Taal Lake, Philippines


Want to explore the smallest volcano in the world?


Taal volcano is worth a day trip from Manila, Philippines. 

This trip was more like a mini reunion with our dear friend from Beijing, Wilbur who was kind and generous to host us in their farm/ ranch house in Tagaytay

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He was kind enough to pick us up at the airport, five hours after our original flight schedule, treated us for dinner, and drove us for two hours to their vacation slash ranch house in Tagaytay where we stayed for two nights! 

He even cooked and prepared breakfast for us! I am so blessed to have such heartwarming and generous Filipino friends! Really.


So the next day, we went to see the infamous smallest volcano in the world-- Taal. 


The crater lake on volcano Island is the largest lake on an island in a lake on an island in the world.


We went on our own to do this trip by taking a tricycle ride. Which was a bit rough considering the road we were taking.

But it was a nice adventure for us and we were able to take our time. We asked our tricycle driver to take stops for us just to take pictures and embrace the scenery.

When we got to the base port of the lake, we found several "resorts" doing a package tour to the crater of Taal, most of them are including lunch. We picked, Tiantongco's Resort from the mainland. And took their designated boat.

Going to the top of the crater is quite a hike, about 30-40 minutes. Most tourists opted for the horseback riding. Since we have started that day on an adventure, we took the hike on foot. And it was more fun for us! Haha.

The slope is not so steep, so it's easier to hike. Some parts were muddy and unstable though. But the higher you go, the view becomes clearer and more beautiful of the island. This being a tourist place, you can hire a guide as you wish.

The volcano's crater was a delight to see! It was surreal to be standing there in person. Because I grew up having read about Taal volcano in my school's textbooks. So if you could, do give Taal volcano a visit!

Although the volcano had been a deadliest one in the country. Don't worry too much about the state of this active volcano because they set an alarm level when an eminent eruption is about to happen. Taal volcano has been asleep for 40 years that no amount of golf balls can wake it up! ;)

It's worth to have your true love's kiss while you're up there. ;)

Oh, don't forget to bring (bottled) drinking water, although they sell them there. And try to wear comfy shoes. I'm soo used to wearing slippers on a hike but for once, I wished that I wore comfortable shoes. ;)

After a long day and hike, we treated ourselves to a nice early dinner at Sonya's Garden in Alfonso, Cavite, which is also a great place to take your lovey-dovey on a romantic date. It's about an hour and a half ride on a jeepney from where we came from.


Here's our expenses for this trip:

Php 2,000 for the round trip ferry boat.

Php 50.00 (per person) for entrance fee

Php 300.00 (the cheapest) for a guide, although in the end we realized we could have done the hike without her. But yeah, let's help local economy. :)

Php 500.00 if you want to ride a horse to the crater


Have you been to a volcano crater before? How was your experience?

Old Manila, Philippines


What's a good way to explore Manila?


Although being born in the Philippines, I have only been to Manila, a few times onlyBecause honestly, I don't like the place. :(

The very first time I went there was on a summer before my senior year in high school, with some of my classmates for a leadership training in St. Paul's Paranaque. I remembered that when my parents could afford to send me to this trip, I prepared for two months! 

It was a fun-filled experience, even though at those times we didn't have smartphones or ipods. ;)

On my second return, I was with my co-leagues, which was seven years after my first trip. I remembered feeling sad and heartbroken, especially seeing all the street children without a home to sleep in, on rainy and cold nights. Almost similar to what Frenchie and I saw...

When I became more aware of my country's situation and poverty, I have told foreign friends who wanted to visit the Philippines that they should go out of Manila the moment they come to the country. It's not that I'm ashamed of the picture they will see, but I don't want them to ONLY have an impression that the whole Philippines looks like Manila. No. We have so many beautiful places and islands that even if we are a country in poverty, we are the most beautiful and hospitable souls you will meetReally.

But then again, I still have to introduce Manila to Frenchie.

So what one can do when you're in Manila?? For us, go and explore Chinatown. Haha!

And of course try their Chinese food!

Manila-- including it's history and culture can be introduced to you by one man, who made a promise that you will see it on a different light, and beauty---- MR. CARLOS CELDRAN. 

