The second time I went to Subic with the same company I work with if for the company’s team building. The team building was in JEST Camp.

J.E.S.T. Camp

JEST or (Jungle Environment Survival Training Camp) is located near the Argonaut Highway. JEST Camp is famous for its different activities as a survival school. It is a good venue for team building because they have survival training, games and obstacle courses.

There are different survival courses to choose from like Wild Child, Hunter Gatherer, Survival Bootcamp, Campfires, Tribe (Team Building), and Camp Craft. The motto of the camp is “Know more, Carry Less.”

One of my favorite during our team building activities was watching the birds from the Magaul Bird Park performing on the stage. The Magaul Bird Park has the most diverse types of birds.
Another one I liked was the Angry Bird Arena, were a person threw an angry birds pillow while he was swinging towards the cliff. Another wonderful experience is the boodle fight lunch.

Subic International Hotel

After Jest Camp, we went to Subic International Hotel for an overnight stay. The hotel is located in Sta. Rita St. in Subic Bay Freeport Zone. It is near the Ayala Harbor Point where we went to have Starbucks coffee in the morning. The company went to Golden Dragon for lunch before heading back to Manila. The Golden Dragon is a famous Chinese restaurant along Canal Road. It is a few blocks away from the hotel

The Cliff and White Orchid in Subic

There are so many different resorts in Subic and Olongapo City especially in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales.

The Cliff Seagrapes Royale Subic

The fifth time in Subic Bay was with three friends. We went to The Cliff Seagrapes Royale or also known as The Cliff is located at Km 133 in Baloy Long Beach Road. It is already near San Marcelino, Zambales. We went to the room and check out the place.

To date, they have renovated the rooms. The Cliff has a cove beach shoreline overlooking Subic Bay.
They also have a swimming pool and jacuzzi.

In the morning we went down thru a pathway going down the beach area. It’s called The Cliff because the resort is on the cliff and you have to go down to enjoy the waters of the Subic Bay. They have a staircase going to the beachfront where we enjoyed the view and the rocks.

Wild Orchid Beach Resort

The first company outing I went to another company is the Wild Orchid Beach Resort. Wild Orchid is also a part of the Baloy Beach in Subic Bay. Our room was near the beachfront. From our room, we could see the White Castle Island.

They have the Scaliwag Restaurant that is open for 24 hours. The restaurant called The Captain Bob’s Steakhouse and Barefoot Bar is in front of the bay with a spacious garden setting and live music at night. The other restaurant is called Fishbone Café and Moby Dick’s Mermaid Tavern. They also have a gym, and guests can avail of the water sports activities.
They have the pool in front of the room called Wild Orchid Beach resort pool. They also have a conference room, condo units, and 83 available rooms for guests.

Grande Island Resort

Grande Island used to be a part of the U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay. A harbor defenses called Fort Wint was located here. The island is in the middle of Subic Bay in the municipality of Morong, Bataan.
My fourth time in Subic was in Grande Island for an outing with my colleague in one of the companies where I worked before. We went to the Grande Island Resort Ferry Terminal on the Waterfront Road and left the van in the parking lot of the terminal.
We rode a boat going to the island which took about 20 minutes heading to the island. The island was huge with a 42 hectares property in the middle of Subic Bay, just in front of the Camayan Beach Resort and in Silaquin Zambales.
We waited at the lobby before checking-in to our rooms and were transferred by using golf carts from the lobby of the resort. Going back to the lobby we walked and checked the resort to see the different amenities like – ATV cars, golf carts, billiards, swimming pool, beach, water sports activities, team building facilities, jogging trail and fitness area.

We went to the beachside and stayed there for a while before we decided to go back to our rooms to change. We enjoyed swimming in the pool before having dinner.
The following day, we rode an ATV and explored the island. It was a dirt road going up the cliff. It was a great view on the other side of the island which was home for different birds.
Grande Island Resort is a sanctuary for old century-old trees, diverse marine life and different migratory birds.

