Summer Fun at Bosay Resort

Yeah, it’s summer and you’ve been yearning for not exactly its deadly heat but the fun and relaxation that go with it. Yet there are two problems: time and money. With time, I’m off limits there, since it’s you and your friends or family—or holidays—who have to make way for it, but money? I can lend you some. Haha. Just kidding, we’re on the same boat on that part.

Affordable summer getaways near the metro are getting more and more abundant these days. Just visit Antipolo City and you’ll never go out of great and budget-friendly day and night resort options. And with this, I chose Bosay Resort, through the recommendation of a co-worker, as my personal birthday treat and summer bonding destination with my family.

Bosay Resort

Bosay Resort (30)

 

Getting There

Since I’m from Pasig City, getting to the resort is soooo easy. From Brgy Rosario, where all the public utility vehicles going to Antipolo City and other Rizal provinces on one side and Cubao and Greenhills on the other pass through, my family and I rode a jeepney with sign boards “Antipolo Shopwise” and “Baras” for 20 pesos each person and got off at Unciano Colleges in Brgy San Roque, Antipolo City. At the side of the establishment is a tricycle terminal where we asked the first driver in line to take us to Bosay Resort for 50 pesos, and that’s it, we were dropped off near the resort’s cashier area.

Another route, as told by my friend, is from Ligaya Intersection in Marcos Highway where in would-be Bosay Resort guests have to get to an “Antipolo Sumulong” jeepney, drop off at Taktak Road in Antipolo City, then ask a tricycle driver there to take them to Bosay Resort. It is that accessible to commuters.

 

The Fees

Entrance fees are affordable at Bosay Resort. For only 170 pesos each for a day swim (from 7am – 5pm) for adults, 190 pesos per head for a night swim (from 7pm – 5am) for adults, and 140 pesos each for 4ft below kids whether night or day, everyone can already have fun at every part of the resort.Bosay Resort (10)

And then depending on the number of occupants, cottages are also available ranging from 600 to 3,000 pesos, pavilions from 10,000 to 12,000 pesos, and even houses from 2,500 to 3,000 pesos. Caretakers are stationed everywhere to keep all the areas clean and in order all the time.

Round Table Cottage for 600 pesos. It is good for 8 to 10 people.

Round Table Cottages, good for 8 to 10 people, for 600 pesos.

There are also additional charges for every electricity use (please see below).

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For those who want to stay overnight and have one of the most relaxing times, a hotel can also be found inside the resort vicinity with rooms ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 pesos. The hotel is located just at the front of the resort and it has a nice wooden facade.

Bosay Hotel with room ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 pesos

Bosay Hotel with rooms ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 pesos

 

The Resort

You’ll feel closer to nature at Bosay, a Waray term which means “waterfalls”, because trees are everywhere at the three-hectare land it is located in. Figures are also scattered everywhere like the photo below. Aside from those, pools are also positioned in many different areas.

I asked my Mom to take a shot  of me with this yellow statue, and look at the photo. hahahaXD

I asked my Mom to take a shot of me with this yellow statue, and look at the photo. hahahaXD

... So what I did is to take a photo of the icon by myself. hehehe

… So what I did is to take a photo of the icon by myself. hehehe

The one nearest the Round Table Cottages is the Therapy Pool, that one with the so-called therapy shower and 3 to 7 feet depth. Though just close to us, my siblings and I weren’t able to dip into it since there were already too many people in it. I don’t think the place is usually crowded though. We went to the resort on a holiday, the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), so naturally, it was a time to take advantage of and sneak into the best or/and nearest place to have some leisure just like us.

While taking some rest from going from pool to pool, I heard a stranger say in Filipino, “I don’t get why it’s called a Therapy Pool,” and I wondered just the same.

The Therapy Pool at near closing time

The Therapy Pool at near closing time

Next is the Turtle Pool which was as crowded as the Therapy Pool. We couldn’t understand why people settle in this and the other. Perhaps it was because there were more people in the inexpensive cottages where these two are in, so instead of going farther they just concentrate on these two…?

Anyway, that plus the water was cold, so my sister and I just tried going under the turtle then we decided to go to the next pool.

Turtle Pool

Turtle Pool

The Olympic Pool is really grand, and thank goodness there weren’t much people in it maybe because of the 4 to 6 feet depth. If only I could swim, I might have enjoyed this pool to the fullest, but since I couldn’t, all I did there was feel the water and watch my siblings swim ’cause they know how to.

Olympic Pool. (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

Olympic Pool (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

Oh, by the way, there’s a Nylon-Spandex-only swimming attire policy in some of the pools at Bosay Resort, and the Olympic Pool is one of them.

Swimming Attire Policy

Swimming Attire Policy

Right beside the Olympic Pool is the Disco Pool, or what seemed to me the Ursula Pool because it’s dark inside with paintings of sea creatures on the walls and a big  sculpture of an octopus right at the middle of pool. It is said on the resort website that it has disco lights, and if there are, we didn’t experience it maybe because it was daytime. I also saw a room for the DJ so maybe it’s really fun there during night.

This pool, though the swimming attire policy also applies here, is our favorite since the water is warm and we would just play with the water by constantly splashing it on to each others’ faces and not caring about the other people around.

Disco Pool. (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

Disco Pool (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

Have you ever felt like wanting to try the exciting long pool slide but couldn’t ’cause there were just too many people? Well, that’s what my siblings and I felt at the Pool with Slide. There were too many people that sliding was next to impossible. Anyway, we just looked at it and went away immediately.

Pool with Slide (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

Pool with Slide (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

And then there’s the Infinity Pool, the most relaxing if you’re up for some peace and quiet. My siblings stayed here a little long as my sister taught me how to dive and pass in between the legs of a person. It was awesome, I learned something in swimming! HAHA.

Infinity Pool (Photo grabbed from Bosay Resort's Facebook page)

Infinity Pool (Photo grabbed from Bosay Resort’s Facebook page)

The last pool, located near the entrance, is the best attraction of Bosay Resort, the StormWave (Please see topmost photo).

As its name suggests, it’s a combination of storm, because of its many fountains, and wave, courtesy of the Wave Ball located at the deepest side of the pool. I found it funny when I first saw it and realized that the big blue ball that kept bouncing at the far end of the pool was responsible for all the disturbances in the water.

from Bosay Website 03

Wave Ball at the StormWave (Photo grabbed from bosayresort.com)

Perhaps I was just used to Splash Island’s and Club Manila East’s wave pools where the system responsible for all the current is part of the wall of the pool not some funny big ball. Anyway, once I got used to it, the funny turned into all-out fun.

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Having fun at the Wave Pool. :)

Having fun at the Wave Pool. 🙂

 

When the Water Falls

Oh, here comes the hardest part, the cons. Errr… Maybe not. :P

I can’t say anything about the large crowd for the fault was ours, we went to the resort on a holiday. But that aside, one of the only two cons I observed was that since Antipolo is mountainous, naturally, guests would walk on slopes from pool to pool and it was absolutely tiring and I felt the muscles on my legs contracting as I walked around the area.

The second negative was a total turn off: The women’s shower room at the Round Table Cottage area was a disaster. Almost all the cubicles’ doors were broken and most had no locks making it hard for one to  take a bath after a nice time at the pools. And there was no anything to hang our wet and dry clothes on. Because of this, my sister and I took turns in washing ourselves off.

