12/10/2015

A Reflection of my Church and Cultural Tour of South Korea.




Last November of 2015, great news arrived at the school. This is when the Directress of Westhill International School, Ms. Grace Eun Sook Im, mentioned that she would like to take some students to South Korea for a church tour and simultaneously to visit the scenic places around Seoul, South Korea. I was also blessed that I was chosen to go along with the students on this trip.



13 students were chosen to go to South Korea from the Grade 9 and 10. Most of them are also part of the worship team of Westhill International School. When they all heard that news, they were ecstatic! They could not believe that they were given this opportunity to be part of this trip.

After all the paper work and completing the requirements, time finally arrived for us to travel to South Korea. We left late night via Jeju Air and after 4 hours in the air, hello South Korea! 

Though tired from the whole plane trip, you can still see that the students and teachers were  overwhelmed by everything. They still couldn't believe that they were really in South Korea! We were also introduced to some of the pastors of our host church, Seoyhun Presbyterian Church in Seoul, South Korea. 





After a few minutes of waiting at the airport we were met by Mam Im along with Teacher Jinny ( Jinkyoung) , Gayeon , Teacher Chris and Rev. Cheong who were with us during our stay in South Korea.  They were very nice and kind to us all and we got along easily with them. It almost felt like we'd all known each other for a long time.

During our stay in South Korea,  we were exposed to different  cultures, heritage, technology and delicious the food that South Korea can offer. They took us to different night markets where students collected different cosmetics and face masks from famous Korean brands. They even took us to a Nanta Show, a musical play that showcased the culture of South Korea.



We also visited different historical sites such as villages and castles in Seoul which depicts what life was like in the old days. Students were even able to try some of the South Korean arts which they really enjoyed. 








This tour was also educational since we visited top universities like Ewha Women's University and Yonsei University which gave students the idea of the importance of education and how the education system works in South Korea. 



They even took us to Lotte World where students got the scariest ride of their life. And, lastly, they took us to famous buffet restaurants like VIPS and Chelsey. I can't believe how much I ate during my stay in South Korea. That's how much I enjoyed South Korean food!




We also had the opportunity to stay in different home stays and got to experience how life was like in South Korea. It made me realize the value of having a close family ties among South Korean and how education was one of the top priorities, especially among the young generation. I am very privileged to have stayed and met the family of JinHee Song who welcomed us wholeheartedly into their home. 



And most of all one of the most memorable things during our trip was when I sang and the students performed in front of many people at Seo Yun Presbyterian Church. It was a magical and truly wonderful experience to be serving the Lord and using God's blessings.




I thank God most specially for this wonderful blessing of visiting South Korea. I am also thankful to the people that I met and get along with, especially Teacher Jinny, Teacher Chris, Gayeon, and Pastor Cheong, Ms. Grace Eun Sook Im for the opportunity, our hosts during our home stay JinHee Song, whose family were very hospitable and accommodating to all of us, and the rest of the members of Seohyun Church.






This is not going to be the last time I will visit South Korea, the experience I had and the good memories they left made me decide that I will spend a winter in South Korea, hopefully in 2016! To God Be The Glory! 




12/05/2015

7 Best Travel Destinations in Europe that I want to visit in 2016!

Back in 2013, I was very blessed to have given a chance to explore and visit the famous tourist spots in United Kingdom for 30 days. We basically drove all over the UK and even extended our tour to Ireland. That was one of the happiest moments of my life!

This 2016, another blessing arrived and again I have been invited by friends and families to visit the UK and in addition to that, we are going to go on a European tour! Crossing thumbs it pushes through! 

Why visit Europe? Coming from Asia, there are definitely countless reasons why you have to tour Europe. A trip to these European countries opens explorers to various nations, dialects, societies and differing history, breathtaking views and food. 

In addition to that, travelers won’t get bothered with all those border stops. An agreement enables travelers to cross borders just by using one passport stamp ( Schengen visa ) upon arrival and one during departure from Europe. You can easily get through one place to another. During this coming trip, we are going to fly from Manila to London and from there, we are going to be using a campervan to tour the other beautiful countries of Europe!

1. UNITED KINGDOM



If you think that UK is compose solely of huge building and infrastructures, then you definitely need to see their breathtaking landscapes, of all sorts of variety. With the combined forces of nature, this relatively small country came up with the most amazing landscapes you could ever think of. 