We learned so much from his Walk This Way (walk) tour and he's very entertaining too! It's pricey for Filipino standard (Php 1, 100) but he does a barter tour every now and then, wherein you can pay him anything you can. Nice!

He starts and do most of this tour inside Intramuros.

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We were able to ride in a kalesa (fare is included in the fee) during this tour going to Manila Cathedral. Fun! Fun! Fun!

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He's very admirable because rain or shine, he keeps on going! As a Filipino, I learned so much about my history and culture, in the most interactive and comprehensible way possible. And oh, we ended up the tour with a glass of halo-halo! Just like our Filipino culture, we are mix-mix!


Know more about his tour dates and schedules or book it here: http://celdrantours.blogspot.com/


Have you been to Manila? What do you think of the city?

Kanlaon, Negros Oriental

 

This was our last stop of our Negros trip before going home to Iloilo.


Our planned was to do a "short" hike to the mountain, and see what this small city can offer.

Since we came from Bais City and we left in the afternoon, we decided to stop by Guihulgan City. Negros is such a productive island, being able to produce-- sugarcane for the whole country, that big towns have been turned into cities over the years.

Guihulgan City is our middle point before going to Kanlaon City so we spent a night at its most well known and organized guesthouse, Monterial Homes.

When we arrived there, the city was celebrating its "foundation" day, which is like their fiesta. Basically, they have sports and entertainment activities from morning til night.

What I love most about this trip is that, we've met a lot of people who have been our "angels" also known as showing us to our way, who have personally taught me to be humbled. On this trip, we were spontaneously going with what we could find for a place to stay.

There was a policeman who helped us to get to Monterial Homes after seeing us, in our lost-and-wandering-state in the street. He offered to drive us there with his own car and asked the front desk if they have any available rooms, because if they don't have, he will have to drive us to another one-- just to make sure we have a place to stay that (rainy) night. Ahhh, the Filipino hospitality and kindness to its truest form! I love it!

Good thing, we were able to eat first before taking the arduous task. So when you're in Negros, eat the famous-- Chicken Inasal with puso (rice wrapped in banana leaves)!


The very next morning, we were off to take a bus going to our final destination-- Kanlaon City, hoping to hike this...

Unfortunately, the weather and the West monsoon were a party-popper to our plans. So we ended up staying in F&C Homes for two days and eat whatever mouth-watering foods they have.

We did went for a walk and see for ourselves how big or small this city is. We went to its Tourism Officer first, but due to the torrential rain that was coming our way, they advised us that it'll be dangerous to go to any of the places they would usually recommend. The number one reason is, you can only take a habal-habal, a scooter with a local driver, but the roads are very muddy and not advisable for these trips.


We would have went to see...these places of interest, as suggested in their website: http://www.godumaguete.com/canlaon-city-negros-oriental.html


Mount Kanlaon

The most imposing landmark in the island of Negros and one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. At 2,415 meters above sea level Mt Kanlaon has the highest peak in Central Philippines. Experienced climbers consider this a "major climb, with a difficulty level of 7/9, and trail class 2-4"

One of the attractions of Mt. Kanlaon is the Sudlon waterfalls and Margaha Valley, the volcano’s former crater, which is located just below the base of the present-day active crater.

Makawiliwili Ridge

Also known as the “Saddle in the Sky”, the ridge is located between two mountain peaks almost 8000 feet above sea level, and frequently used by scientists and climbers as vantage point in observing the two craters of Kanlaon Volcano.

Mayon Zigzag

A portion of the highway from the junction of Barangay Bagawines where the road ascends in a zigzag, affording a changing panoramic view of the blue waters of Tañon Strait and the island of Cebu, and hugging the foothill dwellings of farmers like toy houses surrounded by cornfields. The climb ends in Barangay Tagbino of Canlaon City.

Adudusan Natural Water Slide

One of Canlaon’s numerous falls has carved a natural water slide that is popular among trekkers.

Inyawan Enchanted Falls

Flows 100 feet off Inyawan River at the edge of a forest. Cold and clear waters cascade downstream to join Masaulog River; accessible by road.

