Twice in Cebu City,Twice in Baguio,twice in Puerto del Sol Bolinao (twice in Marriott Manila) and twice in Malaysia.Not bad at all.
2012 has been another year of fun discoveries both local and abroad.
MOUNT MACULOT BATANGAS
MOUNT MACULOT is where I celebrated my 31st Birthday
Our first out of town for 2012 was our first mountain climbing which involves camping overnight on the summit and it happened to be my birthday.The place is Mount Maculot,a mountain in Cuenca Batangas opposite Tagaytay.I have underestimated this mountain,not in terms of the clomb (as it is for beginners) but in terms of the view.At sunrise,we hiked from the campsite to the Rockies where the view of Taal Lake below and the lush vegetation of the mountain and the surrounding area is a thing to behold.
Side trip in TAAL BATANGAS
\STORY: passing by sleepy TAAL TOWN to see Basilica de San Martin de Tours,TAAL CHURCH
Instead of going back to Lipa then en route Manila,we boarded the jeepney to Siniloan fter the overnight camping in Mt.Maculot.I thought of dropping by Taal town (and meron nga palang ganung town,what we only knew was Taal Lake) to check the famous Taal Church (Basilica de San Martin de Tours) Taal Town is only a few kilometers before Lemery,if you are near the area,I would suggest you drop by and check this church which is considered the largest church in the Philippines and in Asia, standing 96 meters (315 ft) long and 45 meters (148 ft) wide.
My first glance of Aurorar province was years ago in Dingalan.I ca't even remember exactly.What I know is that I was not yet blogging that time.I fell in love with the peace in Dingalan that I thought of wanting to come back to the province.Surfing is becoming famous in the country.It is no longer only synanimous to Siargao now.Other area like San Juan La Union and Aurora are gaining populairty these days.Reckoned to muster some courage to surf finally despite my weak back and I realized that it's not as easy as it looks.Managed to stand successfully (for a few seconds) after many tries and a couple of embarassing nahanod-sa-pampang-at nakaladkad-ng-waves moments.
And what I like about Aurora is that there's more to it than just surfing, but also heritage houses,a lot of history and a wonderful waterfalls which I think is Aurora's feather on the sleeve.Kompleto!
Another pleasant discovery for 2012.Finding a place of retreat not too far (more than 2 hours) from the Metro could be a very difficult feat so many Manilenyos celebrate every time there is an interesting attraction.3 hours of land travel (+traffic) could be a drag.With Cintai Coritos Garden near Lipa Batangas, you can have a quick escape from the toxic city life.Enter a diffirent world with this Bali inspired resort,with pools and gardens (birds,peackocks and bats included),with a Bali feel.This place is famous for retreats and events.
HUNDRED ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK
With its proximity to my hometown Anda,I've been to Hundred Islands many times I stopped counting.It's one of those places I don't want to go to anymore but I keep coming back.With different companions,it's a different experience each time.It is a constant reminder therefore that more often than not,it's the "people" and not the "place".
Hundred Islands falls in between the beautiful and the ugly.I mean,it sure is a beautiful sight for first timers but not if you frequent it as I do.Then again,I keep coming back and so I did in summer of 2012 with a group of friends.Still was a pleasant experience
Camping at SEA CAVE Bolinao
FULL STORY: http://www.pusangkalye.net/2012/02/camping-in-sea-cave-bolinao-for-our.html.
Camping is not something a person with mild scoliosis would prefer to do but exemptions could be made.During our 12th year anniversary as a couple for example, I decided to take my wife to the Sea Cave in Patar Bolinao and camp there.We were lucky coz the Sea Cave is a private property of Puerto del Sol but they allowed us in.We were the only people in the area that time.My wife and I made a bonfire and chatted for hours and stared at the sky full of stars.How romantic is that!
POPTalk Guesting + overnight at LA LUZ San Juan Batangas
FULL STORY: the POP TALK episode guesting on GMAnewsTv.
One of the most significant events of my career as a travel blogger this year was when I was invited as a guest in the week show POP TALK which airs on GMAnewsTv and hosted by Tonipet.
Along with Celebrity Ervic.Vijandre and a YuppieMaria Fe Orozco Bautista, I reviewed three Beach Resorts in San Juan Batangas ---- La Luz,Kabayan and Blue Coral Beach Resort.Blue Coral is now the most searched post with a total of 11749 views to date.
PUNTA DE FABIAN Baras Rizal
FULL STORY: best for corporate events +awesome infinity pool lake view at PUNTA de FABIAN in Baras Rizal
Tanay Rizal,conveniently located 1 hour away east of Manila is increasingly becoming a destination for group retreats.Punta de Fabian is one of the pioneers in the area.The place exceeded my expectations.I am happy to discover that Rizal offers such interesting places of retreat.
FULL STORY: feels like CEBU 2009 all over again
Our 2nd time in Cebu City as a couple.Our main purpose was to try a resort in Mactan Island which we failed to do the first time.Before going to Mactan,we dropped by Hotel Elizabeth to take photos of the hotel for my "Peek Inside Series" and also met with a fellow blogger John to check his place ---The Center Suites.