2. NETHERLANDS

Photo Source: http://www.holland.com/us/tourism/interests/dutch-nature-1/flower-fields-4.htm 

You can enjoy more of this place if you’re into all sorts of water. You can simply sit by the canal side and enjoy watching boats goes by. After that, you can simply roam the area just by renting a bike. Escape to nature and enjoy their delicious cuisines I hope to see tulips when I visit! 

3. GERMANY

Photo Source: www.germany.info

If you’re into festivals and all other parties and events, Germany is the place to be. They have Carnival Season, Berlin Film Festival, Oktoberfest, Bachfest Leipzig, Frankfurt Book Fair, Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, and Festival Mediaval. Aside from that, find beautiful structures, landscapes and great food! 

4. AUSTRIA

Photo Source: http://www.touropia.com/tourist-attractions-in-austria/ 
Want to see some castles? Austria has a bundle of them. Castle Hohenwerfen is a must see. The delightful urban life is surrounded by mountains and beautiful nature. Famous people like Mozart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franz Schubert and Johann Strauss were also born in Austria. Their desserts, Sachertorte and Apfelstrudel are definitely worth a try. 

5. ITALY 
Photo Source: http://www.italiatourismonline.com/en/regions/20-veneto 

Italy is considered to be one of the finest tourist destinations in Europe. By exploring this place, you’ll get to see beautiful canals, trendy fashion, breathtaking landscapes, art treasure and their traditional food. Burano, Faraglioni Capri, Isola Bella, Italian Coastal Town, Manarola, Positano, Rome, Venice and the Luxury Villa located at Lake Como are the most popular tourist spots in Italy. 

6. SWITZERLAND

Photo Source: http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/interests/top-attractions/the-matterhorn-in-your-sights.html 

Switzerland is famous for outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding. But then there’s a lot more to do in this gorgeous place. Matherhorn is the famous symbol of Switzerland, take a tour of this legendary mountain by riding the Gornergrat railway. Mountain adventures made extra fun when you’re in Switzerland. If you want to experience nature at its best, you can stay in a hayloft. Kids will have this once in a lifetime experience of cuddling some cute animals. Experience rural and urban life in Switzerland, a rare experience you’ll reminisce over for life. 

7. FRANCE

Photo Source: http://en.parisinfo.com/what-to-see-in-paris/monuments/famous-monuments-or-monuments-to-discover 

Paris, the City of Lights, is attracting millions of tourists every year. The legendary Eiffel Tower is one good reason why you should visit this place. Paris Disneyland is also a must see destination. Your holiday getaway in France wouldn’t be complete without experiencing their food and wine.

12/04/2015

10 Places in the Philippines I want to Explore in the 2016!

There are a bundle of reasons why you should definitely visit the Philippines. Other than the hospitality of the people, the Philippines is also famous for its magnificent scenery. We have some of the best beaches in the world, we have one of the most diverse eco systems in the world, and we have the most tasty and delicious Filipino foods and delicacies one country could offer to tourist. 


As I move on to another year, I have no plans of stopping, my feet are too itchy to explore different places around the Philippines and I believe it is possible. And of course, I am going to share my experience with all of you!

I believe that I will be going to many beautiful tourist spots and exploring more places in the Philippines in the future. But with all that, my dream is to visit these 10 places in 2016. I may not be able to do all, but who knows,

Always expect the unexpected! 

In this article, I came up with 10 places I want to visit in the near future or should I simply say 10 places on my bucket list to visit around the Philippines. Each places I believe has their own characteristics that defines the Philippines and that I cannot wait to explore! 

1. TACLOBAN 

Photo Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Juanico_Bridge_2.JPG

Though this city suffered so much during the Typhoon Haiyan, the people here are still very accommodating and the ourist spots are fortunately back to normal. One of the most famous tourist spots in Tacloban is a visit to the San Juanico Bridge. This is apparently the longest bridge in the Philippines extending up to over 2 kilometers longs. Aside from that, I want to explore Tacloban in terms of food, landscape and culture. 

2. BACOLOD

Photo Source: http://mynegrosislandguide.com/promos/masskara-festival-package-deals/ 

Situated in the beautiful province of Negros Occidental, and one of the famous attractions in Bacolod is their Maskara Festival every October - that, I really want to experience! Aside from that, they are also known to have a rich history and natural wonders that you definitely should see. Food and other delicacies here are some of the things I want to try as well! 

