The Great Escape – Ilocos Norte (Part I)

Again, the second part of our journey went up through the long, meandering and seemingly never ending roads heading up to the northernmost tip of Luzon. As our bus swiftly passed through several communities and municipalities of Ilocos Sur, I can’t help but notice the simple lives of Ilocano locals going on with their daily routines, kids merrily walking side by side with their best friends as they went to school, the daily gossiping at the local store, the busy intersections filled with the roaring engines of jeepneys and tricycles, and the frantic shouting of the barkers near the municipal markets.

The bus came to an abrupt stop with the attendant yelling that we are now at the junction of Batac, Ilocos Norte. We then alighted, Sun’s up and probably a little scorching by noon time. It was 09:45am on my trusted wristwatch, and without any contacts prior to the trip, we haggled with the TODA drivers at the nearest tricycle terminal to take us to some of the different attractions of Batac and Paoay then head to Laoag for our final stop of the tricycle tour. We then agreed with 600php as Kuya Jun’s fixed rate and the going got a little better from here.

 

The Making of a Great Leader


Batac, Ilocos Norte, is dubbed as the home of Great Leaders, with the insignia and slogan flashing loud and proud against the plaza grounds. First stop on our tricycle tour was the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center where it also happens to be the ancestral home of the Marcoses. It also houses the infamous ghostly cenotaph of the Martial Law regime, the well preserved corpse of the late president Marcos.

No picture taking is allowed, the entrance to the mausoleum involves some strict security measures and the insides of it were equipped with cctv cameras so don’t you dare snap a photo or else. The main wooden door is guarded by two wooden eagle sculptures, upon entry, the whole place were deprived with natural light, the interiors are flushed in black paint up to the higher spans of the ceiling.

Eerie classical music filled our ears, and will warrant goosebumps as soon as we set foot into the red carpet. Then there he is, the late President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos laid in an eternal unrest, he was wearing a Piña fiber Barong Tagalog and black slacks and shoes, while being encased by a glass compartment. His remains were transported back to Batac from the United States in 1993 after succumbing to Lung Cancer, his frail little figure was far from the once powerful physique that I have seen in documentaries and textbooks. After the encounter with the late president, we then paid for a 50php museum fee and proceeded to the second floor of the ancestral home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: As of November 2016, his remains were re-interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) in Taguig. A replica made up of wax remains to be displayed inside the coffin in Batac. This event was uncalled for and was tagged by the masses as the “Last Betrayal of the Marcoses”. There were no information as to what was about to happen, and like a thief in the middle of the night, his remains were air lifted from Batac to Taguig and the processional march instantly came into life at the cemetery with his immediate family behind the funeral carriage. News spread all across mass media like wildfire, with mixed reactions varying from rage, contentions to vindication.

 

The second floor of the ancestral home houses several memorabilias of Marcos from his stint as an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines down to assuming the highest seat in the country as the President.

One should also not miss the Dragon Fruit flavored ice cream peddled in the streets of Batac while enjoying the view of the nearby plaza and the Church of Batac.


Paoay, Kumakaway

After an hour, we then headed west going closer to the shoreline of Ilocos Norte, we passed by the DMMSU or the Don Mariano Marcos State University named after the father of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Several kilometers and a couple of minutes more, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paoay with its towering belfry came into full view.

Demanding your undivided attention, the Paoay Church is really magnificent in its very own right.

Sighting the inscription from the Philippine Historical Commission Marker at the main entrance:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHURCH OF PAOAY
Parish founded by Augustinian Missionaries, 1593. Cornerstone of Church laid, 1704, of convent, 1707, of tower, 1793. Used before completion and kept in repair by the joint auspices of the church and town officials. Inaugurations ceremonies, February 28, 1896. Church damaged by earthquake 1704 and 1927. Tower used as observation post by Katipuneros during the revolution. By the Guerilleros during the Japanese occupation.

 

The construction of the massive edifice started in 1704, and is a prime example of “Earthquake Baroque” a localized interpretation of Baroque architecture suited for the country’s seismic conditions. It has twenty four (24) large buttreses designed like fluorishing vines supporting the coral stone and brick clad side walls. The facade somewhat suggests influences from other south east asian countries for its pointed niches on top of large pillars.

The Paoay Church or Church of San Agustin is one of the four (4) Baroque Churches in the Philippines inscribed in the 1993 World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. Heritage sites such as this one that displays exceptional value and deserves protection for the benefit of the humanity.

A little farther away from the lush landscape of the centuries old church lies the Paoay marker made of fiber glass and is a must photo spot for every tourist visiting the area.

Across the main road, is a photo gallery open for all and named as Arte Luna, with their latest exhibit, the Fade Into Light Series by Raul Echivarre and AP Murillo. The installation is composed of several photos of the fisherfolks of Currimao. Title loosely refers to a series of professions slowly waning into irrelevance. It is about workers staring into the inevitable but still soldiers on.