Cebu-Mactan: CRIMSON MACTAN RESORT and SPA
FULL STORY: one of the best days of my life at CRIMSON RESORT and SPA Mactan
I would easily call this my BEST TRAVEL DESTINATION for 2012.Why not,Crimson Mactan Resort and Spa is an expensive resort.That certainly doesn't guarantee a top ranking but Crimson Mactan has all the qualifications.It's close to downtown Cebu City, (only 45minutes via taxi)and yet the Mactan Island experience gives you a feeling of being away, it is a world on its own.You can stay here for days and wouldn't have to look somewhere else.Pool,beach,water activities,spa,bar,gym,restaurant,everything you need for a relaxing vacation.Not to mention the rooms!We stayed in a Seaside Mansion Villa with a private pool----spell A-W-E-S-O-M-E!
Aum Spa was also my best massage destination for 2012.Met the best masseur well trained to do the job.After all,it's not about the massage style but the skill of the masseur.
Relaxing,pampering,satisfying.I could go on and on using superlatives to describe Crimson Mactan Island Resort.
MATABUNGKAY BEACH HOTEL
FULL STORY: 10 Cool Things to Do in MATABUNGKAY BEACH HOTEL Batangas
Who says you cannot teach old dogs new tricks?Matabungkay Beach Resort had withstood 3 decades of changing tourism climate and it is still in the industry of hospitality emphasizing on its strenght of providing a cheap respite to families.But Matabungkay sees the need to keep up with the competition,as such,they are slowly upgrading their facilities and ameneties.Thus,Matabungkay Beach Hotel is born.
I miss the sunset and concert by the beach in summer of 2012.
FULL STORE: 2 HOURS IN BANTAYAN ISLAND + disappointed with Kota Beach Resort
Although a bit disappointed coz google and blogs failed me for the first time.There is this resort the call Kota Beach Resort that received a few good reviews from some well known blogger that I took to the letter only to get disappointed when we saw the place.Although I explained the intricacies of why is was so (clue: the beauty of the beachfront for example depends on the season or the direction of sea current.)Also,we went to Bantayan Island in a rush so we didn't really get to explore and appreciate the place more.This little disappointing 1st impression should be shattered soon.I definitely have to be back!
FULL STORY: felt Soooo Good at ALEGRE BEACH RESORT and SPA
Another awesome experience this year.A few months after the Cebu-Mactan2012 experience,my wife and I were back to explore the Northern Part of the province.Sogod Cebu was the first destination and Alegre Beach Resort and Spa.
Alegre is another one of those high end resorts in Cebu Province.It's a little far from the city but 2hours is not bad for an exclusive resort experience.Better stay here for at least 2 days para masulit.In our case, 2D/1N was all that we could afford, (had to leave for Bantayan Island the next day).But as I was saying,Alegre is a nature-resort-class-sophistication-comfort-isolation-forget all else treat that you should give yourself.
ILOILO CITY in transient
SERIES Here: http://www.pusangkalye.net/search/label/Iloilo
Bacolod Series Here: http://www.pusangkalye.net/search/label/Masskarra%202012
My first Major Festival experience,Masskara 2012 has definitely put the bar high.I was skeptical of mass events like this one.I dread being caught in a sea of people inconvenienced yet I have to endure.Maarte ako.But Masskara 2012 was definitely all worth it.Masasaya din kasi yung mga kasama naming bloggers that's why.And because of that,I am officially into Festivals.Ati-Atihan 2013 is next! :)
An hour North of Bacolod City is Silay.It's small but packed with history.Negros Bloggers and Merci Pasalubong Treats toured us around.I was surprised at the many Heritage Houses that are well kept.When you go to Bacolod,be sure to spare time to its sister city in the North---Silay.
Anda Pangasinan-TONDOL WHITE BEACH
FULL STORY here:TONDOL BEACH Anda Pangasinan: Boracay of the North squandered.
I think my hometown is also worth mentioning.In particular,Tondol White Sand Beach.I used to be proud to say it has one of the finest sand in Northern Luzon---fine and white----but I am starting to get disappointed with the way developments are going near the beach.I call it "Tondol of the North Squandered".
Story Here: AZALEA RESIDENCES:official hotel of the 1st Baguio Blog Conference
Our nth climb to Baguio is also worth mentioning coz it was when I was invited by Cordillera Bloggers to talk on the 1st ever Baguio Bloggers Conference.We stayed at Azalea Reidences which is a new chick Hotel in the city.We were also toured around by Vince and company with Tam-Awan Village being the most significant.