3. CAPIZ

Photo Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/group/14737239 

I want to explore the variety of sea foods here in Capiz since it known to be the Seafood Capital of the Philippines. I also wanted to see the largest bell in South East Asia which is found at the Pan-Ay Church. This is also the birthplace of the late President Manuel A. Roxas. 


4. MARINDUQUE

Photo Source: http://vigattintourism.com/tourism/destinations/80 

A heart shaped island surrounded by clear waters and a beautiful coastline, Marinduque has a lot of beautiful beaches to choose from. Aside from the hospitality of the people here, I want to visit the Bathala Cave in Sta Cruz, Marinduque. If you are person who loves mountain climbing or simply hiking, this place is definitely for you. 

5. CARAMOAN

Photo Source: http://www.caramoanislands.com/ 

Caramoan became famous because the hit reality show, Survivor, was filmed here. After that, locals started coming to this place and checked out the different places to see in Caramoan. From the pictures I've seen, it look gorgeous! I would like to do some island hopping around the beautiful beaches in Caramoan and I am sure they have amazing coral reefs around there. Definitely worth exploring in 2016!

6. BATAD, BANAUE


Photo Source: http://www.banaue-tours.com/portfolio-view/batad-village/ 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Batad in Banaue will make sure that every tourists who visits Batad will definitely fall in love with it easily. These terraces were created thousand of years ago by our ancestors and now it is the most visited tourist spot in Banaue. Make the opportunity to walk down the famous rice terraces, but take note that you need to roam around by foot. You can also stay in the Ifugao huts and have a taste of their rice wine. 

7. TAWI-TAWI

Photo Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1588746 

Situated in the Southernmost part of the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi is packed with unspoiled scenery and wonderful heritage sites. This province is teeming with surprises starting with unspoiled diving sites to several mountains and that is why, after seeing some photos of some travel bloggers of their trip to Tawi-Tawi, I suddenly realised that I want to also tour Tawi-Tawi! 

8. DAVAO

Photo Source: visitdavao.com 

If you want some fun under the sun, Davao is the place to be. You take a view of the famous Mt. Apo, renowned Samal Island, Eden Nature Park, Crocodile Park, and the People’s Park. After visiting those places, experience extreme adventure with their white water rafting, zipline, wakeboarding and diving. I believe that the bustling city of Davao is also very lively and I can't wait to try that out! 

9. ROMBLON

Photo Source: http://the-three-p.com/en/gallery/romblon/ 


Romblon is also packed with unspoiled sites worthy of your time and effort. Romblon is situated in between two bigger islands, Sibuyan and Tablas. Its rich historical heritage is a plus point. When I went to Boracay via 2Go Ferry, we stopped at Romblom and found out that it could be the next Boracay in the future, the Carabao Beach! 

10. SIQUIJOR ISLAND

Photo Source: http://www.islandsofthephilippines.com/2013/12/the-enchanting-beauty-of-siquijor/ 

Tagged as the smallest province of the Philippines, Suquijor is slowly gaining more tourists every year. They are captivated by its mystical charm and its attractive natural wonders: white beaches, waterfalls and diving sites are just few destinations you’ll have to check out on the beautiful island of Siquijor. Can't wait!

11/21/2015

10 Things I Can’t Leave Behind When Travelling Around Philippines

Part of my life now is travelling and exploring awesome places in the Philippines. Basically, one of the most important part of travelling is packing. This is when I feel that I am really going on a vacation. And when we travel around the Philippines, there are so many things to consider when packing. For a many of us, there are things that we cannot really leave behind when travelling. Here are the 10 things that go into my luggage first when travelling around the Philippines: 

1. Mask and Snorkels

If diving is your hobby, then mask and snorkel are your best friend. I used to rent a mask and snorkel before but I am not always comfortable with it. So I decided to get a set for myself. I may not always be around the beach, but remember that we are surrounded with water. It's just good to have them handy!

2. Drift the (light) clothes

When travelling around the Philippines, you need to consider the humid climate. Thick clothes are not comfortable to wear in the Philippines and they could be quite heavy in your luggage. That is why when I go around, I make sure I packed mostly drifit clothes with me at all times. It feels good and it's a quick dry shirt so you don't spend the day drenched in sweat. 

3. Plastic Bags

You’ve gone swimming but don’t like wasting your time waiting for your clothes to dry? Then stick it all in the plastic bag. Plastic bags are not just for wet clothes, they are also very useful for storing cellphone chargers, batteries and other small things, so you can find them in one place. 

