Travel Guide: SuperStar Virgo Cruise from Manila

I just got back from a six-day-five-night cruise aboard Star Cruises SuperStar Virgo, the first cruise ship to homeport in Manila. Compared to my usual DIY backpacking trips, this was an amazing hassle-free vacation that I got to enjoy with my mom and nephew. Going on a luxury cruise is something I’d never thought I’d get to do. It’s a unique type of travel experience worth saving up for and ticking off your bucketlist!

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Surf Spots in the Philippines

Updated March 2016

Surfing is an extreme sport that involves riding the waves towards the shore while standing or lying on a surfboard. With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is blessed with beach breaks along both the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, as well as reef breaks throughout the archipelago. For surfers, this means that there are numerous surfing spots to check out.

surf spots in the philippines surfboards waves baler aurora

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Visita Iglesia around the Philippines

It’s Holy Week once again, and no doubt many Filipinos will be visiting seven (or 14) churches to pray the Stations of the Cross and reflect. Visita Iglesia or church visits are customarily done during Maundy Thursday, though they are commonly practiced during any day of the Holy Week.

Over the years, I’ve visited a lot of churches and sites of religious significance in different provinces around the Philippines. Though I’m not really an expert on heritage sites and churches, I thought it would be timely to come up with a virtual tour of seven churches and pilgrimage sites popular during Holy Week around the Philippines based on recent trips.

1) Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

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Hotel-Hopping in the North (Take 2)

The year is about to end and I still haven’t finished writing about Lakbay Norte 3, the 8-day media tour of the Northern Philippines. Aside from all the activities, the restaurants we ate in and hotels we stayed in played a huge part in making the trip so great. In the tradition of my hotel-hopping post for Lakbay Norte 2 (which kick-started my whole key collection), here’s a quick rundown of the different hotels we stayed in during the trip for LN3.

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Board to be Wild

While they’ve been around for awhile, board sports like surfing, sandboarding and stand-up paddleboarding are quickly gaining popularity here in the country. If you’re based in Manila, you don’t even have to book an expensive flight to another country to try these out. You can actually try all three board sports up North in Ilocos Norte, which I’ve found is a haven for some of the greatest outdoor adventures.

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10 Tried-and-Tested Ilocos Norte Favorites

I promised myself that before the year ends, I would wrap up my Lakbay Norte 2 series, our 6-day whirlwind media tour in Cagayan and Ilocos Norte. Here are 10 of the most popular historic, religious, and culinary delights in Ilocos Norte which we got to visit and sample around the province.

MARCOS MUSEUMS

1) Marcos Birthplace

The province of Ilocos Norte is popularly described as “Marcos Country” since it is the birthplace of former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The Marcos family remains very popular in the province, which is evident in the number of museums and tourist sites devoted to the former president and his family. The ancestral house in his hometown Sarrat has been converted into a mini-museum that contains some memorabilia of Marcos’ early life.

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Currimao Gems: Playa Tropical and Sitio Remedios

There are hotels you stay in just to pass the night. Then there are places that have so much character that they stand out from the crowd and make you want to spend more time there. Two places in the coastal town of Currimao in Ilocos Norte, which was our last stop during the Lakbay Norte 2 Media tour earlier this year, showcase great character and style.

Playa Tropical Resort Hotel

The Balinese inspired Playa Tropical, where we spent our last night, is a relaxing retreat that evokes exotic beauty and pure relaxation.

Even though we arrived close to midnight after our socials at Balay da Blas, we saw a taste of things to come, with the carved wooden details, chandeliers in the hallways, and the tastefully decorated rooms. Continue reading

Bewitching Balay da Blas

After our adventure-packed afternoon Sandboarding and riding a 4×4 all over the La Paz Sand Dunes during the Lakbay Norte Media 2 tour, we were treated to a night of socials at Balay da Blas. Aside from being a cozy and affordable place to stay the night, the charming pensionne house in the heart of Laoag, Ilocos Norte is also perfect for intimate gatherings.

The top floor serves as a function room, where one of the first things you’ll notice is the interesting patterns on the ceiling covering the recessed lighting and vintage ceiling fans, which give the place a whimsical vibe. Continue reading

Sandboarding and 4×4 Ride in Ilocos Norte

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to riding the giant slide in local fairs or carnivals. There was something about sliding down from such a height that was so thrilling. Another favorite was the roller coaster, with it’s slow uphill ascents, loops, lurches, and sudden drops.

Trying out sandboarding and riding a 4×4 off-road vehicle around the La Paz Sand Dunes during the Lakbay Norte 2 media tour earlier this year brought back the thrill of these childhood amusement park rides, but amped it up to the next level. Continue reading