Christmas is just around the corner. I am truly honored with the assistance of my friends’ church organization and of course one of the biggest fast-food chains worldwide–Jollibee just to make our planned event turns into reality.
“Sa Jollibee, Bida ang Saya!.”
I felt so inspired by many of our foundations throughout the Philippines in reaching our dear less-fortunate Filipinos to serve and give benevolence in a very simple way. The spirit of thanksgiving and camaraderie show how non-profit organizations nowadays emerging because of a belief that everything is meant to be shared.
My friend and I collaborated with each other for the Missionaries of the Poor Manila to share a little food to bite to every lolos more importantly the special children and some outside kids. Thanks a hundred folds to them and also for Jollibee’s hundred of burgers were given out to each of our beneficiaries and became successful as we put smiles among them. The team also added variety of food coming from their organization’s fund as well as presented a show where they can showcase their talents.
The Missionaries of the Poor is located at San Andres Bukid, Manila City under the supervision and assistance of Rev. Fr. Ambrose, MOP. The mission superior, Bro. Anthony Wechuli, MOP and the other Brothers. The mission begun historically in Jamaica in 1981 followed by seven countries including Philippines where there are 3 mission sites: Naga City, Cebu City and Manila City. It was 2008 when founder Rev. Fr. Richard Ho Lung initiated the talks pursuing mission in the urban poor areas in Manila particularly in San Andres Bukid. Later, all the good deeds of our Brothers is now a success. Some of their activities are sharing catechism to children and families nearby, feeding program, and dental check up. Meanwhile, the Manila mission is catering abandoned lolos and special young men as the team is planning soon to be of service to elderly abandoned women.
You may refer to below details whenever you visit and plan for activities by schedule. By far, there are 19 children and 21 lolos.
The most famed paradise-Boracay Island with its natural fine white sand, crystal-clear turquoise water, and dubbed as Top 10 Beaches around the world by CNN where old Boracay is known to its party-night goers, exaggerated number of tourists, some unlawful accommodations and so on. That was before I encountered firsthand the island in 2017.
During my second visit after the mandated closure by the DENR and other government agencies and officially re-opened in 2018 of October 26, it seemingly worth to begin another glimpse of the island as 6-month rehabilitation was successful and continually implementing rules to align with the environmental laws. Number of tourists every single day is also regulated. The accommodation had reached 11,612 rooms as of February 8 of 2019 for a total of 316 establishments which accept booking via online or call. Check out Department of Tourism – Philippines Fb page for the updated list of accredited hotels and inn.
There are only limited water activities imposed by the partnered agencies of DENR. Some of these are paddle boarding, banana boat riding, helmet diving, para-sailing, jet skiing, and paraw sailing. Any of these should be requested at the booked hotel and inn or through DOT-accredited travel agencies in order to avoid illegal tour coordinators and commissioners at the same time to control number of tourists to each destination.
Daily flights from various airlines can still land at the Caticlan Airport and soon to be called Boracay Airport located in the mainland of Aklan.
Kalibo Airport remains also as an alternative way to enter to the island which considered airfare is way cheaper than Caticlan airport. From Kalibo, you can board a van or bus bound for Caticlan port for about 2-3 hours.
As you arrive at the airport, you can avail all-in land transfers including environmental fees for P600.00-P700.00 from the arrival hall to booked accommodation. If you opt to save a little, you can avail outside the airport building costing at P450.00 up to the doorstep of your hotel (this also includes environmental fees and terminal fee.) If you however want a more inexpensive way to get to chosen inn or hotel, from Arrival of the airport located at the expansion area in West Road Aklan, board a tricycle at P100.00 which takes 15 to 20 minutes per way heading to Caticlan port.
P100.00 – Environmental Fee (one time fee)
P75.00 – Terminal Fee – Caticlan port (one time as you enter to the island)
P25.00 – Ferry Fare
P100.00 – Terminal Fee – Cagban port (one time as you leave the island back to Caticlan port)
Those arriving and without land transfer arrangement from Cagban port, hop in e-trike at P10.00 to P40.00 depending on distance or station of your destination. Tricycle and van are equally available outside the port of Cagban.
Time really flies and the airport is expanding its facilities wherein arrival and departure will be separated soon.
Aside from the three stations, you can head over at Bulabog beach in the other side of the island for water activities. You can also explore Puka beach by chartering a tricycle at P300.00 from station 2 or by e-trike at around P40.00 each or by boat where fare depends the number of passengers.
We stayed near D’mall in Station 2 for 3D2N through Traveloka.com for our convenience in terms of food hunting and also good location instantly to reach and bum at the white beach shoreline.
Since some water activities were experienced almost 2 years ago, we decided to merely set mind from bustle, relax and feel what Boracay could offer from its picturesque spots.
