Back at home after a year of travel, I can’t help but fall prey under the ever so unavoidable feeling of being back where I started. This is one of the reasons why I haven’t been posting AT ALL recently, I guess I just needed to step back, evaluate, and rethink things going on with my life. Traveling for me has not only been about taking a break from home or getting to visit different places but it’s more of a learning process. A process of knowing more about other places, other people, and in the process, about one’s self.

Self-Portait in Kapurpurawan “White” Rock, Ilocos Norte

Roxas City, Capiz

My year started with a destination closer to home, Roxas City in Capiz. It has been ages since I’ve revisited Roxas City. I’ve had a lot of cherished memories during visits to my cousins’ place during my childhood. Although I was there (this time) to witness the ‘One Visayas Expo,’ my best adventures in Roxas was of the gastronomic kind. Without fail, we would spend our evenings in one of the restaurants along Baybay to savor detectible and CHEAP seafood to our stomach’s content.


Siquior was memorable because it was my first major destination outside Panay Island in 2010. Actually, just the thrill of finally kick-starting my travels for the year and being on the road would’ve been enough to make a happy trip. Siquijor did not exceed my expectations but, somehow, there was a number of unexpected surprises, which made the trip very memorable.

Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental

The ‘atmosphere’ of Dumaguete City was what I loved the most. It has this homey and sophisticated charm to it that is just so alluring. Strolling along Rizal Boulevard, I can’t help but notice foreigners looking happy and so “at home.” I enjoyed my exploration of Dumaguete City, it’s definitely on my list of the best places to live in the Philippines.

Angkor Temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Without a doubt, Siem Reap was my best trip of the year. My week’s stay in Cambodia was not enough to truly appreciate Siem Reap … but I savored every moment of it. It was a milestone for me to travel outside the Philippines solo for the first time and then discover new and old friends. Visiting the Temples of Angkor and Siem Reap City was a very inspirationally uplifting experience. I love love Pub Street! I’ll make sure to go back for a visit one of these days.

Photo by
Loven Ramos

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

I had to transit Bangkok when I traveled to Cambodia. I planned on stuffing all the places I wanted to go to in the ONE day that I had left. Unfortunately, the malls I wanted to visit were closed down because of the ‘Red Shirts’ demonstrations and my temple tour was cut short because I was nearly duped by a tuktuk scammer. I did manage to experience the sunset across Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) … chugging down a bottle of Singha beer while witnessing the sky bloom into twilight colors was just the perfect goodbye I could ever ask for.

Brgy. Batad, Banaue, Ifugao

My most physically demanding trek was in Brgy. Batad in Banaue, Ifugao. It was all worth it after a refreshing dip at Tappiyah Falls and the up-close experience amongst the famed Rice Terraces of Banaue.

Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan

I’ve been to Boracay many times since my childhood but I was never keen on trying out the water rides, which has become a popular activity in the island. I’ve always found them soOoO “touristy.” This time however, I got the chance to try out parasailing and, surprisingly, I enjoyed it a LOT. I even risked bringing my camera along to capture the moment :) I stayed for a week Boracay, which was ample time to explore Boracay “outside of White Beach”.

Metro Manila

Exploring Metro Manila has always been an adventure for me whenever I visit. My favorite thing to do is to get lost in its streets to get acquainted with getting around the metropolis. My newest discovery is “The Collective,” a refreshing row of concept stores in Makati. Of course, there’s always the ever present trip to Hidalgo St., Quiapo, Intramuros, and Metro Manila’s huge malls.

Cuyo, Palawan

My thirteen-day tour of Palawan was my first major “solo backpacking” trip. I rode the 36-hour ferry trip from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa City, which had a stop over in Cuyo Island. It was a surprise to see beautiful seascapes and a well preserved church fortress at the middle of the expansive Sulu Sea.

San Vicente, Palawan

What lured me to San Vicente, Palawan is its ‘Long Beach’, known to be the longest white sand beach in the Philippines. I spent a whole day walking along its expanse, soul searching, indulging in its raw rugged beauty, and almost getting lost and stranded for straying too far from the highway.

