Pinoy Boy Journals 2013 Trips

10:00:00 AM Pinoy Boy Journals 4 Comments

This is one ultimate throwback post, i swear. The very fact that i am writing a summary of the places I've visited in 2013 (err, two years ago) proves it so. I am quite disappointed that i was too overwhelmed with these trips that i somehow lost time to write about them. I was also busy with my advertising stint, and so on and so forth. And so, i will try very hard to recall the places, the people, the moments, and yes... even the food so i can share them all with you. Memories last forever!

Daraga Church, Albay, Philippines
Legend says that if you visit the province, and don't have a clear view of the perfect cone Mayon Volcano, then you're not a virgin anymore. Of course, i am not. Are you kiddin' me? I am turning 32 in a few months. Believe me how much i tried to capture that glorious moment. I came to all the best viewing spots, and at the best times of a day (sunrise and sunset) for a few days but i was still unlucky. To be honest, I was disappointed, and emotional during this trip. But with or without the view, the province still holds a special place in my heart. It is here that i realized how faith can totally change a person's perspective of life. The people of Albay are religious and prayerful. I've become witness to too many daily masses, and on all occasions, the church is full of people. And this aspiration reflects on the kind of people you will meet when you visit the faithful province of Albay. 

Paguriran Island, Sorsogon, Philippines
Sorsogon is really one of the most blessed provinces in the Philippines. My first trip in 2011 was for keeps. After visiting Subic Beach in Matnog, i knew there would be more places around as enchanting as the pink sand beach. I got so excited to explore the different towns and municipalities because only then can you really grasp the ultimate experience of immersing yourself in the local culture. I've been to almost every town, from Bacon to Prieto Diaz. And right here in Paguriran Island, in one of my stops, i simply let destiny play its part. The afternoon i spent here was truly memorable. Apart from the horror stories of decapitated priests and crying white ladies, the mystery of the shallow-deep beaches, the true fame of Sorsogon is actually the simplicity of life here. I was drinking my warm beer, with a couple of tired fishermen, in a wharf, overlooking untouched mangroves and the famed Paguriran Island while listening to endless crows of roosters at four o'clock in the afternoon. Priceless! 

Surigao Straight, Surigao Del Norte, Philippines
When you're traveling around the Philippines as a tourist, expect to receive a couple of glances from the local people. Oftentimes, people would start talking about you. You could hear them as you pass by. Luckily, i blended in with everyone seamlessly. Exploring Surigao Del Norte was like a home coming to me. I never caused anyone confusion, and i was sifting through places and homes like i was from there. My trip to this province may be short-lived but the treasures of beautiful Surigao were enough to keep me company in my day dreams up until now. The city may be bustling, but the pulse is slow here. It's just the way i envisioned it to be. It is just the way i like it.

Cabil-an Group of Islands, Dinagat Island, Philippines
I’ve been to many places but I can honestly say that Dinagat Islands is by far, the most exotic province I’ve ever been to. Spending an afternoon in the far out Cabil-an Group of Islands was an unforgettable experience, one that I could tell my children and my children’s children. Suddenly, the two plane rides, one ferry boat ride, two motorcycle rides and a small wooden canoe ride was well worth it. The country’s newest province just reinforced my reason why I travel solo in the first place. 

Zongxiao, Taipei, Taiwan
It is true that Taiwan is probably one of the most underrated countries in Asia. I got so attached during my first visit and loved it instantly, that a few years after in 2013, i roamed around Taipei once more. After visiting Taroko Gorge, i got to sample the finest views of Sun Moon Lake and even overcome my fear riding the out of this world rides at Formosan Aboriginal Village. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, i ate as many noodles and poultry at a buffet that's worth every Taiwan dollar spent. The cool winter mornings were enough to give me a lasting impression and watching the youth of Taiwan sport the most inspiring street fashion was enough reason for me to click my camera non-stop. Of course, this visit will not be the last time.

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
It's fun to take your friends out to your second home. At our annual company outing, i was able to tag my best colleagues to a night out in Khao San. They've never been there, and i promised them a good time. We went back to the hotel just before sunrise. The next day, we were all nursing a hang-over while trying not to faint at the temple tour of Bangkok. This particular trip was not about visiting new places, but revisiting old places with new friends. There's a difference, you know.

Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte
I'd like to confess that i never wanted to visit Calaguas Island with a company of strangers. But due to budget constraints, hiring a big boat for myself, would cost me a plane ticket outside the country. And so, i decided to eat my pride and just explore the island. Little did i know, that i would make friends during the trip. The fantastic beach of Calaguas was a given. It's pure unadulterated strip of white sand in an island so far from the town. With no electricity and minimal supplies, i managed to survive one night in my camp. Surprisingly, Calaguas Island is one of those destinations that's best to be traveled with friends. This post is dedicated to Ejay, whom i met during the trip. Brother, you will be missed.  

Mai Chau, Hanoi, Vietnam
My first time in Vietnam was in Saigon, and a bit disappointing i must say. However, my trip to Hanoi was totally shining. I loved the cool weather, and the historical places of the old district. I loved the food, and the generous people. I actually got surprised that my physical appearance was something the locals loved. I even visited a university through an invite by a local at a restaurant i was eating. There, i got even more admirers. It was totally weird. What's even weirder is that i gave a thumps down to Halong Bay because i didn't want to visit a destination with too many people. When i heard the travel agent say "Popular", i already knew how it would be. Instead, i booked a trip to Mai Chau. There i was, taking things slow in a bicycle overlooking green paddies and the local farmers. I've sampled traditional cuisine and bought too many fabrics at a local market, all by myself.

Baguio City, Benguet, Philippines
I wasn't suppose to go to Baguio. I didn't even prepare warm clothes for the trip. I got to the bus terminal, and discovered that the bus doesn't leave in five hours. I decided to make a detour just so i can peacefully leave Manila and unto my destination. The detour was Baguio. I arrived at wee hours of the morning. Still with enough time before my transfer, i managed to hitch on a Tamaraw FX to take me around the best spots of the city. There were gardens, viewpoints, and even more view points. But what captured my interest was the famed museum. It is here that i got a closer look at the local art scene. It's raw and magical. 

Luna Watch Tower, La Union, Philippines
It was a bummer that i visited this seaside province during summer, because the waves were small. But i wasn't too sad because i don't surf anyway. ha. What i did was i explored more towns north of San Juan and came across this historical site by the beach. What was left of the ruins of Luna Tower was unbelievable. There's more places like these. The only problem for me was the lack of time. 

Obando Church, Bulacan, Philippines
It was a tough call to visit Bulacan during the fertility rites. There were hundreds upon hundreds of devotees lined up to get inside the church, and participated in the dancing ceremony. The traffic was awful, and the crowd was thick. However, the vibe was joyous with hopefuls marching the facade of the church glimmering in attractive wares dancing to patrons with the hopes of having a baby. This is the very reason why i came here in the first place, not because i was also asking for a newborn. I went to Obando to pray that these people's wishes will eventually come true. 

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
After years of keeping up with my budget, i totally spoil myself once in a while. Getting a room to sleep in for a couple of days at the famed hotel burned my cash in an instant but the unexplained joy of getting your money's worth was definitely worth it. On some days, i would roam around the small country, and the city. I got to try ice cream buns and hot pot noodles. I chanced upon huge discounts at the mall, and even bar hopped in posh restaurants. At night, i would go back to my room where the experience of staying in one of the best hotels in the world was an adventure in itself. Here, i sample the outdoor pool perched hundreds of floors up. I was trying my best not to move, the wind was too strong.

Cagayan De Oro, Misamis Oriental, Philippines
I sat next to this kid who was all alone traveling from one island to the next. Earlier, i sat next to a man on the bus, the same man beside the kid. In this province, it seems people wind up doing the same thing. The difference is, i was not from here and just visiting. CDO is in the lower ranking of must visit places in the Philippines. Apart from white water rafting, not much has been said about this place. I regret to inform the haters that Misamis Oriental is too beautiful for you. It's a totally generic destination in the Philippines: quiet, conservative and unbelievably beautiful. As i write this, i am booking a trip back in a couple of weeks.

Mambajao, Camiguin, Philippines
Suggest another word for exotic, that is Camiguin. My adventure to this tiny island off the coast of Mindanao Sea is on a totally different level. Here, i got to ride a fast boat too many times, i got to swim with live and gigantic corals and clam shells, i got to feast on fresh seafood straight from the fisherman's harvest. I walked up on countless number of stores, seeing the same Vino Kulafu drink which you can never find elsewhere. The local people here are the most honest people I've met in all of my travels in the Philippines. If you want to experience genuine kindness and hospitality, Camiguin is the place to be. 

