Hinugtan Beach: Best-Kept Paradise of Buruanga, Aklan

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When we hear about the province of Aklan, probably Boracay Island would first bulge out on our minds. Indeed, the island of Boracay is one of the famous and pristine beaches of our country that we could showcase all over the world. With its white powdery sand, it is a must visit for the local and international travelers all-year round but if you are looking for solace that somehow Boracay can’t give due to its crowd, you might opt to visit Hinugtan Beach. Just around 30-to-40-minute ride from Caticlan Jetty Port, discover this hidden gem at the heart of Buruanga, Aklan. A secret we are ready to share to everyone!

Knowing Hinugtan Beach

Hinugtan Beach is located in Buruanga, Aklan that started to make craze online as an alternate beach getaway for those who wants to skip the crowd of Boracay. For me, Hinugtan is not just an alternate option because it has its own beauty that she can stand on its own allure. It has white powdery sand, though not as white as those found in Boracay, crystal blue waters and also have water activities that visitors can enjoy.

How to get there?

From Iloilo

Ride a Catical bound bus from Ceres Terminal in Tagbak, Iloilo. Fare is 500 Php and travel time may take around 5 hours. From Caticlan, charter a tricycle that will take you to Buruanga (fare is 100 php each). Upon reaching Buruanga, you have to take another habal-habal that will take you to Hinugtan. Take note that the driver will drop you off first on the area where you have to pay for an environmental fee and on the Hinugtan area, you still have to walk a bit on a downhill to reach the main beach.

From Manila

If you will be riding a plane from Manila, upon reaching Caticlan airport look for a transport that will take you to Caticlan port or probably they can take you directly to Buruanga. There are tricycles outside Caticlan airport and just negotiate with them. From Buruanga, ride a habal-habal that will take you to Hinugtan area.

Where to stay in Hinugtan Beach?

Emen's Paradise Resort

There are few beach resorts located in the shoreline of Hinugtan such as:

  1. Hinugtan Beach – Facebook link here
  2. White Beach Front and Cottages – Facebook link here
  3. Emen’s Paradise Resort – Facebook link here

 

We had our stay in Emen’s Paradise Resort. The rooms are maintained, staffs are accommodating, Comfort Rooms are not crowded, rooms and cottages are cheap in prices and overnight stay includes breakfast meal. Here are the rooms available in the resort with its prices:

 

DAYNITS (1st room) Beach Front (GOOD FOR 7 PAX) fan room shared Cr

7 persons: 4,000 (with free breakfast)

  • two kids is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

SHINE (2nd room) Aircon room (GOOD FOR 1-3PAX) Shared Cr

1-2 person/s: 2,200 (with free breakfast)

3 persons: 2,800 (with free breakfast)

  • one kid is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

SHIELA (3rd room) Aircon Room (GOOD FOR 1-4 PAX) Shared Cr

1-2 person/s: 2,200 (with free breakfast)

3 persons: 2,800 (with free breakfast)

4 persons: 3,500 (with free breakfast)

  • one kid is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

EM EM (4th Room) Aircon Room (GOOD FOR 1-4 PAX) Private Cr

1-2 person/s: 2,200 (with free breakfast)

3 persons: 2,800 (with free breakfast)

4 persons: 3,500 (with free breakfast)

  • one kid is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

AURING (5th Room) Fan room (GOOD FOR 7PAX) Private Cr Kitchen (gas stove, utensils) add 300 pesos per night

7 persons: 4,000 (with free breakfast)

  • two kids is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

MEMIE (6th Room) Aircon Family Room (GOOD FOR 15PAX) Private Cr Kitchen (gas stove, utensils) add 300 pesos per night

7 persons: 5,300 (with free breakfast)

8 persons: 5,500 (with free breakfast)

9 persons: 7,400 (with free breakfast)

10 persons: 8,000 (with free breakfast)

11 persons: 8,500 (with free breakfast)

12 persons: 9,000 (with free breakfast)

13 persons: 9,500 (with free breakfast)

14 persons: 10,000 (with free breakfast)

15 persons: 10,500 (with free breakfast)

  • two kids is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

LORNA (7th room) Aircon Room (GOOD FOR 7 PAX) Private Cr Kitchen (gas stove, ref, utensils) add 300 pesos per night

7 persons: 5,000 (with free breakfast)

  • one kid is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

EM EM KUBO (8th room) Fan Room (GOOD FOR 2) kubo kubo Shared Cr

1-2 person/s: 1,700 (with free breakfast)

 

MARILOU (9th room) Family Room (GOOD FOR 10PAX) Fan room Private Cr Kitchen (gas stove, ref, utensils) add 300 pesos per night

8 persons: 4,300 (with free breakfast)

9 persons: 4,600 (with free breakfast)

10 persons: 5,000 (with free breakfast)

  • two kids is free (add 200 each for additional kids)

 

Note: Prices may change without prior notice, please check their official facebook pages for recent updates. Click here.

There are still other resorts and cottages located around the area that I am not familiar with so you could search it online for more options.

Other rooms have their own dining and kitchen areas.
This is the room where we stayed. Below our room is the resort's sari-sari store.

Hinugtan Beach

We arrived at Hinugtan at around 2:00 PM, after a bit trek downhill to reach the main beach, you will be greeted by this secret gem that you didn’t imagine ever existed. We just walk around the place looking for Emen’s resort and one of their staff saw us along the way and asked where we are heading to. Maybe she seems to think that we are a bit lost and can’t find our way (lol). She assisted us on our way to our room. We originally reserved the Auring room which is good for 7 pax but unfortunately, only three of us pushed through the trip. Luckily, the staffs are kind enough to transfer us on a smaller room so we would pay less than the original reservation. We settled our things and went around the beach the same afternoon. We had a two-night stay and our first day was Sunday so there are more people than usual but I can say it’s still not that crowded.

