Bui Vien

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Otres Beach

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Bukit Bintang

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Big Lagoon

El Nido, Palawan

Bangui Windmills

Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Calle Crisologo

Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Filipino-Chinese Pagoda

San Fernando, La Union

Monday, 23 December 2013

2013 Travel Reflections & The People Who Inspired Me To Travel

The year is almost over.. and I can't believe that I have visited 10 Philippine Provinces this year! I have to say I am extremely thankful to the people who encouraged me to travel more.

Puerto Galera was the first place I visited this year. I didn't write something about it due to personal reasons. And yes, as everybody know, Puerto Galera is a party-beach-party kind of stuff-- the nightlife is just simply entertaining!

Baler was the second destination this year. It was our first time to surf & eat at a local buffet called Gerry Shan's. It was also the first time I met Lois Yasay of wearesolesisters.com! She shared a lot of inspiring stories that gave me the urge to travel more. She's my favorite blogger!

The next month, I went to La Union alone and had a short trip to Vigan, Ilocos Sur (the bus ride from La Union to Vigan was longer compared to my stay in Vigan). It was my first time to stay in a hostel. I will never forget the locals that I've met. They were very helpful and accommodating.. and I kept on coming back because of them!

April was my birthday month. To celebrate, we went to Palawan and spent a day traveling from one island to another. It was tiresome, but on the other hand, it also made me appreciate the beauty of Philippines even more. 

May was a family month for me. I spent so much time beach bumming with Jm, my cousins and family in Subic. Jm and I also went to La Union because I badly missed surfing and hanging out with the locals. I would never forget the stories that Lois shared over coffee.

June was some sort of a religious retreat for me. We got the chance to visit Lucban, Quezon and do some rest and relaxation at a resort called, Batis Aramin. Then, we visited Kamay Ni Hesus to thank Him for the blessings and opportunities he had given us.

In August, we traveled around Ilocos and tried some local food. Kapuluan Vista Resort in Blue Lagoon is extraordinary. The dorm-type room seemed interesting, the staff are polite and friendly, and the place itself is very serene. Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur is my favorite-- it has always been romantic and special.

September is a not-so-good time to go to Boracay because of the gloomy weather but we pushed ourselves to travel 6 hours from Iloilo to get to the famous tourist spot. It was my first time to drive a motor -- uphill and downhill! I considered it as one of the "toughest" challenge because I wasn't really a good driver. Anyway, despite of the gloomy weather, we still had fun beach bumming, partying and diving! 

November was the celebration of our 2nd Anniversary. We originally planned to go to Surigao (we had booked a one-way ticket) but because of my "joblessness" status, we cancelled our plan and decided to go back to Baler instead. It was a blessing, actually, because I met James Betia of journeyingjames.com! This kick-ass traveler just completed my year! 

2013 was a very wonderful time for me. I may not have visited SOME of the places I planned to visit, I won't really worry a lot, because there's still 2014! I am planning to visit Calaguas (via journeyingjamestour, hopefully) and Mt. Pulag next year. Right now, I'm trying to save for Malaysia (January) and Indonesia (October) next year.. and maybe, Thailand

The "Donate For Indonesia" Piggy Bank

I've been wanting and hoping to visit Indonesia the soonest time next year. However, I make it a point that I'm financially, mentally, and physically well-prepared. I'm not good in saving money in the bank, because I find it hard to control the "impulse-shopper" in me. So, as a result, I tried to save-- the traditional way-- through a piggy bank. I'll make this piggy-bank-thingy work!

FOR THE MEANTIME (while I take a rest & concentrate on my work), 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Baler: Camp, Bike & Surf (Journeyingjames Tour)

This month, we decided to celebrate our 2nd Anniversary in Baler again so we joined journeyingjames' budget tour and it was, in fact, our second (and hopefully not the last!) time to visit Baler. We were hyper-excited! 

For only 2,800 PHP each, we were able to enjoy a weekend of fun activities such as camping, surfing, biking and trekking! The tour included private chartered service Manila-Baler-Manila (AC),1 hour surfing lesson, 4 meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch), 1 night accommodation at Tent City, Baler (Non-AC, Kubo-style cottage and tents), guided Bike Tour of Baler Town and a visit Ditumabo Waterfalls and Balete Tree!

