The jeepney’s wheels spewed out chunks of mud as the driver floored the engine, determined to get the jeep out of the rut. We sat at a distance, drenched in the rain, our feet caked in mud, but still in high spirits. A little rain never hurt anybody.
Technology has really changed the way people travel. Traveling these days no longer means going off the grid. In fact, for many tech-savvy travelers, staying connected while traveling abroad is essential. How else can we navigate around unfamiliar streets, find out the best places to eat, and keep our Instagram and Facebook social media accounts updated, right?
If you’re a frequent traveler, here are a few useful applications and online resources that you might want to load on your smartphone or tablet with before traveling abroad.
Outdoor enthusiasts know Daraitan as a village nestled in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges somewhere between Rizal and Quezon. After visiting the place during a trail run and on a mountain bike ride, Art of Outside Slacker likened it to Rivendell, the Elven realm in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. After finally seeing the place first-hand, I have to agree. The scenery wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy film. You get that sense of wonder just walking through the white rock formations and crossing the clear streams snaking through the mountains.
With its multi-tiered cascades and natural allure, it’s easy to see how Engkanto Falls got its name. The falls, named after creatures of local folklore usually characterized as forest spirits or elves, are believed to live in natural dwellings in the environment.
Unlike popular destinations in the country that dazzle you immediately with their obvious beauty and vibrant energy, the town of Mercedes in Camarines Norte is one of those quiet beauties that often gets overlooked. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find that she has so much substance. Mercedes has a serene and quiet charm that just grows on you. The longer you stay, the more you’ll realize just why the town is called “The Belle of the Pacific.”
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.
Whenever 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
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.
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.
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 turbines standing during our exploratory bike ride last Valentine’s Day 2015.
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.
“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads!”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*Updated May 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.
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
Are you a Filipino gamer who wants a taste of life in the fast lane for real? You’ll want to join this!
Nissan Philippines Inc. finally launches its international virtual-to-reality competition known as the GT Academy here in the Philippines! Gran Turismo (or GT) is a series of popular and critically-acclaimed racing video games developed by Polyphony Digital exclusively for PlayStation systems. The GT Academy takes the country’s best Gran Turismo players and turns them into professional race car drivers.
Last weekend, I found myself trapped in a casket trying to decipher clues to escape from a locked room. The same afternoon, I literally stepped inside paintings and navigated around the biggest interactive art museum in Asia. Nope, I wasn’t traveling to some exotic location abroad. I was right in Quezon City, where I’ve lived for years!
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 in Quezon City. 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.
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.