Sunday, June 29, 2014


Location: Mariveles, Bataan
Jump-off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
Coordinates: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E
Elevation (Ridge): 1,006 MASL (3,300 feet)
Elevation (Peak): 1,130 MASL (3,707 feet)
Days required/Hours to summit: 1 day / 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
Descriptive Summary: Its craggy landscape, sharp rocks, and steep location may have given rise to its name “Tarak” which was coined by the locals from two words: “Tabak” which means “hunting knife” in English and “Tarik” which means “steep”. Rich dramatic hues of sunset can be viewed at its best from the ridge. Whether you are on the ridge or at the summit, you will have a 270-degree view of sprawling hills and plains as well as its coastline and that is to include Corregidor Island and its neighboring islands and islets and the majestic Manila Bay for the farthest point of Cavite..

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The scenic Tarak Ridge with the summit in the background

Mount Tarak is an ideal mountain for workout in preparation for major climbs. Partly, its trail and terrain is the similar to that of Mount Kanlaon and a few others. To really enjoy the climb, it is best to have it overnight. However, on my part, I was taking it as a workout.

The rolling trail near the jump-off point

From the jump-off point, the trail is a dusty road where vehicles can pass and gradually trees are increasing in number and gradual elevation is evident that is why it is still manageable to trek. Occasional long cardiac assaults will then be experienced one hour before approaching the Papaya River with deep gullies (ravines) which as far as I can recall totals to five though it is a consolation that the trail is becoming too shady because of thick concentration of trees along the trail. At the most, for an average-paced climber, it will take more than three to trek from the jump-off point to Papaya River.

The long cardiac assaults after Papaya River

Papaya River, which I am wondering why it was called such despite of the non-presence of papaya plant around. This is point here is the only known water source to climbers though a few guides revealed that there are some minor water sources available though not accessible near the usual trails. Water here is so fresh it is safe to drink. From this point to the ridge is challenging since you must have longer strides and more cardiac assaults are evident, jumping over the roots or holding on to branches for support. Emerging to the ridge is a rewarding sight as it is an open clearing grown with cogon. The campsite at the ridge is protected with thick bonsai trees. However, you are advised to bring with you extra pegs as gusts of wind from the South China Sea at night will still uncontrollably be penetrating to the hidden camp site on the ridge.

The entry to the Ridge with lose soil trail

It is advisable for first-time climbers to hire a guide since the trails can be misleading. In my second time here, I was lost together with a friend. We were leading to a pineapple plantation and there was nobody there where we can ask for assistance.

Part of the extremely rocky steep Ridge


04:30 Board Bataan Transit on its Doroteo Jose Terminal to Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
08:30 Brgy. Alas-asin; register at the barangay hall
09:40 Start trek
12:30 Papaya River, take a break for lunch
13:00 Resume trek
15:00 Tarak Ridge, take pictures for 15 minutes
15:15 Summit assault
16:00 Summit just for picture taking
16:30 Back to the ridge and without rest descend
17:00 Papaya River (without taking rest)
19:30 Back to the jump-off Point
20:00 Dinner in Brgy Alas-asin
20:30 Left Brgy. Alas-asin boarding a mini-bus for Balanga
21:50 Balanga, Bataan
12:00 Left Balanga boarding Genesis airconditioned bus
02:20 Arrived Boni MRT Station

In the picture is Gani Dionela at the other side of the Ridge, with the backdrop overlooking the vast expanse of Bataan lowlands and coastal area

Particulars Amount
Trail food
Bus Fare (Bataan Transit Airconditioned Bus from Doroteo Jose, Sta. Cruz to Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles)
Breakfast in Brgy. Alas-asin (Eatery)
Registration fee (Barangay Alas-asin Hall)
Dinner in Brgy. Alas-asin (Eatery)
Minibus Fare from Brgy. Alas-asin to Balanga, Bataan
Bus Fare (Genesis Airconditioned Bus from Balanga to Boni MRT Station)

The Ridge taken from the midpoint going to the summit

The scenery taken from a clearing midpoint of Papaya River and jump-off point

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Location: Luzon, Philippines
Total Land Area: 638.55 sq. km. (246.55 sq. miles)
Coordinates: 14°35′N 121°00′E
Date Established: November 7, 1975
Descriptive Summary: Metropolitan Manila or Metro Manila is also called National Capital Region (NCR) consisting of 16 cities and one municipality. It is the seat of government and the most populous region of the Philippines as well as the center of economy, culture, education and tourism. Its 16 cities are: Kalookan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, Taguig and Valenzuela. Pateros is its lone municipality. Metro Manila has a very strategic location in Asia most particularly its famous natural harbor. Manila Bay is very much famous in the world for its scenic sunset.

