Manila | Paco Park and Cemetery: A First Time Visit

St. Pancratius Chapel, Paco Park and Cemetery
St. Pancratius Chapel, Paco Park and Cemetery

For several years, I lived in Manila, mostly in Paco and Sta. Ana area. But in those years, I've never been to Paco Park. I've passed by it several times but never had the chance to actually enter and explore this park. One fine Sunday of August, I decided to attend mass at Paco Park and explore the place afterwards.

I chose the 11:00AM mass but miscalculated the travel time, I was late for about 10-15 minutes. It's a little awkward going in late on this chapel. It is small, around 100-120 seating capacity; could fit in around 150 but it makes the chapel very crowded. The chapel was full during that time I was just able to squeeze in myself at the entrance. Attending mass at this chapel is very solemn, no wonder this chapel has become a favorite for weddings here in Metro.

Ilocos Norte | Marcos Museum (Remains, Romance, History), Paoay Church and MalacaƱang Ti Amianan

young Ferdinand Marcos
I used to admire President Marcos when I was a student. All the books and reading materials on social studies published during my elementary years talked about all the good deeds and heroism Marcos did before and during that time. And then the EDSA revolution happened which led to the fall of the Marcoses. I don't understand it then, don't even know what a revolution is. All I remember now is that of Ninoy's slogan (the Filipino is worth dying for) because I saw it on shirts and caps worn by lots of people during those times, even in the province where I live.

Fast forward 2013 when I was able to visit Ilocos Norte for the first time of which part of the tour is the visit to Batac and Paoay. In Batac, we checked out the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum where lots of Marcos' memorabilia are displayed/stored. It is also the resting place (until the government allowed his remains to be interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Marcos' family's demand) of then President Ferdinand Marcos. His said to be remains encased in a glass coffin is displayed in the guarded mausoleum. The mausoleum is quite creepy. It is dim-lighted and there's a low somber piped-in music being played inside. It felt like entering a haunted house, slowly and quietly, on alert as if something unexpected will show up. It made me skittish, gave me an eerie feeling. I was glad I was with several visitors/tourists during that time, otherwise, I think I won't be able to enter the mausoleum and stay there even for a second.

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum

Marcos Museum - Batac, Ilocos Norte

Random | Of A1 Experience and Learning New Skill

A1 Driving School

I guess most, if not all of us, would want to have a car. Not in our dreams, but in reality. And I am no exception. It's a childhood dream. A dream I intend to fulfill; if not soon, then someday. But before that, I need to learn to drive first. Otherwise, fulfilling my dream and owning a car would be futile. What for is a car if I couldn't drive it, right?

And so last September, I inquired from one of the most (if not the most) popular driving school here in our country, the A1 Driving School. I chose A1 mainly because it's highly recommended by a friend. And since I've no idea about driving and just want to have a basic understanding of it, I enrolled in one of their beginner courses, a 10-hour manual driving course which include a 2-hour orientation lecture, 10 hours actual practice driving and some lecture series. By the way, there's this A1-course where one would have the option to choose between a driving instructor or a training vehicle. I'm not particular with the vehicle or the driving instructor so I chose just the standard manual driving course, as earlier said. A not so good idea, I think (will tell you later why *wink*).

Ilocos Norte | A Day in Laoag (Accommodation, City Day/Night Walking Tour, Etc.)

Laoag City, Ilocos Norte

As I mentioned in several of my previous posts, I was able to visit Ilocos Norte (and Laoag) for the first time last year. The visit is a short one - less than two days and a night. The night was spent in the province's capital, Laoag City (also called the City of Lights) - a first class city, the province's center of politics and economy.

Where to stay in Laoag?

After spending the whole day touring the southern part of Ilocos Norte (Burgos Lighthouse, Bangui Windmills and Kapurpurawan Rock Formations) via tricyle and after more or less an hour of walking tour in the city, a clean room with a comfy bed is a welcome reprieve; that we have in Hotel Tiffany.

Ilocos Norte | Carrot Cake: My Precious Find at La Preciosa Laoag

La Preciosa - Laoag City, Ilocos Norte

This food trip is still part of my Ilocos Norte travel late last year, before I started working on my new job. Oh yeah, this post is "uber" late and ancient, almost a year after the fact but I will still share it here to at least preserve the memories of my first trip to Ilocos Norte. ;)

~ oo00oo ~

I've read a lot of travel posts, watched several local travel shows too; and whenever the trip is in the Ilocos Region, particularly in Ilocos Norte, food adventures will always be part of the trip. We had our share of food trips there too; more of street food trips actually since they were on small eateries but of course, I'm still glad as I was able to taste authentic Ilocano dishes. But it's not all street foods that I was able to try, I've had a try of fine dining in Ilocos Norte too, and that's in La Preciosa.

