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This is a post by THH Jon
Summer in December | Alibijaban, Quezon
We went to the sandbar and the part were beautiful mangrove dotted the the island. With the sun shining high, the island showed it’s beauty. The sand weren’t as fine but who cares?! The island still captivated all of our senses.
I’ve always wondered how birds felt like when they are flying. Do they get dizzy the way most people do when they are up in the air? Or do they just live the moment?
For Louie and I, it was more of the former when we went paragliding for the first time. Louie has always fancied trying sky diving but since it is quite expensive, she looked for alternatives to satisfy her thirst for adrenaline. She stumbled upon Paragliding Philippines online who offers tandem paragliding (tandem because you need a license to fly solo).
Miles and Smiles Away | Talikud Island, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao
The sun had already set by the time we finished pitching our tent and sorting out our dinner. The view of the night sky was amazing. We even saw a red moon which, according to the news, occur very rarely. Too bad my shots were a mess. Jon’s shots were way better but it was taken after the red moon.
Escape to the Islands | Britania Islands, Surigao Del Sur
Our Surigao adventures was suppose to end at the Enchanted River but luckily, I stumbled upon a post about the Britania Islands. I consider the beach as my second home even though I’m not as great of a swimmer as Jon is. He can spend hours and hours just swimming in the water while I stay ashore relaxing and staring at the breathtaking sight. There’s a reason why my friends and I call him “fish”.
The Mystery and Beauty of the Enchated River | Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur
The Hinatuan River, also known as the Enchanted River, is a salt water river found in the province of Surigao Del Sur in Mindanao, Philippines. We first saw this place in one of the local tv shows in Manila and from then on it has been our dream to visit this intriguing but at the same time captivating river. This is the main reason why we wanted to go to Mindanao in the first place.
Tinuy-an Falls, A Curtain of White Water | Bislig, Surigao Del Sur
Tinuy-an is a white water curtain that flows in three levels (with a fourth tier hidden from view) and is said to be the widest waterfall in the Philippines. I have to say, Tinuy-an falls is one of the most beautiful waterfall that I’ve seen. ☺
I graduated university with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology last April 2013. During college, I was exposed to people that are suffering from bipolar disorder down to psychosis and schizophrenia. I know, its weird how a person like me is suffering from my kind of addiction. Believe me, I have tried to escape from this addiction but it is so powerful that it is eating my very inner being. Do not condemn me. You, yourself might be suffering from this addiction too. Let me site to you the symptoms of this contagious disorder.
I “Was” Afraid of Heights | Skywalk and Edge Coaster, Cebu City
Our jam packed 2nd day at Cebu doesn’t end with getting wet at Kawasan Falls and scuba diving at Moalboal. Almost everyone agreed to go straight at Regency Hotel which boasts the 1st ever Skywalk and Edge Coaster ride here in the country.
Last day of our Cebu adventours. We woke up at 5 a.m. to prep up for the City Tour, but as you know, we consist of mostly girls so we took longer than expected! 9 o’clock to be exact! 😀 We agreed to eat breakfast before pushing through the city tour. We chose to eat at Jollibee (nothing beats a good fried chicken in the morning), the nearest restaurant from the pension house. As we were about to finish our meals, 3 street kids popped up and stole our food right before our eyes. It happened so fast we weren’t able to react. What drove those kids to do it? hunger most likely. We were able to talk and give them some food and the little boys gladly accepted it.
After our unforgettable SCUBA diving experience, we went back to our place, packed up our things and headed to our next destination, Kawasan Falls. We had a quick lunch first in our favorite carinderia before heading out to Kawasan falls. We then rode a local tricycle to reach the main highway. It was so big it accommodated all 9 of us :). We paid P30 each.
I was so excited for Day 2, I was not able to sleep well the night before. Finally, scuba diving day it is. The main reason why I was so stoked for this trip to Cebu. 🙂 Wake up call; 7am. We went to the local carinderia for a budget friendly breakfast.
