Philippines Travel

Musings of a Part Introvert on a Group Tour in Baguio

Based on online tests I am an ambivert; a person who is both introverted and extroverted. There are times when I want to shut the world and just be on my own; no phones, no Internet, zero interaction with people. Then one day I’d wake up ready to go out, wanting to see my friends and be the life of the party. I like being an ambivert because I get the best of both worlds. I can easily shift from being an introvert to extrovert and vice versa depending on the situation. But sometimes I fail, like when I went to Baguio recently for a sponsored trip by Azalea Hotels and Residences. I went on a group tour with other bloggers, it was a chance to socialize, to widen my network. Given this, you’d think I’d be in my extrovert mood but nope. In fact, we spent the whole day touring Baguio City with me acting like I was doing solo travel.




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Travel Bug

Travel Bug Series 11 – Jerny Destacamento

I’ve gotten bad with laptops, I mean mine gets always infected with viruses that I had to reformat them a few times (yes I can be stupid). In those few times, a friend saved my ass because first, he is an IT, second, he is genuinely a nice person. And because he is really nice, his kindness tends to be abused by some people (myself included hehe…), but I hope to return the favor by telling the world about him. Incidentally, he is also a travel blogger and he chronicles his adventures in his blog, The Jerny (you know, journey sounds like Jerny, gets? lol). Meet our Travel Bug Series feature number 11, Jerny Destacamento.

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Accommodation

Escaping the City Heat at Azalea Hotels and Residences Baguio

Summer is the best time to visit the Philippines; it’s when the sea is the bluest, the sky the clearest, and the trees the greenest you will ever see. Indeed, it’s a tropical paradise that most tourists could not resist. But summer heat can also be the cruelest thing. Hence, it’s the time of the year when most people frequent the malls and other establishments that have air conditioning. People also flock to the beaches, resorts, rivers, and other bodies of water in search of relief. And it’s also the time when Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines receives its most number of tourists. With a temperature that can go as low as 7˚C, Filipinos like to escape the summer heat by going to this province. I wanted to escape the heat myself so I was eyeing the Cordillera Region. Then an opportunity presented itself; Azalea Hotels and Residences, that new hotel that has been gaining quite a buzz in social media has invited some bloggers, including me, for a 3D2N rendezvous in Baguio.

Apart from the free staycation, Azalea partnered with some key establishments to give us the best tour experience in the city. But let’s save that for later, today let me focus on the accommodation itself.

The trip was set on May 17, 2016, but a previous engagement prevented me from traveling with the other bloggers. Still, I was not about to let this opportunity go so as soon as I finished what I had to do, I went to the Victory Liner terminal in Pasay to travel to Baguio. The EDSA traffic plus two 15-minute stopovers equaled to an 8-hour land trip. At 2:00 in the morning, I reached Baguio City and spotted a man in a blue shirt with the Azalea logo print. He was the driver that Azalea sent to fetch me.

It only took 6 minutes to get to the hotel. This is how fast the travel time is from the Victory Liner terminal to Azalea without the heavy traffic. It was 2 in the morning, I could understand if the staff was already feeling lethargic, but the people who greeted me were all nice and welcoming. I was given the card key to room 321 and made to sign a paper across my name. On the same sheet of paper, I saw the name of my roommate: Trisha Ignacio.

I was escorted by one of the staff to my room. I was surprised to see how big it is, with its own kitchen, a balcony, and a bathroom. The bed is big and inviting and I thought it’s where I would bunk but the bell boy led me to the last door at the end of the room. It opened to another bedroom, a smaller one but with its own TV, a closet, and side tables on each side of the bed.

There are three doors on the right side of the room, the first one is also a bedroom where my roommate was billeted (her room has its own bathroom), the second door leads to a shower and toilet (this is what I used), and the third is the bedroom where I stayed.

Toiletries were provided and there were also complimentary coffee and tea. The kitchen is equipped with a fridge, a water heating pot, and a microwave oven. It was obviously made for you to never leave the room because everything was already there.

You can watch TV, cook, there’s free WiFi so you can surf the net too, and there’s even a balcony where you can just lounge and relax while enjoying the beautiful view of Baguio.

