Hike to Mt. Tagapo, Talim Island

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Sometimes, we tend to take places in our backyard for granted. The nearer a destination is from where we live, the less it is on our tourist radar. For instance, Art’s hometown is Binangonan, but for some reason, we’ve both never been to Mt. Tagapo, a mountain that falls under the jurisdiction of the towns of Binangonan and Cardona in Rizal province (though it’s only accessible from the Binangonan side). Mt. Tagapo, referred to by locals as Susong Dalaga, is located in the middle of Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines. The first weekend of the year seemed like a good time as any to scale a mountain, so we we decided to finally head there.

mt tagapo talim island rizal 01
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Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo

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A set of statues made alternatively of stone and candlewax dotted the gardens. In the middle of the green lawn was an antique four poster bed laid out with crisp white sheets. Several beautiful silver art pieces work showed women cradling babies beneath their steel spiral wombs. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be doorways and paths waiting to reveal more hidden treasures.

01. pinto art museum antipolo doorway

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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

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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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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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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Food Trip: Naga City

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*Updated January 2015

In recent years, my hometown Naga City in the Bicol Region has become a rising foodie destination. Every visit means that there are new restaurants waiting to be sampled, as well as old favorites that just have to be revisited.

food trip naga city

Bikol cuisine is known as being spicy and sweet. Sili (chili peppers) and coconut milk (gata) are used in a lot of dishes, as well as pili nut products for desserts and a unique relish. Here’s a look at some of the best places where you can savor the flavors of Bikol (compiled from numerous visits to Naga to visit my folks), as well as some of the new restaurants worth checking out.

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Czech Microbrewery in Manila: Pivo Praha

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If you’re looking for a unique watering hole to try this October, a great place to check out is Bravo Sports Bar in Makati. The restaurant doubles as a microbrewery for Pivo Praha, a Czech-style beer brewed right here in Manila. Apparently, some craft beer experts in the country don’t really consider Pivo Praha a craft beer, because it’s more commercial compared to the smaller microbreweries like those producing Philippine craft beers, but the beers are definitely worth trying out. In fact, since the most popular mainstream beer in the country now tastes like water to me, this remains one of my favorite drinking spots because of the affordable and great tasting beer, good food and generally quiet and uncrowded atmosphere.

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Maginhawa: The Eat Street

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Updated January 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

Cebu’s First Craft Beer at Irie Gastropubliko

Irie Gastropubliko is a bar and restaurant in Cebu City that’s been around for a couple of years. Located on the Ground Floor of Skyrise 4 Building in the business district of Cebu I.T. Park, it caters mostly to those living and working in the area. They also get a lot of expats and craft beer enthusiasts from all over, who really seek out the place since it’s apparently the only place that you can try beers on tap from Turning Wheels Craft Brewery, Cebu’s first craft beer.

irie gastropubliko cebu city 01

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Graceland Estates & Country Club in Tayabas, Quezon

Over the years, my family and I have driven back and forth from Manila to my hometown Naga City numerous times. Our route, which traverses through the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (with a possible detour at Camarines Norte) before reaching Camarines Sur can last 8-12 hours depending on the traffic. However, this means starting the drive really early in the morning and having limited time to enjoy good meals and sights along the way.

01. graceland estates & country club tayabas quezon banahaw

A more enjoyable option is to break the road trip in half by stopping over somewhere for the night. In the past, our pit stops were usually random guesthouse or inns in towns of Lucena or Gumaca. These places aren’t really that notable, but they offered the basics like beds and running water (sometimes). Continue reading

Biking Staycation in Seda Nuvali, Laguna

Whizzing down from the 4x track on a mountain bike felt like riding a roller coaster. On the first try, I gingerly held my brakes while going down, afraid I’d topple before I reached the bottom. After a couple more rounds, it was more exhilarating to just let go of the brakes and try to keep my balance.

01. nuvali biking 4x track travelup

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That’s it, Pancit: 10 Pinoy Noodle Dishes

Aside from the typical heartwarming soups and stews, one of the most popular comfort foods in Filipino cuisine is pansit or pancit (noodle-based dishes). Introduced into the country by the Chinese, pancit gets its name from the Hokkien pian i sit which means “something conveniently cooked fast.”

pancit cabagan, isabela

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Christmas Ride: Casa Santa, Antipolo

I haven’t really been feeling the Christmas spirit lately. Maybe it’s the over-commercialization of the whole season, the crowded malls and the horrifying traffic all over the metro. The threat of typhoon Hagupit slowly crawling its way across the country is enough to put a damper on everyone’s collective mood.

casa santa antipolo travelup

But there’s nothing like a good motorcycle ride somewhere new to lift the spirits. Taking advantage of the good weather before the storm hits, I took a solo ride to Antipolo yesterday and found myself visiting a few inspiring spots, including a cozy cafe hidden in a family estate and Casa Santa, a Christmas-themed museum.

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Goodtimes Cafe & Art Gallery, Dipolog

From the odd gate, the walkway leading to the garden was patched together with broken tiles and mirrors. Benches and tables scattered around the garden seemed set up for a mad tea party. Under the shroud of overgrown trees and plants, masks of deities carved in stone peeked from every corner.

galeria indelecio dipolog zamboanga del norte 01
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Finding Chew Love in Tacloban

I chanced upon Chew Love rather unexpectedly.

From the tricycle I was riding in downtown Tacloban, the building’s bright teal color, red and white striped canopies and colorful murals painted on the walls instantly called out to me. When I entered, the first thing I saw was a sofa full of graphic throw pillows in cheerful colors and a vintage white bicycle covered with flowers. How can you not instantly fall in love with a place that looks just as pretty as that?

chew love tacloban interiors

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