Quipot Falls

Bottle-shaped cascade about 100 feet; largest of three neighboring waterfalls fed by Binalbagan, Malaiba and Linothangan tributaries. Deep basin ideal for swimming and boating.

Oldest Tree

Reportedly the oldest tree in the Philippines, this huge balete tree is estimated to be more than a thousand years old. llluminated by thousands of fireflies at night, it has been called the "Wonder Tree" and is definitely a sight to behold.

Camp Mapot and Mountain Park

A verdant plateau situated 5,000 feet above sea level, first developed as a health camp, with pine trees, streams and hillside springs, rare flora and fauna, and with temperature and scenery reminiscent of Baguio’s City. Camp Mapot is a part of the Mt. Kanlaon National Park, a favorite of nature trekkers.


Sadly we were not able to see all that, but I was happy to see women (of all ages) gathered around in the plaza, everyday, for an afternoon zumba! It's really about time that physical exercises should be highlighted in one's lifestyle. ;)

After two rainy days, we decided that it's time to go back home. The rain won't stop for us. :( But I think, Frenchie was relieved to be going back home. hehe

We took the RORO boat again on our way back to Dumangas, Iloilo. Thankfully, the storm have stopped and not too many passengers on the boat.


For our expenses:

Bus from Bais City to La Libertad– Php 75 (each)

Bus from La Libertad to Guihulgan– Php 20 (each)

Monterial Homes (one night)– Php 1,000

Bus from Guihulgan to Canlaon City– Php 78 (each)

F&C Homes – Php 750/night (including breakfast)

Bus from Canlaon City to Bacolod City -- Php 108 (each)


Did you ever have a trip that didn't go as planned? What did you do instead?

Sipalay Beach, Negros Occidental


A small beach island in Negros with European settlers!


This is where we were literally, just hanging out in our room for five days! We were stuck in the island because of

1) heavy rain...


and 2) World Cup 2014...

Sugar Beach was unknown to many but a nice getaway place for Swiss and German people, until Lonely Planet mentioned this secret beach in their Philippine's guide. Now, each and every resort here is owned by a Swiss or German national (married to Filipinas).

We stayed in Bermuda Beach Resort. Frenchie befriended his fellow European, the resort owner-- that after talking in French, he got a good deal of Php 1,170/night and we were led to our cozy room...

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The time we stayed there, we only had one sunny afternoon which we spent relaxing by the hammock. 

We were hoping that every waking day, we can have a good sunny weather so we can finally do diving/snorkeling. Not too far from the beach was a wreckage of a World War II ship. Which was why we wanted to go there.

Instead, we were there to eat and play Pacman.

To read our books just like the other stuck couple or simply bored myself! haha

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And to wait for the French national team make it to World Cup finals!

After four days of realizing that we are just wasting our time and money we decided that we'd better head out and move forward. Well, the decision was made after team Les Bleus lost to Germany. :( Sugar Beach was very pricey for Philippine beach standard. They seem to have a Euro rate although we were there during the off and rainy season! We paid a total of Php 6,700 for our room + foods in our resort alone. We could have spent that amount to other beach resorts and enjoyed our time!


But the most priceless one we got from this beach, was meeting a Swiss couple (pictured here in their sweetness mode!), who has greatly inspired us with their life. They're in their 50's with three children, they sold their house in Switzerland and moved to the Philippines to help out with an NGO group in the north. She was helping in the medical field and he was helping in the business side. On their break time, they traveled around the country and expressed their love for the Filipino people. They love diving, reading, and walking hand in hand wherever they go. They were an epitome of a couple that their humility, love for each other, and passion towards the cause they do, was such a ray of light to whoever they met. We were certainly honored to have that ray of light for us. Our meeting was brief and short but they have deeply impacted us in such a huge way! I love it!


So if we had any advise for you when you go to this beach resort...on a budget:

#frenchieatpinay tips

1. Plan out your days. How many days and nights do you want to spend there? Personally, three days would've been enough.

2. The cheapest resort and has a friendly vibe is Driftwood Village. Their food is cheap and good as compared to any other resorts.

