Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Kawa Kawa Hill in Ligao City, Albay's next big thing in ecotourism

Many travellers had almost visited all  the places in their bucket list in Albay. But  there is this one place that is very close to my heart and I highly recommend to my fellow wanderers. 

Ligao, often referred to as Ligao City, is a fourth class city in the province of Albay, Philippines, 500 kilometres (310 mi) south-east of Manila. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 104,914 people. Most Ligaoenos, however, believe that the name Ligao was originally "Licau" which means to take the long way around or to turn away from the ordinary usual.

Ligao is doing well in its aspirations to be a top destination of choice to those seeing alternative travel destination in the Albay Province. True to its commitment, the city government does not cease in its task to enhance the city's potential as a tourist hub. Kawa Kawa Hill, the hill withot a hilltop is the city's testament to these endeavours. Kawa Kawa hill is a brainchild of the then City Mayor Fernando Gonzales. Once upon a time he visualized this once unknown hill to be a famous hill without a hilltop.

So,When i
n Albay,make it a must to visit this fast rising tourist hub situated in Tuburan Ligao Albay.
The journey to the hill is adorned by the statues portraying the station of the cross. Final station of which is located in the hilltop. Currently a new church is being built in this once unknown hill. My wife and I had the chance to listed to a group of nuns singing  while praying the angelus. What a lovely sight.

As we walked our way towards the top of this hill, we have seen lots of improvements that has been added on the place since my first visit. More trees had been planted, the way to the top is highly forrested and you can hear chirping of birds and insects (kuliglig) while on our way atop. 

This place, though frequented by  visitors, locals and tourists, remains to be a sanctuary for those who would just love to spend a day in a park sans the heat,sans crowd,sans noise. Wether you just want to do sight seeing, or self reflection, this is the perfect place for you. The lush greenery complimented by its serene ambiance is an experience next to none.

The hill also offers recreations such as ATV ride at the hilltop which cost Php 100 for 15 minutes.

My wife  had a great time driving the atv though she has no driving experience. The ARV rides is the main attraction located int he cauldron shaped hilltop. For non fans of ATV you can just moor aroud the hill, take selfies on all the stations, or simply sit down in any of the park benches while enjoying the calm scenery .

Things to do in Kawa Kawa,

  • try wall the wall climbing for free
  • try the atv ride
  • visit the newly built church of the holy sacrament
  • eat and dine at La Teraza Restaurant 
  • Take Selfies at the life size statues reflecting the stations of the Cross
  • jogging  or simply bring a tent and have a picnic with your loved ones.
This place is not a dumpsite so please take your rubbish as you go.
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
Ligaoenos take this place as a sacred place. During lenten season, the place is a famous spot for Catholic pilgrims for its station of the cross.
How to Get To Kawa Kawa Hill:

From Manila 

Take a Legaspi Bound Bus,  Tell the buss driver to drop you off at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Tuburan, from there, take a tricycle that will take you to the base point of kawa kawa hill, fare is at Php 10 per person

From Ligao City Proper

Take a tricycle that would and tell the driver to get you to Kawa Kawa Hill in tuburan. FAre is at Php 10 per person

From Legaspi City

Take a bus Bound to Naga, Tell the driver to drop you off at the Seventh day Adventist church in Tuburan, , from there take a tricycle that will take you to the base point of kawa kawa hill, fare is at Php 10 per person

Thats it folks, enjoy your first hike to the park that promises a plentiful joy and a worthwhile soul searching experience.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why you should travel with a tech support guy

Many  in the call center /BPO ( Business Process Outsourcing) industry has the penchant of travelling. And with the money available at their disposal, money, which in most cases is the main roadblock for travelers, has becomes less of an issue to some if not most of the people who works in the BPO industry, As they could either get this through their paycheck, or through incentives, thanks to their bosses who recognize their efforts and rewards their hard work.

And so, with this in mind, who would you like to spend your precious time travelling with among the people in the BPO industry? Mr/Misss Customer Service rep? or Mr/Miss Tech Support rep?

