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Pangasinan | Bolinao DIY Tour: The Enchanted Cave

Bolinao Enchanted Cave

Just like Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, Enchanted Cave isn't the only cave Bolinao is proud of. There actually are three caves in this town - Cindy's, Wonderful and Enchanted Caves. Of the three, Enchanted is the most famous one. It is located in barangay Patar and is usually the first destination of the Bolinao tour.

Bolinao Enchanted Cave
Bolinao Enchanted Cave entrance, for photo-ops ^_^

Enchanted Cave is a privately-owned resort/nature park immortalized in the GMA television series Dyesebel (starring Marian Rivera). It features an underground cave with a natural spring lagoon of refreshingly cold crystal clear water enticing guests to take a dip and swim.

coral stones everywhere,
the path to the enchanted cave...
inside the cave..., notice the water?
it's crystal clear; visible still, despite the poor quality of this photo. ;)

The park and the cave itself sits on/is surrounded with coral stones giving credence to the story that this area was once submerged under the sea. Another testament to this claim are the fossilized giant clams displayed near the park's entrance that they say are millions of years old, though no carbon dating has been performed on those clams, yet.

fossilized giant clams (taklobo)

According to the resort's tour guide assigned to us, Enchanted Cave accepts tourists for overnight accommodation. They have several cottages with a room setup like the one in the photo below for 2,500 Php/night, good for two (2) persons. I don't know if they still offer the said rooms for the same rate; couldn't find a site/review to verify it, either. Please contact them directly for any inquiries, if ever. 

inside one of the cottages in Enchanted Cave,
thanks to the tour guide for allowing me to take a photo of the room
Entrance Fee Notice

It's been more than a year since this escapade but I checked the WWW and found out this is still the prevailing entrance fee to the resort; that is, 150 Php per person, young (6 y/o and above) and old, swimming or non-swimming guests. Quite pricey for an entrance fee, especially if you only want to see and explore the place for a little while. Also, since the the cave is quite small, it gets crowded pretty fast especially during peak season.  During our visit, we only get to stay inside the cave for a few minutes; the cave is crowded, it's hot inside and there's nothing else to do and see anyway, unless you'll go swimming.

Overall, the resort is a nice place to see and visit (and do photo-ops ^_^) though, I find it too commercialized, too, given the limited things to do inside and considering the current entrance fee rate. I hope the management could make it more economical and bring back the old rate structure; that is, lower rates for non-swimming guests. :)

How to get to Bolinao

* From Pasay or Cubao, take a Bolinao-bound bus and get off at Bolinao bus terminal; fare is around 500 Php for aircon buses, one way; travel time is around 7-8 hours.

* In Bolinao, head off to Church of Saint James. On the side street, in front of Adora's Restaurant, are tricycles offering Bolinao tour; cost is 600 Php, round trip; tour takes around 4 hours.

~ oo00oo ~

Enchanted Cave is part of a DIY tour my nephews and I made last 2015, while on vacation at my mother's hometown Bani. Just like my Ilocos Norte adventure, it was also a tour via a tricycle. Bolinao DIY tricycle tour costs 600 Php covering 4 of Bolinao's tourist destinations - Bolinao Lighthouse, Bolinao Rock Formation, Patar Beach and this cave.

~ oo00oo ~

Enchanted Cave
Patar, Bolinao, Pangasinan
Entrance Fee: 150 Php/person (fixed)
young/old, swimming/non-swimming guests
Date of Visit: May 3, 2015

Pangasinan | Bolinao DIY Tour: Cape Bolinao Lighthouse

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
Note: tourists are no longer allowed to climb the tower

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse in Patar is the famous of the two (2) lighthouses (the other one is the Port Bolinao Lighthouse in Guigui-wanen, Luciente I) in Bolinao, Pangasinan. It is the second tallest (Burgos Lighthouse in Ilocos Norte being the tallest) lighthouse in the Philippines at a height of about 351 feet above sea level, including the elevation of the hill were it was built. It is one of the top tourist drawers of Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse was built atop Punta Piedra by Filipino, American, and British engineers in the 1905. As with all other lighthouses, it was built to avoid sea disasters and guide seafarers sailing along that part of West Philippine Sea. Based on several online accounts I've read, this lighthouse used to guide seafarers as far as 44 kilometers away as its beacon light is still visible that far. The lighthouse served its purpose for hundred years or so until it ceased its operation as a lighthouse in 2004. Since then, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse just serves as one of the tourist attractions of the town.

