2013 ADVENTURES: HITS AND GLITCHES

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For every adventures, having bad experiences is inevitable. But  these not- so- good -things that suddenly come along the way would  sometimes make the adventure more memorable. My adventures for the year 2013  is a combination of both hits and some glitches.

HITS: I would call this  as "Southern Hits" , why?
First, I was able to venture to the southern part of Italy specifically the Sicilian Region. This was a big hit because it was an all expense paid trip. All I did was to take  photos and research the tourists spots in   each of the the following  cities/towns of:
1. Palermo
2. Monreal
3. Siracusa
4. Cefalu
5. Mondella
6. Messina
Cefalu

Second reason why I said " Southern Hits" is that I had finally scratched off from my bucket list the following South East Asia countries.


1. Cambodia
2. Vietnam
3. Hongkong
4. Macau


The lists will not be complete without mentioning  of course, the Philippines. I  always look forward in coming back to my home country and discover other places I haven't seen yet. My Sagada adventure was one for the books. I met new friends here and together we explored the town, chased waterfalls and got wet and dirty in the cave connection /spelunking.
new found friends in Sagada
A visit to the country also means "reunion". I saw some of my former office mates. Seeing them means, laughter, food, unending stories, more laughter and more food. I was reunited with my   P.A.U.L.S. group - a group I formed with my former high school batch mates and friends with the main objective of helping the indigent students in Ilocos Sur. This is actually a double purpose activity because we get to help less fortunate persons and we also get to see and be  reunited with our high school classmates.
Cu Chi Tunnel
It was in Vigan where I met a co-blogger  for the very first time, it's non other than the Town Explorer, Edmar Guquib. It was a joy to meet him, I was hoping to explore neighboring towns  with him but our schedule just won't fit in.

GLITCH: this  happens all the time. Sometimes it is during in the most unexpected place and time.  My trip to the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City, was the scariest. I was almost electrocuted in a hostel's bathroom.  Read the full story on my misadventures at Baden Powell Inn.


Baguio Cathedral

Another glitch, Backlogs! For some reasons I was not yet able to write any   piece on my trips to the Sicilian towns\cities I mentioned above. Also not  a single post yet for Cambodia, Vietnam, Hongkong and Macau save for the Pandanus resort I wrote for the Pinoy Travel Blog Carnival for the month of October.
Year 2013 for me is really an adventure with all the twists and turns.  As the Year of the Snake is about to end I am  making a promise to get myself back to writing and cover all my backlogs and travel more, of course.



This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Blogger's Blog Carnival for the month of December with the theme The Pinoy Travel Bloggers Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living hosted by Brenna Bustamante of Philippine Travelogue







BANAUE: THE LAND OF THE RICE TERRACES

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It was not my plan neither my travel buddies' but because  the bond we created in Sagada seems very hard to break we all decided to travel to Banaue in the province of Ifugao to accompany our two companions.
 The town is very famous for its Rice Terraces.  It is even printed at the back of the Philippine twenty peso bill. This Rice Terraces were built   some two thousand(2000) years ago by the indigenous people  using only their farm tools and hands , they were able to make rice paddies on  the mountains.

OUR LADY OF ATONEMENT

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The pink-facade-Cathedral  in Baguio City is one of the many must visits in the city. It was constructed way back in 1920 and completed sixteen years later.
 
The Cathedral otherwise known as Our Lady of Atonement can be reach via a hundred steps stone staircases  from the City's popular  street, Session Road.  Another way is without climbing the vertigo stairs is by the access road near the post office building.
Aside from the three front doors, devotees and visitors may enter at the doors located on each sides. Holy masses are celebrated in two languages namely: English, Tagalog and also in Ilocano dialect.

 
 
 
During the World War II, it did not only serve as a place of worship but also a place of refuge. Thousands of evacuees were relocated here but some of them perished due to bombing. Their remains was subsequently interred within the  Cathedral's grounds. 
One distinct feature of the cathedral aside form its color is the rose window also known as Catherine window and twin spires.  A rose window is a circular window that are usually found in Gothic architectural style churches.  In front of the sacred building is a large courtyard. Some parts are covered with benches. On one side is a mini park  featuring miniature local houses. Further down is a statue of Jesus on the Cross. 
 
 
 
This Roman Catholic Cathedral is easily the most visited  and photographed church and tourist spot  in Baguio, one reason maybe because of its location. It is just right above the famous Session Road, near the public market and bus terminal and some tourists spots.