One of the Pisonet Wifi available in Hinugtan Beach.

There is no mobile signal on the whole Hinugtan area but there’s a lot of pisonet wifi that pretty much works especially during the night. If you want to have a quick update on your social media feed, this is a pretty good option.

Second day

A father-daughter beautiful bonding moment.
This is how the shore looks like during lowtide.

I woke up early in the morning and saw the beach during low tide. A peaceful scene to ponder first thing in the morning. We took a lot more photos and explore nearby shores and points of Hinugtan Beach. There are rock formations that can be seen at the end of the Hinugtan area but better be careful when taking photos as the pointy rocks can cause you harm.

During lowtide in the morning, visitors also enjoy water activities such as kayaking and boating as the waves are still calm and water level is still a bit shallow. Also, in front of Emen’s Paradise Resort is where the swings can be found. When I searched online of Hinugtan Beach, a lot of photos show this big swing and the other two swings in front of the blue waters. But regardless where you are staying, I do believe you can still take photos in here.

Tourists enjoy kayaking
Boats and kayaks for hire
The giant swing in front of the resort

Monday afternoon during our second day of stay in this beach, only few tourists are left including ourselves. It was that afternoon when we just sat down on the white sands, stare on the azure waters and was calmed by the waves while talking about our lives. This is one of the perfect place and time to relax and share stories of wonderful times with our friends and family. It will give you serenity while wondering “what’s happening on the island on the other side?” I wonder how this secluded beach can be this beautiful and was not able to pay a visit all these years.

Slow afternoon by the beach
Life is meant for good friends and great adventures

Last day

It was Tuesday morning when we checked out of the resort and it was the same habal-habal drivers who fetched us but by this time they’ll take us directly to the Caticlan Port. From Caticlan Port, we made our way to the bus terminal and ride a bus bound back to Iloilo.

Things to know before going:

  • Mobile Signal is not available on the Hinugtan area, only pisonet wifi for internet connection. If you will be needing to have some work done online or you need to work remotely, wifi is not reliable so better plan your visit.
  • Arrange a pick-up of the same habal-habal driver who take you in Hinugtan. Set a time and day as you will not be able to communicate with him once you are there.
  • Contact the resort via facebook messenger earlier as they might not be able to get back to you as soon as possible due to limited internet and mobile signal. They might not be able to pick up a call due to lacking phone signal.
  • There are sari-sari stores on the resorts and you can order cooked food if you didn’t bring any with you, just tell the staffs ahead of time.

Have you been to Hinugtan Beach before? Share your experiences below!

Mt. Marami: Overnight Hiking Guide

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Mt. Marami may not be the word of mouth for some frequent and new trekkers but I assure that this mountain will squeeze out your desire for adventure. The said mountain is being compared to the more famous Mt. Pico De Loro located also in the province of Cavite as the two shares the same attributes. Being less visited makes this mountain more beautiful and a perfect place to ponder. Located in Maragondon, Cavite and jump-off can be reached for about 2.5 to 3 hours from Manila.

Knowing Mt. Marami

Mt. Marami is located in Maragondon, Cavite but jump-off lies in Brgy. Ramirez, Magallanes, Cavite. Please take note that there are two jump-offs going to Mt. Marami: one is located in Brgy. Ramirez and the other one is located in Brgy. Talipusngo. On our case, we opt to take the Ramirez trail and as advised also by our guide this trail is easier and shorter than the other one. As a running joke for some hikers who climbed this mountain the reason why it’s called “Mt. Marami” is because it requires “maraming lakad” (many walk) to reach its summit. Stands 405 MASL with difficulty level of 3/9, trekking may take around 3-4 hours to reach the summit where the rock formation also known as “Silyang bato” is stationed.

How to go to Mt. Marami

From Manila

Ride a bus from PITX bound to Naic, Cavite. From Naic, make your way to jeepney terminal and ride a jeepney bound to Magallanes, Cavite. Tell the driver that you’re going to Mt. Marami and drop you off at the Brgy. Ramirez junction. From the junction, charter a tricycle that will take you to the registration.

Our Mountain Guide

We reached Brgy. Ramirez at around 10:00 AM and went straight to the house of our tour guide Kuya Jeff. They own a small karinderya managed by his wife Ate Veron where we took an early lunch and prep ourselves before we start our trek. We first contacted Kuya Joel since his name is all over facebook when we searched for a recommended guide but due to a schedule conflict, he was not able to meet us that morning but instead assisted by his recommended guide Kuya Jeff. I highly speak of these guides as they are one of the best on their craft. We were assisted the whole time by Kuya Jeff but was able to meet also Kuya Joel along the way twice: one during our ascend and second during our descent the next morning. What I noticed with these guides, they are not merely guides who do it for a living but they are guides who are passionate on their field. They climbed series of mountains aside from Marami, gave us advices about overnight camping and talk about trekking aids.

Our tour guide, Kuya Jeff

You can contact these recommended guides here:

Kuya JoelJoel Vince Custodio

Kuya Jeff– 09650612594

Start of Trek

After taking our lunch and logged our visit on the registration booth on their barangay hall, we started our journey to the summit. Initial trail is quite easy as it’s composed of many flat courses with few ascents. Good thing that the weather cooperated with us, though it’s almost noon, weather was just cloudy and not too hot. Almost half of the trail were actually just a track going to the foot of the mountain which is mostly made up of flat trail, river crossing, skyward slopes that are manageable. You will be greeted from time to time by the mesmerizing summit as it can be seen on some parts of the trail. There are also few huts and a sari-sari store where you can buy stuffs and rest.