3. I made a mistake to buy a Php 600 unlimited wifi connection from Bermuda Resort, when the neighboring resort, Takatuka offers free wifi as long as you dine there.

4. Don't listen to the resort owner, that they are the best/ they have the best food/ they have the best island hopping package because 90% of the time they're lying. Don't hesitate to ask around what is really good for your budget and interest.

5. On average you'll be spending around 500 a day for your meals. So bring cup noodles perhaps? ;)

 

HOW TO GET THERE FROM DANJUGAN ISLAND (as of June 2014)

Take a Ceres bus from the main road to Hacienda Montella (Php 20.00/person)

Take a tricycle from Hacienda Montella to mini pier (Php 75.00/person)

Take a bangka to cross the beach (Php 20.00/person). The locals don't pay the fare, so they will never know when you asked.

If you take a tricycle from the mini pier to Sipalay central (Php75.00/person)


How did you stay on budget on your travel trips? Any suggestions?

Bais City, Negros Oriental

 

Where to go for dolphin watching in the Philippines?


Bais city’s attraction is the cute and lovable sea creatures that is slowly putting the city to a good travel spot. You are not allowed to swim with the dolphins. And that's a good thing.

When we arrived in the city after a long bus ride from Malatapay, we went directly to their tourism department, as suggested in our travel guides.

According to the city tourism officer, in order to see the dolphins we needed to sign up for their boat tour. But since we arrived on a Friday and we wanted to see the dolphins the very next day, we were unfortunate to be on a waiting list, as it was expected to be full with weekenders!

But the tourism officer was so gracious and helpful that he suggested us another way on how to see the dolphins and even led us to a cozy, Air BnB-style-home near the beach.


This was our breathtaking view from the beach at sunrise…


So without second thoughts, we stayed in this place and they arranged a small boat for us to see the dolphins. It was Php 3,000 to rent the whole thing. Luckily, two Swedish girls popped up, who coincidentally came from Apo Island as well who were also interested to see the dolphins. If you do the Math, we were to split the fee between our twosomes. ;) They were sisters by the way.

That night, Frenchie and I decided to at least see the center of the city and have dinner there. Well, lo and behold...Bais City has food stalls every night! You can choose from a wide selection of grilled foods. I love it!

I love the ambiance and the friendly people. (To eat at the food stalls was suggested by ladyboys who invited us to join them for some karaoke that Friday night!) A local also started talking and giving us advise that we need to swim/go to the sand bar, which was in fact part of the package of our boat getaway for the next day!

We had a very nice and homey accommodation. And if there is anything I love in every of our travel, it’s really the small (and big) interactions we had with the local people. We were treated to a nice breakfast and happy cheers. The very special trait of our Filipino hospitality!

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After breakfast, we heard the roaring sound of our boat and we were literally picked up in front of our room because it was high tide! Very awesome!


Our whole day was spent in watching the happy dolphins swim


As we swim in the clearest and most beautiful sand bar beach…

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And walked along the mangroves…

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Our short but worthy stay in Bais City was truly magnificent!

And off we went on to Kanlaon City hoping to hike to only volcano in Negros!


 For our expenses:

Bus from Malatapay to Dumaguete-- Php 25 (each)

Bus from Dumaguete to Bais City-- Php 50 (each)

Tricycle ride to the house-hostel from Tourism office-- Php 50 (whole tricycle)

Boat to Dolphin sightseeing and Sandbar-- Php 1,500 (half of the whole boat rent fee)

One night of stay at the local's house-- Php 1,000 (including breakfast)

Dinner and other expenses-- Php 300


Have you seen lovely dolphins? How was your experience?

Malatapay Market Day

 

What's a market day in the Philippines like?


Malatapay is the small village you will have to pass by before taking on a boat to Apo Island. It is also known for it's Wednesday Market Day where farmers and herders sell their goods and their cattle.

To get there from the island, we asked a staff at Liberty Lodge, where we've been staying, if we can get a good deal of a round-trip-boat to Malatapay. If we take the local one, we need to pay Php 300.00 each for one way. They gave us a Php 600.00 fare for the two of us-- roundtrip.


We decided that it's best to have lunch there.