The Ruins of Cape Bolinao
this ruin used to be the lighthouse's Admin building
solar panels at the lighthouse
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse was used to be powered by kerosene for around 80 years,
then by electricity when Pangasinan Electric Cooperative extended its operation to Patar
and for a time, by solar energy when it was renovated through a loan package extended by Japan.
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse ceased it's operation when the beacon lights shut off and the batteries bogged down in 8 November of 2004. 

How to get to Bolinao

* From Pasay or Cubao, take a Bolinao-bound bus and get off at Bolinao bus terminal; fare is around 500 Php for aircon buses, one way; travel time is around 7-8 hours.

* In Bolinao, head off to Church of Saint James. On the side street, in front of Adora's Restaurant, are tricycles offering Bolinao tour; cost is 600 Php, round trip; tour takes around 4 hours.

~ oo00oo ~

Cape Bolinao is part of a DIY tour my nephews and I made last 2015, while on vacation at my mother's hometown Bani. Just like my Ilocos Norte adventure, it was also a tour via a tricycle. Bolinao DIY tricycle tour costs 600 Php covering 4 of Bolinao's tourist destinations - Bolinao Enchanted Cave, Bolinao Rock Formation, Patar Beach and this Lighthouse.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
Patar, Bolinao, Pangasinan
Entrance Fee: None
Date of Visit: May 3, 2015

CamFlicks | Marcos Highway: Of Golds, Greens and Blues

Marcos Highway along Tanay(??) in Rizal

Road trip and photography, two activities I wouldn't get tired of doing. And not just because I wasn't the one who's driving, if I own a car, I'd probably be on a road trip every weekend. I think?! Haha! Anyway, there isn't a single road trip my friend and I made that I didn't take photos while cruising the highway or any road along the way to where we're going. I simply love taking photos that even if we went through the same route several times before, I still can't help but take some photographs.

So for this week, I'd be posting some of the photos I took while cruising along Marcos Highway, during our road trip to Regina RICA in Tanay, Rizal. Fasten your seatbelt folks and come ride along with us, let us all see and appreciate the beauty of nature that God has blessed us with. Enjoy the (virtual) ride... ^_^

In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous. ~Aristotle

Follow the trail of your dreams, not the highway of others expectations. ~Anonymous

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. ~Vincent Van Gogh

A sunset here is a sunrise on the other end of the world.
Never give up because what appears to be the end may actually be a new beginning. ~Brahma Kumaris

Sunsets, like childhood are viewed with wonder
not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting. ~Richard Paul Evans

~ oo00oo ~

All photos were taken along the stretch of Marcos Highway in the province of Rizal last February 8, 2016. Photos were taken by yours truly using either Canon EOS 550D or iPhone 5. Except for the sunset photos, all else were taken while cruising and all are handheld shots.

~ oo00oo ~

Happy and blessed Sunday every one. Enjoy the rest of the day and welcome the coming week with a happy heart. God bless! ^_^

Rizal | Regina RICA: A Place of Prayer, Pilgrimage and Peace

Regina RICA, Tanay, Rizal

Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation  in Asia, or simply Regina RICA, is a shrine and pilgrimage site situated in a 13.5 hectare of land at the foothills of Sierra Madre in Tanay, Rizal. Founded in 2005, Regina RICA is under the auspices of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii. Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii's mission is to teach people about contemplative prayer and contemplative way of life.

Our Lady and the sun's rays

Last February, we visited Regina RICA for our weekend road trip. There was a moderate traffic around Marikina/Marcos highway due to some road repair/construction but all in all, it was a hassle-free travel. We arrived at Regina RICA around 3PM, paid the parking fee (50 Php) and registered ourselves at the reception area. Afterwards, we then started walking up the sacred trail, a 300+ steps trail made of bricks, some of which with footprints of those who gave their love offering. The trail is pretty easy to walk through (ascent is gradual) and is lined up with flowers and citrus trees, making the climb a walk in the park.