Upon reaching the foot of the mountain, this is where the more challenging part of the trail starts. You have to climb steep paths that might be exhausting for people like me (haha!) We actually took series of rest but it’s still a good thing that it is not hot and it’s slight windy during that time that eases our weariness. We reached our camping site at around 2:30 PM and took a rest first.

Take note that there are three camping sites available where you can pitch your tent for an overnight stay. First is located beside a sari-sari store and near a water source but it is still located 1 to 1.5 hours (depending on your pace) away from the summit. Second camp site is located for about 200 meters away from the first site. Third camp site is the nearest to the summit and with the most beautiful view as the peak can be freely seen from here but the area is open, far from the water source and can be too cold during the night. It’s up to you where you wish to stay for the night.

Signage put up by DENR
View of the summit from the third campsite

After taking a rest, we setup or tent and decided to just go to the summit that day (initial plan was to climb the summit by next day for the sunrise) and watch the sunset from there. As we go nearer the summit, the view was becoming more spectacular. It took us another hour to reach the summit and we were greeted by the view one would surely fall in love with and no one can resist. We were the only group on the summit during that time. And that’s what I love most in the places less visited, you can enjoy the moment without the distraction of the crowd.

It was too windy when we reach the rock formations of the summit so we were too careful when we were taking pictures because one misstep could lead into danger. The scenery from the top was breathtaking and the sunset made it even more beautiful! Kuya guide is also good in taking photos.

After taking enough photos and when the cold breeze of the strong wind started to gave us chills, we decided to start our descent back to our camping ground. It’s becoming dark so we were in a bit hurry to go back. We set foot back on our camp at around 7:00 PM and put out our camping cooking sets to prepare our food. It was our first time to cook during our climb since we usually bring cooked foods but by this time, we want to have the full experience. Kuya Jeff even taught us how to use the butane, he’s not just a guide but more of a climbing mentor to us. We just talk anything about life while waiting for our food. After taking our simple dinner, we decided to take a rest and sleep as we were very tired.

The Next Morning

We had cup noodles for breakfast that we just bought on the sari-sari store located on our camp site. While taking our breakfast, Kuya Joel (our original contacted guide) came with another set of trekkers. We just talked for some time and we started to pack our things. It took us another 3 hours to go back to the jump-off. We had our lunch again to the karinderya owned by our guide’s family. They also have clean comfort rooms where we took a bath.

Other Things to Know:

  • Overnight guide fee is 1000 Php for 1-5 persons, additional person needs to pay 200 Php each
  • Registration fee is 80 Php per head
  • If you were not able to contact a guide prior going, tour guides are available upon registration

Maniwaya Island Guide: The Hidden Gem of the Heart of the Philippines (Marinduque)

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Honestly, I haven’t heard much about Maniwaya Island of Marinduque on the past few years that I am traveling. Our country, being an archipelago, has so many pristine white beaches that we can show off the world but little did we know this silent province island of Marinduque has its own prime destinations that one would love to see and experience.

The Province of Marinduque is known as “The Heart of the Philippines” as the shape of the provincial island is in similar shape of a human heart.  Its location on our archipelago is also similar to the anatomy of where the heart is, in the human body. I often mislook Marinduque on my go-to destinations as I haven’t heard much of the public transpo going to the island not until I saw several travel and tour groups in Facebook that offers all-in tours on the island.

Knowing Maniwaya Island

Maniwaya Island is an island which is part of the town of Santa Cruz, Marinduque. It lies between the main island of Mariduque on the left and the Province of Quezon on the right. So, the said island is accessible through those provinces. Maniwaya Island is a home of several beach resorts that showcase cream to white powdery fine sands, blue and clear sea waters and offers island hopping tours to nearby pristine must-see stops like Palad Sandbar and Ungab Rock Formation. Located about 6 hours away from Manila, it is a worthy place to visit to please your thirst for beach waters and your desire to continue discovering secluded beautiful attractions of the Philippines.

How to go to Maniwaya Island?

Via General Luna Port

This is the easiest route with lesser vehicle transfers. Ride a bus from Manila bound to Lucena Grand Terminal (JAC Liner, JAM, A&B Liner etc.). From Lucena Grand Terminal, ride a van or bus bound to General Luna Port. From General Luna port, ride the public boat to Maniwaya Island or rent a boat that will take you directly to the island.

Via travel and tours

Since it’s pandemic and we were not sure about the availability of the public transportations, we opted to book a tour for our convenience. We directly contacted Wawie’s Beach Resort and they immediately arranged and assigned a travel coordinator for us. The tour already includes an overnight stay in the resort (tent accommodation) with three meals and all-in island tour to Ungab Rock Formation, Palad Sand Bar and a Snorkeling experience. Less hassle, all you have to do is to be there on the pickup points and enjoy the actual travel experience. You can also upgrade you accommodation into an actual room for additional fee.

You can contact Wawie’s Beach Resort directly on their Facebook Page here to assign you a coordinator or you can directly contact HAPPY FEET PH here if they have scheduled tour to Maniwaya on your desired date.

We were picked up at around 10:00 PM Friday night, had series of stop overs along the way and reached General Luna port at around 5:00 AM. We ride a boat going to Maniwaya Island at 5:30 AM and reached their barangay at about 7:00 AM to register our visit and checking of our vaccination cards.

Wawie’s Beach Resort

Wawie’s Beach Resort is one of the known resort on the island. It offers various accommodations from tent, native rooms, AC rooms and cabanas. The resort proffers taintless shores and blue waters. It was weekend when we went there and the resort is quite crowded. You’ll never imagine that at the middle of a somewhat secluded town, there is this tropical island everyone would enjoy. The resort is good, well-maintained, staffs and even the owner are very accommodating and friendly but comfort rooms should be improved (we even suggest it to the owner). Lining up to use the comfort room could take time especially during the weekend and holidays.