The worst part was that the drainage was clogged, creating a mini pool in the shower room with all the bubbles, empty shampoo and conditioner sachets, and for crying out loud, a used pantyliner, floating while we were washing ourselves clean. Talk about unhygienic! :-S I just hope the resort’s management would address this problem immediately for it would be such a bad feedback if this won’t be fixed soon.

My siblings

My siblings

My sister and I

My sister and I

All in all, the stay at Bosay Resort was satisfactory, especially because I got to spend quality time with my family. If you’re looking for a nice getaway destination on a budget and just near Metro Manila, you may try this resort out. Maybe just take a bath in other shower rooms. I tried taking a leak at that one near the Infinity Pool and it was perfectly clean.

 

 

Bosay Resort
Marigman Rd Ext. Brgy San Roque
Antipolo City
Tel. #: (+632) 695.1807
(+632) 661.9011
(+632) 661.9012
(+632) 703.7973
Mobile #: 0917.667.9382
0929.344.4403
E-mail: info@bosayresort.com
Operating Hours: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm, 7:00 pm – 5:00 am

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Whiterock Rocks!

Summer is officially on and we can definitely feel the scorching heat in the air! So if you’re up for some total fun and your skin is yearning to soak under water, it’s time to consider your options for that perfect getaway with your friends and loved ones.

If you don’t want to go too far from the metro but still want the perfect venue, a great choice may be Whiterock Waterpark and Beach Hotel, or simply Whiterock.

Photo grabbed from Whiterock Waterpark and Beach Hotel’s Facebook page

Located in Matain, Subic, Zambales, Whiterock is a resort covering a vast area of seven hectares. And just like what its name implies, it is a waterpark  and beach resort in one, so aside from the wide Subic beach in which guests can experience adventures like jet skiing and banana boat riding, there are also wave pools, water slides, and swimming pools to expect, and even other recreational activities like rappelling, wall climbing, and and ziplining.

It also has around 175 hotel rooms for those who want to spend a night or two in it. Guests can choose accommodations from the main building, Subic View building, Beach side area, and Seaside area as long as there as are still rooms available.

Whiterock map (Photo grabbed from its website)

Whiterock map (Photo grabbed from its website)

Hmmm… Actually, I haven’t really tried being a guest at Whiterock, I was just part of a little group on an ocular visit, searching for the perfect venue for our work’s company outing. And we aren’t exactly a department tasked for this stuff, it just so happened that the Admin Head, a friend and who’s assigned to this yearly, invited me and my package friend to join her, so along with one of the company drivers, we journeyed Zambales to check out different resorts.

Two of the rangers on a mission of finding the perfect location for a company outing! :P

Two of the rangers on a mission of finding the perfect location for a company outing! 😛 (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

Photo opportunity with our camera-shy driver, Kuya Allan. :)) (Photo grabbed from Deth Alegre Boss)

Secret photo opportunity with our camera-shy driver, Kuya Allan. :)) (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

Just a short tour around the resort was enough to get our jaws dropping. Coming from the entrance, the first we saw was the Team Building Grounds. It is so wide that I’m quite sure that the more-than 100 employees in our company can merrily run and roll at it–only if we want to, of course–all together.

Team Building Grounds

Team Building Grounds (Just guess what kind of weather we had while there)

Proceeding to the left, we passed by Pistahan ng Whiterock, a nipa-hut style  function venue, which was one of the improvements made last year.

Pistahan ng Whiterock

Pistahan ng Whiterock

And then there’s the kalesa to add to the native feel of the function area. It’s free to ride in for some photos.

Whiterock (15)

Whiterock (16)

After that, we were welcomed to a little colorful paradise for kids and the young at heart–the Children’s Play Pool area! This where my package friend and I spent most of our time talking and having fun like we were already on the actual outing. LOL.

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We just loved the playground ’cause it brought us to our childhood days where we didn’t have anything else to think about but silly stuff. A bit emo, but there really are those kind of days. hehehe

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Photos at the Children’s Play Pool area were taken by the funny Kuya Allan

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… In which he joked that when we get back to Metro Manila, he’d not only be a driver, but also a photographer. Good job on acquiring a new skill! :))

My package friend and I couldn't help but be crazy while at the swing. Photos were taken while our swings were in motion. XD

My package friend and I couldn’t help but be crazy while at the swing. Photos were taken while our swings were in motion. XD

Right behind the playground is the pool itself complete with kiddie slides. Off limits for us on this part as we didn’t bring extra clothes with us and hey, we were merely on an ocular visit.

Kiddie slides at the Children's Play Pool!

Kiddie slides at the Children’s Play Pool!

At the side of the pool

At the side of the pool

The Children's Play Pool taken from a higher place (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

The Children’s Play Pool taken from a higher place (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

A little while later, the Admin Head, Boss Deth, called us to the Grand Pool. And oh, this isn’t called such for nothing. Aside from being big, it has two big white rocks in the pool itself, and even a bigger white boulder that serves as a wall, in which, yes, the name of the resort was taken. The former rocks even have an interesting legend which you can read on the second photo below.

The Grand Pool also has a see-saw slide behind it

The Grand Pool also has a see-saw slide behind it

Legend has it...

Legend has it…

Of course, we couldn't leave the place without a photo one of the white rocks.

Of course, me, my package friend, and Boss Deth couldn’t leave the place without a photo with one of the white rocks. (Photo grabbed from BossDeth)

Because the pool is huge, guests can play ball in it complete with a net and even ride on the big life buoys. And guess what, its life guard was nice enough to let me and my package friend experience one of the latter for a few seconds. hehe

With this photo, who would think that we were only on a short visit? XD

With this photo, who would think that we were only on a short visit? XD (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth)

At the right side of the Grand Pool is the Rampage Pool then beside it is Big Bowl Waterslide which looks so exciting to slide at.

Rampage Waterslide

Rampage Waterslide

The Big Bowl Waterslide. Shame I could only imagine myself going in circles in it at the moment.

The Big Bowl Waterslide. Shame I could only imagine myself going in circles in it at the moment. 😦 😛

To complete the ocular visit, we went to the other side of the resort where in we passed by the Giant Wave Pool and Children’s Plunge Pools, before finally heading to the beach.

The Chilren's Plung Pool at our back. Please don't mind our silliness with the innocent statue. hahaha

The Chilren’s Plung Pool at our back. Please don’t mind our silliness with the innocent naked statue. hahaha (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth)

The beach is nice! The sand is white that I don’t mind sacrificing my fair complexion just to enjoy that part of the resort!

The beach area. See the mountains there? That's the Subic Mountain Ranges! Nice view,huh?

The beach area. See the mountains there? That’s the Subic Mountain Ranges! Nice view,huh?

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Photo op with white sand! :D

Photo op with white sand! 😀

We headed to the Viewing Island which I think is perfect for some solitary thinking while staring at the horizon. Haha Oftentimes, my thoughts are only good for the lovers of solitude.

At the Viewing Island

At the Viewing Island

Then since we weren’t official guests, we were only able to disturb the peace and quiet of the jet skis on their parking space. Well, at least the staff assigned to it allowed us to experience them albeit us looking stupid. The man had fun watching our wackiness, by the way.

Turn to the right!

Turn to the right!

Turn to the left!

Turn to the left!

Stand up and put your hands up!

Stand up and put your hands up!

Wait! We were already surfing on the parked jet ski! Wahahaha XD

Wait! We were already surfing on the parked jet ski! Wahahaha XD

Aside from the dining and entertainment areas, the only places we didn’t get to see were the accommodations since according to the crew that entertained us, all the guest rooms were full at the time, so of course, we couldn’t just barge in to check them out.

