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June 5, 2014

KIX 3's: CALAGUAS, SABANG, BAGASBAS of CAMARINES NORTE
























       Camarines Norte is getting popular because of its white sand beaches that can be compared to Boracay. Here are the beaches I visited during my Holy Week trip to CamNorte.

CALAGUAS
     This is the most popular and the most beautiful beach in Camarines Norte. It is a 2-3 hour boat ride from the entry point towns of Vinzons or Paracale.  We depart at 5:00am from Sabang, a barangay in Vinzons and we were greeted by an amazing sunrise during our boat ride.
           Finally we arrived at Calaguas Island...
Mahabang Buhangin stretch


Calaguas during peak season



           Don't miss the view on your boat ride going back...


SABANG
        This is our gateway going to Calaguas, we stayed at my uncle's house as we watched the sun sets. A charming place in a very simple town.



           Along the road of Sabang...


BAGASBAS
        Bagasbas beach is located in Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte. It is a public beach with a long stretch of brown sand and has been known as the surfing destination in Bicol Province.



    

May 1, 2014

SIQUIJOR IN FULL CIRCLE

GOING TO SIQUIJOR      
       During our Dumaguete tour, we had a side trip visit to the mystic land of Siquijor. The first thing to do in going to Siquijor is to check the schedule of the ferries and pick the one that matches your itinerary. The earliest you can buy the ticket at the Dumaguete port is one day before your departure. I suggest you take the fast crafts that can take you to Siquijor (from Dumaguete) in less than an hour than shipping lines that can take 1.5 hours or more. 

        We took the 9:00am Delta Ferry going to Siquijor (they are sometimes late to arrive) and we reached the island of fire in an hour disembarking at Siquijor, Siquijor port. From there we bought our tickets back to Dumaguete via M/V shipping lines, they have the latest schedule going back at 5:00pm.

GETTING AROUND SIQUIJOR
    Tricycles, motobikes, and multi-cabs are the main transportation going around Siquijor. Here are the rates for one whole day touring the province:
                  Tricycle - P850-P1200                     Motorbike- P250/day or P50/hour
                  Multicab -P1,500-P1,800                 Van - P3,000 

         Since I have elderly group in my tour and it was summer when we visited Siquijor last year, I opted to rent a van for a more comfortable travel.

THE TOUR
source: www.lonerider.com
       It is possible exploring Siquijor in one day. It is an easy route going around the towns in the province and ending the journey where it started.

      SIQUIJOR, SIQUIJOR
PORT - For me the tour started just as we landed at the Siquijor port. Everything surrounding it 
      was beautiful. Siquijor was a great surprise!


     ST. FRANCIS DE ASSISI CHURCH- This famous century-old church is just walking distance from the port. We made our way there while waiting for our van to arrive.

   SAN JUAN, SIQUIJOR
CAPILAY SPRING PARK - A simple park with a spring pool at the heart of San Juan. For me, it is 
     not a let down if you don't visit this place. There are more interesting places you can spend your time on in this island.
CORAL CAY RESORT - San Juan is one of the places in Siquijor that has an amazing beach resorts. We stayed at Coral Cay for lunch and we were just amazed with the view of the beach. See resort list
BALETE TREE/ FISH SPA - The enchanting 400 year-old balete tree was our next stop after our lunch at Coral Cay. You can dip your toes at the fish spa just below the tree. This is managed by their local community and donation of any amount is required.


    















LAZI, SIQUIJOR
ST. ISIDORE DE LABRADOR CHURCH - also known as Lazi Church. It was built in 1884 and acknowledged as a National Historical Shrine in the 1970's. 

LAZI CONVENT- Just across Lazi Church, Lazi convent was also declared as a National Historical Shrine and is known as the largest convent in the Asia region.







MARIA, SIQUIJOR

SALAGDOONG BEACH - The famous beach in the town of Maria because of its clear turquoise waters and white-beige sand. This is an easy access beach with an entrance fee of only P15 and parking fee of P20. Expect the place to be crowded mostly with locals. The beach is beautiful but I am not sure if there are private showers available for day tour guests.
CANG-ISOK HOUSE - The oldest house in Siquijor built in the mid 1800's and lasted for more
     than a hundred years (except for the roof).

   LARENA, SIQUIJOR
     Before Siquijor became the independent province, Larena was its capital town. Larena 
lost its capital to Siquijor in 1971. 
View along the road in Larena, Siquijor
           BanBan Catholic Church

      PILI, SIQUIJOR
      INFINITY HEIGHTS RESORT - Our driver took us here to spend our spare time while waiting
      for our ship to arrive. Usually they charge an entrance fee for walk-ins but they waived it during our visit. We just ordered drinks and enjoyed it while we rest and marveled at the place. 
      Infinity Resort is picture perfect with its overlooking panoramic view of the island and the resort's charming landscape.
  

