Showing posts with label Travels and Leisures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travels and Leisures. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

[Travel and History] Appreciating Escolta

Part of the Zooper Cruise in Pasig River is a tour around the country's former central business district, Escolta. Through the Pasig River Ferry system, the Escolta station is next to Plaza Mexico. We made a stop from Polland Hopia Store which is one of the most iconic bean cake brands in the Philippines to Sta. Cruz church. The buildings in the district are the reflection of how rich and flourished it was since the Spanish Colonial Era until 1960s. Escolta came from the word “escoltar” which means “to escort”. It is surrounded by Binondo and Sta. Cruz which are also famous streets in history.

Escolta on 1899. Photo Credits to ViVamManila Facebook Page.

Long time ago the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade attracted traders from China and other countries to sell their goods and products that is why the streets were lined with different specialty stores or various products. Seeing a lot of black and white throwback pictures we inherited from our ancestors, we will see how Escolta looked like back then, busy, influx of people, cars, horses and markets.

Bank of the Philippine Islands former Prudential Bank, a Neo-classical style.
Long ago, it is where the tallest buildings could be found being the central business district of the 
country in 19th century. Among the popular buildings are the Prudential Bank that is now a branch of Bank of the Philippine Islands, the Natividad and Burke Buildings. Buildings in Escolta exhibits Neo-Classical, Renaissance and Beaux Art styles of architecture that not only architecture students would appreciate but those history geeks like me as well. Walking along the district gave me a feeling of wonder of what was life like during those times and how it was crowded with so much people back then. The feels were like of that when I went to visit Calle Crisologo in Vigan City. I recommend this place to visit for those who want to appreciate Philippine History more in line with Intramuros and Vigan City.

I would like to thank Zooper Cruise and Zoomanity Group for the chance to tour the city. For more information please e-mail or text 09166299381.


Credits to Mr. Nikko Madrilejo for taking my photos included in this article and Viva Manila Fanpage:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Travel] What to Expect in Baguio City for First Time Travelers

City of Pines.

In the mountainous ranges of Central Cordillera enclosed by the province of Benguet lies a city of rich history, culture and tourism – Baguio City. The Philippines is a tropical country so it means that at times, the weather is mostly hot in the summer season that tourists, local and foreign seek relaxation, leisure as well as learning in this gem city in the central north of the country. Its subtropical highland climate attracts visitors providing relief from the heat of the lowlands having officially named as the Summer Capital of the Philippines since the American Colonial Era. The city got its name from native Ibaloy’s word “bagyiw” means moss because the area has a lot of the kind of plant in the area. When the American came, they changed the face of the city to what we are enjoying today constructing bridges, buildings and landmarks reflecting history. Then came World War II to the earthquake in 1990, Baguio City is indeed a truly gifted precious land.

Mines View Park.

Mines View.

You may have a hard time finding a place to stay during peak season but booking sites like allow you to compare prices and check out deals in advance. Also, if you are a shopper who wants to find product sales much cheaper than those in the lowlands, you can buy many products from fresh vegetables, fruits, jams to bargain items like those in the night market in Burnham Park. Food lovers also visit Baguio City to find the numerous specialty restaurants, mouth-watering street foods and sweets. I personally liked the organic strawberry ice cream and taho which is very uncommon in the lowlands. Even those who want a break from the city would find it the perfect place to be, with the many hotels, inns, and guesthouses in Baguio that cater to various kinds of travelers.

Baguio City boasts flower industry like no other city or province in the country.

How to get into Baguio City from Metro Manila?

The average travel time to Baguio City from Manila is 4 hours and 6 minutes with the distance of 247 Kilometers. There are two ways of travel.

With your own vehicle: You can through NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) then take exit 85 into SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) to take the lane and to Baguio via Tarlac. Just follow the road signs until you reach MacArthur Highway. Drive straight to Pangasinan, La Union then when you reached Rosario junction, turn right Kennon Road. There is also an alternate road in Marcos Highway, just drive into Rosario to the right entrance.

