Category Archives: travel

OOOF! discovers Anawangin

It’s one of the more fun things I “have” to do in HP — make sure that everyone’s distracted from their work. πŸ™‚

The Out-Of-Office Fun! initiative had a climb+beach getaway last Sunday, thanks to our great TL Kian, who put it all together. The day started as early as 4:30 am at the Victory Liner terminal at Caloocan; Jan made herself the trip’s target by arriving last several hours later. πŸ™‚

At around 10:30, we were dropped off at San Antonio, Zambales and took tricycles to the jump-off point. After putting on sunblock and a round of stretching, we started the trek. The mountain’s relatively a Level 0.5, so it took us just around 4 hours for the whole climb (that’s going up + rest stops + singing + lunch + photo ops at peak + alaskahan + going down).

What we found on the other side of the mountain was a beach paradise waiting for us. We couldn’t wait to take our fill of this isolated strip of heaven, which we practically had all for ourselves. My words would probably not do justice to the moments of utter bliss we had, so I’d let the pictures do the talking instead. More pics from the great Paul and Kian. Thanks to Paul, Kian & Ronnel for posting the pics!

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7 Things I Learned From Our Cebu-Bohol Getaway

Touchdown Cebu!

1.) The best vacations are when you throw all caution to the air.

During a very vulnerable (i.e. stress galore) moment in December, a friend asked me if I’d like to come along to their trip to see the Sinulog in Cebu and to frolic in Bohol. Of course I said yes; I couldn’t have said it any quicker. Never mind that it might come right smack in the middle of one of the heaviest months I’ve ever had at work; I drastically needed my life back. So off we go to Cebu!

Haaaave you met Wes?

2.) You don’t find the festival; Sinulog finds you.
Our first day was mostly spent in malls: lechon at CNT by SM Cebu, Timezone at Ayala & dinner at Dessert Factory. Sinulog was all over — billboards greeting you Pit Senor!, ubiquitous festive banderitas, all-out performers going around the malls. At the afternoon, we did go off to downtown Cebu to see Magellan’s cross by the Basilica. And lo and behold, the rest of Cebu was there. There we were, right in the middle of the ocean of people at the Plaza, looking at fireworks during the rainy daytime and at hundreds of balloons going up in the air. Minutes later, the Sto Nino and his entourage went by and everyone started waving! Made me want to wave too, if only we had an idea of what was going on. We braved the rain and the Binondo-like streets, got a little lost, then finally made it to the cross. Siyempre, photo-op. πŸ™‚

Pit Senor!

3.) Get up early at Sinulog. Really.

Rhea and I got up early to see the parade right outside where we were staying, heeding Alex’s advice. What we didn’t know was the guys weren’t planning to do the same, so we went ahead and looked for breakfast. The Sinulog parade was already going by; good thing we found a VERY good spot in front of Manila Bulletin’s judging station and had an awesome view of all the contingents, decked with elaborate costumes, props and their best Sinulog smiles. Rhea got good shots of the performers, right next to the pros from travel channels & magazines, armed with SLRs. Camarines Sur was the most entertaining one we got to see (right guys? *wink*) I even got to see the contingent from my province, Tangub City, which was a huge treat. Experiencing the festival rather than just admiring it from your tv screen was definitely a rush. Definitely something every Filipino must see.

Wedding crashers at Shangri-la Mactan


4.) Tidoy is the best!

But of course, I didn’t have to go to Mactan to know that. πŸ™‚ Tidoy’s eldest sister, Ate Abby, was having her wedding at Shangri-la Mactan at the same day, so my officemates and I were officially invited gatecrashers to her wedding. They had their own Sinulog show, yummy food (lobsters! prawns! blue marlin! seafood heaven!), awesome AVPs, and fireworks to boot! It actually drizzled and rained towards the end, but that didn’t stop the party from going on.

5.) Speaking of parties — Cebuanos know how to party.

Alex took us out to Vudu at Crossroads to meet his college buddies. And again, lo and behold, the rest of the Cebu night-owls were there, partying to the last second of Sinulog and beyond. The dance floor was full, the tracks were hot, and the vodka shots kept coming in — need I say more? Got to see Ethel Booba party too. Haha.

At the charming Bohol Bee Farm

6.) Bohol holds many surprises.