Ungab Rock Formation

Ungab rock formation is a natural rock formation in shape of an arc located on the Island of Mongpong. Better be careful taking photos on its rock formations as waves swashing fiercely on the area. We actually got some wounds on our knees and foot while trying to explore the vicinity. Overall, this distinct rock formation is worthy of our visit.

Palad Sandbar

A stunning sand bar with powdery white sand surrounded by turquoise clear waters. It only appears during low tide but don’t worry as the tour coordinators and boat operators are pretty much familiar of the low tide schedules on the area. On our case, we got to visit Palad Sand bar at around 10:30 AM.

Snorkeling

There’s also a snorkeling area around the waters surrounding Maniwaya Island (no specific name). Here you can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, feeding fishes and see the rich marine life of Marinduque. Snorkeling gears can be rented on a very affordable price to truly enjoy the splendid aqua life seen below waters such as living corals and peculiar fishes.

Maniwaya Island Sample Itinerary

DAY 0:

11:00 pm     ETD from Assembly Location to Gen Luna Port

 

DAY 1:

08:00am      ETA in Maniwaya Island

09:30am      Relax time at Maniwaya Island

10:00am-1:00pm  Island hopping to Palad Sand Bar and Rockformation

01:00pm      Lunch 

02:00pm      Lots of chill time [swimming/volleyball/sun bathing/]

07:00pm      Dinner 

08:00pm      Socials

11:00pm      Lights Out

 

DAY 2:

6:00am        Breakfast 

7:00-10:00am   Free Time

11:00 pm     ETD FROM Maniwaya Island to Gen. Luna Port

12:30           Lunch

9-10pm       ETA manila

More photos of us in the island

Atimonan, Quezon: Mt. Pinagbanderahan + Bantakay Falls Travel Guide

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Aside from the Atimonan Zigzag Road also known as “Bitukang Manok” which is a common stop over of private vehicles heading to the Bicol Region, Atimonan is mostly overlooked when in terms of tourism. This town of Atimonan that lies roughly 6 hours away from Manila could be a good venue if you would like to enjoy a place less crowded. For this adventure, we visited Mt. Pinagbanderahan also known as “Mt. Mirador” and Bantakay Falls over the weekend. These two attractions require trekking so better be prepared for a day full of cardio workouts.

How to get there?

From Manila (PITX Terminal) ride a Calauag/Guinayangan bound bus (A&B Liner). Tell the driver to drop you off in Brgy. Malinao Ilaya in Atimonan Quezon. Here’s the current schedule of Calauag/Guinayangan A&B Liner Bus:

For updated bus schedule please visit A&B Liner office Facebook Page

To Mt. Pinagbanderahan

After dropping off at Brgy. Malinao Ilaya, you can either walk or rent a tricycle that will take you directly to the jump off area (Atimonan Zigzag Park). Take note that you will be passing through the famous zigzag road of Atimonan so please carefully watch out for vehicles especially on the curve areas. We opted to walk so we started our trek from Malinao Ilaya junction and I must say that it’s quite challenging as the zigzag road is too slippery and very steep.

To Bantakay Falls

From Mt. Pinagbanderahan jump off, you can either walk again down to Malinao Ilaya Junction or look for an availale tricycle on the area. From Malinao Ilaya Junction, charter a tricycle that will take you to the registration of Bantakay Falls in Brgy. Sta. Catalina.

Mt. Pinagbanderahan

Mt. Pinagbanderahan which means “where the flag was hoisted” is part of the Quezon Protected Landscape and holds an important part of our country’s history. This is where American and Japanese flags were raised during their occupancies and eventually a Philippine flag when we regained our independence from the foreign oppressors. Trail difficulty is 1/9 which is perfect for beginners and to those looking for a laidback hike.

We started our trek from the Zigzag Road junction at around 7:00 AM. We opted to walk very careful as the road is really slippery and steep. We reached the registration booth at the Atimonan Zigzag Park and logged our visit. A tour guide is being required so you have to secure one before heading to the summit. Since the trail is part of a protected landscape and recognized as a National Park, it is mostly covered by trees and lushes. You’ll be walking through a rainforest milieu so no exposure on direct heat of the sun on most part of the trek. Trail path is also well maintained and mostly cemented but still be vigilant as there are few fallen trees along the trail.

It took us around 1.5 hours before reaching the summit. We were rewarded by a scenic view of Sierra Madre ranges, Mt. Banahaw and coastline of the nearby town of Pagbilao from the summit. I actually compared the rainforest limestones I saw from the summit to the scenes of Coron and the known Halong Bay of Vietnam and it was breathtaking just like other summits I visited.

It took us another hour trekking back to the jump off and upon reaching it, we decided to take our lunch before heading to Bantakay Falls. The Zigzag Park which serves also as the registration point, housed few food stalls and “kubos” where you can take a rest and eat meals. There are few stalls too that sells Quezon’s delicacies and travel souvenirs.

Bantakay Falls

After taking our lunch, we were lucky that there was an available tricycle along the Zigzag Road that we can ride back to the Zigzag junction in Malinao Ilaya. From there, we chartered another tricycle that took us directly to the Bantakay Falls jump off/registration point. Like in Mt. Pinagbanderahan, a tour guide is also required before heading to the falls (guide fee is 300 Php). They were able to established a new trail now leading to Bantakay that trekking would only take 15-20 minutes.

When we arrived at the Bantakay Falls, water current was a bit strong which is as per our guide was due to the rain on the area the other day. But regardless the water current, the falls is still majestic. Path is quite challenging due to the current but with the proper guidance and putting extra caution on each step, you could finish the trail up near the falls itself.

There are a lot of picture-perfect spots and you could enjoy swimming on its cold waters. A perfect place to bring your family and friends.