On Public Transport: The two main bus company that offer trip to Baguio City are Victory Liner and Genesis Transport. Victory Liner usually offers express trips. Their buses were equipped with free Wi-Fi connection and comfort rooms. Genesis Liner on the other hand provides travel time for 6-8 hours depending on the hour of your trip.

Check out their sites for more information:

Where to stay in Baguio City?

Exploring Baguio City would not be complete without planning where to stay. I suggest that you do a research about the types of accommodations based on your preference in consideration to your budget and comfort. In our last visit to Baguio City, we stayed in a friend’s house near the Burnham Park making us have easy access to the places we want to visit to taxi cabs. Transportation rates in the city are slightly cheaper than in Manila. For the budget conscious, you can look for cheap decent inns and rooms with breakfast included. Pension houses accommodate guests in house type rentals, they serve full day meals. Hotels were in various kinds ranging from those simple and neat to deluxe for those who prepared ample amount in their budget.

A view from the balcony of SM Baguio.

What are the most popular sites and tourist spots in Baguio City that you should explore?

The city of Pines is a land where history, nature and art meet. There are historical sites like The Mansion and Camp John Hay that could bring us back in time and learn about the important events in the Philippines the time they were built. Leisure parks like the very famous Burnham Park where you could ride the large swan boats in the lake, sit down in grass to have a picnic and indulge in street foods. There is also the equally precious Mines View Park overlooking the majestic mining town of Itogon in the northern part of the city. Last time we visited, there were influx of tourists but I could say that the view is very worth the visit. I love the colors of the variety of flowers being sold everywhere. The Baguio Botanical Garden exhibits charming flowering plants good for those who want to have ample of OOTD pictures the nature way. Not so far in the area is the Wright Park. This park in just in front of The Mansion with a rectangular pool sided by pine trees in the sides is seen in the area. It is where we bought the very unique strawberry taho (soft tofu) being sold by street vendors. For shoppers, the Session Road comprises of restaurants, boutiques, bookstores, department stores and bazaars. If planning to visit Baguio City through Kennon Road, you will see beautiful mountainous scenic views of trees for a good sightseeing. The premier military institution in the country, the Philippine Military Academy is one of the most visited and photographed sites with all its Pine trees, glorious statues, old military structures and vehicles plus the smile of handsome soldiers and military students roving around.

My favorite Strawberry Taho.

Wright Park.

With the natives.

Baguio Botanical Garden.

The Mansion.

Philippine Military Academy.

There are still so much to visit in Baguio City that I haven’t visited yet and mentioned in this article. For sure, they are worthy to be explored soon.

-Flordeliz Fullo

Useful and Related Article Links:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

[Travel] Sagada's Bomod-Ok Falls: Beauty Beyond Challenge

Waterfalls are one of Mother Nature’s priceless wonders and the Philippines have the pride to possess abundance that many wanderlusts aim to explore. One of them is Sagada, Mountain Province’s wonder, the endearing big 200 meters Bomod-Ok Falls. Also known as Fidelisan Falls named after the Barangay’s name where it is located. It has been famous as one of the important scenic geographical landmark you should visit when you explore the province.

Before our adventure, some of my friends who already went there told me to be prepared for the journey because going down trekking from the jump point will require extra physical strength plus determination for walking in approximately one hour along the narrow roads, rocks, man-made stairs, rice fields and the small village. The Falls is estimated 5 Kilometers away from the Tourism Registration Center.

To Bomod-Ok Falls.

Posing with our walking sticks.


From the town center where the Sagada Municipal Hall is situated, we rented a van that would take us to Barangay Banga-An. We just paid 200PhP as a whole for a group of five, I think the prices depend on the driver because I have read in some blog articles that sometimes they are higher or lower. We then registered at their Tourist Information Center. After the process, they endorsed a friendly reliable female guide. Before heading, they provided us sturdy sticks to be used as canes to aid us in walking for hours. Our tour guide prepared us with some information of the number of steps or the time estimated to reach the falls.

The start of our walk.

There is a small village in between the jump-off to the Falls.

A selfie with the terraced rice fields.

Us having a short Photo Session in the red bridge.

Resting on the rocks.