Despite that, we were happy with the visit, no matter how short, and we were convinced that it’s the perfect place for our company outing that all the other resorts we checked became so, so nothing compared to it. Sadly, it wasn’t approved by our work’s management because with a beautiful place like that, the company’s budget for the outing didn’t match with Whiterock’s rates. Pffft.

But looking at the brighter side, at least we got know such a wonderful and fun place. For free. 😛

Interested with the resort? Visit Whiterock’s webpage at http://www.whiterock.com.ph and find yourself wanting to be there in a jiffy!

 

 

Whiterock Waterpark and Beach Hotel
Matain, Subic, Zambales
Tel. #: (047) 222.2378 / 232.2857
Mobile #: +63922.813.3630 / +63917.863.0844
Telefax #:(047) 232.4446
E-mail: reservation@whiterock.com.ph

Memories of Puerto Galera

As we grow older, we realize the importance not only of our friends and loved ones but also of collecting memories with them.  After all, nothing beats the feeling of reminiscing the good times.

Just two days after the new year, my highschool friends and I packed our bags and headed to Puerto Galera off the island of Mindoro for some unforgettable time of our lives. The trip was something we had anticipated for a long time not just because of the place’s rumored beauty, but also because with more than a decade of friendship, it was our first ever bonding experience in such a far away place. And mind you, it wasn’t easy to find the perfect date for our little adventure what with our busy schedules and one was even going back to the US in just a couple of days.

Getting There
Puerto Galera is a municipal in the province of Oriental Mindoro and is one of the beautiful tourist spots and developed beach resort communities in the Philippines’ biggest island, Luzon. It is 130 kilometers or 81 miles away from Manila and going there requires travelling by sea.

With its location and the fact that none of us has a car, five of us decided to meet at 3am in Shaw Blvd, then the other three outside the Kabayan Hotel in Pasay City so we could ride the bus to Batangas port early, then to the boat that would bring us to Oriental Mindoro. But the time didn’t go as planned as our friend, Jocelyn, arrived at around  3:45am.

Puerto Galera 01

Yuko on the left, Ernestine on right, and I in the middle, pose for the camera outside Shangri-La Mall at the intersection of Shaw Blvd and EDSA at around 3 in the morning while waiting for our friend, Jocelyn.

Everything was still cool though, as we’re not a bunch of hot-headed individuals. We just laughed the matter off ’cause something like that does happen all the time. And besides, we reached the bus terminal in Buendia, Pasay and rode a Jam Liner bus to Batangas still quite early at around 4:05am. The bus left at 5am where people like me who didn’t get the chance to sleep–as in I wasn’t able to close my eyes even just for a bit. It was still a weekday so I had to finish a task for work to avoid anything else to think about while on vacation–to take some nap.

Puerto Galera 02

Meet the gang while in the bus: (From top left) Yuko, Meynard, Rajiv, Me, (Bottom left) Lover Boy (Magie’s boyfriend), Magie, Ernestine, and Jocelyn. 😉

At 7am, it was time for some stretching at the Batangas port. As obvious tourists, a couple of agents came to us convincing us to choose their ferries over the others. In the end, we chose Father and Son Shipping Line (FSL), which we thought had the best price and would drop us at a Puerto Galera port nearer to our accommodation. The round trip fare each was 450 pesos, plus 50 pesos terminal fee, 30 pesos Environmental fee, and 10 pesos for the Terminal fee going back. The ferry was to leave at 7:30am, just a few minutes after we arrived. Not bad. Or so that’s what we think.

Puerto Galera 03

Photo opportunity at the Batangas port.

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It was while waiting for our boarding time to the boat when Rajiv started receiving endless phone calls from co-workers which made us call him the “Call Center Agent”. 😛

Puerto Galera 05.1

Meet the Father and Son Shipping Line boat.

Puerto Galera 05.2

Inside the ferry. Quite spacious and the white paint gives it the air of being clean.

Puerto Galera 05.3

It was all a hoax if there wasn’t any evidence. SMILE multiple times! 😀

The one-hour ferry ride was quite smooth according to my adventurous and dare-devil standards.

Hello, Puerto Galera!
We arrived at the Muelle Pier in Puerto Galera at around 10 am, where FSL gave us a free service to our resort at Palangan Bay View Beach Resort, which is about 30 minutes away from the go-to places in the area. It was Yuko and me who chose the resort from the two options we found at the group-buying site TCAT. It was valued at only 599 pesos for a two-day-and-one-night stay each person so both of us were very much elated and proud when we saw the place and it was actually very beautiful. And since it wasn’t peak season, we had the whole place all to ourselves like it was a private resort.

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WE’RE HERE!!! Another evidence. 😛

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The resort guy, that one wearing a red orange shirt, checking the vouchers which Yuko handed him.

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Look! There’s that wild but friendly-looking boar which stayed with us at the resort. 😀

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CHECK OUT THE RESORT! NICE, ISN’T? OUR EVERY PENNY WAS WORTH IT. (Yes, all caps to emphasize that I’m very happy with our chosen resort!)

Because we only had two days in Puerto Galera, we made sure no time was wasted. So after some picture-taking, we started changing into our swimwears so we could immediately head to the white beach. The resort was far from it so the resort personnel offered its round trip transportation service that costs 600 pesos. There was no other way we could get to our destination so we agreed with the price.

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Sexy red lips for all the girls! I’m in love with lipsticks! And since they’re my friends, I “inspired” them to wear red lippy by lending them my tube! haha 😀 LOVE IT!

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This is the Palangan Bay View Beach Resort service.

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We looked like refugees with red lips for the whole 30-minute ride to the white beach. No, actually, make that an hour since it took another 30 minutes on the way back. 😛 It was a fun-filled ride, nevertheless.

We were starving when we got to the place so the first thing we did was look for the perfect place to eat at. Which led us to the White Beach Resort Bar and Restaurant. I can’t remember the food we ordered there, except for the sweet shrimp dish that I totally disliked (I love shrimps but I don’t have sweet tooth), so I guess nothing’s remarkable in that restaurant. Yikes. hehe

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Having fun includes eating, too! 😉

Puerto Galera 12.1

My friends decided on what to eat, while I had a world of my own at one side, resting my head on my arms every once in a while, since I was still feeling sleepy. If Rajiv was the “Call Center Agent”, I was called the “Zombie” of this trip.

Puerto Galera 12.2

Pretty girls in shades! B)

After the lunch meal, we finally headed to the beach that was just in front the restaurant. The weather was a bit rainy since the week before we went to Puerto Galera so it was cold, but of course, it didn’t stop us from having fun!

Puerto Galera 13.1

A beach without the Sun is still a beach. :3

Puerto Galera 13.2

We felt so cold because of the rain. We were, in fact, shivering even before we soaked ourselves in the water, but we didn’t let the camera capture the discomfort. hehe

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Ain’t no rain is heavy enough to stop us from having fun and enjoying the white beach! By the way, Puerto Galera’s sand isn’t as white as that from Boracay, but it’s still white, nevertheless. And it’s the closest we could get in Luzon. 😉

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Funny thing about our little group is that no one knows how to swim, except for Mr Lover Boy, so we were like that on the photo the whole time, just laughing and talking and reminiscing about the good old times. Then we would panic whenever the waves would seem to bring us somewhere deeper.