4. Water Bottle

If you don’t want to die of thirst when travelling, then you must carry a water bottle. Though water is everywhere, you must remember to be cautious enough to secure a safer source of water rather than drinking anywhere; also carrying your own bottle means doing your bit for the environment. 

5. Camera

Before travelling, the first thing you’ll find is a beautiful travel destination, either it has beautiful scenery or the weather suits you. A traveler should, most importantly, bring a camera to take a snap of those scenes that they can look back on later to re-live the experience. Aside from my phone, I always pack my underwater camera and GoPro camera with me. Each has it's own way of capturing the beautiful moments of travelling! 

6. Belt Bags

For me, this is very important. I am a very spontaneous traveller. I am also a person who easily forget things. So to make sure I have all the important things with me, a belt bag is a must! When I travel, I don’t like to carry everything with me. A small handy belt bag is perfect for carrying the most valuable things like wallets, phones, camera, pens, and more. I want to basically enjoy exploring with less baggage with me! 

7. Polarized Shades

Shades for me is not just a fashion statement but a need. It is very important specially in the Philippines because it will protect your eyes from the heat of the sun. Wear shades and keep your eyes protected from UV rays. For some reasons, I have cholesterol deposits on my eyes which make them very sensitive to bright lights. So for a traveler like me, I make sure I don't ever forget to wear shades. Get the polarized ones too! 

8. Flip Flops

Some or maybe most of the places around the Philippines do not require people to wear shoes. Filipinos love flip flops not just because they fashionable but also because how comfortable they are to wear when travelling around the country. There are bulky flip flops out there, make sure to pick the ones that are light and easy to carry. But remember that if you are going to be doing a lot of walking - also pack a light pair of walking shoes. 

9. Notebook for Journal

As a traveller, taking pictures is not enough. I've made it a practice to also learn how to write notes while travelling. It helps me remember things, specially when I write about the things I do during the entire trip. It's also nice to make a personal recollection as a reminder of the good memories you had during your travels. 

10. Extension Cords

I always want my phone next to me when I'm in the bed. However, there are certain places in which electric sockets are situated far away from you. Extension cords are the answer to your problem. When travelling, you can now have a definite spot where you can charge your gadgets and other devices. This offers inconvenience especially if you are in unfamiliar place. I am a person who charges several gadgets like my phone, cameras, and other stuff. For foreign tourists, this means you only to have one adaptor for your extension. 



So there you have it guys! So when you see me travelling, expect that I have these items in my bag!

What about you? Would be nice to hear from you! 


Share them by commenting below!

11/17/2015

Island Hopping in EL NIDO, Palawan - The TOUR A way!

Right after my trip to Puerto Princesa some weeks ago where I stayed at Blue Palawan and also did some side tripping to Nagtabon Beach. I received another invitation again from a friend of mine, Ver Real, to accompany him and this time to EL NIDO. 


I suddenly got very excited and it was difficult to say no to this opportunity! So we packed our bags and flew to Puerto Princesa en route to El Nido. 


There are four options to explore El Nido, each tour will take you to different beautiful islands and lagoons scattered around El Nido, Palawan. The tours are simply entitled Tour A, B, C or D and and most rates average from 1000 - 1500 per person. But if you are a good haggler, I am pretty sure that you can get it at an even lower price. 

I would also like to inform everyone that this trip was arranged by ATTRACION DE TOURISMO TRAVEL AND TOURS, a travel agency that is based in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. 

Due to some delayed flights in Manila, we arrived in Puerto Princesa at around 5:00 pm and started our 5 hour journey to El Nido. At 11:00 pm, we finally arrived at El Nido and checked in at La Casa Teresa. As much as we would love to go around and explore the town, it was too late already and so we decided to just go to bed after a few drinks



Morning had arrived and as we opened the door, I couldn't believe what we are looking at. I thought I was like in a different dimension or world seeing these huge karst islands on the horizon. 


Right after breakfast, we immediately started our tour. For my first adventure here in El Nido, we decided we wanted to do the TOUR A. This tour would take us to at least 5 to 6 different islands which I will mention a little later. 

However, weather was not on our side though. This was the time where the north of the Philippines was being hammered by a typhoon. Luckily it was just overcast and the coast guard didn't cancel the tours. 

So here are the islands we explored under the TOUR A in El Nido!


