The Hike to Mt. Pinatubo

It was still dark when we left Manila. I was excited for this trip. Aside from the two lenses and a fully charged DSLR camera that I packed in my backpack the night before we left, I didn’t really make any serious preparations for the trip. It was my first out of town trip with the bagets, one of the few reasons to be excited.

The sun was already up when we reached Capas, Tarlac. Cai, Ada and I took advantage of the three hour trip to catch some sleep. It wasn’t too long when we were assigned to our own four-wheel ride. I’m not quite sure how things are normally done since all the trip arrangements were done by Rob and Dong.

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It took us almost an hour to get to the point where our 4×4 trucks can no longer take us. The first part of the trail to the Mt. Pinatubo crater was already stunning. For almost an hour, we have been traversing a seemingly endless valley of volcanic ashes and sand, what was left from the volcano’s eruption a couple of decades ago.

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Before, the hike towards the crater only takes an hour. The 4×4 riders used to have a sky way on top of the mountainous pile of ashes which lessens the hiking time. But after a portion of the sky way collapsed last year, the authorities have prohibited access to the shortcut, thus, doubling the visitors’ hiking time.

It nearly took us three hours to complete the hike to the crater. The terrain was rough but it wasn’t as inclined as I expected. The whole three hours were combinations of short rests, cam whoring and waiting for people to catch up the group’s pace.

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It was already noon when we arrived at the crater. The view of the picturesque crater with its emerald colored lake was our price after went through the long tiring hike. It was one of the most beautiful sceneries I have seen.

Food was not a problem for us since our tour guides have already brought with them pre-prepared packed lunch, which is part of the usual Pinatubo tour. Under the mango tree we sat while savoring the scenic view of the crater, we ate our hearty lunch.

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After resting a bit, we went down the crater to get a closer look of the emerald lake. The cold waters of the volcano was tempting enough to let it pass. After taking a few photos, we went to take a dip while the others went out for a boat ride to the other side of the crater. Too bad I didn’t get to see what the other side looks like.

At around 3pm, we started packing up and headed our for our return hike. This time, it was easier for us since the trail was mostly on a downward slope. It was already dark when we arrived in Tarlac.

It was a one good trip. I spent less than 3K and brought home an unforgettable experience and a card full of beautiful photos.

 

Cruising the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

One of the attractions in the country that automatically translates to Puerto Princesa City is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The underground river which was once known as the St. Paul Underground River stretches itself within the 8.2-kilometer cave. It is also considered as one of UNESCO’s natural heritage sites and was nominated as one of the new seven wonders of the world.

The gateway to the underground river (UR), as it is commonly known, can be reached from the town of Sabang. It’s a small town ~50 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa an can be reached after an hour’s drive from the city. From Sabang, a motorized boat will take you to the Subterranean River National Park.

An almost an hour boat tour will take you to the tourist-accessible areas within the underground river. A boat cruise inside comes with a tourist guide that will give background on the attractions within the cave. A few of the attractions inside the cave are the different stalagmite and stalactite formations and the different huge chambers found inside the cave. A typical tourist tour will only cover barely half of the cave’s interiors. A thorough tour will require special permits and equipment.

The forest outside of the subterranean river park is home to different species endemic to Palawan. Some of which you can easily encounter during the short walk within the forest before getting to the underground river’s entrance. You’d be surprised to see giant lizards and petite peacocks along the way.

 

Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon

Pahiyas Festival is an annual celebration in Lucban, Quezon to give thanks to their patron saint San Isidro Labrador for the year’s bountiful harvest. The locales usually celebrate it by decorating their houses with colorful kiping or rice wafers, crops, fruits, flowers and vegetables. This festival is usually celebrated every 15th of May and the locales would sell the traditional Lucban longgasnisa or the famous Pansit Habhab.

Pahiyas Festival

What to buy

If you’re visiting Lucban for the Pahiyas Festival, you might want to bring home some pasalubong. The longganisa is one of the most popular items bought as pasalubong by tourists. I’m not sure though which brand or which store sells the best longganisa but finding one within Lucban wouldn’t be difficult since a lot of these are displayed on the street sides during the festival.

Pahiyas Festival

Where to go

It may not be a ‘must’ for the non-Catholics but the Lucban Church is one of the most visited areas during the Pahiyas Festival. Since the celebration about giving thanks to San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, before the celebration starts, the locales visit the town’s church to attend the mass. Also, the parades usually begin and end at the church.

Lucban Church

How to get to Lucban, Quezon

The route we took when we went to Lucban was the Lucena-Lucban route. From Cubao, take a bus going to Lucena City. There are also buses in Buendia-Taft which are en route to Lucena City. From Lucena City, take then Lucban bound jeepney. The trip from Manila to Lucban is approximately 3 hours while the Lucena-Lucban trip will take you 30 minutes.

