Month: April 2015

Cagbalete Island 2015

I’ve been wanting to visit this island since late last year after reading Bren’s blog. I kept on searching various blogs and saw lots of great photos. It made me more anxious to come and experience Cagbalete.

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During one of our usual coffee sessions, I mentioned about my interest in traveling to this place and one of my friends, Jam told me she has been here twice already and won’t mind going for the third time. And that’s when the journey started.

We originally planned in on the weekend of Apr 18-19 but due to some schedule conflicts, we moved it ahead to Apr 11-12. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that there will be 16 of us going. These are mainly my office friends, college friends (including Jam) and Jam’s friends, and friends of friends 🙂

We hopped in a Jac Liner bus bound to Lucena a few minutes past three in the morning. Travel time from Manila to Lucena’s Grand Terminal took about 4 hours. After our quick stopover for breakfast, we traveled to Mauban for approximately 45 minutes where the jump-off point to Cagbalete Island is located.

We’re two hours ahead of the itinerary Jam has prepared. But we were surprised at the number of people in the port. Even the municipality was caught off guard, if you ask me. There’s a shortage of boats to and from Cagbalete so we had no other choice but to wait.

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And the waiting ended after 2 hours! Took us another 45 minutes boat ride to Cagbalete. We had to walk our way to Donya Choleng Resort which would provide us our tents for the night. There are a few mishaps here and there and I remember mentioning to one of my friends that I have very high expectations of the beach once we’re settled.

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Alas, Cagbalete did not disappoint. The wide shore line, the calm waves and ripples of sand visible underneath and the long queue of pine trees mixed with coconut trees washed all the previous misadventures worth it! I instantly wanted to soak my feet in the water and bathe under the sun.

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Time seemed to slow down as we bask in the simplicity of Cagbalete. It’s one of the many things I love when you’re in the beach. After our tent was set up, we walked to the sand bar where we took lots of photos.

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The sunset is on the other side of the island but it gave a peculiar purple skyline in our end. Dinner was prepared shortly which are all home-cooked! It was my first time camping and I am happy that I decided to finally do it.

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The only downside to this trip is the bathroom. Most of the cottages and private rooms do not have their own bathroom so almost everyone is using the common bath. There are four common rooms but only three can be used. Then by night fall, it went down to two as the other one was clogged.

As the night fell deeper, the group had more fun. Bacardi shots went around our circle as boisterous laughter and funny arguments continued because of our silly games. I gave up after three shots and got ready to call it a night. I slept outside our tent which felt really good. Of course, I dabbed lots of insect repellant all over.

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When I woke up, the waves are calm and the sky is slowly showing its fluffy clouds. I immediately got up and snatched my camera. It’s sunrise time! The sun was hiding behind the clouds which gave drama to that day’s sunrise. #breakfree 🙂

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Sunday morning was dedicated to swimming and enjoying the high tide. We were in the water for hours! At around 10AM, I lounged under a pine tree with my Clash of Kings book. Winter is definitely not coming in Cagbalete.

We packed our things and left the island a little under 4PM after another misadventure with the boatmen we spoke to. We had to trek our way back to the port for 20 minutes. But it’s fine! All’s charged to experience. 🙂

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I had to say Cagbalete is a revelation to me, even after seeing lots of great photos. It looks like it’s on its way to becoming the next main attraction as many people start noticing its beauty. We only spend P1,400 each for an overnight stay in the island (including accommodation, bus fares, food and environmental fee). Highly suggest you go camping when you visit the island.

Wouldn’t mind going back for another quick getaway. But I’d choose a different resort 😉

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BAGUIO 2015 (Panagbenga)

Panagbenga is the annual flower festival held in the City of Pines. People flock the province to see the grandiose floats and dance parades. Participants came from different municipalities in the north.

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It was a month-long celebration but I was only there, with my friends, during the weekend when the grand dance and float parade will take place (Feb 28 Sat and Mar 1 Sun, respectively).

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After the morning parade, we did a side trip to BenCab Museum. It’s one of the famous attractions in Baguio and it certainly did not disappoint! After going around the three-storey exhibit, you should relax and eat at Cafe Sabel. Great food with a stunning view!

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We saw the whole grand dance parade but missed on the float festival the next day. We woke up a little late from the previous night’s craft beer tasting. Instead, we went to Camp John Hay for breakfast.

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After an underwhelming meal at Tsokolate de Batirol, we went to Session Road and spent a few hours in Patch Cafe of Bloomfields Hotel. Their Caramel Macchiato and New York Cheesecake are divine!

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Before heading home, we stopped by the local market to buy pasalubong. I didn’t plan on buying too many but ended up carrying almost 10 kilos of vegetables, fruits and jams.

I wrote on my planner that I need to go back next year to finish what I started this year. I need to witness the grand float parade! Hopefully I’d be able to get better accommodation next year.

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TIP: Make sure everything is ready at least 1-2 months in advance to avoid hassle. Victory Liner in Manila doesn’t sell roundtrip bus tickets though. As soon as you arrive in Baguio, buy your tickets immediately for your trip back to Manila.