Tag: nature

Minalungao: A Kept Secret of Nueva Ecija

Prior to leaving for a fifteen-day Turkey adventure, there is one Philippine travel destination that I and some colleagues have been to which I failed to feature and write about.  Three reasons for my failure of writing about this Nueva Ecija place is because (a) I was too pre-occupied about my upcoming Turkey journey; (b) I was too lazy; and, (c) I’ve gone selfish and don’t want to share the beauty and splendor of Minalungao National Park.

I had the least expectations about my going to Minalungao.  It is because I’ve never heard about this place in the first place.  And since it is not a popular Philippine destination, the site must be some mediocre place located in Nueva Ecija.  I was also not expecting much because the scale of planning compared to the amount of planning I have to do with my out-of-the-country planning was way way different.  Lastly, I had the least anticipations because I know quite a number of friends and colleagues who hailed from Nueva Ecija yet none of them seem to recommend visiting Minalungao. 

But as soon as we reached this national park and I alighted from our rented van, my jaw dropped!  I was so surprised to find out that Minalungao was such a Philippine hidden gem.  Also, what is so distinct about the place is that only locals of Nueva Ecija province seem to be around.  There seem to be very few tourists from Manila or even from abroad.

Minalungao is a protected national park considered to be one of the very few remaining natural environments that is close to Manila.  This ecotourist destination offers breath-taking scenery, easy hiking trails, green pristine river, inimitable rock formations and explorable natural caves.

Let my photos speak for Minalungao… 

After exploring what Minalungao and while we were heading to a cheap hotel in Nueva Ecija city center to stay overnight, it was the time I realized why people of Nueva Ecija seem to not recommend it.  Maybe it is because it is so beautiful, Nueva Ecija-ns want Minalungao to be a secret and be a well-kept natural environment.  People of Nueva Ecija wants to keep it for themselves because they don’t want this beautiful nature and physical world phenomena to be spoiled, be blemished and be destroyed by unmindful, insensible and ill-mannered tourists.

That is why after reading this, keep it to yourself. You can visit Minalungao (of course) but never tell anyone about it. Keep it at its status, that is, a secret natural environmental gem.

Kaya kapag nabasa mo ‘to, hwag mo ipag-sabi.

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Filipinos’ Image of Turkey & the “Pasabog” of Pasabag

The Tourism Office of Turkey should pay me! Hahaha! This is because there has been quite a number of Filipinos (mostly my friends and relatives) who are now wanting to tour and visit this transcontinental country of Eurasia.

Turkish people should know that there seem to be some level of dreadful and critical image lurking within the minds of Filipinos about Turkey.  May be it is the media responsible in doing so.  It is because we Filipinos are only informed about Turkey when some bad or terrible new happened in that side of the world.

Actually, friends and colleagues were amazed to find out how beautiful Turkey is through the photos I posted in my Facebook and Instagram accounts.  But their first question if they happen to meet me about my Turkey journey is if it is safe and secured.  My usual answer? I was also hesistant on pursuing my Turkey journey prior to leaving Manila.  But towards the end of my Turkish adventure did I realize that it is one safe, harmless and innocuous place that I have been to.

To further prove my amazement about Turkey, let me feature the explosively beautiful Pasabag.

It’s a valley with unique and astonishing rock formations where you’ll get a feel of Cappadocia’s striking and iconic fairy chimneys. The tuff stone pillars of Pasabag are easily recognizable. It stands at 10 to 15 meters high often with twin or triple rock caps.

Pasabag is often referred to as the Monks Valley.  This was due to St. Simon and the monks who sought refuge inside this rock formations. 

Monks sought shelter in Pasabag after attracting unwanted funfair-like popularity after the public learned that they are some kind of a miracle-makers. To create shelter, monks would start by carving rooms for themselves at the bottom of the fairy chimneys and work their way to the top.  They were said to only descend to receive food and drinks from their disciples.

With the “pasabog” (translation: explosive) beauty like Pasabag and all the other equally amazing spots of Turkey, I hope that this country would soon erase (or at least improve) their undesirable image among the Filipinos.  I hope that this country would not remain to be like the monks of Pasabag who chose to be left unknown from the awareness of the itchy-footed Filipino travelling wanderlusts.

Yung makakating paa dyan, seyp po sa Torki!

Sights of the Ruins of Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Park

The only thing I know about the prominent destinations in San Francisco prior to my arrival here in San Francisco are the Union Square and the Golden Gate Bridge.  I never knew that the amazing Ruins of Sutro Baths and the scenic Sutro Heights Park exists.

on my way to sutro baths…
awesome!
beautiful
if you swim that ocean, you will end up in baler quezon! hahaha!

Sutro Baths according to google is the largest public saltwater swimming pool complex that opened in 1896.  The baths struggled for years due to high maintenance costs.  It caught fire in 1966 and was never rebuilt.  All that remains are the concrete walls and passageways.  Sutro Heights Park on the other hand (meters away from Sutro Baths) is a park that offers the best scenic view of the Ocean Beach.

ocean beach!
amazing…

Though the ruins aren’t really old, but the sight and feel it offers is something sentimental to the point of being romantic.  Both location offers a little history on what it was like to be in majestic San Francisco decades ago.  Thanks to the front desk staff who pointed me to this amazing location.

