Bicol 2013 Part 1 – Legazpi

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On the first week of August, my good friend Kath and I spent five days in Bicol. I know, i know – it’s smack in the middle of typhoon season and we went to a region that was on the path of the storms. We expected that so the mid-day showers throughout our trip was no surprise for us. In fact, it added to the adventure and excitement of our trip!

We arrived in the Naga Airport with our backpacks on our backs and a mix of excitement and nervousness. We hadn’t completely structured our trip so we would be playing it by ear. After stopping by SM Naga for lunch and supplies, we rode the van headed to Legazpi. The van terminal was just across SM Naga and the ride was just a bit over two hours. Just like in my Siem Reap trip,Β we hadn’t booked a hotel so we asked our tricycle driver for his recommendation. We ended up staying in Night & Day, a newly opened budget hostel, for 600 pesos (300 pesos each) – not a bad deal as the room had air conditioning, a television, and two decent sized beds.

Since we only allotted one day to explore Legazpi, once we settled in our room, we headed out to see the sights. Our first stop was the Cagsawa Ruins. To our disappointment, the skies were pretty cloudy so we did not have the perfect view of the Mayon Volcano that we went to Legazpi for. Nonetheless, the Cagsawa Ruins are beautiful on their own merit, with or without a perfect image of Mayon in the shot. A few minutes into our picture taking session, it started to rain. We decided to continue our tour in the morning before leaving Legazpi.

Cagsawa Ruins

Giant cloud blocking Mayon

Raining!

Posing in the rain :))

We had dinner in Waway’s Restaurant because we were enticed by the 250 Pesos buffet that they advertised. It did not disappoint. For dessert, we headed for 1st Colonial Grill to try out their Sili (chili) and Pili ice creams. The Pili ice cream was delicious! The sili ice cream was definitely an experience. When it touches your tongue, you start to think, ah this tastes really good! But the moment it gets to your throat you feel the aftereffect of the spicy flavor in the ice cream.

Sili Ice Cream

On the way out of the restaurant, it started to pour. We didn’t have any umbrellas so we asked for plastic bags. They gave us the small grocery bags and just as we were running out with just the plastic bag over our heads, the very kind staff of 1st Colonial Grill approached us with giant garbage bags and made makeshift raincoats for us!

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That evening, we found out our college classmate and friend, Kat, was on her way back to Legazpi for the long weekend so we made plans to meet up. The next morning, Kat picked us up from the hostel and after having breakfast in another buffet that was beside the airport, we went to Lignon Hill for a view of Mayon. This time, the sky was kind to us and we were able to view the Mayon Volcano in its entirety.

With Kat!

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Lignon Hill

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Posing in front of Mayon

The other side of Lignon Hill

Finally having seen Mayon, we decided it was time to go to our next destination: Calaguas. So we bid goodbye to Kat and rode the van back to Naga. Getting wet in the rain in Legazpi was just the beginning of our rainy Bicol adventure!

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Bacolod 2013

My parents and other relatives often wonder where I get my wanderlust from because I come from a family of homebodies. My mom and my brother are very satisfied in just staying at home while my father has no special interest in getting on an airplane and spending on a three day trip to an unfamiliar location. This is why it pleased me when my mother booked a family trip to Bacolod City, which is a 45 minute plane ride away from Manila. It’s not as intense or adventure-filled as the trips that I take with my friends, but it’s a good change from our usual family trips to the Philippines which mainly comprised of staying at home and going out just for shopping or eating.

We only spent two full days in Bacolod, so we decided to visit all the sites on our first day. We decided to start our day early so we wouldn’t miss anything.

Our first stop was the San Sebastian Cathedral which has gained infamy for the giant Team Patay/Team Buhay tarpaulins that were put up during the election campaign period. Despite it being months since the National Elections, the tarpaulins can still be found posted on the face of the cathedral, which is a shame since it is such a beautiful church and all the tarpaulins do is distract us from its beauty.

