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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Backpacker Me

When I travel, I don't go for any further tour packages whether there's a big sale or not. And most of the time, when I travel, I go by myself. Not that I am an introvert type of a person. In fact I am ambivert. I may be gregarious to some extents whenever I want to but it all depends who I should go with, as long as we can correlate each other and that we have a good sense of chemistry. If there are number of people that I should go with especially when traveling, normally I set my limit up to two people only. I am always in a hurry and that's why, I'm a bit upset when I am with someone who is still taking a long bath or grooming his hair in time when I am about to leave the place. I don't normally go with someone who is into drama and picky person.

The reason could be that I may be quick enough to get ready to any given situations. As a backpacker I always travel alone, I go with a cheap way of traveling, I stay in a quite affordable hotels or inns and I eat anywhere as long as it is clean. I always carry my knapsack along with my camera and laptop and my usb stick is always loaded so I can attach it to the port to connect to the internet whenever there's a signal available within a place. As a backpacker I make sure that my personal blog is always updated with my itineraries and experiences within that period of time.

When I travel, I don't really go for adventures. Either I would just only walk around and see the nature, or stay in a place sit down and relax. And often times I don't go for any activities like mountain climbing, jogging or any sports activities. I just want to walk in a sandy beach and find some sea shells in the morning or just sit in the sand or in a big stone as the roaring sea and wind is a music to my ear. Watch the sunset and what the people doing. You see I don't go too much with the activities that is why a guided tour is not recommended for me.

One important aspect of being a backpacker is flexibility to adjust to any situations; also learning the place and the culture, and experiencing the good and the bad moments. For instance, my experience staying in a hostel in Brooklyn, New York had taught me to adopt to that situation as it compelled me to stay overnight at Times Square for my own safety. Three days without a normal sleep until I was able to find a place to berth in.

Just lately, I've taken photography seriously that I've even reached to the northern most part of the Philippines which is Batanes to photo shoot and lots of preparation was made prior to going to this island. My interest in going to Batanes and in photography started when I was in college. So cases like these have made me become a backpacker.

Prior to backpacking, I do a lot of researches about the place, hotels and included are some of the reviews of the people posted in the internet. This would give me some insights of the place that I am about to visit.

Here are some of the few things that I prepare when backpacking:

  • Extra cash.
  • Few clothes like shirts, underwear, towel, shorts.
  • Toothbrush and tooth paste.
  • deodorant and shampoo.
  • Slippers and a rubber shoe.
  • Watch.
  • My cellphones fully loaded and chargers.
  • My laptop and charger, memory flashdrive, a fully loaded internet USB stick.
  • My camera, gears and USB cord.
  • A pen and a notebook.
  • Candies and foods.
  • Medicines
Beginning my tour in Batanes, I had two bags -  one for my laptop and camera, and the other one I used for storing store clothes and other toiletries.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Travel Summary for 2011

Naga City, Camarines Sur


The year 2011 was promising for me as I was blessed with some local travels. So here are some of the photo blogs I've collected in the entire year and I just hope in the year 2012, it can be surpassed with the places I longed to go but this time my travel wish lists include the following: Italy, Switzerland, Greece, France, Canada, and Tibet. I know that traveling abroad is costly and I am an ordinary citizen who belong to the mass with dreams of rusticating different places but just like any other, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and with hopes that it just might bind to happen.
Vigan, Ilocos Norte

Boac, Marinduque

Bangus Festival in Dagupan
Mariveles, Batanes
Baguio City
Lucban, Quezon
Pasacao,Camarines Sur
Pagbilao, Quezon

Tanay, Rizal

Sunday, December 18, 2011

About My Recent Dreams

About two years ago, my mother who died in 2006 appeared in my dream.  I asked her why she was still here and not leaving the house yet and my mother replied, “I am still waiting for your brother, Arthur...” My brother lived in the south with his family so he never got a chance to visit us in our house. When my brother finally came home in 2009, I told him about my dream and quickly his wife punched in with a reply that maybe my mother was waiting for my brother because he never got home after she passed away. I could see my brother’s face and was a bit quiet the moment I imparted the message I received from my dream. My dream was so clear that I could hear my mom’s voice as she spoke to me. It was like a puzzle that either she meant she was waiting for my brother because he never got the chance to visit our house or she was forewarning of what had to transpire soon. But I was little scared about it.

