Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book now for the Pinoy Mountaineer Mount Kinabalu Expedition 2012!

Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia is one of the tallest peaks in Southeast Asia, rising at 4,095 meters. It is also considered one of the region's most important natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the success of this year's climb, is pleased to announce its second annual expedition to this premiere hiking destination from April 13 to 16, 2012. In partnership with Ivan About Town, we have forged an agreement with a very reliable adventure company with presence in both the Philippines and Malaysia. This Mt. Kinabalu expedition is designed for participants to truly appreciate Mt. Kinabalu by staying at the park for two nights and experience Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by staying at a four-star hotel prior to the climb.

Only thirty (30) slots for Laban Rata are available at the moment. Considering the interest in Mt. Kinabalu, these are bound to be taken quickly. So highly-interested parties are enjoined to reserve slots as soon as possible by emailing

Cost and Inclusions
The cost of the Mt. Kinabalu Expedition is Php23,000, which will include: three nights accommodation, airport transfers, all meals as stated in the itinerary, transportation to and from Kinabalu Park HQ, climbing permits, mountain guide, climbing certificate, entrance fees and climb support including orientations in Manila.

Note that air tickets, airport taxes, terminal fees, tips for mountain guides and other gratuities, porter fees, personal expenses, mountain gear and equipment are not included in the package. Blue Cross Climbing Insurance is also available on request.


Day 1
Arrival at Kota Kinabalu. Check-in at Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Meals on own account

Day 2 (B/L/D)
0600 Breakfast at hotel
0700 Take private transportation from KK to Mt. Kinabalu Park HQ
0800 ETA Park HQ; present booking; secure permit
0830 Take service to Timpohon gate jumpoff (packed lunch)
1400 Arrival at Laban Rata guesthouse; rest
1700 Take buffet dinner
1900 Assault preparations
2000 Sleep early

Day 3 (B/L/D)
0200 Wake up / Early breakfast at Laban Rata
0230 Start summit assault
0600 Arrival at Mt. Kinabalu summit (4095 MASL)
0730 Start descent
0930 Back at Laban Rata;
1300 ETA Kinabalu Park HQ; buffet lunch at Balsam Cafe
1500 Transfer to Mesilau; stay at Bishop's Head Resthouse
1800 Dinner at Bishop's Head Resthouse

Day 4 (B)
Breakfast at Hotel. Transfer to Kota Kinabalu for flight to Manila

Reservations and Inquiries
To receive further details and to place reservations, e-mail Please include the following information:

Contact Number:
Contact Person and Number (in case of emergency):
Passport Number:
Passport Issue and Expiry Dates:
Dietary Restrictions:
Medical Concerns (if any):

Related Entries
Low's Peak of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah (4,095 MASL)
Kinabalu Park & trekking up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guam: Farm visits and Maila Ta Fan Boka food trip!

What a great way to start the morning with a panoramic view of Tumon Bay! We had a welcome breakfast hosted by the Guam Visitors Bureau at Toh-Lee Restaurant of Hotel Nikko Guam to start the Maila Ta Fan Boka 2011 social media food tour. The restaurant is at the 16th floor of the hotel and glass windows offer visitors a scenic meal.

On one side of the restaurant, there was a demonstration on how to make a tortilla which of course goes with the kelaguen. This time, they served us Spam Kelaguen. Spam is quite popular both in Guam and Hawaii. They do know their Spam in these islands!

From Tumon, we motored to Talofofo to visit Cristian's Mango Farm. We do have a lot of mangoes in the Philippines. But there are a lot of varieties present in Guam. We were welcomed with some frozen mango which was a refreshing proposition on a really hot and humid day. There was also a demonstration on how to graft mango trees to speed up the fruit bearing process.

Our next stop for the day was Hamomoto Fruit World in Yona. Although almost all the fruits at the farm in available here in the Philippines, I was impressed with how they presented the farm, complete with a trolley tour of the grounds and its large collection of fruit trees.

