Tag: philippines

Batad Folks Humbles Me

Some friends and colleagues still could not believe that I was able to accomplish the rigorous hiking that the mountains of Batad in Ifugao Province entails. Some were actually not surprised when they heard the hardships and learned that I was the crankiest, most ill-tempered and was the number one complainer among our group. As If my complaining was the highlight of our Batad adventure! Hahaha!

a perfect proof of my complaining! hahaha!
no modern machinery. these terraces were created only by bare hands hundreds and hundred of years ago. amazing!

But people don’t realize that aside from the breathtaking sites, I was able to appreciate how lucky I am based on how my life has been going on compared to the simple folks living in Batad. That is why seeing locals especially the farmers who keeps the bizarre and phenomenal rice terraces by their bare hands humbles me. I may have been blessed more than these folks yet I have so much respect for these people.
Batad folks may not own the possession that a modern human being enjoys now, yet they are the people who chose to live simple, enjoy simple and chose to maintain a beautiful earth wonder by their very own hands.

so much respect for these people…
these folks keeps these world heritage site alive!
humbled!

Kudos to the people of Batad! You definitely are one of a kind!
Galing nyo grabe!

*thanks to Aiko and JB’s cameras for these photos…

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Fresh Cool Waters of Tappiya Falls

Batad in Ifugao Province is not just its beautiful and majestic rice terraces, another awesome attraction and must-visit destination found in Batad is its strong, massive and breathtaking waterfalls known as Tappiya Falls.  

Hidden in the lush green rainforest, a one-hour hike in the mountains of Batad will take you to the beautiful Tappiya Falls.  Without a doubt, the turquoise fresh water and the perfect natural surroundings will fascinate every living soul who can luckily be able to reach it.

It was a tiring hike from our hotel in the secluded town of Batad to Tappiya Falls and back, especially those long flight of stairs at the edge of the mountain.  But being able to reach and marvel at the actual Tappiya Falls after a grueling hike was something so rewarding already.  All body aches, lung-bursting tiredness and anxiety whether to be able to finish the hike or not simply went away as soon as I dipped into the fresh cool water of Ifugao!  Being able to see, smell, feel and conquer Tappiya Falls make me the proudest!

Sulit ang pagod!

Batad Rice Terraces: No Words to Describe

Majestic, magnanimous and magnificent are not enough descriptions for me to illustrate the beauty and splendor of Batad Rice Terraces located in Ifugao Province here in the Philippines. I have been to quite a number of beautiful places and I can confidently say that Batad Rice Terraces ranks very high for being one of the most breathtaking places on earth.

Elementary school lectures about its location, its structure and how the rice terraces were created eons of years ago by my Filipino forefathers were my only personal encounter in the past. And most of what was lectured during my childhood days was about the Banaue Rice Terraces, which is a totally different place.

i was close to crawling! hahaha!

Let me clarify though that Batad Rice Terraces is different and is not the more famous Banaue Rice Terraces. The latter is near downtown Banaue with more modern buildings and structures. Actually, a couple of tourists from Banaue Rice Terraces who just side tripped to Batad (whom some of us got to talk to) has attested that Batad was indeed more beautiful!

the batad team!
someone’s posing at the back!

So let me brag that I was actually at a more stunning version! I could not believe that I was no longer just seeing photos and hearing it from lectures. I have upgraded because my physical being stepped on it and my very own eyes got to see the beauty, brilliance and grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Getting to Batad actually is already half the adventure. I have been to quite a lot of places but Batad seem to be the most remote place that I have been to. After a 10-hour bus ride from Manila to Banaue, me and my colleagues then had to travel for another 1 and a half hour via rickety and un-air-conditioned jeepney. And after alighting the jeepney, we then hiked by foot for another forty minutes (some say it was only twenty minutes but since I walk so sluggishly, it took me 40) for us to reach the tiny and secluded village of Batad. But all intense exhaustion, buckets of sweat and excruciating body aches were all be gone once I sawthe massive splendor of the amphitheater-like rice terraces and remarkable landscape of the mountains.

Some world attractions would not allow tourists to enter or step into their renowned site. Others would charge for an entrance fee otherwise you would just have to satisfy yourself by seeing it from afar. But for Batad Rice Terraces, tourists are allowed to step in, can mingle with the farmers and get through the muddy catwalks of the terraces for free! This made Batad Rice Terraces even more admirable compared to other sites in the world.

