Bluroze Farm, an Acre of Eco-Tourism Spot

It was a post Valentine date with my ex-girlfriend (my wife) February 2007 when we decided to head to heart of Lipa City, Batangas for a nature adventure. The place was recommended by her friend and well-known to be a nice place for relaxation.

Like El Dorado

The day was set and started rolling off early Saturday morning. It was a half-hour ride from Sto. Tomas to Lipa City proper, another 15 minutes to Purok 6, Brgy. Lodlod. That was our first time to visit a remote place.  Only light vehicles can pass thru from main road to main gate. We hired a tricycle instead. Entrance fee is Php 100/person (without meal), Php 150 with light snacks and Php 175 with sumptuous lunch.

Main entrance (Photo courtesy bluroze.com)

We felt excited to what’s in this place and decided to start walking in…and that  was a long walk from the main gate but we’ve enjoy lush green around. The landscape is just like a safari with an ostrich farm that caught our attention. Was my first time as well to see such specie in person. There were picnic lovers, students having their school activity. We had a little tour of its facilities and found a mini zoo that takes care of some species of python, wild cats and birds.

Park’s arch

We’d rented a bicycle and further rolled out for a tour (Php 50/hour), ’til we had our lunch. Food is great as well as their restaurant. There were just too many visitors that day  that we had to wait for the long queue. What surprised me was a 50-meter high water tank. We’ve climbed up high for a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire farm.

Water tank

Water tank

Not only we enjoyed the park but its amenities as well. This place is perfect for family get together, team building or just a weekend place for leisure. There are function rooms, swimming pool and a camp site, maze, perfect for a day of relaxation. How to get there: Private vehicles from Manila:

  • take SLEX and proceed to ACTEX toll entry in Sto. Tomas
  • proceed to Tambo Exit (Lipa City)
  • proceed heading to Lipa City proper but turn right before De La Salle Lipa near Philips Service Center
  • head straight then turn right reaching M.K. Lina Road, Brgy, Lodlod
  • head straight then left turn to Redemptorist Fathers, which is just a few meters away from Bluroze main gate

Public Transportation from LRT/Buendia or Cubao

  • ride a Ceres, KL or CNG Buses either bound to Calabarzon, Tambo Exit (fare is between Php 120-Php 140)
  • get off from Tambo Exit and ride a jeep bound to Robinsons Lipa or Lipa City and get off near Dela Salle Lipa
  • there are plenty tricycle to take you Bluroze Farms from here, (fare is Php 50-60)

Soon we’ll re-visiting this place.

Tarlac and Pangasinan Tours

As part my partner’s birthday celebration, we’ve decided to go far North to, Our Lady of Manaoag Church. It was during that time that she was assigned at SM City, Tarlac. Travel time to the city was about 2 hours from Ortigas. The following day after her last shift, we boarded Genesis bus bound to Manaoag. It took us about 4 hours to reach Pangasinan. We had a nice view of acres of rice fields, lush green and simple life in province.

Manaoag Church

Finally we’ve arrived at the church. It was just along the roadside making it accessible for everyone. It was a typical church, just like the rest.

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Though it was believed to be miraculous, that whatever you wished for will be granted, as long as you whole heartily pray.

Our Lady of Manaoag Church - Pangasinan

Our Lady of Manaoag Church – Pangasinan

There are a lot of modern improvements in the area including pathways, souvenir shops, stores and other amenities. There are hundreds of visitors, devotees, foreign and local that arrive everyday.

A hundred year old brick at the back of the church

A hundred year old brick at the back of the church

What caught our attention is the wishing well. It was just in the middle of the candelabrum.

Arch to the second floor

Arch to the second floor

A small garden with stations of the cross is located back of the church. Before leaving, we bought some “tupig” a local delicacy made up of rice wrapped in banana leaves, grilled. Taste is sweet like candy making it fill our tummy.

