5 Things to do in Real, Quezon

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For those in the regular workforce, vacations can be tricky. Not everyone has the luxury of time to do long-term backpacking or visit exotic locales every month. But everyone needs a beach and adventure fix once in a while. Located just 3-4 hours away from Manila, Real in Quezon offers such a quick weekend getaway.

01. real quezon boat

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Ili-Likha Artist Village in Baguio

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From above, the broken tiles decorating the stairway resembled a rainbow. Old wine bottles jutted out from the cement wall in an odd pattern. Right behind a computer workspace, the sunlight streamed through a wall revealing quirky cutouts and glints of colored glass. Everywhere I looked there was something vibrant, colorful and interesting.

baguio ililikha artist village 01 stairs

I mentally tried to digest everything as I went trigger-happy shooting every beautiful detail I could. There was a lot to take in. 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.

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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

Holiday Haven in Baguio: Azalea Residences

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No matter how many places in the Philippines I’ve been to, there’s really something about Baguio that’s just special. I will always have fond childhood memories of eating fresh strawberries, picking up pine cones, horseback rides, and sitting by a fireplace with hot chocolate during family summer trips to the City of Pines. Later on, work-related trips or trips with friends meant scouring the markets for awesomely cool designer jackets and boots, videoke sessions, food tripping along Session Road, and even playing airsoft!

azalea residences baguio 01

Despite all the changes the city has gone through, Baguio remains one of the most popular tourist destinations year-round for families and friends. It always feels comfortable and easy to come back here yet there’s always something new to look forward to. Over the weekend, I got to visit old favorites and discover fun new things to do in the Summer Capital.

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5 Unique Bike Date Places in Marikina

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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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Volunteering as Tributes: Archery in Makati

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The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay) was one of those things I could not put down. I must have spent one weekend just reading through all three books. I love the character of Katniss Everdeen in the books and how she was portrayed in the movies. Her skill with the bow and arrow is just so badass. The same goes for Tauriel in The Hobbit. Though she doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book, the woodland elf in The Desolation of Smaug shows off awesome archery skills comparable to Legolas. I’ve always hated the “damsels in distress” stereotypes in movies so it’s refreshing to watch movies with strong female warrior characters.

01. kodanda archery range travelup

Trying to channel Katniss in a Hunger Games District 12 training jersey

However, my previous experience with archery has been somewhat limited to virtual adventures. In Skyrim, (aside from shouts & destruction magic) bows are the most useful ranged weapon you use to damage the legendary dragons when they’re in flight. My demon hunter character in Diablo III also uses a variety of crossbows and bows to battle the minions of The Lord of Terror.

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Surreal Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay

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As dusk fell, the towering trees lit up, tiny lights flickering like fireflies in between metal branches. Inspiring orchestra music started to play as the alien-like trees shifted colors. The blend of moving music and lights transformed the grove of metal trees into a magical rainforest. Everyone watched silently, their eyes transfixed at the spectacle above above. From below, I could see figures standing still along the curved skyway connecting the trees.

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Cloud Forest in Gardens by the Bay

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A rainforest under a glass dome, a waterfall you can reach through elevated walkways and a man-made mountain covered in dense vegetation.

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I’m used to seeing natural waterfalls and mountains in just their raw, rugged environment, often far from the city and involving long travel times to get to. So it was amazing to be walking amidst skyscrapers one moment, then enter a dome that replicates the conditions typically found in tropical mountain regions. Continue reading

Sangay Siapo Island, Tawi-Tawi

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“Can the water get any more turquoise than this?” I thought to myself as the main island of Bongao came clearer into focus. Despite the dark clouds on the horizon, the depths of the sea seemed to glow a piercing shade of blue-green, unlike anything I had seen before.

tawi-tawi bongao island

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Ten Cents to Heaven Leisure Camp in Tanay, Rizal

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Ten Cents to Heaven is the kind of place you’d go to just to meditate amidst nature. With its cool climate, manicured gardens in front of a sea of hills, stairways lined with pine like trees and wooden cabanas shrouded in vines, this leisure camp in Tanay Rizal offers a serene respite from city life. Best of all, it’s not that far from the metro. Their official website claims they’re just a 45 minute drive from Ortigas. By motorcycle (passing through Marikina and Cogeo traffic), it usually takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to get here from Quezon City.

01. ten cents to heaven tree motorcycle

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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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Khmer Booze: Must-Try Beers in Cambodia

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Aside from temple-hopping by bike and sampling crispy bugs and spiders, we ended up trying a lot of different local beers in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh during our week-long trip to Cambodia earlier this year.

cambodia beer 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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Surf Spots in the Philippines

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Originally posted March 2013; updated August 2014

Aside from just swimming and getting a good tan, the beach is great for all sorts of water sports, including surfing. If you want to learn how to ride the waves, here are some surf spots around the Philippines that I’ve personally been to.

REAL, QUEZON

The nearest surfing spot to Manila in terms of land travel, the laid-back town of Real, Quezon also offers a decent place for beginners who want to try out surfing during a quick weekend trip. The coastal town, which is located on the eastern shores of Luzon facing the Philippine Sea, is known for having rural beach resorts with grayish sand. Despite its proximity to Manila, there are only few resorts here that rent out surfboards.

surfing real quezon the park

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70th Shinyo Maru Commemoration in Sindangan

On September 7, 1944, the Japanese warship SS Shinyo Maru was sailing for Manila. The vessel was one of the “Hell Ships” used by the Imperial Japanese Navy and Army to transport Allied prisoners from the Philippines to elsewhere in the Japanese empire. Unaware that it was carrying 750 prisoners of war, mostly American survivors, the American submarine USS Paddle SS263, which was tasked to search for the Japanese ship, attacked it. The US submarine torpedoed the Shinyo Maru about a mile or two away from Sindangan point in Zamboanga del Norte. Of the 83 prisoners of war who made it to the shore, one died after they came ashore and was buried on the hill of the town of Sindangan. The 82 remaining survivors were cared for by the locals of Sindangan.

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Spice Adventure with Bal Arneson

Fancy a grilled chicken with creamy corn risotto after rock climbing? How about some spice-crusted rib-eye steak and seared scallops and prawns after bungee jumping?

01. AFC spice adventure - spice crusted rib eye steak

Most people wouldn’t associate gourmet food with extreme adventures, but Canada-based celebrity chef Bal Arneson shows that “a dash of spice can add flavor to your food and your life.” Her show “Spice of Life with Bal Arneson” which airs on Asian Food Channel takes her family on one-of-a-kind adventures in the kitchen and outdoors. From fishing, to camping, to demolition derby, this feisty chef whips up exciting dishes to complement their action-packed lifestyle.

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