Long Drive + Virgin Island in Cagayan

Day 2.

June 10, 2012:         5 AM – Wake Up

This is what was indicated in our itinerary. But the spelunking of yesterday’s adventure was already challenging for us so we asked Kuya Rolly to fetch us in Ivory Inn Hotel around 6am. After preparing for another day of adventure – a long drive to Sta. Ana, we shot our first gig for Call Me Maybe music video in the reception area while a number of hotel’s staffs were watching us. *blokblok!

The 5-hour long drive was maximized. We visited landmarks of Cagayan Valley from Tuguegarao to Sta. Ana.

Iguig Calvary Hills – a church that resides along the highway of Cagayan Valley Road. We did not walk into the church but we checked out the huge horizon of Station of the Cross at the back of the church. It was a perfect landscape for picnic, I thought. The Station of the Cross looks like the one in Novaliches but the grassland of the Iguig Calvary Hills was very young and greeny. It was a sunny day but the color combination of the grassland of Station of the Cross and the brick walls of the church were perfect for an afternoon breezy siesta.

Alcala Church – a church that said to be the widest in Cagayan province. The façade was already constructed and it was really beautiful. The golden-brown brick wall of the church was already picturesque but the gold carved frontage of the soaring doors made the church more classy and ancestry. We prayed for few minutes and uttered our little secret wishes in its three-aisled landscape.

Magapit Suspension bridge in Lal-lo – this one I do not know if my officemates were able to recognized as one of the landmarks we visited. Haha. We just passed through in the bridge then made a u-turn at the end. It was like the usual bridge we see in Manila.  =)

Sta. Maria Bell – the oldest bell in Far East that was casted in 1595 is located in Camalaniugan Church. The tower bell was very narrow and steep that I had to watch my steps as I went up to the top. The top level of the bell tower where the Sta. Maria Bell is placed is really small. I and Jessie bent down (almost crawling) through the entrance while avoiding the bell just 3 inches above our head. We did a few photo ops after we found ourselves proud that we finally met the oldest bell in the Far East in its full glory.

*do a Visita Iglesia in the North with this comprehensive information.

We continued our long drive to San Vicente port in Sta. Ana. I put my left arm on the opened window with dark brown shades on my puffy eyes. For about another 2 hours, we were all dozed off in the van. I felt the torch of the sun on my left arm and decided to stay it that way. It was only in Tuguegarao that I enjoyed long drive with the window opened and not mind that the air I breathed is polluted. I was both in my dream and conscious of the road trip.

I had sudden unconscious kicks in Gattaran, Lal-lo and Camalaniugan. And every time I had a kick, I was immediately reminded by the juggled itinerary we had and worried on what more could happen. By the time we arrived in Sta. Ana, it felt like I already compensated my lack of sleep. It was still 1 hour until we reach the port but it was already 1pm. We have not had our lunch and we were late for our meet-up with our boatman.

(Sidetrip: Kuya Rolly had a few stops that made me wondered. Then one time, he went back to the van and told everyone that Pacquio lose his competition. We woke up to our senses! WHAT HAPPENED?!)

Our 2nd night should be in Jerolynda Beach Resort but had to be moved to 3rd night because of jurisdiction issues in Palaui Island. The new rules in Palaui Island kept everyone confused that in the end, our camping in Palaui Island had to be in Anguib Beach. There were conflicting political viewpoints in Palaui Island but these need not to be disclosed in my blog. Hehe. But still, for everyone’s sake, please make sure you know any updates on rules in Palaui Island before you finalize your schedule. It was a challenge to search for a boatman who knows well this kind of situation and how to adjust your itinerary accordingly. We were lucky to know Kuya Arnulfo, our boatman. =)

We arrived in San Vicente at 2pm. We met Kuya Arnulfo who personally owns the boat we used. We needed to have lunch and buy foods for our camping so we headed up to J&J Resto in Sta. Ana. Oh yes, we went back to Sta. Ana! There were no restaurants in San Vicente (as much as I was informed). I, Joyce, Cathz and Ann ordered squid adobo and octopus in spicy garlic sauce (see the octopus below)

We bought our dinner and breakfast foods in Sta. Ana Commercial Center. We were told that we can cook in Anguib Beach and were also reminded that there were no electricity in the beach. We bought hotdogs, marshmallows, bread, mangoes, bananas, canned goods, uling, 10 gallons of distilled water and more headlights. We split up and were able to buy everything we need.

As we went back to San Vicente, we stopped at the last Luzon KM Post – 642km. This is the last km post from Luneta Park in Manila. We were intrigued by this simple fact so we had few photos taken. Hehehe.