Coin well

Coin well

It was difficult though getting a bus bound Manila-Tarlac. It was almost lunchwhen we were able to board one.

Lunch at Isdaan

Since we are both starving, we drop off Gerona, Tarlac, to the famous Isdaan. It was as well our first time to visit the place. It was just along the roadside so we didn’t miss it. Looking at the place seemed to be typical at first, quiet and few people. But the moment we entered, we were greeted by friendly staff, large sculptures, nice landscape and aroma of grilled stuff.

Isdaan Gerona, Tarlac

Isdaan Gerona, Tarlac

It was literally a floating restaurant on a man-made pond. Small nipa huts made up of bamboo resembles a place to dine in. There were about more than 50 of these that can accommodate 10-15 persons each.

Literally floating

Literally floating

Water is about 3-5 meters deep. There are lots of coy fish that loiter in the water. Visitors can feed them with fish pellets which were provided by the restaurant for free. We ordered grilled “tilapya” and pork for our late lunch.  We had a quick tour of the place after we finished our lunch.

20 feet statue

20 feet statue

Amazingly, we felt that we were in Thailand due to large Buddha statues.

No this isn't Thailand

No this isn’t Thailand

A distinct feature of the resto is the “Tacsiyapo” wall. A facility that was designed to release anger by throwing objects right to the spot marked with something related to your boss, a friend or anyone and anything you hate most. Scream from the top of your lungs then throw the ceramic cup, plate or even television directly hitting the wall.

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Whoever, whatever you hate most, hit with these

Heading back home was the last thing I did. My partner stayed in Tarlac for a couple of months more before she finally got back home

It was a nice place though I would only recommend it for road warriors, back packers and day trippers. Majority of Tarlac is a large farm land so you won’t see bodies of water here as compared to other regions.

Caramoan Islands at First Glance

A perfect timing indeed when Sulit.com.ph booked an out of town after the Philippine Presidential Polls, May of 2010. After a month long preparation, it is time to see nature.

Going to the airport at 3:00 am is quite difficult specially for a lazy person like me since during that time I was staying on my cousin’s house in Caloocan. It would be better that I sleep over my office mate’s house nearby Taguig. Thanks to Kuya Jemar who whole-heartily granted my request.

I started preping things up early Thursday morning around 2:00am, and arrived at NAIA Terminal 3 earlier. It was a 6:00am flight so better be early than sorry. Too excited on my first time to travel via plane!

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Arrival at Pili Domestic Airport

The Journey

All 25 persons boarded in time via Cebu Pacific. It was just a 45-minute ride from Manila to Pili Domestic Airport, Camarines Sur.

I thought our travel ends there. Past 7:00 am and we are all in a van to take us to Sabang Port. There were two (2) 12-seater compressing 25 people.

We had our first stop over in Bigg’s Diner, Pili to have some light snacks. It was a quite a long trip to Sabang port. But we really had a nice view of majestic Mayon volcano from a distance. I felt that I returned back to our province. The view is spectacular!
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After a 2-hour trip, we finally reached Sabang port around 10:00am. Had a little rest while we wait for our boat. It was a motorized boat that can accommodate 40 people. We had all our baggage put beneath the seats to be more comfortable.

to Caramoan Port

Off to Caramoan Port

Tiring but we had a relaxing view of blue water, Mayon volcano and neighboring islands. Sea wave is not forgiving making some of my office mates panic. But for me it is an adventure since I am an expert rider of any sea transport.
Waves of the sea

Waves of the sea

It was past 11:00am when we finally reached Caramoan port, our final destination before transferring via land transport. It was just like traveling in a deserted place. Road is rugged and isn’t even asphalted or concrete made. The driver many times had to stop on terrain. After one (1) more hour ride on a jeepney, (we hired 2 actually to get us to beach front) we’ve reached Rex’s Tourist Inn, late in the afternoon. Food is ready that time making us eat all we can. Locals served us seafood, crabs, veggies and pork.
Beach Front