And a question from one of the exhibit panel really hit me hard: “How do you travel? Are you the type who gets the most bang of the buck by cramming as much places of interest as you can into the itinerary? Or would you rather spend time getting to know the nuances of a place?” And then the answer came like a ton of realization washing me out into full unscathed attention with the last sentence; ” ..while these two roads may diverge, it is guaranteed that it won’t be in the same yellow wood.” Changing my perception of how to travel if only given enough time not just to explore the place but also the culture.

After a short but meaningful visit to the gallery, it made me more inspired to travel the Ilocos Region.

The Sand Dunes of Paoay is really a must for anyone who visits the Ilocos Region, but with only the two of us, with a tight budget on our pockets,we chose to skip this place. We made sure that this will be our next destination on our next Ilocos trip.

Paoay Sand Dunes is a long stretch of desert sands facing the West Philippine Sea that encompasses the town of Currimao up to Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. One can rent a 4×4 vehicle, which are at your disposal and can be found at the base of the site near the highway. The tour costs 1500php for 30minutes with maximum of 5 pax per vehicle, enjoy sightseeing and photo sessions. One should also not miss Sand Boarding and experience sliding down the dunes aboard a wooden plank!

Dakkel a Danum

A little farther up into the alternate route going to Laoag, the houses at each side of the highway got lesser and lesser by the minute. Then Kuya Jun, our tour guide, stopped by a restaurant at the right side and only then we realized that the placid body of water in front of us is the Paoay Lake!

Legend has it that this 3.86 square kilometer lake, the largest in Ilocos Norte, once existed as the village of San Juan de Sahagun. Villagers, once god fearing and humble, prospered much that they turned materialistic and selfish over time. The gods, appalled by the transformation, punished them by submerging the whole place in water, with the villagers turned into fishes, with their jewelries still adorning their scales and fins.

The leaves of the nearby trees rustled against the warm and humid air streaming across the lake. Terrazas De Paoay, the restaurant in which we stopped by, offers food and refreshments to any visitors who wants to appreciate the unobstructed view of the lake. And to fully enjoy our brief stay, we ordered some Ilocos Empanada partnered with a glass of Halo-halo.

Malacañang Ti Amianan


Half an hour spent at the Terrazas de Paoay, we then ventured again up into our second to the last stop, the Malacañang Ti Amianan or the Malacañang of the North. The road then forked into a smaller one, then we happened to pass by an old golf course and country club then continued into what seemed like a country side filled on both sides with trees blocking out the sunlight and served as mighty canopies.

We then alighted at a gate where you have to pay the entrance fee of 20php before we got down into a road sloping down into an old but elegant filipino style two-storey mansion made up of local materials. It was built impressively in a five(5) hectare property in Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte facing the serene Paoay Lake. It was once the official residence in Ilocos Norte during the former president’s regime.

The flooring, panels, and doors were made up of Philippine hardwood while the sliding windows were filled with capiz shells. Upon entry, we were welcomed with an elegant receiving hall, big enough to accomodate a hundred. A grand wooden staircase stood at the left side, a common sign of Imelda Marcos’ penchant for grandiose and elegance. The dining hall were fit for a king.

The second floor, similar to the ground floor is a much wider one but filled with rooms ranging from the spacious masters bedroom up to the well kept library and the office where officials are received whenever the late president seeks refuge and peace in his hometown. The balcony faces the mansion’s large garden extending up to the banks of the Paoay Lake.

After an hour inside the Malacañang of the North, it is now time to bid our goodbyes with the locals whom we had a short chat with, and headed to our last destination.


The City of Lights

The long tricycle ride felt like eternity as the hot afternoon air were like little pin pricks on our skin. Then after 30minutes we were welcomed by a long bridge encompassing a whole river system, the big white signage standing atop a hill from afar said it all, “LAOAG CITY”. It is the political, commercial and industrial hub and the location of Ilocos Region’s only commercial airport, the Laoag International Airport.

It is not only known as the “City of Lights” but also for another preserved massive edifice that really exemplifies Ilocos Norte as the Region of Grand Bell Towers, the Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag. 

Built in 1707, and sinking at a rate of an inch a year, the tower has a foundation of 300 feet or roughly 90 meters. This 45 meter tower is made up of locally produced bricks joined by molasses and juice of sablot leaves mixed with lime and sand. It used to have a big clock face at the tower’s western face that is reachable through a winding staircase inside.

Across the street lies the main church of the sinking bell tower, the Laoag Cathedral built in 1612 by the Augustinian Friars. It showcases an Italian Reinassance style that has a two storey facade composed of a main retablo and two smaller ones at both sides. The upper retablo houses a recessed niche that contains the image of the city’s patron saint, St. William of Maleval.