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Most decent shot of the San Sebastian Cathedral I could take. Tried not to include the tarpaulin but a part of it still made its way to the picture.

 

Our next stop was the Mambukal Resort which is located at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon and is known for its hot springs. Being from Laguna, the scenery was not very different from what we saw growing up. Nonetheless, the place was beautiful. I wish we were able to spend the night in the resort so we could explore the area more. We were only able to walk around for a few minutes and visit the Butterfly Garden before heading off to our next destination.

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After our trip to Mambukal, we visited the Pope John Paul II Tower which was built to commemorate his visit to Bacolod in the early 1980s. There are seven floors in the tower and each floor is themed differently, with pictures, paintings, and even the Papal Chair that JPII sat on during his visit.

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We then had lunch in SM City Bacolod which is right across the John Paul II Tower. Afterwards, we left Bacolod and headed to Silay which is known for their beautiful colonial houses. Since we were pressed for time, we were only able to drop by Balay Negrense, which is the ancestral house of Victor Garson, son of one of the pioneers of the sugarcane industry in Negros Occidental. The house reminded me of the Syquia Mansion that my friends and I visited last year in Laoag. Basically, it was a house that was turned into a museum, complete with a tour guide who will tell you about how the family lived their life decades ago. I really have a fascination towards Spanish period homes and furnishings. Going into these houses really makes you feel like you’re being teleported to the past, or at least that’s how I feel when I visit one. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture of the house, but here’s one of me with one of the displays: an old school motorcycle!

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After our quick visit to Silay, we went back to Bacolod to visit the Ruins. This was what I was most excited about because every time I told someone I was going to Bacolod, the first thing they would tell me was to visit the Ruins! This definitely did not disappoint. Despite really just being the remains of a burnt down mansion, the Ruins was such a gorgeous sight to see. It definitely is one of the most photogenic remains of a burnt down mansion I have ever seen. It’s amazing how it was transformed into a tourist destination. It was the most tourist packed location that we went to that day and most of the tourists were foreigners! The tour guide was very entertaining. He explained the history of the family and the structure itself in a very engaging manner. I didn’t stay long for the tour because I was too captivated by the environment. Ten minutes into the tour, I separated myself from the group and decided to go around and take photographs of the place. It was simply majestic. Hands down my favorite stop in our trip.

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My brother and me playing chess on the mini golf course that was opened right in the garden area of the Ruins

 

Our last stop for the day was the newly built Bacolod City Hall. By this time we were already very tired from the entire day and so we only took some pictures before heading back to the hotel. It looks beautiful at night with all the lights.

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We were so exhausted from the sightseeing heavy first day that we ended up getting up at 10 am the next day! Our second day was more of a food trip day. We had lunch in Bob’s, where they have the BEST brownies ever, and dinner in the Chicken House so that we could have some authentic Chicken Inasal. We had cakes from Calea for dessert. The White Chocolate Cheesecake was definitely my favorite.

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Chicken Inasal!

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Calea’s White Chocolcate Cheese Cake

 

I’m really glad that my family has decided to be more adventurous now. Even if it was just two days in another city, we were able to have some really fun and cultural family bonding time. I love traveling with my friends but it’s definitely a completely different experience traveling with family. My parents and my brother seem to have enjoyed this trip so I am very hopeful that this is not the last trip that we all go on together.

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Complete family picture in Mambukal πŸ™‚

Bubba Gump et al

Met up with Tyress and Kath for dinner in Bubba Gump Greenbelt 3 tonight. Finally not getting lost within BGC and actually getting to Makati in record time from home!

Tyress is hilarious as always. I swear, he never fails to make me laugh out loud with how he tells his story. I think he’s usually much funnier than the actual story.

Tyress

Anyway, really good food!! Loved the Baked Seafood and Rice that I ordered. MMMMMM….. It was one of those few times that I was the first in the group to finish my food because seriously, delish.