El Nido, Palawan

So far, El Nido in Palawan is the most beautiful place I’ve visited in the Philippines. Its off-shore islets is definitely something I would always compare to when visiting other beach destinations. I loved my island hopping trips, and experiences chasing the sunset. Getting to meet new travel friends during my trip to El Nido was the cherry on top :)

St. Paul Underground River, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

I took the less popular route of trekking the monkey/jungle trail going to the Underground River in Sabang, Puerto Princesa. It took me an hour and 45 minutes to reach the picnic area at the cave’s mouth. Turns out, I arrived too late in the afternoon and I was the only one left for the underground river tour. It was really cool to have the caves all to myself. Unfortunately, it also meant not having to share the pumpboat rental fee back to Sabang Port.

Tarsiers of Bohol

My best “wildlife” encounter of the year. It was so exciting to get really up close and personal to a super cute tarsier at the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Bohol.

Aquamarine Park in Sinacaban, Misamis Occidental

After almost losing my bag in Marawi, getting to see the dolphins was an uplifting consolation. I didn’t get to swim with the dolphins since I had no budget left but exploring Misamis Occidental was a great experience, especially since it was my first time to be in Mindanao.

Mayon Volcano, Albay

I spent most of my time in Legazpi trying to get the perfect Mayon Volcano shot. It took a number of attempts at different times and locations because the lighting was either off or there was too much clouds covering the crater. I finally got this decent shot of Mayon during my late afternoon visit to the Cagsawa Ruins in nearby Daraga.

Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur

After my unsuccessful search for other tourists in Caramoan to share the pumpboat with (for the island hopping tour), I continued on to explore the islands on my own. I had my brief “Survivor” moment when the boatmen left me alone on the beach during lunchtime. Thankfully they did come back for me. The boatmen were easy to walk to, which made my voyage a lot less lonesome.

Lake Bulusan, Sorsogon

The day before my return flight to Manila during my trip to Bicol, I decided to do a side-trip to Lake Bulusan in Sorsogon. I ended up overspending because I really wanted to make the trip happen by renting a van to take me from Legazpi City to Bulusan Town and then renting an overpriced room in one of the resorts along Dancalan Beach. Although I really stretched my time and budget, it was all worth it after seeing the beautiful Bulusan Lake just after sunrise.

F1 Season in Singapore

Car enthusiasts would perhaps stone me to death for saying this but the F1 weekend almost ruined our itinerary in Singapore. Most of the road around the Marina were closed off because they were used as race tracks. We had to go around detours to get to places we wanted to visit, such a paint on the feet since it meant a LOT of walking. I’m not a big car fan but I must admit, it was really cool to see the parking lot of the Fullerton Hotel brimming with luxury cars I probably wouldn’t get to afford in my lifetime. The thing I loved most about my Singapore trip was being able to see the heritage structures of various cultures just within a day’s walk.

Melaka, Malaysia

Our side-trip to Melaka was a last minute decision. It would’ve been a waste if I hadn’t considered it by traveling straight to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore. I really enjoyed walking along the Melaka River and experiencing the “living” heritage of this former Portugese Colony.

Putrajaya, Malaysia

En route to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, we had a quick stopover in Putrajaya. The sunset over the river with the massive Pink Mosque reflecting the sun’s golden rays was definitely one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in my life. I also got to see the Seri Wawasan Bridge, which I’ve always marveled at in pictures.

Callao Cave, Peñablanca, Cagayan Province

While on a ‘Pancit Batil Patong’ spree in Tuguegarao City, the owner of one of the panciterias befriended us and offered a ride to the Callao Caves of Peñablanca. Of course, we welcomed the gesture … especially because we weren’t so sure about the local transportation going to the place. Callao Cave is a great destination for photographers. I love the mixture of soft lighting and jagged rock formations inside the caves.

Kapurpurawan (White) Rock, Burgos, Ilocos Norte

I dropped off along the highway of Burgos, Ilocos Norte to visit the Kapurpurawan “White” Rock, which I saw in one of the travel ads in Pagudpud. It was already almost 3PM and there were no tricycles in sight to take me to the “white rock.” I was feeling the pitting urge to continue treading on foot, since I knew that if I skipped it, I wouldn’t have time to go back. It was a hearty 4km walk to the coast on a dirt road and the sun was already starting to set. I pushed my luck anyways and blasted on some Brit pop tunes to pass the time. It felt like a “127 hours” opening scene moment.