Camp & Surf

Jm & I used to camp even before we started taking traveling seriously. It was refreshing and somewhat sentimental to experience something that we used to do before (oh yes, it's been a looong loong time).

our love nest. haha

After setting up the tent, Jm decided to surf (he's always talking about surfing and how he wanted to be good in surfing). As usual, I was the "photographer". He only started surfing this year and I can honestly say that he improved quite well.

He loves this!

Because I don't know how to use a bike, it was Jm who joined the biking tour. They visited the Hanging Bridge, Museo De Baler and Aurora Quezon's House.

The "Boodle Fight"

Boodle fight is a style of eating where long tables are prepared and food are on top of banana leaves. You have to eat using your hands! It's a fun way to meet new friends while having lunch together. 

Ditumabo Falls and a trek to the new falls

We were supposed to visit Ditumabo falls on our last day in Baler but the local authorities said the path to the falls was closed due to heavy rain. A local suggested another option and according to him, it is the newly-discovered falls in Baler. 

Crossing the river!

On our way to Ditumabo Falls... not! 

The "newest" falls (I forgot the name!)

According to our local guide, it will only take around 10-15 minutes trek to the "newly-discovered" falls, however, it took around 30 minutes for us to reach the falls and mind you, the way to the falls is really very steep!

Meeting James of Journeyingjames.com

And finally, this year won't be complete without meeting the love of my life, er, I mean, my favorite blogger, James Christel Betia. As most people know, this "young" and "very charming" traveler has traveled around Philippines for 100 days. I guess he's been to every single islet and island in our country! It's been such a pleasure to meet him and sure as hell I'll be joining his tours in the future!

ayeee yeee yeee!!!!

Thanks James my dear for such a wonderful experience! See you sooner!

For other information about journeyingjames tour, like his page:

PS: I personally feel the need to improve my writing skill, so if there's anything you can suggest or if you happen to know any writing seminar/workshops, please e-mail me at franciscojoni@gmail.com. Thanks!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Fun Activities You Should Try In Boracay

There are various land and water activities you can try in Boracay. There's cliff diving, helmet diving, parasailing, banana boat, island hopping, sailing, zorbing, bike tour, ATV rental, motorbike riding and many more! We actually had less sleep because we woke up early in the morning to do some fun activities before heading back to Iloilo. 

Helmet Diving

This activity allows you to climb down a ladder until you reach the seabed while wearing a helmet glass which makes it possible for you to breathe underwater. Imagine being able to walk 10 ft. under the surface! We paid 350 PHP each (there were four of us) and it includes the boat ride to the site, assistance from diving instructors, helmet dive equipment and free souvenir pictures and video

our kind diving instructor took photos

Helmet diving may seem scary and unsafe at first, but once you're underwater, you will enjoy feeding fishes and walking on the seabed! Don't be frightened, the dive instructor will make sure you're safe underwater.

Our head looked smaller. Hahahaha!

ATV and Buggy Car

We paid 350 per person for this activity and it includes 1 hour tour, sight seeing at Mt. Luho, entrance fees and shuttle pick up from the hotel, tour at the butterfly museum and a ride at the Sky Cycle. We used the ATV since we wanted to drive on our own. It was my very first time to drive a buggy car and it felt like I was driving a motorcycle! This activity is perfect for adventurers!

It's pretty natural to feel nervous at first!

Uphill drive to Mt. Luho

Take note that you have to pay a specific amount (sorry, I forgot!) for the entrance to the viewing deck.

Sky Cycle

This ride looks like a roller coaster and you have to pedal along a track to make it move. I guess this is better compared to the terrifying roller coaster ride. The cost is already included in the package that we got (350 PHP). 

Lovely couple Ashley & Rodney riding the Sky Cycle! (photo from Rodney's Facebook)

You don't have to feel scared because all the activities I mentioned are safe, you just have to follow the guide's instructions and be a little more behave, or else..