All 17 of us hopped in Kuya Arnulfo’s 2-motor boat in San Vicente port by 4pm. HAHAHA. We were super late for island tour! (Contact him at +63949-6492037/+63915-4670964. The boat rental was very cheap!)

We arrived in Anguib Beach after 20 minutes boat ride. The island is a real virgin. (I have not been to Boracay so I can not attest if Anguib really is like Boracay.) The horizon of the Philippine Sea from our view in Anguib Beach is like a perpetuation to the sky. It felt like we were enclosed in an independent island with just the Philippines Sea accompanying us. The island’s virginity felt endless. We were walking on millions of pale-colored sand and sea shells.

We headed to Kuya Ben family’s premise, the only local family who lives in Anguib Beach that welcomed us warmly. See, the Anguib Beach is divided into two: one that is privatized and another one that publicly welcomes campers. There was an ongoing issue on the boundaries of this beach but I will not still disclose anything. Hehe. It was pretty controversial and dangerous to those involved. But when one wants to swim in the sea in front of this privatized resort, you have to pay P500 for your entrance, meals and I think, a cottage.

We spent the beach bumming in the Golden Beach of Anguib, the one that welcomes adventurers, most of the time. A man was guarding the privatized resort and was insanely strict and had a very serious tone of voice and face. He was very unwelcoming. Honestly speaking, the resort was not well-structured yet, the very reason why we did not bought into the P500 fee. And although the sea in the resort is, well, fairly speaking, very gorgeous, we headed away from their “boundaries” after we were told by him that we were “not allowed” to at least swim in their “sea”. (Is the sea or any body of water can be legally owned? I was told that it is not. So, I kept it in my weird-things-I-encountered list of places) Very much accommodating eh?

Kuya Ben was very warm and hospitable. He is a man who naturally shows his care for the island. He and his family prepared our cutesy patutesy 2 simple cottages and made 2 very mad smoke of logs to keep the insects away for the whole night. He even let us used his poso and toilet to wash our body. His huge bahay kubo is located inside a forest-like lot where we needed to always have our own flashlight at hand.

In one of the moments when I was exploring the seashore of the island, I reached out to the back of my shoulder to scratch off an itchy feeling. When I scratched again, I looked at my shoulder and found a number of black squared thingy sticking on my skin. I wondered if they were insects so I pressed on one of them and it bled. It was an insect but I barely can see the head or even the legs. It was really weird and scary… After this trip, we had a serious insect bites on our bodies. Please wait for that post, it will really be an informative one.

We had a bonfire and cooked our hotdogs and marshmallows on it. I loved the marshmallow. I never thought that the marshmallow will get crispy on its coat and really sweet and soft inside. We told a lot of horror stories and played Who-What-How-When  game (Tama ba name, guys?haha). While we stayed for few hours around the only light we had that night, a number of men had passed us. I felt little scared because of the stories and warnings I was told about.

Around 10pm, we went to our tents (rental from Kuya Arnulfo is P300 each for a tent of 3 pax). I wore my jacket and bundled myself into my shawl. Cold breeze was no where near us. Giant trees were all silent. We had to uncover our tents with its outer layer so the wind can pass through us but still be able to sleep soundly with the inner net. Before we slept on our individual shawls, we took a few photo shots inside the tent and talked about the day we just had.

It was a very interesting beautiful day.

For Day 1, click here.

Chocolatey Spelunking

My friend, Carla, told us about this so-called Boracay of the North which she happened to watched in Jessica Soho tv show. It has not been mugged by tourists yet, she said. We looked it up in internet and found that it is gorgeous in its own virginity rights. Because of my intense love for exploring new found places, I asked my office peeps to go there before it get ramped by tourists.

For about a month, we did several researches and contact those we found to be trustworthy to ask for van and boat rental. We did have a number of difficulties for Mr. Google is very much stingy on information about this beach. Plus, Ann, a super adventurous mountaineer officemate, wanted to check out the Capital of Caves, Tuguegarao. The plan was really simple…

Spelunking in Tuguegarao…then ride a 4 hour-ride to Sta. Ana to finally explore this virgin island of Anguib.

Then I saw in Philippine map that Palaui Island is just across of Anguib. If you would look it up in Google Map, it will only give a name and no other information. So, we included it in our itinerary. Hehe.

So from this point forward, I will flood everyone’s dashboard about our trip. We were 17 people who dared to explore this unforgiving trip.

Day 1.