Powder Fine Sand and Sun Kissed Skin | Sumilon Island, Cebu
After our whale shark interaction and tons of selfies, we boarded our boat and headed to Sumilon Island. The island is a 24-hectare (59-acre) coral island off the coast of Bancogon, Oslob, Cebu and is only a 15 minute boat ride from the resort that offered whale shark interaction (Better if you swim with the whale shark first before going to Sumilon Island as the whale shark are only present until midday).
#TeamHartHart just celebrated it’s first year anniversary last June 7, 2015. To celebrate, the team decided to go on a 4 day trip to the beautiful island province of Cebu! It’s capital is Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippines. Cebu is around 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Manila by plane unless you experience delays for unknown reasons (ehem! Cebu Pacific).
We reached Mactan Airport in the early hours of the morning. Our driver and his van was already there when we arrived so we immediately hopped in and headed towards our first destination, Oslob. We were asleep most of the time during the journey. We only woke up to eat breakfast at a restaurant along the way. Most of them ordered something in the restaurant but I felt like it was too expensive (P100 for a fried chicken meal? No thanks!) so instead, I went outside and looked for street vendors and bought a P10 rice cake. Win. After 3-4 hours of what seems like a roller coaster ride, we finally reached Oslob where we went swimming with whale sharks (not the man eating type of shark but a gentle, filter feeding, ones.) a.k.a. butanding.
San Miguel, Bulacan
Major jump-off: Sitio Madlum, Brgy. Sibul, San Miguel
LLA: 15°15.11’N; 121°1.22′ E; 196 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: Half-day / 1 hour
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1-2
It’s been a while since THH Louie and I went hiking as it is the Summer season here in the Philippines. I don’t really mind the heat but I would gladly choose beach bumming over mountain hiking on a scorching hot summer day. In the end though, we still chose to go to Mt. Manalmon as we didn’t have enough time and resources to go and stay at the beach.
Mt. Manalmon is not too far from the metro and is perfect for day hikes. You can get there by taking a Cabanatuan-bound bus by Baliwag Transit, ES Transport, or Five Star Transport in Pasay or Cubao. I recommend that you take the bus by ES Transport as it has it’s own bus stop in Brgy. Camias. Travel time takes around 2 hours (enough time to doze off before the climb) and the bus fare is ₱117. Once there, take a tricycle going to Brgy. Madlum where the registration area is located. The tricycle ride going to Brgy. Madlum cost ₱250-₱300. The tricycles there are quite cramped and the last part of the ride is on rough roads so be sure to prepare your bums and your backs! Normally the ride only last for 40 minutes but in our case it took longer than that because we experienced a flat tyre on the way.
We completely forgot about the long and bumpy journey we had when we saw what was waiting for us; the beautiful Madlum River.
A Walk Down Memory Lane | Sierra Madre Mountain Range
If someone asks me how I got into hiking and travelling, I would say that it all began with an outreach program 3 years ago at a community located in the mountains of Sierra Madre. Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the Philippines and it is known as the “backbone” of the northern island of Luzon.
I wanted to do volunteer work as I wanted a radical change in my life (a regular night for me before was a ton of alcohol and passing out in the toilet). Coincidentally, one of the missionaries in the church that I attend to invited THH Louie and I and some other people to do an outreach program in one of the Dumagat communities in the said mountain. The Dumagats are peace loving and resilient people. They would rather live in remote places and live off the land than beg in urban areas.
Our primary goal for this outreach program is to preach the gospel to the locals. We believe that the spiritual need of a person is more important than the physical ones. Everything in our world is temporary. Even life is temporary. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Our secondary goals were to distribute school supplies to the children, give counselling to the adults and feed the community
What I like about living in the Philippines is that there are plenty of long weekends due to holidays landing on a Friday or a Monday. One of the holidays that we celebrate here is the Holy Week or Semana Santa.
Since it’s the Summer season, #teamharthart decided to go to Caramoan Islands which is located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur in the Bicol region. Our team normally travel using public transportation to cut cost but on this trip we hired a private van since we ran out of tickets. People would normally go back to their hometowns during the Holy Week so we thought that getting bus tickets 3 weeks in advanced would guarantee us seats. Apparently that wasn’t the case. We didn’t mind travelling in a van as it was more comfortable and less stressful. We were able to play games, sleep comfortably and have stop overs when we needed to eat or use the toilets.