I went to my room and thought, where’s the aircon? Then I remembered that I was in Baguio, lol.

The bed, let’s talk about the bed. It has a thick and soft comforter that felt so good to snuggle in that I never want to wake up. I swear whenever I go under it, I’d be out in a few minutes. It was ultra comfortable and I imagine more so if the weather was really cold. It’s May so the weather in Baguio was not on freezing levels, nevertheless, it was cool enough to not sweat a lot.

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Azalea has its in-house resto café called, Tradisyon. This is where we had breakfast buffet-style while dinner and lunch were served to us by the staff. They serve Filipino food and I must say they were scrumptious.

There was a make-your-own noodle station and I had fun making my own mami. I went too far with the chili sauce though so I spent a few minutes coughing like I was dying, lol. So go easy on the chili babe.

Now here are some of the dishes that we tried, my favorite would be ginataang isda. Trust me, it’s delicious.

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My roommate turned out to be Trisha Velarmino of P.S. I’m on my way. This woman has been around the world and she told me that when it comes to customer service, the Filipinos remain number 1. I have to agree especially with Azalea. Their staff is well-mannered, always ready to help, always greeting us with a smile. Indeed, they are one of the reasons my stay at Azalea has been comfortable.

Before this, I’ve already read a lot about Azalea Residences from fellow bloggers. They were happy about their stay of course and have been giving the hotel high recommendation. Because those stays were sponsored, I was under the impression the positive reviews may be tainted by obligation. I was proven wrong when I experienced it myself.

Baguio offers many options for lodging from budget-friendly, such as homestays and dormitory, to more luxurious like bed & breakfasts and hotels. In those times that I visited Baguio, I never tried comfortable accommodation—and when I say comfortable I mean a hotel setting—until I was invited here. I’m the first to admit that I am willing to compromise comfort over budget, after all, when I travel, I am out wandering most of the time anyway. But I won’t deny the fact that if I’m able, I’d rather be in a lodging where I’d be treated like a queen, with good and comfortable bedding and my own bathroom. And I’m happy that I was given a chance to experience just that at Azalea. So hell yeah I am recommending it to you guys, it’s a good value for money. You can book Azalea via Agoda.

Philippines Travel

A Glimpse of the Revolution in Kawit, Cavite

Emilio Aguinaldo had fallen in love with a 15-year old lass.

So many tidbits and this is what lingered in my head. The first president of the Philippine republic loved a girl in his 50s while married to his second wife, Maria Agoncillo. This kind of information doesn’t get written in textbooks or taught in school, but it’s these little glimpses to a personal life that arouses interest toward a person, especially if the person in question is a prominent figure in history. This, among others I wouldn’t have known had I not accepted the invitation of Fundacion Santiago for a heritage tour in the province that gave birth to the Philippine revolution, Kawit, Cavite.

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Philippines Travel

8 Adventures to Experience in the Philippines

Many tourists visit the Philippines for its pristine white beaches, incredible marine life, magnificent mountains, and other breathtaking scenery. But if you want to make the most of your trip in this country, then I suggest that you take on some challenging and fun adventures. Check out the following 8 adventures that were recommended by some Filipinos travelers.

1. Skycycle/Bike Zip

Do you want to take your cycling skills to the next level? Why not pedal your way up in the sky? You can try the Skycycle adventure in Davao at Eden Nature Park & Resort or the or Bike Zip in Bohol at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park.

Davao

“Soar high like an eagle in the sky and try Skycycle. This is the newest adventure in Davao City. Never leave Eden Nature Park without trying their epic rides. Eden is the best place to relax with its sumptuous lunch buffet and world class accommodation. Riding a bicycle in the sky is just an amazing experience. I felt high literally, as I pedaled through the sky overlooking the beautiful nature park.” – Reymond (@thatmokie)

Where: Eden Nature Park and Resort
Bo. Eden Toril, Davao 8025
Rate: PHP 200 (USD 4.34)

 

Bohol

“To get to the area where the bike zip is located, one has to climb a long flight of cemented stairs. Quite tiring since we just came from a series of tree-top challenges. Participants are required to sign a waiver and to be properly geared up before climbing to another set of long stairs to get to the bike zip platform. You get to choose between a single bike or a double bike, but unfortunately, when we were there, the double bike is not available. It’s a round-trip experience of biking in the air with a view of the Chocolate Hills and the Bohol countryside. Definitely exhilarating especially with the strong wind up there. Don’t worry the bike is also suspended in wires just like you are.