Arrival at Rex’s Tourist Inn beach front

After a tummy-filling lunch, we had some siesta, wrap ups and room assignments. I was lucky that we were only three (3) in the room making it much comfortable to sleep. We started island hopping after our siesta. First stop is Gota. Unfortunately we were not allowed to step into the island since Survivor TV series shoot is commencing. There were even patrol boats to and fro the open sea securing the place.
Nearby Gota

Nearby Gota

Literally the island was guarded! So t he “crew captain” decided to hop into another island. I would describe this as a hidden paradise! White sand and crystal clear water! All nature scenic place. We use all our energy swimming, playing with the sand, exploring the island (though there were restricted areas) and enjoying nature.
At 5:00pm we headed back to beach front, diner was served and it’s party again. There are a number of beer, wine and other beverages for 25 person, made all drunk =D
Group picture at the Island

Group picture at the Island

It isn’t an island hopping if it is just an island to go. Continuing to another island that is! Next stop is quite distant from the first. We prepared earlier the following day for our next pitstop. It took an hour to reach our destination, though the view is still breath taking. Temperature at highest (30-40 degrees) made our skin boil.
Arrival the the "Cave"

Arrival the the “Cave”

We’ve landed at low tide that made us walk under the scorching heat but didn’t made us stop. It’s a go go! (5 kilometer walk that was). A tummy packed lunch was delivered while we were at the island after some hours of waiting. It was fish “adobo” (cooked in soy sauce) and rice, really filled our hunger and thirst…
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A close encounter with nature was also experience with a sea urchin. Actually a “trip” by my office-mate suddenly turned in to chaos. Advised the stupid guy not to touch the thing yet didn’t follow. Yeah! the thing pinched his fingers and it hurts. Great heavens!
Porcupine of the sea

Porcupine vs sea urchin

Almost 3:00 in the afternoon and it is time to proceed with the next destination. It was an hour boat ride to another island but since it is getting dark, the captain just advised to make the island visit quick until 5:00pm.
Way Up

Way Up

I once experienced a hundred steps up to a grotto when I was a kid. This one is 2 times more! Welcome to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in a remote area in Brgy. Tabcon, Caramoan, Camarines Sur!
The Statue

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary statue 

It is a man-made statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary rising 3,000 ft. above see level. WARNING: person with heart disease is not required to climb up. It is a steep climb of 45 degrees up having a 245 steps reaching the Grotto. Halfway we are so exhausted. Good thing somebody brought bottled water that refreshed our energy. Finally we’ve made it to the top! View is spectacular. A panoramic view of  Caramoan islands can be seen from up above. Really breathtaking.
View from the top

View from the top

Descending is far more difficult than going up. One wrong move can instantly bring you down in seconds. Steel railings are installed as guide yet we were still cautious to avoid falling down.
Group the Peak

Group at the peak

After descending, we’ve proceed a nearby parish. Actually the other half of the group didn’t joined the climb and we were surprised that actually the locals offered us some snacks after we’ve finally regrouped. [Parish name] wholeheartedly accommodated us. After some snacks, the “captain” finally gave us a go to head back to our lodging time since it is getting dark already.
Around 4:30pm the boat started engine screaming, we are going back. I had a nice view of the sunset when I decided to be on the rear of the boat, and my ears are already immune with the noise coming out from the engine.
Sunset at Caramoan

Sunset at Caramoan

About 6:00pm, and it is dark, we are still in the middle of the sea. No lights just 3 persons maneuvering the boat, and the 25 aboard. We just hit a fish fence forcing the “captain” to a full engine stop. All scream, except me who is relaxed watching what’s going on. And the boat hit second and third time. Finally we’ve made it to shore, there supposedly is an after party but everyone is tired and thankful that the boat didn’t tipped off else we may be arriving unhappy.
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Sunrise at Caramoan

Early morning, the following day, it is time to prepare for our departure.
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Last shots before leaving

We had a nice breakfast, fried rice, fish and eggs. I took the opportunity to capture remaining view in my Kodak C13 camera.
Night or day Caramoan Islands don’t change. 100% refreshing and relaxing, nature’s best that is.