For those planning to get to gorgeous 2,000-year old Batad Rice Terraces, here are seven tips to ponder before getting there:

  1. Bring lots of cash. No ATM around and no credit card payments accepted
  2. There is no such thing as five star accommodation in Batad. Actually, all accommodations seem to look like half a star or no star at all. But the view and the people more than compensates for it. It’s more than 10 stars!
  3. If you are the type who sweat buckets (like me), bring lots of shirts. Or if you are the type who would not mind smelling like a pig, then just bring 1 shirt per day of stay.
  4. Batad is the best place to get away and take a short rest from the internet world. There literally is no signal in the area. No choice but to get off-line during the duration of your stay.
  5. Bring Alaxan. Ibuprofen pain-relieving medicine was the most important piece of tablet that I popped as soon as I woke up after a dreamy night in Batad.
  6. Do it while you’re young. Batad Rice Terraces is not for physically challenged nor the fainthearted. I actually still could not believe that I survived and was able to accomplish walking through those dizzying slim and slender catwalk portions of the terraces.
  7. Pray! Pray that it won’t rain! Our tour guide told us that we were pretty lucky because the day before we arrived, it was raining all day. The terrain of course would be easier when it’s a bit dry compared to the muddy and slippery slopes of the mountain.

Prawd! Ay Surbayb Batad!

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.

A Last-Minute Villa Escudero Visit

According to Kurt Vonnegut, “bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God”.

villa escudero.

This is exactly what I, JB and MJ underwent.  We initially planned and agreed to go hiking on a mountain and a nature reserve east of Metro Manila.  But when all plans has been ironed out and only a couple of days left prior to leaving, we suddenly changed our mind.  We simply agreed to scratch the plan and instead proceed at the heavenly Villa Escudero, some 2 hours travel south of Metro Manila.

And unlike the previous 2-hour travel adventures that we had in the past in which we would either rent a private van or drive our own car, we used the public transport.  We simply commuted from Manila to Quezon via passenger bus and the ever reliable tricycle.  One bizarre mode of travel for us yet surprisingly comfortable!

I am glad to have changed our plans.  Villa Escudero has remained an amazing Filipino destination!  In summary, this is how fun we had in this beautiful place…

you can never go wrong with this beautiful philippine destination

Kapag biglaan talaga… Natutuloy!!

Villa Escudero Waterfalls Was All Mine!

It’s been several times that I have been to Villa Escudero and with all those repeated moments that I have been there I always fail to have my photo right at its famous waterfalls.  Maybe it’s because in my previous visits, I feel discouraged because this prominent spot at Villa Escudero is always full of people trying to have their selfies or pictures taken.  There is always a frustrating photo bomber lurking within your camera frame.

But with my recent revisit, I made sure that I not only be taken a picture with, I also made sure that the whole waterfalls is all mine!

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magic!

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Here’s a great tip for those who are planning to visit Villa Escudero and have the waterfalls all by yourself.  All you need to have is your mobile phone, a gorilla pod (a camera tripod) and an alarm clock.  First thing you need to do is to set the alarm clock the night before you plan to have your awesome photos taken.  Set it at 6:00 AM and make sure to wake up at 6:00 AM.

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don’t go chasin’ waterfalls…
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i love this shot!

Then early in the morning bring your camera and tripod to the waterfalls.  Set it up and have awesome photos and videos taken!  Be there while everyone are having their breakfast.  Be there before all tourists flock the site.

Ang Bongga! Mag-effort sa ‘ngalan ng pikchur!

That’s a Lot of Dead People!

In light of the National Day of Protest in my country, the beautiful Philippines! Let me post a photo which would represent my protest contribution.  This photo is not mine and neither have I sought authorization from the owner.  I just hope that the owner (musicorspaceshuttle.com) would be generous and kind to permit me in using this photo.

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imagine them lifeless 😦

Look at the photo and imagine them lifeless.  This is iWire Center in Moline Illinois in its full capacity at 9,200 people during a Pearl Jam rock concert in 2014.

The full capacity of iWire Center is actually even lesser by a couple of thousands as compared to the number of extra-judicial killings and summary executions that has occurred since the day President Duterte has run and governed my country.  At present, human rights groups’ count stands at 13,000 casualties.

No to Extra-Judicial Killings. And i pray that it ends soon.

Patay tayo sa mga Dutertards nyan!