Hotels

Tentyard Hotel (Pangpang, Sorsogon City)

As we always do during the long holiday due to Undas (All Soul’s Day) here in the Philippines, we took the opportunity to go home to Sorsogon and see my family. It was Yoy’s first time to take a long drive ever since we got our little car so we were just a bit anxious I guess, but it was more like excited, if you ask me.

There were lots of things that put a cloud over our heads prior to this trip though. One was my disappointment that the trip was pushed back one day because the car’s maintenance check up took longer than expected.  Because of this, I had to cancel on our hotel, which I booked for the day we were supposed to be there. I was worried we will not be able to find another affordable hotel when we get to Sorsogon so I was really stressed out.

However, when we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, we were lucky enough to get a room in Tentyard Hotel in Pangpang, Sorsogon City. This is what it looked like from the outside. It was very new because it was the newly built extension or annex of the original drive-in hotel (more like motel if anything).DSC01229

They have air conditioned kubo villas (combination of concrete, wood and thatched roof) instead of the drive-in kind, which made them seem family-friendly as well.DSC01222

The location is very refreshing as it is set in the heart of a rambutan plantation. However, the trees were still very young and have no fruits yet. Oh, it would have been real nice if there were indeed ripe rambutan fruits on these trees.DSC01219

They even have a koi pond. The water was murky but I swear there were live koi swimming in the water.

So this is the room we got for Php 800.00 only. It was clean and it had the basic amenities. It was a real relief that it was clean by the way, because we had a nightmare of a stay in Tentyard Roro (San Juan) a few years back wherein we struggled with the dirty CR there. So, I’m really hoping the management will take extra care to keep this establishment clean.DSC01192DSC01190

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I highly recommend this hotel for the travelers in need of a clean place to lay their heads. It’s got parking space and the staff are polite and friendly.

How to go there: If you are coming from Legazpi City, ask the van/bus driver to drop you off at Tentyard Hotel in Barangay Pangpang. They usually know this place as it is just along the highway. If coming from Centro Sorsogon City, rent a tricycle to take you to this hotel. You may be charged Php 40-50 for a one way ride.

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Resorts

Hibiscus Camp (Consocep, Tigaon, Cam Sur)

Our trip did not seem very promising. I slept late the night before and initially woke up at 4:30 AM and it was raining heavily. I know we decided to go through with it, rain or shine, but I had second thoughts about bringing Julienne along. Will it be okay to bring her in this kind of weather? Anyhow, the rain was not able to keep us from taking a short trip to Hibiscus Camp in Consocep, Tigaon, Camarines Sur.

Our first stop was along the meandering road on our way up to Consocep. We were on an elevated road and found ourselves enchanted by the picturesque landscape. It was very windy and the sky was gray, it did really feel like we were in “the middle of nowhere” but we loved every minute of it.

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Photo credit: Mam Cha’s FB

As the car continued to ascend on the zigzag road that climbs uphill, we reached our second stop. We enjoyed yet even more picturesque landscapes.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 3

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Photo credit: Mam Cha’s FB

There was a little house there and beside it were these fresh produce on display – bananas, sweet potatoes and even avocadoes. The problem was, nobody was around so we couldn’t buy anything. And we really really wanted to buy some. Don’t worry, the only things we ever took were these photos.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 5

We continued to drive uphill and passed by the entrance of Consocep Nature Park. We had to pass that one up because of the weather and the younger kids couldn’t handle the trek. I looked it up online and I know there are three waterfalls to see in that place. A few meters up ahead and we reached Hibiscus Camp. It got seriously foggy in these parts too.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 6

This wooden cabin was the first thing we saw (amidst all the fog). I could have taken nice photos of the cabin but then it started to rain heavily, so we had to rush for shelter. So, grabbin’ this photo (below) from Mam Cha’s FB instead 😉

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Photo credit: Mam Charinne’s Facebook

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Hey, did I mention it was foggy?hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 14hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 12

I like my views misty. Reminds me of the time I went to Sagada with some friends. It was really an amazing place and wonderful people too.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 15hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 16hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 18hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 41The camp has a three-tiered swimming pool but I decided not to go swimming because it was cold, so when the fog cleared up a bit, I explored the place by myself.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 20

I was hoping to not leave a stone unturned but I regret not being able to take pictures of the inside of the cabin. When I got there, someone was cooking in the kitchen and having conversation with another person, and I didn’t want to intrude.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 34

To tell the truth, this place is probably the prettiest I have seen in Bicol so far. It is being dubbed as Bicol’s “Little Baguio” right now and you can see why from the coolness of the place, high altitude, the flowers and the mist.

You will definitely like it if you’re into nature and stuff. It is perfect for celebrations and pre-nuptial photo shoots, but during weekdays maybe. It is fast becoming a popular destination that there is not enough cottage during weekends. Also, the area is not that huge and still under developed but the views are surreal.