Other places also worth visiting when in Laoag City:

■ Museo Ilocos Norte


Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte and the Marcos Hall of Justice



The neigboring towns also houses historical riches in the form of ancestral homes and century old churches with detached beautiful bell towers. The distinct charm of Laoag, with its right fusion of the classic and the modern influences of Ilocano and Spanish roots, never ceases to amaze and still continues even up to the pristine beaches and mountains of Pagudpud at the northernmost tip of Luzon.
Second Part of our Ilocos Norte adventure here:



The Greater Amianan, Upclose – Ilocos Norte (Part II)



NOTES:

How To Get There:

○ Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Center, Paoay Church, Sand Dunes, Lake, Malacañang of the North:
● By land, take any bus bound for Laoag, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Partas Bus) then alight at the junction of Batac, Ilocos Norte (9-11hrs travel time, 700-800php). Then hire a tricycle that will take you to the places of interest in Batac and Paoay
● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time)
● From the airport hire a tricycle that will take you to the city proper, from there take any jeepneys bound for Batac or buses that will pass by the area. Upon arrival in Batac, hire a tricycle that will take you to the places of interest in Paoay and Batac

○ Laoag Sinking Bell Tower, St. William’s Cathedral, Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol:
● By land, take any bus bound for Laoag, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport, Partas Bus, Dominion Bus Lines, Fariñas Transit). (10-12hrs travel time, 700-800php). Upon arrival hire a tricyle to take you to the places of interest in Laoag
● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time).
● From the airport hire a tricycle to take you to the Belltower which is located in the town center.

○ Where to Stay in Laoag:

Hotel Tiffany
Address: M.H. Del Pilar St. Laoag City
Contact: hoteltiff@gmail.com or (+63)9266945221

Java Hotel
Address: G. Segundo Avenue, Bacarra Rd., Laoag City
Contact: javahotel@gmail.com or (+63)9108776849

Balay De Blas
Address: #10 Giron St., Brgy. 7-B, Laoag City
Contact: balaydeblas@yahoo.com or (+63)9175712110

Texicano Hotel
Address: Corner Giron and J.P. Rizal Streets, Laoag City

BUDGET AND ITINERARY

Ilocos Norte-Ilocos Sur 2D1N DIY Adventure

Day 0
2000 – Cubao, Take Partas Bus Bound for Vigan, Ilocos Sur (625php/pax)

Day 01
0500 – Arrival at Vigan (Breakfast own account)
0530 – Start walking tour
●Calle Crisologo
●Vigan Cathedral
●Simbaan A Bassit
●Plaza Burgos and Plaza Salcedo
●Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol
●Bantay Bell Tower (Hail a tricycle to take you to Bantay, 30php/trip)
0815 – Take Tricycle to Partas Bus Terminal (40php/trip)
830 ETD to Batac, Ilocos Norte via Partas Bus (105php)
0945 Alight at Batac Junction, Start tour (300 each(2pax)/ 600php good for 3 pax)
●Marcos Presidential Center and Mausoleum (50php/per pax)
●Batac Cathedral
●Paoay Church
●Paoay Lake
●Malacañang Ti Amianan (20php/pax)
*you can add Suba Paoay Sand Dunes if you are traveling by group, 2500php for an hour of 4×4 ride and sand surfing
1300 Laoag City, visit Sinking Bell Tower, Ilocos Norte Museum and Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol, take lunch
1430 Depart for Pagudpud, Bus Terminal is at the back of Provincial Capitol (90php/pax)
1630 – Arrival at Pagudpud, take tricycle to Aling Rollie’s Homestay (tricycle free of charge to and fro the bus terminal, if you are availing his tour services)
1650 – Arrival at Homestay (500php/overnight/fan room/good for 2-3persons, Aircon Room starts at 800php)

Day 02
0700 – Wake up, breakfast
0800 –  Start South bound tour (600php, 200php/pax if group of 3)
0830 – Bangui Wind Farm
0930 – Arrival at Burgos Junction, transfer to another tricycle (100php/each, 300php/trip)
0945 – Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Burgos Wind Farm (15php/pax, Entrance Fee)
1100 – Cape Bojeador Light House
1145 – Start Southbound Tour (600php, 200php/pax if group of 3)
1300 – Arrival at Kabigan falls (Guide Fee: 300php, Entrance Fee: 10php)
1430 – End of Waterfall trek
1445 – Lunch
1530 – Patapat Viaduct
1600 – Timangtang Rock Formation
1615 – Bantay Abot Cave
1645 – Pagudpud Blue Lagoon
1730 – Saud beach
1800 – Back at Homestay, Tidy up
1830 – Tricycle to Bus Terminal, Buy Vigan Longganisa at Aling Maricel’s House 250php/Kilo
1900 – Florida Deluxe Bus (700php/pax)

Day 03
0500 – Manila

TOTAL DAMAGE: 2815php/pax excluding food
My total expenses (with food and souvenirs): 3500php 


“What is the meaning of life? The meaning is not for you to find but for you to define. The meaning is found in the purposes that we pursue as we grow older.”