Have you been to Mt. Pinagbanderahan and Bantakay Falls before? Share your experience below!

Balboa’s Adventure Park Travel Guide: Iloilo’s Newest Outdoor Playground

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Another outdoor park in the province of Iloilo started to make a craze online when it officially opened to the public early this year. Balboa’s Adventure Park is located in the town of Barotac Viejo that will definitely load you with different adventure activities once you visit. I honestly been to this place way before it was developed to the adventure park that it is today and I was amazed how this farm eventually turned into a park full of exciting activities. It serves as a camping ground too so one can savor and take pleasure in the tranquility of our nature.

How to get there?

Ride a Barotac Viejo bound bus from the Ceres Terminal located in Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo. Fare will be 89 Php each and travel time may take about 1.5 hours. Drop off at Barotac Viejo Public Market and then ride a tricycle that will take you directly to Balboa’s Adventure Park (Fare is 50 Php each).

Activities to try:

  • Zipline (30 Php/ride) – a recreational activity with inclined cable armed with pulley. Wearing a harness is a must for safety measures.
  • Archery (50 Php/6 arrows) – bring out your Katniss Everdeen persona by trying this bow and arrows sport.
  • Airsoft (P50/magazine) – players will use airsoft guns and hit targets on their very own shooting range.
  • Monkey Bridge (Free) – an obstacle bridge made of rope.
  • Wall Bridge (Free) – a wall made of heavy ropes that one needs to cross to finish the obstacle.
  • Cliff Swing (Free) – two parallel swings that stands beside a small cliff.
  • Jungle Swing (Free) – one would hold on a single rope and have to swing going on the other side of the course.
  • Spider Net (Free) – a web-like structure made also of ropes.
  • The Tower (Free) – also called “Wifi Station” located at the top most area of the park where you can reward yourself with the beautiful overlooking view of mountains surrounding the park.
  • Stairway to Heaven (Free) – a staircase made out of bamboo perfect for your instagram photos with sky as your backdrop.

Other Amenities:

  • Obstacle course
  • Adult Seesaw
  • Bike Trail 
  • Nature’s Trail
  • Dipping Pool

You can also do overnight camping by pitching a tent or rent one of their cottages with a dipping pool. For overnight camp and cottage rental, you can directly send inquiries on their official Facebook page here.

The park also serves meals and beverages perfect for your snacks and lunches after a tiring time of activities.

Other things to know before going:

  • Entrance fee is 30 Php each
  • The park is located in Vista Alegre, 5011 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo
  • Network signal is roughly not available on the park. You’ll be needing to trek up to the “Data Center shed” or to “The Tower” to get a good reception.
  • Park opens at 8:00 AM Monday to Sunday. For further details and inquiries, kindly message their Facebook page here.

Bucari Pine Forest and Campsite: Visiting The Summer Capital of Iloilo

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Bucari is an upland region situated on the highlands of Leon, Iloilo. Due to its geographic location, the place has a cool climate all year round that’s being compared to the climate in Tagaytay and Baguio. Bucari is being tagged now as “Iloilo’s Little Baguio” or “The Summer Capital of Iloilo” and a popular destination for anyone looking for an easy day trek or overnight camping.

Bucari Pine Forest and Campsite

Bucari Pine Forest and Campsite is located in Sitio Tabionan, Bucari, Leon, Iloilo. This is where the famous Mansiga view deck and pine trees are situated that resembles those pine trees that can be found all around Baguio City. You can enjoy here by having family picnics, trekking to Mansiga View Deck or an overnight camp to clinch an adventure trip.

How to get there?

Ride a jeepney bound to Leon, Iloilo (jeepney terminal can be found on Jaro Market or on Robinson’s Place Pavia Transport Terminal). Fare is P40 (from Rob Pavia) and travel time is about an hour. From Leon town proper, you can either ride a jeepney bound to Bucari for P50 or charter a motorcycle that will take you directly to Bucari for P250 good for 2 pax or P200 for 1 pax. Take note that as of now, the Bucari bound jeepneys doesn’t have a fix schedule of departure. On our case, we opt to rent a motorcycle for faster trip.

Leon Tourism and Information Center

With the recent re-opening of the Bucari Campsite after a series of restrictions, I learned through Leon Tourism and Information Center official Facebook page that tourists are encouraged to book prior to their visit in accordance to the guidelines set by the Department of Tourism. You can book your visit by messaging their official Facebook page here. On the date of your visit, please drop by on their office at Leon Tourism and Information Center across Leon Municipal Hall for the payment of fees and confirmation slips.

Environment Fee:

P50 (non-residents of Leon)

P30 (residents of Leon)

Entrance Fee:

P30 (Campsite and Mansiga)

P30 (Imoy and Kataw Falls)

*Guidelines may change from time to time so it will be better to check Leon Tourism and Information Center Fb page for recent announcements.

*If you opt to ride a motorcycle to Bucari, the tourism officer might ask you to drop off again on their office after getting a rider so they could record the details of your driver to ensure your safety.

Arrival at Bucari Pine Forest

It took as around 45 minutes from Leon Town Plaza to reach Bucari Pine Forest. You would know that you’re already in Bucari with the sudden change of climate. You’ll feel the cool breeze of air as an indication that you’ll already stepping foot to Iloilo’s Little Baguio. Upon arrival they just checked our slips, registered our visit and immediately started our trek to Mansiga View Deck.

They managed to have a hiking trail stairs also known as “The Mansiga Steps” so trekking could be easier even for non-hikers. You’ll pass through stations of the cross while being charmed by the different Flora and Faunas along the way to the top. After 30-45 minutes (depends on your pace), you’ll be greeted by the foremost scenery from the view deck. There are three distinct crest the view deck can offer. The first one has a flat land overlooking the mountains of Iloilo Province.