Been to Bencab Museum twice which is also in the same area but we skipped Tam-Awan Village. What I didn't know was that Tam-Awan is not just about huts transferred from traditional villages in Ifugao and other parts of Cordillera,it's also a haven for artists and place for good food hunts.It was here where I first tried Pinikpikan :)
FULL SERIES here:http://www.pusangkalye.net/search/label/Davao2012Series
Been travelling since 2008 and amazingly,I've never been to Davao until this year.Mahirap kasing maghanap ng seat sale sa mga airlines if you are from Manila.But I've been dying to see Davao,the 3rd largest city in the Philippines,because I am curious about how it compares to Cebu and Metro Manila.I am glad I did finally and the first meeting made me fall in love with the place.
It is very similar to Cebu in terms of economic size and also on the attraction side.A few minutes from the city is Samal Island-----very similar to Mactan Island,except that beaches here are more natural.How I wish Metro Manila has a tourist respite like Samal Island near Davao city and Mactan in Cebu City.Manila should be envious.
Story: I left my heart in ISLA RETA Talikud Island
To go to Davao city and not try Samal Island is a crime.Instead of going to the main island of Samal (which is a municipality separate from Davao City,yes.)We went to a smaller island named Talikud.Among the three beaches in Talikud,Isla Reta is one of the most well known.The beachfront of Isla Reta is short but its sand is fine white.It lands in my top 10 beaches to date.We were here for a day tour kaya bitin.Yes,I left my heart in Isla Reta.
"Malaysia Truly Asia" ????.I did raise my eyebrows when I heard that tourism slogan.But I came to grasp the true meaning of the campaign when AirphilExpress invited me to join the maiden flight of their Manila-Kuala Lumpur route.Indian,Chinese,Malay---these are the three main groups in Malaysia making the country truely a place for cultural,religious and gastronomic diversity.I came to admire the tolerance each group has on each other.
As part of the challenge to discover Malaysia,I explored Kuala Lumpur and the nearby Unesco World Heritage Site of Melaka (Malacca) and the two places made me appreciate Malaysia more.
Malacca Series here: http://www.pusangkalye.net/search/label/Melaka
Melaka (Malacca) is such a darling.It's a Unesco World Heritage Site two hours south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.The bus ride is very convenient (did I say I envy the public bus system and bus terminals of Malaysia?) and definitely worth taking the trip.I came to appreciate the historical portfolio Malaysia has on its sleeve.
FULL SERIES HERE: http://www.pusangkalye.net/search/label/Malaysia2.0
I spoke highly of Malaysia when I returned home and in the process made my wife excited to see the country for herself.The universe seemed to conspire coz I won a 3D/2N stay at Seri Pacific Kuala Lumpur.It was a perfect excuse to come back and bring my wife.I found myself back in KL two months after the first one.
My wife liked Batu Caves a lot while I on the other hand likes Chinatown and Jalan Petaling.Of course,I took her to some familiar places like Bukit Bintang,Jalan Alor and Petronas Tower.
We tried new places too as part of the agreement to at least try places I haven't been to the 1st time I was here.We risked Shah Alam instead of Putrajaya which I kinda regret.One of the best decision though is to brave almost 6 hours of bus ride North to lovely Penang.
Series Here: http://www.pusangkalye.net/search/label/Penang%20Series
I have always known that Penang is part of Malaysia but it gives me a different impression every time I hear the name of the place.It's Malaysia but with a unique brand and identity that could stand on its own.It's 6 hours by bus North of the capital and I would normally won't take the risk of going that far given the limited time.But I was a little braver thinking I have my wife with me.I don't know if that was a good thing or bad thing for her coz I did force her to at least keep up with the fast pace.Had to walk a lot.So much to see in Penang.What I like about it though is that Georgetown is packed.Historical sites and places of interests are walking distance from each other.You will surely enjoy a walking tour.Their tourist maps abound and are well made it's so easy to go around.Plus the food is amazing.One of the food capitals of Asia indeed.This is one place worth revisiting again and again.
PS: It was also in Penang where I met (for the first time) one of the bloggers I personally admire ---Doc Gelo. :)
PUERTO DEL SOL -Bolinao
Another overnight stay at Puerto Del Sol Beach Resort and another set of bloggers.This quiet town near my hometown Anda never fails to leave me mesmerized.Bolinao Falls #2 was an added attraction I saw (and experienced) this time around and swimming there was one of the most memorable moments of this trip for me.
The last staycation of the year was at Ramada Manila Central in Binondo, Asia's oldest Chinatown. The experience shattered my wrong impressions of the area as well as my prejudices on it.It made me appreciate the place more especially because of the gastronomic finds in there.And I tell you, there are so many things to try/taste.I have already started on my DISCOVER BINONDO SERIES a week before Christmas but since this is really a busy season,I am afraid other posts will have to be published (as I still have to write em) after New Year. Please look for it soon!
And as of completing the final touches of this post,I just came back from a roadtrip where I joined a group of bloggers on knowing TAAL BATANGAS deeper.A lot of interesting scoops on it soon.That too will have to wait for early next year though.
2012 has proven to be a very busy time for me traveling.It is also the year of Staycation which is will summarize in my next post.CHEERS to more travels in 2013!!!
ALSO READ my 2012 Hotel + Staycation Summary here:PUSANGKALYE in 2012: hotels + resort staycations
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