It’s a good way to conquer your fears of heights (just like me) and it’s an alternative way of seeing the famous Chocolate Hills.” – Darlene (@pointandshootwanderlust)

Where: Chocolate Hills Adventure Park
Loay Interior Road, Carmen, Bohol
Rate: PHP 450 (USD 9.76)

 

2. Scuba Dive

Blessed with 7,100 islands, the Philippines is easily considered as one of the best diving destinations in the world. Some of the great dive sites in the country include Yapak in Boracay, The Canyons in Puerto Galera, Balicasag Fish Sanctuary in Bohol, Morazan Maru in Coron, Palawan, among others.

Cebu

“I am hydrophobic since birth. I had been pushed too often onto the sea that even at the slightest sight, I would cringe. I often slip when I am at the pool so that added to the trauma. When I worked in an outdoor equipment company before, I had been exposed not only to the mountains (which I found to be my comfort zone) but to the waters as well. Having to learn how to snorkel and how to dive was life changing. Though I still fear to be in deep waters, but at least I find it a bit comfortable when I use the diving equipment.

Discovery Scuba Dive is a must for people who want to know how the underwater ecosystem works and how to navigate scuba equipment. The aim of DSD is to see underwater life in macro, also to let people realize that dynamite fishing, marine life poaching, and coral collection is definitely a hazard to our environment.” – Jeane (@viajeracebuana)

 

scuba-diving

Where: KonTiki Dive Resort
Datag, Mactan Island, Pajac-Maribago Rd,
Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu
Rate: PHP 2,500 (USD 54.24)

 

3. Wakeboarding

Many types of water sports can be enjoyed when you travel in the Philippines; one that is quickly gaining popularity is wakeboarding. You can try this sport from any of the four wakeboarding centers: Lago de Oro in Calatagan, Batangas, CamSur Watersports Complex in Camarines Sur, Bicol, DECA Wakeboard Park in Davao, and Clark Wakeboard Park in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Laguna

“I first tried wake boarding in the summer of 2015 in the CamSur Watersports Complex. At first, I thought that it’s difficult balancing on a board while being dragged across the water but it’s actually not. Once you get the hang of it and find your balance, you’re good to go!

I fell quite a few times on my first attempts and got dragged face down across the water. The instructor was witty enough to advise me that I should let go of the handle of the cable. He said I should learn to let go when it hurts already (lol). Anyways, if you’re up to trying something new, I would highly recommend that you try wakeboarding. You don’t need to know how to swim to be able to try it, it’s in the water (which is where we all want to be given the weather we have), it’s quite affordable and most of all, it’s a great and fun experience.

You could try it when you’re on a trip to CamSur, or for a more accessible option, you could visit the Republic Wakepark in Nuvali.” – Zai (@zai13th)

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Where: Republic Wakepark
West Diversity Boulevard Nuvali,
Calamba, 4027 Laguna
Rate: PHP 250 (USD 5.32)

 

4. Sky Dive

Are you looking for something a little more extreme? Then head on over to Zambales and experience sky diving.

Zambales

“When the parachute opened, I thought, ‘This is it. Finally.’ From a thousand feet into the air, I had an aerial view of the beach in Zambales and its surroundings and thought I must be seeing what the birds see. The radio beeped and in came the instructions from my divemaster. I thought to myself, I should be able to get down safely. Skydiving dares you to conquer something within yourself, may it be fear or doubt. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. There’s a moment when you’re descending that you’d actually feel relief and a wondrous joy.” – Hali (@taraletsanywhere)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAA_oP0uOAu/?taken-by=taraletsanywhere

Where: Skydive Zambales
Iba, Zambales
Rate: Solo – PHP 12,000 (USD 255.442)
Tandem – PHP 17,000 (USD 361.87)

 

5. Freediving

If you can swim well and you want to inspect the underwater life up close without hurting the budget, then free diving is for you. Unleash your mermaid potential in any of the diving spots in the Philippines.