7 COMMANDO BEACH

Our boatman decided to make this the first stop as this island could get busy later in the day. He was actually correct! We arrived with not many guests on the beach. The karst mountain in the back ground was so beautiful, the sand was so fine and the water was warm. Perfect for swimming and sun bathing! 



Because this place is so famous among the tourists, you will find a snack bar and some tables and chairs for those who want to relax for a bit. At the far end of the beach, you will find a very posh Vellago Resort Hotel. I wish I could stay there one day! 




SMALL LAGOON

For our 2nd stop, we went to Small Lagoon. Boats parked and I couldn't wait to see what this Small Lagoon was like. Since the entrance to the lagoon was a bit far, kayaks are available for rent at around Php 300 pesos for those who cannot swim. But on my case, I under-estimated the distance and decided to swim from the boat all the way to the lagoon. I shouldn't had done that! It was tiring! 

This tiny passage entering to the Small Lagoon. Watch your head! 

As we entered the lagoon, I was again mesmerized by the beauty of the place. And again, all I was saying was wow! I just could imagine how clear this water would be on a sunny day or even summer. But since, it's been raining, the water was a bit murky. But it was still so much fun! My favorite moment here was floating and staring at these limestone cliffs and listening to the sound of nature. So peaceful! 



Lunch at PAYONG-PAYONG BEACH 

Located in Miniloc Island, our boat men took us to this place for lunch. You will notice that most of the boat men were preparing lunches on board while their guests are busy wandering out. 

As I looked around, I couldn't get over how the limestone rock formation almost touching the water creates a very scenic landscape. I would not mind eating lunch here everyday! It was stunning! 


You then suddenly realize, how lucky you are to be at a place like this! 

The lunch that was prepared for us was sumptuous! They prepared pork and fish dishes, rice, vegetable salads, and fruit. I should have brought some drinks with me! 

While others were having their siestas, I decided to do a quick snorkel. At first it was a little murky but as I swam further into the drop off, there I was stunned! The variety of coral and fish are abundant along this area and I am sure all around El Nido. 

SECRET LAGOON

We didn't waste too much time, after a few minutes rest, we headed off to another place and they call it Secret Lagoon. I was really curious what this place would look like. The seas were getting rougher and rougher due to the storm but we were lucky that it was low-tide. Why? Because that make it possible to enter through that small tiny entrance to this lagoon. Just watch your head again as some rocks were quite sharp! 

After exploring the secret lagoon, we walked to this another beautiful beach next to it.

And when I saw this, I WAS BLOWN AWAY! This was one of the most beautiful coves I've seen in my entire life. It represents the grandeur of nature! 

Apparently, this was also used as a back drop in the Hollywood movie BOURNE LEGACY. And, used as a location in numerous SURVIVOR series for other countries. 

If only given a chance to camp here and pretend to be in a survivor series, I would! 

BIG LAGOON

Another highlight of doing the TOUR A was the trip to the Big Lagoon. For the last time, we were very lucky that the tide was high enough for our boat to pass through this shallow passage. This Big Lagoon is always featured in many magazines and bulletin boards promoting El Nido and Palawan simply because of it's pristine beauty and wonders. 

As we pass through the limestone karst structures that appeared to bestaring at us, the boat engine suddenly stopped and it was complete silence. All of us in the boat were in awe about what we were actually seeing. It was beautiful! 



El Nido has so much to brag about and it is not a surprise any more why many foreign medias think that El Nido is the place to find some of the world's beautiful beaches. 

With so many beautiful islands, limestone rock formations and stunning white sand beaches around El Nido, you must definitely consider taking the TOUR A first before trying out the other tour options. I see other travelers are doing the combination, but in a paradise like El Nido, rushing is not an option! 

As we ended our tour, rain suddenly poured hard and all I could think of was how blessed are we Filipinos to have such a place like El Nido. I hope we continue to protect these natural wonders in our country for the future generations to see! See you again El Nido! 


HOW TO GET TO EL NIDO via PUERTO PRINCESA:

From the Puerto Prinsesa airport, there are so many vans available outside the arrival area. 

                 FARE: 700 per person one way
                 TRAVEL TIME: 5 hours

HOW TO GET TO EL NIDO via MANILA (FLY):

At the moment, there is only one airline that flies to El Nido and that is the ITI (Island Transvoyager, Inc.) Airport . I advise you to phone them first and ask for specific rates as the fare changes depending on the seasons. 

PHONE NUMBER: (02) 851 5674
FARE: Ranges from Php 6,000 - Php 9,000 one way