February 22, 2015

Ilocos: Perfect for Tourists

Ilocos, which is roughly 8-9 hours away from Manila via car, houses a lot of major tourist spots -  making the province a primary destination among locals and foreigners alike. Some of the sights to behold include a UNESCO heritage site, one of the new 7 wonder cities of the world, a white beach, sand dunes, and beautiful rock formations.

Bangui windmills

Must See

1. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Kapurpurawan rock formation is a very picturesque place. Imagine the immaculate white limestone, the blue sky, the green sea, and the white beach foam in the picture. It's beautiful!

Kapurpurawan rock formation

2. Callle Crisologo, Vigan

Calle Crisologo is a busy place - whether it be in the early morning or late afternoon. It was probably because we visited on a weekend holiday. There are lots of antique shops and souvenir stores which you'd do best to scrutinize the products' authenticity before buying. Even so, I find the aesthetic of the place very romantic - especially if the tourists flocks would disappear :)

3. San Augustine Church (UNESCO World heritage site)

I know nothing of architecture but according to Google, San Augustine church or commonly known as Paoay church is a classic example of Baroque earthquake architecture in the country. It has survived numerous wars and earthquakes making it true to its structure.l

Look the bell tower is detached - this is to avoid the instances of the bell tower crushing down the church in case of an earthquake. If you observe the sides, there are also 4 big major buttresses supporting the church.

There have been conversations during the trip that the bricks were glued using egg whites, but I cannot seem to find any credible account for such occurrence. That's interesting, isn't it?

4. Bangui Windmills

Previous research and mapping studies concluded that Bangui is a good place for wind power installation. Hence, the modern looking Bangui windmills!

5. Marcos Museum and Mausoleum

Picture taking is not allowed in the mausoleum. It is a small room with Marcos's embalmed body in the center. The group will just circle the coffin very quickly and then go out immediately after. Hmm, I am really not a Marcos fan so I find the stories presented here very one sided - but I guess the Marcosses were good to Ilocos. I'll let them have that.

Must Try

1. Sandboarding

Riding a 4x4 to get to the sand dunes is a story on its own! It's so fun, reminded me of Mt. Pinatubo! And then the sandboarding is also thrilling - too bad I wasn't able to slide down in a standing position. By the way, I walked barefooted and had mild burns on my feet after, don't try that.

Meet the Villanueva family!

2. Surfing / Strolling around the beach (ANY beach here is nice)

White sand beach and big waves!

3. Local  delicacies and cuisines
Try their longganisa, empanada, chichacorn, banana chips, bagnet, pakbet, etc. Food is great here!

4. Ziplining at Blue Lagoon
I've never tried ziplining over an ocean so I felt like hey this is nice, I'll try it. I backed out though because the wind was soooo cold. 

Other attractions

1. Kabigan Falls
2. Baluarte
3. Bantay Bell Tower
4. Cape Bojeadora Lighthouse
5. Paraiso ni Anton

Overall, I'd say that Ilocos is truly an ultimate tourist destination because of the variety of activities and sights to behold here. I think majority of the people would enjoy a visit in Ilocos - besides it's relatively easy to visit.

See  you around!

Basic Mountaineering Course: Love & Respect

"You say you love rain, but you use an umbrella to walk under it. You say you love sun, but you seek shelter when it is shining. You say you love wind, but when it comes you close your windows. So that's why I'm scared when you say you love me."

I love nature.  Hikers must all do. For if we do not, imagine the state our mountains, forest, and beaches will suffer. But to say we love nature, and act in counterproductive ways against its conservation and protection is futile.

I guess this is the core of every Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) and Leave No Trace principle - to love and respect nature.

Several mountaineering groups and outdoor groups usually organize BMC during this time of the year. And if you see yourself trekking from time to time, it would be wise to attend one - or at the very least be oriented by someone. I've been trekking on and off for around a year now, but I haven't attended a BMC yet - I was however coached by Loyola Mountaineering group during my first climb. The insights and lessons I've learned from them have guided me in my past climbs and up until now.

Even so, I felt that attending a BMC has been a long time coming so when I found out about Conquer's BMC event, I immediately signed up and joined.

A lot of things were discussed during the event - planning a climb, trail movement & trail signs, basic ropemanship, water safety, land navigation, climbing essentials & equipment, camping, first aid, mountaineering etiquette, etc. The discussion was mostly an overview of each aspect so one shouldn't expect to be a master immediately after the course. One has to study, execute, restudy, re-execute and restudy the lessons again and again to be completely skilled in the craft. As Sir Rec of Tanay Adventure Camp mentioned, our level of consciousness right now is awareness. At least after the program, we know what concepts to look for and study.

Survival in the wild orientation

Demo on fire starting

Demo on tent pitching

Obstacle course

Knot tying and basic ropemanship


Land navigation

River crossing and water safety

It was definitely an insightful and enjoyable event. The organizers and speakers were prepared and credible, while the host site (Tanay Adventure Camp) was well kept and overall hospitable. It is probably my most relaxed camping experience up to date. Sana ganito din karelax sa bundok :)

In the mountains though, we cannot afford to be apathetic and lax for one mistake could put us or the group in danger. If we aren't prepared, we increase the risk of harm not only upon ourselves, but also to the environment.

Remember that in the mountain, "there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."

Hiking is caring.

See you around!


Like Conquer Outdoor Equipment Facebook page for updates on their events and whatnot. I'm looking forward to their Banahaw next month, or if you know any Makiling hikes anytime soon, please let me know. Thanks!

February 21, 2015

We're Made For Each Other

I woke up earlier than usual today. I fixed myself and headed out to our meeting place. It's a date!

Today is Valentine's day, and with the help of other people, we planned to bring the hashtag lunchbag project here in Manila. 

#HashtagLunchbag was born on Christmas Day 2012 in a Los Angeles apartment with just a small group of friends. The intent was simple, to prepare and deliver a hearty and well-balanced meal to our local homeless community. We all chipped in a few bucks before taking a quick trip to the grocery store and purchasing a few goodies. We invited over a few more friends to help assemble the lunch bags, blasted some music, and then hit the streets.

The sun wasn't out yet, but we were already done with plenty of tasks. For most of us, it was our first time to meet each other. That wouldn't be obvious though - not with the way we talked, joked, and worked with each other.

They were all wonderful people! Everyone was competent, decisive, and kindhearted. They could rule the world if they wanted to!

On our way to Manila, we passed by several takatak boys, traffic enforcers, and roadside cleaners who were all very happy and appreciative of  the lunchbag we handed them. What we gave was only a lunchbag, but when you look at them, it feels like they've received something much more than that.

Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang (No one lives for himself alone.)
Walang sinuman ang namamatay para sa sarili lamang (No one dies for himself alone.)
Tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isa’t-isa (We're all responsible for each other.)

Perhaps the reason we feel good whenever we try to help others is because we're all really made for each other. We're here to look out for one another, get each other's back, and be each other's keeper. Perhaps.

Happy Love Month!

With just a small network of friends we were able to raise funds and distribute packed lunch to hundreds of homeless  people. It may be just a little thing , but with the smiles and thanks we've been given, I felt how much little things could matter.

If everyone lights just one little candle, what a bright world this will be.

Reach out.