My brother passed away just a few days ago and it was an untimely death as he suffered a brain stroke.  But prior to the incident, I had several dreams already about my brother moving home, and I had two dream occurrences that his children wanting help when I was in Batanes. It had triggered me to think that maybe they would indeed need my help. I was a bit worried though as this made me sense that something  might going to happen soon but not sure what it was all about.

Five months ago, I posted to my facebook wall “I don’t want to dream about a falling tooth anymore” because I had a dream about my tooth falling as the blood scatters over my mouth.  But previously, I had several dreams about a falling tooth where things usually happened in time like death had to be partaken. It happened few months before my relatives, my father and mother died.

The forewarning I recently received implied about the untimely death of my brother. May he rest in peace..

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Batanes Day 8: Going Home

From Basco to Tuguegarao by Sky Pasada plane
I couldn't believe it was all over. Seven days in Batanes was so fast and how I'd wish I could stay any longer. That was my initial reaction the moment I started putting all my things back in my blue bag. Everything seemed to be just like a dream coming to an end. I had to say that Batanes is my ideal place and all my interest in any part of the Philippines just seemed to dropped off. Simply because everything there are such very ideal. The people, place and the simplicity of life in the island where there's not so much technology there. A television and internet could be enough there if you are looking for a place that you need to relax and have a complete rest.

I went to the airport around 6:30 a.m on the 29th of November and the plane left Batanes at around 7:30 a.m., an hour flight going to Tuguegarao where I had to ride in a bus to Manila. Up to this day, I still had my hangover and few moments in that island were still fresh.

From Tuguegarao, I went with Victory Liner bus for almost 13 hours drive to Cubao. We were stuck up in a traffic jam for about more than 30 minutes while we were in a mountainous part of Nueva Vizcaya.

Caught in a traffic in Nueva Vizcaya
I used my cell phone in taking these these pictures from the airport till I was on my way to Cubao.

Definitely, I would be back again in Batanes given that there's another chance to be there someday. It might take a little bit long when should be the right time but by the next time, Itbayat island will be included in my Batanes itinerary. I have to say that Batanes is my dream island.

The people are so warm and every visitors have the reason to stay there as tourist like me are safe.

The landscape is such a beauty and untouched by the present civilization. It's not commercialized like Boracay or any beach resorts in the Philippines.

at the lobby of Basco airport where I left my two bags
So there's a reason why the locals there never wanted to develop this island to build this island some hotels and resorts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Batanes Day 7: Souvenir Items and the Sunset Shots

In day 7, I had the chance to go to the souvenir shops around Basco. I just bought one item as seen in the picture what it is - a pen holder with a Batanes stone house as some of the sea shells are installed in the souvenir. I just bought only one souvenir so that I have something to hold unto, keeping me in mind about the beauty of Batanes aside from my photos and traveling experience that I spent in the island. In this day, nothing more extra-ordinary experience except that during the sunset, i spent the time on the pier just to catch the sunset and take some photos within that time frame.

Seven days in Batanes seemed not to be enough for me as Itbayat tour was not part of my itinerary. Maybe next time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Batanes Day 6: The Smiles in Batanes

In day 6, most of my time I spent was walking and taking photos of the children at the plaza in Basco. I had to adjourn my next town visit which was supposedly Mahatao where the windmills are located. I love the kids in Batanes and most of the pictures I've taken during my day 6 stay in Batanes was my time dedicated to the kids. The plaza is the most popular place in Batanes and almost all the places are a walking distance. So here are some of the interesting smiles of the children in Basco:

And here are the kids I caught in the pier playing:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Batanes Day 5: Riding Like Hell on Faluwa Boat ride in Sabtang Island

I woke up as early as 5:30 in the morning of November 26, 2011 just to catch up for a jeepney ride going to Itbud. There's only a single way going to Ivana where the port to Sabtang is located. And this is the same route to Itbud but it just happened that the fiesta was taking place in the town of Itbud and according to the people, lots of jeepneys shall be available during the fiesta.

Faluwa boat
I had a coffee at Honesty Coffee Shop where I met a tour guide by the name of Tita and two lady travelers from Manila. We ride on the boat and the sea was rough in heading up to Sabtang.