As a newbie in walking through irregular rocky elevated land platforms, I will say that the journey made me really exhausted due to aching feet and trembling knees. My advice is that you go on with a group of friends. Having a great company will boost each other up on the journey. The hike was somehow exhausting but as they say, good things come to those who wait. In the heart of the area, there you will you will find a small peaceful village with smiling people. I admire their lifestyle amidst being very far from technology, pollutions and noises of the urban areas, they look so happy. I almost gave up when we stopped by to rest and find a comfort room. My friends suggested me to just rest in the village and wait until they come back. Thinking of what great things would I miss if I do, I bravely hold up my head high and continue walking. We then reached the red bridge, took some photos with smiles in our faces because of excitement that we are near the Bomod-Ok Falls.

My friends Rio and Denise in front of the Falls and the clear water.


As we reached our goal, we finally saw the treasure we patiently struggled to reach and it never failed our eyes so as our feels. That beautiful sight of crystal clear waters of the big falls surrounded with rocks, lush green trees and plants truly exhibit the beauty only nature can give us. All the steps going down were all worth it. If planning to swim, be careful of the rocks surrounding the falls as they are slippery, you could get injured.  The water from the falls is cold so make sure to be physically healthy before swimming.


More than hiking down to the falls, going back up is more excruciating for a first timer like me; you will require more effort due to gravity. Just enjoy every step while the sun is setting, appreciate the beauty of the land formations in the valley. We finished at 7PM. Ate Tour Guide said that in all the travellers she assisted, we are the ones who travelled that long time and we know why.

Overall, the Bomod-Ok Falls is one of the most amazing landmarks I visited in the Philippines, also one of the most challenging so far. If you are that kind of an adventurer who loves hiking and challenges, the Bomod-Ok Falls of Sagada, Mountain Province should be on your list.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Bell Tower of Bantay Ilocos Sur

The Bantay Bell Tower of Ilocos Sur.

A Belfry built in 1591 – Ilocos Sur is home of old Spanish Colonial architectures that survived through time. These structures exhibit traces of our Spanish Era ancestry centuries ago. The Philippines is a Christian country with Roman Catholicism as the most dominant faith. A lot of edifices in the country include churches boasting beautiful designs with rich stories about the past. One of the province of Ilocos Sur is the Bantay Church located at Manila-North Road, Zone 5, Bantay, Ilocos Sur. It is also known as Saint Augustine Parish Church of Bantay with Nuestra Senyora de la Caridad ( Our Lady of Charity ) as its patron. The statue of the Blessed Virgin is said to perform miracles so as answered prayers. Standing with its handsome sturdy gothic look that was damaged by wars then restored, it has been a witness to many important events in our history.

When the country was still a colony of Spain, this steeple served as a watch tower to monitor pirates. It is also a defence structure against the enemies that the place got its name “Bantay” that means guard. Still erect with all its glory, the tower also survived World War II. It was then restored in the 1950s.

Our Lady of Charity Church of Bantay Ilocos Sur.

Pilgrimage Site.

Photo-op Bench at the Entrance.

A reminder to pray.

Climbing the stairs feels like you are traveling way back in time. Then we climbed the narrow stairway surrounded by bright orange brick walls. I can imagine our forefathers building the tower long ago thinking how intricate the process had been. The large bell is a huge metal which is almost my size. If only that bell could talk, it has been a witness to so many battles, rang thousands of masses from the Spanish Era to the present.

Going up. Look at those bright orange bricks.

The Bell.

Me with one of the bells in one of the windows.

A view from the top.

Going Down.

The view at the top is breath taking. Endearing fresh wind blows overlooking small houses, trees and structures. You can see the province of Abra as well as the western seas.

You can visit the Bantay Bell Tower between 6AM to 6PM. In the entrance, there is a donation box for the church and tower maintenance, you can give any amount you want. Photo-ops are better taken in the bench located near the entrance, beside the bell and in the windows.

A visit to Bell Tower: Achieved!

Overall, the Bell Tower experience is one of a kind. It was also memorable for me because it was my first time to actually climb and go atop seeing it only in movies and pictures. I also get to see a real church bell up close, touched it and look though the beautiful province of Ilocos Sur at the top.