Lunch was also at the farm. And we were served even more kinds of kelaguen. This time, there was also Beef Kelaguen on the table which I particularly enjoyed because of the really soft and tender meat. After the tour, we were served fresh lemon lime juice and fruits from the farm which included Star Fruit (Balimbing), Belimbi (Kamias) and Mountain Apple (Macopa). We were also asked to try something quite peculiar, coconut meat served with soy sauce and wasabi. The hard coconut meat actually tried mimick squid meat.

The last farm stop for the day was the Hydroponic Lettuce Farm. We were shown where the really good quality greens on the island are produced. The best part is we got to try the lettuce fresh from the farm!

For me, the highlight of the day was the visit to the Muna Home in Mangilao where we got to watch cooking demonstrations and savor local Chamoru cuisine. Earlier in the day, we were asked to randomly pick a recipe we would cook that night. And the Philippine delegation got Lechen Biringhenas (Grilled Eggplant in coconut Milk).

Among the dishes served to us included (1) Tinaktak (Beef with Coconut Milk), (2) Golai Appan Lemai (Breadfruit boiled in Coconut Milk), (3) Tininun Bariya (BBQ Ribs), (4) Tininun Mannok (BBQ Chicken), Hineksa Agaga (Red Rice), and Kelaguen Mannok. Everyone was raving about the Hotnon Babui (Roasted Pig)! It was a very meaningful dinner at the Muna Home which is known for its cooking tradition. There's nothing better than a home-cooked Chamoru meal.

Before the night ended, a group of local youths presented traditional Chamorro dances. We went back to our hotel. But the night wasn't over since we were scheduled to watch the magic and acrobatics show at SandCastle. No photos allowed though. But it was good!

Note: This familiarization tour of Guam, USA was organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau in cooperation with Continental Airlines.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Laguna: 150th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal celebrated in Calamba, Laguna

The 150th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal was celebrated in Calamba, Laguna yesterday beginning with rites at the Rizal Shrine, followed by the unveiling of the tallest Rizal statue in the world in front of the City Hall of Calamba, Laguna. What happened in Calamba was quite amazing. The rain stopped right before the ceremonies were slated to begin. And everything went according to plan. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief as President Benigno Aquino III arrived at the Rizal Shrine to lead the rites.

Congratulations to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the Technical Working Group for a job well done! For more photos from the Rizal@150 / Rizal Sesquicentennial Ceremonies yesterday, visit Ivan About Town in Facebook.

Note: A special thank you goes to Ford for lending me their Ford Fiesta Sport the past few days. Very reliable car as I traveled to the different Rizal events in Calamba. Too bad I'm returning it tomorrow! I was quite impressed with many of the features of the car, particularly the Bluetooth handsfree mobile phone sync with the car and voice commands for both the phone and radio.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 2011 PTB Blog Carnival: Rizal and Travel

The Pinoy Travel Bloggers (PTB) Blog Carnival for June 2011 honors Dr. Jose Rizal on his 150th Birth Anniversary. Rizal was the quintessential traveler of his time. So for the month of June 2011, PTB bloggers wrote about Rizal and Travel. Topics range from Rizal's travels and discussions about Rizal as a traveler, countries or specific cities Rizal visited, and the Rizal Passport and Heritage Trail, among many other topics.

Estan Cabigas of Langyaw does some archival research and talks about Rizal's visit to Cebu in La entrada de Cebu es Hermosa… (Rizal, 1896). He writes, "Not too many Filipinos know it but the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal visited Cebu overnight during his sentimental journey, his last, from his four year exile in Dapitan to Manila in 1896." Estan adds, "The trip was his last. Instead of heading to Cuba, as what Governor General Blanco approved, he never left the Philippines and was sentenced to die by gunfire a few months later."

Fung Yu of Virtual Journals does his usual magic with 360-degree VRs of the Rizal Shrines in Fort Santiago, Calamba and Dapitan in Virtually Yours, Rizal. He writes, "This article uses virtual reality technology to provide an immersive experience." Fung adds, "VRs taken from November 2008 to April 2009 with the assistance and support of National Historical Commission of the Philippines."