Jon and I were invited by Stephen (Jon’s future brother-in-law, hehe) to join him and his motorcycle group to go on a roadtrip to Magalawa island. A little back story though, Jon has always been a fan of long road trips with his beloved motorcycle. In the holy week of 2014, we conquered the 12 hour ride to Pangasinan (we will share a bit about that soon in our 2014 travel logs)!
January 3, 2015, 4AM. Jon and I along with 6 other riders headed towards Zambales. The air was bitterly cold. Good thing I sat at the back of the motorcycle. The first leg of the journey was not too smooth because of traffic and two of the riders got separated from our group. We stopped and waited for them but none arrived. We contacted them by phone and they told us that they took a different route so the 4 of us carried on.
The road started to clear as soon as we hit the outskirts of Pampanga. Soon enough, we reached a gasoline station where we filled up our tanks and ate breakfast. Though I am scared of long rides, I like the fact that we would not spend a lot on public transportation. I really enjoyed the scenery as well. Farm animals on the roadside, mountains on the horizon and towering trees canopying the road. I am sure Jon enjoyed it as much as I did.
March is the official start of the summer season in the Philippines. My country is home to 7,107 islands so the reasonable thing to do is hit the beach and have a splash. Not for #teamharthart though. We kicked off the summer by going to the summit of Mt. Daguldol. Crazy huh?! We thought so too.
The team met up at Cubao where we ate breakfast before starting our commute. With our tummies full of pure awesome chicken joy goodness, we started our commute. First, we took a bus (Alps Transit) going to Lipa, Batangas. It took us around 2 hours to get there. We then took another bus going to San Juan, Batangas and got off at the Alps bus terminal. After eating lunch at “the behive” and buying our supplies at the local market, we took a jeepney going to Brgy. Hugom where the jump off is located.
It was a normal Saturday night chat with the group when Jon suggested to go to Batlag falls the morning after and just like that, Trixia, Roldan and I agreed! We usually plan our getaways months before because some us work on a nightshift and we need to prepare the budget needed. The supposedly normal Sunday became one that’s filled with laughter, amazing wonders of nature and good company. It’s a shame the other members of #teamharthart weren’t able to make it.
The group met up at 7/11 near Junction (Cainta). We took a jeepney going to Tanay via Morong and got off at Tanay town proper. We stopped by McDonalds to get something to eat and answer the call of nature.
Afterwards, we hired a tricycle which costed us P250. Some might not know but Batlag falls is located just above Daranak falls. Tanay is home to such wonderful places including Tinipak River.
After about 30-40 minutes of commute, we finally reached Daranak falls whose entrance fee is P50. It’s the only way to go to Batlag falls so you’ll really have to pay the fee to get there. You can always stop by Daranak falls first if you fancy it.
I was once asked by my superiors to create a presentation about anything that interests me and present it to my co-event managers at work. I had a week, a week to think and decide. I want something that will have an impact. Something that will also define me. That’s when I thought of sharing my love for the great outdoors.
I presented the basics of backpacking and told them that you don’t have to spend a fortune when travelling. I gave them a glimpse of what it’s like to be at peak. To be on top. To feel the wind whistling right before your ears.
As I was about to wrap things up, they asked if I could set a day hike for them. I was more than happy of course. 🙂
We decided to meet up in Eastwood City at 5 a.m. Because of unforeseen circumstances, we arrived at Tanay around 10 a.m. (actually one of my co-workers arrived there at 6 a.m. Sorry Chad!) As soon as we got off the jeepney, tricycle drivers started swarming us in a way like how flies swarm poop. This is a good sign. It means that you can haggle with them. Let the lowest bidder win! (The tricycles usually fit 4-5 people and usually cost P500) We got ours for P400. ☺
It takes more than an hour to get to Brgy. Daraitan from Tanay. The first half of the journey is quite smooth since the roads are well paved. As soon as you get to the outskirts of Brgy. Daraitan however, it gets seriously bumpy. Don’t be surprised if you see your driver hanging off the side of the tricycle as if his wind surfing. It makes the front wheel stable especially when going uphill.