Special Thanks to my friend Karen Feaster some of the pictures, for taking my pictures and touring me around.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sagada's Sumaguing Cave: Explore and Experience

View from the bottom to the starting entrance. Adventurers are like fairies in their lamps.

The Philippines is a very rich country in terms of natural resources and breath taking wonders of nature. As time goes by, unfound wonders were revealed to give pride that our native land is home of Mother Nature’s precious gifts. As the Underground River became one of the new seven wonders of nature, tourists from all over the world had their eyes not just in Palawan but other wonders as well. If you loved the Underground River then you should visit up north to experience Sagada’s Sumaguing Cave. This adventure may require some efforts but the feeling of touring inside will give you a very satisfying and unforgettable experience.

Heading on.

Where is Sumaguing Cave?

The Sumaguing Cave is found in South Road, Sagada, 2619, Mountain Province. If on an arranged tour, your tour guide will guide you on a walk or usually ride a vehicle on the way. On our backpacking, our tour guide organized the ride so we headed there through a van. Make sure your tour guide is experienced, more importantly registered so you will have no worries on the trip. You have to head on to the town’s tourism office in their municipal hall to register. The cave is open between 9AM to 5PM. There were travel tours that are pre-arranged with inclusion of these fees in their packages.

Down Below.

Kuya Tour Guide preparing his important lamp. There is my friend's bottled water too.

Me before the caving. The look of anxiety? That was kuya Tour Guide's red cap that he lent me.

What to prepare before the caving?

1.       YOUR SELF: Exploring a cave is an adventure with dangerous risks. This means that you have to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Make sure your physique is ready for climbing and going down on large slippery rocks. Mental alertness is also required to focus on the spelunking or you might get lost or face serious injuries inside. Always follow the instructions of your tour guides.

2.       IDEAL OUTFIT: Wear comfortable shirts with bottoms that is stretchable for the climbing as well as crawling. In my case, my tour guide noticed that my hair is untied, I have no ponytail that time (yeah, so lousy!), so in his kindness, he let me borrow his red cap. I wonder what might happen because as manong warned, my hair would block my eyes in the middle of caving and made me prone to very serious dangers. Do bring slippers made of hard but strong material that provides more friction for wet surfaces due to flowing waters and bat wastes. As much as possible do not bring your precious belongings for you might not be able to find them when they were lost. For gadgets, use an action camera that could be strapped on your body so your hands will not be occupied while exploring.

3.       REGISTRATION AND TOURISM FEES: Sumaguing Cave is a natural wonder. This means that it also needs maintenance and adequate care. If you are on a backpacking trip, you must first head on to their municipal office as I said earlier to pay the registration and environment fee of more or less 35PHP.

4.       YOUR GROUP: It is better to explore the cave by group since there are a lot of actions with physical efforts. Much better to have friends or relatives to back you up. Guided by a registered tour guide, be sure to end the journey with a complete head count.

Sumaguing's Visitors.

The elephant. (Not sure of its name though, I forgot what manong said but it sure looks like one.)

Happy Birthday Cake!

Kuya Tour Guide helping me go down those slippery wet rocks.

Me being amazed of the fossils. This was my first time to feel one.

Tired but happy!

Our feet in cold crystal flowing water.

Cave Portrait.

What to expect?

Spelunking in the Sumaguing Cave may require much preparedness with extra care but in the end it really is very fulfilling. So many wonderful things could be found inside that you haven’t seen in your life especially for the first timers. Those very beautiful rock formations will put you in so much amazement of how very powerful God and Mother Nature formed them through time. Small water pools and beds were flowing all over.

My friend Edith on a rappel going up.

We came, we saw and we conquered!

Post caving picture.

What I felt after caving?

This experience is one of the most unforgettable adventures in my life. I feel so proud that I endured the challenge of getting through those rock formations with little anxiety. Nothing could beat nature. It is also my first time to see fossils which I believe were millions of years in the making. My gratitude is to our very accommodating tour guide for keeping us safe since we were all girls. If you are not faint hearted with a desire for challenge yet fulfilling adventure, I would recommend visiting this Nature’s treasure someday.