I spent most of  the 9 years in my BPO career as a technical support representative  handling ISP accounts for both US and AU. And having been to places with people during my CS years and  Tech Support years, I was able to spot some differences, Ergo..

A CS group loves to do it less of a hassle type of trip. The plan, if it pushes through, consist of the following stages:

1. More or less 2 months of planning
2. Battling to the finals of a months scorecard and making it to the top to get the elusive team fund and finalize the trip planned on step 1
3. Pre shift meeting, post shift meeting , approved team meeting, team huddle, name it , and it has been done. Ask what was the meeting about? the answer is of course , team building stuff.
4.Then after all the series of meetings, having decided on a set of budget, ( this would consist the team fund and the extra amount to be divided to all team members), the team would now start to browse all the resorts that tickles their imagination, and this is where the fun part begins, at this stage, each has their own suggestion and the team manager will start getting confused( pun intended)
5.After a series of debates, the team manager would  then decide which resort, ( could either be Pansol, or any of the resorts in Rizal, or if the team would insist, they will hit the beach.
6. If the team decides to  hit the beach, it could either be La Luz, or any of the commercial resorts in Zambales, Batanggas,or Bataan.

As reflected on the steps mentioned above, CS people has this make it simple attitude in terms of traveling. Not too much on details. Here is the money and here is what I want  way of planning a trip. In my experience, we would like to make the trip as comfortable as possible given that we have the funds, we would not play around with the details, we would pay the money, get a cozy resort, stay in their cozy place, buy some food, and  party at the place till you pass out.

Now lets talk  about the tech guys. Most of the entries on this blog has been written  during my stint as an ISP tech. Having said that, all the travels that I have been to  were DIY travels and not something arranged by a travel agency or travel groups in facebook and other social media sites.

Disclaimer: The entries stated in this blog are based on my  own experience having been once a CS rep and having planned all my travels  DIY style during which I was a tech, hence:

How A tech guy/gal plan their travel, and what makes the travel worthwhile:

1. A travelling tech group are keen into details of the travel,from the working budget to itineraries, from boatmen to resorts contact person.They want to travel DIY style.
2. A tech gives importance to the journey itself and not the destination.
3. A tech  doesn't really mind if there are people in the group that he/she met on the same date of the travel, they can be polite at times but are always ready to mingle.
4. A tech doesn't care if he stays overnight in a tent, or on a hammock. They did not come for the comfort, they came for the experience
5. A tech loves the off the beaten track and prefers the road less traveled. In return, a tech often gets rewarded with pleasant surprises brought about by the journey.
6. A tech does not overspend. He plans his own itinerary, he designs his own working budget, given the available information he contacts his own suppliers and in most situations he has a good haggling skills which results to a less expensive travel.
7. Finally, a tech is appreciative of the simple joys that he/she encounters along the way, which makes the journey more meaningful and worthwhile.

How about you, would you like to spend your vacation with a tech  guy/gal? Go ahead make your own list of observation and lets see if we can agree.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sumlang Lake in Camalig Albay, A must see surprise..

So you think you had enough of Albay, You might have circumnavigated the Mayon loop stopping at every spot .( Cagsawa Ruins, Mayon Skyline Hotel, Lignon Hill, Mayon rest House ), well, stop.  There'r this place worth dropping by in Camalig Albay.

The best things in life are free. Just like Sumlang Lake. You can visit this fast rising tourist destination in Camalig Albay free of charge. (Though there's a donation box to all those who want to try water rafting at the lake)

Camalig Albay is home to the famous delicacy "Pinangat". But hey, there is more that Camalig has to offer. Situated in Camalig is Hoyop Hoyopan Cave, Rolling Hills in Quitinday  and of course Sumlang Lake.Camalig is Albay's next big thing in eco tourism. It is being promoted as a heritage town backed up by natural  beauty and  its gentle people.

My wife and I did not miss the chance of visiting Sumlang Lake. Thanks to my Auntie Myrna  who had taken us for our Mayon Loop expedition last December 29 2016. Sumlang Lake was our First Stop.