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Passion fruit or “Mirinda” as we call it…

They have no rooms for overnight accommodations. It would have been nice though. And it would be best to visit in the summer because when you’re high up on a mountain, I found out that the rain can be a real pain in the rear.

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The young hibiscus plants of which the camp was named after

How to get there: From Naga City, take the Diversion Road in Pili, Cam Sur and upon reaching the junction at Anayan, take the left turn going to Ocampo. It takes approximately 30 minutes and you should reach the junction at Hanawan, Ocampo that will take you up to Consocep. Around 8 kilometers along the zigzag road and you will pass by the entrance of Consosep Nature Park and a few meters up ahead, just along the road, is the Hibiscus Camp.

Entrance Fee is P25.00 only per person for those who just want to have a look around and take pictures. For those who want to swim: Adults are charged P100.00 while kids are charged P50.00.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 36

It was easy enough to find and the road, although zigzagging, is solid concrete. It was our first time to go there and we didn’t get lost at all.

P.S. : All photos are mine except those I give credit to whom credit is due =)

 

 

 

My Bicol

Summer Feels from our Garden

How do we know it’s summer in the PH? For one, the sun feels really hot outside that I need to use my umbrella even in the morning, the usually cold A/C can barely be felt anymore because it is just way too hot. Summer is here, and it cannot be denied when it’s all over the TV – special features about where to go this summer like beaches, spring pools, resorts and just about every activity that families and adventure-seekers can do this season. Even in our office, people are already planning the (mandatory) summer get-away where it is conveniently called “team building.”

For me though, summer means the garden will come back to life again. Like right now, flowers are all in bloom which is a real nice view to wake up to every morning.DSC00520DSC00521

The impatiens and periwinkle always go together rather nicely in our plant boxes  located outside of the fence.   DSC09930DSC00233

But wait, the bougainvilleas will not be outdone. They have been boring and flowered sporadically for the past months but they are finally coming out!DSC00505DSC00570DSC00509

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My little model is always up for this =)

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This summer is also the first time our cacao tree yielded its first fruits and hopefully the summer sun makes the fruit really sweet. We plan to roast the beans and make them into tsokolate or tableya after. DSC00498

Yesterday, I came home after work and harvested these eggplants. Our eggplant “tree” is about 6 feet tall already. It grew so tall because it has to compete with other plants to catch the sun’s rays. It has been around for so long, around three years maybe, and every time we try to cut it, it just yields more fruits/veggies. So I guess it has amazing survival tactics lol.DSC00500

And the good old herbs – basil, mint, rosemary, chili peppers…DSC00506DSC00526

Not everyone is aware that due to the implementation of the TRAIN Law in the Philippines, additional taxes have been imposed on the consumers and everything has been getting more expensive than ever now, especially food items. Food should be affordable for everyone as a matter of principle, but our lawmakers obviously think otherwise. What real schmucks they turned out to be. So, why not grow our own food right at home? I have started by putting these green onions in soil so we don’t need to buy anymore. It’s a small start but it’s a start.DSC00511

So there goes the start of my summer feels. I finally know it’s summer when the garden feels and looks like this, as it should. It’s summer!

Thanks for reading! Have a happy weekend ahead =)

My Bicol

Home Garden (Naga City)

I was just going through my picture files and saw these pictures of our home garden here in Naga City. Last year, there was a time when we were not particularly very busy, especially Mama Pat, who tended our home garden which used to look like this.DSC07699DSC07701

Our garden is mainly for food than for beautification purposes, although flowers were abundant especially during summer. Like these Rosas de Alas Dies as they call it here in Naga, but my Mama used to call it “Oro Alas Dose” in Sorsogon, so called because the flowers bloom in the morning but by noon, the flowers wither.DSC03951

This blue marnate vine literally covered the window of Mama Pat’s room. You can’t even tell this is a window. Anyway, this vine has been removed a few months ago because it was getting too big already. I miss the flowers, they are actually edible and can be found to adorn salad plates in some restaurants.DSC07703

In front of our house are bougainvilleas that also yield a lot of flowers in the summer and the blue flowering plant that I don’t know the name of.17190791_1619408251409407_5117129497669685115_n17265245_1619408431409389_1668838369552764419_n We also have a guava tree, cacao tree, moringga tree (malunggay) and rows of turmeric still rooted on the ground. Some plants we still have include culinary herbs like holy basil, mint and oregano. There are also aloe vera, okra, bitter gourd and eggplant.DSC07721DSC04946DSC07707

We are not as lucky growing the bitter gourd. They never seemed to grow just right, either they got eaten by insects or they ripened when still way too young so I don’t remember eating these. Although, that might be a good thing since they’re just way too bitter!   bitter gourd

And these string beans? They’re gone by now but we used to have them stir fried in soy sauce or with meat dishes like the Filipino favorite “Sinigang,” made with pork (or shrimp) with a savory and sour soup base.DSC07574

Our garden at home made me a believer that God’s blessings are truly abundant and within our reach. Because of this garden, we were able to save a lot of money since we didn’t need to buy our vegetables, we grew them (although most of the effort of course is due to Mama Pat). There was also something very special about harvesting food from the garden which always left me in awe. There was something really special about eating too knowing that there was no pesticide added and they were freshly picked. Last year, we were able to harvest this (below) almost every other day.DSC07814

Gardening truly brings joy to the heart and food to the stomach. I hope that this new year 2018, we will be able to bring our garden back to life, if our time and schedules will allow.