Take a few meters ascent and you’ll reach another view deck where the famous inclining pine tree resides. The leaning pine tree was caused by the calamitous Typhoon Frank way back 2008. They put a support so you could walk up to the edge of the tree. Carrying capacity is 2-3 persons and it is now a famous photo spot on Bucari.

Just beside the view deck is a garden and a sari-sari store where you can eat snacks and take a rest after a tiring trek. We followed the trail after the second view deck that leads us to the rock formation of Bucari Pine Forest. Please be mindful of your steps as the path could be slippery and muddy during the rainy days. Also, one misstep could make you stumble on the pointy rock formations and no one wants that to happen.

Reaching the rock formation is my favorite part of this trip. You’ll be served by the splendor of the view from this high point. You’ll feel reaching the top of the world by just staring on the stunner that surrounds you. It was really worth the hike and sweat!

Going down from Mansiga View Deck

Going down from the view deck could take you another 30-45 minutes but before going home, don’t forget to drop by on the vegetable stalls settled by the locals. Just go straight from the entrance of the Bucari Pine Forest and on your right, you’ll see the locals selling fresh vegetables on a very cheap price. Bucari, like Baguio, is also known for their fresh and cheap vegetables as the crops grow suitably due to the cool climate of the highland.

If you wish to do picnics, sheds and chairs are pretty much available on the area. There are also stores where you can buy foods and stuffs. If you wish to camp overnight, you can coordinate with the tourism office first so they could offer you their available setups.

There are also nearby waterfalls (Imoy and Kataw Falls) that would require additional slog that we didn’t able to visit (maybe on my next visit).

Have you been to Bucari? Share your experience below!

Glamping in Cavinti, Laguna: King’s Landing Waterfront Camping Resort

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It’s only this time of pandemic that I was able to explore Laguna, my birth province and where I currently reside. Due to restrictions implemented, traveling around became difficult and limited but I am happy that at least I was able to discover hidden gems of my other home province. One of the places becoming popular in the province is the municipality of Cavinti which is now being tagged as the “Glamping Capital of the South”. Glamping sites now herds around Caliraya Lake and Lumot Lake that offers various activities and camping setups.

King’s Landing Waterfront Camping Resort:

I scrolled over my facebook feed looking for an affordable glamping offers and found King’s Landing. Of course, aside from the affordability I took consider also the view, service and feedbacks by its previous visitors. King’s Landing Waterfront Camping Resort is located in Brgy. Bukal, Cavinti, Laguna.

How to get there?

From Manila

Ride a bus (from Buendia) bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Travel time is around 2 hours and tell the driver to drop you off on jeepney terminal bound to Cavinti (It’s just near the DLTB bus terminal in Sta. Cruz). Upon riding the jeepney, tell the driver to drop you off in Jonson Cavinti. From Jonson, ride a tricycle that will take you straight to King’s Landing in Brgy. Bukal.

Camping Options:

  1. Basic No Frills Camping

          -Bring and pitch your own tent that costs 300 Php/night.

      2. Glamping

          -You got a nice tent undercover from the winds and rain. Includes air mattress, linens, pillows, blankets, fans, electricity, tables, chairs and full use of facilities that costs 500 Php/night.

      3. Glamping Plus

          -Same inclusions on Option 2 but with 3 full meals served right at your tent that costs 1500 Php/night

Note:

-Day tour rates cost half price of the packages mentioned

-Kids under 6 years old is half price

Glamping Experience:

Tents available on the camping ground
Accommodations are also equipped with tables and chairs

King’s Landing Waterfront Camping Resort is being owned by a foreigner known as “Mr. King”. He stays on his house on the same compound so he checks all his visitors from time to time. He’s so friendly that he would talk to you when he’s out and makes sure that you are having fun.

Not only Mr. King but I would like to commend as well all the staffs of the camping ground as they will cater all your needs and makes sure that you are comfortable on your entire stay!

Bonfire place where you can do your socials
Nearby Bloc Camp Site

The camping ground lies beside the beautiful Lumot Lake, so you could just sit from your tents or camping chairs and stare on its allure to relax yourself. I definitely felt the calmness of the place. You can also have a view of the more famous glamp site, Bloc Camp Site, on your right and simply relish yourself with a site of fishing boats passing by.

The resort also serves food upon order and I definitely recommend their burgers. They use homemade patties that certainly one of the tastiest I ever tried. Plus, the servings are worth for its price.

If you wish to relax away from the city, connect with nature without settings aside comfort, go ahead and book an overnight glamping on this camping ground.

You can sit on this platform and be mesmerized by the beauty of Lumot Lake

Additional things to know:

  • You can make a reservation through their official Facebook page or through their Airbnb account.
  • The campsite is equipped with comfort rooms and game rooms.
  • Parking space is available and pets are allowed.
  • When we arrived, they have this boat that you can rent the whole day if you wish to go around Lumot Lake.

Surugin Ramen House: Hidden Ramen House in Alfonso, Cavite

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I am not really into Japanese foods but lately I’ve been craving to taste Ramen. I tasted few Ramens before but was not able to finish a whole bowl so when I read and heard about this Ramen House in Alfonso, Cavite that serves authentic Ramen I eagerly decided to visit it. Surugin Ramen House is located in Brgy. Sulsugin, Alfonso, Cavite just around 20-minute drive from Tagaytay City. So, if you’re already on the area, you could drop by to this Ramen house as a side trip.

How to go to Surugin Ramen House:

From Olivarez (Tagaytay) ride a jeepney bound to Alfonso, Cavite (look for jeepneys with Luksuhin sign) and tell the driver to drop you off on Luksuhin Public Market. Upon drop off, make your way at the back of the market where tricycle terminal is located. Ride a tricycle that will take you directly to Surugin Ramen House.

