10 Reasons Why Bataan Should be Your Next Summer Destination

My trip to Bataan is the trip that I am least prepared. My friend, Bam, and I only decided on the destination around a month before the trip. We bought the plane tickets a year ago in the hopes that we will be able to book a Batanes trip. When it was clear that the Batanes trip won’t push through, we were clueless where to go so we did not book other friends due to the uncertainty of the destination. Good thing, Bam saw two TV shows where Bataan was featured. We were finally convinced that Bataan will be our destination. We did not regret the choice. There were only two of us traveling- a contrast to our Coron trip where there were 14 us – so we agreed not fuss with the details. ‘Chill’ was our theme for the trip.

Bataan as a travel destination is very much under the radar. Had Bam not tell me about it, I would not have any clue. Because of this awesome trip, I am now convinced that Bataan is the THE travel destination for summer and you should go now while it is not yet swarmed with tourists. Here are the reasons why you should visit Bataan:

1. It is only three hours away from Manila. We took a bus from Cubao to Balanga City in Bataan. It was a smooth travel. The bus took a longer route by going through the towns like Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Orani, Abucay. I think you would have a shorter travel time when you bring your own vehicle.

2. It has a functioning and well-maintained tourism center. Because Bam and I had no fixed itinerary except for the March 16 trip to Mariveles, we went to the Tourism Center to ask for guides and suggestions on where to go.

The tourism center also had this life-sized diorama depicting periods of history in Bataan.

3.  It is rich in history.  In 1942, an estimated 80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war during the WWII were forced to march from  Mariveles and Bagac  to Tarlac.  We commemorate their courage every April 9 which is known as Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor).  The day is also known as the start of the Bataan Death March.

You would see all these markers around Bataan.

3. The City of Balanga has a beautiful plaza. The buildings surrounding the plaza have this colonial architecture which gives this old world charm to place. The buildings actually housed the city hall, a hotel and a mall. Across the plaza is the St. Joseph Cathedral.

At night, the colorful dancing fountain lights up the place. Bam and I sat in one of the benches every night just to people watch and relax.

5. The Balanga wetland park is just a tricycle ride away from the city center. I was looking at some of the souvenir items and the refrigerator magnet that I bought had birds on the picture. We were told that those were shot at the wetland park. The wetland park is an area that hosts migratory birds. The place had view decks for those who want to watch birds.

These are the birds we saw from the view deck.

The park also has pathways inside a mangrove forest. We saw this as an opportunity to take our photo together.

The sun was about to set so we witnessed hundreds of birds flying towards the mangroves, their shelter for the night.

6. Mount Samat National Shrine is a quick jeepney and tricyle ride away in the town of Pilar. It is also called the ‘Dambana ng Kagitingan’ (Shrine of Valor). It is a memorial site for those who fought in the Battle of Bataan.  There is a huge cross and a museum in the site.  One can ride the elevator toward the arm of the cross and marvel at the surrounding views (which we were not able to do because the elevator was being fixed at that time).

7. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar brings you to a journey around the Philippines during the Spanish times. The resort sprawls more than 400 hectares with around 55 houses in the property. What the owner does is buy heritage houses in different parts of the country and restores the houses in this resort.

The resort had guides who explained the history of the houses.

We met a group of friends who were looking for people to complete a group of at least 5 in order to get the better tour package. Lucky for us, we got to avail of the package which includes lunch, calesa ride, boat ride and Hotel de Oriente tour (on top of the regular tour package offered).

I want to bring my aunts next time.

8. Mariveles Five Fingers is the Bataan’s best kept secret. I was not aware of the place until Bam pointed this out me. This is the reason why we wanted to got the Bataan. Bam and I are always in search for not-so-familiar destinations and this is right up our alley.


The place is called five finger because this is how it looks on the map.


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So allow me to just let the photos do the talking.

And, Bam jumped off this 40-ft cliff. This is her 40 feet @40 feat! I have the video but it took time to load here.

We joined the tour arranged by Bataan Weather Page.

