Monday, June 13, 2011

Ang Laiya sa San Juan

Ilang beses na rin nakapunta sa lugar. Sa katunayan, ito ay ang aming secret hide away noong panahon na hindi pa gaanong nadidiskubre ang kanyang ganda. Ang Laiya sa San Juan, Batangas.

Maaga kong kinalabit si "the Wife". Maaga kasi kaming susunduin ng isa sa aking mga kapatid punta sa Batangas na kung saan kami magtatatanan nang araw na iyon. Nag-impake, naligo at naghintay. Pero wala pa rin si Kuya. kaya naman, natulog na lang kami ulet.

It was already 5 AM when we left Mandaluyong for our weekend getaway trip to San Juan Batangas in the southern part of Luzon. But first we had to make a quick stop in my hometown of Ibaan in Batangas to meet our parents who live there.

After about 3 hours of total travel time, we arrived in San Juan. The first order of business was to look for a resort that can still accommodate us.

In the years before, no one would have imagined how Laiya would become one of the most sought after beaches in this side of Batangas. Even the "lokals" were caught surprised by this quick turn of events.

I first saw the beauty of its beaches more than 10 years ago. During those times, fishes would be seen jumping into the shore in groups. During that time, you can drive towards Laiya and ask a lokal for a place where you can just enjoy the beach without having to pay a fee. There were still some areas you can enter, setup tent and just sprawl on the beach. You just have to worry about where to wash up after.

Nowadays, the place is dotted with private resorts. Even the used to be private dwellings in the beachside have now realized the income potential that they now rent their place to any would-be beach goer.

Since we could not go to Acuatico or Blue Coral as they normally cater only to those who have pre-resevations (not to mention that their place is steep for our simple family event) we set out resort hunting. The first beach that came up to my mind is Kabayan. Unfortunately, the whole resort was already taken and paid for by Recom Echieverri of Caloocan so we can not stay there.

We settled in this small beach where a sign in front says it is Lola's Resort. At first we were not that excited to swim as the sun was already blazing hot during that day. This was so different from what was the weather the day before when there was overcast conditions and the waves were huge, according to some of the resorts caretakers.

Proof of the previous days weather is a half-sunken boat a few meters from the beach. They say that the rear of the boat was cut off and that it would take a few days before they could haul it to land. Another mans boat costing about 2 million pesos was eaten by the sea and broke it to pieces. We were even able to witness when the owner of the boat retrieved its motor from the sea. We were told that the same guys was almost in tears as he saw his boat being pummeled by the waves brought about by Dodong.

But Saturday is a different day to say it again. The sea was calm. The sun was shining. After I ate lunch, I started to go shooting mode. I shot pictures of my brothers and pamangkins as they were having fun. this was while "The wife" was busy sleeping in one of the available tables on the beach. I later on followed suit, sleeping face down on the same table.

It was lunch already when we woke up. I ate a handful of fresh squids bought from a fisherman that we caught up with in the beach. Ripe mangoes is a treat to the palate of the beautiful wife, I think she ate more than one... (ooops)

Afterwards, we joined our family in the fun soaking in the surprisingly still clean waters of San Juan. The water was clear and because the tide was still low, we can clearly see the things underneath the waters. Not only once did we see a group of fish swimming just right next to where we were standing. One of my older brothers even saw one as big as his limb which was amazing. One thing that scared my niece Andy however was a jellyfish which his cousin Paul caught and brought to the shore. They were like so amazed by its see-through skin and they kept touching its top not realizing that they could be stung by it which could cause itchiness. But even with the threat of jellyfish, we were never swayed. We kept going back to the water for more fun. Thanks goodness, we never saw another again.

It was when everyone else were already taking their showers that I decided to dive into the waters again. The sun was almost setting already. Even the other beach-goers were not around. I have the beach to swim on my own. As soon as I dove, I realized something different. I tried to set foot on the sand below the water but I could not reach it. I realized the waters are now deeper. High Tide is coming and this is to my complete enjoyment. I love swimming in deep waters. As I try to balance my weight, I could feel the cold freezing touch of waves underneath.

