Hello, Negros Occidental!

My friend, Gail, and I found a promo fare from Davao to Bacolod early this year. When September came, off we went to the City of Smiles! As we landed, this is what I saw:  vast plantation of sugarcane!


With that in mind, our first stop was at Calea,  a pastry shop.  We had luggage in tow and the cafe was not yet open when we arrived but we were willing to wait.  It was an easy breezy trip. It was still around 9AM and we were not expected in our next destination until around lunch time.


Our tummies can only handle 3 cakes.  Besides, we have 4 days in this place. We have more opportunities for more cakes.


Off we went to the mountains. We spent our first night in Negros at the Campuestohan Highland Resort.  We went there for the experience of sleeping in a house that looks like that of a hobbit’s. This is called a Bonita Hut.


The bed is so biiiiig. On the website, it states that this can accommodate up to 6 people.  Oh, the bonita hut has no air-conditioning, which was okay because this was already in the mountain. Cool mountain air was enough to give us a comfortable sleep that night. Actually, I found myself reaching for the blanket in the middle of the night.


The resort offers other accommodations  like the log cabin rooms…


… and the teepee accommodations.


Our only beef  was the transportation. The resort did not have a shuttle service during weekdays. We had to hire a taxi to get us there. We haggled for Php 600 taxi ride in reaching the place and we paid Php 1000 for the taxi driver to fetch us the following day and bring us to Mambukal.

Mambukal is another mountain resort in Negros which is run but the local government. It is at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon so it has several springs and waterfalls.  Good thing that I made reservations months before and I saw my name on their calendar. The resort was fully booked. Some local government units had seminar there.


It was raining when we went there. We had to wait for the rain to stop before going to our next activity- trekking to the falls. There are 7 falls in Mambukal.  The guide brought us to three.  We opted to just go to 3 falls. It was already raining. Plus, my legs were already tired with all the “climbing”. There are paths, steps and railings towards the falls but because it was raining, there was an extra effort on my part to avoid slipping.


Since our clothes were wet, we decided to just change to our swimming clothes.  Included in our accommodation  is a free entrance to their small pool. All the swimming made us hungry. I opted for batchoy and halo-halo, I think. This is what I found in my file. hehehe


By the following morning, we wanted to try the hot sulfur spring. This is called a Japanese Ofuro.


We had breakfast after dipping in the spring. We still have time before checking out of the resort so went to the boating lagoon to see if we could try boating. We decided to just take some photos there.


There are mini-buses just outside of Mambukal resort so transportation was not a problem this time. Waiting time for the bus to get filled took some time. Beggars can’t be choosers. The fare was only ₱35! We were not in a hurry. We tried to be patient but our tummies were not. It was merienda time and we did not bring snacks. Poor us! Hehehe

In Bacolod, we stayed at Go Hotels. We snagged a promo months before. Room rate which only costs us 1,200 for two nights.

If I was travelling with my aunt, we would hit popular food chains for food. She does not eat anything unfamiliar to her. Restaurants intimidate her. Since I am with Gail, my foodie friend, we went local. We tried to explore Bacolod’s homegrown restos like Cafe Bob which had a branch in the mall.  Gail opted for Satay Babe (pronounced as ‘Satey Babeh’)…


… while I chose Angus beef tapa.


 For dessert, we shared this pavlova.


 For snacks, we went to a branch of Calea  inside the mall and ordered ice cream cake.


Our destination for the day is The Ruins in Talisay City.  The Ruins is the mansion of  Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson. Sometimes,  this mansion is also called the ‘Taj  Mahal of Negros’. Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built the house for his wife, Maria Braga. Maria died before it was completed.  During World War II, guerilla forces purposely burned down the structure to prevent the Japanese from occupying the space and use it as headquarters.


We read that it is best to go there during sunset. We went there from sunset till night time! Sayang ang Php90 entance fee! We went there on a Thursday and, for some reason, there were lots of tourists! Hello, photobombers!


 I finally had an opportunity take that shot I wanted with few intrusions.


It was already dark when we left. It was Gail who did most of the planning in this trip especially where we would eat. She learned that a Vietnamese restaurant called Rau Ram Cafe was just near the area. We hired a trike to get us there. Look at my friend’s happy face after our order was served.


 I know she’d protest over her solo picture being posted. Hi, Gail! This is our photo together.