Graciel Cecilio of Pinay of the move gives her take on Rizal as a traveler in Jose Rizal: The New Travel Hero. She writes, "As it turns out Rizal may have been the first Filipino to travel and explore the world.I could not help but draw parallels between his travels and how we now travel in this century. I believe that Rizal would proudly hold his own among the international traveling elite."

Lilliane Cobiao of Wanderlass writes about her trip to Dapitan City and her visit to the Rizal Shrine. She writes, "Any Filipino school kid will be able to tell you that Dapitan City is where our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was exiled during the Spanish era from 1892-1896. But where is it in the Philippines? And what’s in Dapitan?"

Ron Cruz of Flip'n Travels retraces the visit of Rizal to Singapore en route to Europe in la escala en singapur. He writes, "OK, Since I am in Singapore (The first foreign country he set foot), I decided to revisit his translated diary–”Enroute to Barcelona“, and to try recreating his itinerary during his stopover in the city."

Tita Lili of lifeisacelebration writes about Fort Santiago and Rizal as a poet in Say Hello to 'Mi Ultimo Adios' as she tours some foreign visitors around sites related to our national hero.

Mhe-anne Ojeda of My Coming and Goings talks about the Rizal Passport in Blazing Jose Rizal At 150 Heritage Trail: My First Few Steps. She writes, "Blazing Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail is a historical adventure worth taking! I see it as an opportunity to experience the history, scenery, and the satisfaction of being able to learn more about our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal and meet new people along the way!"

Kara Santos of Travel Up talks about Rizal monuments in Daet and Jolo in Revisiting Rizal Monuments in the North and South. She writes, "To commemorate the 150th birthday of National Hero Jose Rizal on June 20, 2011, the Philippine Center for Photojournalism (PCP) contributed to a photo project of, TV-5′s website... Having visited Camarines Norte earlier this year, I volunteered a photo of the Rizal monument in Daet, which is the oldest in the country."

Edelito Sangco of Island Vacations talks in detail about the historical sites in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte in Heritage Tours – My Travel To Rizal Shrine In Dapitan City, Mindanao Island, Philippines. He writes, "My life has been greatly influenced by the life, works and writings of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines... When I was still a child, I dreamed of joining in heritage tours and visit the places prominently mentioned in the diaries of Rizal."

Ivan Briñas Cultura of Batang Lakwatsero talks about Rizal's last steps from Fort Santiago to Luneta through poetry in Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 | Huling Yapak Tungo sa Kalayaan.

Izah Morales of Trip@dora contributes Lakbay Aral: Retracing Rizal's footsteps, where she recount her P.I. 100 field trip to Rizal-related sites in Laguna and Batangas. She writes, "Photographing the siblings’ tombs, playing music at an old piano owned by a lost love, and reminiscing his childhood memories in his hometown… These were how I retraced the footsteps of my Kababayan, Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ National Hero."

Chin Chan of Juanderfulpinoy gives his views about Rizal in Dr. Jose Rizal, Nationalist, Advocate, Hero and a Nomad. He writes, "I always believe in the ideologies of Dr. Jose Rizal. Philippine National Hero , a Nationalist , advocate for great reforms in the Philippines during spanish era. Rizal was able to put his principles into his writings. A genuine idealist but not blinded by idealism."

Jerome Baluyut of Balintataw talks about his visit to Dapitan in Life in Dapitan. he writes, "Back in 2009, I went on a backpacking trip across Mindanao and was fortunate to visit Dapitan as part of our itinerary. Dapitan was the place where Jose Rizal spend his life in exhile. I have an image in my head on how or what to expect once we reach the town, suffering maybe a word to describe it but I was wrong, upon entering the gates, I thought there is 'Life in Dapitan' after all."

Brenna Bustamante of Philippine Travelogue shares the Rizal Passport and sites she visited following the Rizal Heritage Trail in Jose Rizal: The Beginning Of My Journey Along His Journey. She writes, "And today, as I got my Rizal passport, it’ll be the start of my lifelong journey to discovery, history, patriotism and honor of my country’s blessed National Hero and his undying journey that has greatly affected so many people – even up to today."

