Holy Week Road Trips near Manila

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The Holy Week exodus has started, with thousands of Filipinos heading from Manila to their home provinces and popular vacation destinations around the country this Lenten Break. With the streets in the metro practically empty, this is the perfect excuse for bikers and riders to gear up and ride to churches and pilgrimage sites. Here are a few suggestions for religious-themed rides relatively near the metro.

ten commandments camp sinai san mateo rizal bike

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Just Ride

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There’s always this strange mix of uncertainty and purpose whenever I ride. I may be at the mercy of the elements and of the terrain, but I am still in control of my fate. I come to a fork in the road and it’s always my decision where to go. If a path scares me, I can either turn back or go forward. There are no boundaries except my own limitations.

motorcycle batanes lighthouse travelupWhenever I travel by bus, train, jeep or plane, there are always barriers. Someone else is behind the wheel and I’m just a passenger like everybody else. I look out the window and watch the world go by. I don’t really feel invested in the journey. Most of the time, I just sleep. But the feeling of driving a motorcycle is different. It’s just me, my motorcycle, and the open road. Continue reading

Bike-Themed Cafes in Manila

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Biking has really taken off, not just as a sport but as a lifestyle. Proof of this is the number of bike shops that have mushroomed all over Metro Manila catering to mountain bikers, roadies, fixies, foldies and everything else in between. Another proof of this is the number of cafes and restaurants that use bikes as their central theme.

bikers cafe MOA manila interiors

For those who like to combine biking with food-tripping, here are some distinctly bike-themed cafes that will be of special interest to bikers in and near Metro Manila. I’ve added some links from Outside Slacker to bike trails & routes you can hit near each establishment to work up an appetite or for post-ride food trips.

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Ride to Wind Farm in Pililla, Rizal

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The weather in Metro Manila and all through Manila East Road was bright and sunny, but just as we got to the foot of the wind turbines in Pililla, Rizal, the rain started to pour. Howling wind sent small stones and gravel from the rocky terrain flying in the air, showing us just why this elevated spot was chosen to be the site of a wind farm project. But despite the threatening grey skies and rain, the windmills were impressive, towering over the rugged landscape. There were only three wind turbine generators standing during our exploratory bike ride last Valentine’s Day 2015.

pililla wind farm rizal motorcycle Continue reading

Wrangler’s Search for True Wanderers

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10 Riders. 5 Days. 1 Bike.

Are you ready to go on a journey of a lifetime?

Nothing symbolizes freedom on the open road more than embarking on a journey on your motorcycle. Like modern cowboys, riders have the freedom to explore, go off the beaten path and blaze trails during their travels.

wrangler true wanderer search philippines logo

True to its free and daring spirit that thrives on adventures, the iconic American denim brand Wrangler takes its signature denim wear to the Philippines’ wide open roads as it launches the digital competition True Wanderer. Continue reading

Cafe Racer Diner, Cebu

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For some reason, my Facebook newsfeed kept getting images of a concept diner in Cebu called Cafe Racer. I blame their targeted advertising, but the photos of cool motorcycles parked outside the cafe, chairs made from oil drums and different motoring murals made me just want to book a ticket to Cebu. As a rider, I just wanted to see the place for myself. Thanks to a work trip for another assignment, I got a chance to check the place out last January 2015.

cafe racer cebu philippine sign travelup

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Flying High in Pangasinan

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“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads!”

pangasinan aerial view wcc aviation 07 hundred islands

Images of Back to the Future’s time machine flashed before my eyes as I sat behind the retro futuristic dashboard of the two-seater Cessna 152 aircraft. The control panel full of complicated-looking buttons, knobs and gauges looked worthy of powering up a flux capacitor that could take me back in time 30 years. The width of the 2-seater plane is only about one-third the size of your standard car or SUV, with two seats squeezed together and some extra space for bags at the back. But judging from my excitement level of riding one for the first time, you’d think I was riding along with Doc Brown himself in the DeLorean.