300 Steps Up

To Kamay Ni Hesus

Located nearby Lucban town proper in Quezon province, our day started with a visit to Kamay Ni Hesus (Hand of Christ) on a typical Wednesday morning. It was actually a week before transferring to Manila for my new work place. Lady and I decided to visit this grotto literally on the top of the hill.

Only Way is Up

Only Way is Up

We hopped in via bus bound to Lucena-Calauag and got off Lucena-Diversion road, 2 hour-trip that is. Going there was just a 15-minute ride via Tayabas-Lucban jeeps. Just tell the driver to drop you off to grotto, just left side of the road.

The place is so quiet that you can even hear a pin drop. There are no entrance fee of course, only donations. We were greeted by candle vendor on the main gate but we then decided just to proceed inside.

Way Up

At first we’ve thought that it was just a small grotto, but reaching the long shed’s end gave us a full panoramic view of the 300 steps up! We were amazed by how it was made since it was 45 degree stiff hill.

One of the Stations of the Cross

One of the Stations of the Cross

Before heading up, we went in the church and lit up some candles. We roamed around a bit. It was a garden of prayer. The landscape is awesome.

Climbing isn’t hard for the first 50 steps. Reaching halfway was the hardest. This is the part where most of our bones and muscles started to get numb, and sweat is all over our bodies. There are a total of 14 stations of the cross going up. Though there are steel grills and concrete stairs, we felt sick seeing tiny people below. Panoramic view of Lucban town can be already seen halfway.

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Finally seeing the 30-foot status of the Risen Christ statue accomplished our trek. We were both exhausted, took a short break for a couple of minutes and wandered around.

The Landmark

The Landmark

They said the descending is more difficult than going up. And it was. We were careful not to slip or bounce like a ball down. We took literally one step at a time, though we had to stop and pause a while to take a rest and pictures.

Our legs were shaking when we reached the ground. A job well done, some others didn’t attempted to climb, brave enough for the two of us.

Shops

Shops

There were also souvenir shops beside the church selling religious items such as the Holy Rosary, fans, tshirts and many more.

The Garden

We passed by the Noah’s Ark which was under construction that time. It was really a retreat house complete with a reception hall. As of this writing half of the ark was completed.

The Garden of Eden was also the one that caught our attention. It has dinning tables which you can have your snacks for a fee. There was also a mini auditorium where most biblical movies were shown.

Halfway Up

Halfway Up

We were just unfortunate that we were not able to put our “hand stamps” on a concrete tiles beside the church. The artist was not available that time. A pair of stamp costs P200, which you have to literally put your hands on a concrete, take off and what’s left is the hand print that will be there for the rest of time. It will be painted once dry. You can also put some dedications, love offering, thanksgiving and plenty of wishes or prayers.

Kamay Ni Hesus isn’t just a park nor a place to spend your vacation but a place to reflect and find oneself.

Ground Zero

We had to have lunch and decided to head to town

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We headed, out of curiosity to the town of Lucban to try dinning in Ground Zero Pizza.

30-minute Serving

30-minute Serving

They said that food here is great and we didn’t fail. We tried stuffed pizza  for lunch. Though serving took about half an hour, really starving.

Farther South Camarines Sur

It so happened that my partner was assigned in SM Naga City for a plantilla setup. It was May 2009 when she left, having a 6-month commitment for the company. After a long wait, I came to her again on her birthday. It was my first time to travel 8 hours straight via public bus.

I boarded Amihan Bus lines bound Naga at 10:00pm. I bought Champ burger from Jollibee for my snacks. It was a boring trip since all I can see is pitch-black on the window. I can’t even see a view. Nervous at first, can’t even identify exactly where the bus is, though I know that it already passed by Quezon province. It was like being inside a freezer when air conditioning was set to full.