On our last day, we went to Silay City to visit heritage houses.  Our first stop  was the Hofileña Museum. We arrived there without appointment that my friend caught the owner, Ramon Hofileña, resting in his living room. Somebody really lives in this house. He was gracious to accommodate us by calling his assistant/guide to tour us around. Edwin, the guide, was very entertaining. He told us a lot of trivia and history of the mansion which was really fascinating. I really suggest not to miss this tour when visiting Silay.


We had lunch at Cafe 1925 as suggested by my blogger friend, Lady. Silay is her hometown.  There were items in the menu that we were interested of trying but was not available. So I settled with fried chicken. My expectations were not high. I always think that the best fried chicken came from the fast food chains. To my surprise, it was delicious!  The serving was huge. Four pieces of fried chicken for Php160!


We had dessert at El Ideal bakery and tried their famous guapple pie.


 After lunch, we visited Balay Negrense.


There was no guide to usher us around and this greeted us by the door.  I watched a few Filipino horror movies and this scared me. We toured around the place with much care. We did not want to disturb the spirits we concocted in our heads.  Hehehe!


 There were other heritage houses in Silay but we decided to go back to Bacolod shop for souvenirs.

We had an early flight to Cebu the following day so we had dinner  again at Cafe Bob and started packing.

The trip to Negros was a laid back one. We did not aim to go to as many tourist spots as we can. We did not aim to try different activities. We visited a few and just relaxed. We napped when we wanted to nap and ate when we wanted to eat (which was often! hehehe).  After all, this would not be my last visit to Bacolod.


Fire On A Plane

I travel as often as I can. Many of the travels that I do require a plane ride. I still am not used to flying. I pray before takeoff and I thank God when I land.  They say that there are more road mishaps than plane crashes but it is hard be at peace with that information.  I console myself with beautiful aerial views like this. This is Negros Occidental and those are sugarcane plantations.  We can only hope that when there are incidents on a plane, the flight crew knows what they are supposed to do.


If you have ever flown on a plane, then you know that the space is small. The smell of smoke can often lead to chaos that breaks out on the plane, but thanks to the quick thinking of the people who work on the plane, they can get all of the passengers off in a few moments after the plane lands. Pilots and other workers go through aircraft fire training in order to protect passengers in the event of an emergency. They are trained to keep everyone calm before making sure everyone is off the plane.

There are simulators that the pilots and workers will use to see what it’s like during a fire on a plane. They are given details as to the many locations that a fire can begin. One of the common areas is near the turbine as this is an enclosed space and is often very warm. Other locations are in the cargo hold and luggage compartment. The type of procedure will depend on where the fire occurs in the plane. There are several types of fires that are detailed during the training. These include fires in the cargo area, in the turbine area and where the luggage is stored.

Fire departments will work with the other members of the plane to give advice and procedures about how to get through the fire while keeping passengers safe. All of the training is done in accordance with state and local standards. Some of the training sessions involve gas-operated devices. Sprinkler systems are used to keep everyone in the training class safe. The systems are triggered to come on as soon as the fire locations are turned on so that there are minimal flames involved. The simulator can hold the weight of several firefighters in full gear as well as workers on the plane. There are some simulations that involve system failures so that pilots know what to do if they are unable to communicate with the tower. After the fire safety training, there is cold training that involves searching for passengers who might be left on the plane and how to use the emergency slide.

How to Save On Honeymoons After Marriage

I am not getting married any time soon. I am not even in a relationship. I just know how to daydream. I just came from a trip and it does trigger some thoughts. These tips below can apply to regular travel, not just honeymoon.

A luxurious, picturesque wedding can be a large expenditure, hampering the budget that is left to be spent on the honeymoon. In many families, funds for the honeymoon are gifted to the couple from wedding guests and family members. In others, the parents of the bride or groom may choose to pay for the honeymoon as a single wedding gift. However, the honeymoon is not always completely funded, leaving it up to the newly married couple to plan the honeymoon within their allowed budget.

Buying Travel Packages
Many companies, such as hotel chains and airlines, offer traveling packages as honeymoons. Honeymoon packages usually consist of airfare, a hotel stay, and a car rental for the duration of the vacation. These packages can give huge discounts, but the couple can expect to save at least 5% to 10%. When traveling to places like Paris, France or London, England, those small discounts can make a huge difference.