Rv Escatron of Living in a Backpack discusses Rizal's stopover in Dumaguete in Calamba Joe's Saturday in Dumaguete (Jose Rizal's transit in Negros Island). He writes, "It's difficult to trace the steps of Philippine National Hero Jose P. Rizal in Dumaguete City where he was said to have a layover on his way to Manila. The clues leading to this and that places aren't strewn everywhere, save for a historical marker tucked across a Mexican restaurant along Rizal Boulevard and one entry in the hero's journal."

Karla Vanessa Redor of Pinoytravelr Blog gives us Celebrating 150 years of Rizal through Traveling, where she shares photos of sites in the Rizal Heritage Trail that she's already visited. She writes, "Here in PinoyTravelr, we’re celebrating 150 years of Rizal by listing here the sites we have recently visited that are included in the Rizal at 150 Heritage Trail."

Aleah Phils of Solitary Wanderer talks about the Rizalistas of Mt. Banahaw in The Worship of a Divine Jose Rizal in Mt. Banahaw. She writes, "For most Filipinos, Dr. Jose Rizal is not only the Philippines’ national hero, he is also a medical doctor, a novelist, a poet, a linguist, a revolutionary, and a martyr. However, for a group of people in the mystical mountain of Banahaw in Quezon Province, Rizal is not only all of these things, he is a divine being as well."

Nicely Rom of Traveling Nicely contributes Revisiting Dr. Jose Rizal at the Malacañang Museum, notes about the Rizal collection at the Malacañang Museum. She writes, "While other Pinoy Travel Bloggers went outdoor to revisit the places where our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal traveled, I went to a place close to my heart, literally—because it is close to my workplace—and had my solo tour at the Malacañang Museum: alone with the memoirs of Lolo Jose."

Ca de Ramos of Adventurous Feet contributes "Tatak Rizal" - Celebrating Jose Rizal at 150th Birth Anniversary, as she reflects on her college lessons on Rizal. She writes, "I can still remember my college days, when we had our three-unit subject called "Rizal". I maybe an engineering student way back, but this subject is being required for us to pass, my professor was really strict with this subject."

The Lost Boy Lloyd recounts his visits to Rizal-related sites in Journeying through Jose Rizal’s Life, Exile, and Death. He writes, "I was fortunate enough to have visited sites that are of primary importance to Dr. Jose P. Rizal this year, which is also his sesquicentennial birth anniversary. I have also included excerpts from the authoritative collection of essays by Ambeth R. Ocampo, Rizal without the Overcoat."

I've actually written several posts on historic sites related to Jose Rizal. One of my favorites is Dapitan and the Rizal Shrine, where I feature the Rizal sites in Dapitan. My trip to Dapitan was actually an inspiration to push for the Rizal Passport.

Then there's Save the historic Albert House in Biñan, Laguna, an appeal to preserve probably the last surviving original Rizal house in the country. I'm quite impressed with locals of Biñan who have been very vigilant in protecting the house from transfer to another place where it's significance will be diminished.

Note: The PTB Blog Carnival is a monthly collection of posts from Pinoy Travel Bloggers on a certain topic or theme. It's a great way for travel bloggers to share their experiences and insights about the aspects of traveling in the country and around the world. This month, PTB chose Rizal and Travel to honor our national hero on his 150th birth anniversary.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guam: Hafa Adai! Dinner at the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market

Hafa Adai, Guam! I found myself on another trip to Guam, organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) and Continental Airlines. The GVB gathered social media people from Asia and the U.S. to experience Guam's unique cuisine at the Maila Ta Fan Boka Festival. Together with Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering, JJ Yulo of Pinoy Eats World, and Angel Bayona of Travelife, we took the afternoon Continental Airlines flight to Guam.

We checked-in at Fiesta Resort Guam, which I would later find out is a Filipino-owned hotel chain. It was a room with a scenic view of Tumon Bay. I had an hour or two to relax and freshen up before our visit to the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market in Hagåtña for dinner.

Chamorro Village is a public market that showcases Guam's culture with handicrafts, souvenirs and local Chamoru cuisine available to visitors. Every Wednesday night, the I Sengsong Chamorro, as the market is know to the locals, comes alive with the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market.

While walking around, I got me to meet Guam's Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio and visiting U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh.