Remember that part when I had my girl friends wear red lipstick? Well, Yuko and I still had it on our lips when we went into the water, and at first, we were so proud that it didn’t get erased while we ate until… until the worst happened. The tube I lent everyone–that which I also used on my lips–is a red matte lipstick with a good staying power despite it affordable price. So what happened was maybe because of the saltiness of the water, the lipstick smeared, but it made sure to stay on the outer part of our lips no matter how hard we tried to rub it off. It was an embarrassment and was the cause of our endless laughter! Especially on my part since I have sensitive skin, all those brushing with my hands left the lower part of my face red even after I have finally removed the lipstick stain. Lesson learned: Never wear lipstick when going to the beach. hehehe.

Anyway, a little later after we decided to rest, a group of guys came to us, offering their adventure package for eight people for only 1,500 pesos. Covering the activities snorkeling and island hopping, we thought it would be great so we agreed and Magie decided to pay for the whole package.

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On the way to the snorkeling area. Little boats like that on the right photo followed us for some unknown reason.

Because of the weather, the boat ride to the snorkeling area wasn’t peaceful. But then again, the adventure-seeker in me enjoyed the experience and in fact, I wish there was more. hehe

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Caught on cam: Yuko’s priceless reaction from the boat disturbance caused by the sea waves.

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The love birds’ couple shot. 😀

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Pieces of evidence: (L) Just had our life vests on; (R) Goggles on this time. HAHA Every move was documented. :))

Then while we were finally having fun at the snorkeling area, the boat men kept on suggesting that we ride the smaller boats that went there with us so they could take us to those places with more corals and fish. The price per small boat, which can accommodate only two passengers, is 200 pesos. The love birds readily grabbed it, leaving us people with no enough resources. hehe

We also rented an underwater camera to capture our moments while in the water. But since no one knows how to swim and we had life vests on, none of us dared getting photographed underwater. Pffftt. haha. We still had nice shots above water, though.

Puerto Galera 20

Some of our shots above water.

“Na-Sea Urchin Ka na Baaaaa?”
(“Have You Been Stung By A Sea Urchin?”)
It was extremely fun, being able to laugh and bond with close friends that already treat each other like siblings. In fact, it was really fun ever after the slight horror that happened.

The boat men finally persuaded us on taking the smaller boats since they promised to take us to a beautiful island where there’s this little underground cave that once became part of ABS-CBN’s TV Series Marina. But while I was on my way to the boat, Jocelyn grabbed my right shoulder telling me with a panicky voice, “Kapatid, sandali lang! (Sister, wait!)” and she held her right foot close to my face.

I was in shock when I saw not just one but many sea urchin spines on the sole of her biggest foot finger. And it was really close to my face that I couldn’t help but laugh and be worried at the same time for her. I didn’t know what to do, it could be fatal and there were too many spines!

Good thing one of the boatmen volunteered on removing those needle-like stuff on my friend’s foot all while I was holding her ankle. Whew. And apparently, sea urchin’s spines are really soft that’s why they break easily leaving those parts that pierced Jocelyn’s foot still planted under her skin. Relax, though, relax. Medical help wasn’t needed. According to the boatman, the spines eventually dissolve with the help of nothing else but… Urine. Ewww, but yes, or so they said.

I find it really disgusting to take a pee on the sea so I never do it no matter how hard people tell me it’s perfectly okay. So even if I really, really needed to and my kidneys are about to explode, and take note, I had to do it for a friend, they couldn’t force me to take a leak even behind a rock on the island. But thank goodness Yuko needed to take a pee, too, so the issue was solved immediately. Another Whew! for that.

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Jocelyn pouring Yuko’s urine on her stung foot. Unhygienic, but according to the boatmen and what we all heard before, it’s what really treat it. She also treated it with calamansi when we got back to the resort.

The Adventure Continues
Anyway, so we were taken to an island with a small underground cave. It is literally small, as in we could go in and out in just a few minutes if not for the picture-taking we did–with one of boatmen as the director of photography–inside.

We got inside by entering a small hole in a wall of rock. Then after this little obstacle, we were then welcomed in the marvel that is the cave. It’s rocky and the clear water keeps waving inside creating that peaceful seashore sound or whatever that is called. A boatman borrowed our rented camera and we were surprised when he called us from above for a photo and there’s this hole where he was peeping. It’s really beautiful!

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There’s the entrance.

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Inside the underground cave. It’s so beautiful!!! :3

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Crystal-clear water…

The view outside the cave is also fine that’s why we took advantage and had our photos taken there as well.

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Group photo. :3

Puerto Galera 27

Photo opportunity with the big rock and beautiful view.

Then it was time for the island hopping! … Which didn’t turn out good. It was on the next island when Magie and Yuko realized why we had to pay 200 pesos each for the smaller boats when those who came to us earlier said the 1,500 payment already comprised every activity we would be doing. And Meynard also said that we didn’t need those smaller boats, anyway, so why? No one raged since we’re all not that type but we decided not to continue with the island hopping anymore and to just go back to the resort instead.

We still had great photos there, anyway.

Puerto Galera 28

On the way to another island. SMILE! 🙂

Puerto Galera 29

The sun was setting. Great view that the camera couldn’t miss!

Puerto Galera 30

Meynard couldn’t resist the elegance of the place, too, so he asked me to take a solo shot of him.

Puerto Galera 31

While we were waiting for the service which would bring us back to the resort.

Back to the resort, we took baths immediately as we were already starving. The resort’s food servings are good for two so we divided ourselves into four and ordered two viands each pair. In all fairness, the food are all scrumptious and Rajiv and Jocelyn’s Sinigang na Hipon were unbelievable because it seemed bottomless and it is true to its name, it had a lot of shrimps unlike those in Metro Manila where there are more vegetables than the shrimps!

Puerto Galera 31

While waiting for our dinner…

Puerto Galera 33

Funny moment: (Top) We had Meynard lie on our laps for some photos and it was all cool; (Bottom) Then for Rajiv’s turn… Look at my facial expression on the picture! hahaha Rajiv is really heavy that we decided the attempt won’t work. hahaha V^_^

Puerto Galera 34

Dinner time! But first, the evidence! 😀

After dinner time came what else but Filipino’s favorite past time: Videoke! But the night was still young when a resort personnel told us it was time’s up at 10:30pm since a government official is a neighbor. Pffft.

Puerto Galera 35

Singing our hearts out!

The Second and Last Day
Our vouchers were good for a two-days-and-one-night stay, so the next day, we had to get ready to go back to Metro Manila. For breakfast–which were complimentary–we had fried rice, egg, hotdog, and coffee. Not bad for the start of the day.

Puerto Galera 36

Never miss breakfast. 🙂

Puerto Galera 37

One last photo in the resort.

Puerto Galera 38

Group photos on the other parts of resort. It’s really a nice place! 😀

Puerto Galera 39

How about for some solo shots? :3

Then it was time to go…

Puerto Galera 40

Refugee-ish again as we headed to the pier.

We were supposed to buy souvenirs when we get to the Muelle Pier, but the ferry would be leaving in a few minutes. The FSL crew promised that we could go shopping at Sabang pier, though, and we were relieved. Until we reached the said pier and we had to run and buy fast for we were only given about 15 minutes to buy stuff. I felt like we were contestants of Amazing Race. :\

Anyway, at least we were able to buy some Puerto Galera souvenirs, and mind you, I loved the adrenalin rush.

Puerto Galera 41

Oh, hello again, Father and Son Shipping Line ferry!