Always note to arrange your accommodation before arriving in the airport by showing a confirmed itinerary since Cagban port personnel will surely check preferred inn or hotel in order to be allowed inside for boarding a ferry.
The island has now encompassing a new image today as it fosters sustainable Boracay longing its way to entice more visitors in 2019.
The road project on the island is still under construction, and hopefully extensive operation will be met at possible time.
For me, I typically enjoy Boracay among other beaches because of its wide-range longstretch white sand. Am also planning to come back all over again! Even if a group or solo, it is possible to explore.
The best feeling, whenever I travel, is that when you meet locals who are willing to make your experience extraordinary and worth saving. To begin with, I have started my tour from Tuguegarao City up north particularly in Palaui Island. Since I will be spending 3 days only, I got my 2 nights stay along Aguinaldo Street within Tuguegarao city.
Tuguegarao City is the capital of Cagayan Province begun in the year 1839 after the relocation of provincial government power from Lal-lo municipality. It comes from two Ibanag words tuggi which means ‘fire‘ and aggao which means ‘day‘. Yes, extreme sunny weather is expected within the area as the average temperature might reach about 38-39ºC. Tuguegarao hit 42.2ºC on August 19, 1912, and May 11, 1969 recorded in the history. It also dubbed as the hottest city around the Philippines but no worries as cold weather can also be encountered once Amihan approaches usually by January to February according to Ibanag people.
Afi festival is their annual celebration signifying fire as stories say that the city was burned from the wilderness out of vast Palm trees.
It is also home of old churches during the Spaniards colonization which gives more historic remembrance during their era.
The ever first parochial church that had been built is the Ermita de Piedra de San Jacinto or the Stone Chapel of Saint Hyacinth, the patron saint of Tuguegarao City.
Here are some destinations that can be chartered by a tricycle (only means of transportation around the city) where minimum fare is P10.00 only.
– Tuguegarao Cathedral
– Divine Mercy Parish
– San Jacinto Church
– Horno Ruins
– St. Paul University
– Cagayan Provincial Museum and Capitol
– Sunset at Buntun Bridge
– Pinacanauan River
Your travel may not be completed without trying to taste their local food, the Pansit Batil Patung. A traditional pansit version of Cagayan people mixed with veggies, noodles, choice of cooked egg, and topped with lechon kawali. It should always come with soy sauce with chopped onions and vinegar or calamansi. Bon appetit!
Visit Jomar’s Panciteria (where I ate the famous Pansit) along Luna Extension and never forget to take an image of Buntun bridge that measures around 1,369 meters, the second longest bridge in the country connecting the city and Solana. Jomar’s is nearing the bridge where I preferred to visit in the late afternoon for sunset moment. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day.
Pasalubong Center can be found at Local Government Unit (LGU) OTOP along Centro 6 and in DFA near Tuguegarao City hall. You can also buy from Lighthouse Cooperative in Bagay road and Caggay road. Most of the well-known products available are the Chicharabao-popped carabao meat, the Carabao milk candy of Alcala, and so on.
From Tuguegarao City, you can also chase the 7 chambers of Callao cave in Peñablanca located in Barangay Quibal. I chartered tricycle which took me around 45 minutes from the city. I paid the entrance fee and environmental fee at P120.00 and got up at 187 steps leading to the cave.
Another option you may choose to visit in the same area is the Sierra cave that requires a local guide and basic gears which can be rented from the entrance desk and lasts for at least 3 hours. Take note that their operations are until 5 pm only.
If you can find more time just to reach the other churches, we have St. James Parish in Iguig (can be reached by UV Express, Jeep, or Bus from Tuguegarao near Don Domingo public market) or the Iguig Calvary Hills, The Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat (can be reached through Jeep or tricycle from Tuguegarao), St. Philippine Church in Alcala.
After my first night in the city, I woke up early 4 am and catch the first trip of the van at 5 am in front of Robinson’s Mall bound for Sta. Ana in which it is considered as Protected Landscape and Seascape in Cagayan. As you get to Sta. Ana proper, head over to San Vicente Port via cab that awaits maximum passengers of 6 persons. That would be P20.00 each from the town proper to San Vicente Port. If you are in a hurry, you may pay the whole fare at P120.00.
What happened next is that I registered at the port for environmental fee and contacted my most generous and accommodating guide, Kuya Danny who was waiting upon getting off. Each destination is corresponding with a fee, so whatever your option is depending on your budget. You can instantly customize at your own choice. Write down Kuya Danny’s contact details at 0935-894-4860. He has a boat for the tour that can accommodate at least 8 guests.
By the way, the last departure time of van in Sta. Ana proper back to Tuguegarao is at 3:30 pm while the earliest is 03:00 am but if you are in San Vicente Port nearby, the van takes around without chartering a tricycle heading to the town proper.