9. Bataan is very accessible. We all rode public transportation. We did not get lost. In fact, by the end of the trip, I have memorized all names of the towns in Bataan: Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Orani, Abucay, Pilar, Bagac, Orion, Limay, Mariveles, Morong and Balanga City.

10. Bataan is away from traffic! When we booked the Manila flights from Butuan, both Bam and I agreed that we will go anywhere that is away from Manila. We both wanted to avoid the traffic which we did. Well, until the last day when to tried to catch the plane home, it was a stressful 2 hours for me trying to pray to high heavens that we reach the airport on time. I am making a mental note to get a new phone so I have Waze or can book Uber/Grab.

Apart from the minor traffic stress, we had a smooth trip. Indeed, we just chilled and relaxed. And I hope you will, too, when you visit Bataan.

A Traveler’s Wish: Sony Alpha A5000

The recent trip to Bataan made me realize how I need a lighter my camera. I own the smallest and lightest DSLR but it is still heavy. Its weight around my neck became uncomfortable after lugging it the whole day. As much as I love the multitude of functionalities of a DSLR, technology has improved the past few years that smaller cameras have caught up in terms of the quality of photos produced. I have been keeping an eye on the next perfect camera for me that is available in the market.

Me and that ubiquitous DSLR around my neck.

Here comes the Sony Alpha A5000.

Photo from Yugatech

 

The more I read about its features, the more I want this camera so bad. It has a 20.1 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and a high sensitivity ISO 100-16000. It uses BIONZ X image processing engine. These features may sound too technical. It only means that you get impressive images: beautiful details in true colors in whatever lighting situation. You get the perfect shot every time.

Since I am less technical when it comes to camera, these are the things that this camera has won me over. These are icing on the cake but since I love the sweet stuff, these features seal the deal.

1. Lightweight. The Sony Alpha A5000 is the world’s lightest interchangeable-lens digital camera. I think I have a penchant for light devices. So this is a perfect camera for traveling or just whenever I need to capture a moment. Weight is an important factor for me because I always travel light. I save money by not buying luggage space. It deters me from shopping when I know I have baggage weight requirements. I would rather spend my money on experience and capture that moment with a trusty camera than spend it on things.

2. Tiltable LCD Screen. Taking a selfie with a bulky DSLR is difficult. The Sony Alpha A5000 solves this problem.

3. Super solid grip. The camera is designed with the user’s comfort in mind. With a solid grip, it can be held ergonomically and comfortably in your hand. When you can comfortably hold a camera, you can prevent shaking when taking photos. Nobody wants blurred photos.

4. Full HD Movie shooting. I have been thinking of starting a youtube channel for travel videos and art tutorials. This camera will definitely help me get that plan into fruition.

5. Wonderful array of accessories. This camera is compatible with Sony’s wide range of e-mount lenses. This will definitely enhance my photography, giving it more options for creative pursuits.

Have I won your over my camera wishlist for this summer? Check out it complete feature from the Sony Philippines website.

***All opinions are mine. This is an entry to a Yugatech contest.

 

OPPO F1s: Summer #OOTD

Wickedly Happy!

Thank goodness! We couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be happier. Happy is what happens when all your dreams come true.

These lines have been playing in my head for some time now. It is because we finally watched Wicked! My friend, Gail, and I have talked about watching it but when I checked the schedule, March 12 was closing day and I could not find seats I could afford. Good thing the run was extended for another week and for some reason, some seats opened up (or maybe I just did not know how to book). We got Gail’s sister to buy the tickets for us. We were thrilled to get tickets! Thank Goodness!

Thanks for the photo, Kuya Bong!

The last time ‘Wicked’ was here was 3 years ago and I was in Manila then but I had no tickets. The run was shorter then and it was held at CCP. Tickets ran out so fast that all that was left were the expensive seats. Lady luck was on our side this time. (Thank Goodness! I couldn’t be happier!) I would have opted to watch ‘Fun Home’ with Lea Salonga performing. I have been a Lea fan ever since she started her showbiz career but I checked the seating arrangement for ‘Fun Home’ and it seemed that the view from the seat was obstructed by railings. My moment with Lea will have to wait for awhile. This is my view at Solaire. It was far from the stage but I got an unobstructed view.