Naga City Tour

I arrived at Naga City earlier than expected, 4:00am to be exact. I called my partner and she was amazed how fast my trip was. I came to catch here around 6:00am.

We stayed on a city hotel nearby. Had a little snacks and headed for a quick city tour.

Naga is the weirdest city I ever seen. People seem to be elegant, rich, yet doesn’t talk much. I felt I am still in Manila. The city proper is lively. Plenty of establishments and shops to check. We had dinner in Purple Bell (a pizza outlet). The food is great and expensive!

Another thing that I’ve noticed is the cheap rate of public transport. We’ve paid only Php 20 for a short city trip. Compare that for a Php 40 in some provinces.

CWC, a Man-made Lake

Our day started with a tour at Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC). A man-made lake known for wake-boarding. It was a 15 minute travel from city proper and happened to be near my partner’s staff house.

CamSur Watersports Complex

CamSur Watersports Complex

Going there, we rode a jeepney bound to Pili. We dropped off near Concepcion and rode a tricycle that took us to the complex. It was an acre of sports activity center. The place is being visited by locals from different parts of the world. At first it was cool but eventually we got bored. We just bought some refreshments and watched how wake-boarders perform their stunts.

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One (1) can of pineapple juice costs Php 100! Yeah! food and drinks prices are world class as well. We didn’t had any snacks since we are on a tight budget. We just came there to see the view.

We headed to a nearby Zoo and continue site seeing. The place is cool yet lacks maintenance. It was 5:00pm when we headed back to the hotel.

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Majestic Mayon

After taking a rest for a night, we woke up early in preparation for our next destination. A public van, bound to Legazpi City carried us to by 7:00am. Terminal is just across SM City Naga. We went for the front seat so we can even have a great view while the wheels roll. Had a little chat with the driver. One of the majestic tourist destination in Albay is the world’s perfect and active volcano, Mayon. Can be already seen from a distance while nearing Albay.

Perfect cone indeed. By 10:00am when we reached Daraga. Boarded off the van and rode a tricycle to get us to Cagsawa church. Trekking to the area reminded us the havoc of the previous eruptions of the volcano. It was a dusty and rocky road.

Perfect Cone and Couple

Perfect Cone and Couple

We’ve reached Cagsawa in no time. A Php10 entrance fee is mandatory for all visitors. The place is very quite even at mid-day. We had some snacks while watching the view. It was our lucky sunny day and we are able to clearly see the cone. It was almost a week that the perfect cone is invisible to tourist due to cloudy skies.

The Ruins of Cagsawa Church

The Ruins of Cagsawa Church

A 14 year-old boy came to us and offered us “trick” camera shots. He is indeed an expert of photography. Even more cool for sure on DSLR cameras =)

More magic shots

More magic shots

He imparted us that he used to do this to earn a living and sustain his schooling. Inspiring one.

"Magic" shots of the little boy

“Magic” shots of the little boy

We had a quick look of the “ruins” of the year 1814 eruption. Debris can still be seen around the place. There are gigantic rocks and sands that gave us a clue on how destructive it was. A huge wooden cross stands not far away from the church. Locals said that it was built for the thousands of people perished during the eruption. We bought some souvenirs before we left.

What was left after the destruction

What was left after the destruction

We headed next to Ligñon Hills. If the view of Mayon is great from Cagsawa, it was even more spectacular up. It was a steep 30 degrees climb bare foot. We had to stop several times to catch our breath and take some rest. It was a sunny day so the climb is even harder.

At the top of the World

At the top of the World

At last we reached the top. A commercial area is currently being built (Chowking they said). Land surface area is roughly 2 acres and gave us a 360 degrees view of the entire Legazpi City, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Tabaco City, Malilipot, and Santo Domingo.