Sumlang lake is best visited in the afternoon when the majestic Mayon's reflection is seen in the lake, indeed a picture perfect view. I highly recommend to take sidetrip for those who have very limited time as the place is very accessble. From the National Highway , a signage that says Sumlang lake can be seen, if you are coming from Ligao, you can turn right just after the signage, volunteers are on standby along the thoroughfare to give directions.

Things to do in Camalig:

1. Visit the 17th Century church of Saint John the Baptist
2. Spelanking at Hoyop Hoyopan Cave
3. Visit the Green Rolling Hills at Quitinday
4. See a cluster of Spanish Ancestral Houses
5. Visit Sumlang lake and do water rafting
6. Eat Pinangat at any of the Local Shops that sells the towns delicacy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Caramoan bliss at Sabitang Laya : A short love affair.

You know that feeling, when time goes so fast and yet you still manage to be with your love? That feeling when you do so much out of so little time? That feeling when you know you might be hurt and you still want to go anyway, after all you had longed for it, you had waited for long, and when the right time came, you just have to do what can be done with so little time yet too much heaven awaits?

4 hours. 4 hours was all we had.  That was the day when we had spent  4 hours of our lives as a couple  in a place we always longed to be. A place where we can enjoy natures splendid beauty. A place where we can, as a couple just enjoy ourselves and be with nature. A place to be thankful for all the blessings that came our way, A place to  plan ahead for the  coming year. A place where time could stand still, a place where we can be silent for a time and just enjoy the time as it unfolds.

I was disappointed at first to know that we wont be able to follow our itinerary that day. We planned to explore at least 3 islands during the trip but our boatman refused to follow what was planned due to strong winds that causes huge waves. As usual we had to adhere to their "safety first"policy.  Not bad though as  we still managed to dock at Sabitang Laya without hassles, but looking at the waves far down Matukad Island, I must admit it was not a bad decision. I would be happy to go to the place no matter how huge the waves are. I can say this after braving the waves to Calaguas Island but having my wife with me who wants all the adventure but does not know how to swim, I would want safety first. Thanks to Kuya Jonald for not giving in.

Our love affair with Caramoan had been a long time dream. Something that the two of us had always looked forward to. An experience worth living, a memory worth sharing. As our boatman started to maneuver the boat, we could not help but be excited in anticipation of a surreal experience. Finally we will have a taste of Caramoan, Sabitang Laya style.

Sabitang Laya is sometimes called the triangle island. The side facing Bikal Port is Called Bigang by locals while on the other side ( a 5 minute walk from Bigang is Sabitang Laya) both sides has a long white powdery white sand stretch. Of the 2 sides of the island we spent much of our time on Sabitang Laya. No doubt the reality show  Survivor often times does its taping in this side of the island. It has a breathtaking view. Like some other bloggers description it is like a combination of both Boracay and Palawan. Maybe because of the long stretch of powdery white sand and the rock formations in the island same to that in El Nido.

As the boat docked Bigang we did not wasted much time. It was low tide when we get there so we had to walk at the rocky part of the beach before getting to the island. We had not wasted much time, knowing it was going to be a short love affair, we started roaming at the island, trekking both Bigang Sabitang Laya. My wife had a good time just taking pictures and walking and taking a dip at its  pristine beach. The beach has a rocky part but there is ample space for swimming sans rocks on the sea bed.

It was a very candid experience. A short love affair, but the memories, priceless. We swim to our hearts content in the shallow part of the beach and boy the waters is so clear. We enjoyed the beach like kids. At least just for a short while, here we are, living the dream of being here for once. Here we are in the same spot we had only seen on TV, here we are, two souls one with the beach.

 As I closed my eyes while taking a dip in this piece of paradise, a famous movie quote flashed back to me:

" Trust me it's paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven't tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It's probably worth it."- The Beach

Friday, October 23, 2015

Magalawa Island; A love Story

Five month has passed and I still cant get over with my Magalawa  experience. This  has been one of the most memorable travel so far in my entire vagabonding jaunts. This time around I was with the most important person in my life, my best friend, my  lifetime partner, my lovely wife.

