Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pampanga: 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

The 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta will be held in Clark Freeport, Pampanga from February 11 to 14, 2010. And just like in the previous years, Ultimate Philippines will be organizing a grand tour, complete with a sumptuous breakfast at C' Italian Dining, and visits to Abe's Farm and Nurture Spa in Magalang, Pampanga on February 13, 2010.

C' Italian Dining usually opens in time for lunch. But for our Ultimate Philippines tour, we requested Chef Chris Locher to serve breakfast for us. Chef Chris mentioned last year's tour was the first time he was served breakfast. And he sure did not fail to impress. This year won't be an exception.

This year, we're bringing back the visit to Nurture Spa in Abe's Farm. So after waking up really early in the morning, and stuffing yourself silly with great Italian food, expect to be pampered at Nurture Spa! So what are you waiting for? Book now at or contact my tokayo, Ivan Man Dy at +63 917 3291622. We only have 30 slots!

Here are some of the highlights of the 2010 Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:

February 11 (Thu)
Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Fly-In (5-6 p.m.)

February 12 (Fri)

Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Flights (5:30-6 p.m.)

February 13 (Sat)

Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:45-6:15 p.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Night Glow (6:45-7:30 p.m.)
Annual Aviators Ball and Awards Night (7:40 p.m. onwards)

February 14 (Sun)

Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Night Glow (5:30-6:45 p.m.)

Here is the detailed schedule of events of the 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Top Philippine destinations for 2009

It's time again to look back at my local trips last year and choose my top Philippine destinations for 2009. I visited my 63rd province last year! For my list for 2009, I'm not limiting my choices to ten since there were a lot of destinations which I consider very memorable.

1. Banol Beach, Twin Lagoon, Kayangan Lake and Siete Pecados Marine Park in Coron, Palawan

Coron is one of those places in the Philippines that we can truly call paradise. There are so many things to see and do there, you can spend a week or two and not get bored at all. I definitely enjoyed the trip. In fact, I also came out with a list of Things to do in Coron, Busuanga and Culion, Palawan which outlines the many different activities in the area.

2. Batanes: Valugan Beach, Vayang, Nakamaya Burial Grounds, Diura Fishing Village and Naidi Hill
My second trip to Batanes and I got to visit new places! On this trip, we trekked to the Nakamaya Burial Grounds and visited the Diura Fishing Village as part of the Ultimate Batanes Tour. Speaking of Ultimate Philippines, we have six Batanes tour dates for this year. Slots are going fast so I suggest you book now. Last year, we closed the tours weeks before since we were swamped with bookings as soon as we came out with the dates.

3. Puraran Beach is surfing capital of Catanduanes
Another well kept secret, but not for long, Puraran Beach is a major surfing destination of the country, and very popular among foreign surfers. In fact, when I was there, I was the only local visitor. The beach was very picturesque as well!

4. Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan
It was my first time to visit the Hundred Islands. And it surely did not disappoint! An iconic attraction of the Philippines, I hope it remains that way. And the good thing I like about the Hundred Islands is that you can choose your own secluded island and enjoy the rest of the day in a beach all to yourself.

Rappelling down Digisit Falls
5. Surfing, kayaking, rappelling, mountain biking and more Aurora adventure activities
I was back in Aurora just last month. And I discovered that there is now more to Aurora than just surfing. In fact, it's poised to become the next major adventure tourism destination. I also got to visit Ditumabo Falls which was off limits to visitors the last time I was in Aurora some years back. I'm sure once the roads are completely paved, the mad rush to this Pacific paradise will go full speed ahead. So enjoy it while it's still all yours!

6. Tondol Beach in Anda, Pangasinan
This beach was a revelation. It can become one of the most fantastic beaches in Luzon, especially when the sun is out and shining and when the tide is low. I enjoyed wading the powder white sand which streches a kilometer or so from the shore. Always visit the beach during low tide and the summer months since the thing about this beach is the view and experience is not consistent. But be there at the right time, it's picture perfect!

7. MassKara Festival 2009 in Bacolod City
I was in Bacolod for a grand family reunion of the Henares Clan. And we made sure it was the weekend of the MassKara Festival so that we could enjoy the festivities!

8. Bantayan Island, Cebu is rich in heritage and great beaches!
Another great discovery, Bantayan Island is on its way to becoming another Boracay. Give it another ten or fifteen years. Right now, several foreigners already settled in the town of Sta. Fe and have opened some very interesting restaurants most defintely worth visiting.

9. Corregidor Island day trip via Sun Crusies
I've always enjoyed visits to Corregidor Island which is a silent witness to the Second World War. And early last year, I got to visit the island twice, one of the visits an overnight trip where I got to explore the Malinta Tunnel at night!

10. Bohol: Loboc River Cruise, Baclayon Church and Panglao Island
I was lucky to get invited to a test drive of the new Honda City in Bohol. We got to drive around most of Bohol island and stay in Panglao Island for a night.

11. Capul Island's lighthouse and old fortress church
Although I mentioned this trip only this year, I made the trip to Northern Samar late last year. Capul Island is for those who really want to experience the rustic beauty of the country. It's doesn't have any travel amenities whatsoever. And you'll definitely immerse with the locals since the readily available accommodation is homestay.

12. Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival, Tres de Mayo and more Vigan festivities
While I try to avoid trooping to festivals due to the crowds, I enjoy watching them. We got to experience an old tradition of Vigan, the centuries-old Tres de Mayo Fiesta held annually, as part of the Ultimate Ilocos Tour. And we're doing it again this year. So book now!

