2012 Year-End Travel Report
This year has been a good year for me, and I couldn't be more grateful with all the blessings (and the trips) I had this year. So, I want to take you back on my 2012 travel plans and everything that happened in between. Come, join me as I retrace my trips in 2012.
While we were able to spend a night in the enchanting island of Siquijor, we, however did not go around the island to see the falls and the hot spring And there was no amazing sunset when we went there. Although, I am still keeping my fingers crossed that we'll be able to go back. And I must admit, I was one of those who got paranoid with all those myths about the island, but this paranoia vanished when I saw Coco Grove Beach Resort and its pristine white sand and clear waters. Our time was also limited (and so is our funds) so we were not able to go to Apo Island. Next time, we will make sure to have this in our itinerary, along with Manjuyod Sand Bar. And oh, how can I forget the sanzrival and silvanas in Dumaguete? Yum yum!
|Coco Grove Beach Resort|
Goal partially met
The original plan was that this is a barkada trip. But there were last minute changes so only four of us ended up travelling to Masbate. We were able to go to Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary but since the information available online was scarce, we did not go island hopping to Catandayagan Falls, as well as we bumped off the idea of going to Aroroy and Palani, Balud. We were advised that it is kinda hard to go to Aroroy because the sea can get really rough. On the other hand, we cannot figure out how to go to Palani in Balud via public transportation, and renting a private van is too costly for four pax, thus, we did not go there anymore. Plus, we did not go to Sorsogon as the travel time will eat most of our days in Masbate.
The trip to Buntod Reef was in a way liberating. Off-the-beaten-path place, exotic seafood finds (talk about sharks and stingrays) and new friends. Next on our list is Ticao Island (I just wish that the resorts here will make local-friendly packages).
|Stingrays for Dinner|
3.Baguio Food Trip
This time, we went to Baguio not for the views but for a gastronomic journey. We hopped from one restaurant to another to savor the best gustatory delights from the City of Pines. Overall, nothing beats my favorite breakfast place - Cafe by the Ruins - and the Baby Back Ribs at Forest House. The ambiance at Forest House is still an undisputed winner.
|Akisha in native Ifugao outfit|
|Forest House's Baby Back Ribs|
This wasn't part of my travel list for 2012 but when I moved to my new office, I met my now dear friend Irog who also travels a lot. He organized a tour to Cagbalete Island in Quezon with our officemates and we were lucky to spend a night in a private beach house on the island. The food in Lucban is also to die-for. Talk about longganisa and Pancit Lucban!
|Low Tide in Cagbalete Island|
|Cholesterol-rich Lucban Longganisa|
|First Time to Travel with Officemates|
We went to Iloilo and Guimaras Island in mid-2012 and although we didn't get to stay at La Puerta al Paraizo which was our first choice, we had the chance to discover another nice resort just beside Raymen (which I personally think is the most overrated resort in Guimaras). We stayed in Alubihod Cove, a homey nook that serves good Pancit Molo, too! Island hopping is so-so here, and we didn't get to snorkel (don't remind me about that fussy Raymen boatman again!). But I appreciate the inland and food tour more than anything else. Plus, I was able to go up Guisi Lighthouse! Yey! And we got to visit two old churches in Molo and Jaro.
I was so privileged to cover DOT's Ambassadors, Consuls General, Tourism Directors Tour (ACGTDT) held at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan. It is so amazing how more than 20 houses were transported in this site plank by plank and rebuilt to mimic how these ancestral houses look like in the old days. On our way back to Manila, we passed by the Shrine of Valor which gave me goosebumps, reminiscing how our dear fellowmen fought for our country.
|Las Casas de Acuzar, Bataan|
|Shrine of Valor|
It was our nth time in Boracay, but it was a first for my family so lo and behold, we enjoyed the powdery white sands of the most popular island in the Philippines, thanks to Airasia for launching their local flights this year! And since the crowd was going gaga on the main beach, we went somewhere quiet - Ilig-Iligan Beach. This small cove reminds us of what the main beach looks like i the old days. I was surprised to see it on Amazing Race Philippines, too!