– Miriam Santiago


Go, Carve That Niche,

Rex

SNAPSHOT – Banaue Rice Terraces 

Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the Banaue Rice Terraces, carved some 2000-6000 years ago in the mountain slopes of Ifugao, is considered as a marvel of ancient engineering. The ingenuity and resilience of the Ifugao people led to this striking work of art that became an enduring example of how the Cordilleran tribes adapted to the difficulties posed by the ever changing natural environment. With only minimal tools and animal power, they came up with complex irrigation systems and terraced ponds that follows the contours of the mountains, and everything remains unchanged up to this very day.
How to Get There:

● Take an Ohayami Bus Line bound for Banaue, Ifugao, it usually leaves at 9:00pm and 10:00pm daily. Terminal is at A.H. Lacson cor. Fajardo St., Sampaloc Manila (Near the University of Sto. Tomas). Alternately, Dangwa Bus Lines also plies this route and leaves at the same time, Terminal is at Kamias, Cubao. (10-11hrs travel time)

● From Banaue, charter any tricycle that will take you to the different view points of the terraces which are 5-10mins away from each other.

Full Article Here:

SNAPSHOT – Mt. Masaraga(1328MASL)

Part of the three Albay mountains commonly called as the ‘Magayon Trio’ (Mts. Mayon, Masaraga, Malinao), Mt. Masaraga is an extinct stratovolcano standing at 1328MASL and is one of Bicol’s best kept hiking destinations. It is located in Oas, Albay with Sitio Sabloyon as its main jump-off point. Mt. Masaraga is infamous for the presence of Limatiks (leeches) after passing the forested part of the trail up to the not so gentle steep ridge assaults that is quite technical before reaching the very summit that offers spectacular views Mt. Mayon and the surrounding mountains of the provinces of Albay and Camarines.

How To Get There:

● By land, take any bus bound for Legazpi, Albay (10hrs travel time) and alight at Ligao City in Albay and ask for the intersection where there are jeeps bound for Tabaco. Tell the jeepney driver to drop you off at Sitio Sabloyon in Brgy. Amtic, jeeps usually leave when full. (15-20mins travel time).

● By Air, take any flight bound for Legazpi, Albay (1hr travel time) upon arrival in Legazpi, head for the grand terminal near Gaisano Mall and take the jeeps/vans bound for Ligao City. From Ligao City, transfer to jeeps bound for Tabaco and alight at Sabloyon. 

● Upon arrival at Sitio Sabloyon, coordinate with guides and register before starting the trek. (4-5hrs trek time).

Full Article Here:

SNAPSHOT – Paoay Church

​Recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich history and its healthy mixture of Baroque and Gothic architecture, Paoay Church or St. Augustine Church stood the test of time since its construction in 1694. The unique construction of the church is composed of large buttresses supporting the side walls and the three storey belfry made up of adobe and corals standing a few meters from the church. Filipinos sought refuge in its walls and used the belfry as an observation tower during the Spanish Revolution until the Second World War. 


How To Get There:

● By land, take any bus bound for Laoag, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Partas Bus) then alight at the junction of Batac, Ilocos Norte (9-11hrs travel time). Then hire a tricycle that will take you to Paoay Church (20mins travel time).

● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time).

● From the airport hire a tricycle that will take you to the city proper, from there take any jeepneys bound for Batac or buses that will pass by the area. Upon arrival in Batac, hire a tricycle that will take you to the church in Paoay.

Full Article Here:

Just Like Fire – Camiguin

Camiguin Island, located at the northernmost part of main land Mindanao is popularly dubbed as the “Island Born of Fire”. It is said to be the country’s most beautiful island enriched with plethora of natural wonders and historical riches. A peaceful dreamland of pristine waterfalls, lush rainforests, volcanic edifices, hot and cold springs, numerous coastlines dotted with marine sanctuaries with exotic marine life. The remoteness is quite dissuading, but do not be discouraged, to both the adventurer and urban dweller; Camiguin is Paradise.

En Route to Benoni

Camiguin came from the word “Kamagong” an endemic tree valued for its sturdy wood. Inhabited by the Manobo’s from Surigao, this island is really a hot plate, wherein there are more volcanoes (7 overlapping active volcanoes) than its towns (5 towns).

This island also happens to be the smallest island with the most number of volcanoes per square kilometer than any other island in the world. Camiguin also houses an ASEAN Heritage Park called the Timpoong Hibok-Hibok National Monument due to its diverse ecosystem that resulted in high endemism of flora and fauna in the area.

With our day almost coming to a close due to the long travel from Iligan City, our group rented a commuter van (2000php/good for 8-10pax) at the Agora Market in Cagayan de Oro City to take us directly to Balingoan Port since we are running out of time before the last ferry leaves for Camiguin. Cheaper option is to take the Butuan bound buses that will pass by the Balingoan Port and will only cost around 150php, travel time is around 2-3hours but still depends on traffic conditions. Scenic coastal views at the left side welcomed us as we swiftly passed by the different municipalities of Misamis Oriental.

After almost 2 hours, we are lucky enough to reach Balingoan Port located at the northernmost tip of Misamis Oriental by 5:15pm. Last trip of ferry bound for Benoni Port leaves at 5:30pm. We then paid for the ferry ticket (170php) and their terminal fee (15php).

The ferry embarked by 5:30pm, crossing the gap that seperates Camiguin Island and mainland Mindanao. The Island Born of Fire contrasted by the sky’s play of colors before dusk was already in front of us, the sea greeted us with her calm waters, and we were wondering what awesome adventures are awaiting us the following day.