From the jeepney drop-off point in Lucban, explore the town on foot. Most of the streets are closed during the Pahiyas Festival. If not, going within the town on a car would be difficult due to large traffic of people walking on foot.

Chicken Charlie, my favorite chicken in town

It was in August 2010 when I first tried Chicken Charlie. After we did a tour within the University of Santo Tomas campus, the Redors brought us to Banawe for an unknown treat.  And that was the first time I tried Chicken Charlie. Just like in a fancy romantic love song, it was love at first bite (get that? :P).

It was a long distance relationship. Chicken Charlie is in Banawe while I am boxed in my comfort zone in Makati. Even though we’re kilometers apart, I had been always loyal to CC. Bonchon was not even good enough to change my heart.

It was in December 2010 when we went back to Chicken Charlie, this time with a model, Coy. And just like the first time, the crispy Soy Garlic chicken never failed to impress me. Chicken Charlie’s chicken are doubled fried to achieve a crunchy skin while maintaining the juicy and tender meat in the inside.

Some people want their CC hot and spicy that’s why Chicken Charlie developed two signature sauces for their chickens. One is the Soy Garlic, my favorite, and the other one is Hot Sweet Sauce.

I heard Chicken Charlie opened branches in San Juan and Malate. We’re planning of going there this weekend. I’m excited.

If you want to visit Chicken Charlie, their Banawe branch is located at:

592a N.S. Amoranto St. Cor. Banawe St. Quezon City
Telephone Number: 742-3333

 

Tips when visiting Nagsasa and Anawangin Coves

 

It has been more than a year since the first and last time I went to Nagsasa Cove. Since I wrote about Nagsasa Cove and how to get to there, I have been receiving a lot of comments and inquiries on tips when going to Nagsasa and Anawangin coves.

I have compiled here a list of tips based on what we have experienced during our trip to Nagsasa, Zambales.

Things you should bring:

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  • Bring your own tent and sleeping bag. If you don’t own one, you may rent one in Pundaquit, San Antonio. You may ask your boatman where to get one.
  • Secure your own jacket. Cold nights at Nagsasa and Anawangin are sometimes unbearable.
  • If you are into serious photography, bring with you your camera, tripod, a wide angle or kit lens, a set of neutral density, graduated neutral density, bi-color, or polarization filters. Make sure to also secure your equipment in a waterproof bag. The boat ride to and from Nagsasa and Anawangin can be rough.
  • Bring enough food and water supply. There are no stores or clean sources of water when you get there.
  • Sunblock, insect repellent and other personal care.
  • If you’re planning of cooking or preparing your own food, be sure to bring with you your basic utensils, fuel, charcoal and other basic cooking tools.
  • Don’t forget to bring your own garbage bag. You will have to bring with you when you leave whatever trash you have during your stay.
  • A first aid kit is also necessary, just in case.

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Things you may opt not to bring:

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  • A high-end cellphone — Nagsasa Cove and Anawangin Cove both have no cellular reception from all network providers. Since the air in the area is high in humidity and it’s near the sea, there’s a high risk of corrosion for your cellphone and other metallic gadgets when exposed to these conditions.
  • Valuables — On your stay in Nagsasa Cove and Anawangin, it’s possible that you will be sharing the camp area with other tourists. It is best to secure your personal belongings or not bring your valuables at all.

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If you can think of other things that I might have missed, please feel free to leave a comment below. I will be updating this post occasionally to reflect your suggestions. Enjoy your next trip to Nagsasa Cove and Anawangin Cove.

First time in Puerto Princesa City

The Puerto Princesa trip last Friday was my first trip to Palawan. I never really had a decent preparation due to tons of work I had to finish during the weekdays. Despite the busy week, my work didn’t stop me from getting excited for the much awaited Palawan trip.

The Manila-Puerto Princesa flight went well. In fact, I can’t remember any significant detail during the flight since I was sleeping for most of the time. We arrived in Puerto Princesa in the afternoon and we were greeted with a fair weather. A van commissioned by our hosts took us to the different sites within Puerto Princesa. I’ll go into details in the succeeding posts.

I enjoyed my 3-day stay in Palawan very much. The 3-day trip was not enough to experience all the beautiful things Palawan has to offer. We haven’t even experienced half of what can be done and what can be seen in Palawan. On my next trip to Palawan (September), I’ll try my best to try the things I haven’t tried on my first trip.

More details on my Palawan trip next time. (I’m too sleepy to remember everything right now).