Let’s start with our bus ride in Victory Liner, Kamias Cubao. For P604 (Kamias Terminal 920-7396), each of us spent the next 12 hours juggling all position we can give ourselves in our seats. We were struggling…or rather somehow excited, but can’t do anything about it, for we should wait for half a day. There were 2 stopovers: One in Bulacan and another in Santiago. Oh yeah, there was a wifi in the bus but I was saving my battery for Google Map and Kuya Rolly, our van driver. (contact Kuya Rolly at 0905-7418525, he’s very well accommodating driver and knows everything in the city)

We arrived in Tuguegarao around 8 in the morning of June 9. I was somehow disappointed that the two vans we rented are not air-conditioned to think that we are in the most hottest city of Philippines. We hopped on then look for a hotel. Hotels in Tuguegarao are not the same as those in Manila. They look and feel comfortable and simple. Just that. Don’t look for luxury. But most hotels in Tuguegarao have wifi, this would probably the farthest you can get for luxury per se. After hopping on Hotel Carmelita and Meynard’s Resort (this one is my favorite but there are no available rooms), Kuya Rolly suggested the Ivory Inn. This hotel is 15min far from the city proper, but if you have a car, that won’t be a problem.  We paid P4,850 for 5 rooms (2 rooms for 4 pax, 1 room for 3pax and 1 room for 2 pax). The room is pretty much beyond what we expected. At a range of comfortability, it is above the average. The receptionist initiated to give us the 5 rooms because we told her our budget is only P300/px. True enough, we were able to save.

We checked in then ask Kuya Rolly to fetch us at 11:30am. We dined in resto of Ivory Inn. I ordered Tapa breakfast with atchara and scrambled egg.

The day should went like this: Sierra Madre Cave, Callao Cave and Bat watching in Pinacauan River. But this went wrong.

Although we already knew about the shooting of John Lloyd and Bea in Callao Cave, we were not able to visit Callao Cave. Why? Because apparently, they rented out the whole cave.

Sierra Cave is also within the premise of Callao Cave. We did not have a choice after unending plead with the Provincial Tourism officer to let us in. We asked another Provincial Tourism officer what he would propose us to do. After so much huggling, he said that they know a cave near Callao Cave and we can explore it. But for one condition, we should go with the Councilor. Mr. Councilor knows that cave. He has explored it and some other locals. No other people outside the locals had explored it.

That was very intriguing…and dangerous.

I asked the Provincial Tourism officer if he could also help us out with the permit needed for the Sierra Madre. But, it’s Saturday. And permit should be acquired two days from the visit date. What we planned then is to come back on Tuesday to visit Callao Cave and Sierra Madre Cave. And for that to happen, the officer can help us out by contacting the DENR in city center of Peñablanca. But this did not happen. Why? Because of Abukay Cave – the unchartered cave.

We stopped by a house of another local who also knows the in and out of Abukay Cave. Armed with only around 6 headlights and bottles of water, we walked down a really huge rice fields surrounded by green mountains and a forest that has no walkpath. Sharp plants were patting our arms and ankles as we walked thru the forest. Mud were starting to get into our trek shoes. This cannot be compared to Sumaging Cave of Sagada. This will be a different experience, I thought, after seeing the dark muddy entrance of Abukay Cave. We left our trek shoes at the entrance for we would experience a very muddy and slippery spelunking inside.

Tuguegarao is indeed a Capital of Caves. They have around 300 caves but only 70+ were explored. And only Callao Cave was publicly open for tourists. Sierra Madre Cave, for one, need a DENR permit and tour guide because some of its stalamites are being robbed off by spelunkers.

Some caves are too risky and dangerous to explore, like the San Carlos Cave. And some are still unknown to many.

If Sagada gives certificates to I-Survive-Sagada tourists, Abukay Cave, well I thought, should also have one. But seriously talking, if you would ask me, the certificate is a little too touristy and common. Just saying. =P

We explored the Abukay Cave without other people inside aside from a Provincial Tourism officer, Councilor and a local spelunker. And the mud…my goodness. When you step on them, your feet will dig in more and will sound like a sticky chocolate when you pull your feet up.

It was almost 6pm that we realized we were a little late for the cicada bats watching in Pinacauan River which is also located in Callao Cave. We hoped that this river is not also close for shooting.

We dozed off hurriedly to the river of Callao Cave and whistled out to a boatman to tour us around the river for some bat watching. I thought then that this will only be a simple bat watching. But I was wrong. It was millions of bats flying in the midst of bluish sunset just above the series of mountain of Peñablanca caves. It was a 10 minute bat watching and per second of it is like madness. They were really loud as they exit a dark hole of a cave and fly over to the forest to eat some meaty plants and insects. (Boat ride is P700 for 17 pax)

Below is a photo from one of my companions, Jerome.

After so much spelunking, mud and bat watching, we head off to KobyKubo Restaurant. We finally made it for our pancit with sabaw. Haha. That’s a first!

So much for the 1st day in Tuguegarao!

…here comes the National Geographic Channel.

