I’d Like To Visit…

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Everyone has their own “Top Places To Visit” and so, I’m going to share mine too! 🙂 These are the local and international places that I would like to visit for this year; hopefully, I’d be able to visit them ALL. I know that the expense will be my greatest hindrance here, but hey! If there’s a will there’s a way. 😛

1. Masbate Province, Philippines

Photo grabbed from: http://www.idreamedofthis.com/

I first found out how wonderful and what Masbate can offer is through the blog post HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT MASBATE. of my personal friend and a fellow blogger as well, Simon Gonzaga. I wasn’t really interested in visiting Masbate until I’ve seen his post. Now, it’s number one on my list! Thanks for sharing it and inspiring me, Kuya! 🙂 Then another friend of mine went to Masbate recently and posted his photo of the Milky Way! I repeat, MILKY WAY! Really, wow!

2. Sagada, Philippines

Photo grabbed from http://dangwerelost.com

I’ve been in Baguio for many times already but have not gotten any chance to visit the gorgeous Sagada. This place became even more popular because the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana” – where do broken hearts go, eh? 🙂 I even read somewhere that there is this place called Marlboro Country where you could spot wild horses. I wonder if I’d still be able to spot wild horses in there because if yes, that would be really one of a kind experience for me! I also know that it’s always crowded in there now but, I don’t care! 😛

3. Japan

Photo grabbed from http://thetummytrain.com

Tell me, who doesn’t want to visit Japan?! Definitely, not me! My dream country to visit since I was a child, probably influenced by my Otousan who worked there for years and of course, the Anime. Currently, I don’t know which city to visit yet because I think I’ll enjoy the place as long as it’s in Japan. Haha! I prefer to visit during Autumn instead of the season of Cherry Blossom~

These are my current top picks, though I’d like to visit more than three places for this year.
How about you? What are the places you’d like to visit? 🙂

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We Live To Explore

In my previous blog, I have shared that I bought my first camera, Fujifilm X-A2! The Fujifilm X-A2 is a mirrorless camera that is good for entry-level and upon research, these are the key features of X-A2:

  • 175° tilting LCD screen with face and eye detection (hello, selfie!)
  • 16.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Newly-developed Eye auto focus (AF), Auto Macro AF and Multi-Target AF
  • 5.6fps burst shooting
  • Built-in wi-fi (photos from the camera could transfer immediately to mobile phones)
  • A pop-up flash and external hotshoe
  • Classic Chrome film simulation mode
  • Full HD video recording capabilities at 30 frames per second and a multiple exposure mode

I am currently using the new XC 16-50mm II (24-76mm) F3.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens, which I think is the most basic kit lens of X-A2 (correct me if I’m wrong). What I also like about this camera are the built-in range of film simulation modes and creative effects, which helps me to take better photos. 🙂

Last week, I have spent my off-days to get lost and wander with my camera, just so that I could try out its different features… They think I’m crazy for doing it, but no! You know how much I like going out, right?! Haha! That’s why the title of this post is “We Live To Explore“. With that being said, let me share with you the unedited photos that I have taken. SOME of the photos that I have uploaded on my Instagram account are edited and filtered using VSCO app. However, if you’ll look at the unedited photos, there’s no need for filter anymore. 🙂

Any thoughts, comment or suggestion about my shots? 🙂 If you haven’t noticed, I like playing with sunlight and shadows. <3

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Weekend Getaway at Baguio City V.2

It was surely an unplanned Baguio visit with my team mates. Februrary 26, 2016 – we didn’t even know that it’s Panagbenga Festival! *chuckles*

We all agreed to meet in Victory Liner, Cubao at around 5AM. I told them that I’ll buy bus tickets for us since I’m the first one to get there. Sad to say, the earliest possible that we could get was at 10:30AM. Yes, I did buy the tickets because #YOLO, it’s now or never! Haha. So we had to wait for 5 more hours and was hoping to be a chance passenger in earlier trips, but still nah.

Chance Passenger

Arrived in Baguio City at 5PM then we checked-in Hotel Veniz. I have missed the Lomo Ribs of Canto so I dragged them at Ketchup: The Food Community to have our dinner.

Lomo Ribs

No definite plan afterwards, so we just had a night walk around Wright Park, Burnham Park and Session Road. After the long night walks, we finally decided to go back to hotel at around 11PM then watched The Conjuring on HBO!

Burnham Park
© Dominic Dawat

Burnham Park

On the next day, we went back to Burnham Park. The gorgeous scenery and the cool weather, oohh… the things that I always miss to see in Baguio City!

