Petra | Jordan. A rose-red city half as old as time
San Vicente | Palawan. Counting solitary strides.
Taj Mahal | India. A teardrop on the cheek of time
Catanduanes Island. Postcard-pretty slideshow.
Keep Kalm (at Kalanggaman Island | Leyte).
Nikko | Japan. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in this UNESCO heritage town.
Counting temples in Bagan | Myanmar.
Chasing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.
Where to Stay? | Luxury, Backpacking & Glamping
Inaul Festival | Maguindanao. In homage of a weaving tradition
Rishikesh | India. a morning walk inside the Beatle's Ashram
Cairo | Egypt. a surreal moment at the great pyramids of giza

Nomadic Experiences of 2010

December 23, 2010

2010 was a big leap from 2009 for me in terms of traveling. I've covered places from up North of Luzon to the Southern Part of the Philippines. From the mad swell of the Pacific ocean learning to Surf in Bagasbas beach in Camarines Norte to the kick ass, butt numbing and free flowing bus ride to Sta. Ana, Cagayan Valley. In between are a number of magnificent Spanish Colonial Churches, quaint little towns, developing urban cities, scenic nature locations and a unique set of people who I met as strangers and eventually became friends of mine.

I started the year by celebrating my birthday with my close friends Tina (who also celebrates the same birthday as mine)  and Lot at the latter's hometown of Cagayan de Oro City. We went river rafting, flew by hanging on the 814 meter zipline in Bukidnon and went on a roadtrip around the island of Camiguin.

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Then goes trips to places such as Bolinao, Pangasinan and a holy week holiday in the fine white sands of Calaguas Islands particularly at "Mahabang Buhangin" where we pitched and stayed in a tent for the night and kind of rekindled my love for camping out and proceeded to the surfing place of Bagasbas and dropping by Camsur Watersports Complex in Naga City on the way back to Manila.

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A few weeks after that I got reunited with my girlfriend and life is continuously good at all fronts - personal, and my nomadic life. Financially, I'm burdened just like everyone else. However, I'm at a point in my life right now that personally, it is not everything about what a person owns or have in the bank - for me, it's the kind of experience that I could invest in and gather that truly enriches my soul and this way of thinking has steered me away from being so obsessed about spending time in 'get rich schemes' or competing in the rat races held in the corporate world.
 
By May, I was able to join another set of friends a poet and writer in Chin, a photographer in Aileen, a free spirited Tin and Mina who is now married to an Indian guy and is now settled happily in India. In Iloilo we went to nearby Miagao Church and also took an overnight sidetrip to Guimaras Island. Since I stayed there a day more than my friends, I was able to spend my last day at my mother's hometown of Dumangas, a trip that meant so much to me as I've heard a lot about the place from my mom while growing up.

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A few months went by without making a trip - probably because of the onslaught of a slew of typhoons that ravaged the country. Then, by August me and my girlfriend went on a weekend trip to the historic fortress island of Corregidor

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I've always wanted to visit the place and I was glad that I've finally able to do so this year. Sadly, or perhaps for the good of both of us, me and my girlfriend again broke up a few weeks after that. Maybe, it wasn't meant to be and it is now time to move on - on a personal level.

But that is beyond me and my control. This is a travel blog and I'll sum up the year based on my travel experiences, we will always have our own personal bullshits and such, but the passion remains and "on the road" is where my life is heading now.

In October, I went to Bacolod to experience the Masskara Festival for the first time. I've made a vow to myself that I will really try to see and witness each festivals that the Philippines have all year round. I did my first couchsurfing there when Kareen hosted me and a few other backpackers from Germany and New Zealand. It was a different experience because I get to travel and at the same time be inspired by nomadic tales from backpackers who've seen and threaded on numerous countries in the world.

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November was probably the busiest month in terms of being on the road for me. I went out on a long weekend trip on the three weekends of this month. First to Baler, Aurora for some surfing experience and a journey to Alaminos, Pangasinan with new-found friends who were also fellow travel bloggers and lastly the long arduous but worth it, long ride to Tuguegarao City, Sta. Ana, Cagayan, Palaui Island then Vigan in Ilocos Sur.

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I've also wrote three articles for a local travel magazine "Republic of 7107 island" this year. The first one (Dec-January 2010 - Capones Island, April-May - CDO River Rafting and Aug-Sept - Calaguas Islands).

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2010 is a year that I've upped my desire to travel amidst personal shit-storm and all. I'm glad that my sanity is relieved by these travel experiences. I felt like I've grown enough to a level of maturity that I am now starting to appreciate even the smallest of things.  I've met wonderful people who I won't mind manning the trenches if and when we all got sent back in time to World War I.