Honeymooning During the Off Season
Many travel destinations have off seasons. Off seasons are times during the year that the destination receives few tourists as compared to the tourist season. During the off season, hotel stays are cheaper, fine dining is less crowded, and there are many more private opportunities (such as being alone on a beach).

Booking At the Right Time
In addition to privacy and cheaper hotel rooms during the off season, booking at the right time can yield cheap airfare as well. Many report that airfare is at its cheapest 47 days before the day of the flight; therefore, this is the best day to book it. It is also best to depart and arrive on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, as weekend flights will cost much more on average.

Staying Local
If the couple decides to avoid paying $300 or more in travel expenses, they can opt for a more local honeymoon. They could travel within 400 miles of their residence over the course of a few hours usually. The cost of gas will be much lower than the price of plane tickets or long road trips. Almost every couple can find a romantic retreat within a 400 mile radius.

A honeymoon does not have to cost as much as a down payment on a home. Frugal newlyweds can find hundreds of ways to save on their honeymoon, with the biggest savings applying to the destination, method of travel, and the hotel stay.

10 Reasons Why Coron is such a Charming Destination

For the annual trip with friends, we chose Coron as our destination. Coron is part of Palawan, Philippines. Previous destinations of my trip with friends were Naga, Sagada, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley.  For this June trip, we started booking for Coron last November.  We had time to prepare and gather friends to join us. The wait was long but it was all worth it.

My words may not be enough to describe the beauty of the place. You have to visit Coron and bring friends along.  Let me try to convince you to take a trip there.  Here are 10 reasons why Coron has charmed its way to my heart:

1. The sunset is glorious.

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I know that there are many glorious sunsets in the country.  I have seen many but this is the first time I experienced the sunset from the top of the mountain. We climbed the 700 steps of Mt. Tapyas.

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It was an easy climb so you do not have to worry about not being a mountain climber.

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2. Coron Town is very accessible. Our hotel was a few blocks away from the port so we mostly travel on foot.

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3.  The boat ride was an experience itself. We had a double decker boat equipped with toilet and kitchen.

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From the second deck, it was possible for me to take this photo of my friends.

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My favorite part of the boat is the netted outrigger.


Photo by Bong Flores.

4. I love snorkeling.  I learned how to snorkel in Apulit, Palawan in 2012.  The corals there were amazing. Coron is known to have same beautiful corals and colorful marine species. This is why me and my friend, Gail, were the first few off the boat to snorkel. This photo is proof that we would rather snorkel than pose for a photo. On the top right, you can see me too busy to be bothered by a camera. Hehehe!


Photo by Bryan Edulzura.

Coron corals broke my heart.  Although we saw healthy and colorful ones, many were in a sad state. Coron was hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 and we witnessed the damage it had on the marine life while snorkeling.

5. We enjoyed rafting at Kayangan Lake.

This area in Kayangan Lake is the what we often see in postcards. I think this is the most popular spot in Coron.

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The actual lake is this.

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We stayed on the raft for a looong time. We laid on our back. We laid on our stomach and bent over with our goggles to view the world underneath.  Our time in the lake was one of my favorite activities in Coron. Kayangan Lake is known to be the cleanest lake in the country.

Photo by Bong Flores

Photo by Bong Flores

6. Hidden Lagoon is a quiet sanctuary. We visited the site before lunch. We were already hungry but when the boatman approached the area, I momentarily forgot about lunch and posed for photos.

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Me and my friend, Gail.

I took this diving photo of my cousin. Look at the clear water!

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7. Barracuda Lake is serene yet eerie underneath.  I swam (with lifevest, hehehe) in the middle of the lake and put on the goggles to see what is underneath. I saw nothing.  Just deep blue water.  I swam to the sides and did the same, I saw jagged rock walls underneath similar to walls in this photo. It looked like there is another kingdom underneath.  It was in this lake where we saw some people being taught how to scuba dive.  Must be that deep.

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8. Swimming time at Banol Beach was fun. The sand was soft on the feet.  Water is clear. What is not to love about this beach? The beach was not really part of the package we chose but when my cousin saw a photo of Banol beach in the wall of Coron Village Lodge, he asked to include it to the itinerary. We just have to pay the entrance fee.  We enjoyed our time here. Swimming here was the best way to end our Coron tour.

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We really enjoyed the beach!


Photo by Bryan Edulzura.