Panoramic view of the Legazpi City

Panoramic view of the Legazpi City

But the most unforgettable experience is the great view of the Mayon Volcano. It was just like a wall painting sketched in front of us.

Majestic Mayon

Majestic Mayon

After we took some pictures, my partner decided to try the zipline. It was a hundred meter steel cable stretch. I wasn’t brave enough to try it myself only my partner did! hahaha! It was Php 300 person charge.

In the line of Zip

In the line of Zip

While we are on our way down, we passed by a man-made cave. This served as a hiding place, quarters for the Filipinos who fought the Japanese regime during World War II.

Tunnel landmark

Tunnel landmark

We were told that it stretches through the other side of the mountain. There were still a lot of undiscovered chambers inside the cave. They only allow visitors to enter the ones that are accessible. The cave naturally is preserved by a natural “moist” inside, this makes the foundation and walls solid until now. Ambiance inside is cool even at sunny day.

Tunnel entrance

Tunnel entrance

After she “landed” we descended to Albay Parks and Wildlife, located just at the foot of the hills. There are tigers, lions, and other endangered species that are kept and preserved in the zoo. I am just not comfortable that they built a domestic airport near the area.

Albay Parks and Wildlife

Albay Parks and Wildlife

We hopped in a bus that carried us back to Naga City around 4:00pm. We reached city proper at 6:00pm. Tiring but great day for adventure seekers like us. Since it was a long trip, we took and nap and suddenly realized it was already 8:00 in the evening. We tried some bar hopping in Magsaysay area. It was still early for the band to perform and we caught them rehearsing for their next song. Kinda bored so we just decided to get back to the hotel.

The following day, is my last day of visit. Before lunch, we started packing things up ready for departure. I stayed there until 1:00pm while waiting for my partner to swipe in that started her normal day of work. I left around 2:00pm boarding Amihan Bus lines bound Cubao-Manila area.

Though the adventure is cool, I still had felt that I am leaving alone knowing my partner will remain in Naga for couple of months more.

Taal to Alabang

I was 9 years old when I first stepped into Batangas’ oldest church, Taal. Situated at the heart of the province and near the world’s famous and active Taal volcano, memories came back when my partner and I had an exploration in the area.

Buses bound to the town of Taal are limited so we just decided to take a jeep from Lipa City. That time a bridge repair connecting some barangays is in progress forcing all public vehicles take alternate route (which is way far than the normal route)

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We arrived at the town proper almost lunch. We just had some oculars of the church that wasn’t changed a bit since I first visited it. Church is several centuries old and houses surrounding it are antique. For a couple of hours, we stared on the structural design of the church in and out. We were amazed of how strong it is that it stood still until now.

There were souvenir shops nearby that sell religious items and souvenirs for local and foreign visitors.

We had much time and decided to head back. While at the bus, we decided to go straight to Festival Mall in Alabang. Travel time took us about 2.5 hours from Taal, traffic included.

Blue Corner…where Everything is Grilled

Ok so we craved for squid and “sisig”, time to make our tummy happy. We’ve headed to Paseo de Sta. Rosa in Laguna to have a taste of what everybody loves, grilled stuff.

Paseo de Santa Rosa

Paseo de Santa Rosa

When I was working in Laguna Technopark in Binan, there seemed to be a “magnet” that makes people talked about and attracted to Paseo de Sta. Rosa. The place is actually designed like a town mall that has several establishments and anchors like Pancake House, Starbucks and many more popular destinations of socially high people.

Beside, is a public market, an extraordinary market that caters house wares, furniture, mouth watering delicacies and of course, grilled stuff. You could actually smell smoke from several meters before even reaching the place. Food lovers will absolutely be easily attracted.

Wet and Dry Market

Wet and Dry Market

Serving ranges from between Php 100 to 500. Freshly caught see foods were served and cooked in front of you. What I liked most is the “pusit” (squid). Perfect partner with streamed rice.

Mouth Watering Squid

Mouth Watering Squid

Looking forward to visit the place again.