Subic Bay Beaches

Subic Bay is 110 kilometer northwest of Manila and is also the easiest getaway from Manila since it’s only two hours away from the city. Subic Bay is surrounded by the towns of Subic and Olongapo City, both in Zambales, and parts of Morong, Bataan.
The Subic Bay Freeport Zone is a part of the economic zone and is a secured and fenced area.  I’m not sure how many times I went to Subic Bay and Subic Freeport Zone, but my first time was during college days. My barkada in college known as the Gorgeous’s or we were fondly called d’G’s decided to have our trip together before our graduation.

Dungaree Beach

We stayed in one of the housing for the American soldiers before they turned it into vacation villas. Subic Homes is located in Samahan Heights, Binictican Drive with the American style houses. We went to the beach called Dungaree Beach and enjoyed swimming. Dungaree Beach is located at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The water is calm and the beach is isolated from the much-crowded area along Subic Bay.

Another attraction in Subic is the Duty-Free shops. During our stay, we went to Royal Duty-Free to buy some foreign goods. At night we had fun playing bowling in Cosmic Center. The Cosmic Center was an old place with restaurants and a bowling center.

Baloy Beach

The second time I went to Subic Bay was after college when I was finding a reason to get out of Manila and went to a friend’s house in Olongapo City. We then went to a white sand beach called Baloy Beach. Baloy Beach is located along Baloy Long Beach Road in Olongapo City. From the beach, you can also see the White Castle Island.

Camayan Beach

The third time I went to Subic Bay was again an all-girls trip and the first stop was the Zoobic Safari. We participated and learned from the ethnic tribe lessons in the wilderness and we check the different animals in the Zoo. We had fun with the birds in the Zoo.

We went for a day trip tour in Camayan Beach. We spent it in the Camayan Beach Resort where were rented a cabana on the beachfront. Camayan Beach Resort is a private resort located in Camayan Wharf in West Ilanin Forest Area. It is a part of Morong, in Bataan. The resort also offers water sports activities, indoor and outdoor games.

Camayan Beach Resort is beside the Ocean Adventure Subic Bay and half of the group went to the Dolphin Show in the afternoon while the rest enjoyed the water in the beachfront.

Unforgettable Traveling

What are your unforgettable experiences while traveling?  Or should I say the “buwis buhay” or tragic/bad experiences kind of trip?  It’s not all happy and enjoyable while traveling.   Some things will turn out not the way you expect it to be.  Not the smooth sailing kind of travel that you planned.

  1. Flight. There will always be that delayed flight.  I am still grateful that I haven’t experienced a canceled flight from different airlines.  I only experienced an almost 6 hours delayed flight, unlike my friends who had different experiences.  There was one who was canceled for 1 day or 2 days because of the bad weather.  He experienced it three flights consecutively – going back to Manila from Tuguegarao, Puerto Princesa and in Singapore.  There was a friend whose plane made a U-Turn going back to NAIA 3 because the plane couldn’t land in Albay due to bad weather.  She eventually made a flight in the afternoon and made it to Albay.
  2. Turbulence. There are the turbulences in the plane and the unsafe plane landing that you’d experience during a flight.
  3. Boat rides – I had experienced 3-4 meters of waves because of a low-pressure area in the Andaman Sea. The Andaman sea was where the Boxing Day tsunami happened in 2004.   Locally, a low-pressure area going to Camiguin was seen during our flight. The waves were rough where the cargo boat swayed to the docks and banged the port area.  I almost thought I couldn’t make it to our destination.
  4.  Attacked by a Jelly Fish.  Jellyfish season comes every hot temperature of the sea. Along the coast, in Borawan I was stung by a box jellyfish.  I felt a blast of hot, itchy dotted ink on my legs while taking a swim.  I got out of the water and found the back of my two legs swollen with blackened spots.
    Look for the jellyfish

      I was treated in Puting Buhangin in Padre Burgos where the locals gave me vinegar and calamansi.  Overnight, my left leg with the worst attack started to be very painful, I wasn’t able to walk properly.  I also had a fever after.  The blackened spots lightened but there were still visible on my legs even after 5 years that it happened.