We arrived at Benoni Port at Mahinog, Camiguin by 6:30pm and rented a motorella (a covered tricycle that is designed to accommodate 4-6persons) to take us to Camiguin White Island Beach Resort located in Mambajao. After 45 mins we have arrived at the resort and settled down for a while in our rented barkada room which costs 1600php per night and is airconditioned, the room can accomodate up to 6 people. The tricycle waited for us to take us back to the highway where we will be having our dinner, we paid 400php for the motorella trip. We then asked the driver, Kuya Carlo, to tour us around the island on our very brief stay and agreed with 1200php rate for our chosen destinations until we get back to Benoni Port on our third day.

After having dinner, we then got back to our room and reminded our guide, Kuya Bibot Jael of our hike the following day to reach one of Camiguin’s highest point, Mt. Hibok-Hibok.

Stories On Top of H2

Day 02 of our Northern Mindanao Adventure, we then waited for our rented multicab to take us to the trail head of Mt. Hibok-Hibok via the Yumbing trail. Unfortunately, two of our friends were in bad shape to climb H2 that day so it was only four of us who’ll be hiking. We then started our hike by 5:40am and reached the highest point around 10:00am and got back to the trail head by 1:30pm.

Full Article on our Mt. Hibok-Hibok climb here:

Mt. Hibok-hibok’s famous jump-off point which is the Tagdao Trail or Ardent Trail is a more straightforward one that requires scaling large boulders and is much shorter than that of Yumbing, starts at Ardent Hibok-Hibok Hot Spring Resort, where the natural pool is heated by the active Hibok Volcano that runs down its vents, taking a dip on it is a must on your visit in Camiguin.


Tuasan Falls

Right after our ascent to Mt. Hibok-hibok we then got back to our room to tidy up and prepare for the last leg of our adventure that day. Kuya Carlo then arrived by 3:30pm and took us on a scenic drive along the coastal road of Catarman. We arrived at Tongatoc Cove by 4:00pm.

An overlooking spot beside the highway, Tongatoc Cove is a good spot for picture taking while appreciating the sea that is being contrasted by the remnants of the Mt. Vulcan eruption on the left side.

We then hastily rode the motorella to reach Tuasan Falls before dusk. The road going to the jump-off point is now paved and accessible to all types of vehicles as of writing, contrary to the 6km hike that is usually done from years ago passing through Barrio Mainit before reaching this relatively untouched beauty. Beware of landslides on the left side of the road. We arrived by 5:00pm and no entrance fee is collected.

Then Tuasan Falls stood before us right after passing a little rocky riverbed, the 25 meter  cascading waterfall is enthralling all the same, cold water flows down to a shallow catch basin. Swimming is really not that ideal since the pool surrounding it is also shallow and littered with pebbles and rocks.


The Sunken Cemetery

Around 6pm, after our quick visit at the Tuasan Falls, we then got back at Brgy. Bonbon at Catarman to visit the Island’s most famous attraction, the Sunken Cemetery.

It is a large white cross that marks a cemetery swept into the sea by the Old Vulcan Daan’s eruption dating back in 1871. Located 16kms from Catarman Town Proper, the white cross is accessible by renting boats that will take you to the podium where the cross is erected. One can also try to dive or snorkel in the area to get a glimpse of the pantheons buried under the sea for centuries. It was already dark when we arrived so we didn’t had the chance to see it upclose.

Other attractions near the Sunken Cemetery Cross and inside the town of Catarman are:

Walkway to the Old Volcano – with life sized statues depicting the stations of the cross which are dotted along the trail until one reaches the old volcano’s peak.

Old Church Ruins – remnants of the Vulcan Daan Eruption, the ruins are composed of century old thick walls, belfry and convent that stands remniscent of the second spanish settlement established in 1679.

Sto. Niño Cold Spring – a terrific huge pool of cold spring water sprouting from the sandy bottom of the pool. It is located 4kms north of Catarman.

Mt. Timpoong – the highest point in the Island, followed by the daunting Mt. Tres Marias and the Binangawan Waterfalls that is really a good place to visit for the adventurers at heart.

We got back to our room and visited Check-Point restaurant by 7:00pm and had a sumptuous dinner all to our stomach’s delight.

With the night which is still not quite over, we then visited the Peninsular Kape Art Cafe nearby our hotel room which is owned by a beautiful Brazilian National who had been also mesmerized by the island’s quaint charm. 


The Naked Temptress

On our third and final day, we woke up early by 5:30am to wait for our boat ride to catch the sunrise and take us to the not so hidden gem anymore of Camiguin, the White Island. The small outrigger boat charged us 450php back and forth and it can accommodate up to 6 persons. Travel time is only 10-15minutes before docking at any point in the island. 

White Island, located across Agoho and Yumbing, is an alluring naked temptress that continually changes shape according to the weather and tide. It is an uninhabited white sandbar with a picturesque view of the island with the peaks of Mt. Hibok-hibok and Mt. Timpoong soaring way above the clouds.