We  celebrated our first wedding anniversary by camping out in Magalawa island. Prior to leaving we challenged ourselves to not indulge in  spending much as its not about how much we spend  that matters this time. What matters are the memories that we will make out of this travel.

We left Victory Liner terminal at 1AM. This was the last trip bound to Palauig. The next trip would be at 5 AM. Considering the 5 hour travel by bus, we took the last trip as we would like to make the most of this trip so time is of an essence.

It was an uneventful 4 and a half hour travel from Caloocan to Pamolingan ( This is the drop off point if you travel from Manila by bus)  were most time was spent sleeping, trying to regain strength for an exciting adventure that lies ahead. We arrived at 5:30 AM at Pamolingan then hired tricycle bound to Luan port. Here the tricycle drivers asked as which resorts are we heading too, and upon advising them we're bound to Ruiz resort, we had been endorsed to their coleauges who apparently was already in contact with the Ruiz Resort people.

The tricycle ride is a bumpy journey. At one point I had to get off the tricycle just so it can climb a hilly part of the road. I was a bit disappointed that I had to push the tricycle just so it can climb that part of the road, but if that was a test I would say its all worth it.

By 6 AM we were already at the Luan port. And just a sight of the island nearby the port was enough to awaken this vagabonds spirit. Not to mention I was sharing this travel with a lovely soul . I could say I was the happiest person in that travel group who happened to be all bound to Ruiz Resort. After  15 minutes of wait time the resorts boat had arrive to fetch us. It was a 15 minute boat ride to the island.

Magalawa is unique in its charm. Albeit the competition for ownership between two families who claims to be the legitimate owners of the island, it offers a place for solitude and quiet sans  the comfort and hassles of city living.  Its shore line reminded me of that in Tikling Island.  In fact,  they have lots of things in common. Both islands are close to the mainland, almost similar stretch of shoreline, and a rip current in one of its shore.  A place perfect to relax and enjoy the life without its complexities. Magalawa is truly a gem unique in its  charm, distinguished in its gentleness.

We pitched in our tent underneath an anahaw tree. I chose to stay in the southern part of the island  as the shade in the area would be sufficient enough to cover our tent against the scorching heat of summer. We spent the 2 day stay in our humble tent celebrating  our 1st wedding anniversary, focusing on the simple joys of life that we share as a married couple reminiscing all the good and bad stuff we've been through, dwelling on the happy ones, laughing at our blunders, learning from the whammy ones.

Magalawa island is a perfect description of our relationship, newfound love like this gem in the north who is just beginning to enjoy attention from travelers and vagabonds alike, gentle and caring,  sweet, beautiful and true. Magalawa just like love is a promise of happiness and contentment, of beauty in simplicity, of joy in humility.

Magalawa's beachfront still abounds with seaweeds and if you care, you may wear flip flops or beach sandals while swimming. This is not much of an issue though as there's ample space with less seaweeds to make swimming an enjoyable in the northern part of the island.

For  island hoppers, they can  organize a trip to El Salvador island which is a  fish sanctuary. Enjoy snorkeling  on these island. Island hopping costs starts at Php 1200 depending on your haggling skills and the number of passengers per trip.

It was not so long ago when electricity reached this place, but the simplicity has marked influence among local beach operators this side of the island. The place remain to offer silence among its guest at night time when everyone would rather keep it solemn and quiet after all that is why we are here for. For food options you can bring your own food or if you want to save on the hassles of cooking, you can ask the  caretaker to cook food for you ( for a fee) or make a packaged arrangement .

We explored the islands shoreline at noon, then took a dip at northern part of the beach. We simply seized the moment of being with each other, the  two of us and nature, and the beauty that life abounds. Like the beauty of the fire tree on its shoreline, the fire in our hearts kept burning incessantly, wanting to give more, while asking nothing back. This is the story we had, full of lifes uncertain situations, but like the drizzle that  besets us from time to time as we started cruising this journey, we choose to see the beauty in kindness. Like the gentleness of the ocean breeze, we took care what we had- our love.

