Pre-summer Drive: Baler- Dipaculao- Maddela- Nueva Vizcaya

Taking a break to stretch
I have recently taken up driving to the country side. Every now and then, I would look at the map, and check which places I could explore, but this time, not through public transportation as I used to. Driving calms me more than sitting on the sofa and watch Justice League again. When I drive, I experience silence in that I focus on the road and the roadside scenery, away from the noise in my head. This also gives me a good opportunity for beautiful photographs- materials for my photo collage that I am planning to put up on my living room wall.

The Road Trip: Vigan, Pagudpud, Tuguegarao, Santiago

I drove for a hundred or so kilometres (6 hours) with my car’s hood unlatched. I noticed this only when we stopped at a gasoline station for a stretcher, halfway into our destination. I was lucky the hood did not fly open towards our windshield or someone else would be writing this story. Excitement can really get the better of anyone, but I am glad that even with that major safety blunder, I still went ahead and tick this to-do off my list. 
I had been curious about driving to Pagudpud and back. I never thought I would muster the courage to finally do it, being a fairly amateur driver. I got my first car seven years ago. It was a 15-year old automatic Accord, which I had to have fixed before driving. It would take three weeks including the repainting, so I had time to enroll in a driving school for a 10-hour session. This was enough for me not to be a threat to my life and others. For four years, I was a “good” driver, very defensive, not going beyond speed limit, letting pedestrians go first, and not violating traffic rules (except for the two times, when I did not see the signs). Driving was fun, but it was also a stressful endeavor, since one wrong move could spell the difference between life and death. This is not to mention the possible breakdown that I would experience on the road, which my old car gave me a lot of (overheating and starting problems).


I would recommend going to Nuvali on a weekend if the only other choice is to do the laundry. At least there, you could play with your pet, go running, read a book or just laze under a tree watching people on picnics.
From where I am staying it is just 30 minutes away, especially if you get yourself to listen to Waze and follow her directions. Depending on traffic, she would either tell you to take Sta. Rosa exit or Eton or Greenfield. I know that you can also take public transportation to get there, but it will not be as convenient.
Nuvali is a relief for sure. I have seen people feed the fish, cruise the lake on a speed boat, cycling and having pictures taken. You cannot use your DSLR without getting a permit, though. I guess it's now considered a weapon of mass destruction, but if the guard were to explain it, it's really just because the developer wants to earn more. What they're getting from the vendors, the restaurants and 7-11 is so meager they would probably charge park goers entrance fee soon.
I like that the fish there are orange, and the sculptures, but what captured my interest more is the natural touch of the park. Going further north, from where the restos are, is a lagoon that is surrounded by shrubs and trees. It's a good place to go strolling or running if you want to lose some of those calories. But if you're allergic to pollens, you might want to stay away.
So, forget about the laundry this weekend. Feed hundreds of koi, read a good book, take a stroll or have some pasta in Nuvali.

From Catanduanes To Caramoan And Back

Binurong Point, Catanduanes
First Day
Chance is risk positively interpreted. And when it comes to chance, I could be stubborn to the point of irrationally ignoring the risks. I would ignore reason in exchange for a chance to see another beautiful place. And, I should have to rethink this.
This was a struggle during the trip to Catanduanes. It always is when you go for places barely touched by destructive progress. Still.
Lucky would be the best word to describe how things worked for me and my friends. We left on a Sunday evening, as two separate groups. We were to meet in Legaspi City, where we'd have breakfast before leaving for Tabaco to take a ferry going to either San Andres or Virac in Catanduanes. But since it was vacation period, with the Holy Week starting in just a few days, it was almost impossible for anyone to get bus tickets to anywhere. The other group could not chance on any bus going south, so they took the van, which got them to Legazpi 2 hours later than our group. So breakfast became lunch.

La Trinidad

Before the summer starts raising blood pressures, I thought it would be good to go to the coldest
region of the country and have an excuse not to take baths. Baguio would be tacky. With the crowd, I couldn't feel the cool air. Sagada would be too far and I'm not in the mood for camping. So, I called a friend in La Trinidad, Benguet, and asked if I could crash his place for two nights.

La Trinidad is about 30 minutes from Baguio, and besides the cool climate, it's got its own share of beautiful sites to visit. Unlike Baguio, La Trinidad is not crowded, though the smell of diesel coming from the vehicles is still hard to ignore. 

Mt. Binutasan and How Grannies Made Us Eat Dust

When things get too difficult, cry and you’ll get a horse.

I had never thought this to be possible until I went on a hike to Mt. Binutasan in Rizal. I tagged along with fifteen others to see the famous sea of clouds that form below the peak of the mountain from dawn to 8:00 a.m. It was an easy hike, which we started at five in the morning. We had planned to start two hours earlier, so we could climb Mt. Sapari (These two mountains form the Maysawa circuit, so hikers go to Sapari summit, then Binutasan), as well. But we left Cubao too late, so we ditched that or we would have missed the sea of clouds at Mt. Binutasan.

Sambawan Island

It was not easy finding a boat that would take us to Sambawan on Holy Thursday. For a moment, I feared I would postpone going there again. The last time I had planned on being in Sambawan, I had run out of time and decided to go for Kalanggaman instead, which is one of the best change of plans I have ever made. Kalanggaman island is beautiful. But, that did not diminish my curiosity about this island in Maripipi, Biliran. I just had to see it for myself.