  5. Northwest monsoon or Habagat – The northwest monsoon before was not like the monsoon we experienced since 2009.  It comes every year from July to September in the Philippines and makes the seaboards rough.  Nowadays it also creates a “splash surge” and an enormous amount of rain.  And because of the surge, my friends and I experienced a really near-death experience because of the roughness of the waves and lightning across the open sea in San Antonio, Zambales.
  6. There were other trips that were canceled.  One was the trip to Oslob during the height of Typhoon Ruby.
  7. Some tourist destinations only have motorbikes for their island tour.  After hitching a ride with a motorbike my legs slid to the hot “tambutso” and my skin got burned.
  8. Some tours that are not regulated by the local government would charge you with high island tour rates. Some would even make a ploy after agreeing with the cost, they will charge you high after the tour.

Surfing Sites in the Philippines

The Philippines is blessed with beach breaks in the swells of the Pacific Ocean and the West Philippine Sea. There are so many different reef breaks throughout the archipelago. Surfing has become more popular in the Philippines.
Below are the surfing sites I visited while traveling in my country. I am not a surfer but I love seeing people learning to ride the surfboard. I love watching the experts doing their skits and dancing with the waves.

Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte

Siargao is the number 1 destination for experts, intermediates and newbies. The surfing capital is exposed to strong swells from the Pacific Ocean.
The widely known surfing spot that made Siargao famous to the international community is Cloud 9. Cloud 9 is blessed with a world-class wave and rated as one of the best surfing spots in the world. It is known worldwide for the perfect barrelling right-hand reef break. The waves are recommended for experts only.

When it gets crowded in Cloud 9, surfers go to the QuickSilver Surfing area. It is also called Cloud 9’s little brother and also has a similarity with the right-handed wave. It is best for intermediate and beginners. Near QuickSilver is Jacking Horse which is also best for intermediate and beginners
Other famous spots are called the Cemetery Pesangan Right and Cemetery Pesangan Left, with a jump-off near the Pesangan Cemetery in General Luna good for intermediate and beginners. Other breaks are for experts is the Tuason Left, Tuason Right, Pacifico and Burgos break.
There are other spots known by the locals which can be good for intermediates.
The best months to surf in Siargao is between September to May. Though there are waves from June to August which also good for newbies. The local and international surfing competitions are held every September.

How to get there

It is located in the northernmost tip of Mindanao. There are no International Flight going to Siargao. Direct and connecting flights to the island are available in Manila, Clark, Cebu and Davao. You can try the airlines like Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Skyjet. The airport in Siargao is called Sayak Airport in Del Carmen.

Surfing Schools

Siargao Surf Camp, Harana Surf School, Turtle Surf Camp, Kermit Surf Resort, Kanawy Surf School

Baler, Aurora

Baler is one of the most popular surfing sites in the Philippines as it is known as the “Birthplace of Philippine Surfing.” The Baler gigantic waves have made it in the international surfing community after the filming of the 1979 War Film ‘Apocalypse Now.” The production crew left the surfing boards to the locals and the surfing was born. Charlie’s Point is the surfing spot where the memorable scene in the movie was shot.

Baler boasts a meter high waves during the surfing seasons of September to February. During the months of March to June, the waves are calm and are perfect for beginners.
Cemento Reef can be experienced with a 4.5-meter barrel which is usually the spot for the annual Aurora Surfing Cup. This is a perfect spot for the experts. For beginners, Sabang Beach is a good place for surfing lessons. Other surfing spots in Baler are Dicasalarin Point, Lindy’s Point and Dalugan Bay.

How to get there

It is 6-hours away from Manila and 3 hours away from Clark. There are buses coming from Manila going to Baler. If you’re traveling from Clark International Airport, the best way is to hire a 4×4 going to Baler.