The next morning, we were off to Bohol. I already got my fill of the Bohol tour during our family trip last year, so I wasn’t expecting anything new. I was proven wrong, however, when we were taken to dine at Bohol Bee Farm for dinner. It was like Sonya’s garden — only better. Overhanging vines and trees loomed over almost each step, fireflies danced before the view of the sea, sungka sets waited for you at the low wooden tables, bee-shaped lanterns adorned the ceilings and passageways. The elves at LOTR would have taken a liking here. And definitely, the food was heavenly. A must-go stop at Bohol. We also got to go to Alona Beach afterwards; it was getting late so it looked like no swimming was going to get done today. But the water was so nice, I couldn’t resist taking a dive! Haha. :p

The next day, we went for the Bohol tour — Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River Tour, Man-made Forest, souvenir shops galore. What can I say but photo op, photo op, photo op. Got to meet Joseph and the Muro-Ami gang (that’s another story). The rain graced us again, but that didn’t stop us from taking another dip at Alona Beach.

7.) Ben + Booze = ankulit!

For our final night, we just hung out at our rooms Olman’s view, where we were staying. We had to finish off the booze we had + Ben’s pasalubong from Singapore + Ian’s mango chips. And of course, the night would not be complete without the rounds of bridge, which turned out to be this trip’s official card game. It was face-off time — Philippines (Alex & me) vs. China (Ben & Wes). Losers had to down shots, and also resign from HP (or in Ben’s case, go back to HP. haha. siraan ng buhay, anyone? :p) After 2 shots of gin, while Ben was itching for more, he was also literally itching!
But it wasn’t a little anti-histamine and a lot of nonsense from your drunk friends won’t fix. πŸ™‚ (And oh, if you want to know more about Ben — He’s Ben. He lives in Singapore. He uses Clear. And he has no friends… kidding. :p)

Before this trip, I was looking for God to save me from going out of my mind, and boy, God does deliver. After the hard work, playing hard grows even sweeter. Thanks to Rhea & Ian for the pictures! Let’s end this post with some Wes quotes:

“Come to think of it, why no?”

“You know what? Whatever.”

Long weekend at paradise

A fellow wanderer once said that he loved traveling because he always came back as a changed person. ditto.

Yep, i’m that lousy at writing now, i don’t even have words to describe how gorgeous Bohol and Cebu are, and how the whole world misses out on what we have. All i can say is that Im so glad my family got to do this, and I can’t wait to go back again.

Balik sa bohol, balik…

Check out more pics here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ishgagno/CebuBohol0807

Last Call for Summer

after a testosterone-filled apo trip, i was truly grateful for tidoy’s invite to a chill-ax getaway at subic. we whisked ourselves to this cozy place called Courtyard Inn, which was more luxurious than what i was used to. we had our own beds, cable tv, room service, the works. perfect for the brat within who was crying for some pampering.

in truly girl-bonding fashion, we hit the spa, the subic yacht club pool and the duty-free shops. a tiny misadventure was thrown our way though, when tidoy’s battery was discharged when we left the headlights on (funny though, because it was in the middle of the afternoon). mga diyosa talaga ang mga kasama ko — a bunch of guys swarmed & came to the rescue, and even asked us out for dinner afterwards. bugsy, ever so anti-social, opted for a jazz-club dinner & russian-vodka guzzling at our inn afterwards. sarap! haha.

of course, what trip would be without its photo ops? we also swung by zambales and took a quick dip at the sea, to bid goodbye to a glorious summer. for more pics, check out tidoy’s multiply album at http://doyti.multiply.com/photos/album/26. thanks again guys for the great weekend!

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as i was scouring for our subic trip pics, i came across some old hs pics from mae & tidoy. can you say, time warp? πŸ™‚

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pag minsan, swerte ka talaga at may teammate ka na magaling kumuha ng picture. mwehehe. some shots of jam’s gig at the HP Q2 Hoola Palooza Coffee Talk, courtesy of the legendary Paul Garcia:

The Mt. Apo Experience

On top of the world!

I love vacations. They allow you to disconnect and free you to be a non-functional individual of the human race.

Despite not pushing through with Camiguin & rafting as planned, to say that climbing Mt. Apo was memorable is a huge understatement.

Definitely, this was the hardest physical battle I’ve had. At times, I’m sure I lost, bruised, wounded and sprained, but the learnings I took from the experience were priceless and unexpected ones, and that’s always a delight.

Thinking about the whole Davao experience sends my head in all directions, but it’s the tiny details that stick. The sight of the clouds way below your feet. The roar of the river as you cross. The pinch from your ‘battle scars’ and the numbness from cold. The canopy that swallows you whole. The feel of the boulders and the smell of sulfur. The glorious sunrise that makes it all worth it.

I’m definitely no good in giving justice to what it was like, so i guess I’ll just let the pics do the talking, as soon as they come.

To the Lakay Apo team, saludo ako sa inyo. Daghang salamat, you guys saved my butt out there. Sana balang araw makabawi ako. Kudos!

For more pics, check out http://picasaweb.google.com/ishgagno/LakayApoTeamMay2007. Thanks Lillian and TJ for posting your pics!

