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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

    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.

    me 3

    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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    Philippine Map Pinboard

    Philippine Map Pinboard

    Isn’t it fun to know where you’ve been and haven’t been by marking it on a pinboard map? Listing down the mountains that you have conquered? A pinboard that will help you remember the moments you had in a certain place. Memories that will be remembered forever.

    Just finished my Philippine map pinboard today; it may have look simple, but the point of it is to let me remember where I have been. More than 20 years living in Philippines and as you can see, I still have a lot of Philippine provinces to visit! I’m not even in the half yet! Haha. On the left side, I plan to list down the mountains that I have conquered.ListsWhat else do you think should I add to it? Were you also able to track down the places you’ve been? Comment below. 🙂

    Materials:

    Cork Board | Wooden Frame| Construction Paper | Dressmaker Pins | Glue | Pencil | Scissor | Permanent Markers (Black and Silver)

    PS: If you are interested to have one, just send me a message. 🙂

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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.

    Summary

    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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