Weekend Climb: Mt. Talamitam, Nasugbu, Batangas

Going outdoors is my kind of weekend. There is nothing like stepping outside, feel the Earth and breathe.

Mount Talamitam in Nasugbu, Bantangas is one of the easiest and shortest climb in the Philippines. For newbies, and for some hardcore mountaineers who just want to have a good time outdoors, Mt. Talamitam is a must-climb. Also, it’s a good place to train for those who are aspiring to become trail runners (like me).

Reaching the summit is like no other. The view is such a beauty. You’d also get to see Mt. Batulao on the other side. My friends and I took a lot of photos and we enjoy every view.

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Stopped by the bahay-kubo for a rest
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At the summit
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Stopped at the bamboo-hanging bridge
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Friendship goals
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Photo with our super nice guide, Eugene

Here are some tips/guide if you plan going to Mt. Talamitam on a day hike.

  • It is a less than 2-hour drive from Manila if you’re in a private vehicle taking SLEX-Nuvali-Tagaytay-Nasugbu route
  • You may also take public buses going to Nasugbu, Batangas and stop at the registration site itself.
  • The registration site is at Barangay Aga, Sitio Bayabasan
  • Registration fee is PHP40.00 per head
  • Guide fee depends how much you want to give  your guide. As for us, we gave Kuya Eugene PHP400 + food
  • Note: there respective fees if you want to use their toilet and have shower.
  • Camping or spending over night is also possible with corresponding fees.
  • Sidetrips: Layong Bilog River (optional)
  • Rappelling activity is also available at the campsite of Mt. Talamitam.

Wandering in Ilocos

We wandered the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur for a quick 2-day DIY itinerary. For only two days, we managed to visit not all, but most of the tourist attractions of Ilocandia.

We left Manila at about 11 o’clock in the evening. We took the TPLEX route that is why we only travelled seven hours from Manila to Laoag. If you take the bus, travel time is eight to ten hours.

After we had our breakfast at our home, we headed to our first leg of our tour. First leg is visiting some notable tourist attractions in the north.

We started at Cape Bojeador which is located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte approximately 50-kilometers from Laoag. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is a cultural heritage structure established during the Spanish Colonial times.  Normally, a visit to the lighthouse requires an entrance fee of PHP40.00. Luckily, when we were at the gateway to the lighthouse, our student tour guide told us that for now the entrance is free until the national election. It is a way of the incumbent Governor of Ilocos Norte, Imee Marcos’ way to promote tourism and bring tourists to appreciate the site for free.

Our next stop was the Kapurpurawan Rock formation also located in Burgos. It was just a few kilometers away from the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. The Kapurpurawan Rocks are formations created by the forces of the ocean on the rocky coast of Burgos. In Ilokano dialect, Kapurpurawan means white. We were stunned by the beauty of the formed white rock which is the main attraction. They say it was formed thousands of years ago by the forces of sea waves and wind.

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Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Burgos, Ilocos Norte

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After seeing the beautiful rock formation, we took a stop at Bangui Wind Farm. The windmills in Bangui are a tourists’ favorite. Standing on the windswept shores of Bangui, these mighty giants are not only a tourist attraction but they serve as producers of electricity up to maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW. A project of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. in 2005, the Governor of Ilocos Norte at that time, this was highly prioritized to build up the power shortage of the province that slows down economic growth.  Be mesmerized with the dancing wind turbines as the wind blew swiftly from the coast. These were first in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

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Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte

After watching the dancing giants along the shore, our group headed to Pagudpud beach to have our lunch. We took some time to rest and headed our way to Patapat Viaduct to watch the sun sets. Unfortunately, we were not able to catch up the setting of the sun. Though we did not catch the sunset, our trip to the viaduct was still awesome and took a lot of photos because of the majestic view of the coastline of West Philippines Sea and the long-high bridge connecting Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley.

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Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

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Pagudpud Beach 
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Pagudpud Beach during sunset

On our second and last day of our short Ilocos trip, before heading to Ilocos Sur we took a short stop in Batac, visited the Marcos Museum, the formerly ancestral house of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. We were amazed by the untold stories of the Marcoses most especially the achievements of the late dictator from surviving the World War II until his political years where good and bad tales were told. And were able to see his body in his Mausoleum.

After our tour in the Museum, we headed downtown and had miki and empanada for our late lunch. A trip to Ilocos Norte is incomplete without a food trip in Batac, the home of the famous Ilocos Norte empanada. Miki, a homemade thick noodle with orange soup, sprinkled with green onions and chicharon (pork rind) plus a hard-boiled egg is also one of Batac’s pride. Our tummies were super satisfied with what we had and forgot about getting tired.