THE LOST CEMETERY

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I remember the first time I visited this place, I thought it was where the US soldiers buried  their dead animals because of the animal figures. I think I was only seven years old then. 
This  cemetery also called the Cemetery of Negativism is a symbolic cemetery to bury negativism . Negativism they say is any man's greatest self-imposed infliction and burden.  As one will  pass from one tomb to another he/she will certainly realize his/her negativity and ultimately leave and  bury it here, too. (I just hope so..)
The Pet Cemetery, another monicker,(see,  was I right then  in thinking  that this was an animal cemetery)  was designed by Base Comander Major John Hightower . It was and until now  one of the most popular sites in the John Hay Historical Core.
 
 

THE BELL HOUSE AT CAMP JOHN HAY

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The most prominent house in Camp John Hay is none other than The Bell House. This was named after Major General James Franklin Bell. He was the one who designed the house among other structures in the Camp.
 
At the house's living room is a portrait of  John Milton Hay. He was  the 37th United States Secretary under two Presidents, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. The famous US Air base was named in his honor.
 
 
The people behind  this are  doing  a good job in maintaining the house. Everything are in order the way they were used to be. Old furniture still adorned the enormous house and I guess they are still in perfect condition. 
 
 




JOHN HAY HISTORICAL CORE

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A tourist spot within a tourist spot.. that's what John Hay Historical Core is. This new tourist attraction in Camp John Hay is now beginning to earn its own mark as a must visit in Baguio. It is  located very near  from the Tree Top Adventure . 
For a minimal entrance fee of P60.00 tourists can freely  wander around and see the following historical landmarks:

1. The Bell House and Museum - the house named after US Army General Franklin Bell. The museum is host to 8000 books, magazines and tapes thus with was also called as the "The Library and Tape Center" 

2. The Bell Amphitheater -  the beautiful  terraced garden can serve as multi-function events area. During my visit a wedding ceremony and reception has just concluded. 
  3. History Trail and Secret Garden - its more of leisurely walk than hiking through the gardens at the back of the Bell House. Along the  trail are small billboards that tells the  story of  historic monuments in the Camp. Then it finally  leads to the gazebo.  
Note: The caretaker recounted to us that it was  only the General who have access to this gazebo, thus the name Secret Garden.

4. Cemetery of Negativism - this is not really a cemetery but a symbolic burial place for negativism. It was designed by Base Commander Major John Hightower.

5. Totem Pole - The   busts of  important leaders  comprises this wood carving masterpiece by Ernesto Dul-ang. 
6. Panagbenga Monument -  the sunflower monument represents the annual flower festival the city holds every month of February. 





STARDUST BAND (PANDANUS RESORT)

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Stardust band: the family that sings together stays together

I had seen and watched  live performances by Filipino bands in bars outside of the country  but I had never expected to watch one and especially in a resort in Mui Ne.

During my stay in Pandanus Resort I was amazed to watch perform the Stardust Band The band is actually composed of family members. The father is the guitarist, one son plays the organ/piano and back up singer, another son performs as lead male vocalist, the mother and the aunt are the singers. From time to time the resort's guest relations manager, Ross,  also a family member and  sings  with them too on her free time.


I never missed any chance to watch them perform. Their repertoire is extensive. They can sing almost any song genre from the Queen to Lady Gaga  to One Direction. Plus they  were all so accommodating. During breaks they would take extra effort to hop from one guests table to another. They would encourage everyone to request a song for them   to play. What struck me the most is Tita Lolita, (Tita is Filipino word for Aunt, it is also use as a sign of respect to older women that close to you) she is the mother , she  doesn't at all look her age. It was a joy watching her  and  Ate  Zeny (Ate is a Filipino word for older sister and also use as a sign of respect to women older than you)  performed songs of today's generation. 
During one of our conversations with them I learned that Tita Lolita and her husband  were also able to perform in Italy and in many other countries. Certainly, their music brought them to places and I was fortunate to see and watch them perform , of all places , in Vietnam.



TREE TOP ADVENTURE : ACTIVITIES AND FEES

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Baguio's newest tourist attraction is the Tree Top Adventure located inside the former USA Military base, Camp John Hay. The area used to be forested with hundreds of pine trees. The trees are still there which I think this adventure make one more closer to nature. 
 