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From iconic lighthouses, blinding white sands, sleepy towns, Spanish colonial churches, historic fortress, of homage trips, adventure, of breaking up, work, new friends, long weekends, the trivialities of daily living, the ups and downs and everything in between traveling. The journey itself was the one thing that kept me sane in the year 2010. I am so glad that I've come to this point in my life wherein, a rucksack on my back, a few bucks in my pocket, a half baked plan and an imaginary arrow pointing me to the road are enough to keep my desire burning and to make each year from here on now, better than the one it preceded. That, inspires me to no end.

I now look forward to 2011 with anticipation and giddly with 'ala porn-star' excitement as to where I would head next. So far, the only concrete plans for 2011 is Sinulog Festival in Cebu and the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo both are going to be held on January. See you there perhaps.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

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2010 Philippine Blog Awards' Finalist for Best Travel Blog

December 09, 2010

Yes, I'm not hallucinating but my travel blog, this seemingly badly written travelogue accompanied by a zombie like - post apocalyptic photography theme has been named as among the 10 finalists for this year's Philippine Blog Awards' Best Travel Blog category. I don't expect to win - unless the jurors are my friends and relatives, because other blogs I looked up to (and are way better) are also shortlisted.

I'm just happy that for the second straight year - my travel blog has been included as among the finalists. (last year the nod went to Estan Cabigas' langyaw.com).


To the other finalists, I say congratulations and hope that we'll continue doing what we love, which is primarily to travel north and south, walked through east and west, meet kindred souls in-between, sleep in strange places, wonder aloud, think freely, embrace the wild, fornicate with nature, hop on buses to sleepy towns, chill on mountaintops, ride the waves, fall in love with someone (hopefully) on the road, dare to be thrilled, rest only when needed, fly like superman, come home with new set of wisdom and afterward, as Jack Kerouac said “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself”

Best Travel Blog (from: http://www.philippineblogawards.com.ph/2010/12/08/finalists-travel/)
Nomadic Experiences
lagalog
soloflightEd
flipnomad
The Pinay Solo Backpacker
The Kayumanggi Trails
Chasing Philippines
Explore Iloilo
Ambot-ah
Just Wandering
Walk This Way

There is an abundance of places to see and fellowships with other human beings to kick-start, all within our grasps and what better way than start realizing it right now. So, to the others who still haven't bitten by the nomadic bug, pack your bags now and head out for the road.

On The (Long) Road to Palaui Island | Cagayan

December 05, 2010

Our long Bonifacio weekend trip to Palaui Island was far from easy. It's difficult for my buttocks, which became numb 5 hours into our bus ride from Cubao to Tuguegarao, and that's only the first half of the 10-hour journey. We left the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao around 10 p.m. and arrived in Tuguegarao around 9 a.m., with brief stops in Tumauini and San Pablo, Isabela to visit two Spanish colonial churches.

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We spent the day in Tuguegarao, visiting Callao Cave and taking a leisurely boat ride along the scenic Pinacanauan River to witness the circadian flights of over a million bats –a sight which left me in awe. The next day we woke up early to prepare for another 3 hour trip to Sta. Ana, Cagayan by buying some things needed for camping out at Palaui Island. We passed by the Metropolitan Cathedral of Tuguegarao and rode the Sta. Ana bound van by 9:30 am.

Alyanna Bromeo

The sun was shining brightly, and I was wide awake for the majority of the journey. We passed through charming little towns that I'd love to visit if we had more time. Out the window, I see endless rice fields dotted with ducks, cows, and carabaos. I also paid attention to the kilometer markings on the side of the road because the final kilometer marker of "642 KM" is located in Sta. Ana.

Lauren Denoga and Sharlyn Del Rosario

I enjoy the sensation of long rides when my butt becomes numb and my mind races to something, such as plotting a bloodless revolution, and what better way to do so than by passing through God's painted creation? Another thing I noticed were the bridges; I lost count of how many we passed through, probably because the Cagayan River is a complex river system that branches out in all directions, including the aforementioned  Pinacanauan river.

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I also saw Port Irene, a place where car enthusiasts can buy imported automobiles at a much lower price; however, given Cagayan's political ties, I can only speculate on the legality of those imported cars. We arrived in Sta around 1:00 p.m. Vicente Port is located in Sta Ana, Cagayan. Following a brief rest, we rented a boat for 800 pesos two way (good for 6-8 people), a reasonable fee given our group of six.