The sea was rough going to Sabtang. It was a 30 minute ride bound to Sabtang but going back to Batan was almost an hour as we experienced a rougher sea this time. Riding Faluwa with big waves is like riding to hell as it almost swallowed the small boat. I was wet because the water went inside the boat as big waves hit the faluwa. The people who maneuver the boat was relaxed and seemed that a situation like this was normal to them. They know how to balance the boat as it hits the faluwa. I thought that I was brave enough considering my ship experience traveling in the Pacific Ocean. I was just praying that we would reach back safely.

In Chavaya Island, I had the chance to meet the oldest person in Batanes, Mang Marcelo was already 104 years old.
104 year old Mang Marcelo


Batanes Day 4: In Basco

Basco Church
On this day, I have nothing to spend so much of my time except that I had the chance to jaunt and get to know a bit more about Basco. Since this is the capital of Batanes and is the biggest municipality of the province, every steps are closed when you get to walk from one place to another. No need to ride a tricycle because everthing is a walking distance. Just when you get to the plaza, the Municipal Hall can be seen right across the plaza and is the tallest building in town. The sports field is wide as it can accommodate almost all kind of sports - volleyball, basketball, football, etc. I went to Basco Church which is also a street away from the plaza.

Basco Municipal Hall


The pier is just a distance away from the plaza where most of the goods are transported from the main land of Luzon by sea. According to a restaurant owner, foods especially meat products are expensive since most of them are coming from Manila and the only way to ship all these goods are by sea. Except for small amounts which can be trasported by air. You can see a lot of sari-sari store from one street alone. Abad St, I belive is the center of trade where most of the goods are sold. This is also the main spot where you can see the small market place. Restaurants are not too


So far, of all the people I met in my own country, only the Ivatans proved to be much better. The people are respectful and if there is a visitor whether it's a foreigner or a pinoy, they greet you by bowing down their head and saying "good morning" or "good afternoon. I have authenticated that they won't touch the valuable that you leave in a place. Batanes, of all the places in the Philippines are considered as zero crime rate.


The jeepneys travel twice a day and if you go to another town, it can be catched as early as 5a.m. for the first trip and around 12 noon for the second trip. In order to catch the last trip going back to Basco, sure that you keep an eye to the jeepney passing by as early as 3pm. Otherwise you might miss a ride and go an overnight stay to the town.


One culture I learned among its people is you can't buy a land unless you marry someone who is a resident.

My day 4 in Batanes did not involve any activities except that I did some photo walks in a small town where people brighten my day with their smiles.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Batanes Day 3: Marlboro Country to Itbud (continuation)

Abandoned U.S. headquarter
After spending a few moments in Marlboro Country, the driver brought me to a place that according to him, the buildings used to be U.S. Headquarters. We went down to the shore to get some photos as the seas continue to roar. The strong wind commands the sea water to the shore and reaches my tripod while it was installed in the sand. Sadly, I never had a good shot even just one as a quality souvenir. We went up to the hill again where the tricycle had parked and finally along the way we've reached Itbud.

Some of the abandoned buildings used to be US headquarter


One of the old houses in Itbud made of pebble stones
It's a small town south of Basco, it happened to be fiesta on Saturday. There were some old houses made of pebble stones and according to the people who I talked in Basco, there were only few houses made of stone left in Itbud and exploring Sabtang island would be ideal, and you'll find lots of them in Chavaya.

Meeting Lola Ida at the Old House in Ivana

Oldest house in Batanes where lola Ida lived since 1935
85 year old Lola Ida
We stopped to the oldest house in Ivana and met Lola Ida, whose name I've learned from the blogger I've searched in the internet. She was already 85 years old. Lola Ida had an athritis. She said she lived there since 1935. I've also learned that this house had been existing since 1887. My heart melted  away the moment I saw Lola Ida because she felt sickly and she also said she lived there alone.

Giving her something as present when visiting the old house would help her in her daily needs.

Vatang Grill

Vatang Grill
Along the way back to Mahatao, we had lunch in Vatang Grill, a famous resto in the island of Batan. It's the only restaurant that you can find in the hi-way. I had chicken curry, yellow rice, meat sauce and fish lumpia.

We rested for a while and went to the beach to have another photo shoots. Honestly, Batanes is a place where everything is a worth shooting for. The historical sites, mountains, shores and people make up the whole thing to give you a reason to get some photos as much as you can.