Puerto Galera 42

Time’s up for the 15-minute extra challenge! :))

Puerto Galera 43

Tired but still picture-ready. 🙂

Puerto Galera 44

Back to the Batangas port!

Puerto Galera 45

Next stop: Shopping for some edible souvenirs!

Bulalo Break!
Our little adventure didn’t end at the Batangas port. For lunch, we ate at Jorjhane’s House of Special Bulalo, which is kind of famous in Batangas City and we understood why. Its Bulalo, a Filipino beef stew made mainly of beef bone marrows, was really delicious starting from the soup which can be refilled whenever we wanted to! YUM!

Puerto Galera 46

At Jorjhane’s House of Special Bulalo! Lunch time!

Puerto Galera 47

Jorjhane’s Bulalo is indeed special!

Puerto Galera 48

It cannot be denied that we loved the bulalo. hehehe

Puerto Galera 49

The round trip tricycle ride from the Batangas port to the Bulalo restaurant costs 300 pesos per vehicle.

Then it was time to really, really face the metropolis again in a few hours.

Puerto Galera 50

At the Batangas bus terminal.

 

This Puerto Galera trip with my high school friends, though really short, definitely deserves a special place in my heart and memory. It was a time when I had the ultimate fun with my dearest friends, in fact, I didn’t care even if I burned my wallet with this getaway. Every money I spent was worth it.

I’m looking forward for more out-of-town trip with them! 😉

 

 

—-

Photo Credits:

Jan Meynard Nualla

Yuko Konishi-Legaspi

Photo collage by me:P

Toward Mt Daguldol’s Summit

I am never the sporty type. I don’t get to stretch and use my body the way others do.

I tried playing volleyball back in gradeschool only to prove myself I was a total shame in that field so I stopped right then and there and never tried another sport, except for those needed in my Physical Education subjects. Up to this day, the only physical activity I am into is walking, and walking I do as part of going to places and back home, and whenever I have to think hard.

But when Des, a friend and former co-writer, chatted me on Gtalk inviting me and two of our other friends, Mao and Champy, to join her and her friends in their upcoming minor climb at a mountain called Mt Daguldol, I got really interested and accepted the invitation. It might be a crazy idea for someone like me who isn’t exactly in shape, but I was up for an adventure and something new, so I thought, why not try it for experience.

First-time hikers (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

First-timers all set for the hike (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

The Mountain, the Neophytes, and the Adventure

Established by the UP Mountaineers as a hiking spot in the 90s, Mt Daguldol is a small mountain range located in San Juan, Batangas.

The adventure started not from mountain itself but from the 30-minute trek at the Laiya Beach, a nice beginning if you love the seashore and the sunrise, if you’re there very early in the morning. So we walked on the sand, which either entered our shoes or sunk them, saw other people taking photos and having fun at the beach, then passed by the rocks, then more sand, until there it was, the mountain to climb.

Taking advantage of the nice scenery. SMILE! :)

Taking advantage of the nice scenery. SMILE! 🙂

A walk at Laiya Beach

A long walk at the Laiya Beach

Walk at Laiya Beach 2

Photo by Desiree Quijalvo

:)

Photo by Desiree Quijalvo

Walk, walk, walk

Fellow hikers (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

Mt Daguldol has a difficulty level of 3/9, but although they say that numbers are precise, the hike wasn’t as easy as was claimed. And I am not saying it just because I’m new to the activity. Des and her friends aren’t part of any mountaineering groups but they’ve been climbing mountains as a hobby since 2006, and they sure had a hard time with this, too.

We were a group of around 20 and were divided into subgroups, and ours was at the tail. We only had an hour of sleep before the big day that’s why the climb was extra tiring. So we took the time and stopped for some rest every time we felt like it, and which made the usual five-hour challenge to the summit longer. But just like what Tito Fred, the eldest in the group, said, we shouldn’t exhaust ourselves too much by rushing to the top, we should just take it easy to save more energy. And so that’s what we did.

Des taking some rest.

Des taking some rest.

Of course, I had my precious moments, too.

Of course, I had my precious moments, too.

During the climb, even just a few seconds of rest was priceless.

During the climb, even just a few seconds of rest was priceless.

Never forget to smile and laugh despite the hard times. :)

Never forget to smile and laugh despite the hard times. 🙂

I was actually quite cool about it at first, Champy was even joking me that I walked like I was on a runway and was wearing high heels. But come our first real rest at the first waiting shed, after we all stood up and started hiking again, the sides of my vision went dark and I had to ask our little company to stop again because I was feeling nauseous. Champy gave me a candy, but instead of making me feel okay, I found my breakfast on the ground after a few moments, and I didn’t allow anything else, except for some gelatin and softdrinks, in my tummy the whole day. I was afraid to puke again and it was one of the things I hate, so it was better to be safe. The humiliating  scene made me much better, though, and my effortless stride on the runway continued.

Trail food: Lychee-flavored gelatin.

Our trail food: Lychee-flavored gelatin.

I think everyone in our group would agree that aside from the peak, it were the resting areas that we were all waiting for. They were the oases in a desert of trees, grasses, rocks, and soils. Among them is Mang Lizardo’s where Halo-halo and Mountain Dew are sold. Since I was already exhausted and I was taking care of my tummy, I didn’t order a Halo-halo, but it would have been refreshing if I got to taste it.

At Mang Lizardo's. Time for some unwinding in the midst of the mountain.

At Mang Lizardo’s. Time for some unwinding in the midst of the mountain.

Mountain Dew sold in the mountain. Makes sense. :P

Mountain Dew sold in the mountain. Makes sense. 😛

What I learned about this day event is that hiking is really a test of endurance. There were a lot of times when I thought of throwing in the white flag along with my treasured pride, because I couldn’t do it anymore, and just go down and wait for them to come back. But it was proving myself I’m not a wimp that kept me going. ‘Cause I’m not. I am not the type to give up easily, so I persevered, though the back of my mind was pleading me to do otherwise. That’s the spirit.

Hey!

Hey!

Perseverance

Perseverance

is

is

the

the

Key :)

Key 🙂

Then at last, we reached the summit. The vast area is covered with green grasses, is windy, and perfect for picnics and even overnight stays if one would wish to. Being there was the time when we all felt all our efforts paid off. Too bad we left our lunches in one of the resting areas, that’s why we had to cut our blissful relaxation and proceed in going back.

Mao and I rested on the grass while our legs were raised--an anti-varicose vein move. XD

Mao and I rested on the grass while our legs were raised–an anti-varicose vein move. XD

Des' jumpshot at the summit....

Des’ jumpshot at the summit….

... Meanwhile, Mao and I were far too exhausted for some jumpshots of our own.

… Meanwhile, Mao and I were far too exhausted for some jumpshots of our own.

The pairs of shoes that helped us to the top, and would do the same in going back.

The pairs of shoes that helped us to the top, and would do the same in going back.

Photo op with our fellow hikers. We made it! :)

Photo op with our fellow hikers. We made it! 🙂

From our experiences in stairs, we learned that it’s easier going down than up. But with Mt Daguldol’s case, it was the other way around. With every step I made on our way down, all my weight would go to the foot that made the move, and with repetition, it became quite unbearable, and so we had to stop more often. Tito Fred said it was because I was wearing sneakers, not rubbing shoes. He said that the latter have cushion at the sole, thus, it isn’t so painful when the shoes hit the ground. So a friendly reminder to you, dear reader, if you’re going hiking for the first time: Rubber shoes, not sneakers. Again, rubber shoes, not sneakers.