View from my seat!

To my surprise, my cousin, Bong, arrived a few minutes before the show started. We already agreed to meet after the show but he decided to watch it also. Thank Goodness, we have these photos! I swiped them off his Instagram.

Instagram Photo by @bong2begood

So what do you we think of ‘Wicked’? We loved it!!! Gail and I did. I am not sure with Bong. He said he dozed off in some parts. Hahaha! It is a different experience for me because I have loved this musical ever since I saw clips of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth playing Elphaba and Glinda, respectively. I even read Gregory Maguire’s book. Honestly, I did not even research who were playing Elphaba and Glinda. I just imagine them to be Idina and Kristin. Seeing it live was magical for me. ‘For Good’ is one of my favorite songs. Once the line “So much of me is made of what I learned from you/You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart” was sung, my tears rolled. These lines remind me of my late mother. But, of course, I acted cool afterwards like no crying happened. (Hand the Oscars to me! Ha!)

My journal.

Wicked was a lovely, lovely experience! And I love how the theatre scene is alive in the Philippines even the homegrown ones are soaring high (Rak of Aegis, Care Divas, etc). I hope I get to watch more!

5 Celebrity Diets: It’s Safe for You to Try

From time to time, everyone thinks they should go on a diet. There’s a pressure to look like the celebrities we see glammed up on the red carpet, who always seem to be testing out the latest diet.

But before you dismiss them all as fads, we’ve picked out five celebrity diets worth trying. We’re not promising you’ll end up looking like Beyoncé or George Clooney, but you could feel a lot better about yourself. Check them out:

1. Juicing

Okay, so we all know that vegetables and fruit are good for us. But why? They’re a brilliant way of adding essential vitamins and minerals into our diet, but trying to fit the recommended five-a-day into your diet can be difficult. Especially when it was recently revealed we should be eating more like 10 portions of fruit and veg a day.

With juicing, it’s easier to stock up on more. But the benefits don’t stop there. As the vegetables and fruit used in juicing are raw, you’re probably getting more essential vitamins. Try it out for yourself with Gwenyth Paltrow’s Green Juice recipe, brought to you by Vouchercloud. They say it has got plenty of calcium and antioxidants from the leafy green super veg that is kale, with added lemony twang.

2. Vegan

Going vegan isn’t necessarily a diet – it’s more of a lifestyle choice. But the benefits of cutting out meat, dairy and eggs from your food intake are plenty. If you plan a vegan diet well, it’s rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals.

The Vegan Society add that the plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Vegan diets are popular with celebrities such as Ellen Page, Alicia Silverstone, Ariana Grande, Ellen DeGeneres and Liam Hemsworth.

3. 5-Factor diet

Just looking to shed a few pounds? The 5-factor diet could offer you a quick, safe fix that actually works. As the name suggests, it’s all about the number five. You eat five meals a day full of five elements that take no longer than five minutes to make. Along with this diet, you’re supposed to do five days of exercise per week. You’re allowed a cheat day too. IB Times say stars like Megan Fox and Lady Gaga regular use the 5-factor diet.

4. Atkins

If you’ve ever wanted to look like Kim Kardashian, you should try the Atkins diet – which she credited for helping her lose almost 70 pounds after the birth of her second child. On this diet, you’re supposed to limit the carbohydrates and sugars. The idea is your body will burn fat, but you’ll still feel energised so you won’t get the same cravings you can experience on other diets.

5. Dukan

The Dukan diet works in four phases:

  1. The attack phase – high protein foods to kick-start dieting
  2. The cruise phase – adding vegetables
  3. The consolidation phase – gradually reintroducing forbidden foods carefully so you don’t regain weight
  4. The stabilisation phase – turning the diet into a lifestyle

Source: Dukan Diet

If you continue with the Dukan diet, you’ll have to follow three key rules: one day of natural proteins every week, 20 minutes of walking every day (never using lifts or escalators), and 3 tablespoons of oat bran every day. It’s supposed to change your eating habits for good, rather than being used for a short-term fix. Considering its popular with Kate Middleton, it must be worth a try.

What diets have you tried? Share your experiences with us.

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