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.
Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines, has been on my bucket list for years. Referred to as “the Home of the Winds” because of its cool and windy weather, Batanes offers a unique blend of breathtaking scenery, natural attractions and well-preserved culture. It’s the only province in the country that’s been declared in its entirety as a protected Landscape and Seascape. You could spend days here and not get tired of the views.
Spiky branches of vivid orange, yellow and teal swayed lazily in the water. What looked like purple clam lips on pink brain-like corals seemingly smiled as I snorkeled by. A school of rainbow colored fish swept past me, darting in and out of the corals.
Snorkeling in the Crowning Glory Reef, a marine protected area in Culion, has got to be one of the major highlights of my trip to the Calamian islands late last year. This site is the BEST place I’ve ever tried snorkeling and my standards are now very, very high after this. All other underwater destinations I’ve visited now seem to be muted seascapes that pale in comparison to the rich marine life I saw in the Crowning Glory Reef. Continue reading
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.
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.
Originally posted March 2013; updated December 2013 (added San Felipe, Zambales)
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 eight surf spots around the Philippines that I’ve personally been to.
1) Baler, Aurora
Thanks to JourneyingJames “Camp, Surf, Bike & Trek” tour, I finally got to visit Baler, one of the more popular surfing spots in the Philippines. This quaint coastal town in the province of Aurora is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the East and draws in tourists especially during the ber months.
Originally posted April 2011, updated February 2014
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 restos in the area also have this laid-back and artsy vibe, which I love. Since a lot of the Maginhawa establishments have come and gone since I first wrote about this, I decided that it’s high time that I updated this post (after my article in Sunday Inquirer Magazine came out.)
Here is an updated directory of where to to eat along Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City. I’ve also included a few notable restaurants in the Maginhawa orbit/Teacher’s Village/Sikatuna area that are not necessarily on Maginhawa street. 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
★ – Places I highly recommend or regularly frequent Continue reading
With its quirky details, classy decor and homey vibe, Islands Leisure Boutique Hotel is a great place to stay in Dumaguete City. This boutique hotel in the capital city of Negros Oriental offers a peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city. After motorcycling all over Siquijor the previous day, checking in here felt like a treat.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a work-sponsored assignment to write about schools affected by typhoon Yolanda around Kalibo and Capiz. It just so happened that one of the days in the scheduled trip fell on a local holiday with no schools open and the people I needed to interview not available. Aside from the direct flights to Caticlan, Kalibo is a known gateway to Boracay, the most popular island destination in the Philippines. Boracay is not a place I am really drawn to, but the free time was too good to pass up. So, without any concrete plans, I made my way there to see how much the place has changed since I had last been there.
The Circle Hostel is a chain of eco-hostels in the Philippines catering to surfers and backpackers looking for a community atmosphere and budget-friendly lodging. They aim to be a “sanctuary for the artsy and the adventurous” where people can express themselves freely. They currently have two locations in popular surfing spots near Manila: La Union and Zambales.
The Circle Hostel Zambales has the same artsy, laid-back vibe as The Circle Hostel in La Union. It is located on a small street in Liw-Liwa, San Felipe, about 5 minutes away from the beach. It’s great for solo travelers who just want to meet new people or groups looking for a budget-friendly place for the weekend.
Jariel’s Peak in Infanta, Quezon is a popular weekend spot for motorcycle riders based in Manila. It has everything that makes a for a great half-day trip – enough distance to make the ride feel “not bitin,” twisty mountain roads, and cool climate and scenery that transports you visually to Baguio or Sagada. In fact, the place is located in a sitio called Little Baguio. Plus, it’s off the grid, if you like that kind of thing. No electricity or phone signal here, folks. You’ll have to wait to post on Instagram or Facebook once you get home
I often like to think of myself as a character in a video game when I travel. In fact, this blog was inspired by the whole video game concept of “Leveling Up” and I consider every trip as a way to earn EXP points. Last year, I was fortunate to get upgrades for some of the motorcycling gear I’ve been using for road trips. So in the tradition of upgrading equipment in video games, here’s a look at the main features of the motorcycle safety gear by Spyder and what makes them so cool:
Park, Rest & Dine is an eclectic and quirky restaurant located along Marcos Highway (Marikina-Infanta Highway) that serves pretty good meals. During road trips, I always prefer eating in places with character and these are few and far between along this highway. There are lots of small carinderias and a couple of resorts that have their own in-house restaurants along the highway if you’re not too picky about meals, but Park, Rest & Dine offers a pretty good selection of affordable meals in a pleasant setting.
On the first day of 2014, I took a solo motorcycle ride to celebrate the year ahead. I ended up finding a very nice waterfall not that far from the city. This relatively unknown waterfall that’s just an hour away from the Quezon City area is a promising weekend destination for motorcyclists and mountain bikers.