As of April 2013 these are the  different activities and how much it cost.  
1. Silver Surfer  Ride- maybe patterned from the famous American film Fantastic Four: The Silver Surfer. The adventurer stands on a ledge while holding a bar and go up and down on the diagonal 70-meters long zipline. Cost of the ride   is  P200.
silver surfer "launching ramp"
2.  Trekking and Skywalk -For the two, cost is P100. The trek is  a leisurely walk that takes about 10-15 minutes. Skywalk on the other hand is walking on an elevated ramp at 1000 feet which also serves as viewdeck. 
skywalk cum view deck
3.  Funicular/Canopy Ride - to enjoy this ride be ready to shell-out P350. The Canopy ride takes the adventurer from one station tower  to another    while seated on a cable chair at around 20 feet high.  It requires  a transfer in  ride on its 8 towers.  The 30 meter  Funicular ride serves as a connecting  ride  from one canopy tower to another. Just like the canopy ride, adventurer would be seated either going up and down. 
 
 4.  Superman Ride - for  P300  this 200 meter long and 150 feet high zipline    lets you ride  face down as if you are flying.  
canopy ramp
5. Tree Drop Adventure - as the name suggest adventurer will be drop from   60 feet down. This free fall adventure have three ways: 
     a. you may go down in a sitting position using the harness
     b. or try it head first and feet up
     c. or face down with arms wide open.
  Rate per persons is P150.00

Guests can also choose from the rides and adventure combo packages  that suits their adventure level. There's also entrance fee of P100.00 but it is consumable in any rides. For our part we get the Package A. For someone like us who just came  from our extreme adventure in Sagada we just needed something to relax. The canopy and funicular ride coupled with skywalk and trekking is just the right combination to chill our adrenalin.
Before going, It is advisable  to check the weather  because they halt operations during bad weather.  

TAM AWAN VILLAGE

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Tam awan Village is one unique village that  lets every visitor have  a glimpse of Cordillera village life and admiring beautiful  art exhibits while on eco tour all in one place. This artists colony was developed by the Chanum Foundation.
To make the experience more indigenous, the village offers accommodation in  Ifugao and Kalinga huts. These huts were reconstructed from authentic knocked-down  village huts.

 
 There was this one hut named "Duklingan" which  was originally built sometime in 1937.  The Duklingan by the way is a fertility hut. According to our guide, the history was to let  married couples who are unable to bear a child to stay at the hut for a month. When the time already lapses and still childless, the man can find another woman and repeat the process. Only at that time the woman can also find another man.  This is to know who among the couple is infertile.
 
The reconstructed native village also showcases art works from famous local artists.A large colorful gecko carving greets visitors at the entrance.Another prominent artwork is the Solar drawing featuring the famous Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao . A Solar drawing  uses  the sun's or solar's energy to complete the artwork.  For a cold place  like Baguio making a solar drawing takes time because of the weather.  There's also a  gallery that houses the artworks  that are for sale. On the spot sketch portrait is also available for a minimal fee. 
The Solar painting featuring Manny Pacquiao
 
 
 
For nature lovers, the eco trail is worth trying for. Trail paths going to the two View Deck can be easily navigated except maybe for the trail going up to the View Deck 2. The path is smaller in width and steeper as one goes higher but still manageable. Once at the view deck a beautiful panoramic view of the city awaits hikers. They even say that on clear day sunset at  West Philippine sea can be viewed here thus making true to its name as Tam-awan, a  vantage point. 
the trail
the view
 For tired feet ,there are seating areas, or aptly rest areas  scattered all over the place. For  refreshment  try their fruit/milk shakes or have some drinks at their coffee shop  
the coffee shop
HOW TO GO TO TAM-AWAN
By Taxi: Just tell to the driver that you are going to Tam-Awan Village in Pinsao. The driver will drop you off right infront of the village. It takes 30-45 minutes depending on traffic

By Jeepney:  Take the Plaza-Quezon Hill-Tam awan or Longlong - Tam awan jeepney route. Jeepneys can be found at Kayang St. near the Baguio City Market.  You know you are already there when you see the outside wall  full of grafitti  drawings

ENTRANCE FEE:

Children   P20.00
Student    P 30.00
Adults      P 50.00

Rates above may change, for further inquiry on exact fees, rates  and bookings on accommodations contact: Mr. Mike Golez at (63) 9156888268 or (63-74)4462949 or visit their website www.tam-awanvillage.com