            After circling the province, we arrived  back at the port of Siquijor, where we started. 
     The view was even more amazing as the sun begins to set.   

      It was a slow ride back to Dumaguete and as the sun goes down my thoughts drifted back to the island. Siquijor used to be a scary place to me because of its mystical nature and now I understand what its magic is all about ....because I got enchanted. 

Notes to consider:
1. It was quite hard to find restaurants in Siquijor, easiest is to dine inside the resort.
2. Vans are limited in the province. 
3. Do not miss Cambugahay Falls in Lazi and if you have time try to trek Mt. Bandilaan.
4. Try their famous breads.
5. For the brave, visit a faith healer.
6. Explore their mangroves and marine sanctuaries.
7. I hope you find the souvenir shops and halo halo stops because I didn't.
8. The ride back to Dumaguete via shipping line would take 1.5-2 hours of travel time.
9. Siquijor is best enjoyed overnight.
10. Visit Siquijor during their festival.




April 18, 2014

TIME TRAVEL AT LAS CASAS HERITAGE RESORT

        "Without pride of heritage, Filipinos have no identity.." -By 


         Let's step back into the past...

       Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a heritage park that has been increasingly popular to tourists located in Bagac, one of the oldest town in Bataan . The park consists of 27 structures representing traditional 18th to 19th century-old houses in the Philippines. Showcasing Filipino cultural heritage, ingenuity, and craftmanship through recreating and reconstructing Filipino traditional homes is a project of the owner and art collector, Mr. Jose Rizalino"Jerry" Acuzar. 

        We visited this place for a day tour. Before entering the main gate to the heritage resort you will be welcomed by a security in a ranger uniform and their staff in a Filipiniana dress and Barong Tagalog to collect the fee for your tour. 

Here are the rates:
Package 1 (set meal) ..... P 1,200.00 nett per pax

Package 1 (buffet meal).. P 1,500.00 nett per pax

Guaranteed minimum of 30 persons required to avail of buffet arrangement.

Inclusions:

Welcome drinks, 30 minutes to 1 hour guided tour of the Heritage Houses, entrance fee and use of beach area, 1 lunch, afternoon snack, 2 tetra-pack juices, 2 bottles of mineral water, vicinity map, all taxes and service charge

OTHER OPTIONS

Option 1: Entrance fee with snacks
P 850.00 nett per person (Adult)
P 425.00 nett per person (Child)

Option 2: Entrance fee only
P 685.00 nett per person   (Adult and children 5 years old and up; toddlers free of charge)
























        After paying our day tour fees we proceeded to their reception area at Casa Mexico to wait for our walking tour to start. While waiting they offered us a cold sago gulaman drink (sweet beverage with tapioka pearls and jelly) which was perfect in that hot day and a sombrero to be used during our tour.
Casa Mexico, this was built from salvaged materials from junkshop and the house was based on an old photograph which the owner used in its reconstruction.
        When our tour began and started walking the cobbled streets, seeing the recreated old houses made my heart and fingers excited to capture what I am experiencing during the whole tour. It was hard to concentrate on what the tour guide was saying when you still wanted to wander for more pictures.
   Paseo de Escolta, replicas of the typical Escolta buildings in Manila in the early 1900's .    

                 Casa Bizantina, built in 1890, bahay na bato in San Nicolas, Binondo.


























You can also ride their carruaje (horse drawn carriage) to tour the whole park.
























           Las Casas also provides room and suite accommodations and private casas for rent. 
See RATES.
      They have beautiful restaurants and bars and cultural entertainment to serenade you with kundiman songs and to perform our national dances that usually starts 6pm onwards.

       They have (2) batis inspired swimming pools, jogging route, beach area, Napiya spa, and other sports activities.

              Casa Unisan, Built in 1839, claims to be the first bahay na bato in Unisan, Quezon.
                  Casa Lubao, plantation house in Lubao, Pampanga built in the early 1900's.

Casa Jaen, residence of the first Mayor of Jaen, Nueva Ecija

Casa Luna, built in 1850 in La Union, named in honor of the famous Luna brothers, General Antonio 
Luna and our national painter, Juan Luna.
Notes to consider:
1. It is HOT! Wear light comfortable clothing and put on your sunblock. 
2. I think this is better visited on an overnight stay to better concentrate on the tour, take lots of pictures late in the afternoon for better lighting, enjoy their pool and beach during sunset, experience staying at 18th-19th century houses and seeing the place at night .
3. Try to visit other Bataan tourist spots and beaches in Morong.
4. A friend who had been working in DOT and Intramuros years ago visited this place and told me that some houses are not exact replica of the original ones and the history telling is not that accurate. Do your own research.
5. It is still a must visit in Bataan.

Our heat stroke jump! :)



photos by Michelle Mujer and Ken Fabe

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