La Preciosa is said to be a fine dining restaurant in Laoag City but it doesn't mean people in casual outfits couldn't get in. We saw several customers dressed up for the place but there were also those like us wearing casual clothes, in denims and shirts, so yeah it's open for everyone, as long as you're decent and have money to pay for your orders...hehe. :P

Budget Hotel | Alba Uno Hotel (Review): My First Solo Hotel Stay Experience

Alba Uno Hotel

“Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, 
and so they don't find themselves at all.” ~Rollo May

I'd like to say I'm not one of those people who fear being alone. Most of my life, I've lived alone and enjoyed the freedom of being alone. No one to answer to or explain myself to if I went home late or if I worked late at night. And yes, I'm living alone here in the Metro. But I've never tried solo travel (except some day-tour trips) yet, not the kind where I would have to stay in a hotel at least for a night. Thanks to my current job, I'm forced to stay in a hotel solo so now I am ready to do solo trips...I think, haha! But first thing first, let me share to you my first ever solo hotel stay experience at Alba Uno Hotel as well as my take on the hotel's room and services.

Ilocos Norte | A Tricycle Tour Experience: Kapurpurawan Rock Formations

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations - Burgos, Ilocos Norte

Nature is the most beautiful thing we have. It's better than art because it's from the creator. ~Olivia Newton-John

Ilocos Norte | A Tricycle Tour Experience: Bangui Windmills

Bangui Windmills - Bangui, Ilocos Norte

This is the second leg of our tricycle tour, our next stop after our visit to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. From Burgos Lighthouse, Bangui windmills is around 30 minutes of tricycle ride on the highway and another few minutes of bumpy ride on a one-lane dirt road leading to Bangui Bay. (I wonder why a much better road isn't constructed here when it is one of the province's main tourists attractions. Oh well, never mind! :P)

Ilocos Norte | A Tricycle Tour Experience: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse aka Burgos Lighthouse

After the grueling six hours sleeper-bus experience and a quick breakfast from the only open eatery a few blocks from the terminal, we started to look for a tricycle that would bring us to the bus or jeepney station going to Pagudpud. It's still early then, the bus terminal we went to has not even one passenger yet. The tricycle driver then brought us to the van terminal that also ply the route to Pagudpud, still there's only a few passengers there (1 or 2, if I remembered correctly). We don't have much time for this weekend getaway. As usual, this is just a side trip to a friend's yearly visit to relatives for some family business. Sensing that we were in a hurry to get to Pagudpud, the tricycle driver then told us that he'll bring us to the highway where we can just wait for the passing buses to Pagudpud.

I forgot the town where he brought us but still, there were no buses that passed by for around 15 minutes. The driver then asked us if we're going on a tour to Pagudpud. We told him yes and so he offered us a tricycle tour to Cape Bojeador, Bangui Windmills and Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, the attractions included in the Pagudpud southbound tour. I asked him how much but he kept on telling us that it's up to us how much we want to pay him. I don't want to have some misunderstandings later on so I negotiated with him. Tricycle Tour from Pagudpod costs 600 Php for the southbound tour, bus fare from Laoag to Pagudpud is around 60 Php per person (one-way) so we offered him 800 Php but he asked for 900 Php, including our roaming around Laoag looking for a bus to Pagudpud. We may not have saved on tour cost but since we're going to save on time by not traveling to Pagudpud first (we can't stay in Pagudpud since we need to go back to Manila the next day) before taking the southbound tour, we agreed on a 900 Php Tricycle Tour to the three tourist attractions of Ilocos Norte. And so finally, after around 30 minutes of roaming around and waiting, we were able to start our Ilocos Tour. Our first stop: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

Batangas | Caleruega: Close to Nature, Closer to God...Finally!

Caleruega: Close to Nature, Closer to God

Caleruega is a retreat center and nature park usually mistaken to be situated in Tagaytay City (due to its proximity) but actually is located in Nasugbu, Batangas. It is a "home amidst the beauty of nature where pilgrims are open to prayer, to creative transformation, to Gospel values" and is administered by the Dominican Fathers and Brothers of the Philippines. Caleruega was named after the birthplace of St. Dominic de Guzman, father of the Dominican Order. Aside from being a retreat center, it's also famous for weddings as has become a dream wedding and pre-nuptial location among would-be couples. Having been there recently and witnessing an on-going wedding ceremony, it's no wonder why it became such a favorite. It really is a lovely and peaceful place, perfect for one of the most memorable and sweetest moments in a couple's life. :)

Ilocos Norte | Street Food Trip Up North (Empanada, Longganisa, Pakbet, Etc.)