The place is ideal for swimming and snorkeling as well as sunrise and sunset watching, and ideal time to visit is before and after noon time where the heat is more bearable.

We left by 8:30am and immediately got back on our room to pack up and headed back to Mambajao around 9:30am.

Katibawasan Falls

The second to the last destination on our Camiguin adventure, we visited one of the tallest waterfall in the country, the Katibawasan Falls. Located 5kms southeast of central Mambajao, the road going to the falls is cemented but the lush rainforest that is surrounding it is a must see.

Upon arrival we paid 20php for the entrance fee, and the entrance gate is lined up with souvenir stores selling shirts and refreshments,  one must also try Kiping, a crispy round shaped fried cracker made from Cassava flour and is drizzled with coconut jam. Katibawasan Falls is a 75 meter tall waterfall cascading from a cliff high up from a mountain wallgoing straight down into a shallow rock pool. The area is surrounded by ground orchids, wild ferns, trees and boulders.

The water during our visit is quite murky but nevertheless it was really cold that made it really inviting. After a quick dip, we headed back down to Mambajao then straight to Mahinog.
Mantigue Island

Our trip from Katibawasan going down to Mahinog almost took an hour and we arrived at Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog where we hired a boat going to Mantigue Island.

The boat rate for the back and forth day trip costs 550php good for 6 persons, and another entrance fee of 50php. There are also stalls around the registration area where one can rent snorkeling gears such as fins, goggles, and lifevests.

Around 20mins of boat ride from Mahinog, we arrived at Mantigue Island, the sky is painted in bright blue hues and accompanied by the afternoon sun and clouds. Reefs and starfishes were seen before we docked because of its clear waters. Upon setting foot on its fine white sand, the first thing that we all agreed upon is to have lunch. Inside the island, there’s a store wherein you can buy fresh seafoods and other foods ranging from chicken to pork and have it cooked for a fee, of course the rates are higher, but it is not that bad after all.

Mantigue island, is a 4 hectare oblate shaped island located 3 kms offshore across Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog and is adjacent to the Bohol Sea. The whole island boasts of its evergreen stretch of Bakawan forest trails fringed with its fine white sand beach. Its background are the surreal views of Camiguin island and the mountain peaks of mainland Mindanao, while the surrounding crystal clear waters coming in waves, washing up the shore is really good for snorkeling and swimming.

After having lunch, we then proceeded for another boat ride going to the marine sanctuary where the thriving marine ecosystem is a must see. Colorful coral reefs and different kinds of fishes flock the area, one must also witness the presence of large Taclobo’s (Giant Clams) in the area.

We were back in Mahinog by 4:00pm and washed up and prepared for our long travel going back to Cagayan de Oro, there are toilets around the area where you can wash up for a fee. Then we got back at the Benoni Port at 5:00pm and spent our remaining time buying pasalubong most especially, the island’s sweetest treasure, the Lansones Camiguin, definitely the sweetest in the country. It was really cheap in there that it only costs around 20 per kilogram, since it is in season and with the Lansones Festival coming up in a few weeks and is usually celebrated during the month of October. One must also not miss the famous yema buns filled with happiness while in the island, the Vjandep Pastel! 

We got back at Balingoan Port by 7:00pm, and instead of waiting for the CDO bound buses, we then rented a whole commuter van that will take us straight back to Laguindingan International Airport since we are really short on time. (2500php/trip)

Simple yet warm, Camiguin is definitely the charmer that going back again will be on your list. Such a small island filled with volcanoes, beaches, diving spots and attractions. We will definitely be back on this super island to explore it a little bit more, its remoteness and peacefulness adds up to its unique island life that even some foreigners chooses to stay in there for months and even settled down. 


How to Get There:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


● Via Cebu: Cebu Pacific flies directly from Cebu to Camiguin everyday at 6:10am, if coming from Manila, take the earliest trip going to Mactan Cebu International Airport to catch the early Cebu-Camiguin flight.

 

 

● Via CDO:  From Manila, take any daily flight bound for Cagayan de Oro via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45 minutes travel time).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Upon arrival at the Laguindingan International Airport, ride any shuttle or bus bound for Cagayan de Oro City and alight at the Agora Terminal. (1 hour travel time)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● At the Agora Terminal, take any bus bound for Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental (2-3hours), or if traveling in a group one can opt to rent a van for faster travel time (1.5-2hours).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

●  At the Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental take the ferry bound for Benoni Port, Camiguin (45mins-1hour). Ferries leave for Benoni Port every 45 minutes and starts at 5:45 in the morning up to 5:30 in the afternoon. Another option is to wait for fast crafts (Ocean Jet) at the  Macabalan Port in CDO which costs 550-650php, trips bound for Benoni Port usually leaves around 8:30-10:30 in the morning.

● From Benoni Port, if you are on a budget, you can take the public multicabs bound for Mambajao (30php) then upon arrival at the town proper take the public motorellas bound for Catarman and alight at the resort /hotel of your choice. Or if travelking in a group one can hire Multicabs or Motorella to take you to your hotel and also to tour the whole island for a day and costs around 1500php-2500php. If you are a solo traveller, one can opt to hire a motorcyle or Habal-habal for a more cheaper option, rates starts at 800php.