Surfing Schools

Aliya Surf Camp Resort, Mahdox Surf, North Shore Surf Camp, Big Z Surfing School Surf Spot

La Union

The primary surf beach is in San Juan, La Union. La Union or ‘Elyu’ is known as the “Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines.” The waves can reach 2.5 to 3 meters during the surfing season. The best time to visit with the challenging swells is from October to march. The La Union Surfing Break is held annually during October.

The three peaks in San Juan are named Beach Break, The Bowl and The Point. Other surfing areas near San Juan are Sunset and Car-rile
There are other towns in La Union for surfing, it is in the towns of Bauang and Bacnotan. For Bauang, there’s a beach break near the cemetery and an abandoned beach resort. The famous surf spot in Bacnotan is Darigayos.

How to get there

It is located in the Northern part of Luzon. It is 6 – 7 hours away from Manila and 3 hours away from Clark. There are buses from Manila and in the nearby town in Clark called Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Surfing Schools

San Juan Surf Resort, Sebay Surf Central, La Union Surf School, Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa

Daet, Camarines Norte

Another beach along the coast of the Pacific Ocean for riding the waves is Bagasbas Beach in Daet Camarines, Norte. Several summer surfing festivals are held in Bagasbas beach for beginners. Surfing board rental and surfing lessons are available along the stretch of Bagasbas Boulevard.

Bagasbas Beach is also widely known for Kite Surfing. The best month to go surfing in Bagasbas is from July to January.

How to get there

There’s a direct bus going to Daet, Camarines Norte and travel time is 8-10 hours. The airport is located in Naga, which is a 2-hour drive to Daet.

Surfing Schools

Bagasbas Kite & Surf Shop, Bagasbas Whitewave Hotel and Surf School,

San Antonio, Zambales

Magic Left is a popular surfing spot in Zambales. It is called Magic Left because it offers a long left-handed wave it produces at the Pundaquit Bay. Another beach break called Mags is also good for intermediate to advance.
Other surfing spots are located in Liw, Liwa, San Felipe called Hig 5 Lahar. Another one is in Crystal Beach Resort, San Narciso.

How to get there

Its close proximity to Manila which is only 3 hours away and an hour away from Clark makes it a popular weekend getaway for city surfers.

Surfing Schools

Crystal Beach Resort, Quicksilver Surf School, Zambales Surf Camp, Liwalize It Surf Camp, Kapitan Liwa Surf Resort

Other Surfing Sites in the Philippines

1. Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte
2. Real, Quezon
3. Mercedes, Camarines Norte
4. Puraran, Baras, Catanduanes
5. Nagtabon Beach, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
6. Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental
7. Lanuza Bay, Surigao Del Sur
8. Guiuan and Calicoan Island, Eastern Samar

Backpacker vs Flashpacker

How will you differentiate a backpacker and a flashpacker? If you’re traveling with a backpack, does it count that you’re a backpacker or a flashpacker?
What does backpacking mean? According to Wikipedia, it is low-cost, independent travel. For backpacking, the budget travel and destinations are relatively cheap. A trademark of a backpacker is the use of backpacks to carry around for long journeys or long periods of time. Backpackers often choose public transport and check-in in a hostel or any cheap accommodation. They usually don’t stay in one place but travels to different places, sometimes even to the wilderness to mingle with the locals, to check out a different culture or to even learn the language, or to discover the part of the place that nobody dares to see or experience.

But time evolves, backpacking changes to flashpacking. Flashpacking means traveling with more money and going to fancy hotels equipped with different gadgets. On a simpler definition, flashpacking is backpacking with a bigger budget. Some flashpackers still travel with a backpack but they are not necessarily backpackers. They may travel with the backpacker’s sense of adventure but spend extravagantly to enjoy their vacation. They’d go to nice hotels, sophisticated restaurants and have a thrilling adventure along the way.
I’d always thought I am a backpacker or maybe I used to be when I was younger. I used to travel without an itinerary. I checked on places when I get there. I go wherever my itchy feet take me. There were times that I had to scout the area first before finding a cheap inn or hostel to stay in. I had to ask the locals where to go and what tourist destination to see. I always travel light. One backpack is enough for my journey. Sometimes you call it a do-it-yourself trip. No plans, but an instinct on where to go once your there.
With the use of the internet and popping out of the different gadgets, traveling became easy. Information about the place is available. Now, I plan and research my itinerary ahead. This saves time for venturing the place. You know where you want to go. You know what to do beforehand. Gadgets and wifi connection became a must while traveling.

