asia · philippines · travel · video

Kaladkarin Rolls Away Laughing in Boracay

I remember always wanting to go to New Zealand to try out the zorb, but the good thing was I didn’t have to go all the way to NZ anymore! A lot has changed since I last went to Boracay — now they’re offering zorb rides as well. Call it a cliche, but Boracay is really THE island paradise — nothing but fun, smiles, good food and the glorious beach. I had to ask myself over and over — how could I NOT be from Boracay?! Here we were, literally having a ‘ball’ at their new attraction.

asia · philippines · travel · video

Kaladkarin Goes For a Spin in Pagudpud

13 June 2010,  Bangui Windmills, Ilocos

With Ate Ting, Ikay, Ralph & Alex

This trip’s moral lesson: The quickest way to have a embarassing-stories-about-you marathon is to get your friends and your sister & niece together. Spell L-A-G-L-A-G.


Casualty Assessment:

  • Bus to Pagudpud/Laoag – Php 700 (1-way)
  • 1 bedroom at Punta Azul (for max 3 persons) – Php 3,500
  • Van tour of Pagudpud ( Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui Windmills, Patapat Viaduct, Agua Grande, Paraiso ni Anton, Kabigan falls) – Php 2000
    * You can ask the resort to hook you up with a tour operator. There’s also an option for a tricycle tour, but in long distances, that might not be fun. =P)
  • Sandboarding & 4×4 ride at the Ilocos Sand Dunes (highly recommended!) – Php 2k-2,500.
asia · philippines · travel

Kaladkarin Gets Charmed by Bicol

The best thing about this picture? Not the sun. Not the beach. It's sharing the shot with friends as awesome as these guys.

There was no way I was leaving the land of glorious beaches without one last trip. Since Jan already had a trip set with her high-school++ friends, Alex, Ralph & I invited ourselves to Jan’s hometown for the Holy Week break (hehe =P).

8 hours on the bus + 1.5 hours on the back of a pickup + 2 hours on a boat = sore butts. By noon, we find ourselves arriving at Caramoan, with a welcome lunch waiting for us prepared by Caramoan’s parish priest. After several bouts of conversation about boat trips, islands, sharks and malunggay, we proceeded to a house in a barrio by the seaside to settle. It was nice to be reminded of the trips I had before HP happened — where electricity and a shower were luxuries, but nothing could beat the sights and calm. Roselyn, Jan’s HS buddy, was an awesome cook and led the troops in the kitchen. After dinner, we literally laid down on the road right outside the house, chatting the night away under the stars with beers at hand. This is the life. Continue reading “Kaladkarin Gets Charmed by Bicol”

philippines · travel

Tres Marias Set Loose in Manila Ocean Park

It’s been a while since our last kids’ day out, so Ate Ting, Ikay (my niece) and I set off for Manila for a fishy escapade at Manila Ocean Park. Apparently, a lot of other kiddies also had the same idea. The place was so packed, you had to get a number, just to BUY the ticket. To give you an idea, the number I got was 890; they were still serving number 357. The three of us let the time pass by gorging on munchies and looking for good photo-op spots.

Finally, we got our tickets and entered the oceanarium. As you may have already predicted, we saw fish after fish after fish after fish. I had fun, though, as I’ve never been in another oceanarium before. The shark tank was a bit of a downer, though; I was hoping to see big ones. However, all in all, since I had Ate Ting and Ikay for company, there was never a dull moment. 🙂

Pics over at http://ishg.multiply.com/photos/album/34/Tres_Marias_Set_Loose_At_Ocean_Park.

philippines · travel

Bugsy chills @ tagaytay

Another long weekend well-spent. =) After watching Live Aids just the night before, we whisked ourselves away to Tidoy’s pad in Tagaytay to bum together (couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the time =P).