Ahhh if only those guys could feel the waters now. Sorry for them, they took their showers already. If only they knew what they missed. I swam for almost half an hour more. It was only me and the beach. It was like I was swimming and the Laiya sea was embracing me back. It knew that I was not a stranger to its tides so it kept giving me more of how good it is to be on its waters. And It knew that I realized it. And I was contented.

Laiya keeps surprising me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Helpful Tips For Those Who Also Wants To Go To Pinatubo

If you have decided already and want to experience what we did in my last Pinatubo post here are some things you might want to consider:

Disclaimer: These notes were provided to me by "The Wife" via email. I am not sure if she got it from another blog or from our coordinator. One thing is for sure I am not the original writer of the next 7 Points to consider in preparing for your Pinatubo trek.

- Pack light. The regular Pinatubo trek will take around 2-3 hours via old way. Do yourself a favor and keep your bag light. Your back will thank you for it.

- Love your skin. The best time to go trekking Pinatubo is before the rainy season which equals to you getting a LOT of sun. So slather on that sunscreen and use a cap or hat.

- Sole keepin'. Mount Pinatubo's terrain is rugged so protect your feet by wearing sturdy foot wear. You'll surely get wet as well so bring an extra pair.

- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The trick on not getting a heat stroke is to drink BEFORE you even feel thirsty. You will be sweating a lot and hydrating is a sure way to battle fatigue. Bring at least 1 liter of water for the trek.

- Fuel up. Making your own trail food is a fun and easy way to ensure that you have something to munch on while your navigating the tricky terrain of Mt. Pinatubo. No need to go on a hunger strike there. Life is short. Eat.

- Don't worry, be happy. Its not everyday that you get to commune with nature so don't rush - it's not a race. Appreciate the sight and sounds around you.

- Leave no trace while trekking. You probably have heard of this one before but we'll say it again anyway. Take nothing but pictures; Leave nothing but footprints; Kill nothing but time.

Additional Tips:

Please coordinate with your local contact or the local government of Tarlac for any updates about security. As what I have mentioned in my previous post, we had to cancel our first scheduled trek due to weather conditions. The local contact, the local government through the assistance of the Philippine Air Force are in a better position to assess the safety of your trip.


There is a local 4X$ jeep operator in Tarlac that caters to those who wants to visit Mount Pinatubo. The packaged fee might change slightly if the petition of the operators for increase in fee is approved. The petition is still pending as of this date, June 8, 2011.

Here is a sample itinerary for those who are planning to go to Pinatubo.

2:30am - Assembly at EDSA Crossing, Mandaluyong
3:00am - ETD to Capas Tarlac
5:30am - Arrival @ Pinatubo Spa Town
- 4x4 to Jump off point, Trek to the crater
8:00am - ETA Rest, swim and explore crater
11:00am - Early Lunch
1:00pm - ETD. Trek and 4x4 to Spa Town
3:00pm - Wash-up @ Spa Town
4:00pm - ETD to Manila
6:00pm - ETA. EDSA Crossing, Mandaluyong

For those who are availing of the package offered by Pinatubo Spa Town, here are some information.

Contact Person:
Ms Jho Mallari
0933-1352-126 (Sun)

Price Of Tour Per Head

- 1,750.00 PER HEAD MIN of 4,5,6,7,8 passenger
- 1,500.00 per head if 9, or 10,15 exact count of passenger
- 3,000.00 per head 2 pax
- 6,000.00 per head 1 pax

Tour Inclusions:
- 4x4 Wheel Drive, whole day rent
- Local Guide
- Conservation Fee
- Entrance Fee
- Barangay Fee
- Packed Lunch : chicken adobo, fried fish, rice, salted itlog with kamatis, bottled mineral
- Free use of Shower, free shampoo and soap, towel, free use of locker with keys @ Pinatubo Spa Town
- Free use of nipa-hut/viewing deck
- 2hr trekking paakyat, 2hr trekking pababa (depends sa pacing ng participants)
- Swim sa Crater
- Certificate of Conquest

What to bring:
- trek attire rubber shoes or sandals (yung pwedeng mabasa kasi may streams)
- sunscreen protection, mask
- towel, toiletries
- camera
- snacks and ibang pambaon (breakfast, merienda, dinner)
- mineral water (walang limit sa pwedeng dalin, basta keri mo teh)
- floaters
- extra clothes (pambasa at pampalit)