For me, the best part in all of this, aside from reaching Mt Daguldol’s peak, was the next day when I woke up anticipating the tell-tale aches all over my body, especially in the legs, but I didn’t feel any. I even asked my sister’s boyfriend if it was possible to feel the pain the day after next, but my brother just interjected and teased me that maybe I was born for the mountains, and they both laughed and sang Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.

It was when I realized that all the walking I love doing actually made me fit for such physical activity. Good thing I was unconsciously trained for this. hehe

I swear, we're not fond of photos.

I swear, we’re not fond of photos.

We just love to smile, that's all. hehe

We just love to smile, that’s all. hehe

Yes, even if we're very much tired. :P

Yes, even if we’re very much tired. 😛

My first hike was tiring and frustrating in the process, but looking back… Hey! I’m very proud to announce that I survived my first hike at Mt Daguldol!

Will I do it again? Well, I guess so. My door’s open for invitations. 🙂

—–

REFERENCE:
Pinoy Mountaineer

—–

All photos by Champy Cachola–who didn’t get tired of taking all our hiking pictures–unless otherwise stated. 

My Heart Belongs to Hong Kong!

The first is always the most memorable. And in my first travel’s case, it wasn’t just unforgettable, I even left my heart there and made sure it stays just there.

Hong Kong skyscapers at night

Hong Kong skyscapers at night

I am lucky to once belong in a company where travelling abroad for event coverage was part of the job’s description. During my one year and four months with it, I was able to attend and write about two international trade fairs of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). The first, which coincidentally was also my first time abroad, was the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair in April 2010, and the second was the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) in October of that same year. Among the two, the former has always been the one that’s on my mind.

Filipino Overseas Journalist at Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2010

Filipino Overseas Journalist (OJ) at Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2010

That first time opened my eyes to a dream that’s almost the only reason why I want to earn money nowadays. It made me realize how I want to travel the world and get to know other cultures and how their places look like. The best part of it was that the air fare, terminal fee, accommodation, and daily breakfasts were paid by HKTDC, it was only the other expenses that I had to take care of.

Solitary in An Unknown Place

The 22-year-old me, alone in HK. :)

The 22-year-old me, alone and busy working in HK. 🙂

HKTDC allows only one overseas journalist per media firm. And as a homebody who was a greenhorn to travelling even just around Metro Manila then, one would expect that I felt scared with going to a foreign country alone and it even made me want to back out, but no, it was the other way around. It was thrilling, just thinking about it. I consider myself as the independent type and I get excited over anything new, so I didn’t mind the solitary experience at all.

So with only my baggage, the company name, and myself to carry, I went to Hong Kong alone and full of anticipation.

Just a few walks at the Hong Kong International Airport, and it already made me realize that one of my favorite quotes which says, “Perfect arrival is not arriving at all,” is not always true. The airport is humongous, in fact, it has a train inside. And first timers won’t be anxious in Hong Kong since it is very tourist friendly.

HK map, my travel buddy.

HK map, my travel buddy.

In fact, maps in English, Chinese, and Japanese languages are in abundance at the airport and one can get as much as they want. They’re easy to use and comprehend, that’s why I always say to people that if they can’t understand it, I don’t know what else I’ll think of them. Those colorful papers are complete with information from street names to all the possible exits in subways. They’re perfect even for people like me who are not exactly good in reading maps, and geography in general.

Then there’s the weather. The whole time I was there, it was quite rainy and the temperature ranged from 19°C-21°C during daylight. I don’t get cold easily that’s why that temperature, cool enough to make me wear a jacket and just right to make me still feel comfortable, is what I loved most about my stay in Hong Kong. I could just walk endlessly on the streets (which are, mind you, don’t only look safe, but are also really safe), without feeling even the tiniest bit of exhaustion. It was even during those walks when I always thought that I finally found the right place for me.

But with my work as the priority of that trip, I only had time for leisure in the evenings and the morning of my last day–the fifth one. So I was only able to wander around Wan Chai, Central, and some parts of Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, and Mong Kok.

Lots of buildings in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Lots of buildings in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Central 2

Central 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I wasn’t able to go as far as Lantau Island for Hong Kong Disneyland and Aberdeen for Hong Kong Ocean Park because:

1. Time constraint

Where to?

Where to?

2. I had limited resources, my salary then was just right for everyday living in my homeland

3. At 22, I still didn’t have enough guts to go that far

4. Besides, I couldn’t imagine myself being truly merry in an amusement park and oceanarium all by myself. For me, it’s a place where I need to have somebody with me whom I can instantly share my excitement with.

I also failed going to Victoria Peak, which entrance is just in Central, for the same reasons.

Up close with Bank of China Tower, one of the most noticeable skyscrapers in Central.

Up close with Bank of China Tower, one of the most noticeable skyscrapers in Central.

The Golden Bauhinia Square, located just outside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is one of the popular spots in HK.

The Golden Bauhinia Square, located just outside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is one of the popular spots in HK.

Standin in Ave. of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was pointing to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fairs take place.

Standing in Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was pointing to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fairs take place.

Somewhere in Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Somewhere in Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But though I missed what could have been three of the best in Hong Kong, the places I had been to were enough to make me fall in love with the region. Solitary walking is when I think and observe most so I was able to witness the beauty of Hong Kong and the discipline of the Hong Kongers. And I began admiring the place for those.

 

An old man playing a string instrument outside Wan Chai Station

An old man playing a string instrument outside Wan Chai Station

People

 

My Temporary Home Sweet Home

As I said above, HKTDC pays for the accommodation of its OJs. And maybe because it has a connecting path to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), but Renaissance Harbour View  Hotel Hong Kong is the chosen lovely abode for OJs during their stay in Hong Kong, and I felt really fortunate for it.

Located at the scenic Wan Chai Waterfront, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong is a four-star luxury hotel complete with landscaped pool, gym, restaurant, and amenities from cable TV, to iron for clothes.

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from bookonline2save)

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from bookonline2save)

I was given a room with two single beds, one for me and one for my messy stuff. It was nice and comfortable with almost everything I need already there.

Inside my hotel room

Inside my hotel room

My two beds

My two beds

This is how messy I can be. And I didn't bother tidying everything up since it was the housekeepers that did that for me around lunch break. hehehe. XD

This is how messy I can be. And I didn’t bother tidying everything up since it was the housekeepers that did that for me around lunch break. hehehe. XD

 

The hotel boasts of its harbour view, but my room was located at the other side so what I saw whenever I looked at the big glass window was the garden view. It was alright, though. It was still relaxing to stare at.

 

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel's garden view

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel’s garden view

 

Going to the hotel wasn’t without a flaw for me. Since the airport is two islands away from Hong Kong Island where the hotel is, HKTDC also pays for the shuttle service called Airport Hotelink Limousine to bring us OJs to Renaissance, and back to the airport on our last day.

What happened was because the staff of the shuttle had a Chinese accent, I didn’t understand him when he asked who would they be dropping off this hotel and that. And the thing is, I didn’t know that there is a Renaissance Harbour View Hotel and there’s also a hotel simply called Harbour View Hotel. I was dropped to the latter. Sheesh. So with my stroller with me, I walked from the latter to the former all while I was completely unsure if I was going the right direction. Good thing it isn’t at all that unusual to walk around Hong Kong with a stroller.

Vanity time inside my hotel room.

Vanity time inside my hotel room.

