This blog is all about roaming the Bicol Region, Philippines wisely on a budget. We'll talk about what Bicol has to offer when it comes to great hotel deals, good food and where to go on your vacation. So, I hope this blog site will be helpful to those of you on the look out for great deals while you have fun in Bicol. Also, I will be sharing what my life here is like and some of the things that I find interesting in my side of the world.
Summer is here again. There’s no escaping the heat. They said we are experiencing the El Nino phenomenon right now, and there was also the water shortage in Metro Manila which was all over the news a few weeks ago. Yes, it’s summer time, indeed. Summer heat may be aggravating but with it comes the excitement of adventures to come and dreaming about trips that we may or may not actually take but enjoyed planning for anyway haha.
So, my first summer adventure was just within the city, we went to Panicuason Hot Spring Resort and Adventure Park. Everyone in Naga probably has seen this place before, it’s the main go-to destination. Even I have been here before.
The resort is located at the foot of Mount Isarog and if you are the nature lover type, you will most certainly like it.
We had fun in their hot and cold spring pools. The temperature in the kiddie pool was just right (not too hot and not too cold like the other pools) so I lingered there even though it was pretty crowded.
The most fun part though was our adventure uphill to see the infinity pool. We did not expect that there would be that many steps. The best thing about it though was the view (and the exercise!).
A lot more walking than we signed up for…………
Across the fields, we went….
Only to find that the infinity pool was being cleaned and we will not be able to swim. Darn it!
The view was still nice though, so we took more pictures like normal people.
In the canteen, they also sell organic produce and products. Unfortunately, we forgot to buy some to take home.
This trip was a nice way to kick off our summer. I must admit that if it weren’t for that uphill hike, our outing would be kind of bland and ordinary. So, if you visit Panicuason Hot Spring Resort, make sure you’re up for a hike to the top of the hill where their infinity pool is.
Entrance Fee: Adult – Php200.00, Kids – Php160.00
Entrance Fee to the Infinity pool: Php50.00 (additional)
I’ve Google searched this park a few times before and I’ve read some Trip Advisor reviewers say that Naga City Ecology Park (located in Barangay San Felipe) was mediocre, “so-so,” not well-maintained and not even worth the Php20.00 entrance fee. However, I beg to disagree because our trip was worth it.
I admit those unsatisfied reviews and the lack of pictures on the internet were the reasons why it took me so long to visit the park. We went there just this morning though and I am glad to learn that we have a beautiful place like this in Naga City.
As I noticed that there are not a lot of features and blog posts on Naga City Ecopark online, I am now going to share what awaits you, what you can expect when you visit and the things to see and do. Let’s go!
Take a relaxing walk while enjoying Mother Nature.
Discover the different kinds of trees, plants and flowers…
Even some fruits like this unripe chico and these curious berries (which are not edible BTW).
Explore the maze.
People seem to think that the maze is the main attraction of the ecopark but for me, this place has more to offer than just the maze. It was a dry spell when we visited this morning so it was not very green as I would have liked it to be. Looking at my photos, you cannot even tell that it’s a maze.
Visit the Topiary Garden
The Topiary Garden was where I felt that the short trip was worth it. It was well-kept, clean and as you can see, well-manicured trees!
Flowers are everywhere in the Topiary Garden.
Let your kids enjoy in the Graceland Ecopark Playground.
Visit Ellen White Garden (where all the flowers are white)
Find Inner Peace in Hardin ni Ina
Visit Jose Rizal Mini Eco Park
You have to kinda lower your expectations though and maybe you should save this one for last because it was not well-maintained and not much to see.
Over-all, Naga City Eco Park is a great place to visit in my opinion because there is no other place like this in Naga City. It is a great place to commune with nature and enjoy its beauty.
A VERY VERY IMPORTANT reminder though, please clean up after yourselves. Let’s not throw away trash anywhere around the park.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
Hey, did I mention it was foggy?
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.The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 =)
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.
The impatiens and periwinkle always go together rather nicely in our plant boxes located outside of the fence.
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!
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.
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.
And the good old herbs – basil, mint, rosemary, chili peppers…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.