Mines View Park

Nothing much have changed since my last visit. Still a popular place to get cheap pasalubong, plants and to have a cliff overlooking the mountains.

The Mansion

We rode in jeepney from the Mines View Park going down to The Mansion –  the summer residence of the Philippine President. Only good for taking pictures because going inside the mansion is not allowed and other than that, there’s nothing else to do.

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Wright Park

Right in front of the Mansion. We often joke that the place and the vibe look like the same from what we see in Koreanovelas. 😛 We have enjoyed the sight of the people walking around, the horse back ride, the pine trees and all the other things that the Wright Park could offer!

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Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden is just 10 minutes walk from the Wright Park. A cool place with nice flowers, photo opportunities and interesting structures such as Chinese pagoda, Golden Gate Bridge, various other bridges and walkways with plenty of shade.

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Golden Bridge, OTWOL feels!

Laperal White House

Another famous spot along the Leonard Wood Rd. is the Laperal White House. A Victorian style house with a dark history but it was now transformed into a gallery of Filipino artworks based on bamboo and wood.

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Bagiuo Museum

It was my first time here. The Baguio Museum is a 4 storey building that proudly presents the history and the transformation of Baguio City. There are also displayed paintings that they sell.

IMG_0018 IMG_0011Panagbenga Festival

Just a few shots of the Panabenga Festival because it’s almost time for us to go back to Manila. 🙂

Long walks around Baguio City is so worth it!

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CD-R (CJ, Doms and Rika)

Weekend Getaway at Baguio City V.1

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U.S. Tourist Visa Application Experience

US Visa

Getting U.S. Tourist Visa is one of my goals for this year! It was January 15th when I set a schedule for my visa interview and the earliest possible date by that time was February 2nd; I chose February 5th at 8:00AM (Friday).

For Non-immigrant Visa application, these are the 3 steps:

  1. Go to www.ustraveldocs.com and answer the DS-160 online form (Note: You will need to upload your picture, preferably in a neutral facial expression).
  2. Pay the visa fee, which costs $160; keep the visa fee receipt because you will need it during the appointment.
  3. Schedule your visa interview thru their website or call center agent. Remember, gadgets are not allowed so better leave it at home.

I’m ecstatic about the interview, so I kept on Googling about U.S. Tourist Visa blogs and then I have noticed that these are the questions that the consular commonly ask:

  1. What is the purpose of your visit?
  2. Do you have any relatives or friends in the U.S.?
  3. How long will you be staying?
  4. Countries you have visited for the past 5 years?
  5. What is your work?
  6. How much is your monthly income?

U.S. Visa Appointment Day

My boyfriend (he only accompanied me) and I have arrived at the US Embassy around 6AM and I think I’m the 6th person in the line for the 8AM appointment. At 7:45AM, we were on our way inside the embassy.

Once inside the embassy, the first step would be a pre-interview (checking of printed DS-160/appointment form) this is also your last chance to change any answer in your form, the second step is a fingerprint scanning and lastly, the start of a waiting game for your number to be called for the interview.

Calling out of the number is randomized, as what the guy staff explained, it is random because the number that was first to enter into their system after the fingerprint scan will be called immediately, so don’t get mad if you saw the last person in your line to be called first. 🙂

I wasn’t wearing a watch on that day (because I thought it is also prohibited) so I assume that it took me an hour before being called. Maybe I’m just lucky that there were fewer people went for an interview on that day, other people waited for 2-3hrs. (Tip: Bring a book that you want to read while waiting because it might take hours before you’ll be called).

The consuls looks nice, approachable and good anyway, unlike the stories that I have heard. Before my turn, I could hear a lot of people being interviewed and most of them got approved.

The Interview

I was feeling nervous while waiting for my number to flash in the screen, but during the interview, my nervousness suddenly went away!

Consul: Hi, how are you?
Me: Good morning, I’m good. *smiles*
Consul: So, what’s the purpose of your visit?
Me: I will visit my relatives
Consul: What is your relationship with them?
Me: My aunt and my grandmother
Consul: How long do you plan to visit?
Me: For 2 weeks
Consul: So you work in *********?
Me: Yup
Consul: For how long?
Me: For ** years
Consul: From which department?
Me: From **** department
Consul: Oh, the **** store. What’s your work?
Me: *explaining my work*
Consul: Who will pay for your trip?
Me: Myself
Consul: Okay… So you’re saving up for yourself?
Me: Yes

And that’s how I got my U.S. Tourist Visa application approved! 😀 The excitement and the visa fee are all worth it! Haha. After 5 business days, my passport was delivered to our house… The US Embassy gave me 10 years! I think most of the questions were about my work because it will be the main reason why I’ll return here in the Philippines. Also, they didn’t ask for any supporting documents during the interview. My ultimate tip for the interview would be:

BE HONEST AND BE CONFIDENT

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Majestic Tinipak River and Mt. Mamara Day Hike

Hiking is now one of popular outdoor activities and a weekend getaway nowadays. So I’ll have to remind everybody, including myself, that do not hike in mainstream mountains a day before the holiday because there will be too many people!