A stranger I took a photo

I still travel light. That’s one of the things I have mastered for a long time of traveling. I could fit everything in one bag, but this time I carry an empty bag that can be folded and fit in my backpack or if I chose luggage, just in case I need to buy things or if my clothes become bulky. I’d check out restaurants and coffee shops that were mostly on the top of the list of previous travelers. My accommodation varies. I could still go to a dorm, a cheap inn, a hostel and sometimes in an expensive hotel for accommodation. It depends on my mood or depends on the place where I’m going. I do go on planned tours. Sometimes it’s cheaper, but it really depends on the place. Other tour packages cost a lot.
The best part of being a backpacker or a flashpacker is getting to know locals and being friends with different tourists or travelers.
I guess I can be both depending on the place and the people I am with during traveling.

Boracay Island, Philippines

It is the number 1 travel destination in the Philippines. It even ranked number 1 as the best beach in the whole world by known travel publications and traveler’s choice lists. It’s in the bucket list of every Filipino who loves to travel. It has been a travel destination of every “balikbayan” Filipinos and a dream destination for foreigners.

I’ve seen the progress of the island for almost two decades and I heard a lot from the locals what it was like during the ’70s, the ’80s and ’90s. I became friends with the locals who live on the island, whom I tried to visit every time  I came back.
I tried a backpacker’s lodge and some good resorts in Boracay. It was a dream for a backpacker like me to be able to try a five-star luxury resort and hotel. And I would say, I’d been able to try top hotels on the island like Discovery Shores Boracay, Boracay Regency and Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center.

My first Boracay trip was in 2001 and the last was in 2015. I haven’t been to Boracay after the closure in 2018. And yes, I’d been there for the nth, time both for leisure and for business.

Boracay Island is located in the municipality of Malay, Aklan. There are so many beaches on the island and some small islands around Boracay island. Check out the list.

Beaches in Boracay

White Beach

White beach is famous for the 4 kilometers long beach and the center of tourism in Boracay. It is divided into three stations – Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. In Station 1, there is the must-see grotto which is called Willy’s Rock. The perfect sunset is viewed in White Beach.

Diniwid Beach

Diniwid Beach is connected to the White Beach in Station 1 via a footpath in the northern end. This is a less crowded beach, but make sure to head back to Station 1 before the high tide.

Bulabog Beach

Bulabog is on the opposite side of White Beach. It is the perfect spot for kite surfing and windsurfing.

Puka Shell Beach

The puka beach is known for coarse sands and glittering shells along the sandbar. It is the most unique and fascinating beach on Boracay island and lined up with tall coconut trees.

Tambisaan Beach

Located in the easter part which serves as the Boracay’s alternative entry and exit point.

Cagban Beach

Cagban Beach is located across the small strait from the jetty port at Caticlan which is located in the south, facing Caticlan.

Punta Bunga

It is the beach exclusive for some luxury hotels in Boracay.

There are other beaches in Boracay, some are private beaches others are only accessible by boat. Other beaches include Ilig-ilig beach, Hagdan Beach, Tulubhan Beach, Savoy beach, etc.

Other Islands

Crocodile Island

The island is shaped like a crocodile. It is a perfect site for snorkeling between the Tambisaan Beach and Crocodile Island.

Crystal Cove Resort

The Crystal Cove is a park located at Laurel Island. It is a private island and home to two interesting caves.

Dallas, Texas

Early in the morning, my college friend and I went to Dallas for me to see my high school friend who was also living in Texas. She came from Abilene but was also staying with a friend in Fort Worth so we met up in Hotel Indigo.