We fought over a piece of plastic! This creature's tough!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Hotel Review: La Carmela De Boracay

We chose La Carmela De Boracay because of it's beach front location (Station 2) and room rate. It's an off-peak season so we only paid 2,200 PHP for a night and it comes with free breakfast for 2. There's a 2,000 PHP security deposit fee which is refundable upon check out. It's probably 3-5 minutes away from D'Mall.

 La Carmela De Boracay's child-friendly pool area

The room is actually good for 4 because there are two double beds. I love that the room is very clean and spacious. There's a fridge, television, aircon and a safety box. There weren't enough toiletries though, we had to buy shampoo and soap outside. 

Our non-smoking hotel room

It has a small cabinet, table, TV, air conditioner, and a chair.

Toilet area

  Shower area!

 No scenic view from the balcony

The breakfast wasn't that "surprisingly delicious", I must say. The breakfast is free, but if you want to have a buffet breakfast, you just need to pay 100 PHP.

 Hotel's facade at night
I love the friendly staff and the good service of La Carmela. We were supposed to check out at 11AM, but because there were some delays in the activities that we did, we went back to the hotel at exactly 11AM  and the staff gave us an hour to shower and pack our things-- with no extra charge. 
For more information about La Carmela De Boracay, visit their website:

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What You Need To Know: Travel from Iloilo to Boracay

I haven't visited my hometown for a while, so when I got the chance to book a very cheap round trip ticket to Iloilo, I booked it with no hesitation. The original plan was to stay in Iloilo and Guimaras because the latter is only within half an hour of travel from Iloilo. BUT, we changed our mind and decided to go to Boracay instead.

 Iloilo International Airport is surprisingly big and clean!

It's our first time to visit Boracay and we really wanted to see the quality of Boracay's white sand. We were very eager to compare it to Panglao's white sand. We were also eager to drink and celebrate our 22nd Month together. :-)

SM Iloilo

If you're planning to visit Boracay and you're coming from Iloilo, here are some of the few things you need to know:

  • From SM Iloilo, ride a Leganes-Bound jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off at Tagbak Terminal. It's a popular transit point for Boracay-bound tourists. It will only cost you 8 PHP per person.
  • I recommend you to ride a van. It's a tedious 6 hours of travel by van (UV Express).
  • The fare (van) costs 300 PHP per person.
  • Ceres bus is another transportation to Caticlan. The travel time is also around 6-7 hours.
  • There will be 2 short stop overs-- one in Roxas, Capiz and another one in Kalibo, Aklan.
  • When you're traveling on a rainy season (July- October), your last stop will be at the "alternative port" called "Tabon Port" in Caticlan.
  • It will cost you around 200 PHP per head to pay for the Environmental Fee, Boat Fee and the Terminal Fee.

 Don't forget to try Iloilo's Specialty-- La Paz Batchoy
So now you probably have an idea how to travel from Iloilo to Boracay, eh? I'll post a hotel review of La Carmela De Boracay next week! Have fun!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

(Day 4) Ilocos Sur: Vigan Hotel, Vigan's Fountain Display, Cafe Uno and Calle Crisologo

We arrived in Vigan at around 8:30 PM already and checked-in at Vigan Hotel. We stayed in an Ordinary Fan Room (double w/ common bath) and paid 595 PHP for a night. Personally, I love the Spanish ambiance of the hotel. Our room has two beds, a sink and a television. The hotel is only a couple of blocks away from Calle Crisologo.

Huge mirror in the living room

Antique furniture in the living room

Ordinary Fan Room (595 PHP)

Since it was late at night already, we decided to eat our dinner at local fast food restaurant located across Vigan Plaza. During that night, there was fountain display. We were more than amazed at what we saw.

Fountain display (with the music "Gentleman" in the background)

It was a lively night!

We love the way they played with colors!

After watching the fountain display, we went to a convenience store to buy some snacks and alcohol and went back to our hotel to have a drink and sleep. The next morning (day 4), we took a tricycle to Cafe Uno (Kusina Felicitas) which was already open at 8AM. The restaurant was actually near, but since it was raining, we decided to ride a tricycle.