Surugin Ramen House:

Right after stepping your foot on the grounds of Surugin you’ll already feel the Japanese vibe that the place depicts. The bamboo trees on the parking space, the path walk with Japanese signs, the Japanese-inspired houses and its alfresco dining will really make you sense visiting a tiny Japanese town at the middle of somewhere. The owner’s house is also located on the compound which is the first house at the right upon your entrance.

You have to register first on their receiving desk before you can start a dine-in. As per the staff, there are days that the waiting queue is too long that the waiting time could be 2-4 hours! This usually happens during weekends and holidays. For our case, we only waited for an hour before we can finally take our seats because there are some guests who already cancelled their reservations due to long wait. Many people wished to visit this haven due to the authentic Japanese food they serve and the Japanese ambiance they would give you.

I ordered the Hakata Ramen which as per the staff is the basic ramen perfect for Japanese food starters. I decided to have it as I am just starting eating Japanese foods. We also ordered a serving of Curry Ramen and a serving of Gyoza. The servings didn’t disappoint me and it definitely tasted good! A bowl of Ramen is full of flavors that will savor your mouth for such an experience. You could easily finish a bowl of their ramen and will definitely back next time. Their gyozas are also too good and became my personal favorite.

Hakata Ramen for P190
Curry Ramen for P300
Surugin Ramen House Menu
A serving of Gyoza

They also have rice meals that I’ll certainly try on our next visit. Foods on their menu are reasonably priced and worthy of their servings. Another thing I noticed here is their staffs are the nicest I ever encountered. From the guard to the registration staff to the person who’ll serve your food, they are all accommodating, superb and the kindest. They all deserve a commendation for the excellent service that they do.

Other things to know before going:

  • Surugin Ramen House is open from 11 AM to 7 PM daily except Wednesdays
  • They are open for walk-in dining and pets are allowed in alfresco area
  • Due to changing covid restrictions, guidelines can change anytime so you can visit and message their official facebook page for queries
  • The waiting queue might get too long during weekends and holidays so it will be better to go here as early as possible
  • If you get here through public commute, you don’t have to worry about going home as they can contact a tricycle driver that will take you back on Luksuhin Market where you can ride jeepneys bound back to Tagaytay proper

Mt. Manabu: Overnight Travel Guide

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I can say that trekking Mt. Manabu is one of the easiest climbs I’ve done so far. Not just because the trail is relatively easy but also the trail itself is mostly covered by trees and shades that could tone down one’s exhaustion during the overall trek. There are also a lot of stations you can rest along the way making it a good Mother Mountain for any beginners. Not only beginners would love the place but there are a lot of ace hikers who keeps on getting back here to spend a night to relax, enjoy nature and just to have a fun day of hike.

Knowing Mt. Manabu:

Mt. Manabu is one of the peaks that can be found in the Malipunyo or Malarayat Mountain Range. Malipunyo Range is an extinct volcano that lies across the provinces of Batangas, Laguna and Quezon. The range is known for its three distinct peaks namely: Mt. Manabu, Mt. Malipunyo and Bagwis Peak or also known as Susong Dalaga. For this trip we only went to Mt. Manabu where jump off point is located in Sitio Sulok, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Manabu came from the word “MAtaas NA BUndok” which means “high mountain” in English. Difficulty level is 2/9 and one can reach the peak in about 3-4 hours.

How to go to Mt. Manabu:

From Manila

From Buendia/Cubao ride a bus bound to Lipa, Batangas and ask the driver if it will pass through Fiesta Mall junction. If not, tell the driver to drop you off in Robinsons Lipa. From Robinsons Lipa ride a jeepney bound to Fiesta Mall Junction. From there, look for a tricycle that will take you to Sitio Sulok. Inform the drive that you’ll go to Mt. Manabu (fare is 40 Php each). You’ll be needing to stop over the registration office to register and pay for an environmental fee first before the driver will drive you again directly to the jump off.

From Laguna

Make your way to Turbina Terminal and look for jeepneys bound to Lipa. Tell the driver to drop you off in Fiesta Mall junction and fare will be 70 Php each. At the Fiesta Mall junction charter a tricycle that will take you to the jump-off in Sitio Sulok.

Start of trek:

We reached the jump-off point (which is the parking area too if you bring your own car) at around 9:30 AM but decided to eat first as we didn’t have any breakfast yet. We just asked some locals and found this local “karinderya” that cooks and sells the famous Batangas Lomi. After eating, we started our trek at around 10:30 AM. Our supposed tour guide, Kuya Allan, was still on the station 5 of the Manabu trail as we arrived too early on our agreed time. So, he let his uncle, Kuya Floren, guide us for today during our ascend. We started the trail by passing through a water tank (station 1) and the trail was kinda forthright. Station 2 is just few hundred meters away and there are huts and sari-sari stores to buy snacks and take a seat to rest along the way. One store sells wooden trekking poles for 10 Php that I suggest you to have one as the trail could be muddy especially during rainy season. You’ll be needing it as a support if you always stumble on a muddy trail.

About 500 meters from station 2, you’ll be reaching station 3 which is located beside a creek then take another 378 meters and you’ll be reaching station 4 where you’ll be seeing a Jackfruit tree as a landmark. The trail is almost covered by trees and plant lives so no intense heat of the sun that could make you too exhausted.

