Road Trip Itinerary: Bicol Highlights

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Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth from Manila to my hometown Naga City in Camarines Sur. I’ve also gone on road trips with the family to nearby provinces of mainland Bicol: Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon. The Manila to Bicol route passing the Asian Highway 26 (AH26) (also known as the Pan-Philippine Highway or Maharlika Highway) is a major road trip route on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. After traversing from Manila to Bicol, you can cross all the way to Visayas via the Roll-on Roll-Off Ferry from the Matnog Port in Sorsogon to reach Allen in Samar and head towards Mindanao.

I’ve been getting inquiries from people planning to drive this route whether by car or motorcycle (and even a few long-distance bikepackers), so I’ve decided to compile a suggested itinerary covering the essentials and some travel tips.  Continue reading

Endless Samar Part 3: Borongan, Eastern Samar

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Everything looks better when the sun is out. The same roads and structures which I found scary the previous night look perfectly ordinary in the daylight. It’s like watching a horror movie with a particularly tense nail-biting scene set at night. Then the scene shifts to a sunny day and you breathe a sigh of relief because you feel the worst is over.

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Brewery Gastropub in Iloilo

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Iloilo is one of the best destination for foodies in Visayas. For most people, a trip here isn’t complete without having Ilonggo favorites like La Paz Batchoy, Pancit Molo and Lechon Manok. But if you’re a craft beer lover, Brewery Gastropub should definitely be at the top of your list of places to visit. Brewery Gastropub is the first bar and gastropub in Iloilo City that offers a wide selection of both imported and local craft beers from all over the world. They feature over 100 different varieties of bottled beer that you can choose from including 15 fresh beers in draft form.

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Chase Wonders in Iloilo with AirAsia

The province of Iloilo is known for its rich heritage and churches, vibrant festivals, friendly people and excellent cuisine. Iloilo City, the capital is a major urban center in the Philippines, and the gateway to the Panay island in Western Visayas.

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Endless Samar Part 2: Laoang Island & Mapanas

Desolate. The empty highway seems to stretch on for miles. Except for the occasional habal-habal or van going in the opposite direction, most of the main road in Northern Samar just feels so empty. There are hardly any establishments or houses on either side of the road. Just mountains on the horizon, coconut trees and fields.

While driving from Lavezares to Laoang Island, the only fairly large town I pass that has an actual mall and big gas stations is Catarman. After that, I only encounter small villages with their poblacions made up of a few streets punctuated by a handful of sari-sari stores selling gas in litro bottles. Then it’s back to deserted roads after driving for five minutes. Continue reading

Top 10 Mainstream Beers in the Philippines

Whenever I travel abroad, I always make it a point to try the most popular beer from other countries. I’ve been documenting the growth of the craft beer in the Philippines, but I’ve never written about the country’s mainstream or commercial brands. Mainly, it’s because I feel like all Pinoys know these beers already. I mean, beer drinking is considered a national pastime! But I realize that foreign backpackers and first-time visitors to the country may not be familiar with these beers yet, so am listing them down just for reference.

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Endless Samar Part 1: Biri Island

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Ang laki pala ng Samar, I thought to myself as I drove along the highway on my way from Catbalogan City to Lavezares in Northern Samar. When I ride a van or a bus, I usually just sleep and wake up near my destination, so I don’t really feel how far I’ve gone. I get an inkling of distances when I plan my route on Googlemaps, but the kilometers on Samar island just felt longer than usual.

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Travel Guide: Biri Island, Northern Samar

Like a lost planet right here on the earth, Biri Island’s amazing natural rock formations will astound you. The island’s dramatic landscape carved by the fury of Mother Nature are as beautiful as they are surreal. These gigantic limestone rock formations were formed by pounding winds, raging storms and ruthless waves that battered the coast. If there’s one iconic place you need to visit in Northern Samar, Biri Island would be your best bet.

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The Cave Beyond a Waterfall: Sulpan Cave in San Jorge, Samar

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Caves do not have mass appeal. Given a choice between a beach and a cave, most tourists I know would probably be packing their Instagram-worthy swimwear and flip-flops to bask on the sunny shores of a tropical island before you can even say “spelunking.”

I mean, why would anyone want to dangle hundreds of meters in the air to enter a hole in the ground leading to an unknown chamber, stumble around on slippery boulders in complete darkness, crawl through muddy passageways and swim through the frigid inky waters of underground canyons where who knows what could be lurking, waiting to reach up with their gigantic tentacles or venomous fangs to drag you down to the depths below?

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Family Staycation at Marco Polo Hotel Ortigas

When I travel or go backpacking on my own, I don’t mind sleeping in run-down hostels with public restrooms, camping in a tent on the beach or even just hanging up a hammock somewhere for the night. But when I travel with my family, I want to make sure they’re comfortable. Hotel staycations are a nice way to relax and can be a lot of fun if you’re with family or friends.

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