I suggest having your nights in Sta. Ana if you opt to visit all the destinations aside from Palaui Island. Yes, the northernmost has a lot to offer, where Palaui Island is a look-alike of Batanes that views breathtaking hills, Calayan Island is also a place for whale watching (I haven’t tried this because my time is limited), and of course falls, rivers and some coves are must see by renting a tricycle. Some of these are Dumasag River, Buakeg Fall, Zinago Cove, Puzo Rubio, Anguib Beach, and Nangaramoan Beach. You can contact Kuya Ronald at 0916-158-2259 for the land tour and reasonable rates. For accommodation, reach Kuya Danny as he knows room at a cheaper price ranging from P700 to P1500 for 2 nights.
In my case, I chose special day tour at P3,500.00 that includes Punta Verde (where mangroves are abundant) and Cape Engaño (a lighthouse, where you can see the little islands of Dos Hermanas) in Palaui Island, the Crocodile island, and the Anguib Beach in mainland known as the Boracay of the North.
Here is my suggested itinerary.
DAY 1 : TUGUEGARAO CITY and CALLAO CAVE
0855 : ETD Terminal 3 NAIA
1010 : ETA Tuguegarao Airport
1010 – 1030 : Airport to Aguinaldo St. (Accommodation)
1030 – 1200 : check in, freshen up and lunch
1200 – 1245 : Tuguegarao to Callao Cave, Peñablanca
1245 – 1500 : Callao Cave photo ops
1500 – 1545 : Callao Cave to Tuguegarao City
1545 – 1730 : Tuguegarao City tour
1730 – 1800 : sunset at Buntun bridge
1800 – 1830 : Jomar’s Panciteria
1830 – 1900 : Back to accommodation
DAY 2 : PALAUI ISLAND and ANGUIB BEACH
0400 : wake up call
0430 – 0500 : Accommodation to Van terminal in front of Robinson’s Mall
0500 – 0750 : Tuguegarao to Sta. Ana town proper
0750 – 0920 : town proper to San Vicente Port
0920 – 0940 : registration at the port (waiting for another team for me to join just to lessen the expenses of the tour)
0940 – 1500 : Special Tour: Punta Verde, Cape Engaño, Crocodile Island, and Anguib Beach
1500 – 1530 : Brgy. San Vecente to Van Terminal in town proper
As of yesterday October 25, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force in cooperation with the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had finally listed 157 DOT-accredited hotel establishments with a total of 7,308 rooms available.
The so-called island paradise featuring pristine blue waters and white soft sands is officially re-opening today after 6 months of rehabilitation. There are only 6,405 tourists every day according to DOT to prevent congestion entering the island and maintain its natural resources. The 200 trained lifeguards by the Philippine Coast Guards and some of the personnel from the Philippine s National Police are set for the security of the tourists along the stretch of the island and in resorts in preparation of the re-opening.
As mandated by the government agencies, upon arrival, tourists are required to present hotel confirmed voucher at the Caticlan port before issuing a boat ticket heading to Cagban port. DOT noted that only confirmed accredited accommodation is allowed to enter the island. Here is the list of the hotels for your reference.
For the additional guide on hotel and transfer booking, you may hit on the official website of Boracay at www.myboracayguide.com.
I am very much excited to witness how Boracay today looks like. According to the report, rehabilitation will be completed before 2019 ends.
For tourists and residents, check this lDo’s and Dont’s around the island.
The supposed Boracay adventure was turned into somewhat they called BREATH-TAKING landscapes at the northernmost of the Philippines, Batanes!
Imagine? I just got a promo of P1,184.00 for a roundtrip but to my surprise, Cebu Pacific has given the passengers a chance or re-routing it with select travel dates and any destinations around the Philippines due to the mandated closure and rehabilitation of Boracay from April to October 2018. I took the opportunity because given that airfare bound for Batanes is quite expensive even if discounted unless Piso fare is available. (maybe because airfare is costly to prevent congestion around the islands).
Batanes has an approximate number of population of 17,000 known as the Ivatan with its capital Basco. It has 6 municipalities namely, Basco, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Sabtang, and Itbayat. Each town offers one-of-a-kind and amazing greenland and blue sea sceneries. Cultures and practices are still preserved from a long time ago and continue to maintain which serve as tourist attractions. Most of these are, wearing their so-called kanayi–a hat for a man, kalapay–a basket for a man, vakul–a hat for a woman, alat–a basket for a woman. Ivatans are also known for their stone houses that can last for a century. It is usually made of stones and limestone (that’s how rich they are in natural resources) exclusive for the wall and foundation. The dried buchid or cogon grass is used as roof wherein one of the barangays is used to plant by hectares uphill. It also lasts for about 25 to 30 years depending on thickness. The province is also abundant in root crops like sweet potato, cassava, and ube where they used to produce products out of like camote donut and cake, ube halaya, camote chips and so on. They are also planting Tubho in which dried leaves should be soaked in water and bring into a boil to make a tea. It could be served hot or cold depending on your taste. You may also add sugar and powdered milk if opted.