Before going back to the town, we had a few stop-overs, mostly in the shores where some photos were taken. Sadly, I never had some good shots as some of them was blurred. Then the driver dropped me to Ivatan Lodge and I rested for a while.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Batanes Day 3: Marlboro Country to Itbud

The tricycle guide fetched me as early as seven in the morning from Ivatan Lodge. I transferred from Shanedel Inn to a new lodge because I would be staying for 7 days in Batanes so that it would not cost me a lot in terms of lodging. Being a backpacker, it's quite practical though to have a very affordable accommodation that you can stay in the entire week.

I instructed the guide to once again drop me first to the lighthouse just to get a glimpse of it during the morning. This time I went inside and had to go up just to see the 360 degree full view of the place. It was windy and cold!

A few minutes later I came up with a decision to go to the Rolling Hills, it was too high and the road was steep but once you get there, you'll be able to feel its serenity.

It was breath-taking! Honestly, I've never been to the highest peak of the mountain, but with this place, it was just amazing and such a feeling of calmness brushes away all the stresses that I had. Feeling renewed with all the positive energies flowing through my body.
Pacita Fundacion

Then we came down and it was time to visit Pacita Fundacion in Tukon Hills. A popular destination in the island of Batan. A charming resort in Basco, the capital of Batanes.

Before proceeding to Marlboro Country, we came to a stop, they call it View Deck, when going to Mahatao. Unfortunately, I did not go down in the stairs because the wind was too strong and that was too much of a risk already.
View Deck
You can't miss it if you are going to Mahatao and Ivana.

And finally, we have reached the Marlboro Country! This is one of the most sought destination where tourists can't miss to visit. Since the wind was so strong, it was hard to take a photo if you bring along a tripod. It can't stand without holding it too tight but I found the best way to take a shot by simply holding your camera and not setting your dslr into a manual mode. Some of the results were blurry, but in spite of the wind I got some few good shots.
Marlboro Country
More about Day 3 coming up next....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Batanes Day 2: Valugan Bay and Ivana

The trip was exhausting, from Manila to Tuguegarao and Tuguegarao to Batanes. I settled  the first day with Shanedel's Inn just to keep myself relax from the long and exasperating trip experience. I visited the lighthouse in Naidi Hills on my first day in the island with the help of a guide. I contracted the tricycle driver to bring me to the light house and hired him for Valugan Bay trip in the morning and a whole day tour on the third day.

Valugan Bay
I got up early in the morning (Nov 23) to catch up for the sunrise as the driver brought me to Valugan Bay. This place is famous for its boulder shore where scattered large stones can be found lying in the sands. I photographed with a huge amount of space spent from my memory card to get the best photos as  possible. The result of the photo may not be the best but the experience to get into this place was worth it. It was simply breathtaking the moment I arrived in the shore and there was no way that I lost my glimpse to the shore. Sadly, the seven days stay in Batanes may not be enough to satiate my nature cravings.

My next trip would be in Ivana, a 30-minute jeepney ride from Basco. With the help of a store owner, I was able to gather some information about the place and this is where you can find the "Honesty Coffee Shop" along the shoreline. This coffee shop doesn't need to be manned and a visitor may drop the payment to the box. Some souvenirs and shirts are also sold here. I first learned about this coffee shop from GMA-7's "Kapuso mo, Jessica   Soho". Then I read a blog from Borgy Manotoc when he visited Batanes Island. It is said that the coffee shop is owned by a teacher.
Honesty Coffee Shop in Ivana.
I got this in my mind and has been longing to drop by in this shop the moment I've watched about it on the television and read it from the blog. And now, my wishes just came true about visiting Batanes.

My next stop would be the St. Joseph the Worker church which is just right across Honesty Coffee Shop. The church was built in 1860.

St. Josepch the Worker Church
By 3pm, I had to go back to Basco and it was the same jeepney that I rode in going to Ivana. Traveling by riding a jeepney has a designated time that a passenger should wait in going to the destination. Transportation is a bit problem in Batanes, so as much as possible, the traveler should be keen about the time from going back and forth.

Day two was not quite busy since I was still trying to familiarize the place. It was a wonderful experience when two purposes happening at the same time - which is travel and photography.

Up next is Day three.