We originally planned to hike in Mt. Daraitan but since there were too many people at that time, we were not lucky enough to be with the 300 people that were allowed to go up.

Good thing, we were still able to hike Mt. Marmara and Tinipak River which are also located in Barangay Daraitan, even though it’s crowded as well. Personally, I haven’t heard about the Mt. Mamara so I did not have any idea about its difficulty and what to expect at the summit.

Tinipak

Before you reach the starting point of Mt. Mamara, you’ll get to see and enjoy the Tinipak River first. The Tinipak River is characterized by cool clear waters, amazing rock formations and colorful stones by its banks; most of our time was spent taking photos near the river and on top of the rock formations. It was a 30mins walk from Brgy. Daraitan to the campsite and another 5mins walk going to the start point of Mt. Mamara; at the same time, it is the part of the river where you could swim around.

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Our hike from the starting point of Mt. Mamara up to the summit took us almost 2hrs and 30mins because we had to stop most of the time to give way for those hikers going down. The mountain is not yet developed and upon reaching the summit, I’m a bit disappointed about how crowded it was and there’s nothing much to see! You wouldn’t think of it as the summit. There wasn’t enough space to sit so most of us had our snacks while standing. I hate to say it, but the view doesn’t worth our climb at all… While going down took us only 1hr and 30mins.

There is also the Mamara cave, however, it was also crowded. We had to wait for the five groups to be finished (30mins for each group) before our turn so our group decided to skip the cave for us not to go home late and just go swim around Tinipak River.

Expenses: Tour guide – Php500 | Environmental Fee: Php25

© Allysa Pajarillo
© Allysa Pajarillo
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Mt. Manalmon: Day Hike And More Adventures At Sitio Madlum

We went to Sitio Madlum, San Miguel, Bulacan by a private car but if you prefer to commute, there are buses in Cubao that are bound to San Miguel, Bulacan. Arrived at Sitio Madlum around 10:30 AM; packed the things to bring for our day hike, left our extra clothes inside the car then we headed to registration area immediately. Glad that I’m with two people who have been there for three times already so they already know the way around. Expenses will be at the bottom of this post. 🙂

Upon arriving in the registration area, the officer informed us about the new rule: No Permit. No Entry. Thankfully, even though we do not have a permit, they allowed us to hike just for this time because we were obviously not aware with the new rule.

RegistrationRules

The tour guide gave us an option if we want to start from Madlum Cave or hike the Mt. Manalmon first. We chose option 2.

It was a short hike from registration area to Mt. Manalmon’s peak (1hr the outmost), the trail is good for beginners. Well, if you find the hike too short, there are also other mountains around such as Mt. Gola. 🙂 There is a small cave that serve as an entrance to Mt. Manalmon’s trail and we also had to go through the strong current of the river. We rest and had our snack at the peak while enjoying the strong wind and the beautiful view.

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Mt. Manalmon

At exactly 1PM, we went down from the peak then headed to the river where we spent some time to swim. There are also cliffs around where you could jump off into the deep parts of the river.

River

From the river, we headed back to the registration area to rent headlights for our next activity – spelunking inside Madlum Cave – something tick off my bucket list! Since spelunking requires you to use both hands… and your whole body, we thought of leaving our mobile phones inside our bags in the registration area, so we do not have a photo of our spelunking moments. Haha! We have now a reason (an excuse) to go back. 😛

For adventure seekers, you’ll love this Monkey Bridge where you have to go to the other side by walking on wire! But only if you are brave enough to do it because there is another option, use the normal bridge. Haha. Also, they do have a harness now unlike before. Can you imagine yourself walking on a wire without a harness? I might have chickened out!

money bridge

bridge

Too much adventure in one place for a day. For my last hike for year 2015, it was one heck of an experience!