We spent some time reminiscing the past and how crazy we were. We went on multiply to look at some of the pictures that would make horrible blackmail material. After that, we had some gelato at Gelatone!

 

At the moment I feel bad that I’ve only recently started documenting my vacation. I’ve been here for more than a month and it’s only now that I decide to bring my camera with me. Documentation fail. Well, it’s alright. What matters is the memories made, right? πŸ™‚

I take Tyress home to Greenhills and visit his place for the first time. Since I’m in the neighborhood I decided to drop by to say bye to Kinah and we ended up buying some coke floats and chilling by Temple Drive… like old times.

I'll miss you, Kinchi! I wish we got to hang out more often 😦

Yakimix

Last night, Raisa, Justin, Jude and I had dinner at Yakimix, Podium. I’ve heard so much about the restaurant that when Raisa invited me I immediately said yes! I usually don’t go to buffets since I easily get full so it’s hardly worth it for me but I skipped lunch that day and the price of their buffet was not bad at all (P600!).

Raisa, Justin, Jude and Me! Double date haha

Caveman & Yeti

After our girl bonding lunch at Greenbelt, Kath, Camille and I set off to a place where it was quiet and empty on a Saturday night: Pearl Drive. We were supposed to hang out in Starbucks when we spotted the not so newly opened branch of Caveman & Yeti. We decided to try the place out since it sounded interesting.

Really good stuff, actually! I had a half vanilla, half coffee one with chocnut and condensed milk. YUM! Look at how pleased we are with our orders!

Happy faces! Camille, Kath, Me, Jude, Jonathan!

Philippines Day 1

After more than a year abroad, I’m finally back in the Philippines. It feels like I never left. EDSA never felt so familiar.

I met up with some of the Dormers. My lack of sleep really didn’t bother me since I just really wanted to meet up with my friends who I have not seen for more than a year.

Cheston, Jonathan, Jude, and Justin meet me in Teriyaki Boy and there are of course hugs that go around. Camille catches up and we wait for her to finish eating while waiting for Raisa to pick us up for my very first Mercato experience!

Jude, Justin, me, Raisa, Cheston, Camille, and Jonathan at Mercato!

After Mercato, we hung out at Cheston’s where we played taboo till 4AM! Amazing way to start my vacation! πŸ™‚

Half-time update

I’m currently watching the Portugal vs Spain game, and it’s half time. The game was crazy intense. And the score is still 0-0. I’m rooting for Portugal because Spain colonized us. (yes, I’m bitter, but I won’t side with the enemy! :P)

I ran to the bathroom right after the game, and I saw the weighing scale and ignored it completely. I’m not prepared to weigh myself yet, it would push me to go on a diet. Right now I’m enjoying my favorite ice cream, Hokey Pokey from Baskin Robbins. It’s White chocolate ice cream with crunchy honey comb pieces and caramel. Mmmmm… Calories.

On a lighter note…

I felt my first post was kind of heavy. So here’s one on a lighter note. I realized how hard it was to dress up now, mainly because I live with my parents now and so I can’t wear what I used to wear. (They want me to throw my shorts away). It’s also because I’ve gained a lot of weight as a bum. Plus, I’d rather dress conservatively to avoid being talked about by other people (since most people aren’t used to seeing too much skin here)

This is what I wore out today:

I don’t like posing for these kinds of pictures so I didn’t know what to do with my hands in the second picture. There’s my brother in the background of the first picture. He was the one who (reluctantly) took the second picture.

To be cliche, I will break down the outfit.

Tube top: Mango (P400)

Skirt: SM Department Store (P400? I forgot.)

Cardigan: Thrift store (P80)

Anyway, something cute. My friend and I ordered shakes in the mall a few days back. The colors are so cute.

That’s Watermelon Shake (Left) and Mango Shake (Right)

Girly, i know.