And because we regained our energy from the tasty lunch we had, we traveled to Paoay, Ilocos Norte and took a short visit of the Saint Augustine Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church was just an amazing structure. It was built in 1694 and completed in 1710 where it took almost a decade building it. The church is made up of coral stones and bricks and known to be a prime example of “Earthquake Baroque” design. The Paoay Church stood the test of time. It has survived wars and countless tremors and typhoons. Although it was partially damage during huge earthquakes, the church has been reconstructed and repaired that makes it looks unscathed. Today, the Saint Augustine Church in Paoay stood still as the mighty icon of the whole Ilocos Norte province. Tourists fall in love with this royal structure overtime and are one of the most visited places in North.

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The Saint Augustine Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte

From the north, we headed to Ilocos Sur and took a very quick tour in Vigan (leg 2 of our tour) – known as the home of ancestral houses and sites. Like Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur is also rich in historical stories. In fact, the province’s capital, Vigan, now a city is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. Due to an insufficient time we have, we were only able to visit The Baluarte or fortress, a must-see attraction in Vigan that offers a mini zoo with various animals from different countries and others endemic of the Philippines. It has also a butterfly farm, a track for horse riding and a skeet shooting range. The Baluarte has no entrance fee from 9AM until 5PM.

After wandering inside the Baluarte, we headed our way, in fact our last stop in Calle Crisologo. The Calle Crisologo is a historic walking site. History lovers like me will enjoy strolling in the streets. A historical site Vigan City is famous of. We reached the historical streets of Vigan before dark and the view of the whole place was just nostalgic and returns you to olden times. It is just wonderful. When you get to visit Calle Crisologo, don’t forget to ride on a calesa and have a joyride around the historical streets of Vigan. You’ll be able to see remarkable old Spanish-inspired houses around. Make the most of your stay in Vigan City and you will not regret.

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Calle Crisologo
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Old Spanish-style houses at the Calle Crisologo
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Calle Crisologo at night
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Taking a photo in the middle of the street

Before we headed back to Manila, we had dinner at my uncle’s ancestral house in Bantay, a small town near Vigan City.

And that concludes our two-day trip to Ilocos. Our original plan was just to spend a day in Pagudpud beach but we were fortunate to cover some different attractions the Ilocandia can give.

 

Mt. Ulap Eco Trail-My First Outdoor Adventure

I was never an outdoor adventure lover. Sure I am a marathoner, but the road was enough for my feet to conquer. I must admit, I was a less-adventurer.  Last March 19, 2016 was different. My friends who have climbed mountains and tried hiking before attempted – for the nth time inviting me to join them and have a day hike at Mt. Ulap (also known as the care bears mountain for hikers). And yes, they succeeded.  I was actually convinced, finally. And I must say I didn’t regret it.

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Gungal Rock- most popular site at Mt. Ulap

 

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This way to Mt. Ulap

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Camp site

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Grassland slope of Ambunao Paoay

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Stone balancing at Mt. Ulap

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At the camp site

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Over-looking

 

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It was supposed to be an easy climb. Not for a first-timer like me. Pity. It was a struggle for me. I almost ran out of breath reaching every summit. The traverse is another struggle story for me. I slid like five times. But I managed to get myself up and laugh about every breakdown. To sum it up, it was a lot of fun. It is another achievement for me- be able to conquer Mt. Ulap.

Throughout our journey, I can’t help but take pictures of every angle. The view is breathtaking. It was truly amazing how God have created all these. He was truly a genius. With this hike, I learned how to appreciate God’s creation more. And I am certain I would definitely do this again.

 

Mt. Ulap Day Hike budget:

Transportation:

Bus: Manila-Baguio – PHP455/head  (Victory Liner)

Jeepney going to Ampucao, Itogon – PHP31/head

Day Hike:

Registration Fee: PHP100/head

Guide: PHP400 for a group of 10 people

Note: I suggest that you hire a guide. One perk of having a guide is they will contact a jeepney that will take you back to Baguio City proper. Fare is PHP50/head.

Madongan Dam: A New Favorite Summer Getaway In The North

This past few weeks, photos have been circulating over social media about a newly discovered summer attraction with its cascading waterfalls and crystal clear waters – the Madongan Dam.

Initially, the Madongan Dam in San Marcelino, Dingras, Ilocos Norte was just out of curiosity of the locals. In just a span of a week, the local dam (which is also called Papa Dam) is now a tourist attraction and a new favorite for a weekend getaway.