The rosary trail guide of Mt. Manabu

After another 25 to 30 minutes, we reached station 5 where the famous kubo of Tatay Tino can be found. Mt. Manabu, aside from its peak, is famous also for the civet coffee that Tatay Tino offers to the hikers for free! Here, you can drink as much coffee as you want. You can also purchase Tatay Tino’s civet coffee as he already had it packed if you wish to bring some back home. They also sell foods, drinks and Mt. Manabu’s souvenirs such as bracelets, keychains and t-shirts. We also met here our supposed tour guide, Kuya Allan. Tatay Tino and our current tour guide, Kuya Floren, are brothers and both uncle of Kuya Allan. Their family owns this hut in station 5. We sat here for some time and talk with our Kuya guides and Tatay Tino. Your hiking experience wouldn’t be complete without meeting and talking to Tatay Tino and I think all hikers on Manabu will share the same thoughts.

Tatay Tino, Kuya Floren and Kuya Allan
Civet coffee and souvenirs on station 5
Photo with Tatay Tino
Photo with Kuya Floren

After some rest, we started the last leg of assault going to the station 6 (Manabu peak). I must say that this is the hardest part of the trail as it is a continuous ascend and there are parts not covered by trees anymore so scorching heat will make your way harder. There are around three camping grounds located just below the summit. We reached Mt. Manabu summit by around 2 PM and were greeted by the big white cross. We had the stunning view of Batangas from above all by ourselves. We were blessed that we had a clear view during our visit though the weather signals a rain anytime soon. We spent some time on the peak for picture taking (of course! Haha) and enjoying the view right in front of us.

Big white cross on the summit
View of batangas from the summit
Kuya Floren is always game for a photo
A nice view located few steps below the summit

Camping ground for our overnight stay:

After getting enough photos, we decided to trek down back to the camping grounds to setup our tents since we’ll be spending the night here. Kuya Floren left us and informed us that Kuya Allan will fetch us by the next morning. Right after setting up our tents and settling our things, a heavy rain poured down. Water came inside in one of our tents so I suggest to bring a waterproof tent especially when there is a high chance of rain on the day of your hike. Good thing, the rain only poured for about an hour or two. We ate early dinner and took some rest.

Our camping tents during a rainy afternoon

At around 5:30 PM, another two sets of well-equipped campers arrived. I can say that they’ve been to Manabu multiple times since they came without a guide. They setup their tents, cooked foods, invited us over dinner and spent the whole night talking about life and likes. I can say that hiking is their escape. Manabu is a perfect sanctuary to relax and disconnect with the reality and turmoil of the jungled city once in a while. If you’re looking for solace, Manabu would happily give you that.

The next morning:

We woke up at around 6 AM and decided to get back on the summit wishing that we could witness a sunrise but due to the thick clouds, we were not able to see one. We sat on the summit and waited for the clearing. It was such a nice encounter to just sit down and behold how the clouds slowly getting washed away by the wind and greeted again by the same beautiful view from yesterday that I’ll never get tired of seeing.

Summit for the second time
Yes, that's Mt. Maculot from afar!

We packed our tents and stuffs and started our descend at around 8 AM. It was Kuya Allan who went back and fetch us instead. We opt not to do the rosary trail anymore and decided to just continue our trek down back to station 5. The trail down back to station 5 became trickier as the path became muddier due to the rain the other day. We took a lot of rest along our way down and even washed our muddy shoes on the waters of the creeks we passed by. And I think that’s the purpose of traveling and hiking, to just slow down and enjoy every experience of it.

We reached the jump-off point at around 11:30 AM. There are bathrooms and comfort rooms on the post so we cleaned ourselves, took a bath, fix our things and head back home.

Almost at the jump-off
Jump-off point

Other things to know:

  • Registration fee that you have to pay is 30 Php.
  • If you are looking for a tour guide, you can contact Kuya Allan on this phone number 09099586191 or contact him through his facebook page here.
  • Jump-off point of Mt. Manabu is in Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas while Mt. Malipunyo jump-off point is in Brgy. Talisay, Lipa, Batangas. So, if you wish to have the Malipunyo-Manabu traverse you’ll be having a different entry and exit point.
  • Hiking to the summit could take around 3-4 hours.
  • We paid our tour guide 1,500 Php for an overnight hike. We didn’t get the day hike rate but you can contact the guide beforehand.
  • If you’ve been to Mt. Manabu before and you’re confident enough that you know the trail path, tour guides are no longer required.

When It’s Okay To Be Afraid

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I grew up thinking that the world is kind to everyone but in reality, yes it is kind but not all the time. Uncertainties will always be part of everyone’s life, hate will be thrown upon you and sometimes fear will not make you sleep at those cold nights. And in those cold nights all you wished was that hopefully the world could just be kind to you once again and could wake you up the next morning unoccupied by the thoughts and fears that tried to kill you the other night.
 
It’s okay to be afraid but you have to look on the mirror and ask yourself “will you let your fears stop you from trying again?” Because if you’re answer is ‘yes’ then it’s game over. Imagine your heart was broken by someone and you built a wall on you that no one can pass by because you’re too afraid of loving again. If you let those fear of opening your heart again with someone else then you would never find your soulmate. Imagine getting failed on a job interview for many times and you stopped sending out your applications because you’re too afraid of being rejected once more. If you let those fear of trying again you would never land on your dream job. Imagine setting aside your passion because you’re too afraid that a family or a friend might judge you doing something that doesn’t pay more as usual. If you let those fear of continuing the passion you worked on you would never see yourself that fulfilled doing things that makes you happy.
 
The feeling of inferiority and fears that we usually get out of our failures are all valid. You are allowed to be sad and afraid of what’s happening around. As life is not always rainbows and sunshines, there are rainy days and thunders flashing above the dark heavy clouds. So let me tell you to take the rest that you deserve. Rest your heart, rest your mind and soul because I know the power you could create once your heart, mind and soul works again after getting all the rest they deserve.
 
Fear will always be there waving on us from time to time but what we have to work on our lives is our bravery so it could rule over our fears. Take a break, accumulate all your reasons to fight, so at the end of each day you can rule over your own demons. Cheers to a braver you!