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Rappelling Down a Waterfall in CamSur

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Rappelling down the waterfall felt like a scene straight out of a video game. Lara Croft and Nathan Drake make it look too easy and they don’t even have ropes, I thought to myself as I scrambled to navigate the environmental puzzle. The scenery even looked reminiscent of CGI.

nalalata waterfalls rappelling camarines sur 01

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Travel Guide: Quirino

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Quirino is one of those provinces in Luzon that’s still off the tourist radar. Formerly part of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino became a separate province in 1966. While most provinces in the Philippines are known for something concrete, Quirino’s identity has yet to be formed. It was this air of mystery for an “off-the-beaten path” destination that made me more eager to visit the province.

quirino province landingan viewpoint
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Exploring the Underworld: Calbiga Caves, Samar

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Encompassing and immense, Langun-Gobingob Caves in the town of Calbiga (more popularly known as Calbiga Cave) in Samar province is the largest cave system in the Philippines. It’s reputed to be the second largest in Asia and the world’s third largest karst formation, measuring 7 km. long with an area of 900 square km. But that doesn’t even begin to describe its vastness.

01. calbiga cave samar photo by trexplore

With chambers upon chambers as large as coliseums, the light from our headlamps barely made a dent in the dark. The surreal underground landscapes brought images of the Underworld to mind. If you want a glimpse of mysterious underground realms, head to Samar. Calbiga is just one of the many cave systems you can explore in this rugged province, dubbed the Caving Capital of the country. Continue reading

Red Rock Waterfalls near Dumaguete City

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Steam hissed out from the side of the hill as the scooter made its way up a small winding road. To the left of the road was a serene river. To the right was a cliff wall emitting sulfuric fumes. I was on my way to a waterfall with red rocks located in the town of Valencia, near Dumaguete City, and I was finding the scenery very surprising.

pulangbato falls valencia dumaguete 01

Dumaguete, the capital city of Negros Oriental is known mainly for being a quaint University Town with all the modern conveniences. But it’s also a good jump-off point to different beaches, dive spots and eco-adventures. Continue reading

Unique Bike Date Places in Marikina

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Updated January 2015

NOTE: Because of the number of suggestions I got from readers in the comments section, this is an evolving list that I will update every time we visit a new resto in Marikina that fits the theme. However, the article is still displayed as “5 Unique Bike Date Places in Marikina.” Can’t change the URL for technical reasons. There are 7 in the list right now. Check back for updates! :)  

Most guy bikers I know don’t usually care where they eat during or after a ride. Any food – even if it’s questionable looking carinderia fare that’s been sitting out for several days – is fair game if you’re hungry. Any gas station or sari-sari store is a potential pitstop.

Well, if you want to get your girlfriends or wives to ride with you more often, you may want to put a bit more thought into the destinations. I can’t speak for all girl bikers out there, but while I don’t mind roughing it out every now and then on the trails, I also like being treated like a girl sometimes. Good food, unique ambiance and decent restrooms are probably the three things I look out for in dining places, whether or not I’m biking. Oh, and lots of Instagram-worthy details.

01. Bike date Marikina Cover

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Weekend in Jomalig Island, Quezon

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Raindrops trickled down through the holes in the tarpaulin that served as the roof of the boat, forming a puddle right next to me  and waking me up from my sleep. “Duct tape,” I mentally added to my list of things I should always bring on a trip, as I moved my bag and huddled in the center of the boat with the rest of the people on the boat.

jomalig quezon beach boats

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Travel Guide: Itbayat, Batanes

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Batan and Sabtang Island are amazing enough. But then I got to Itbayat, the northernmost inhabited island of Batanes, and I was floored. While Itbayat is more rugged and more difficult to explore, it has a unique charm of its own. Hiking over rough roads, hills and steep paths can be grueling, but you will be rewarded with amazing views of caves, cliffs and coasts.

itbayat batanes boats cliffs

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Tomb Raiding a Jungle Temple

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Towering trees perched from temples ruins; their roots spilling over like tentacles over the crumbling walls. A maze of secret paths led to doorways hidden in the rubble. Faded carvings in concrete seemed to hide secret codes just waiting to be deciphered.

