Never in my life that I have spent nearly half of the year on the road, traveling both personal trips or group tours. To be exact, I consumed 174 days since January 4. During those times, I have collected enough memories, spent countless money, gained new friends, reconnected with relatives I haven’t seen in a long time or never at all, gone through some off-the-beaten tracks, earned some blisters and cuts, and the list goes on.
Looking back, it was a real roller coaster ride but nevertheless I treasure this year and all the fun, adventures, and people. Because I have spent a lot of time on the road, I had a hard time in choosing the best trips; I had to narrow it down to just 20 though. Here they are:
- Longest group tour I have handled at ten straight days
- A great mix of island hopping, snorkeling, sight-seeing, trekking, chasing waterfalls, eco-tours, museum and heritage tours, pasalubong shopping, visits to spas, and seafoods feasts
- My guests, the Sagay family, visited Sagay City.
- Attended the 6PM Sunday service of Victory Christian Fellowship in Bacolod City
- My guests treated and considered me like a family member and I look forward to an even better and greater tour the next time they call me up.
- Carbin Reef: A Pocket of Wonder
- The Legendary Siete
- The Ruins: Taj Mahal of Negros
- San Diego Pro-Cathedral
- Chasing Waterfalls: Mambukal Falls
- Sunset at 33000 Feet
- VCF-style Bisita Iglesia
2. Weekend in Batad
- Walking up and down at and getting overwhelmed by the mythical stairways to heaven
- Meeting new friends from other countries and interacting with them
- Chasing the majestic Tappiyah Falls
- The Rice Terraces have an everlasting effect in my view towards the Filipino race and ancestry. It was further reinforced during this trip.
- A great bonding moment for me and my wife.
- Sunrise in Batad
- UNESCO WHS: The Eighth Wonder of the World
- UNESCO WHS: Batad Rice Terraces
- Chasing Waterfalls: Tappiyah Falls
3. Bird Watching Trip in Pulupandan
- First ever bird watching trip
- Identified several species such as Black-winged Stilt, Common Stern, Common Stilt, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Philippine Duck, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern, White-collared Kingfisher
- Bird watching can be fun and exciting but more than these, it teaches patience, diligence in preparation and in studying about birds, identifying their species, knowing their behavior and migration patterns.
4. Northern Mindanao Exposure
- Cliff diving in Tinago Falls
- Aerial artistry over Dahilayan Adventure Park
- Conquering the rapids of Cagayan River
- Getting hot, getting cold in Camiguin
- Although major tourist destinations in Northern Mindanao are scattered and require careful planning and adequate time, it should pique a greater amount of desire and passion to experience them all. Those geographical and logistical limitations have always been a challenge to me. But the two group tours I have this year, no major problems that could have diminished the otherwise exciting, enjoyable and pleasurable trips.
- The Macapagal-Macaraeg Ancestral House
- Sunset in Lumbia Airport
- Chasing Waterfalls: Maria Cristina Falls
- Sunrise At 33000 Feet
- Chasing Waterfalls: Tinago Falls
- Chasing Waterfalls: Katibawasan Falls
- Sunrise in Cagayan de Oro
5. Retreats To The Mountains of Sagada
- Chasing Pongas and Bokong Falls
- Spelunking and cave connection
- Food tripping in Sagada’s iconic restaurants
- Sagada will always be one of my favorite retreats. The people, the food, the scenery. All elements that make a trip more relaxing, more detoxifying, more fulfilling.
- An Early Morning in Sagada
- Chasing Waterfalls: Bokong Falls
- Road Tripping in Halsema Highway
- Indulgence: Chayote Tops Salad
- Chasing Waterfalls: Pongas Falls
- Sunrise in Kiltepan Peak
6. Conquering Mount Pinatubo
- Rough and tumble 4×4 ride amidst the lahar and boulders
- Picnic and camaraderie
- Who would have thought that a tectonic disaster could turn into a thriving enterprise that has been beneficial to affected communities? Anyway, that Mount Pinatubo hiking trip was the culmination of a long stretch of group tours and personal trips. It started on February 11 during the Hot Air Balloon Festival going to the Whale Watching Trip in Camiguin Island to the Cebu-Bohol-Danao-Balicasag Group Tour before the month ended to that first of two Northern Mindanao Exposures to a quick trip to Sagada.
Photo Credit: JR Manuel
7. Dumaguete + Apo Island + Siquijor Group Tour
- Swimming with the turtles in Apo Island
- Chasing Cambugahay Falls
- Cliff diving in Salagdoong Beach
- The vibrant Wednesday Market in Malatapay
- Meeting relatives for the first time
- Attended the Sunday service of Victory Christian Fellowship in Dumaguete
- I have always held in high regard all of my guests in this trip. How would I not? They were simply one of the best, coolest and most awesome groups I have had.
- Sunrise in Bohol Sea
- Sunrise in Bohol Sea Part 2
- Sunset in Apo Island
- Silliman Hall: An Enduring American Legacy
- Chasing Waterfalls: Cambugahay Falls
- The Wednesday Market in Malatapay
- VCF-style Bisita Iglesia
8. Anything Goes In Ilocos
- Exhilarating 4×4 ride in Suba Sand Dunes and andboarding in La Paz Sand Dunes
- Food trip: puqui puqui, empanada, dinardaraan, pinakbet pizza, bagnet, and many more
- Chasing Kabigan Falls
- Heritage walk tours
- Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
- One thing that I can be sure of: I will never grow tired of going to Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Sure, our family is from Dingras, hometown of Josefa Llanes Escoda. But far from it, Ilocos has so much to offer that it cannot be contained in just one visit.
- Sunset in La Paz Sand Dunes
- Sunrise: La Paz Sand Dunes, Suba Sand Dunes, in Blue Lagoon, in Laoag City
- Chasing Waterfalls: Kabigan Falls
- The Juan Luna Shrine
- The Patapat Causeway Bridge
- The Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte
- The Wind Farm of Bangui
- The Blue Lagoon of Mayraira Point
- Magin Pers y Pers’ Spanish Lighthouses
- The Birthplace of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos
- The Sta. Monica Church Complex in Sarrat
- Heritage Town: Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
- Bacarra Church and the Dignified Domeless Bell Tower
- Provincial Capitol: Ilocos Norte
- Provincial Capitol: Ilocos Sur
- When Showbiz Messed With Nature
- UNESCO WHS: Sta. Maria Church
- Memorial Shrine: Diego-Gabriela Silang Pass
9. Chasing Biliran Waterfalls
Date: June 8
- Chasing six different waterfalls and identifying five different types in three towns of an island province in just one day.
- Chasing Philippine Waterfalls is not a futile attempt to visit different waterfalls around the country. It is about appreciating the God-given natural beauty of our islands, learning about the conservation efforts of our local government units, and hopefully a time will come when an opportunity arises to help in their conservation and eco-tourism campaigns.
- Chasing Waterfalls: Biliran Falls
- How Far Have I Gone: 1101 kms
- How Far Have I Gone: 1111 kms
- Provincial Capitol: Biliran
10. Crossing The San Juanico Bridge
Date: June 10
- Doing a leisure 5-km walk to Sta. Rita, Samar and back to the Tacloban City terminus
- Night photography maximizing the “blue hour” period
- A beautiful sunset in San Juanico Strait
- When I was young, it never crossed my mind to see in person the fullness of San Juanico Bridge and more so, to walk from end to end. It was an amazing experience highlighted by a spectacular sunset and blue hour, which sparked another interest: night photography.
- San Juanico Bridge: An Engineering Feat
- San Juanico Bridge at Blue Hour
- Sunset in San Juanico Strait
To be concluded.