How To Get To Spa Town:

From manila:
- Enter to NLEX then Exit TO Sta Inez.
- For your convenience enter SCTEX then Exit out to Concepcion.
- At Concepcion exit turn left going to Capas, Tarlac.
- Once you reach McDonalds' you will see a Y Junction, turn right then straight ahead you will see Caltex and Honda ahead an your left side.
- Before reaching Capas Municipal office you will see a tarpaulin sign saying "TRADOC" with a photo of a soldier. Turn left here.
- A cemetery is at the end of this road, turn right after that.
- After turning right you will see another Y junction where you will go left
Just go straight ahead for about 15km more until you reach Brgy. Sta Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.
- You have arrived at the Spa Town.
(LOL, sorry for this confusing directions, I just copied it from what our coordinator sent us)

Last and most important, Be Safe! There have been some incidents of accidents happening while on trek. There was one reported before (not during our trek) who got sprained and had to be carried using a DIY stretcher made out of branches and sacks back to where the 4X4's are. Also, you do not have to finish the trek if you really think that your body is about to give in to fatigue already. Safety first as always. There are guides provided by the local coordinator who would assist you during the course of the trek. Let them know if there is anything they need to know.

That is it! Enjoy the adventure!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pinatubo Crater Lake Experience

Madaling araw noong Hunyo 4, 2011, dahan-dahan kong ginising si ate bitbit ang aking bag at bag ni "The Wife".

"Pakisarado naman ng pinto ng bahay, aalis kami ni Che."

Hindi na nakuha pang itanong ni ate kung saan kami pupunta. Pagkalabas ng pintuan ay kaagad na kaming lumarga.

Oo, magtatanan kami nang araw na iyon.

We are going to Tarlac this time. "The wife" organized a trip to the summit of the Mount Pinatubo and swim in the crater lake that was formed after the said volcano erupted in the early 90's.

We were supposed to go there a week earlier but due to bad weather conditions brought about by typhoon Chedeng it had to be re-scheduled. We had to follow the recommendations of the local government unit in Tarlac to just cancel out the trek. In every "elopement" safety first is our utmost concern.

We met up with our companions at the McDonalds Branch in EDSA Central Mandaluyong at about 3:00 AM. From there we rode a van going to Capas, Tarlac where we said we are going to have breakfast. Unfortunately, the information given to us by our contact was wrong. Apparently the Jolibee branch in Capas is not open 24/7.

We instead bought some food in a nearby convenience store and headed straight to Pinatubo Spa Town where we are going to meet our local contact and guides.

Pinatubo Spa Town provided us with lockers so we can temporarily deposit some of the things that we are not going to need in the duration of the trek to the summit of Mt Pinatubo. They also are the ones who would provide for our lunch later.

While at Pinatubo Spa Town, we met a lot of other trekkers going to the top as well. One group is consist of fellow bloggers doing their "Akyat Pinatubo" event. they were also supposed to go the week before but also had to be asked to re-schedule.

The fun started as soon as we saw the long line of 4x4 vehicles along the highway. Only these vehicles with their huge wheels can be used to travel through the rocky terrain towards our jump off point. And so off we went.

The 4x4 ride took almost an hour going through huge swathe of land that used to cater to lahar and other volcanic items. Along the way we could imagine how much devastation the mighty volcano must have caused when it wrecked havoc in this side of the country two decades ago. Although there are already tree lines sprouting in higher portions of the land, the sandy plains are still only conducive to cogon grass.

Our jumpoff point was through what the locals call "the longer way". We are not able to use the shorter way as erosions occured recently which cutoff the way for the 4x4's to reach the easier jump off point to Mt Pinatubo. From the shorter way through the "Skyway" we would have saved more than an hour in our trek alone.

Rain started to trickle even before we could reach this jump off point for the trek. And as soon as we started walking it started to go harder. Although this could be dangerous as more rain could cause sudden flash floods, this would prove to benefit us also as having such weather condition means we are safe from the angst of a hot sunny condition. One fellow trekker who was able to access Pinatubo once before told us that when he first went there they were terribly slowed down by the hot weather.