‘Cause No Man is An Island

I went to Hong Kong alone, but I met a few people during my stay. The first was the Concierge of Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, Dino Recile, who is one of the three Filipinos among the hotel employees. He was introduced to me by the (cute) male receptionist who took care of my checking-in in the hotel. (Confession time: I had an instant crush on the receptionist, and we had a short conversation that went:

Me: *busy looking at the floor*

Receptionist: We have the same birthday.

Me: Huh? What? *I looked at him*

Receptionist: The same birthday, month and day. *smiling and pointing at my birth date on my passport *

Me: Oh. *I smiled, too* How about the year?

Receptionist: No. 1983.

Me: Oh. Okay. *And my instant crush on him was born*

Receptionist: Wait, I’ll introduce you to our Filipino co-worker. *Went somewhere*

Me: *Started counting our age gap*)

And it was then when Dino Recile and I met.

Dino Recile. Photo was originally taken for the profile article I would be writing about him

Dino Recile. Photo was originally taken for the profile article I was to write about him

Dino is a typical Filipino, hospitable, happy, and amiable. He served as my tour guide, in fact, he was responsible why I enjoyed my short stay in Hong Kong. All I had to do was go to him and ask him where best to go given my short time, and he would obligingly pull a map then tell me directions on how to get here and there. Then whenever I got bored and I needed someone to talk to, I just go to his location in the lobby and ask him about his experiences in Hong Kong, and in turn, I shared what was new in the Philippines then.

I also met two OJs at the fair’s Networking Reception. The first was Ms Kim SunJung from South Korea, and the other was Mr Rakesh Desai from India. I think I was the youngest among the OJs so I couldn’t help but be shy on everyone.

With Kim SunJung from South Korea

With Kim SunJung from South Korea

With Rakesh Desai from India

With Rakesh Desai from India

Then during my last day in Hong Kong, since it was also the day when I would be going back to the Philippines, I wasn’t required to roam around HKCEC anymore, so what I did was go to places I hadn’t been to, and it was when I met a few Filipinos.

There’s a Filipino restaurant in Wan Chai called Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant, and the owner, Mang Ambo, is there during lunch time. He learned that I was in Hong Kong just for the fair and he told me that there are many Filipino journalists around the place who also eat in his restaurant, and that if I was interested in working in Hong Kong, maybe I could talk to some of them.

Then there was also an architect who has been living there with his family for already quite some time, and another, an unemployed woman on the look for a job there. It was nice talking in my native language in a foreign land.

After eating, I went straight to the Avenue of Stars located in Tsim Sha Tsui. While I was resting, I was spotted by a seaman in the name of Marny. He asked me if I was a Filipino and I said yes, and so we talked mostly about his family and girlfriend, who is now his wife, by the way. And they’re already expecting a baby soon! ^_^ Yes, we still have a connection until now.

 

Eats Time to Eat!

Of course, a travel experience isn’t complete without our palates tasting what the unknown place has to offer. So although I didn’t have a lot of money to burn, I still made it a point to eat some of the food in Hong Kong.

14094_1457720084081_4709209_n

On my first day, while looking for Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant, I got lost so I ended up eating at Sun Thai Restaurant where I ordered Fried Noodle with Beef in Malaysian Sauce with free tea of my choice.

At first, the dish was really delicious, but as I consume those thick pasta, I felt like throwing everything up. At the end, I wasn’t able to finish it, and I didn’t feel good the entire day. I wasn’t able to eat dinner because of that, too. 😐

Lesson learned that day: Camille isn’t a noodle person, she still prefers rice all the way!

Besides, food servings in Hong Kong are bigger compared to those in the Philippines, so it was quite overwhelming to eat that much food.

"See? I wasn't able to finish this darn food. :| Thanks for making me lose my appetite, food."--My Facebook caption on this photo

“See? I wasn’t able to finish this darn food. 😐 Thanks for making me lose my appetite, food.”–My Facebook caption to this photo

The second cuisine I tried was at a Cantonese restaurant called Spicy Mama in Jordan, Kowloon with SunJung right after the Networking Reception. Its staff are pure Cantonese and cannot speak English, so its menu for foreigners are all photos, and its customers will have to rely on their sight’s judgment for the food they want to order.

We had the Deep Fried Spicy Crab and another vegetable dish. The crab was scrumptious, but the vegetable, well, I almost didn’t touch it when I saw it was full of onions.

So happy to eat the Deep Friend Spicy Crab! ^_^ I love crabs!

So happy to eat the Deep Friend Spicy Crab! ^_^ I love crabs!

With SunJung at Spicy Mama

With SunJung at Spicy Mama

Then because of what happened on my first day, I became skeptical of almost any unfamiliar food I saw. So to be safe, I ate at Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant during lunch and sometimes, even during dinner for the remaining days.

Mang Ambo's Restaurant in Wan Chai

Mang Ambo’s Restaurant in Wan Chai

The restaurant is a turo-turo style like that in the Philippines, so if you’re a Filipino living in Hong Kong and you suddenly miss the atmosphere of your homeland, this restaurant is the place to be.

For only 23HKD, a customer is served with one rice and one viand of their choice of Filipino cuisine, and it’s 28HKD for two viands with one rice.

Photo of the wall of Mang Ambo's with dedications from people who ate at the restaurant.

Photo of the wall of Mang Ambo’s with dedications from people who ate at the restaurant.

Shopping Time!

Hong Kong is like a big shopping center with some of the richest people in the Philippines going there only to shop whenever they want. And although I was short on resources, I still bought some stuff for my family and myself.

The best place to go to in Hong Kong for affordable items is the night market in Tung Choi St, Mong Kok, Kowloon. I heard customers can haggle all they want until they get the price they desire there, so even if it was raining during that time, I braved the night and was satisfied with everything I bought when I got back to the hotel.

Shopping 1

Shopping 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Here and There

Hong Kong is just a three-island Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, but it’s still big enough for people not be able to stroll around on foot. So transportation is still essential to get from point A to point B. I was only able to ride on two, though (Aside from the shuttle).

A must-try in Hong Kong is the Star Ferry which operates in the Victoria Harbour. For the price of only 2.50HKD Mondays-Fridays and 3.40HKD Saturdays-Sundays and public holidays, a person can already cross from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and vice versa by sea. Then from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and vice versa, the lower deck costs 2.0HKD and the upper deck 2.50KD on Mondays-Fridays, and the lower deck 2.8HKD and upper deck 3.40HKD on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Star Ferry: 2.50HKD per ride

Star Ferry

Star Ferry 2

Star Ferry 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then my favorite is the MTR ,or the Mass Transit Railway, which serves the whole of Hong Kong. I find this really cool, especially the interchanging stations where I didn’t have to wait long for the next train to come.
Cool! MTR serves the whole of Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from Wikipedia)

Cool! MTR serves the whole of Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from Wikipedia)

14094_1459032756897_5138297_nthird
 
But what’s cooler than the MTR is the Octopus Card, a rechargeable smart card used in paying for all the transportation available in Hong Kong, except perhaps the taxi (Not sure). It can also be used in convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, parking meters, car parks, vending machines, and service stations. It’s an all-in-one card that doesn’t have an expiration date. Mine is actually still with me and it still has 48HKD, which I can use on my next visit to Hong Kong, whenever that may be. 🙂

 

 
And that was my whole first experience in travelling and Hong Kong. It was a marvelous experience and I’m looking forward to visiting more countries in the future.