Love like Magalawa is a bliss. And as I long as we live, we promised to love like there is no tomorrow. And if tomorrow comes, we will love again. This is  the essence of our lives. Ours is enough and as long as we live, we will not long for more.  I have found the promise of a beautiful life in Magalawa, because life, is at its most beautiful stage during its calm, and at its strongest phase during a storm. We had withered the storms that almost broke us apart, and yet, our love never failed.

We left the island the next day with a happy heart and a promise to be back. Someday soon we will be together, but until then, I wish she stays simple, beautiful, and calm , because just like my wife, I love her that way.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Heaven is a place on Earth

In your heart I found my rest. And in your arms I found the gift of joy. Something that I will cherish until the last strand of my breath. Today I am sharing this yet another travel with my wife whom I had dreamed of spending my life's journey until the end.

These were the thoughts running through me as I stared to the best travel buddy seated beside me aboard Victory liners first trip bound to Palauig Zambales. I am glad I found a place in this woman's heart, whom I will be traveling with from hereon.

I met Lani some four years ago in a mundane place in Valenzuela City. It all started with a smile and an invitation for a bible study, then the rest was history. Fast forward 2015 she is now my lovely wife.

We had been together in several journeys. Together we explored Nagsasa and Anwangin in Zambales, trekked the nearly forested areas in her hometown in Cavite, Chased the rivers of Bailen till all the pictures saved in our camera got wiped off and until now we still believe it was caused by some mystic forces in Tala river. We also trotted the best spots in my hometown in Albay, and the travel goes on.

We tied the knot in May 10 2014. It was a solemn celebration spent wit our family and friends and the people that matters to us. It was a celebration of new beginnings, hopes and dreams. It was a simple celebration well spent, with worthwhile memories to cherish.

As I waited for her in the altar, I was still in total awe at this beautiful soul. What did I do to deserve her. She is more than I asked for and I had never been so sure until I met her. Now I am sure that every step in this journey is worthwhile spending with her.

I had been to beautiful places, I had seen so many faces. But there is one place I would like to be, and that beautiful place I would long to be with. Because in her I found my piece of paradise. Because in her I found my piece of heaven on earth. And this place is not somewhere else. This place is in our hearts.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mayon Rest House. A place of quiet amidst a dangerous volcano.

So you think you've had enough of the majestic Mount Mayon after your stint at the Cagsawa Ruins?
Well Think again...
While in Bicol never let the trip to Mayon Resthouse be out of your itinerary. Make it a must. Why?
There could be dozens of reasons why I say this, but one thing is sure, a trip to Mayon Resthouse is indeed an experience worth your time.
Its free. And  I'm not selling an old piece of garbage. But Mayon Rest House proves the old saying, the best things in life are free. But of course you dont wanna miss the experience of scrutinizing what's in Mayon Planetarium, so paying  Php 10 entrance fee would be fair enough eh??

The Once Busy Hotel remains standing but its operation had been stopped long ago due to the hazards imposed by Mount Mayon eruptions. Its  story may had ceased for a while but the grandeur that was Mayon resthouse will soon become a fascinating story for the younger .generation. I may not be lucky enough to be one of its guests but I could say that I was lucky enough to be once amazed by the beauty of this white structure seen afar from Sabloyon Highway.
There used to be a Huge  Holy Cross erected at a higher elevation  but it has been  destroyed by typhoon. This part of Mayon Rest House which is a popular venue during lenten season's way of the cross, is still under renovation.

Some structures may have changed but the feeling while in the premises of Mayon Resthouse was still the same. The feeling of tranquility, peace and quiet, amidst a restless volcano that has sustained the lives of a number of people that live in its abundance, yet took the lives of some who had been wary of natures early warnings. The feeling of being engulfed in place sorrounded by beauty and danger. The feeling taught by Mayon Rest House. Resembling the Beauty of a  Rose. Beautiful, yet extremely dangerous.