June 27, 2014

The Sleeping Giant

Brief History
Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano located at the mountain ranges bordering Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales. Its eruption in June 15, 1991 is the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century affecting not just the country but the weather around the globe. 

The peak of the volcano was wiped out and this resulted to a depression, the caldera, which is 2.5 km wide; the volcano has been quiet since its eruption. 

Monsoon rains filled the caldera with water thus forming a lake, the Lake Pinatubo which attracted a lot of tourists.

Getting There

We hired two vans for our round trip transpo since there were 18 of us; travel time from Mariveles, Bataan to the base camp (Sta. Juliana Capas, Tarlac) is around 2 hours. 

The Trek

We transferred to a 4x4 wheel drive upon arriving at the base camp. On our way to the jump off point, the photos were taken using my ipod. 

The travel time from base camp to the jump-off point depends on the situation of the road. During our trip, one of the 4x4s was stuck and we have to wait so we can move on. 

Credits to FTuyay
The 7 km trek starts at the jump off station.

Credits to FTuyay
Our guide (yellow shirt) who walks too fast (we were the first in our group to reach the crater). But this doesn’t mean you can’t rest, you can always inform your guide to stop/walk slow if you’re tired. As for me, I was very excited to reach the crater that's why. 

Credits to SDimaapi

One kilometer to the crater is a rest station/spring water refill station (I didn’t know that there’s a refilling station, I brought around 3L of bottled water which is kinda heavy.)

Almost there.
credits to SDimaapi

At the Mt. Pinatubo crater. 

I was very tired and my feet were feeling numb when we reached the crater but I felt relieved when I saw the lake. It was amazing that I developed a crush on it.

I can stare at this beauty for hours

During our visit, we had the chance to swim at the lake. However, a few months later swimming at the lake was banned.

Credits to FTuyay

There were no shower rooms/toilets at the crater so we just changed our clothes. I cleaned myself using wet tissues. If you want to bathe, there are shower rooms at the base camp.


· 3:00AM – 5:00 AM – Travel to Capas, Tarlac

· 5:00 AM – Breakfast at Mc Donalds Capas Junction

· 5:30 AM – 6:00 AM – Travel to base camp (Sta. JulianaCapas, Tarlac)

· 6:00 AM – Arrived at Base camp

· 6:30 AM – 8:00 AM – Travel to jump off point (4x4 wheel drive)

· 8:00 AM – Arrived at jump off point, trekking starts

· 10:00 AM – Rest station/spring water refill/decent C.R.

· 10:30 AM – Arrived at crater/lake

· 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM – Rest/Wait for others to arrive at the crater :)

· 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM – Enjoy the scenery/Take pictures/Lunch/Swim

· 1:30 PM – Pack up

· 2:00 PM – Trek back down to jump off point

· 4:00 PM – Arrived at jump off point

· 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM– Travel to back to base camp

· 5:30 – Travel back to Bataan

***We purchased a tour package at a discounted price from beeconomic (from Travel Save Tours). Inclusions are: ride to and from jump off point/base camp via 4x4 off-road vehicle, trip arrangements, and tour guide.

Important reminders:

Pack as light as possible. You are going to hike so just bring the essentials. Pinatubo has a very rough terrain and you’re going to cross rivers/streams on your way to the crater. I listed below the items you can bring: 

a) Cap/hat – There aren’t a lot of trees/shadeson your way to the crater

b) Sunscreen lotion – Due to climate change issues, put some on

c) Extra pair of clothes– Do I really need to mention why?

d) Extra pair of slippers – in case your shoes gave up which happened to one of us

e) Mask/Scarf – the road to jump off point can be very dusty

f) at least 1.5 L of water – You need to hydrate since you’re going to perspire a lot

g) Food - I get hungry easily so I brought enough food during our trek, no regrets

h) First Aid Kit – so what does your first aid kit should consist of? I think these would be enough: band aid, betadine, alcohol and salonpas. Unless you can carry the complete set for first aid kit up the summit.

i) Wet tissue

Trekking Outfit

Light shirt and arm sleeves cover/sweater

Shorts or leggings/trekking pants

Comfortable/Durable shoes


· Have enough sleep the night before your trek. You don’t want to faint on your way to the crater.

· Don’t skip your breakfast on the day of your trek, you’ll need the energy.

· Observe cleanliness. Don’t leave your trash anywhere, put it in a plastic and throw it to the nearest trash can. If there’s none, put it in your bag and dispose it when you get home.