We tried the...lechon! This is a feast on our mouth!!! (Php 120.00 for 1/4 kilo)

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This whole meal costs: Php 300.00 (grilled fish & drink were not in picture).


Many years back, the Malatapay market day was known for it's no-cash-bartering-trade-only. Modern lifestyle has of course changed this practice. In this modern day, a full grown water buffalo costs Php 45,000.

It is such a lively market day! Farmers, fishers, and Bukidnon tribespeople come here to sell their most treasured catch or livestock.


Even an entertaining and scary cobra show was to be found here!

Frenchie also decided that he needed a haircut and we were pointed to the direction to a house with a very welcoming family. They offered us santol after the haircut. Never say, no to a Filipino offer. It's an insult. All we ever want is to welcome a guest and offer something. ;)

As we went back, we explored more of the goodies we can find in the market...

And Frenchie had a glass of Php 5.00 coconut wine or locally known as tuba!

Then we settled in under a coconut tree to wait for our boat to take us back to Apo Island.

All in all, it was a fun Wednesday well spent. You need to see what the locals do, right?! So we are such in a happy mode. Can you tell?! ;)

 

Have you been to a market like this when you traveled?

Apo Island, Negros Oriental

 

Where to swim with the turtles in the Philippines?


This is by far, our favorite island destination in the coconut republic!

We especially love the nice people and the quiet ambiance, and ohhh the beautiful, pristine beach!

When we planned this backpacking trip, Frenchie especially said his demands-- that he wanted to go to places that are less touristy. He doesn't like the crowd. That's all. ;)

Apo Island was suggested to us by my family relative, Anna who went there on an impulsive travel planning and left the island after one month of staying!

With that in mind, we were sure ready for an unexpected time of our lives!

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We were also flexible of our time, so we can stay longer or shorter-- either way. And Apo Island was the best place to take a breather. Really!

We didn't book anything, we just simply went there and asked around. When we arrived, we saw this sign, and being totally exhausted from a long trip, we decided to stay there for a night...

We were the only guests there and we were frequently visited by these birds who made this hostel their home too!

The island people live a very modest life. Poverty is very visible but each and every person wakes up to make a living, so to speak. Most of the men are fishermen or diving instructors. The women make a living by renting some diving gears to tourists or minding a sari-sari store. Since the whole island lives in a scheduled generator-- all lights out at 9PM sharp, they share one TV screen!

Frenchie and I decided to explore the island after recharging from exhaustion. There were only three big resorts in Apo Island-- Liberty Lodge, Mario's Homestay, and the more private and pricey one, Apo Island Beach ResortWe went to ask around if they still have an available room for us. They said, they have and we were really lucky and grateful that we did the survey first and not booking anything online because we were able to get a "friendly" price. We paid for Php 550.00 for our (huge!) room in Liberty Lodge...

With an outside view like this...

There's so much beauty and nature in Apo Island. You can take a hike to the Lighthouse...

Or to the Apo Island Viewing Deck...

Or simply swim (and snorkel) with the turtles. Oh yes, we did! And yes, you can!

Or enjoy the romantic and lovely scenery of the whole island!

And of course, share a drink or two of beers with a local guide! If you're too nice, he'll even play a song for you with his Axl-like-voice!

If we only had a choice too, we would have wanted to stay a tiny bit longer!


#frenchieatpinay tips

1. We were lucky enough to go there on off season, but if you're going on a busy time, book ahead of your reservation. Both Liberty's and Mario's Places have very friendly and welcoming staffs. We love them!

2. For food variety, you can easily approach a local in the village and ask them to prepare a meal for you. They usually offer the fresh-picked-fish-of-the-day. Oh so good!

3. Rent your goggles and other swimming gears at the village association. This is their means of livelihood, so I encouraged you to support them while you're there. You can see the renting prices by the board. But if you plan on staying longer than a week, it's best to bring your own gears. ;)

4. Take a hike or a walk each day. Such a good place to do your morning run/swim! This is the warmest place we've been to, I mean with the people. They are so nice and helpful.

5.Oh lastly, a mosquito killer (with no scent) was our life saver on this trip. I bought a box at the sari-sari store! It was the first time Frenchie has ever saw such one. Oh, only in the Philippines (I guess!)