Cafe Uno

Cafe Uno's Breakfast Menu

Our breakfast meal comes with a free coffee! 

JM's breakfast

My breakfast. Yum!

After our breakfast, we went to Calle Crisologo to buy some souvenirs. It's my second time to visit Calle Crisologo and the place never failed to impress me. I was broken-hearted when I first visited Calle Crisologo. It is such a romantic place that I realized, traveling alone in Vigan is not a good idea.

Calle Crisologo

Vigan is sweeter the second time around!

We had a budget of 1,000 each for souvenirs. I bought what my momma asked me to buy: Basi Wine, Bagnet, and Bibingka. I also bought some souvenirs for my officemates. One of the popular products in Vigan is tobacco which costs 5 PHP per stick.

Jm smokin' tobacco (5 PHP). Smoke at your own risk!

Basi Wine

Tobacco Pipe

For more information about Vigan Hotel, visit their website:

Day 4: Budget (in PHP)
40- Tricycle from Bus Terminal to Vigan Hotel
595- Ordinary Fan Room (Vigan Hotel)
250- Dinner @ Jollibee
180- Snacks, water and alcohol
20- Tricycle to Cafe Uno
215- Breakfast @Cafe Uno (w/ one extra rice)
2,000- Souvenirs (1,00 each)
30- Tricycle to Partas Bus Terminal
1330 - Bus from Partas to Manila (665 each)
TOTAL: 4,660 PHP

Monday, 9 September 2013

(Day 3) Ilocos Norte: Blue Lagoon, Patapat Viaduct, Bangui Windmills and Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

We woke up a little early on our 3rd day in Ilocos Norte to walk around the beach. Even though the weather was a bit gloomy, we still took some pictures around the beach.

KVR's beachfront. (Swimwear from St. Francis Square - 350. Haha!)

Powdery white sand.

Bed weather.

Hannah's Beach Resort & Convention Center is about 3 kms away from Kapuluan Vista. We stayed at Hannah's beach front for a few minutes to swim. Too bad, I wasn't able to see Hannah's swimming pool.

Blue Lagoon

Much better spot.

We checked out before 12 noon and one of the staff members in Kapuluan Vista introduced us to our tour guide. We told the guide to tour us around Patapat Viaduct, Bangui Windmills and Kapurpurawan Rock Formation because those were the most "scenic" places I preferred to visit. He agreed to our request for the price of 900 PHP (including the tour guide fee in Kapurpurawan). Each tour (North and South) costs 600 PHP. You will have to pay 150/head for a different tour guide that will take you to Kapurpurawan Rock Formation.

It will only take about 10-15 minutes tricycle ride from Blue Lagoon to reach Patapat Viaduct.

Patapat Viaduct

30 minutes tricycle ride from Patapat Viaduct to Bangui Windmills.

Bangui Windmills! *teary-eyed*

Souvenirs sold in Bangui. 1 set of small Bangui Windmill refrigerator magnet (5pcs.) costs 100 PHP.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is also 30 minutes away from Bangui Windmills. Before trekking to Kapurpurawan Rock, we decided to take our lunch at a store nearby. 

BAGNET! (100 PHP for 1/4 kilo - good for two!)

Finally, our last stop. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation!

Spectacular view.


I wasn't comfortable wearing sandals so I took it off and enjoyed walking on the rock. Our guide in Kapurpurawan was so kind that we gave him a tip (50 PHP) after the tour. He even helped us find a bus to Vigan.

Day 3: Budget (in PHP)
Breakfast @ Kapuluan Vista - FREE (inclusive)
Tricycle from Hannah's back to KVR - 20
Buko Pie - 70
Watermelon Daquiri- 160 (80 each @ KVR)
Tour- 900 (including 150/head tour guide fee to Kapurpurawan Rock)
Lunch- 205
Souvenir- 400
Tip- 50
Ilocos Vinegar- 180 (90 each)
Fare to Vigan- 380 (190 each)
Total: 2365 PHP