· Follow the regulations at the lake. Swimming has been banned, so don’t swim. Besides, Pinatubo is a volcano not a beach.

· Hike Pinatubo only when the weather is good. Do not hike when it’s raining.

· Always keep in mind “Safety First”.

June 12, 2014

The City of Golden Friendship ( Day 1 and 2)

This is my first time to go to Mindanao. :D

Getting there (June 5, 2013):

We took a flight from Manila to Lumbia Airport, Cagayan de Oro via Cebu Pacific. We chose to fly at night for us to have enough rest for the next day’s activities. But our flight was delayed for three hours and we arrived at Lumbia Airport around 11 pm. Whew!

From Lumbia Airport, we were fetched by my friend (who’s from CDO) and from there to their house was almost an hour drive. 

Day 1 (June 6, 2013)

Camiguin Island

We left the city at 5:30 am so we can catch the first ferry trip and we arrived at Balingoan around 7:15 am. The first trip already left so we waited for an hour for the next one. On the bright side, there were sari sari stores outside the port and we stayed there and had coffee: there were two choices, Nescafe 3in1 and Kopiko black. I had two Kopiko black; I hadn’t had enough sleep the last night that’s why.

Outside the port.
The island as seen from the port. This island has four stratovolcanoes.
After waiting for like forever, our ferry arrived. Woohoo!

Ferry ride from Balingoan to Camgiuin Island is around 1 hour. Upon arriving at the island, we were fetch by our guide then we just left our things in the hotel and explored the island right away. 

Our first stop was Katibawasan Falls (we ate lunch at the stores  nearby).

The Waterfalls was just breathtaking!

The water was very cold and clear and there were only five of us swimming at the falls at that time (which is good since I don't like crowds especially when I'm on a vacation).

Right after swimming at Katibawasan, our next stop was at the Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross. On our way, we passed this very nice view and we took pictures (sayang eh :)).

I was actually hesitant to walk to the top of the Walkway but I went on as Ayan patiently waits for me. Our friend, Shine, stayed at the cab.

The pavement is not cemented after the 5th station.

I almost quit when I reached the 11th station, I felt like I'm going to faint. Bring a bottle of water when you decide to trek the Walkway. 

At the top of the Walkway

After the unexpected trekking, we went to the Underground Cemetery. The underground cemetery was the town's cemetery back when we were still a colony of Spain (I was thinking that you are familiar with Philippine history). It was subsided to below sea level in 1871 at the time of the Mt. Vulcan eruption. 
**You can actually see tombs underwater but I didn't get a clear photo of them. This is also the place where the horror movie of Judy Ann Santos was shoot. 

From the Underground Cemetery we went to the Old Church Ruins. This is the old church of Catarman town that was destroyed during the eruption of Mt. Vulcan.   

From the Old Church Ruins we then went to Sto. Nino Cold Spring.

The water was very very cold.

Sto. Nino cold spring lived up to its name; it was really cold! It is better if you go here when the sun is still up. We decided to eat dinner at Sto. Nino before going to our next stop, Ardent Spring: a natural hot spring resort. Some of the stores nearby offer home cooked meals although a little bit pricey (but it's worth the money).

Ardent Spring was very relaxing and the water is just hot enough. Although I'm not sure if it's the water that is hot since there were a lot of people at the spring. :) My camera was down when we were at the Spring and I never had the chance to take even just one photo.

Day 2 (June 7, 2013)

White Island

We decided to go here before the sunrise but some plans are just not meant to happen. The island is just a kilometer away from the shore of Mambajao, Camiguin. There are no trees here; it's just the white sands and the almost crystal clear water. Its shape changes with ocean tides. 

One of the vendors at the island joked that the island changes its shape because the Japs take the sands away then after sometime they bring them back. Hilarious!

Nahiya pa si Kuya

From the island, we hired a boat (P200 for us three) to take us in the middle of the sea to snorkel (snorkels/sea goggles are provided by the resort for free). It was very fun to watch the fishes and corals until one sea snake came to sight. Our boat almost turned around (I am looking at you Shine). Though the sea snake did nothing, it just swam below (I think the sea was 12-14 ft deep).