beng melea temple cambodia tomb raiding

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Siquijor: Motorcycling the Mystic Island

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Siquijor is shrouded in stories of sorcery and witchcraft. Dubbed the “Mystic Island,” this province in the Central Visayas is known as the home of witches, shamanistic folk healers and mambabarang (people who can cause affliction or death by supernatural means). I heard that hexes, curses and love potions were hawked on the streets along with the usual souvenir keychains and magnets. You have to admit, there’s just something so fascinating about any place steeped in such superstitions. While some people are afraid to set foot here, this reputation for dark magic is actually what drew me to the island.

siquijor motorcycling travelup

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Motorcycling around Batanes

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On the left side of the road was a towering rock wall. On the right was a cliff that plummeted down into the sea, complete with dramatic waves crashing into the rocky coast. The winding road carved into the hills narrowed into one lane as it made its way around a sharp bend. Yellow “Blow Ur Horn” signs painted on stone markers signaled blind spots in the road, leading to landscapes that wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy film.

basco lighthouse travelup batanes

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Maginhawa: The Eat Street

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Updated March 2015

I feel really fortunate to be living on Maginhawa Street, one of the best go-to places for a food trip around the metro. There’s a great range of restaurants and types of cuisine to fit any mood and craving. A lot of the places in the area are small family-owned restaurants or start-ups of young entrepreneurs with a laid-back and artsy vibe. In fact, Maginhawa Street has become a “tourist attraction” of sorts, with people from all over coming to the area just to go food tripping.

maginhawa eat street travelup

Here’s an updated directory of where to to eat along Maginhawa Street (including Malingap Street and nearby streets) Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City. Check back often because this post gets updated frequently. Lots of new restos have opened up on the street that I’m still planning to try :) Continue reading

Casa Corazon: Motorcycle Museum in Batangas

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After our Lenten ride to an orphanage in Silang, Cavite, we took a short side-trip to motorcycle museum Casa Corazon in Lemery, Batangas.

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Microtel UP Technohub, Quezon City

The Philippines’ largest international hotel chain has landed in Quezon City. Microtel UP Technohub is Microtel by Wyndham’s 13th and latest hotel property in the Philippines located in the IT and commercial development of UP-Ayala Land Technohub. I first got to see the property last year when it was launched and recently got a chance to stay here and in their Acropolis branch for the weekend.

microtel up technohub facade

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Gear Review: Deuter Spider 22L Backpack

Lightweight, sporty and functional. The Deuter Spider 22L Backpack seemed to be just what I was looking for. The German brand Deuter is known for producing quality backpacks for all types of outdoor adventures, including hiking, biking, trekking and mountain climbing. And while very compact, the backpack does not disappoint.

deuter backpack travel up

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Road Trip Restaurants: Manila East Road

Aside from Marcos Highway / Marilaque, the Manila East Road is another popular destination for cyclists, riders and road trippers. This highway traverses the provinces of Rizal, Quezon and Laguna, starting from the junction of Ortigas Avenue in Taytay, Rizal all the way through towns surrounding Laguna de Bay and ends at a junction with the Pan-Philippine Highway in Calamba City.

motorcycling manila east road wind farm

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Siitan River Cruise & Landingan Viewpoint in Quirino

I drifted along slowly with the current. To my right was a towering wall of limestone covered in lush vegetation. To my left, was a rocky riverbed peppered with purple flowers and weeds. We were cruising along Siitan River in Nagtipunan, a town in Quirino province where several major tributaries of the Cagayan River converge.

quirino province siitan river cruise photo by lakad pilipinas

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Amélie Hotel Manila

Amélie Hotel Manila is a charming new boutique hotel that captures the bohemian spirit of the old-world neighborhood of Manila in a contemporary setting. Everything about the place — from the graphic art deco details of iconic landmarks to the warm and sincere service — makes the hotel stand out from the typical business hotels in the area. The hotel was formally launched amid Chinese New Year festivities last February 19, 2015 to signal the start of a prosperous life in the heart of the city.

amelie hotel manila lobby

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