Super nays…

Glacial Facial at Milford Sound

Milford Sound has been considered as the most visited tourist place in New Zealand.  It is the crowning jewel and quintessential spot of New Zealand.  Many visitors say that it is the most beautiful place they have ever seen.  It so beautiful, it is usually included in blogs and publications that enumerates the places to go to before an earthling dies.

Milford Sound is a body of water, thus, one has to take a boat ride to really appreciate its beauty.  And that’s exactly me and my friends did.  We took the tour as operated by Southern Discoveries which is inclusive of a sumptuous buffet lunch served right inside the boat.  It was actually a smooth connection between the 5-hour bus ride and that of the ship ride.  No worries, no hustle and surprisingly, no overcrowding!  Everything went smooth and organized.

cruising...
cruising…

And when the boat embarks into the water, further excitement about my NZ experience sets in.  The sights of the Sound were just gorgeous.  Limestone cliffs, snowcapped mountain peaks, amazing waterfalls and the clear water of the fiords were all so stunning.

I particularly loved the part when the boat would get so near the waterfalls throwing water down the sides of the sheer cliffs.  And according to the boat’s tour guide and narrator, water coming from above the cliffs were actually melted glacier from the mountains.  The narrator told all passengers to be ready to get wet and secure a raincoat because the bow of the ship will go right underneath the pounding falls.

The up-close look of the waterfalls were simply spectacular!  Only when the ship maneuvered right at the bottom of the falls did I realize how high, how strong and how massive the waterfalls were.  The sprinkling, the shower, the downpour of the glacial water on my face was something to behold.  I totally agree with the boat narrator’s description that the feeling would be like having a “glacial facial”!

Another add on about the Milford Sound cruise were the animals that tourists got to see.  We were unfortunate that we did not see pods of dolphins or rare penguins.  But what we found were lazy seals sunning themselves on low lying rocks.

getting ready for my glacial facial!
getting ready for my glacial facial!
strike a pose!
strike a pose!

Me and my friends were just too glad to do a 2-hour Milford Sound tour!  We were so happy that such an amazing place with all its natural splendor really does exist!

Kakaibang pasyal na may peyshal!

Haler Baler…

One measure to prove that a traveler is so fascinated by a holiday destination is when he experienced the wanderlust to come back.  It is the strong desire and the itching feeling of wanting to return and re-experience the stunning sights and striking sounds of such captivating destination.

I have done a lot of returning and re-experiencing of various spellbinding tourist destinations myself both locally and internationally.  And one destination that has recently been added up to this beautiful list is Baler.  In less than a year I am back visiting this countrified town of Aurora Province here in the Philippines.

What I particularly loved about Baler is that there are so much to see, do and explore.  And that every spot is so overwhelmingly beautiful.  Add to that are the surprisingly affordable restaurants and food establishments  that offers fresh, delicious and hearty meals.

To further substantiate that I am truly captivated by this place, I returned back with Nengkoy and my family for them to see and experience for themselves how much fun I had the first time I visited.  And true enough, Baler for the second time around did not fail to amaze the traveler in me.

A very long rickety yet enjoyable Hanging Bridge
A very long rickety yet enjoyable Hanging Bridge
enjoying the sea breeze at the baywalk
enjoying the sea breeze at the baywalk
me & nengkoy posing at lukso-lukso beach & islets
me & nengkoy posing at lukso-lukso beach & islets
the millenium tree! one of the largest trees in asia..
the millenium tree! one of the largest trees in asia..
the surf is up at Sabang Beach!
the surf is up at Sabang Beach!
magnificent Mother Falls!
magnificent Mother Falls!

the view up the lighthouse hill...
the view up the lighthouse hill…

And what is even further amazing about this return is that members of family were equally amazed by the beauty, warmth and hospitality of this gorgeous province.  I wont be surprised if I will again be back in this province and say “Haler… Baler…”

Babalik-babalik pa mor…

The Seabin Project

Being an archipelago, most of the parts of my country is surrounded by water.  It is however dismaying to know that considerable portions of these waters are now dirty and polluted.  An immediate solution to this pressing problem needs to be addressed.

Aside from developing a heart for the environment and massive change in discipline, the invention by Australian surfers Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski is exactly what my country needs to keep its sea, lakes, rivers and other bodies of water clean. seabin quote

It’s called ‘seabin’, a trash bin that floats in the water.  A water pump maintains constant water flow into the bin, bringing with it floating garbage and debris.  These refuse items are then caught in a strainer-like net bag.  The water is then sucked through the bottom of the bin, into a water pump and then pumped back into the sea.

It is a simple yet brilliant ocean cleaning system that could easily be implemented in seaports and harbors around the country.  The inventors have Indiegogo Campaign site that has been set up to collect funding so that they can carry out large scale production and commence with cleaning bodies of water.

Visit seabinproject.com for more details or go to  www.indiegogo.com if you would like to donate.

Ilang Sibins kaya ang kailangan sa Manila Bey?