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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White Pebble Beach near Naga City

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I’ve traveled far just to visit some famous stone beaches in the country. There’s Luna Pebble Beach in La Union, Mabua Pebble Beach in Surigao City, and Valugan Boulder Beach in Batanes. These beaches are known for having shores covered with pebbles, cobbles and huge boulders instead of fine sand which give them a unique landscape.

white pebbles beach minalabac camarines surLittle did I know that there’s a nice pebble beach in my own home province of Camarines Sur. Bagolatao Beach can be found in the barangay of Bagolatao in the town of Minalabac, just 45 minutes away from Naga City! Continue reading

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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Gear Review: 2-in-1 Travel Pillow + Hammock

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I love anything multi-purpose: swissknives, cargo pants that transform into shorts, multi-functional headwear, malongs & basically anything that serves double duty on the road.

So when I saw the new line of hammocks called Duoyan from Hammock Republic by Journeying James, I had to have one. Just like Transformers, this nifty travel accessory is more than meets the eye. The Duoyan is a travel pillow that transforms into a hammock! This is just perfect for long road and boat trips and beach camping.

hammock and pouch beach

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Chasing Waterfalls in Pili, Camarines Sur

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I grew up in Naga City, but I never knew that there was a very nice waterfall circuit just in my own backyard. Most Naguenos are probably familiar with Malabsay and Nabontolan Falls accessible via Panicuason in Naga City, located on the East slope of Mt. Isarog.

mt isarog shower falls curry pili camarines sur

But apparently there are also eight pristine waterfalls shrouded by a triple-canopy forest in the Pili section of Mt. Isarog National Park (MINP). The site, surrounded by farming communities and some historical points of interest (including a Japanese memorial and wartime tunnels) is currently being eyed as a potential eco-tourism trail. And boy, does it have potential! Continue reading

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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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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Z Compound on Malingap Street

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Malingap seems to be the new Maginhawa these days, with lots of old restaurant favorites moving to this adjacent street in Teachers Village, Quezon City. Aside from the Pino Group (Pino Resto Bar, Pipino, Breakfast & Pies) & Tomato Kick, one of the best places to eat here is the collective of food stalls known as Z Compound or “The Z”, which can be found in the garden area of an old house on #33A Malingap Street.

Z the zone outdoor foodcourt malingap

I’ve written about some of the restos here before in my previous post Maginhawa: The Eat Street, but it seems like every time I visit, there’s a new stall that’s up. So here’s a look at some of the unique food offerings you can try out here.

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Batanes: Hiking up Mt. Iraya

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On our last day in Batanes, after biking around North and South Batan, motorcycling around, and separate trips to Sabtang Island and Itbayat, Outside Slacker and I met up again in Basco to hike through a forest maze up a mountain. The thickly forested Mt. Iraya has an elevation of 1,009 metres (3,310 ft) above sea level, and is a major landmark of Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines.

02. mt iraya batanes from basco lighthouse

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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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Batanes: Sabtang Island Tour

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From the port of Ivana, we spotted a small wooden boat loaded with passengers approaching the shore. The boats called faluwa are the main means of transportation between islands in Batanes. They’re quite small and don’t have outriggers, so they can easily navigate the strong waves at sea. This was our ride to our destination for the day – Sabtang Island, the smallest of the three inhabited islands of Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines.

sabtang island lighthouse batanes shore

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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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Batanes: South Batan Island Tour

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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.

marlboro country batanes
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Food Trip: Naga City

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*Updated June 2014

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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Travel Guide: Tawi-Tawi

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One of the most memorable trips I took this year was to Tawi-Tawi. This island province located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the southernmost province of the Philippines. Often misunderstood by the outside world and the rest of the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi is not your typical tourist destination. The concerns about the peace and order situation in the surrounding areas have kept the place relatively off the tourist radar. I know only a handful of travelers who have ventured to this part of the country for a vacation. That’s probably the main reason why I wanted to go there in the first place. Thanks to a trip to Zamboanga City earlier this year, I got to tick Tawi-Tawi off my bucket list.

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8 Surf Spots in the Philippines

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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.

Baler photos by Mitch Quimsiam courtesy of JourneyingJamestours Continue reading

Gear Review: Targus Citylite II Ultra Backpack

Losing important documents and gadgets while on the road is every traveler’s nightmare. To address this, different bag companies have come up with bags and backpacks with anti-theft features.

One such option is the Targus 15.6″ Citylite II Collection, a line of business backpacks that promise to give users peace of mind while traveling and commuting. There are four backpacks under the collection, namely the Citylite II Ultra Backpack, Max Backpack, SL Backpack and the Ultimate Backpack. The first three are designed to fit 15.6″ laptops, while the Ultimate Backpack can store laptops up to 17″.

targus backpack aiport
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Ford EcoSport Mystery Case Media Drive

Racing against the clock in the traffic-congested streets of Manila in the rain (during rush hour!) sounds like one of my worst nightmares. Especially in a scenario where I don’t own the vehicle and have just signed a waiver stating I will be liable for damages. The cryptic invitation for the Ford EcoSport Mystery Case had media racing around the city following clues ala Amazing Race. Though I drive a motorcycle and a (very old manual) car, I’m not exactly the racing type when it comes to SUVs.

01. ford ecosport mystery case graffiti wall Continue reading

Experience New Zealand Fair in Glorietta from June 20-22

Earlier this summer, my sister Lorie got to visit Middle-Earth.

hobbiton new zeland

Her trip to New Zealand took her to some of the locations where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. She got to visit Hobbiton, drank ale at the Green Dragon Inn, hiked up to Mt. Doom, walked by Rivendell, and got up close and personal with Orcs at the WETA workshop. Her photos and stories about how great New Zealand is in general and the different adventure activities you can do there has propelled it to the top of my bucket list. Continue reading

Country Cuisine at Abe’s Farm, Pampanga

Food and travel really go together. More and more tourists are planning their destinations around food, and local cuisine is playing a big part in food tourism in the country.

abes farm pampanga pinoy food

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