9.   We never stopped laughing. Well… unless, we were eating or sleeping.  My friends are cool people who can take a lot of our ribbing. We had bullies who never stopped teasing their targets but all is well. Look at four of my friends who wore shirts of the same color as the tour guides on two different days.


10.  I have wonderful friends. The most number of friends I have traveled with before was 8.  In this trip, we were a group of 14 – a mix of new and long-time friends.  We all had a great time. No one had tantrums. No petty quarrels. No little arguments. No heavy discussions. All were game. Each had fun. Even the quiet ones had fun. No one was left out. We had so much fun in this trip that we are all looking forward to the next trip together.  Say hello to my wonderful friends.


Photo by Bong Flores

I know that the 9th and 10th reasons had nothing to do with Coron but with the people I was with. Thus, I recommend traveling with friends. You will get to know your friends better when you travel with them.

Consider Coron for your next vacation destination.

For our Coron trip: We flew via Cebu Pacific. (Cebu Pacific has multiple flights to Busuanga from Manila every day. Philippine Airlines also flies to Coron.) We book our tours through Coron Galeri. We stayed at Coron Village Lodge.

Summer Sojourn at Bucas Grande

Early March, I received a message from my cousin that she is coming  home to the Philippines in April for  a few days. You see my cousin was born and raised in Canada and the last time we saw her was 13 years ago. This trip was long overdue.  We were all excited. We agreed to meet her in Surigao to be with her  and her friends to visit Bucas Grande.  I have long wanted to visit the place and this is the perfect opportunity.  I have long wanted to travel with my cousins, too!

Bucas Grande Group of Islands is part of the municipality of Socorro in Surigao del Norte. To get there, you must reach the port of Hayanggabon in Claver, Surigao del Norte to cross to the islands. Claver is an hour and a half land trip from Surigao City.

This is our home in Bucas Grande for four days. This called Cinnamon Island. There are cinnamon trees in this island. We get an unlimited supply of cinnamon tea.  After every island hopping trip, there is cinnamon tea waiting for us.


Electricity was available from 5 PM to 7 AM the following day.  Who needs power when you are out  exploring the whole day? There is cellular signal in some areas of the island.

On our first trip out of the sea, we visited the Jellyfish Sanctuary. Bucas Grande is home to stingless jellyfishes.

We had to transfer to a paddle boat.


There is only one passenger per paddle boat.  Here’s my cousin and her boatman.


I love the boat ride towards the jellyfish sanctuary. The sea was calm and the air was cool.


Trees surrounded us as we sailed towards the sanctuary.


We were not allowed to swim with the stingless jellyfish because the lotion in our bodies can harm them.  We were allowed to touch them for a little while though.


This is the white jellyfish. I would not have seen it had the boatman not pointed it out to me.


This is the stingless jellyfish that is very visible from the boat. I am glad I was able to capture this photo as it swam near the surface.  I added some calligraphy into the photo.


Bucas Grande has so much to offer.  We toured inside the Sohoton Cove. We  can only do this during low tide since we need to pass through this inlet.


There is so much to see.



We also swam inside the cave. I have no photo to show since my camera is not waterproof. In another activity, they went inside the a cave and the easier way out is to jump off a cliff.   It looked fun but I chickened out. There were so many people. I might cause delay to some people if I take time to prepare myself to jump.


We had lunch in one of the islands.  We spend some time swimming here and taking some jumpshots.



There were 11 of us on this trip.


This island is beautiful.


Oh, we ate fresh sea urchin, sea oysters that are attached to the rocks and other sea creatures whose names escape me right now. We saw this blue starfish.


We had this seaweed for dinner.


We also went spelunking inside the Crystal Cave. Stalactites and stalagmites are encrusted with crystals.


Three of our friends went inside the Bolitas cave.  It was a narrower cave where there are a lot of rounded stones inside the cave.

We cooked our own food so when we ran out of food to eat, we went to nearest island with settlements.  This is Barangay Bay-ang in Socorro.


We bought vegetables from a sari-sari store; meat and fish from a supplier’s house.


This community has a fowl that is a cross between a rooster and a turkey. I do not know what this is called.


We were able to visit Club Tara. This is the most expensive resort in Bucas Grande.


Our humble accommodation was okay, too!


We woke up to this view every day.


Before we left the island, we had a special delivery! Fresh young coconut! Buko!


Oh how I miss the island life! Some good things had to end to welcome new adventures. Can’t wait for the next beach trip!

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