I immediately noticed the many food stalls which served local food, specifically the grilled meats and kelaguen, which can be cooked chicken, raw shrimp, fish, or beef, or even spam, pickled in a marinade of lemon juice, fresh coconut, green onions, salt and hot red chilies, served with a flour or corn tortilla. The dish is closely related to kilawin of the Philippines or ceviche of Latin America.

We weren't able to sample the food from the market stalls though because a sumptuous Chamoru buffet spread for the participants. Aside from Kelaguen Mannok (Chicken Kelaguen) and Kelaguen Guihan (Fish Kelaguen), among the dishes served to us were Buñelos Uhang (Shrimp Patties) which was similar to Ukoy but less crunchier, Golai Hagon Suni (Spinach Leaves in Coconut Milk) which was their version of Laing, Lumpia (Fried Spring Rolls) and various barbecued and grilled meats which I noticed are a mainstay of any buffet spread in Guam.

During the night market, there are also Chamoru cultural performances to entertain visitors as you shop and dine. Indeed, a visit to the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market is a must if you happen to be in Guam on a Wednesday.

Note: This familiarization tour of Guam, USA was organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau in cooperation with Continental Airlines.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mexico: Good Friday procession in Puebla

The bus ride to Puebla, Mexico was quite interesting. The highways were no doubt scenic. It was difficult to sleep since I didn't want to miss the view.

Along the way, I marveled at the sight of two snow-capped volcanoes: Popocatepetl (5,426 m) and Iztaccíhuatl (5,230 m). It was Good Friday and we were off to Puebla to watch the Good Friday procession.

Like most of the places we planned to visit, the Historic Downtown of Puebla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a good thing we arrived a few hours before lunch since people were just starting to troop to the Puebla Cathedral for the noon procession. At least we got to take some photos of the streetscape while it wasn't jampacked with people. Later in the afternoon, moving around, especially around the Zocalo, was quite a challenge.

Our first stop was the Catedral Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción. The archbishop was leading the Way of the Cross or Via Crucis inside the cathedral. So we could not really appreciate the grand interior.

We walked around the Zocalo hoping to visit other sites. But after seeing the growing crowd, we decided to find ourselves a spot to observe the procession. At about 11:30 a.m., a small procession passed by, with images of the Señor Nazareno and Señor de las Maravillas borne on andas, making its way to the Catedral. They were accompanied by a marching band and women with matracas, a percussion instrument that is used especially during Lent.

Some parishes and confradias have passion images that participated in the procession. And at 12 noon, these images were brought around the historic downtown in a colorful and solemn Good Friday procession. What I noticed about processions both in Spain and in Latin America is that images are on andas, borne on the shoulders of devotees. While in the Philippines, most images are on carrozas with wheels.

After the procession passed by, we tried to walk around. But we ended up going back to the Zocalo for lunch at an al fresco restaurant. It was also a good vantage point for the return of the procession back to the Catedral over two hours after it started. Of course, I had to have mole poblano because it originated in Puebla, hence the description poblano.

So we got to see the procession a second time. The first image was the Virgen de la Soledad, followed by the Padre Jesus de Analco, Virgen de los Dolores, Señor Nazareno and Señor de las Maravillas.

After the procession, we walked to the Templo Conventual de Santo Domingo de Guzmán or the Santo Domingo Church. If there's one church you have to see in Puebla, it's this one, particularly the Capilla del Rosario. We got to see the church. But unfortunately, the chapel inside was closed until Black Saturday. So we only got to see it through the grill entrance.

For some reason, it must have been the dense crowds, we decided to leave earlier than scheduled. It was warm and there were just too many people, it got a bit exhausting walking around. So we took a cab back to the bus station and tried our luck to board an earlier bus which we were able to do. If I do get to visit Mexico again, I'll make sure to include Puebla and nearby Chulola in the itinerary. More photos of Puebla in Ivan About Town in Facebook.

How to get to Puebla
Puebla is about 2 hours by bus from Mexico City's Tasquena Terminal (MX$142). From the terminal, take a taxi to downtown Puebla.
Related Posts with Thumbnails