worry since the deck was forwarded to them.

We left Manila on January 20 (around 10PM), and we arrived in Baguio the next day (before 4AM). From Baguio, we rode a monster jeepney where our end destination is the homestay. But before heading to the homestay, we had a few stops first.

Our first side trip was the AMBUKLAO DAM. Near the dam, there was a body of water where a few locals were fishing in the early hours of the morning. It was really cold even if we were wearing thick jackets. I checked my phone and the temperature was estimated to be 15C.

We headed to JANG JANG HANGING BRIDGE afterwards and while the bridge seemed sturdy, it was still quite scary to see how high we were from the ground. According to Jeric, the walk from one side of the bridge to the other would take 10 minutes so he advised us to just walk until the middle portion. True enough, it felt like we had walked far enough from one side of the bridge but the other side still looked far. A word of caution though that according to the locals, only max of 10 people should ideally be walking along the bridge.

Our last side trip was the DACLAN SULFUR SPRING — nothing much to see except for, well, sulfur. Do NOT go too near the bubbling pools of water as it can corrode your footwear or worse, damage your skin. Also a warning that the place smells like rotten eggs.

 

Before having lunch, we went to the DENR OFFICE to attend the mandatory orientation where do’s and don’ts were discussed. They also mentioned that they are only accommodating max of 200 hikers per day, which is good because this move helps take care of mountains and prevent theme from being bugbog. Another important thing discussed there was how DENR assigns which point in Pulag will be your last stop. We were lucky enough to be assigned to the summit. Other points are labeled as Point 2, Point 3, etc.

We had our lunch in a local eatery, as part of the TA package we availed, then headed to BABAN’S HOMESTAY. I was surprised with how nice and clean the homestay looked like, plus it was just a few minutes away from the Ranger Station so the location is very convenient. We had the afternoon as free time and by dinner time, TA team distributed the TA Mount Pulag shirts and discussed the reminders for our early hike the next day.

 

We slept early and woke up around 11:30PM to prepare for our 1AM hike. We rode the monster jeepney going to RANGER STATION, where we met with our local guides. From there, we started the long and chilly hike to the summit of Mount Pulag. Our first stop was CAMP 1 and part of the trail going there was quite steep so I had to stop and catch my breath every now and then. From Camp 1 to Camp 2, the trail was easier since most of it was just flat. CAMP 2 to the summit was quite challenging again since there were portions of the trail that were steep — and it was a bit at the beginning of this trail when my head lamp fell off from my forehead and died. Good thing my phone was fully charged so I used its flashlight instead (but less powerful light and smaller area covered!).

It was still quite dark when we reached the SUMMIT, as the hike from the Ranger’s Station was about 4 hours; hence, we were there at around 5AM. We looked for a good spot to watch the sun rise slowly from the horizon, and all I can say is that the scenery was just purely amazing. What I thought back then was how lucky we were to witness such spectacle, and how blessed this country is with the wonders of nature.

 

Here comes the sun(rise)

 

TA team provided sandwiches, apples, and coffee for our breakfast in the summit. Of course, as responsible hikers, we cleaned up our mess — although this should be already ingrained in every hiker or aspiring hiker, sadly, a lot of people still leave their trash in the mountains.

The hike going back to Ranger’s Station still took about 4 hours but it was easier especially the trail from Camp 1 since we were heading the opposite direction already.

Upon reaching the homestay, we freshened up ourselves and packed our things since we will be heading back to Baguio after lunch. We arrived back in Baguio around 4PM and we were given free time to do whatever we wanted as our bus is scheduled to leave at 9PM. Tin and I bought pasalubong in Good Shepherd then we ate early dinner in CANTO, which is one of the restaurants in KETCHUP FOOD COMMUNITY. There was a loooong line when we got there (which was the reason why I wasn’t able to eat here despite visiting K.F.C. back in 2014 and 2015). We were lucky because two of our fellow hikers were next in line to enter and they invited us to join their table.

Tin and I were supposed to head to Chocolate de Batirol but since we were both too tired from the very early hike, we went back to the bus station instead. Our bus left on time and we were back in Manila before 3AM.

So far, this is the best hike I did and this just further reinforces my passion to hike mountains.


 

THINGS I BROUGHT (30+5L Brown Trekker backpack):

  • 3 Uniqlo Heattech tops (2 normal, 1 extra warm)
  • 3 Uniqlo Heattech leggings (2 notmal, 1 ultra warm)
  • Lakambini cargo pants
  • Baubax travel jacket and thick Dr. Martens socks — borrowed from my sister
  • Pair of gloves
  • Bonnet
  • Hiking rubber shoes
  • Hiking sandals
  • Trail food (nuts, energy bar, dark chocolate, energy gel)
  • 3L of water (but only brought 1.5L in Mt. Pulag)
  • Trekking pole
  • Head lamp
  • Disposable rain coat (in case it rains)
  • Emergency blanket
  • Waterproof cell phone case
  • Small bag (This is what I brought during the hike – for trail food, blanket, rain coat. Our TA guide was kind enough to bring my 1.5L bottle of water)