Where to Stay:

●  Our group stayed at Camiguin White Island Beach Resort, only a heartbeat away from the White Island Sandbar, their Barkada Room costs 1600php/night and can accommodate 6 persons. Room is airconditioned with own CR. You can contact Jay Louis Salcedo at 09177947896/09399175047

● For budget travellers, there are numerous cheap hotels in Yumbing to choose from, it is 30mins away from Mambajao Town Proper and is nearer the beach and other attractions and where our group also stayed.

● Other options are:

– Cabua-an Beach Resort (088)387-2103

– Secret Cove Beach Resort (088)387-9094

– Villa Paraiso Resort and Apartelle (088)387-0419

– Camiguin Island Golden Beach Club (088)387-9163


Budget and Expenses:

Iligan-Cagayan de Oro-Camiguin 3D2N Itinerary

Day 0
1900  Taxi to NAIA T3 (50php/pax)
1930  NAIA T3
2100  Depart for Cagayan De Oro
2245  Arrival at Laguindingan Airport
2345  ETD to Iligan via commuter van (199php/pax)

Day 01
0110  Arrival at Iligan City, Stayed at North Bay Suites (1200php-Barkada Room good for 6pax)
0130  Dinner at the night market, tried the Halang-Halang
0215  Back at Hotel, lights off
0600  Wake up
0630  Take jeepneys bound for Buruun (Located at Ramiro St. cor Aguinaldo St., 12php/pax)
7000  Arrival at Buruun proper, breakfast
0730  Haggle with Habal-Habal drivers (400php/motorcycle/2persons/3 waterfalls)
0745  Arrival at Mimbalot Falls
0800  Depart for Brgy. Linamon
0810  Arrival at Tinago Falls (25php/pax entrance fee, 25php/pax lifevest, 15php/pax rent for raft ride, 50php/pax additional habal fee from Brgy. Linamon)
1000  Depart for Maria Christina Falls
1020  Arrival at Agus 6 Hydropower Plant, facility closed due to bomb threat)
1100  Back at Hotel, tidy up
1200  Depart for Tambo Terminal (7php/pax from Gaisano Mall)
1215  Arrival at Terminal, take buses bound for CDO Westbound Terminal
1230  Depart for CDO (85php/pax)
1445  Arrival at Westbound Market, take multicabs bound for Agora Market
1500  Arrival at Agora Market, rent van going to Balingoan Port (2000php/trip, 333php/pax)
1515  Depart for Balingoan Port
1710  Arrival at Balingoan Port, take passenger ferry bound for Benoni Port (170php/pax fare, 15php/pax terminal fee)
1730  Depart for Benoni Port, Mahinog, Camiguin
1830  Arrival at Benoni Port, Camiguin rent Motorella bound for White Island Resort, Mambajao (400php/6pax, 67php/pax) (Island Tour at 1200php/group)
1850  Depart for Mambajao
1930  Arrival at White Island Resort, rented an ACU Room good for 6 pax (1600php/night, 3200php/2 nights, 533php/pax)
2030  Dinner
2200  Lights Off

Day 02
0500  Meet-up with guide and wait for multicab (100php/back and forth)
0530  Arrival at Yumbing Trail Jump-off point (200php/pax Registration Fee, and 1200php/group of 5 Guide Fee)
0540  Start trek
0640  Arrival at campsite, breakfast
0700  Resume trek
9000  Ilihan Crater Lake, rest
0910  Final assault to summit
1000  Highest point of Mt. Hibok-hibok (1332MASL)
1100  Descend down
1130  Crater lake
0130  Jump-off point
1400  Back at Hotel, rest
1530  Travel to Catarman
1600  Tongatoc Cove
1700  Tuasan Falls
1800  Sunken Cemetery, Guiob Church Ruins, Walkway to the Old Volcano
1900  Back at Town, Dinner at Check Point Restaurant
2100  Back at Hotel, tidy up
2230  Peninsular Kape Art, late night coffee, stargazing
0000 Lights Off

Day03
0530  Wake up
0600  Wait for rented boat at the Port going to White Island
0645  Boat ride
0700  White Island (450php/small boat good for 6pax, 20php/pax entrance fee)
0830  Take boat back to mainland
0845  Back at Hotel, pack-up
0930  Last leg of tour, take Motorella
1000  Arrival at Katibawasan Falls (20php/pax entrance fee)
1100  Depart for Mahinog
1200  Mahinog Port  (550 boat/6-8pax, 50php/pax entrance fee, 150php/pax snorkeling mask, 100php/pax life vest)
1220  Mantigue Island, lunch
0230  Depart for Marine Sanctuary (50php/pax entrance fee, additional 200php boat fee/group)
1600  Back at Mahinog, tidy up
1700  Benoni Port, catch last trip going to Misamis Oriental
1745  Departure of Passenger Ferry to Balingoan Port
1900 Arrival at Balingoan Port, rented a van bound for Laguindingan Airport (2500php/6pax)
2030  Laguindingan Airport
2145  Flight back to Manila (250php/pax Terminal Fee)
2315  Arrival at NAIA T3

” I have learned to stop saying yes when I don’t mean it – to live as authentically as I know how. To allow the tips of my fingers to skirt the darkness, as long as i remember to keep my eyes fixed into the light. And as one door opens and another one closes, I will move forward with the knowledge that unlike so many  others, I have another year ahead of me – another shot at making it all the way around the sun, and a chance to get it right this time around.”