Dominican Sisters driving around golf carts, could also be used to transport pilgrims who can't walk

At the top of the hill is the 71-meter high statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary with its mantle extended at the back and serves as the roof of the area where pilgrims have to wait, listen and participate in the contemplative prayer led by one of the Dominican sisters. After the prayer, pilgrims will then be allowed to line up and climb the statue to pay respect.

inside Our Lady's mantle, pilgrims waiting in line to climb and pay respect to the statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

After the climb, we made a small donation and in return we were given a souvenir card with a small cloth attached to it. The cloth is said to have touched the lips of Our Lady of Regina Rosarii and in the card was printed this prayer:

...Heal my body, heal my mind, heal my spirit, heal my pocket...

Regina Rosarii, Virgin most powerful, intercede for us,
Mama Mary, Mother most merciful intercede for us to Jesus your son.
After our visit to Our Lady,  we then roam around and took some photos of the place. We also had our snack from their cafeteria, before we bid our goodbye to Our Lady of Regina Rosarii. Here are the photos I took while roaming around Regina RICA:

rainbows and rolling hills,
view from the top of Regina RICA hill
Labyrinth Prayer Walk where pilgrims slowly walk and meditate,
 though I saw some children who take it as a playground running around and laughing
pilgrims walking around the labyrinth path of prayer
Regina RICA men preparing the bricks for footprint-taking
If I remembered it right, I heard the donation is about 500 Php, per brick
though I read from a blog it's 1,000 Php so am not really sure how much  
A woman about to imprint her footprints on the brick
lighted candles, each color represents an aspect of your life you want to pray for
 of course, we prayed for everything - thanksgiving, peace, family, good health, etc.;
we bought a candle set actually, all 12 of them, and lighted them all
Regina RICA chapel
the Chapel's altar
Our Lady and the wishing well
view from the Chapel
notice the lady's skirt? it's what you'll have to borrow when you get there wearing shorts
NOTE: shorts, sandos (men, women and children), sleeveless blouses and blouses with spaghetti straps are NOT ALLOWED

How to get to Regina RICA

Private Vehicle:

* From QC Circle, take Kalayaan Road and head towards Marcos Highway via Aurora Boulevard
* Continue driving along Marcos Highway, past Cogeo and other towns/barangays of Rizal including Camp Capinpin
* At approximately KM66.5, turn right at Aguho Street (with Regina RICA signage at the corner).
* Regina Rica is around 200 meters away after you turned right in Aguho.

NOTE: If you have a smart phone, turn on your GPS and cellular network (you can turn off cellular network after searching) and launch Google Maps. Search for Regina RICA and follow the route provided by the app. Except for some ongoing road repair/construction where you have to do some detours, the route provided by Google Maps is pretty accurate, you won't get lost!

Public Transport - From Aurora Boulevard, Cubao:

* From Mercury-Cubao, take a Cogeo-bound jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off at Cogeo market
* From Cogeo market, take a jeepney bound for Sampaloc and get off at Sampaloc market
* From Sampaloc market, take a tricycle going to Regina RICA in Sitio Aguho

Public Transport - From Star Mall, Shaw Boulevard/Crossing:
* Take a van or jeepney bound for Tanay and tell the driver to drop you off at Sampaloc-bound Jeepney Terminal
* Take the Sampaloc-bound jeepney and get off at Sampaloc market
* From Sampaloc market, take a tricycle going to Regina RICA in Sitio Aguho

Visiting Hours/Mass Schedule

* Regina RICA is open from 8:00AM to 5:30PM everyday except Tuesdays
* Mass:
   Sunday - 11:00AM; 3:30PM
   Monday - Saturday (except Tuesday) - 11:00AM
   every 4th Saturday of the month - 6:00AM

~ oo00oo ~

Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia
Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal
Note: more infos on their site (link above)
Date of Visit: February 8, 2016

Food Trips | 5 Healthy Grabs at Salad Stop!

tuna san salad - 350 Php

Looking for something healthy and filling at the same time? Check out SaladStop!