Halfway through the trek the rain stopped. It was still cloudy though so there were no complaints. We are thankful as well as finally we are going to be able to use our SLR cameras. There was nothing worse than carrying such heavy and bulky cameras and not be able to use them for fear of having them soaked in rainwater. I was also carrying a tripod at that.

Still enjoying the trek, the wife and the husband all of a sudden got into competition mode. And so the "Iwanan ng asawa" game came to be. We started walking faster trying to out pace each other. By doing so we also started to leave all our companions behind.

We soon reached the supposed shorter way jump off point. It was nuts when we saw the sign saying "The Trek Starts Here". We were like, "WHAT!!!?!!". How can the trek start there when we have been walking for almost one and a half hour already? LOL!!!

From there however we noticed that the stream was starting to become clearer and colder. The paths were also much narrower compared to what it was at the initial portion of the way. It was a sign that we are getting nearer our destination.

And then came the stairs going upwards. Every step up was harder than the last but the pure excitement of finally reaching our goal makes us not notice how tired we were.

Lo and Behold! The picture below is not enough to show how beautiful the scene was.

The Husband and The Wife were so happy to reach the top of Mt Pinatubo that we only took a few snaps of us and cared less if the other guys we were with arrived already or not. We wanted to have a dip on that great lake we are seeing below us.

After just a few minutes of descent, we are able to touch down on the sandy shores. I again took some snaps but was so overwhelmed by the blue body of water in front of me, I ditched the camera and the bag and the tripod... and swam...

Was I tired when I reached the place?


Was I still tired after feeling the cool waters of Pinatubo over my whole body?

Not anymore... It was replenishing...

A few moments later, "The wife" followed suit. And she also was caught with euphoria as soon as she felt the cold water enveloping her.

They say a volcanic lake water is good for the body skin. It is not just that. It was good for tired bodies as well as far as our experience is concerned.

The lake was so deep. I tried to dive deeper but my naked eyes will not see a thing. The depth was all blue. How I wish I could swim to its center. I couldn't imagine how great it would have been. But the caldera was so huge my brave heart betrays me. I do not want to brave the calmness, afraid that I might not be able to swim back to the shore. But nevertheless, it was one of the most enjoyable swims that I have had in my entire life.

We were the last group to leave the lake. Even the bloggers that we mentioned earlier have all left already.

The wife and the husband enjoyed our stay so much that we missed our lunch. And since everybody else in the group have eaten already, we ate in a hurry to make sure that we still have enough energy for our long trek back the jump off point.

As expected the way back was less adventurous than the other way around. But the Husband and the Wife were still able to enjoy every minute of it. There we are trekking some of the most rocky journeys in the Philippines and yet we were still laughing and holding our hands. It temporarily allowed us to forget the spites of the city and work.

By 6 PM we are back at Pinatubo Spa Town. Rested for a while, took our showers. If only we still have more time, we would also have availed of the massage offered by the Spa Town. But we still have to go back to Manila. We made a quick stop at the nearby Capas Death March Shrine and then moved on.

We ate dinner at one of the stopovers in NLEX. The Wife and the Husband, and the whole group for that matter, were supposed to be dead tired already. But we weren't. We totally enjoyed the whole adventure, bantering and laughing and relishing the whole experience.

All of us agreed. It wouldn't be a bad idea to do it all over again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Che at John -

Unang pasabi...

This is actually not about elopement as the main characters in this blog are actually married to one another.

Mahilig lang talaga kami tumakas kahit kasal na kami nang hindi nagpapaalam at hindi namin sinasabi kung saan kami pupunta. Basta makikita nyo na lang sa Facebook status o yung mga pictures na kuha namin.

Che is the "the Wife" and John is "the Husband". Feeling namin para pa rin kaming mga bata. Nagtatago at nagkikita sa lihim na tagpuan dahil kunyari ay bawal ang aming relasyon hehehe. Masarap kaya ang magtanan?

Hay naku! Super! Pero pakasal muna kayo ha! At yan ay matapos ninyo makatapos ng pag-aaral!