Expenses for group of 4:

Registration Fee – Php 40 (Php 5/person)

Tour Guide – Php 500 (Php 125/person)

Headlight rental – Php 30/person

Wash room – Php 10/water gallon (bought 2 gallons per person)

Total expense per person: Php 180 🙂

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5 Days Trip Around Surigao

We availed a package for our 5 days trip around Surigao and the first thing that I have noticed with our itinerary is that it takes up a lot of time to travel around Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte. Availing a package tour made our trip more relaxing since van rental and accommodations were already included. Package details can be found at the end of this blog post. 🙂

Day 1: Enchanted River, Tunuy-an Falls and La Entrada Resort

bancasi breakfast

Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines have a direct flight from Manila to Bancasi Airport (Butuan City). Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by car rental drivers so I guess if you plan to have a DIY trip, you could easily rent a car/van. 🙂

Our tour guide let us taste their Toasted Siopao while driving our way to D’ Home Maker’s Cafe to have some breakfast before we head to Hinatuan Enchanted River. Butuan City to Hinatuan took us 3 hours of travel time.

Enchanted

Rain poured heavily minutes after we arrived in Enchanted River so no fish feeding for us! 🙁 Before we go to swim, we had lunch at Sibadan Fish Cage Resort which is just a short boat ride from Enchanted River. What’s fun about Sibadan is that you could swim with the stingray named Brenda and feed the big fishes!

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Sibadan

Even though we did not experience the fish feeding, I’m still amazed by its bluish clear water and also curious about what’s inside the underground cave of Enchanted River. Nothing much to do though, we just spent an hour swimming around the river before going to Tinuy-an Falls.

Tinuy-an

Tinuy-an Falls is said to be the little Niagra Falls and the widest waterfall in the Philippines. It was already getting dark when we arrived in Tinuy-an Falls and the waterfall was strongly splashing but you could still see how beautiful the little Niagra is! 2 hours away from Tinuy-an Falls, we have finally reached the famous La Entrada Resort where we had our dinner and spent the night.

La Entrada

Day 2: Britania Group of Islands, Cagwait and Cinnamon Island Resort 

Started our day with an island hopping! Britania Group of Islands is composed of 24 islands and islets but we managed to visit Hagonoy, Naked and Boslon islands only. Snorkeling is not part of the activity since there’s nothing much to see under the water.

Spacebar

After 3 hours of travelling from La Entrada Resort, we stopped over at Spacebar Beach Resort which is known as the Boracay of Cagwait – where we rest, enjoyed the beach for a while and had lunch because our next destination will be at Hayabangon Port which is 4 hours drive away! Then 45 minutes boat ride from the port, we have reached our final destination – Cinnamon Island Resort.

cinnamon

Cinnamon Island Resort is located in Bucas Grande, Socorro. Cinnamon is called such because of the cinnamon trees that grow in the island. They also served cinnamon tea which for me, it taste like cinnamon blended with peppermint. 🙂

Day 3: Sohoton Tour

The tour consists of going to Tiktikan Lake, Hagukan Cave, Makukuob Cave and Sohoton Jellyfish Sanctuary.

Tiktikan Lake

12241492_10205465377539983_917263160359584953_nWill need to trek for about 5 minutes from the cottage before you could see the Tiktikan Lake. The lake water is calm and surrounded with forest trees – a very serene view. Water creatures such as big fishes and crabs also live here.

© Jila Reyes

Swimming in the lake is not advisable but don’t worry, there’s a diving board near the cottage!

Hagukan Cave

The guide said that we should be there during low-tide because the entrance of the cave gets submerged during high-tide. But what we did is different, we dived to get inside the cave! When inside, you’ll hear a snoring sound as the water slams into the cave. The ample light coming from the entrance of the cave makes the water luminous green color.

Makukuob Cave

Inside the cave awaits majestic stalactite and stalagmite formations so don’t forget to wear a helmet for safety. Once you’re inside, the only way out is to jump off the cliff!

Sohoton Jellyfish Sanctuary

JellyFish
© Erika Arcamo

My first time touch a real jellyfish! 🙂 They are stingless, slimy and cute. Haha. The best time to visit is from April – June. Just a reminder, do not lift the jellyfish out of the water because they easily dry up and die.

Day 4: The Board Walk at Cloud 9, Siargao and Ronaldo’s Inn & Resto Bar

We packed our things early in the morning because we will now transfer to Siargao. It was a 2 uncomfortable hours boat ride from Cinnamon Resort to Siargo. We checked in Ronaldo’s Inn first before proceeding to our most awaited activity, surfing!

Cloud9

surf
© Jila Reyes

The Board Walk at Cloud 9 have the best access and views of the famous Cloud 9 surf break. The weather was bad so the waves are strong and heavy but not bad enough for us not to surf.