Have you been to Hong Kong? Did you like it the same way I do? 🙂

 

 

 

At Home at Balaw Balaw

Eating together on one table bonds people, but sharing the food in a single container makes the relationship tighter. And uh… the competition with food fiercer. :p

My paternal grandparents’ graves are located in two different places in the province of Rizal. So every All Saints’ Day, it is always part of my family’s agenda to eat at Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant in Angono, Rizal for lunch since we are not often around the area. And though we weren’t able to do the annual tradition for the departed loved ones for the last two consecutive years because my father suffered a stroke, we didn’t forget the restaurant and it was even the first that we remembered when dad is already half okay and my mom finally learned how to drive this year.

Welcome sign upon entering the restaurant

The Filipino restaurant, best known for its exotic food, was already featured on the CATV show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern a few years back, adding to its popularity among locals and foreigners.

We’ve been there for already a few times prior to the feature, but we didn’t know about its bizarre food offerings until we saw the show. And although we have seen how Andrew Zimmern munched in the still moving uok (or coconut rhinoceros beetle larva) on the boob tube and still looked okay, my family and I aren’t adventurous enough to experience its taste so we ordered the best-seller Minaluto for this year’s All Saints’ Day lunch (I am actually adventurous, but I would never ever eat or even look at anything that wriggles, and though I wanted to taste a frog, since my family doesn’t want to, I had to adapt. So… Sorry for me.).

Family-sized Minaluto (good for 6-8 people) for only 1,200 pesos

A regular Minaluto order, good for one person, comprises of steamed rice, mussels, prawns, crabs, water spinach, pork adobo, tomatoes, and salted red eggs at the price of 250 pesos. If you want to change your steamed rice with yellow rice, the price is 280 pesos, then 270 pesos for binagoongan rice, and 280 pesos for pink rice.

The medium order of Minaluto, good for three to four people, also contains the same viands as with the regular one at the price 970 pesos. But with yellow rice, it is 1,100 pesos, 1,050 pesos with binagoongan rice, and 1,100 with pink rice.

What we got was the family size, which is for six to eight people. It is composed of steamed rice, squid, mussels, prawns, crabs, water spinach, fried pork, fried chicken, salted red egg, tomatoes, eggplants, and okra for 1,200 pesos. With yellow rice it is 1,350 pesos, with binagoongan rice 1,250 pesos, and 1,370 pesos with the the pink rice.

Placed in a bamboo container lined with banana leaves, the mix of food was perfect. It was authentic Filipino cuisine, and it could make one think of and appreciate the once very simple Filipino life, that which still makes one genuinely laugh and smile despite all the lemons being thrown at him.

When the server placed the container on our table, I had to forcefully stop everyone a couple of times for the camera. Everybody was already hypnotized by the Balaw Balaw food right in front of them that I had to remind them that without a group photo, I won’t give my share on the bill (haha! Whatta blackmail! XD). And so they stopped and looked at the my camera patiently.

SMILE! Before we started gorging our scrumptious food

And since I, myself, was already starving, I let them go after two shots, then we forgot we were related for a few minutes until nothing’s left but a few specks. Times like that, silence was especially important since all our food was in one container. We had to eat faster to make sure no one was successfully greedy to discreetly eat our share. And ehem… Ehem… Please do not underestimate our body sizes. These days, gluttony can not be based on how thin or not the person is. Believe me, I’m a living proof. 😀

Proof that we love Balaw Balaw’s Minaluto

My sister craved for something sour that day so we ordered Sinigang na Hipon, too. But to my palate’s dismay, the viand wasn’t sour at all. I had some on my bowl just for the sake of having a soup.

I don’t know if it was really cooked that way in Angono, Rizal, but my mom’s version of it is definitely better, in fact, I think she cooks the best tasting Sinigang using only natural ingredients.

Sinigang na Hipon (I forgot its price)

The food offerings at Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is superb, if not, why would celebrities and businessmen, among others, flock to it? And if you think Filipino cuisine is all there is to it at Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant, think again.

Situated in the Arts Capital of the Philippines and home to two national artists, Lucio San Pedro for music and Carlos “Botong” Francisco for arts, the restaurant also serves as a gallery for visual arts.

Aside from the native style, the interior is decorated with a lot of masks, while the tables have paper-mache on them.

Masks on the ceiling

Masks on the wall

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is accredited by the Department of Tourism and is a member of Philippine Convention & Visitors Corporation

The restaurant is also a receiver of numerous awards and plaques.

Paper-mache on the table

Then farther into the place are paintings and one of the spiral staircases to the second floor.

Paintings here…

… Paintings there

More paintings lying on a table

When you enter the restaurant, there’s a door on the left side. The room there also contains paintings, some sculptures, and another spiral stairs.

The spiral wooden staircase to the second floor.

On the second floor are religious and non-religious sculptures, while on the third are giant paper mache creations. Frankly speaking, if I’m not into art appreciation, I would be very scared of these two upper floors.

The Last Supper

Another religious art

On the second floor

If I was alone, I would be scared of this place.

Still on the second floor

Photo op with the giant paper-mache on the third floor.

Can’t get enough of the Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant? There’s a pasalubong area located at the right side of the place where fermented shrimp pastes and paper-mache creations are on display together with their prices.

Pasalubong corner

Fermented Shrimp Paste

Cocodan all-natural coco jam

Burong Hito

Burong Dalag

Sauteed Shrimp Paste

 

Going to Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is definitely worth it. That’s why my family and I will never get tired of going to it every year. 🙂

 

 

BALAW BALAW
Specialty Restaurant Folk Food, Folk Art

16 Doña Justa Subd. Ph. I Angono, Rizal, Philippines 1930
Tel. #: 651-0110
Mobile #: 09237144209
E-mail: balaw2x@yahoo.com

 

 

Foodtografia de Camilla Pt 1

Maybe it’s because of the trend and Instagram in particular, or maybe I just want to remember the various food that I eat, but I love taking pictures of food! Sadly, much as I adore doing it, I oftentimes forget to take snapshots of them because, yeah, I’m almost always hungry especially at the sight of, yes, F-O-O-D. So before I realize it, all I have is a clean plate. Too bad.

What happens then, you say? Well, I end up capturing images of empty plates just so I can remember and tell myself someday that, “Once, I was able to eat at this or that restaurant. As a proof, look, there’s the plate I ate at with the resto’s tissue in the photograph.” Hehe.

Anyway, there will be no empty plates in this post. Below are (only) five images of food and a drink that I ate and was able to catch on camera either in Macau or in Hong Kong. There are no food reviews about them since my memory is now betraying me, most of them are taken back in 2010.

P.S. I’m no photographer so I hope you’ll forgive my shots. ^_^

 

Restaurante Vinha
G/F AC Dinasty Plaza, 393 Alameda Dr. Carlos d’ Assumpção, NAPE, Macau

 

Deep Fried Spicy Crab
Spicy Mama
Tak Hing St, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong

 

(I forgot what it’s called, but it’s composed of noodles in tomato sauce, with different kinds of mushrooms, some veggies, and one chicken skewer.)
Glass Flat Q’ Noodle
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

 

Fried Noodle with Beef in Malaysian Sauce
Sun Thai Restaurant
Shop 3-4, G/F, Tonnochy Towers, 272 Jaffe Road , Wan Chai, Hong Kong

 

Milk Tea that comes with the food above
Sun Thai Restaurant
Shop 3-4, G/F, Tonnochy Towers, 272 Jaffe Road , Wan Chai, Hong Kong