SaladStop! is an Asian food chain, with operations in Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Tokyo, serving its customers with best tasting yet healthy and nutritious foods. Oh, by the way, this isn't a sponsored post peeps. I just love their salads and wraps. And I wish they have a branch here in QC, somewhere near North EDSA (SM or Trinoma) or Technohub. Hopefully soon, SaladStop!? ^_^

Anyway, I first noticed SaladStop! in my current work as one of my bosses there usually bought his lunch from SaladStop!. I got curious and check it out, too, one dinner time. My first try -- Tuna San salad (photo above), sans avocado at that time (they replaced it with grapes, btw). It costs 350 Php, 340 Php for the wrap version. Quite expensive for a salad (or wrap), right? But it's worth it peeps! Lettuce, grapes and cherry tomatoes are all crisp and fresh, even the seared tuna, to think it's a to-go meal. And it's really filling! SaladStop! menu (Pinoy version) says it provides 550 calories (for salad,  697 calories for wrap), more than enough for a one meal calorie requirements.

By the way, I didn't use the dressing (wasabi honey soy) that usually goes with this salad but instead requested for balsamic soy vinaigrette. And I liked it! I've ordered this tuna san salad several times already and I still haven't tried wasabi honey soy dressing so I can't say which is better, maybe next time. :)

tuna san wrap - 340 Php
 also tried the wrap version and it's okay but I like the salad version more,
probably because it (wrap) has less dressing which kinda make it bland

I also tried Oh Crab Lah! and oh la la, this one's so filling I can't finish it in one meal. Oh Crab Lah! has the usual romaine lettuce together with cherry tomatoes, grated eggs, crab sticks, vermicelli noodles, onions and croutons. It is served with Singapore chili crab dressing and contains 833 calories (wrap). No wonder I wasn't able to finish it in one sitting. I usually ordered the wrap version during dinner time, have it sliced into half, eat the first half for dinner and the other half for breakfast. Not too expensive for two (2) meals, right? Sulit! ^_^

oh crab lah wrap - 250 Php
very tasty and flavorful, oh crab lah! is love! ^_^

Niçoise salad composed of romaine lettuce, tuna flakes, egg, potatoes, French beans, cherry tomatoes and black olives, as usual in my fave dressing, balsamic soy vinaigrette. This one's another filling and tasty salad from SaladStop!, packed with 627 calories. Heavy! ;)

Niçoise Salad - 300 Php

Updated (8/28/2016):

Big Bird is the latest addition to the salads that I've tried from Salad Stop! It is a fruit-based (avocado, green apple and grapes) salad with romaine lettuce, crunchy celery and roast turkey tossed in a creamy ranch dressing. This one's very light compared with oh crab lah but it will still satisfy your tummy. It did mine. And considering it has avocado, it's automatically added in my fave's list. Big bird costs 350 Php for the salad, 340 Php for the wrap.

Big Bird Salad - 350 Php

For a sweet and still healthy treat, strawberry banana muesli is a good try. It consists of milk, honey, greek yogurt, rolled oats, granola, strawberry puree, chia seeds, banana, raisins and dried fruit (apricot and cranberries). I had it for a late breakfast one time and I instantly like it. The greek yogurt is not as as rich and creamy as the usual greek yogurt but it's just fine with me, I'm not into rich and heavy yogurt anyway.

Strawberry Banana Muesli - 150 Php

~oo00oo ~

Salad Stop! has a lot more of signature and classic salads to offer; they even have create-your-own-salad wherein you get to choose which ingredients to go with your salad. So what are you waiting for? Go get out, look for the Salad Stop! near you, and try their salad offers. I highly recommend Oh Crab Lah for your first try. It's flavorful, it's filling and it can satisfy two people already; both will feel full afterwards. A warning, though! This one's a bit spicy. :)

~ oo00oo ~

Palanca Street
(near corner Dela Rosa)
Makati City