Pizza

We also tried the three layered cheese of Avenito’s Pizza! Yum <3

Day 5: Siargao to Bancasi Airport

Pasalubong day and a short side trip at Bood Promotory Eco-Park in Butuan City wherein they believed that the first blood compact happened. No planned activity other than that since most of our time was spent for travelling back to Bancasi Airport.

Package details:

You may visit this site to check their packages or you may contact directly our tour guide Kuya Philip through this number: 09985590527

For our package, it was Php 8,950/person – foods, accomodation and transportation included. Price may change depending on your itinerary or accommodation requests. 🙂 If you have any questions, feel free to ask me!

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Weekend at Quezon City

I was invited in a photoshoot by my cousin’s friend, Kuya Jay Exiomo, for his personal project “Metro Manila Diaries”. I’m still happy for being part of this project, spreading the beautiful and historical parts of Metro Manila. You may check his wonderful works in his travel blog Pusang Gala. 🙂 P.S. You might drool over his beautiful shots and the places he had been to!

Photos were taken in some of the famous places around Quezon City: Quezon Memorial Circle, Maginhawa Street and UP Diliman. Below are some of his shots:

Quezon Memorial Circle

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I was still in High School the last time I visited Quezon Memorial Circle and as far as I can remember, there were only parks and sari-sari stores around. I’m amazed by how much it has changed! There were now interactive museum, restaurants, court, fitness equipment, and a lot more! We need more city parks like this, please. 🙂

Maginhawa Street, UP Village

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I bet no one gets hungry here in the famous food street, Maginhawa Street. lol. Photos were taken specifically at StrEat and Cat Cafe Manila. Instagram-ish stores that offers a different variety of foods, who wouldn’t want to come here? 🙂 It may be scourging hot outside but I don’t mind, I could chill here any time!

UP Diliman Campus

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The home of UP Fighting Maroons. Best place to have any photoshoot theme, jog and train, stroll, eat street foods or just relax over the weekend. The sun light, forest like surroundings – UP Diliman Campus will make you feel like you’re far from the busy city. You’ll love everything about here.

So aside from Kuya Jay’s photos, I also have my own random photos. Haha!

Touring around Quezon City made me realize that each city has its own beauty and history that I need to learn and to know more. 🙂

Click here for Kuya Jay’s photoshoot blog post. 

Looking forward for more photoshoot, random photos and weekend like this! Hope you had an awesome weekend like mine! 🙂

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Fire Sword Cafe: Come for the food. Stay for the games.


Fire Sword

My first time to try a board game cafe. 🙂 Came here with my friends on a Sunday night because we want to play board games and to check out the new place as well.

The Place and Ambiance

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Fire Sword Cafe is not that big but could accommodate enough people to eat while enjoying the board games. 🙂 I like how they designed their tables with borders to avoid the falling of small objects and there is also an extra shelf beneath the table where we can hide the box or extra items of board games in order to have more space for the table.

A great place to bond with friends and family!

Services

games

The staffs and even the owner are very accommodating and generous enough to teach us how to play King of Tokyo and Takenoko. Haha. They are very helpful in suggesting new games for us to try! I like all games that we have played: Epic Spell Wars, King of Tokyo and Takenoko.

As for the food, I only tried the Swissmiss Milk Shake and it was actually delicious. 🙂 There is no doubt that I will come back here with my friends to try the other foods and board games.

Swissmiss Milk Shake With friends

Location: Unit 201 Times Square Building, 57 Examiner Corner Times Street, West Triangle, Quezon City

Click here for their Facebook account.

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Mt. Pinatubo: Weekend Escapade

Mt. Pinatubo

The volcano’s eruption on  June 15th 1991 was truly a nightmare; it caused several earthquakes which resulted in the collapse of summit and the creation of caldera. It was a nightmare that surprisingly left us a beautiful crater lake.

For this trip, we had a package deal from Majestic Mount Pinatubo which costs Php 1900/person. Foods, snacks and van rental are excluded but they have a public van from Manila going to Tarlac and vice-versa. The 4×4 ride made it quite pricey.4x4 ride

rocky road Trekking Mt. Pinatubo doesn’t necessarily need to camp out since it was just a 2 hours trek, excluding the 1.5hr 4×4 ride. Expect the trail to be bumpy because it was badly damaged by the eruption and sometimes you have to cross rivers so it’s better to wear a wettable shoes.

crater lake

Reaching the crater lake will make you see the worth of all your effort and sweat. Though swimming in to the lake has been prohibited since 2013, the breathtaking view of the crater lake will leave you in awe. The surrounding is really wonderful and peaceful!

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group pic

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We were lucky enough that the weather is nice and cool during our trek. 🙂