Thank you for reading!

 

Places to See

Daraga Church (Daraga, Albay)

Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, really more known simply as Daraga Church, is a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Daraga, Albay, Philippines. The church was built by the Franciscans in 1772 under the patronage of the Our Lady of the Gate.

For the locals, Daraga Church is the go-to place of worship every Sunday wherein the breathtaking overlooking view of Mayon Vulcano has become but a normal sight. In fact, it only ever draws the usual ohhhs and ahhhs of amazement from visitors, being that it has always been there and the locals have gotten used to it by now, like an ever present, father figure watching over his brood.

However, on a particularly good day when the sun, the light, the clouds and the bluest sky have all conspired with each other to give you just a glimpse of that magical view, it honestly does have the power to make you catch your breath.daraga church 2view from daraga church

I remember years ago, there was much discussion on the radio as well as between everyone who cared to have an opinion that they were totally against the move of applying white paint over the facade of the church. Everyone thought the church looked regal and classic enough on its natural state, just gray and no paint on the outside. Some even said that the unpainted church showed so much character, that it was all the better showing off its age than pretending to be contemporary. However, it still ended up being painted on with white and people were outraged for a while. It took a few days (maybe weeks) but people got over it eventually.582513_447627698587474_1157023064_n

To this day, Daraga Church remains to be one of the must-see places when visiting the Bicol Region, especially the province of Albay. It has also been featured in some local films, one of the most recent was She’s Dating the Gangster wherein Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo (Filipino actors) had a scene shot inside the church.

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Places to See

KAWAKAWA NATURAL PARK (LIGAO, ALBAY)

The beginning of the rainy season can now be felt here in Bicol, even though the heat is still the same as if summer is not quite ready to leave just yet. The rain falls every now and then, at the most unexpected times, as if to mourn the death of our soldiers who fought hard in battle to keep the peace and to protect the innocent in Marawi. God bless them. And as the country is torn and heartbroken over the war waged by the terrorists against the government and its people, I myself don’t feel the enthusiasm to urge people to travel and have a fun time just now.

However, I would like to introduce a place that is great for introspection. A peaceful place that can be a solace for troubled minds. In this time of turmoil for my country, we need to find that peace within ourselves, to extend our hands to God for comfort. Below are the photos of my visit to Kawakawa Natural Park in Ligao, Albay some years ago. It is a place I can think of that made me feel so near to God before, even though God is really within us all in the first place.

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“Welcome to this famous hill without a hilltop” the marker says. The locals have told us that Kawakawa Hill is so named because the shape of its crater  is easily likened to a “kawa” or a wok being used for cooking.

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Every summer is the right time to visit to witness hundreds of sunflowers while in bloom. Unfortunately, when friends and I went there they have just harvested the flowers a few days ago, which then left us with only a few blooms to enjoy.543242_447582698591974_1930491131_n554638_447581715258739_103050721_n536653_447583481925229_1140660211_n

The view from the top was so relaxing that I can easily see myself retiring and living in such a place. There is something about being in a high place that is uplifting to the spirits as well. I remember instantly feeling better.576365_447581998592044_1393260001_n562627_447582368592007_1719302356_n542362_447584278591816_778806875_n525787_447582041925373_1550998116_n

KawaKawa Park is not hard to find. There are markers along Maharlika Highway in Ligao, Albay that points to the direction of the park which is located in Tuburan. So whether you come from Legazpi or from Manila, it is very accessible. The entrance fee happens to be P10.00 only. Also, the locals are quite helpful and friendly so there should be no reason to get lost.

Places to See

Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga, Albay

Cagsawa Ruins are what remains of  a 17th century church built by the Franciscans. It is considered as one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the province of Albay.

According to history, last February 1, 1814, Mount Mayon (famous for its perfect cone), began its most violent and deadly eruption in recorded history wherein the church was destroyed and thousands of inhabitants were killed. The bell tower miraculously survived and over time, it has developed into a top destination for tourists and locals alike for the beautiful view of the Mayon Vulcano in the background. And so history goes, although that is not why many people visit nowadays. For the most part, people go there to have their picture taken with the vulcano and the belfry of the old Cagsawa church as the backdrop. Lol. I mean, nothing wrong with that. And I was definitely no exception (Mt. Mayon and I have tons of photos together!). I guess that is pretty much all you can do when you visit anyway (if you’re not into shopping for pili nuts and handicrafts). 48082_452951188055125_1578136340_n

The place can be so charming, especially when the weather is right.

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Those are just some of the photos taken while touring some friends from Manila.