Laiya, Life in Colours

Way To

A birthday blow-out request made it to reality. Destination, San Juan, Batangas. On a typical day, decided to take a mid-year swimming at Laiya White Cove Resort, via public transport. I packed my things and got ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Arrival at the Resort

Arrival at the Resort

It was a three-ride trip for almost 3 hours. We left Lipa City at around 9:00am and got a jeepney bound to Rosario. We got off at Rosario town proper and looked for jeepney bound San Juan. Whew! It was quite a long travel indeed! Though we had lots of views of nearby town, fields and greenlands that soothed our eyes.

Touched Down

We arrived at the place with no bookings or reservations at all. We seemed to be a lost couple trying to explore nature. Getting a resort on Laiya isn’t that difficult since most public transports passes along the resorts which were just couple of meters from the main road.

We’ve passed thru Kabayan Resort and decided to step off. Yet we did have some “canvassing” made before checking in. Beside that resort is still one cool place, Laiya White Cove. We entered the main gate and wandered around. A first class resort indeed! That time, I was thinking if the price is budget wise.

People are friendly, nice place and white sand that ‘s it! We’ve decided to check in. It was non-peak season so we’ve got a simple room to accommodate us. We really looked like castaways carrying a bag with snacks which stayed on us wherever we go.

Little Nap

Little Nap

We then decided to go for a swim by 4:00pm, time when the heat of the sun won’t burn our skins. We enjoyed shell picking while the tide is low and seen a lot of tiny sea creatures along. Careful though for the sea urchins scattered around.

Late Afternoon Swim

Late Afternoon Swim

We had our dinner at around 7:00pm, pork “sisig”that was. Food is great though expensive and serving isn’t worth the price.

Laiya Lights

Laiya Lights

But we enjoyed watching the view of the resort. More spectacular at night.

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We left early the following day and going back was even more difficult due to the fact that the area remote. A kind tricycle driver offered us a ride (for a fee) to take us to the nearest jeepney stop. Finally we’ve realized that we were just “sales talked”. We paid P70, one way trip. There were jeepneys bound to Rosario  just near the resort.

The Shoreline

The Shoreline

Tiring yet we’ve reached home safe and sound. The experience was great and I would recommend the place specially for backpackers. It would be better to have some spare money when going here, because there were no ATMs around, though major credit cards honored. Nevertheless, we had an experience that really touched us with nature.

Absolutely will be coming back there again.

Trivia: Laiya is where Ryan and Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo had there wedding reception last April 2008

The Magic is Here…Everyday

A first of its kind theme park built in the heart developing city in South, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. It was actually my 3rd time to be here and it was really an Enchanted Kingdom. The park opened July 1995 and became the most visited place in Laguna, second to hot-spring resorts, when it comes a venue for Family bonding and “barkada” gimmicks. This 40 acre park hosts 30 rides including 2 roller coasters and 2 water rides.

Entrance Gate

Entrance Gate (courtesy Wikipedia)

Early 2008, when I had a date with my ex-girlfriend (now my wife). That became one of our most memorable moments together. I do not have a car so we just took a public transport, via jeepney, and bring along my Pentax point and shoot film camera for souvenir shots. Those became my wife’s worst impression about me. Nevertheless, the time has come to had a little tour.

The Wizard and the Princess

The Wizard and the Princess

Direct trips to Balibago, Sta. Rosa was only via Tanauan City (beside Greenwich) previously at Php 40 per person. Route is via South Luzon Expressway making the trip shorter than taking Calamba-Sta-Rosa service road. We head off  to Walter Mart, Balibago, a landmark that would tell we are near the place. We just had a little shopping and before finally getting a tricycle that directly took us near the entrance. During the day, the rate is Php 50 and shoots up to about Php 100 during the night great huh?!