Bus and Taxi in UK

National Geographic Showcases Travel Destinations in PH and Generating PH Awareness in the UK

MANILA, Philippines – A six-part series showcasing the travel destinations in the Philippines is coming out in the National Geographic Channel, the government said yesterday.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said they intend to showcase and promote the country’s different destinations through various international networks.

An intensified promotional campaign is essential to lure foreign tourists to the Philippines, he added.

In the United Kingdom, 25 double-deck buses and 50 black cabs now sport a uniform design of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan and logo and different faces of the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

Subway stations, on the other hand, feature images of the Ifugao rice terraces and the Puerto Princesa Underground River, both proclaimed as World Heritage Sites, the DOT added.

Jimenez said the timely execution of the ads has been deliberate and well studied.

“Imagine the gross impact of these ads,” he said.

Jimenez said London has a population of about 7.5 million and attracts around 15 million international visitors.

Generating Phl awareness in UK

“We are generating awareness, not only among the British population, but also among visitors to the United Kingdom, rated number seven among the most visited countries in the world.”

Jimenez said the two-week advertising campaign in buses and underground railways coincides with the worldwide marketing campaign through CNN International.

The campaign through the London cabs will continue until early next year, he added.

Jimenez said the campaign would bring the opportunity to capture the millions of visitors attending the Queen’s Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.

The London cabs come with a 30-minute digital ad which will feature the 30-seconder “It’s more fun in the Philippines” TVC and 15-seconder tarsier TVC recently launched worldwide via network giant CNN, he added.

Jimenez said the DOT is the very first national tourism organization to advertise through the taxis’ digital platform and these will be shown in the 1,400 units that Verifone Media owns.

“We will soon furnish these cabs with flyers to contain more fun information,” he said.

Phl posters in London

Different Philippine posters are also found at strategic stops near London’s tourist areas like Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham Court Road.

Vertical posters and escalator panels feature the underground river and rice terraces through the memes, “The Underground: More Fun in the Philippines” and “Stairway to Heaven: More Fun in the Philippines.”

The DOT said the UK is a major tourist market for the Philippines, being the top generator from this region. Last year, it ranked 9th overall with an unprecedented 104,000 arrivals, registering a 7.78 percent increase over the 2010 performance.

Jimenez expressed confidence that the country would be able to lure more tourists from the UK to visit the Philippines through the current publicity efforts and other promotional activities.

 

 

As for me, I can’t be more than proud for DOT and my government. Their movement towards international marketing campaign is really aggressive and well-thought. They even launched it during the Olympics in London! I heard from a news program here that DOT expense on this campaign is very much lower than international campaign of Malaysia. Now I want to work in DOT. =)

 

Article Source: Philippine Star by Mayen Jaymalin

Article got from: Wow Philippines in UK

Image Source: ItsmorefuninthePhilippines Facebook

Philippines at the Forefront

“If white sands aren’t your thing, this isn’t the country for you. Otherwise, bust out your flip-flops and follow us.” – Candice Lopez Quimpo/CNNGo

 

With one week special broadcast of CNNGo on my dear country entitled Eye On The Philippines, I can not comprehend  the fact that we are finally have put our own beauty at the forefront ready to awe everyone. (Dear Government, TWO THUMBS UP!) I was not able to watch the first broadcast last April 30 and may probably will not until its end on May 4. But, I will definitely watch this soooooon. I will find a way!!

I have been following CNNGo for some time because of its very interesting stories on Asian countries. I got hooked on it because of the mere fact that CNN is not just “my” worldwide news network but also my database of travel exploration. And seeing that they will feature my country for one whole week? Oooooh. That’s the real bomb. We can reach billions of people thru CNNGo!

So if you want to watch the Eye on the Philippines, just tune in on World Report at 7am and World Business Today at 9pm on May 4 (that’s tomorrow) in Manila Time. If you want to know what I mean with the “interesting stories” I just said, visit CNNGo Philippines. Haha. You can also submit your own stories to share thru their website. Cool, right?

And one more thing, Philippines is composed of 7,107 islands. You might be interested exploring these islands but let me show you a glimpse of what my country can offer: click on The Philippines’ best beaches and islands.

I am just so excited with Palaui Island. See you soon Norte!

Philippines at the Forefront

Come On In

Free Tour in Las Casas is a guided tour in each old house of the resort in a very “old” Tagalog words from a Filipina who is wearing the traditional baro’t saya dress. Who would have remembered that slippers is originally called as “panyapak” in the old days?

I really had fun during the tour. The Filipina told everything there is need to know about the old houses: original homeowners, unique decorations, how they were renovated, their function in the resort and what the resort plan to do next with them.

She also let us used sumbrero (hat) made from abaca because of the torching heat coming from the sun.

April 6, 2012 – Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bataan