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Part of the fast-growing Greenfield and Ortigas Center of Mandaluyong City

The picture above (from left to right) The Twin Oaks Place - West Tower of the Greenfield District, The Soho Central Greenfield District, The Cityland Shaw Tower and The Saint Francis Shangri-La Place. Mandaluyong, a tiger city rivals its neighboring city, Makati in terms of progress and massive development whereby Makati prides to have a green environment like Ayala Triangle Gardens. Learn more about the Metropolitan Manila by reading all the links provided in this post.

SN City/Municipality Area (sq. km.) No. of Barangays Date of Cityhood
Caloocan City
February 16, 1962
Las Pinas City
March 26, 1997
Makati City
January 2, 1995
Malabon City
May 7, 2001
Mandaluyong City
February 9, 1994
June 24, 1571
Marikina City
December 8, 1996
Muntinlupa City
March 1, 1995
Navotas City
June 24, 2007
Paranaque City
February 15, 1998
Pasay City
June 21, 1947
Pasig City
January 21, 1995
Municipality of Pateros
Not Applicable
Quezon City
October 12, 1939
San Juan City
June 17, 2007
Taguig City
December 8, 2004
Valenzuela City
February 14, 1998

The Pasig River with the background of Sta. Cruz and Quiapo buildings

Skyscrapers in Manila and the Manila Bay as viewed from the Sofitel Hotel

The historic and symbolic Manila Cathedral

Palacio del Governador: A Hispanic Legacy

T.M. Kalaw Avenue: A busy district of Ermita

Welcome Rotonda: Separates Manila and Quezon City

Friday, June 20, 2014


Location: Mauban, Quezon, Philippines
Region: IV-A
Coordinates: 14°16'41"N 121°49'38"E
Total Area: 1,640 hectares
Surrounding Bodies of Water: Lamon Bay and Pacific Ocean
Descriptive Summary: This island paradise is privately-owned by a number of resort operators. It is a home to a diverse ecosystem with unique variety of birds, rich marine life, and the abundance of unique species of plants where adventurers and nature lovers will love. Partly, the island’s beach coast is dotted with Agoho trees which is a family of pine tree. It is also a habitat of coconut crab or “kuray” which remains to be the favorite of its locals. In the last 3 years, the local townfolks have reported several sightings of threatened and endangered species such as sea turtles, juvenile whalesharks and dugongs foraging among the seagrass, seaweeds and mangrove areas.

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The scenic low tide along the Sabang's tip coastline

Boarding a JAM airconditioned bus from Kamias along Edsa to Lucena Grand Central Bus Station is three hours. Another two hours from Lucena Grand Central to the town of Mauban if you opt to board a non-aircon minibus but just more than an hour if you take a passenger van. From the town of Mauban, you can either walk to the port or take a tricycle at P12 per head. From the port, you can have an option to take a passenger ferry at P50 or if you are in a bigger group, you can rent boat which will be good for round trip transport to Cagbalete Island.

Pansacola Beach Resort

As our group was heading to Villa Cleofas which is on the south eastern part of the island, our chartered boat turned right and navigated along the coastline of Pansacola Beach Resort. If we opted to take a passenger ferry, then it will turn left heading to Sabang fishing village. However, it will take more than 30 minutes from Sabang community to Villa Cleofas which is on the other part of the island.

Villa Noe Beach Resort

Like the picturesque Pansacola Beach Resort, Villa Noe Beach Resort is densely grown with Agoho Trees which help the place to be more shady where campers love to stay. From this point, our boat still navigated for a number of minutes to Villa Cleofas where we booked to stay for an overnight.

The camping ground of Villa Cleofas Beach Resort

Villa Cleofas Beach Resort has many cottages for the guests' accommodation. However, we opted to rent a tent which is P400 for one tent good for three persons. There is a pavillon where guests can stay and booze, dine or have the videoke sing-along. To minimize expenses, we just hired a local and have him market and cook for our food and he just deliver it to us every meal. It is advisable to buy drinking water from Mauban water station or in 7-eleven branch. Mauban has also a market where food supplies can be bought.