The only store originated in Batanes that showbiz talk shows had discussed many times is the Honesty Store in Ivana. This is actually an unmanned shop where you can buy and put your payment on the basket. Ivatans are also known for being so honest. Indeed, during my visit I have witnessed the fact how truly honest they are whenever I left my valuable bag in their Cogon Trike! Fantastic. Kudos!
Ivatans used to pasture a limited number of animals like cow, sheep, and carabao located atop of the hills. They have an association where each member is allowed for 7 animals.
You can also stroll around their beaches but only Morong beach in Sabtang Island can offer a good beach bumming and glamping because of its white pure sand and pristine blue waters. Along with it is the natural arc formation–Ahau.
There is also an alternative option if you go on swimming. Spring of Youth or Fountain of Youth is also a popular spot in Mahatao, Batanes. Its local term is Rakuh-a-idi Spring, a man-made pool where its cold water is flowing from the hills of Imnajbu. Going here needs trekking so get ready if you wish to encounter the spring that gives a youthful face (a superstitious belief). About 45 minutes just to get there via Cogon Trike (a traditional tricycle that can be rented by tourists) and alight at Diura Village and start another 20-30 minutes of trekking. By the way, this is a separate tour since it has a different way. It will cost you at P500 vise versa if you are a solo vagabond.
(Photos credit to Ms. Kristine Fronda)
I had my two nights at Ivatan Lodge administered by the local government led by Ms. Marissa. For contact details, feel free to inbox me at maykExplores@yahoo.com or message me on my Fb page here. I got it at P600 for 3D2N and so far I feel home like there are 4 beds suited for family and friends. (3 single beds and 1 king bed). The room has also an installed comfort room inside plus a view to the seascapes. You will no longer enjoy a P300 every night since there was a price-hike ordinance effective August 1 of 2018 so better contact them first.
Here are some of the must-see and must-try in Batanes.
Vayang Rolling Hills
Chadpidan Boulder Beach
Tukon (Hill) Church or Mount Carmel Chapel, opened in Public in 2008
Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
PAGASA Weather Station (it views Mt. Iraya and Mt. Matarem)
Basco Lighthouse at Naidi Hills
Valugan Boulder Beach
Mahatao Boat Shelter, here this is actually a home for their tataya (fishing boats) and faluwa (passengers boat) a place in case typhoon hits them.
Homoron Blue Lagoon
San Carlos Borromeo Church, here there is a special activity that can be done. Visit their bookstore and write anything on their empty books exclusive for first-time visitors.
Racuh-a-Payaman or Big pasture land (Marlboro Country)
San Jose El Obrero Church
House of Dakay, an old traditional Ivatan stone house.
Songsong Ruins, now it was already renovated only to find out that this is one of the tourist spots.
Imnajbu Beach and Nat’l Museum
Maydangeb White Beach
Sinakan Village Stone Houses
Savidug Village Stone Houses
St. Thomas de Aquinas Chapel
Lime Kiln & Savidug Idjang
The Old Beaterio
Sabtang Weavers Association, where vakul, kanayi, kalapay, and alat are crafted by elders.
Morong Beach and Ahau Arch Formation, a natural arch.
Sabtang Lighthouse (P50)
Chavayan Stone Houses
Below is the sample itinerary for 3D2N.
DAY 1 : NORTH and SOUTH BATAN TOUR
0620 : Departure at NAIA T4
0835 : Arrival in Basco Airport
0835 – 0900 : Freshen up
0900 – 1700 : North and South Batan Tour
DAY 2 : SABTANG TOUR
0500 : wake up call
0530 : Bound for Ivana port
0530 – 0600 : Ivana port to Sabtang port
0600 – 1130 : Sabtang Tour
1130 – 1210 : Lunch
1210 – 1230 : Canteen to Sabtang Port
PM : Spring of Youth
DAY 3 : Flight Back to Manila
0915 : Departure in Basco Airport
1155 : Arrival at NAIA T4
I booked my tour through Ms. Jhing for only P6500, all in 3D2N except for breakfast and dinner. Contact her at 0949-144-9765 for details.
If you wish to travel by contacting a private Cogon trike refer to details as follow:
For North and South Batan tour, contact Kuya Omar at 0920-572-2829
For Sabtang tour, contact Kuya Jo at 0946-486-3052
For Itbayat tour, to be announced. I’ll be back next year for this island.
Below photo shows the expected basic expenses for Batan and Sabtang Islands tour.
Oops! There’s more… Always remember to “Blow Ur Horn” whenever you take the roads of Batanes.