13. Visita iglesia in Leyte and Southern Leyte
Another off the beaten track trip I did early last year. And I got to experience how it feels being stranded!

14. Cagayan: Callao Cave, Pinacanauan River and Iguig Calvary Hills
We had a barbecue picnic along the banks of the Panacanauan River which to me was the highlight of this visit to Penablanca. We'll be back again in Tuguegarao this month for even more adventure activities. So watch out for it.

15. Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon) in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Beyond touristy Saud Beach is this secluded Pagudpud cove called Mairaira. Tourists are fast discovering this surfing destination on the northwestern tip of Luzon Island. So better troop there while it's still relatively a secret.

16. Around Clark: Mt. Pinatubo Sky Tour at Omni Aviation
Last but definitely not least of my top Philippine destinations is Clark. And one the more memorable things I did last year was riding on a Cessna plane over the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo! I even came out with a list of Things to do in Clark Freeport and Pampanga.

Read also Top Philippine destinations for 2008.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Northern Samar: Capul Island's lighthouse and old fortress church

Capul Island in Northern Samar is most known for its lighthouse and old church. There are daily pump boat services from Allen. There is usually one trip early in the morning and another early in the afternoon. The boat ride is a little over an hour.

Unless you’re hiring your own boat, you definitely have to stay overnight in Capul Island. A trip to Capul is definitely not for those who are not adventurous. There aren’t that many places to stay in Capul. In fact, we went on homestay while we were there. You can easily ask the habal-habal driver to take you to one.

Before proceeding to the lighthouse, we checked out the town’s fortress church. The walls that comprise the fort are still intact, a stark reminder of how pirate attacks were a major consideration and problem during the Spanish colonial period.

The Capul Church is dedicated to San Ignacio de Loyola. It was built by the Jesuits by the 18th century and renovated by the Franciscans in the late 19th century. The fortified church is in good condition but the interior and convent were renovated after damage by typhoons.

The Capul Lighthouse is several kilometers on the northern tip of the island. Again, we had to hire a habal-habal to get us there.

Sadly, the Faro de Isla Capul is very rundown and badly in need of attention. But the view from the cliff where it stands is so picturesque, with strong waves crashing on large coral rocks down below. It’s actually perfect for a picnic.

There aren't that many places to eat dinner, just one or two carinderias. And make sure you eat early since the food supply does not last long. Remember also that by 12 midnight, electricity is shut down. So make you charge your phones before midnight.

Part 1: Busay, Veriato, Pinipisakan and more waterfalls from Northern Samar

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Northern Samar: Busay, Veriato, Pinipisakan and more waterfalls from Northern Samar

Northern Samar is one of those rarely explored provinces which have so much to offer. For those on a bus ride all the way to Davao, the town of Allen, Northern Samar is, more often than not, merely a gateway to Southern Philippines. But given the chance, there's a lot to see and do there.

For one, there are a lot of waterfalls, attractions which are also plentiful in neighboring Samar, particularly Calbayog City, the City of Waterfalls. Some of the waterfalls are accessible by road. Others require treks. While others require boat rides upstream to get to.

Busay and Veriato Falls in San Isidro are among the falls accessible by road which I got to visit during my recent trip. I had visited Veriato Falls as well during a previous trip to Calbayog City. Another waterfall in San Isidro which requires trekking would be Kangpongkol Falls. Looking at photos, it reminds me of Bangon-Bugtong Falls.

On the opposite end of the province, in Las Navas, is Pinipisakan Falls. If you arrive early, you could consider a trek to it. But you can hire a banca and go on a 45-minute boat ride to the falls. It's not really that impressive. I guess it's the canopy of green around it which makes it feel quite refreshing when you're there. If you have more time to trek, you could go even higher up the river to Ginagatusan Falls.

There are more waterfalls in Northern Samar which includes Lulugayan Falls in Bobon, Matikawol and Bag-ot Falls in Gamay, Bangon and Malarag Falls in San Roque, and Victoria, Budoy and San Abner Falls in Victoria. You can contact the provincial tourism office to find out how to get to the different falls.

Northern Samar Tourism Office
+63 55 2518292
+63 55 5009124

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Aurora: Old Baler and the Quezon legacy

Baler and the Quezons - Pres. Manuel Quezon and Dona Aurora Aragon-Quezon - will always be synonymous with each other. The fact that they were both from Baler is very much evident. Aurora Province, for one, is named after the former first lady. Its mother province, the former Tayabas Province, was renamed in honor of President Quezon.

Aside from gearing itself to be an adventure tourism destination, Baler is poised to restore its historical heritage. As a sign of local pride, the Quezon and Aragon homes have been reconstructed and restored as well. A replica of the nipa hut where President Quezon was born now stands beside the Museo de Baler where a statue of the former president can also be found.

Only a few months ago, the reconstructed home of Dona Aurora Aragon-Quezon was completed. Beside it, the National Historical Institute has placed on display Quezon's presidential car.

I was told that there are plans to restore the Baler Church, a National Historical Landmark, bringing it back to its 1899 look, a reminder that it had been the site of the last stand of Spanish forces in the country. As the Siege of the Church of Baler marker mentions, a Spanish garrison of four officers and fifty men was besieged in the church by Filipino forces from June 27, 1898 to June 2, 1899. Check out a previous post on Baler heritage for more details.
Related Posts with Thumbnails