After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at the river bank where a wooden bridge is constructed. This bridge is only present during the summer season when the river is shallow. The usual way is to ride a platform-like boat to get to the other side. I like the latter better since it’s more thrilling. ☺
Louie and I have been planning to go to Jomalig Island for quite a long time now. Fortunately we were able to get some time off because of some holiday.
The original plan was to conquer Jomalig Island in Quezon. Unfortunately, we missed the last passenger (more like a cargo/fishing boat actually) boat going to the island. We were thinking of going to Alibijaban Island instead but it’s going to be another 4-6 hours worth of land and water. My spirit was at an all time low at this point. As I look up for help, I saw this billboard of Borawan Island and according to it, the island is less than an hour away. We didn’t wanna waste spend anymore time and money lurking so we decided to go there.
A panoramic view of Borawan Island.
I’ve read some blogs about this island, good and bad, so I didn’t really know what to expect. As soon as our boat beached and I saw the awesome rock formation, I couldn’t help but be excited. When I saw the flags on top of the rock formations, I immediately told myself that I am not leaving this place without being eye level with those flags.
I’ve always wondered what it feels like to be at the summit of Mt. Daraitan. After all, the usual destination in Brgy. Daraitan is the jaw dropping Tinipak River. After much thinking, #TeamHartHart finally decided to conquer the controversial Mt. Daraitan Summit. Why controversial? Well this mountain is not as easy as it looks. It is considered a minor climb and can be hiked within a day. The thing is this mountain is mostly assaults. There are very few flat areas where you can properly take a rest. It is not exactly “a walk in the park”. Is it minor or major? We would soon find out.
Jump off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
LLA: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E, 1,006 MASL (ridge); 1,130 MASL (peak)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days, 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
Do you know that feeling when you just bought a new gadget and you can’t wait to use it and show it off? That’s how I felt when I bought my first ever camping stove. I used to use a soda can stove but as I got serious with hiking and travelling, I decided to buy a proper camping stove.
So there I was, looking for a place to hike when our friend Chino (whom we met at Mt. Maranat) invited us to go to Tarak Ridge in Bataan. I immediately said yes for 3 reasons: It’s been a while since my last hike, I wanted to try out my new stove and #teamharthart haven’t experienced a major hike yet.
Everyone was excited about the hike since it was our first major climb, the team met up at Cubao where we bought all of our supplies (if I am not mistaken, there isn’t a local market near the jump off point) and caught a bus going to Mariveles. You can choose between 2 transits: JAC Liner or Genesis. It took us approximately 3-4 hours to get to the jump off point. We ate lunch in a nearby carinderia before we started our ascend. It was already midday when we arrived and everyone’s tummy were already grumbling.
I’ve always loved the feeling of cool wind in my hair. It’s not something very easy to find especially if you live in the city. So when my motorcycle club (Suzuki Thunder Riders Of The Philippines aka. TROOP) proposed to go on a road trip during the 2014 Holy Week, I did not have any second thoughts. It was easy for me to say yes because I’ve always wondered how it felt like to travel to distant places on two wheels. I don’t really like being in enclosed spaces when I travel so I quickly grabbed the opportunity.
The group rendevoused at EDSA Centris. There were more than 25 motorcycles plus back warmers who turned up for the trip. After drinking coffee and a few reminders from the veteran riders, we geared up and started our long journey to Pangasinan. The first leg of the journey was rough. It was the start of the long holidays that’s why there were loads of commuters on the road. Another reason why we were riding slow was because of the unpaved road somewhere in Bulacan. This part of our journey stuck in my memory because it was where I (and Louie) experienced falling off my motorcycle for the first time. Good thing it was just a slip and there were no injuries. We were back on the motorcycle in no time (what did I learn from this experience? Don’t go hard on the brakes especially if there’s sand on the road).
The road became very smooth and there were less traffic when we reached Pampanga. We had a little stop over though as we had to wait for the other members. Some had a flat tire while others experienced electrical problems. We didn’t mind waiting for them as our legs were starting to get numb at this point.