So, we arrived, what’s next? Well, buy tickets and get in. There were a number of people already piling up in front of ticket booth. A ride-all-you can pass worth Php 500 that lets you experience all the rides except for the fun game booths, 4D Discovery Theater and the Realto. Tried Roller Skater, Dodgem, Wheel of Fate, Anchors Away, Swan Lake, Grand Carousel, Rio Grande Rapids, Bump N’Splash, Jungle Log Jam, Flying Fiesta but not the dreaded Space Shuttle.

Dancing Gypsies

Dancing Gypsies

After a long walk and some photoshoots (ended with a 24-shot film) we had some pizza. Surprises await for visitors as dance presentations were conducted randomly in variety of location inside the park making added value for the tour. The day ended with a spectacular fireworks by 7:00pm. It was such an experience.

Jcm_056

There were limitless things to do here, and not boring as well.  There are spots for children of all ages. During our second date after a year, I finally got a digital camera for our photo shoots, but not a car =D

Up to Tagaytay

January of 2008, a typical day, on a van bound to Dasmarinas, Cavite. First stop of getting to Tagaytay City. It was a long trip literally since we’ve chosen to board from Lipa City bound to Pala-Pala. It was heartwarming though. First time to travel as couple.

The Climb

A jeepney transfer finally took us to Olivares. We had our light snacks in McDonald’s before heading to People’s Park (Palace in the Sky). One of the popular attractions in Tagaytay. It was built during the Marcos regime from the early 80’s. It was a steep 45 degrees climb up. This was actually my second time to get into that place. First was during our High-school retreat.

It was a cold Saturday morning then and fog covered virtually road. The thrill was that we didn’t even noticed that we are traversing along the cliff. Getting there via public transport is cheaper yet difficult. At last, arriving at the sit, we had to pay P10 mandatory entrance fee. We started climbing up in no time. It was a steep foggy way up. Wind reaching 10 kph was felt while nearing the top. Not a good weather as well, rain poured after. We headed straight to a souvenir shop. There were variety of stuff you can find there like t-shirts, necklaces, kitchen wares, delicacies and many more. Not cheap though.

Needs some makeover

Needs Some Makeover

The place isn’t well maintained that it tended to looked like a deserted town. The oval where most concerts and public performances is being held seemed like an antique park. After taking some souvenir shots, we decided to head to Western part of Tagaytay.

Taal Volcano From a Distance

Taal Volcano from a distance

We really don’t know nor familiar where to go after that short tour up. Fortunately, we passed by Starbucks Coffee which was just along the road. A panoramic view of Taal Volcano made us stayed for a couple of hours. The sun started to shine making us take a quick tour around the place. It was actually a complex of restaurants, bars, and cafes. A breathtaking view of the Lake and mountains completed our day.

Spectacular View

Spectacular View

Just after some pictorials, we decided to go home. It was still raining that day, though we enjoyed some relaxing moments.

Lukong Valley Farm

A month after I got my driver’s license, the family decided to “hike” to this hidden paradise in Dolores, Quezon. Was rainy day so getting around was a challenge.

…the farm

It was an hour and a half drive from home, route is easy and right before lunch we are at the reception area.

Nature-inspired landscape

What I love the most is the fresh harvest of fruits and vegetables. Here you can enjoy or simply bring home for half the price. But one particular, dragon fruit isn’t cheap which this farm grows primarily. There’s also a mini zoo with poultry animals like ducks, quails, native chickens, hogs.

Freshly picked dragon fruits

Ornamental, flowering plants are also being sold. It was a weekend and a number of tourists begin to pile up. We had our lunch in a small native nipa hut.

Our dinning area for the day

They have rooms where you can stay over night, a 5 minute trek up from the lobby.

Kids enjoying overlooking Quezon Province

If you need some place to contemplate then, this is the perfect one.

Travel Tips:

  • The place is at the foot of the moutain so expect light to moderate rains.
  • Bring bottled water during the trek
  • Booking, reservation is not required but expect a lot of visitors specially on weekends