Mujee Gonzales and Gretchen Filart

Palaui Island is home to approximately 500 people, the majority of whom are fishermen's families. A Navy detachment is also stationed on the island, where we registered our names. There are always fishing boats coming and going from Palaui to Sta Vicente port, so you won't be stranded on the island.


We were accompanied by two guides wearing shirts that said "Turismo Solusyon sa Kahirapan". Accordingly, it is the slogan of a tourism program that allow visitors on the island help local residents earn extra money. I don't consider paying for a guide as a "tourist trap" unless the location is easily accessible. These trained guides also help bring awareness on how to become a responsible traveler. We must all remember the importance of being responsible by refraining from bastardizing or vandalizing the places we visit. What I saw inside Callao Cave, where people etched their names on the rock formation, disgusted me.


Along with Benoit and Franco, our guides together with Franco's dog "Lambert", we took a hike that would take us another two hours to reach the other side of the island which is more ideal for camping. 


During the summer, the boat can take you directly there, but because we went at the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the cold season in December, the waves aren't ideal for small boats to navigate, so we were only dropped on the part of Palaui facing Sta. Cagayan, Ana.


The hike requires a brisk pace but is not too strenuous because the terrain is almost straight throughout with little elevation change, but we took our time navigating the muddy section of the trail because your feet can get sucked by the mud up to a foot below your knee.

Lauren Denoga and Sharlyn Del Rosario

We arrived at the beach where we were camping for the night around 4 p.m., giving us plenty of time to set up camp, cook our late lunch and dinner, and go for a quick swim. We purchased crabs from Ate Simone, a local whose family makes a living by fishing around Palaui island.

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Lauren prepared bacon and sausage, and Belle and her two other friends contributed hotdogs and corned beef. I also got to use the first tent I bought for myself for the first time. Yeah, having a "home on my back - wherever and whenever" is quite an accomplishment for me.

Eileen Campos

We drank alcohol and waited for stars to appear to illuminate the pitch black darkness around us. It briefly rained before the stars appeared. We attempted to sleep around 10 p.m., catching a few snatches of sleep before deciding to start the new day around 3 a.m., when we began cooking our breakfast.

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After sunrise we went atop the hill where the Cape Engano Lighthouse is located. Its a hike upward of about more than a hundred steps that affords you a magnificent view of the blue waters and other islets around the island breaking the waves while a strong wind tries to erase your face and attempts to blow you off your feet.

Palaui Travel Guide

It takes a long journey to Palaui Island when doing it by land; you could cut travel time by flying from Manila to Tuguegarao, but who would want to do that? We all wanted to take the expanded route so we took the bus from Manila to Tuguegarao for 10 hours, then another 3 hours to Sta Ana before hiking for another 2 hours for a total of 15 hours.

Alyanna Bromeo

Not bad spending the Bonifacio long weekend with a pilgrimage up north that also gave us an additional day when we passed by Ilocos on the way home to Manila by having a stop-over in Vigan.


I'm glad I was able to fulfill a year-long dream of visiting Palaui; I've been fascinated and intrigued with the place since seeing it on TV one boring Sunday, and what a great way to fill another supposedly boring weekend by living it up, packing my bags, camping gears and all, and dragging a few friends for the long, arduous but very memorable trip to this northernmost part of Luzon.


Shout out to my new friends, Carrie aka Lauren (her real name), who used to model for well-known photographers before quitting because "it has become a bastardized practice," she tells me, and Sharlyn, who wakes up late but goes to the bathroom half-asleep and of course, to the  Deuter brand, who gave me a 50% discount on my backpack "Deuter Futura Vario 50+10," a sturdy backpack ideal for long weekend camping trips.








Chamber Hopping at Callao Cave | Tuguegarao

December 01, 2010

There are many massive cave systems in the town of Penablanca in Cagayan Valley. The most popular of these is Callao Cave. Another cave one ought to visit is the Sierra Cave, a cave almost similar to the caves of Sagada where one would twitch and turn his/her body to enter small openings. This is in contrast with the vastness of Callao Cave which has a huge underground dwelling with an entrance as wide as the gates of Gothic palaces. After a brief rest in Tuguegarao we proceeded to Penablanca by taking a 45 minute tricycle ride. Callao cave is located near the scenic Pinacanauan River where we witnessed the circadian flight of over a million bats.

Lilliane Cobiao

The Church of San Matias in Tumauini | Isabela

December 01, 2010

Given the opportunity, I always make an effort to drop by old churches of towns I pass by when I travel. I always admire the architecture, the brick walls, the grand altar and the history churches such as this has and the manner which it was able to test time through earthquakes, fires, wars and other natural calamities.

Lauren Denoga and Sharlyn Del Rosario