Hotel Indigo Dallas Downtown

The Hotel Indigo Dallas Downtown is located at Main Street in Dallas.  It is a boutique hotel in a landmark building with a restaurant called Titches Bar and Bistro that offers breakfast and dinner. I also loved the room at the end of the hallway.

After my high school friend and her colleague arrived at the hotel, we left our bags to the hotel’s lobby and went to walk to Main Street.

Giant Eyeball and St. Jude Chapel

We went to the Giant Eyeball, a realistic eyeball made in fiberglass sculpture in a fenced garden in downtown Dallas. Beside it was the St. Jude Chapel in which we went inside to pray and bought souvenirs from St. Jude’s relic medal and a cross with a baby.

Weekend Coffee

We had breakfast Weekend Coffee Breakfast located inside The Joule Hotel. They served their signature coffee and pastries. It is also one of the favorite coffee shops in Dallas.

Museum of Memories

Museum of Memories is an art gallery with a different collection of an interactive art installation that was inspired by childhood memories and imagination. It is located in Old East Dallas. We enjoyed our photo op and selfies here with the different themes per room.

Deep Elum

Deep Elum is known for its vibrant street murals and art galleries. It is also an entertainment district for the concert venues. There are so many restaurants, brewpubs, bars and signature Tex-Mex eateries. We were craving Japanese food so we went to Tanoishii Ramen and Bar. Just beside the restaurants are street arts.

The Sixth Floor Museum

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a historic location that showcases the history of John F. Kennedy that leads to his assassination. From the outside near the Plaza, you can also see the marking or the spot where John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Elm Street. It was overlooking the building in Dallas. We also went to the Museum Store and Café across the street.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza

Walking along Houston Street we also see Dallas County Courthouse going to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. It is a monument dedicated to the former president.

Frankie’s Downtown

We ate our dinner in one of the popular sports bars that serves brews and delicious burgers in Dallas called Frankie’s Downtown.

Reunion Tower and Cloud 9

The Reunion Tower is one of the famous landmarks in Dallas. It has an observation deck that features the panoramic view of the Dallas skyline. It is located beside the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The observation deck offers an indoor and outdoor observation deck.

We arrived just before the sunset so we had a great view of the sunset. As it becomes dark, you can also see the light shows from the nearby buildings.

Just above the observation deck is Cloud 9, a revolving restaurant.

Ascencion Coffee

After spending a night in the Hotel Indigo, we went for breakfast in Ascencion Coffee – Thanksgiving Tower in Elm Street near the hotel. It is one of the best local spots for breakfast and coffee.

Dallas Art Museum

The Dallas Art Museum or DAM is located at Harnwood Street. It is one of the famous museums in Dallas Texas. During our visit, there was a special gallery for Dior in which we also checked out.

For Dallas City tours click here



Fort Worth, Texas

My flight was 9 in the morning, but I needed to arrive 2 hours in JFK prior to the scheduled flight. I took the train until Grand Central but decided to take a  cab going to the airport as. I boarded the American Airline plane going to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas. A friend picked me up at the airport and I stayed in his house until the following morning before visiting another college friend in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Fort Worth is a city in Texas referred to as “Where the West Begins”.
The first place we went to was Fort Worth Water Gardens. The Water Garden was located downtown between Houston and Commerce Street adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center. It is a beautiful and refreshing oasis with a variety of water features in a cityscape.

Fort Worth Stockyards

The Fort Worth Stockyards is located in Rodeo Plaza. It is a historical district for the livestock industry during the late 19th century.

The Stockyards consists of entertainment and shopping venues that capitalize on the “Cowtown” image of Fort Worth. I also saw the parade of longhorns cattle with the cowboys of Stockyards.

During dinner, we ate at the Golden Corral Buffet and Grill with my friend’s whole family. We also shopped at the nearby Walmart Supercenter before going home. I saw the train of the Fort Worth & Western Railroad.

For Fort Worth tours click here