This trip is also memorable because we got to spend a night in Kalibo for the first time, where we visited the Sto. Nino Church.
|Sto. Nino Church|
And so Zestair decided to pullout all their San Jose, Mindoro flights, just when I was so excited on going to the famous Apo Reef in Sablayan. I had to give them an epic complaint message and they agreed to either refund my tickets in cash without the 30-day wait, or rebook it to any destination of my choice. A blessing in disguise and we chose to exchange it to roundtrip Tagbilaran tickets! And with my ever favorite resort chain - Bluewater Resorts - we had a great 3 days 2 nights stay in Bluewater Panglao, and an exhilarating island hopping tour to Balicasag and Virgin Islands. This time, we did not say hello to the Tarsiers and the famous Chocolate Hills, rather, we took it easy and had a laid-back vacation.
|Underwater in Balicasag Island|
|The boomerang-shaped Virgin (Pungtud) Island|
Okay, I wasn't so happy with our Guimaras trip plus Tiger Airways launched their local flights (including Iloilo) with a piso fare promo. Now, tell me that the planets weren't conjuring to bring me back to Iloilo. Tell me!
This trip was rather a trip of many firsts - first time to travel with a new set of travel buddies, first time to snorkel alone, first spelunking attempt. Plus, the destination is one of those paths less traveled, thanks to the internet which allowed us to get in touch with Carles' Tourism Officer, Joel Decano, who warmly welcomed us to their humble resort in Gigantes Norte. It was habagat season when we went there, so the waves were really tough! Thankfully, we survived!
It was also our first time to taste the authentic La Paz Batchoy at Netong's. Yes, the most authentic batchoy can be found not in Ted's or Deco's, but inside the muddy alleys of La Paz Market. We even met the son of Mang Netong, the original proprietor of the humble resto.
Official Business/Impromptu Trip
In 2012, I found my dream job. And that means having to travel and write about exciting destinations and delectable gustatory finds. Just a week before our much-awaited trip to El Nido, I was assigned to cover Coron's newest jewel - Two Seasons Coron. It was a blast having to see the famous Kayangan Lake and my favorite sunset again.
|The eco-friendly dock at Two Seasons Coron|
|Stunning Sunset from my private Jacuzzi|
11. El Nido, Palawan
Our much-anticipated trip of all time had finally happened in 2012. It was a five day break from city life. Indeed, we enjoyed the limestone karsts, cerulean waters and rich marine biodiversity of El Nido. We love its serene vibe, as well as the fact that the tours here are organized.Up to now, I still can't get over our snorkeling experience in Simizu Island, the awe-inspiring view from Matinloc Shrine and the postcard-perfect lagoons and beaches of El Nido. More to explore!
|Fish Attack in Simizu Island|
12. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Official Business/Impromptu Trip
Another impromptu business trip led me to Northern Thailand. I must say I adore Thailand as much as I adore the Philippines. The warm smiles of the people, the flavorful food, diverse culture and the amazing architecture beckons me to return. I'll make sure to go to Krabi next time, so that I will be able to compare it to Palawan personally.
|Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, Thailand|
The original plan was to explore Moalboal, but the skyrocket prices and the "foreigner-friendly" atmosphere turned us off. Another blessing in disguise as we were able to go to Sumilon Island (a second time for me, a first for my two pals). It was my first time to see a whaleshark up close! We were also able to snorkel at the first marine reserve in the country, and trek our way up to the centuries-old lighthouse. The shifting sand bar is a winner, too!
|Tuki, Oslob's Whaleshark|
|The Shifting Sand Bar|
|Our Glamping Tent in Sumilon|
A week after my me-time with friends at Sumilon Island, we went back to Cebu again. This time with my in-laws. It was my first time to try Casa Verde's famous ribs, and although the taste was so-so, the serving size is a definite winner. For less than Php 300 bucks, the serving is good for two to three pax. We also went around the city and had a day trip at Maribago Bluewater where we feasted on Sinugba.
|Casa Verde's Baby Back Ribs|
|Maribago Bluewater's Sandbar|
15. Enchanted Kingdom, Sta. Rosa, Laguna
We ended the year trying to feel like a child again and went to where all the magic started - Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. (Kahapon lang ito, mainit-init pa!)
|Enchanted Kingdom's Space Shuttle|
So, obviously, I had more impromptu trips than planned ones. And the planned ones were either half-baked or postponed! Haha! for 2013, my lineup includes Carabao Island (Romblon), Butuan-Surigao-Siargao, Legazpi-Sorsogon, San Vicente (Palawan), Tacloban-Biliran, and Siem Reap (Cambodia). Hope to hit 101% this time! Happy New Year everyone!