The inviting clean and clear beach water

After the tents were pitched, our group rushed to the beach for a swim which is just three steps away from our tents. In the morning till 10:00 A.M. is still high tide but beyond it, low tide occurs.

This is how the beach looks like during low tide

Dry sand extends to at least two kilometers away from the beach line during low tide. Thus, our group decided to have a trek to the other side of the island which is in Sabang fishing village cutting through shady part of the island for an hour. Approximately, the locals that live there are more than a thousand people.

The stretch of Sabang beach coast

The picture above is the point where we had an exit coming from Villa Cleofas as we were toured around by a local kid for an hour. This is such a clean and white sand beach but there is no resort erected yet. Thus, tourists can have a swim here without paying any entrance.

Sunset taken from our camp at Villa Cleofas Beach Resort

From 3:00 P.M. until sunset, our group had a beach hopping where we saw some other resorts like MVT Sto. Nino Beach Resort, Joven's Blue Sea Beach Resort, Dona Choleng Camping Resort and a few others. In the evening, we stayed at the Pavillon of Villa Cleofas for a social drinking and sing along. We enjoyed night swimming then till 10:00 P.M.

Full-scale low tide at 12:00 Noon

Our boat took us back to Mauban Port at 12:00 Noon the following day but since it was low tide, we have to walk from the shore to the farthest point of more than 2 kilometers where our docked chartered motor boat awaited us.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Location: Aurora Province, Philippines
Region: III (Central Luzon) Coordinates: 15°46′N 121°34′E
Total Land Area: 72.55 sq. km. (28.01 square miles)
Nickname: Surfing capital of the Philippines
No. of Districts: Lone District
No. of Barangays: 13
Time Zone: PST (UTC+8)
Zip Code: 3200
Dialing Code: 42
Founded: 1609
Income Class: Second class municipality

Descriptive Summary: Baler is becoming a favorite tourist destination not only by surfing enthusiasts but with its majestic water falls, rich culture, picturesque islands and hospitable people. The proximity of its location being close to Metro Manila is one of the reasons why tourists choose it as the best alternative for an exciting escapade.

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Diguisit rock formations at Aniao Islets

Baler is becoming popular as a destination to visit due to its proximity to Manila, that is, for road travel of more than six hours, not to mention that it offers varied tourist destinations and activities like surfing, beach and island hopping, nature trek, spectacular sunrise viewing, and a few more.

The statue of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon fronting the Museo de Baler

Our group of three left Cubao at 12:15 midnight boarding a Genesis airconditioned bus. We had a bus stop at around 3:00 A.M., I suppose in Nueva Ecija. The weather was good and the night was so inviting. I frequently peeped in the window of the bus and the darkness of the night showcased countless of stars above the sky.

The 600-year old giant balete tree

We arrived in Baler at 6:30 A.M. and we headed to our booked accommodation at Jam Jens Lodge through our contact Kuya Marlon but our reservation was no longer available since we were supposed to leave Manila at 7:30 P.M. based on the blog we have read. But the bus schedule was moved without definite time and so we waited till the actual departure of our bus.

The interior part of the balete tree

Good that Kuya Marlon, the owner of Jam Jens Lodge allowed us to use their residential toilet and bathroom facilities for clean-up for free. Without sleep, we pushed through for a breakfast in the rolling store just adjacent to Baler de Museo, our first tourist destination. The museum itself has equipped us with so much history about Baler in particular and Aurora in general.

Part of the trail leading to Ditumabo Mother Falls

It was not difficult for us to move around since we chartered a tricycle of Jam Jens for a day tour package at P1,000, literally for the whole day including the points where we bought our personal stuff and have our lunch and dinner.

one of the few bamboo bridges as part of the trail to Ditumabo Mother Falls

Just two blocks away, we visited the replica of Doňa Aurora’s ancestral house, the wife of the former Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. The former was born in Baler and in fact the province got its name after her. Across the street is the Baler Church with its patron saint of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The church has a significant role in the history of the Philippines as it served as site of the “Siege of Baler” during the Philippine Revolution from 1898 to 1899.

An elevated concrete trail leads close to Ditumabo Mother Falls

We had a 30-minute drive to Barangay Quirino of the next municipality in Maria Aurora where the giant balete tree in enshrined in a converted lot to a park. It charges an entrance fee of P5 for kids and P10 for adults. Makeshift stores and souvenir shops surrounds the area.