Panikian Island, Zamboanga Del Sur, Philippines
Although it'll be hard to convince me to go back to this province, the unspoilt Panikian Island is one of the most beautiful islands i have ever visited. I was able to circle around the island in a couple of hours without a single soul in sight except for my boatman. I braved the torrential rains and lack of sea visibility because i will not forgive myself if i have not gone. And so, i opened my rhum and poured my cola in a silver glass my boatman lent me. We threw the first pour for the devil, and drank away. I came back a little past six o'clock and was helping my fellow turned best friend push the boat to shore. It was friggin' low tide already. 

Great Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City, Philippines
There were dozens of ambulances, armored cars, and hundreds of military police marching across the municipal hall. I paid the fast boat to the popular pink sand island of Sta. Cruz. From hereon, i was escorted by three military men in full combat gear. Parked in our boat were machine guns, explosives and dozens of grenades. I arrived and left the island safely. It was indeed pink sand when i stepped out of my boat. My body guard was signaling i was going too far and that i must come back. We shared canned spanish sardines and rice, while trying my best to overcome my fear. I will never go back again.  

Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte, Philippines
For the nth time, let's get the history straight. Did Magellan really arrive in Butuan City first before Cebu City? But amidst the confusion about the city's history, Butuan was another adventure to be taken. Here, i met our helper's mother. She even offered me a ride to town. I waited for another Lolong (the largest crocodile ever found on earth) but didn't see one. I was totally unsure if i ever want to see one, anyway. I like the city here. It's urbanized but the mindset of people are still from ages ago. Although, i argued with my tricycle driver for a miss communication deal, let it be known that i wanted to share the knowledge of being right versus being kind. 

San Francisco, Agusan Del Sur, Philippines
As i try to spend an afternoon roaming around the quaint province of Agusan Del Sur, i teamed up with my tricycle driver who promised to take me to the most beautiful places. We were able to stop by the beautiful municipal hall of San Fran, as locals call it. I stopped by for lunch in one of the small shopping centers littered across town. There were quite a handful of unexplored caves and rivers. But the best part, my driver brought me to the newest attraction of the province -- the newly opened grocery store. There i was, smiling inside and out. Even if Agusan Del Sur lacks natural wonders, the people are packed with awesome humor. 

Britannia Group of Islands, Surigao Del Sur, Philippines
It's off beaten, and truly untouched. The province of Surigao Del Sur is like stepping into another dimension in Mindanao. Here, everything's peaceful. The people are calm, the surroundings are noncommercial, and nights are quiet. The next day, i woke up to a bright and shining day, where i could see from a distance islands cut like diamonds in the sea. The days after, i got to visit an enchanted river, ultra wide falls, and even tasted the popular delicacy, Mutya ng Bislig. Upon reading about Surigao Del Sur, i knew already what to expect. Little did i know, it was more than what i bargained for. 

Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte, Philippines
The weather was bad. The past few days have been cloudy. My dream of visiting Limasawa did not push through. With that, i spent the rest of my time lounging in the fine white pocket of sandy beach just outside my hotel room. Earlier that day, i was warned by the locals not to go to the town proper outside the ferry terminal. Talks of a naked man with a bolo have been circulating. That night, i couldn't find a place to eat dinner. I got canned beef and ordered hot rice. I watched the streets from my balcony. There was no one. I guess Padre Burgos must be guarding me that night.  

Naval, Biliran, Philippines
Arriving in Biliran was an exciting journey for me. I didn't know anyone from the province. Let alone, i have no accommodations in mind. When i got there, i toploaded a jeepney and arrived at my destination. Being the only guest in the resort, all attention was given to me. There were a lot of day tripping couples which made me miss having someone to hold hands with. That night, the power was out. I slept at 8PM and woke up at 3AM. Life in Biliran is simple. The next day, i went to see waterfalls, tasted fresh sweet water from the tree, and navigated my way with my habal-habal driver to the forest. The room key is still with me because i totally forgot returing it. Maybe it was a sign that i will be coming back there anyway.

Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao, Philippines
It's good to read about the eight wonder of the world. But it's a totally different feeling when you're there a few meters away. What's even more joyful is stepping on the banks of the terraces to save your life. I went there on a spree, and emerald green paddies astounded me like no other. The stories of it are true. There's nothing like this set of rice terraces anywhere in the world. I ate in front of the terraces, i slept in front of the terraces and i even had a shower with a view of the terraces. 

Kiltepan View Point, Mountain Province, Philippines
Before the place was swept by lost lovers, Kiltepan didn't see that many tourists. People are too lazy to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the first sunlight in the mountains. But i wanted to see the view for myself. Armed with warm clothing and headlights, i braved the terrain to watch in glory the first morning of the rest of my life. It is magical, unforgettable and truly world class.

Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Philippines
A lot of my peers questioned my interest for the province. But as any true soldier of adventure would do, i reckoned i needed to see the the place first before passing judgement. Although i must admit, it lacks the exciting aura of some other provinces. The history of the province was something you can never deny. The list of American soldiers in memorial and the quiet feeling to it as i pray for the souls of those who perished was an emotional time for me. Later that day, i watched the sunset over the beautiful Dalton Pass. There, i waited for the clouds to subside. A few hours later, i was still waiting for a bus passing by. There was none. Oh shit!

Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
Manong Bonny has been my guide, friend and driver roaming around the huge province of Nueva Vizcaya for days. He took me to all the best spots in the capitol Bayombong, towards to Dupax Del Sur and even to the border crossing of the Cagayan River. It was hard for me to get in touch with him because he doesn't have a cellphone. I met up with his daughter in Manila and gave him my present. From hereon, he can take more people to see the best of Nueva Vizcaya, thus sharing more joy to more people.

Governor's Rapids, Quirino, Philippines
Please make this place a natural heritage site. It's unspoiled, off the beaten and truly out of this world. They say a lot of people from the mountains roam in the strip of province. I haven't met one. Or if ever i did, they would not introduce themselves to me. Quirino is one of the friendliest provinces i have ever visited in the Philippines. The sound of crashing waves at Governor's Rapids was deafening. The ride going there was heart stopping. I ended my visit the following day at the highway facing the mountain and rice paddies. There, the sunset beaming over me. I will never forget Quirino. 

Santiago, Isabela, Philippines
It was the night before the elections in the province, i was advised to stay indoors should mishaps happen. Isabela is big in size and big in attractions. If only i had the time, i would have given the other side a look. Famed for isolated islands and mountainous areas, Isabela is a hub for anything extreme. Although getting a seat on a bus was a bummer, i managed like a scout and tried to hold on to the railings as the bus zig zags from corner to corner. When i arrived in there, the people greeted me like family. 

Guian, Eastern Samar, Philippines
This province is charming and beautiful. I never thought that its pint size is packed with too many beautiful and wonderful things in it. The resort where i stayed in is the barrier towards pacific ocean, and the crashing waves could be heard from my air-conditioned bedroom. It was that strong. The next few days, i got to visit small fishing villages, more white sandy beaches, saw stronger waves over the pacific, and prayed to the miraculous Virgin Mary for a wish i'd like to keep to myself. 

San Juanico Bridge, Leyte, Philippines
Take my advice. When you're exploring this side of the Visayas, base yourself in Tacloban where transportation is great. It's my third time in the province and up until now i am not decided whether i like it or not. It's commercialized but lacks urban planning. I was in the city when the earthquake shook Bohol, and intensity was felt from my bed. I went outside of McArthur's popular hotel with just my boxer shorts and prayed for the quake to stop. Little did i know, a week after typhoon Haiyan was approaching this blessed province. 

Marabut, Samar, Philippines
It seems the discovery of exotic locales in the Philippines never stops. Stopping by in Marabut was one of the best decisions of my life. I drank my favorite beer by the beach, overlooking a dozen limestone cliffs and watched sunset. That night, i got to enjoy the pool. I woke up the next day feeling like a free bird. Life is good here. 

Trese Martires, Cavite, Philippines
Oh Cavite, the home of the beautiful people. I tagged along with my father as he went to work in Dasmarinas which gave me ample time to explore the different cities of Cavite. Here in Trese Martires, i find solitude in the beautiful municipal hall. Directly in front of it is the old house where Andres Bonifacio used to live. Beside it are a couple of houses dating back a hundred years old. While it's true that Cavite is big on history, during my public transportation rides, i noticed the province is big on beautiful people, too. 

2013 is indeed my most traveled year to date. And none of these trips would be possible without the unfathomable help of my family, especially my parents, who continuously support my love for discovery and exploration.


Wow! That's a lot of places! I envy you! =)

Camiguin stole my heart in one of my travels year. It is one of the most best kept secret paradise of Northern Mindanao. Good thing you've visited Cavite (my home town) too in your travels and next time visit the historic Correigdor Island.
'Wish to hear your adventures of 2013 soon.

@Mary Lovelee Tan Thanks a lot. Keep traveling, too. Cheers!

@Ian | Going Places I'd like to thank you Ian for continuously supporting Pinoy Boy Journals. Love reading your comments. And yes, Cavite is beautiful. Hope i could bump into you in one of my trips in the future. Take care!