Ready for check out

Below is our itinerary (tour c/o Paguia's Cottages):

Day 1:

· 5:30 AM – 5:45 AM – Travel to Agora Bus Terminal
· 5:45 AM – 7:15 AM – Travel to Balingoan
· 7:15 AM – Arrived at Balingoan
· 7:20 AM – Arrived at Port
· 8:45 AM – 10:00 AM – Ferry ride to Camiguin
· 10:00 AM – Arrived at Camiguin Island
· 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Travel to Katibawasan Falls
· 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM – Lunch and Swim at Katibawasan Falls
· 1:30 PM – Arrived at Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross
· 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Climb Walkway
· 3:00 PM – Arrived at Underground Cemetery
· 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Picture taking at Underground Cemetery
· 3:45 PM – Arrived at Old Church Ruins
· 3:45 PM – 4:00 PM – Picture taking at Old Church Ruins
· 4: 30 PM – Arrived at Sto. Nino Cold Spring
· 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Swim and dinner at Sto. Nino Cold Spring
· 7:00 PM – Arrived at Ardent Hot Spring
· 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM – Swim at Ardent Hot Spring
· 9:30 PM – Arrived at Paguia’s Cottages

Day 2   

· 8:00 AM – Boat ride to White Island (you can actually go here earlier, we were just too tired to wake up early)
· 8:30 AM – Arrived at White Island
· 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM – Swim/Snorkel and lunch at White Island
· 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM – Boat ride to Paguia’s Cottages
· 12:30 – 2:30 PM – Prepare for check out
· 2:30 – 3:30 Travel to port
· 4:00 – 5:00 PM – Ferry ride to Port
· 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM – Travel to Cagayan de Oro (we have to ride on a non-aircon bus since most air conditioned bus are full, travel time is longer)
· 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Dinner at Shine’s house (free delicious meals :))
· 9:00 PM – 9:30 PM – Travel to Divisoria Night Market (Only at Friday and Saturday nights)
· 9:30 PM – 10:00 PM – Roam around and bought shorts for white water rafting
· 10:00 PM – 10:30 PM – Tea and coffee at Coffeeworks (besides Xavier U)
· 11:30 PM – Sleep

Budget (per person):

Package Tour c/o Paguia’s Resort (includes accommodation, transportation, breakfast meal and entrances):
P1,750/per person

Fare (Including bus and ferry):
around P600

Day 1:
Lunch at Katibawasan – P80
Dinner at Sto. Nino Cold Srping – P230

Day 2
Breakfast (c/o Hotel)
Lunch at White Island – P50

 Total:  P2,710

***Paguia's Cottages contact number: 09175446311

Day 3 (White Water Rafting)

The City of Golden Friendship (Day 3)

Day 3 (June 8, 2013)

White Water Rafting

White water rafting is an extreme sport and this was my first time to do this; I was very nervous (since I don't know how to swim) and at the same time, excited. We bought the morning package (Advance course, Kagay White Water Rafting) since our flight is on the same day at 8 pm.

Upon arriving at the put-in area we put in our gears and we were briefed by our guide who was very friendly and funny. He reassured us that everything will go smoothly if we follow his instructions and we do our part: paddling (yes, you do not just smile for the camera and act like you’re paddling). You have to paddleThen we were divided into two groups (six each).

It rained the night before so the river water was so brown and the rapids were a bit more challenging. That feeling when you had too much coffee, that’s what I felt then. But then, our guide was so funny that I almost forgot I was nervous.

Credits to Kagay White Water Rafting
Credits to Kagay White Water Rafting
Credits to Kagay White Water Rafting
Credits to Kagay White Water Rafting
My first experience on this sport was very fun and exciting. I promised myself that I will do this again.

Credits to Kagay White Water Rafting

· 7:00 AM – 7:30 AM – Travel to City Tourism Showhaus
· 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Travel to Put In area
· 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM – Briefing
· 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM – Rafting :)
· 12:30 PM – Lunch at Take Out area (there are also decent facilities here if you want to change/take a bath)
· 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Travel back to downtown area
· 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM - Rest/Sleep
· 5:00 PM – Buy souvenirs/Pastel
· 6:00 PM – Travel to Lumbia Airport
· 8:00 PM – Depart for Manila (our flight was delayed for about 1.5 hours, Whew!)

Budget(per person):

Kagay White Water Rafting Package: P1,000 (Advanced Level)
Package includes roundtrip transpo (downtown – put in area)
            Additional fee of P350 for photos/videos of rafting on a CD

Souvenirs/Pasalubong: P600 (Pastel and keychains)

Total: P1,950

***Kagay White Water Rafting contact numbers: 09177122442 / 09223886200