It is believed this Banyan tree is the largest in Asia or locally known as balete tree. It is so huge that the size of the roots that it occupies is about 10 to 15 meters in diameter and it is possible for 15-20 adult people to squeeze into the center of its root network and the tree is about 60 meters tall. Because of its age, it has also been known as the “Millennium tree”. Getting inside the tree is the most thrilling part. Local kids are willing to tour the guests inside at a minimal tip.

The mini-falls few meters from Ditumabo Mother Falls

Ditumabo Mother Falls was our next destination where we had another 40-minute drive to San Luis, another municipality of Aurora. The tricycle we boarded just parked down the hydroelectric plant. From there, we had a mixed of river and dry trail trek. At some points, we had to have rock scrambling. We crossed few bamboo bridges and along our way giant water pipes leading to the falls.

The crowded Ditumabo Mother Falls

The registration point to the water falls is so strict that no food and water is allowed beyond that point. Everything except camera and swimming gears has to be left at the registration point. No entrance fees are charged though you have to give a donation.

The Diguisit Water Falls

It was surprising to see that by the time we visited the Ditumabo Mother Falls, it was crowded with lots of people eager to experience this amazing nature showcase. The water was cold but it was very inviting to have a swim on its spacious and deep basin. The dramatic cliffs that hosts the powerful drop of the water falls are as spectacular as the water falls itself. By the time, we went back, some eateries and snack shanties were available to cool and feed us.

The Diquisit Beach

From San Luis, we had more than one hour drive heading to Diguisit Water Falls. It is accessible since it is just along the highway. From the opposite part, the scenic Baler Bay can be seen at some point and the totality of the Diguisit Rock Formations and the Aniao Islets can be captured.

The scenic Diguisit Beach

We had so much time then and so we stayed longer in Diguisit Beach Resort though as we drive back, we drop by again at the Diguisit Water Falls.

A swimming pool at the Diguisit Beach Resort

There is an entrance fee at the Diguisit Beach Resort and vehicles are paid separately for the entrance. Open and enclosed showers are available also.

A closer look of the Aniao Islets

Driving along the highway is quite breathtaking as you see the whole picture of Baler Bay and its neighboring islets. At some points, we obliged ourselves to stop and have a better picture with Baler Bay as the backdrop.

The Tromba Marina Sculpture

Tromba Marina sculpture is symbolic of the eight survivors of the tsunami which devastated Baler on December 27, 1735 since they climb to Ermita Hill, the highest point of Baler. From the Ermita Park, a concrete stairs of 278 is climbed to reach the highest peak where these survivors stayed where a giant cross is erected.

From atop the Ermita Hill Park

Staying on top of Ermita Hill is just relieving and refreshing as fresh sea breeze coming from Baler Bay gently touches your face. This place is so perfect to unwind. From this point, you can see the whole of Baler town, Sabang Beach, Cemento and Dima-Dimalangat Islet.

The 278 steps leading to the Giant Cross

Not all guests would brave to climb the 278 steps leading to the symbolic giant cross. When you dare do it, you would feel as if you were a part of the historic escape of the Tromba Marina survivors.

The historic giant cross landmark

Another 40-minute drive followed heading back to our accommodation in Sabang Beach to have a clean-up and freshen up.

Ending my Sunday with a Holy Mass at the Baler Church

As part of conserving electricity, the parish church celebrates holy mass outside the church. But it was better to stay outside since it is hot inside even if the electric fans are on..

Sunrise at Ampere Beach

Excited to witness a sunrise at Ampere Beach located in the municipality of Dipaculao, I woke up as early as 4:00 A.M. I was alone boarding the chartered tricycle. We waited till 6:00 A.M. but it was cloudy and no magnificent sunrise has unfolded to my sight. I was disappointed that it was a total failure then.

This rewarding scenery is more than enough to appease me

Driving back to my accommodation though was quite rewarding as I have seen a lot of sceneries that only a rural Baler can offer.

The replica of Doňa Aurora Quezon ancestral house

Before I finally returned to my accommodation from my Ampere trip, I dropped by at the Doňa Aurora Quezon ancestral house since the other day, I could not get a better picture since it was flocked with a crowd of tourists.

A cozy accommodation seen along my way, Bahia, I suppose

There are a lot of expensive accommodation in Sabang beach resort and two of them are the Bahia and Costa Pacifica. The following pictures showcase the elegance and grandeur of staying in the prime Baler accommodation of Costa Pacifica.

Part of Costa Pacifica

Part of Costa Pacifica

Part of Costa Pacifica

Part of Costa Pacifica