Ilocos special empanada - with egg, longganisa, and veggies

Recently, Filipino (street) foods made it to spotlight when one foreign travel blogger wrote about her not-so-good food adventures here in our country. Some of her accounts may have truth in it but I'm one with fellow Filipinos in saying that she should have made the necessary researches needed to do some quality food trips here. Anyway, this isn't about her but my street food trip up north, in the province of Ilocos Norte, the land of pakbet, empanada and Ilocos longganisa.

As the title suggests, this is all about our street food trips in Ilocos Norte. Like some other foodies however, I also have some qualms with street foods too, especially here in the Metro. But if it's in the province (especially in the rural areas), I usually give it a try. Most of the local eateries in the province serve home-made dishes and some of them are clean and hygienic, we just have to look and check them out.

Ilocos Norte | My First (and Probably My Last) Sleeper Bus Experience with Florida Bus

Florida Bus' Sleeper Bus :)

I love traveling yet I consider traveling by land, particularly by bus, an ordeal. I almost always get a headache. I feel dizzy, and more often than not, I throw up. Oh yes, up to now I'm still like that. Except in two occasions: 1) if I could manage to sleep the entire trip, or 2) if I have a companion who would make me talk and talk all throughout. Hahaha...weird eh! Actually, these two reasons aren't fool proof. If the trip is quite long or if I smell something inside the bus (for example, if someone ate something smelly or if someone spray something), I'll get a headache and then feel dizzy afterwads and if I can't help it, I'll throw up.

5th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition (2014) | France vs Japan

I love watching fireworks display. I get excited just by the thought that I would be watching it. It brings out the child in me. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the first four countries (including the opening presentation by the Philippines) participating in this year's 5th International Pyromusical Competition. I was tied up with my work I wasn't able to watch them. I had a chance on the third week though, when a friend called and invited me. It's somehow late when my friend called but since she promised to reserve a space (on the breakwater) for me, I hurriedly prepare myself and rushed out. I made it in time thankfully, just a few minutes before France's fireworks presentation starts.

Rizal | Re-visiting Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine in Antipolo

Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine - Antipolo City

I first visited Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine or Nuestra Senora De La Paz Y Buen Viaje in Antipolo way back when I was still in college. The owner of the place where I used to work brought us (me and my co-workers) there. It was summer time then, month of May, if I remembered it right. Just don't remember if it was the town's fiesta but there were lots of people, and I mean lots of people that time. Even the church compound is full of people. And if I remembered it right, vendors were within the church complex itself, making the place more crowded.

Because of the crowd and since I'm not used to traveling long distance, I don't remember much of the church. I don't even remember the church's facade, much less the inside of the church. We were supposed to go inside (me and my co-workers) but we weren't able to make it. We tried going inside when I suddenly felt dizzy, I almost fainted had one of my co-workers didn't immediately brought me outside to a less crowded area. (It happens usually (at one time, I actually fainted) when I'm in a crowded area, more so in a contained area. I feel suffocated and couldn't breathe.) Anyway, that's the only memory I remembered of Antipolo Church back then.

The Altar and the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

Last October, I was again able to visit this famous church; this after our journey to Kalbaryo Binangonan. This time, I was able to enter the church; to pray and to just sit there in silence for a while. Even during weekdays, the church is open (no service, tho) and there's quite a number of devotees and tourists that day. I also noticed some cars being blessed that day, just goes to show that a lot of people still go there to have their cars blessed as they believed the image would provide them guidance and safety on their journey, wherever that may be.

stained glass window, features various images of Mama Mary
another stained glass window

Before we left, we looked around and took some photos. The church complex is a lot orderly now, no vendors inside, not even candle vendors. And its quite peaceful, too; no unnecessary noise, whatsoever. Maybe because it was s an ordinary day then, but hopefully, it stays that way.

pasalubong/street foods sold outside the church

We also looked around for some pasalubong; bought some tamales from one of the vendors actually. Also tried street foods again, after sometime of not having it. And then that's it, we left afterwards; back to where we should be, with happy hearts and memories to treasure. *wink*

This is it with our Rizal road trip! 'Til next time... ^_^

~ oo00oo ~

Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine
Antipolo City, Rizal
Date of Visit: October 28, 2013

Rizal | Our Journey to Kalbaryo (Calvary) Hill of Binangonan

Mt. Calvary of Binangonan, Rizal
Kalbaryo - Brgy. Libid, Binangonan, Rizal

Last October, during my "jobless" days, I was able to visit some nearby attractions here in Metro Manila. Two weeks before this Rizal road trip, we've been to Laguna, more for a food trip than a road trip, though...hehe. ;) Anyway, for our Rizal road trip, we visited Binangonan and Antipolo. In Binangonan, we tried to visit the municipality's parish church, the Sta. Ursula Parish Church. Unfortunately, since it was a weekday then, the church is closed so I just took some photos and then headed to our next destination: Kalbaryo Binangonan.