Calle Crisologo, Vigan

Vigan is truly unlike any other place in the Philippines. I stayed in Vigan Hotel, which is one of the more budget friendly “old residential houses turned hotels” in the city center. I had a nice time wandering around the rustic streets of Calle Crisologo, attempting to capture its alluring small town charm in pictures.

Baguio City

More than the cool climate and pine trees of Baguio, there’s this mystic aura that I can sense. I’m not sure if it’s just my mind conjuring it up but I’ve always found the mysticism alluring. One time, when I was visiting the Baguio Cathderal, I witnessed a sort of Christian-Igorot transcultural ritual thing. It started normal enough … when suddenly they took out (what looks like) a squealing boar and pinned the animal to the ground. A man then plunged a stake through the boar’s side, killing it (obviously). It was quite thrilling to witness the ‘blessing’ ritual in front of the church unexpectedly. I also enjoyed roaming around Camp John Hay and spending sunsets at the Balcony of SM City Baguio.

Samal Island, Davao del Norte

I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this. Davao is a beautiful city but it has got a lot of “tourist trappy” attractions. Wanting to trudge off the beaten path, I went to the Island Garden City of Samal, which is located just off the coast of Davao City. I first went to Talicud Island … the beaches were beautiful and uncrowded. The highlight of my trip to Samal was a visit to the Monfort Bat Colony where an estimated 1.8 million fruit bats live. I went there just before sunset … it was an eerie and enthralling experience.

Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga City

Zamboanga City was one of my most surprising destinations in 2010. I loved the Spanish-colonial heritage structures, the Spanish-inspired dialect, the highly urban feel, the mixture of cultures, the pristine nature in its environs, and most of all, the helpful and friendly locals. I hope more Filipinos could get to visit this often misunderstood city. Fifteen-minutes boat ride off the coast of Zamboanga City are the islets of Santa Cruz, known for its pink sand. I’ve seen photos of it before the trip, but I found it more beautiful in person.

Tinuy-an Falls, Bislig City, Surigao del Sur

I was intrigued when I first heard about the “Niagara Falls of the Philippines.” Even if it was far off my route, I did an overnighter in Bislig City to see the “Tinuy-an Falls.” While it might as well be a “mini” version of Niagara, it’s certainly a huge waterfalls, in Philippine standards, and an interesting place to visit.

Tuasan Falls, Camiguin

Tuasan Falls is one of Camigiun’s off the beaten path destinations. Unlike Katibawasan Falls, which is very accessible by road, Tuasan Falls can be reached by renting a habal-habal (single motorcycle) all the way to Barrio of Mainit, Catarman town. Then, its a hearty trek through rocky paths and lush greeneries. I was happy to have visited the Tuasan Falls since, after two days of touring Camigiun, I was starting to feel that the island was getting too “overrated.”

Maria Cristina Falls, Iligan City

No doubt, the Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City is the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen in the Philippines. Access to the falls is very convenient and there’s a lot of other things to see and do in the NPC Nature’s Park Complex. I also hired a habal-habal to take me to two more waterfalls in Iligan: The Tinago Falls and Mimbalot Falls.

Sohoton Caves, Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte

It was a bit pricey to take a side-trip to Sohoton Caves from Siargao but after seeing photos of it online, I was hooked. I spent the night in Socorro town instead of Siargao to save on transportation costs. Indeed, Sohoton Caves was well worth it. It was a surreal experience to navigate through the super calm emerald waters of Bucas Grande’s inland lagoons. Too bad the “non-sting” jelly fish weren’t in season. It’s Sohoton Cave’s most popular attraction.

Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte

There was no power during my whole stay in Siargao and Bucas Grande Island. I ended up spending way more than my budget and had to sacrifice my chance to try out surfing and the habal-habal tour around the island. Surfing lessons + surf board rental was around P500 per hour. Instead, I had to make do with taking photos of the gorgeous scenery of Cloud9. The trip wasn’t a total fail, Cloud9 and General Luna in itself are beautiful places to visit.

Dusk at Balaan Bukid, Guimaras and the Night view of Iloilo City

On my last trip of the year. An aerial night view of Iloilo City from Balaan Bukid, Guimaras: