Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Around Philippines: My Checklist

I'm counting down the 81 provinces of the Philippines. I'm not expecting it to finish all of them but I hope I can still go check the list as much as I can.

1. Ilocos Norte

May 2010 when I visited Ilocos Norte in a quick weekend getaway with friends. We've covered Ilocos Norte and Sur in just 2 days coming back and forth from Manila. The good thing about it is we have our own transpo so going around is very easy. We've seen most of the tourist spots in here namely (1) Pagudpud Beach (2) Bagui Windmill (3) Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (4) Blue Lagoon (5) Malacanang of the North (6) Patapat Viaduct (7) Paoay Church (8) Marcos museum and mausoleum (9) Bantay Abot cave (10) Kabigan Falls. We've failed to see the Kapurpurawan rock formations because we missed the turn by a few kms and we decided not go back. Since this is a quickie getaway we didn't surf in La Paz sand dunes.
Warning in Pagudpud beach the waves are very strong. I'm not sure if that is a normal scenario. Just be careful in the water.
Don't forget to try the Pinagbet Pizza in a resto in front of Paoay Church.
We stayed at Polaris Resort which is in Pagudpud Beach.
Our expenses for Ilocos Norte and Sur trip: ~ php2k each

2.  Ilocos Sur

As part of our Ilocos quickie weekend getaway this is the thing we don't want to miss. Vigan is one of the world heritage site. You'll get to feel like going back in time. Calle Crisologo is a long stretch of old buildings. Some had turned into establishments. But of course we got to taste the Vigan Empanada.
Take home the yummy Vigan longganisa, Bagnet, Chichacorn and Ilocos vinegar.

3. La Union

The surfing capital of the north. I've been here 2010 and 2015. Both was a fast decision that lead us all the way up. Beach and Surfing for a quick dose of relaxation from stress are found in here. Though there are more places to see in La Union. Surfing for an hour with instructor cost P400 but if you want to do it on your own rent the surfing board for P200 all day.

4. Pangasinan

One of the places that I've visited a lot of times. The reason is the shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. Most prayer request were answered as testified by devotees. Outside the shrine you can buy Pangasinan products like bangus and tupik. Other than the shrine there are a lot to see in Pangasinan like (1) Hundred Islands (2) Marine Sanctuary (3) Bolinao beach, Lighthouse and caves a...nd more. Once I've imagine that I wanted to get married in here. Why? Sunrise in Bolinao beach is awesome! Anyway, I've cited more things to do here and so definitely I'll go back for more.

5. Batanes

One of the best places I've seen in the Philippines. Actually, it tops my list. The easiest way to go here is by plane from Manila but regular fare cost more than P15k Roundtrip. Luckily, we got ticket for only P1450 RT.
There are 4 places to go namely North Batan, South Batan, Sabtang and Itvayat. I wasn't able to see Itvayat because our trip can only cover the first 3. Still, it'...s not enough to truly enjoy the scenery.
We stayed at Marfle Lodge which is walking distance from the airport. It's cheap and homey place. You can cook your own food. Market is near the place. Though there are small carenderias around.
To go around you can rent a bike, trike or a van.
Try the Turmeric rice and Coconut Crab. There are handicrafts to bring home specially in Chavayan.
Warning if you will tour with a bike be sure that you know how to deal with up and downhill. My friend got mild injury at downhill in Valugan Beach. Apply sunblock lotion at all times. Weather in Batanes is unpredictable. Prepare to get stranded just in case. For me, I don't mind. I can stay here forever.
People here are known for their honesty. So even if your going solo, your safe.
Definitely, ill go back for more. 

6. Cagayan

Cagayan is a 12 hours butt ride from Manila. Of course, we took the easiest way which is flying to Tuguegarao. Our point of interest in our trip is Palaui Island which is another 3 hours ride from Tuguegarao and boat ride to Island. A sidetrip to Callao Cave is one of the places to see in Tuguegarao. It is a seven chambered cave and good to visit when the sun is up giving you perfe...ct lighting for your photo ops. There is a chapel inside the cave. Wait patiently in Panacanauan River for the flights of bats which is creepy but awesome. Taste the Tuguegarao's Pancit Batil Patong.
In Palaui Island it is best to pitch a tent and enjoy the scenery. Relax and get crazy with your travel friends as we did. Hike up Cape Engano lighthouse and sing out loud. This place has a batanes -like landscape and so a perfect alternative place to go when you cant get a promo tix to Batanes

7. Isabela
8. Nueva Vizcaya
9. Quirino

10. Baler

Baler is the capital of Aurora and it is one of the surfing spots in the Philippines. It's not just surfing, Baler has a lot of interesting places to see. Tour around by hiring a tricycle. Ermita hill park offers best view of Baler's shoreline. Aside from Sabang beach there are other beaches to see in here. Century old tree is one of the largest Tree in Asia. It is an amazing adv...enture to challenge ourselves to climb the tree. Know more about the rich history of Baler in Museo de Baler which is in Quezon Memorial Park. Visit Dona Aurora's house and Baler Church. It was after my visit here that I've finally watched the movie "Baler". Probably I'll be more emotional if I did it before. Near Baler is Ditumabo Falls which is in the town of San Luis. The long trek is worth it. Dive in the very cold water which is so refreshing.
Joybus is a direct bus that goes to Baler from Manila. Be well taken cared by a bus steward and when you awake you've arrived at Baler.
We tried the buffet at Gerry Shan. The cheapest buffet that I've tried and the food is good.

11. Bataan 

I've made a trip to Bataan for quite a number of times since this place is where the roots of my family came. Bataan marked its name in the world history during world war 2. Filipino and American soldiers were forcibly march to death hence called Bataan Death March. Zero kilometer death markers are both found in Bagac and Mariveles. Dambana ng Kagitingan is situated at the top of Mt.... Samat. Going up the cross is easy. It has an elevator
Other times I went with friends to Climb Mount Tarak and refreshed in Papaya river after the climb.
Bataan has good coastal area too. Either an open sea or a cove, its really a nice place to swim.

12. Bulacan

Bulacan is a resort getaway for my family and friends. It is very close to Manila. Aside from the resorts, Bulacan has a lot of historical places to see which I've never done and maybe someday I will. Try rock scrambling in Lioness Rock which is in San Miguel. The climb is very easy but dangerous. Then there is Biak na bato National Park which has a lot of activities to do. We clim...bed Mt. Manalmon, crossed the river with bamboo ride, went to Bayukbok Cave, swim in Madlum River and the highlight of our tour is crossing the river by monkey bridge. It took me time to cross the bridge.

13. Pampanga

What I admired most of the Kapampangans is how good they cook. That is why Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines. A foodtrip is a must. Dare to try exotic dishes like Crispy Camaru (fried crickets) or Betute (stuffed frog) but im not brave enough to eat those. Other than the food, people go to Pampanga because of events held in here. (1) Hot Air Balloon Festival (2)... Giant Lanterns Festival and (3) San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites.
During holy friday, I go to my friends house to help and join the friday procession. The last time I visited Pampanga is when me and my friends went for visita iglesia in seven churches from Lubao to San Fernando.

To follow...
14. Tarlac

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