Cebu

“I like freediving because I need to experience everything in a limited time. I need to calm down in the middle of adrenaline rush to extend my breath. It’s peaceful. I recommend it to everyone because it’s a form of exercise for the body and mind. Your body needs to work hard to attain a certain depth and to prolong your breath while your brain needs to shut down. It also makes you closer to the marine life because you only have yourself and not assisted with any equipment.” – Valerie (@traveloneval)

Where: Oslob, Cebu
Rate: Free if you have the right gear (mask, snorkle, long fins, wetsuit)
Diving instructor fee – PHP1,000 (USD 21.41)

 

6. Jet Skiing

If money is no issue then you might want to consider driving a watercraft or jet skiing. There are several resorts and beaches in the Philippines that offer this adventure on a per hour basis.

Batangas

“The jet ski experience is fun. I thought at first that I couldn’t do it, turns out I could. It’s easy to do, kinda like riding a bicycle. There aren’t many people who are doing this adventure in the area so it would make you feel like you own the sea. I loved it!” – Caresse (@caressedy)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFJBdBwsWJz/?taken-by=caressedy

Where: Virgin Beach
Laiya, Batangas
Rate: PHP 4,500 (USD 96.24) per hour

 

7. Mountain Climbing

Not only is the Philippines blessed with beautiful islands, it is also rich in majestic mountains. Many of these mountains can be conquered for just a few hours, hence mountain climbing is one of the popular outdoor activities in the country.

Batangas

“To those who have visited Tagaytay and wondered what was on the other side of the lake, well it’s Mt. Maculot. I recommend mountain climbing at Mt. Maculot to those who are busy and just want to get out of town for a day. It is only a day trip and a 1 to 2 hours climb to the rockies. Its an amazing climb where you can have a special viewing of the Lake Taal. Across is the view of the famous Tagaytay Highland. Climbing this mountain will give you a quick fix for that urge to do an adventure that would only take a few hours in a day.” – Laarni (@dangerouslady4u)

Where: Mt. Maculot
Cuenca, Batangas
Rate: PHP 700 (USD 14.98)

 

8. Canyoneering

One of the group activities that is quickly gaining popularity is canyoneering. It’s a full-packed adventure that involves swimming, trekking, climbing, and jumping into the water. As of this time, there is only one canyoneering spot in the country and that is Cebu.

Cebu

Canyoning (Canyoneering) in Badian,Cebu! Everyone who’s about to visit Cebu should try this extreme outdoor adventure! Why? Because you will feel more alive after jumping 10ft to 50ft high! Imagine yourself falling from cliffs, erm, I mean, jumping from cliffs! It’s a test of courage! Just a tip, breathe in and out to elevate energy levels and keep yourself cool because nervousness will keep you from enjoying this extreme activity! Ready to jump your heart out? Go to Cebu now! Since we are a group of 8, we had the package’s price down to 700 pesos each. Regular price would be around PHP 1,000 (USD 21.40) to PHP 1,500 (USD 32.10) with complete meal and transfers from pick-up point to jump off! Special thanks to Raymund Sande for this friendly price and great tour guides! Contact him for a package deal!” – Jerny (@jernyd)

Where: Badian,Cebu
Rate:  (USD 21.40) to PHP 1,500 (USD 32.10)

 


Have you done any of these adventures? Which one would you be interested to try?

 

Food

A Fusion of Italian and Spanish Cuisine at Toni and Sergio

After watching Eat Pray Love I started dreaming about living in Italy. After overdosing from Latinovela when I was kid, I started dreaming about learning the Spanish language. I’m not sure how this is going to work, but at least with Toni & Sergio Gastro Italiano, the combination does work. Toni & Sergio is an Italian gastro pub with a Spanish twist and it is one of the restaurants that you can check out when you visit the Grand Canal Mall in McKinley Hill, Taguig.

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