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Cascading waterfalls of Madongan Dam

 

Madongan Dam, a new favorite spot

 

Visitors at Madongan Dam

 

Crystal Clear Water

If you are looking for a cheap but a relaxing and fun weekend escape this summer, visit this eye-catching spot located in the northeast part of Ilocos Norte.

Top 6 Destinations to Visit this Holy Week

Last Wednesday is the start of the Lenten Season. This season is observed by Christian traditions particularly by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Methodist to name a few. It begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. In the Philippines, since the majority of us is Roman Catholics and mostly is Protestants, the Holy Week is very important to each and every Filipino and is well observed. Beginning Maundy Thursday until Black Saturday, business operations mostly are shut down. This means most offices are not in operation to give meaning to its purpose, the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, and repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial. In the Philippines, it also means long weekend. There are certain traditional and non-traditional activities and practices most Filipinos do during this season. Some, most especially the Catholic devotees, practice Holy Week rituals. Some practice abstinence during Holy Week, where they restrain themselves from indulging in something, typically alcohol and smoking, while others travel to faraway places to reflect. And for those who choose the latter, here are top six destinations where you can reflect, soul-search and simply relax.

1. Ilocos Norte
They say if you want all sorts of fun and make sure you cover everything the Philippines could offer, start right at the top. Ilocandia is the perfect start to an awesome Holy Week getaway. If you’re looking for an adventure this Lenten Season, Ilocos Norte is a must visit destination. What to do in the northern part of the country? A lot! To name a few, a diverse beach experience in Pagudpud, site-seeing at Bangui Wind Farm, entice with the amazing rock formation at Kapurpurawan in Burgos, climb the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse and a city tour in Ilocos Norte’s biggest city, Laoag. From up north, go down south and indulge to another escapade that the southern part of Ilocos Norte can offer. Go sand-boarding and try an ATV ride at LaPaz Sand Dunes, stopover at Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, visit the Paoay Church in Paoay, a national treasure of Ilocandia and a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and the list goes on.

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Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Burgos, Ilocos Norte
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Saint Augustine Church – Paoay, Ilocos Norte

2. Boracay Island
There is no way Boracay would not be included in the list. Boracay could be the most popular destination not just for summer getaways but also to spend Holy Week with family or friends. Enjoy the beauty of the beach and fine white sands. Though Boracay is known for its loud celebration and crowd in every station, you can still enjoy and relax in observance of the Holy Week with lots of great hotels and resorts to check out and enjoy quiet sunrise and sunset at the beach.

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By Mikkel Duvå Lund – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1812861
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By Joannerfabregas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39784859

3. Camiguin Island
There are too many places to visit in Camiguin Island, and this is one perfect destination for your Holy Week getaway. You may visit the Sunken Cemetery marked with huge cross which is placed below sea level. Aside from this, the island is full of natural attractions that keep visitors coming. The Camiguin Island is rich in hot springs and waterfalls. The White Island, a sandbar is the most popular site the small island of Camiguin has. Its serene view and clear waters makes it one of my favorite places for getaways. It is composed solely of white sands and calm water. And from White Island you can view the Hibuk-Hibul Volcano and Mt. Vulcan in the background. Aside from all the beautiful natural attractions, you can also visit the walkway in Mt. Old Vulcan dotted with 14 life-sized Stations of the Cross. The Panaad Festival is celebrated by tourists and pilgrims during the Holy Week.

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White Island
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Fine white sand at White Island

4. Marinduque
A more enjoyable way to spend your Holy Week is to witness the Moriones Festival, Marinduque’s pride. Here, locals are seen in their costumes of Roman soldiers to depict the story of the Passion of Christ. This practice for the people in Marindugque is an act of penance and as a way of thanksgiving.

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5. Palawan
If relaxing is your main purpose during Holy Week, there is no other way to spend it than in beaches. The island of Palawan is one perfect place. Have you heard of Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa? These are just the famous islands in Palawan that showcase the richness of paradise-like beaches and not to mention abundant in beautiful coral reefs.

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By User: (WT-shared) Jdkoenig at wts wikivoyage – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23325365
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By IRRI Images – originally posted to Flickr as POTW_MichelleELLA01, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8114349

 

 

6. Christ of the Divine Mercy in Misamis Oriental
The Shrine of the Divine Mercy is located in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental overlooking Macajalar Bay on the southern island of Mindanao. This shrine serves as a pilgrimage site for Divine Mercy devotees.

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Shrine of Christ of the Divine Mercy

By Tin2little – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21432421

So, have you decided where to go this coming Holy Week? Do you have a destination in mind that is not included on my list? Feel free to share yours!