 

APO ISLAND is one of the best in the Philippines, come and experience it! 

Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental

 

A 43-hectare island situated in Bulata, Cuayan, Negros Occidental.

"The promising paradise sanctuary of Negros."

It is a marine and wildlife reserve, covered with a rain forest and has five lagoons, three of which are landlocked and two of which are flooded at high tide and colonized by coral and reef fish species. The island is fringed with beaches where turtles nest. It is also surrounded by diverse coral reefs.


It was my second favorite place on this backpacking trip!


I am in awe and inspired of the people working and behind the preservation of this island. Here's Tatay Ruben, 75 years old and has been working in the island for eight years! 


It's like your own Robinson Crusoe tropical island. Like seriously!


From Punta Bulata resort, we were picked up by a small boat to take us to the island. Punta Bulata arranges their own whole day activity in Danjugan island, but Frenchie and I decided to take their overnight package.


You can directly sign up for an overnight reservation on their website:

PRRCF.org


It's Php 2,750/person for one night of stay, including meals and uses of the island's amenities.

Here's our native sleeping area. The island is promoting an environment-friendly practice throughout this island. No electricity. Only generator to provide light in the night.


When we arrived, we were brief about the island, on how they continue to preserve it, and the things they can offer in their learning center. I love the peacefulness and calmness here.


After our briefing and introduction. We were off to our first agenda: snorkeling!


After snorkeling, we walked and explored the whole island with Tatay Ruben (who walked like a restless seven year old), passing through a bamboo bridge...


A bat cave...


lots of mangroves...


An island beach, with sightings of sharks and turtles sometimes...


We also had a good view of the sunset that afternoon.

A good 20 minutes rest was well deserved.


The island also have ecocabanas (made of soil/mud) for a more private accommodation.


When we came back to the restaurant lounge, our delicious dinner was waiting for us. It was the best fresh fish ever!

And since the island has no electricity, we were contented to sleep early and get ready for the next and last day...


Our agenda: kayaking!


Our last meal in the island was another hit to our belly! Sooo healthy and ohhh sooo good!

That's why it's understandable that this island stood out as one of my favorite! So please do me a favor, if you have the time-- visit this island. You can thank me later! ;)


#FrenchieatPinay Tips

1. Bring a bottle or two (!) of mosquito repellent lotion.

2. Make sure you have the contact number of the person when you booked your reservation online.

3. Make sure you have enough battery and you have charged all your electronics before coming to this island.

4. Make a conscious effort to contribute in preserving our environment. The picture below was a wake-up call for me that we are the cause of our own destruction of the world. Please, please lessen your use of plastics! Really!

 

Would you like to stay on this island?

Punta Bulata Resort Spa, Negros Island

 

Where to find a peaceful resort spa in the visayas?


Our ultimate goal for this backpacking trip was to go to the less touristy places, like Boracay, but still, be able to enjoy a pristine beach to ourselves. Hey, we have 7,000+ islands to choose from after all!

After many researches, we came across the 10 Philippine Gems.

Three of which is located in Negros island, and we went to see...

1. Danjugan Island in Barangay Bulata, Cuayan, Negros Occidental

2. Apo Island, few kilometers off Negros coast

3. Mount Kanlaon in Kanlaon City, Negros Oriental

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In order to get to these places, we took few stops along the way. Our next stop was...

So from Bacolod City, we took a Ceres bus to Hinobao-an (Fare: Php 172.00/person). From the main road, we took a tricycle ride to take us to the resort. (Fare: Php 100.00/person)

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This resort spa was actually beyond our needs, as we were budget traveling. For me, as long as I'll get a clean and working bathroom & toilet, I'm good. I'm soo easy to please. ;)

But Punta Bulata is our doorway going to Danjugan island. (More details about it on my next post.)

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Here was our welcome drinks, as part of the package...

We had a good deal though, as we paid Php 1,900 for a Family Cabana that originally costs Php 4,100/night. Phew! What a huge difference no?! 

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And yes, I was very happy and beyond satisfied of their bathroom and toilet!