It’ll definitely difficult to top this summer, as I never thought I would be given the chance to literally explore Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. But hey, who knows? Do i hear a Sagada, Bohol and Camiguin? Woohoo!

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Winning Quotes:
[habang malakas ang ulan ngunit umaaraw]
“Buti pa ang tikbalang, kinakasal; ako single pa rin!”

Bugsy Takes on Manila

sometimes, the best plan is to not have a plan at all.

i woke up a little bit earlier for a non-work day, since i had to meet tidoy and ke for some wedding-cake-tasting. yes, it’s every bit as delightful as it sounds. this was my first cake-tasting event, and i tried not to appear too giddy as we helped ourselves to the baker’s creations. the baker was a certified chocoholic, so aside from the lemon butter, apple walnut, and other cakes, she also gave us fudge filling, dark chocolate cake and white chocolate bars. my sweet tooth shall not be denied, braced as it may be.

i also got to confirm my level of maturity when we flipped through some wedding cake magazines for ideas. as tidoy and ke were gushing over these classic, elegant cakes, i went gaga over a blue & yellow beach-themed cake, complete with gumpaste shells & starfish and the cartoonish bride and groom with oversized heads. haha, fun. πŸ™‚

as if we hadn’t had enough, the three of us decided to go on a food trip for lunch. after several quips (tagaytay? indian resto? mediterranean?), we decided to invade Old Manila. Our quest to find Hizon’s failed, and we nearly settled for Robinson’s Ermita in desperation. Good thing another option was still open — Intramuros. We set off for the cobbled roads and dropped by Barbara’s, a fancy date-place resto on the second floor on what used to be a gobernadorcillo’s house. In true Bugsy-bakya fashion, we whipped out a cam and went trigger-happy with our photo ops (never mind that any second an ‘orb’ may just appear in the shot. nyay!). good thing we found this resto — the ambiance was perfect, the food was great and the staff were really nice — triple threat!

after our brief romance with Barbara’s pasta, we went exploring and looked around the nearby museum. for the complete turista experience, we entered the Manila Cathedral and were dumbfounded with awe. i mean, i’ve seen stained-glass windows before, but these were something else. not to mention that the Cathedral never fails to dwarf anyone. astig.

it was still too early to call it a day, so tidoy suggested that we check out Cartimar street, which was a strip of ‘Divisoria’ for pet-lovers. ke & i already got attached to a yorkshire terrier, although deep inside i know that that dog (or any dog, for that matter) is better off without me, unless you want to watch how trauma manifests in dogs.

after cooing with birds, dogs, cats, fishes and worms (yes, even worms), the three of us punctuated the trip with a cool halo-halo at Razon’s (haha, umabot pang Buendia.) we also drove by ziggurat and a persian restaurant near jupiter, places that are already in our food-trip hitlist. can’t wait.

yep, today, the kaladkarins conquer Manila. just goes to show how much there is more to discover in the grounds you take for granted, and how you don’t really need to travel far to have fun. in the end, it dawns on you that it wasn’t so much the place as much as the company.

this was probably one of the best Labor Days i’ve ever had in my lifetime. yey. hope you guys had a fun non-work Labor day too. πŸ™‚

top 10 great things about boracay

1.) Getting to leave your laptop behind, and shutting your phone for 4 days. Enough said.

2.) The beach, of course. It was like one giant pool, all for the taking. Bahala nang ma-nognog.

3.) Jetskis. Talk about ‘road’ rage! It was one hell of a driving lesson… can’t wait til the next time!

4.) Parasailing. Flight’s a beautiful thing. Far from the adrenaline rush I thought it would be, it was relaxing, sedating even. The world’s literally at your feet.

5.) Escapism heaven. As I write this, I’m lying on a lounge by the beach, sipping my watermelon cooler, with Jack Johnson in my ear. Need I ask for more?

6.) The parties. Whether it’s trance, reggae or simply chill out tunes, Boracay would not be without its shindigs.

7.) Shopping havens. It was just like Greenbelt, only sand was at your feet and everyone’s in bikinis.

8.) And speaking of swimwear, the bods. No matter what they say, Boracay is indeed full of beautiful people. It’s 300 all over again.

9.) The Boracay stories. These are the souvenirs you can’t buy, from the Swirly Bits, the Sand Slumber & the All-Night Laugh-o-Rama. Of course, dear friends, what happens in Boracay, stays in Boracay.

10.) Getting to have it all with your friends. Of course, you can have your fill of the beach, water sports, & parties, but cliche as it might seem, all is meaningless without people to enjoy it with. Thanks to our marvelous PMs, She & Nic for pulling off this long-needed getaway. Although I can’t thank you enough, thanks everyone for making this memorable, for making me forget every worry, for just being there. Sa uulitin. πŸ™‚