For girls with no plans, we certainly got to do a lot together:
.: crashing 2 weddings @ Sonya’s Garden (even bumped into Joy!)
.: braving the cold with only coffee from Starbucks
.: stuffed ourselves with greek dishes at a random Greek resto by the road
.: got wowed by Tidoy’s awesome driving through the fog and the Highland’s winding roads with a visibility of only 3 feet (holy cow, how does she do that?!)
.: had dancing lessons courtesy of Tidoy’s floor-to-ceiling mirror panels
.: went loony during an emo pictorial with Joey & Tetel (and found a new respect for kids putting eyeliner, btw)
.: saw plants, plants and more plants, and got treated to a healthy breakfast at the Highland’s Bistro Saratoga
.: capped off an idyllic weekend getting pampered at the T House Spa

Unwinding with these guys was exactly the type of rescuing I needed, and I’m utterly euphoric that I wasn’t able to miss this one. It was a thrill to see how much we’ve grown, and how much we haven’t really. =P Here’s to Bugsy, and can’t wait til our next escape. Mace, Kmed and Crisel, you absolutely HAVE to be there next time! =)

Pics over at https://picasaweb.google.com/108800249052978959532/200811BugsyChillsAtTagaytay.

asia · philippines · travel

Kaladkarin Gets Wowed by Palawan

This jellyfish was almost as big as my head!

Getaways during long weekends have almost become mandatory, but hey, after what we put ourselves through at work, we deserve it.

Obviously everyone had the same idea for the ‘Araw ng Kagitingan’ weekend. At 7 am, the airport was jampacked; we even bumped into our boss! Several hours later, we landed at the island of Palawan and the getaway commenced.

There’s certainly a lot of things that made this trip memorable:

  • The awesome snorkeling at Honda Bay! A few steps from the shore was all it took to be surrounded by schools of fish. I wish i read on corals and marine life first; I feel there’s so much more to appreciate only if I did that first. It was also my first time to plunge without a life vest. Yep, I’m officially over the fear of the depths. Whee!
  • Manong’s bat-jokes at the underground river:
    • Bakit laging tulog ang bat sa umaga? kasi BATugan siya
    • anong tawag sa paniking mababa ang lipad? lo-BAT
    • (while Alex was holding the flashlight to see the rock formations) “Itapat mo diyan sa taas. Kaliwa pa, di, kaliwa pa. Yan, yan. Kita niyo yan? Bato yan.”
  • Mang Pepito’s lunch spread at Pandan Island — stuffed pusit, shrimp with garlic, grilled lapu-lapu… yum! (Add to that the spread at Bilao’t Palayok, Badjao’s seaside resto… remind me why i came back home again? =p)
  • The giant jellyfish at Sabang Beach… holy crap, it was the biggest live jellyfish i’ve ever seen. and poked. and took a picture with. =p
  • Taboo and charades til you dropped. And of course, Alex’s rendition of Bambi… let’s do the Bambi dance!!

Definitely, Palawan has not seen the last of us yet. Our guide, Mang Pepito told us of other spots to see aside from Puerto Princesa, and this kaladkarin can’t wait for the next Palawan invasion. If you want an awesome Palawan adventure for your own, you can reach Mang Pepito at +63919-6423107 and he’ll hook you up.

Thanks Wes, Mich, James & Geebs for the pics!

This is the life
asia · philippines · travel

SWAT invades Putipot and Subic

One thing that I’m really currently grateful for is that I have insane teammates that enable me to hang on to my sanity amidst everything. At work, SWAT is probably known to be a lot of things, but sometimes, you can also get to know SWAT through the things that we’re not:

1. We’re not squeamish about taking our pictures taken. At all. Apparently, this goes for anything and anywhere.

2. We’re not your cookie-cutter team. During this trip, we discovered our superpowers:
Jan – super strength (di tinatamaan)
Jerry – invisibility
Mara – mind control (17, 18, tumbling!)
Me – immortality (never seems to sleep & expire)
Mike – timeshifter (lagi lang ngang late =p)
Noel – magic (eto na yung pulis… engggggg…)
Paul – x-ray & super-zoom vision
Ralph – super-speed (sa paggawa ng docs)
Alex – Sylar, who else?

3. We’re definitely not the shy, strong, silent types. Amidst all the wisecracks and tabloid-worthy headlines we throw back and forth during our meetings, it’s a miracle we still get anything done.

4. If there’s one thing we’re famouse for, it’s that we’re probably not the best choice of companions for someone wishing for sobriety in their lives. (And no, I shall not post our team-building pic proving that. Haha.)

Thanks to Paul for introducing us to Putipot Island, thanks to Paul & Ralph for the awesome pictures, and thanks SWAT for another awesome trip! Sa March uli! =)

asia · philippines · 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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!

asia · philippines · travel

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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 (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.”

asia · philippines · travel

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