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We are too lucky to have this beach to ourselves. Off season in the Philippines is great, but occasional rain (with matching thunderstorm) can be a huge bummer! :P


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And oh, they had the best native chocolate we've had!


I'll recommend Punta Bulata for the ones who are looking for a relaxing time. They have plenty of massages you can choose from. We especially liked their sauna room! If only we can bring it with us. ;)


#frenchieatpinah tips

1. Research! Research! In our case, it paid off because we found good deals online.

2. When taking a bus, make sure to be at the bus terminal early. Take a seat in the front as the road gets bumpy along the way.

3. Ask about the right fare. More often than not, some people tend to give us an outrageous price because I'm with a white guy.


Have you been to a resort spa before? did you have a good experience?

Negros Occidental, Philippines

 

Where to go for old houses hunting in the Philippines?


It was my dream to do a backpacking around the Philippines.

I'm grateful that Frenchie made that possible. So for our #Pinas backpacking, we focused solely on Negros Occidental-- the neighbor island of Panay. We took the RORO from Dumangas to Bacolod. (Regular trips every hour from 5 AM. Php 60.00/person fare.)

Here was our tripline...


Our first stop was Silay and Talisay...


It was Frenchie's first experience to take a jeepney-- the major means of transportation around the country.


Silay City alone is an architectural haven. So if you're as culturally and historically interested like us of the Philippines, come and visit!


These cities are a haven for antique mansions and grand houses.

Dated way back in the 19th century when this island has lived in grandeur and class, even compared to the same lifestyle as that of the Europeans.

They have the sugar cane industry to thank for!

I admired the local government of Silay and Talisay for creating a government committee to be able to preserve these ancient houses. Way to go!!!

And they have also stood against strong typhoons for decades!


The most famous of these mansions...Bernard Jalandoni House Museum (The Pink House). (Php50.00/person for entrance and an English (moody) tour guide.) 


Balay Negrense Museum. (Php50.00/person entrance fee and English tour of the house.)


And the very famous-- The Ruins of Talisay (The Taj Mahal of Negros). (Php80.00/person entrance fee and funny tour guides.) The night view was such a delight to our eyes.


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Thanks to my cousin, Ranulfo and his lovely family in Silay City who hosted us. A sumptuous-all-seafood-dinner was a nice ending to this cultural trip.


#FRENCHIEATPINAY TIPS:


  1. Bring water and face towel. The heat can pretty much dehydrate you within hour.

  2. If you're being toured, don't hesitate to ask your questions and queries.

  3. Ask a local for a good place to eat and for directions. Make sure you interact to a local wherever you go.

  4. If you're shopping for souvenirs, make sure it's related to the place you went. Have a conscious effort that such souvenir will remind you after many years.

  5. Pay attention to details. Small details can already be a learning experience.


Have you been to any old houses tours?

Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo

 

What is a fiesta celebration in the Philippines?


It's an annual celebration of fun festivities and short family reunions. That sort of thing.

In my hometown, Barotac Nuevo,  it happens every June 13 in honor of our patron saint, San Antonio de Padua.

Since it was Frenchie's first ever fiesta experience, we made sure he had a FULL Filipino cultural experience, as it was his first ever visit in the country, too.

A fiesta is a week-long celebration of religious and cultural presentation.

And since my hometown is a football craze town, we also have several schools and national teams competing like a World Cup tournament-- that Frenchie was also able to play into.


Then of course, the highlight of the week is the food festivity with the most famous dish on the table--lechon. 


Fiesta in the Philippines is that time when every household in the town (or village), I mean literally, every household prepares Filipino dishes for their guests, families, friends, and relatives who would come to their houses. For most of us, it's a good time for family reunions and catching up.


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Also part of the town fiesta festivity are the feria games, set up around the town plaza. Because a fiesta is never complete without these. Frenchie had to of course experience it, too!


As a fabulous ending, was a coronation night for the fiesta queen and king, that ironically, was a Brazilian samba theme that year. It was a good sign for our boldest dream and leap of faith.


Frenchie had a really good time, can you tell?

 

Have you also experienced a fiesta celebration? How did it go?