It was in the middle of the rainy season (Oct. 2014) when Jon and I decided to spend our 3-day weekend away from the city. We didn’t really plan for this trip and we were on a tight budget that’s why we chose to visit Burot Beach in Calatagan, Batangas since it is not too far away from home and (hopefully) fewer people there because it was rainy season. Fortunately, the sky was clear and the sun was shining when we left. The weather was on our side and we couldn’t be happier about it.
The commute was fairly easy. First, we took a bus going to Calatagan, Batangas. The bus ride was smooth and it only took us 3 hours to get there. We bought our supplies at the local market in Calatagan. Don’t forget to buy drinking water here as the stores are very far away from the beach. We then hired a tricycle (P150, good for 3-4 persons) to take us to the beach. I like the fact that the trike can take you all the way to the beach unlike most beaches where you have to rent a boat which costs an arm and a leg.
Luckily for us, the beach was empty and we had the beach all to ourselves (that’s what we thought). After setting up our tents and laying down a mat to avoid sandy bums, we decided to cook our lunch. As always, Jon cooked while I gave him morale support ☺.
I had previously joined several outreach activities in the mountains of Sierra Madre which takes about 2 hours of hiking. This was the first time Fharen, Trixia and I (Jon has quite a bit of experience in hiking) will be on a proper hiking trip. June 2014, with our bags and a set of extra clothing, we started our unforgettable journey to Mt. Maranat.
As beginners, we only had a vague idea of the do’s and dont’s of hiking. The only preparation we made for this trip was to read blogs about the said mountain. From Cubao, we rode a bus going to Tungko. The journey was quite smooth aside from the occasional (doubt it!) traffic along EDSA. We soon arrived in Tungko and took a jeepney going to Sitio Licao Licao. Sitting inside were 4 mountaineers (Kuya Chino, Kuya Nogi, Kuya Alvin and Rhenz). There bags were really big compared to our jansport bags, we felt like rookies. We learned that they were going to the summit of Mt. Maranat and was going to stay overnight. Our plan was to just visit the twin falls, have a little splash and then go back home.
We first ate our lunch to feed our growling tummies before we started our ascend. We were torn between hiring a guide or not but I felt it was way better to hire one because we don’t know a thing about the place. Not far from the jump off we saw a sign board which said “guide for hire P300” so we took the opportunity. It was a drizzling a little when we started our climb so it made the trail a bit muddy. I had a feeling that it was going to be a long day.
Last December 2014, #teamharthart decided to celebrate Jon’s 23rd birthday at Calaguas Island. Shameful as it can be, I had “biyahilo” since I can remember so I asked the team to opt for the non air-conditioned bus! Nobody was able to say no thanks to my persuasion. ☺ Most of us enjoyed riding the ordinary bus especially when we hit the provinces where the air was fresh and very cool. We actually had to close the windows as it became freezing inside the bus.
After the 9 hour commute, we finally reached Daet, Camarines Norte. My bum was about to fall off when we got of the bus and worse, the flood gates of heaven opened. It was still dark when we arrived and everyone in that town was still cuddled up in their beds. There we were, wet from the rain and numb from the long haul journey. It cannot get any worse I am sure.
I was so disheartened I felt that this trip was going to be a failure but then the rain stopped. All 6 of us were alive again. As the sun rose, our smiles glittered as well. Feeling the warm sunlight on our skin really boosted our morale.
Louie and I’s anniversary was on it’s way and the summer season was almost over so we decided to celebrate our anniversary at the beach. (We don’t really like fancy food and restaurants so we opt to spend our anniversary in the sun.)
We were torn between Cagbalete and Borawan Island but after lots and lots of research, we’ve decided to go to Cagbalete Island. Apparently it was jellyfish season in Borawan and there were some bad reviews about the place.
With our tent and camping gear, we took a bus from Cubao going to Lucena Grand Terminal. After that, we took an ordinary bus to Mauban, Quezon. I really enjoyed the commute to Mauban since the air was cool and the view was spectacular. It reminded me of why I enjoy travelling to the rural parts of the country. We stopped by the public market to buy some supplies and to ask for direction. The shop owners were quite entertaining and didn’t mind being asked for directions. A few of them even offered to take us to the port where we can catch the boat to the island.