– Lang Leav



Go, Carve That Niche,
Rex

SNAPSHOT: Diplomat Hotel


Located in Baguio City, in the province of Benguet, Diplomat Hotel sits atop the famed Dominican Hill and has been dubbed as one of the most haunted places in the country and in the world. It was built by the Order of the Dominicans as a vacation house and was later turned as a school, eventually it closed down due to low turn-out of enrolees. During the Japanese occupation, it was turned into a refugee camp and was bombed multiple times, damaging the place and killing quite a number of people. In the early 70’s it was repaired back to life as Diplomat Hotel, a 33-bedroom hotel, this is where the haunted scores of apparitions came into circulation until it ceased its operation and was deemed off limits as the owner died of unexplained illness. The haunting continued up to this day.

How To Get There:

● Take any Baguio bound buses in Cubao, Quezon City (Victory Liner, Five Star Bus). (Travel Time is around 5-6hrs)

● Upon arrival at Baguio City, take a cab going to Burnham Park and alight at the jeepney terminal located at Zandueta St. near the Harrison-Abanao-Magsaysay Intersection, ride the jeeps bound for Dominican Hill. Alternately, you can hail a cab to take you directly to the Diplomat Hotel.

● Ask the driver to drop you off at the foot of Diplomat Hotel then walk until you reach the famed property.

Full Article Here:

SNAPSHOT: Mt. Hibok-Hibok (1332MASL)

Located in Camiguin, the Island Born of Fire, is an active stratovolcano and dome complex with a height of 1332 meters above sea level. It had five major eruptions during the modern history and the last one happened during the 1950’s and has three crater lakes namely Kanangkaan, Itum and Ilihan which are viewable from the crater rim summit. It is rich in flora and fauna ranging from wild orchids to mossy outgrowths and is accessible through the Yumbing and Ardent Trails. One can see the White Island Sandbar from the top and a 360 degree view of the whole island.
How To Get There:

● From Manila, take any flight bound for Cagayan de Oro via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45 minutes travel time).

● Upon arrival at the Laguindingan Airport, ride any shuttle or bus bound for Cagayan de Oro City and alight at the Agora Terminal. (1 hour travel time)

● At the Agora Terminal, take any bus bound for Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental (2-3hours), or if traveling in a group one can opt to rent a van for faster travel time (1.5-2hours).

●  At the Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental take the ferry bound for Benoni Port, Camiguin (45mins-1hour).

● From Benoni Port there are public multicabs  bound for Mambajao, then from Mambajao hail any Motorella to take you to the Ardent or Yumbing jump-off points (Trek time os around 3-4hrs).

Full Article Here:

SNAPSHOT: Bonifacio Ridge

Anyone who has reached Mt. Balingkilat definitely saw this meandering almost knife-edged ridge at the right side before the last assault going to the summit. Connecting it to Mt. Mabanban and Mt. Pundaquit, Bonifacio Ridge, named after Bonifacio Day, was recently explored and was done as a dayhike on that day traversing down to San Antonio, Zambales.

How To Get There:

● From Manila, one can take an Olongapo bound Victory Liner Bus at its Caloocan or Cubao Bus Terminal (Travel Time is 3-4hrs).

● Upon arrival at Olongapo City, arrange for jeepneys and guides beforehand to take you to the Sitio Cawag Resettlement jump-off point and make sure to drop by the Subic Police Station for the courtesy call. (Travel time 1hr)

● This is done as a Mt. Balingkilat approach descending down to the Bonifacio Ridge before reaching Mt. Mabanban down to Mt. Pundaquit.

SNAPSHOT: Tignoan Beach

Located in Real, Quezon, the Tignoan Beach is the lesser known surfing haven that is nearer the city. Contrasted by the rugged coastlines of Quezon Province since it is facing the Pacific Ocean, Tignoan emerges as the smoother side of it, with its fine brown sand and awesome swells almost all year long.
How To Get There:

●  Take a Raymond Bus Line bound for Infanta, Quezon located in Legarda St. Sampaloc, Manila. This will pass through Rizal and Laguna. (Travel time is atleast 4hrs)

● Alternately, there are also commuter vans at Legarda St. near the Raymond Bus Lines bound for Infanta, Quezon. (Travel time is atleast 3hrs)

● Alight at The Pacific Recreational Kamp (The PaRK) located in Brgy. Tignoan which is at the right side of the highway. This is the nearest and cheapest accomodation going to the public beach of Tignoan.

Full Article Here:

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