Thursday, June 28, 2012

My first zipline experience

That's my back alright!
My first Zipline ride... and am gonna have seconds!

Ilagan town in Isabela has pioneered one of the most exciting manmade outdoor activities in the Cagayan Valley Region... Zipline!

As i was about to take my ride, i ask myself, how did i get myself into this thing at 47 y/o. I love outdoors yeah but putting my life in the hands of technology, ow heck! (its work dude, nobody forced me nyehehe!)

Okey, it was a leap of faith, literally, after making a hurried sign of the cross, i have to cheat really and jumped from the lowest point of the ramp, hahaha!

Opened last May 4, 2012 inside  the Ilagan Sanctuary, Ilagan, Isabela, the town is fast becoming an activity center for outdoor sports with the addition of the Zipline facility. About 350 meters long, the zipline starts from a height of 75 feet and lands at about  five feet above ground. It is said to be the fastest zipline in the country at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour moving on gravity because the area is not yet energize at the moment, scary?

At present visitors to the area come as day tourists and because it is located within a natural park, the area is very conducive for nature base activities like caving, waterfalls exploration and bathing or just lazing around the pool.

Although there are places to buy lunch and  snacks, it's better to bring your lunch for a big group or try your hands at grilling at designated areas with picnic huts.  The drinking water provided by nature has an 8.5 ph rating and so good to drink, fill up your water bottle.

Your loving it already? go to the Pinzal waterfalls and swim your heart out, or take the horse and tour the area at P100.00 for a 30 minutes ride.

There's no noise there, just getting close to nature, enjoy the birds and the bees and the monkeys. And to get uphill the zipline, take the 210 cemented steps, rest a little while to enjoy the view before plunging towards down the landing!


Monday, June 18, 2012

To immortalize this idea... am sharing the same...

My friend Adrian Panganiban showed me a letter from a Mom and Dad, and it touched me very much.
I quote it here because I want to stress the point that at the end of your life, you’ll need love more than anything in this world. 
Here’s the letter…

Please Bear With Me
Dear Child,
As I get older, please be patient with me.
When I drop things or make a mess of my food, I hope you don’t shout at me or scold me.  Please bear with me.
When my eyesight dims and I stumble along my way, or when my hearing gets really bad and I can’t hear what you say, please bear with me.
When these embarrassing and difficult times come, if you could just hold my hand and tell me that you understand… I’m sorry child, I’m getting older.  Please bear with me.
When my feet get crooked and my knees get weaker, when I fumble in my steps and I walk slower, I hope you remember the time when I taught you how to walk.  Please bear with me.
When I keep repeating my stories to you, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day, just smile and pretend I said it the first time.  Because to my failing memory, it’s really the first time I’m saying it to you.  Just remember how you repeated yourself as a child.  Remember how many times you asked, “Are we there yet?” every time we took a trip.  Or how many times you asked, “Mommy, can you buy me this toy?” whenever we were in a toystore?  Please bear with me.
When I don’t smell so nice, when I smell like an old person, please be patient with me.  When you smell something not too good from me, I hope you remember that when you were small, you used to sweat and smell too.  But I loved it because it was part of your growing up.  Well, my smells are part of my growing old.  Please bear with me.
When I get cranky or get sensitive, or when I get sentimental and moody, or when I get pushy and demanding, all these are all part of getting old.  You’ll understand when you get older.  Please bear with me.
When you have time, I hope you visit me.  Talk with me for a few minutes.  I’m always all by myself and have no one to talk to.  I know you’re busy with work but your work will always be with you, even after I’m gone.  I won’t be here forever.  Please bear with me.
Even if you’re not interested in my stories, please pretend you are. Do u remember when I used to listen to your stories about your toys, your imaginary friends, and the cartoons you watched?  Those things weren’t very interesting to me, but because they were important to you, they were important to me too.  I ask you to please bear with me.
When the time comes when I get sick and bedridden, I hope you visit me.  I’m sorry if I accidentally wet the bed or make a mess.  I hope you stay with me during the last few moments of my life.  I’m not going to last much longer anyway.  Please bear with me.
I pray for you everyday.  When I finally meet God, I will continue to mention your name to Him.
I love you.
We love you.
Please bear with me.
Mom and Dad 

 So I repeat: Invest in your relationships. 
        My fondest wish for you?
May you grow old with the people you love.
Honor your needs.

May your dreams come true, 
Bo Sanchez

Monday, May 21, 2012

In good grace part two in Isabela

For the Isabela trip, we had to be at the mini-summit on day one and then headed off to San Mariano for the release of head-started crocodiles from its rearing station  to the wilds at Dunoy Lake still in San Mariano but within the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP).

The group I was with were Zoo Keepers and animal lovers from all over the world as well as sponsors of the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Efforts since 1999. We were all ready to rough it out in the wilds for the sake of the Philippine Crocodile, and indeed we all had a great time sleeping on tents and riding on specially crafted six wheeler trucks over mountains and hills!

The Philippines have saltwater or estuarine crocs and freshwater crocs or the Crocodylus Mindorensis. For this project, the foundation is specifically takes care of the freshwater crocs. They are small (3 meters for male and 2.5 meters for the female) and are endemic to the Philippines. They are now endangered because of hunting and deforestation since they live in freshwater wetlands, creeks, rivers and marshes. They feed on insects, snails, fish, birds and small animals. The presence of a large number of people in the areas where they live impacts strongly on their habitat being lost especially to large scale farming like kaingin or slash and burn.

The release of 12 crocs at Dunoy Lake was the highlight of the trip as seen in the pictures
At the end of the trip, the reward was not just the freshwater crocodile experience but the bird watching accounts were also very promising.

The release of crocodiles

Mr. Chris Banks

Juvenile crocs feel good!

Mr. Shaun, the coke guy of NatGeo

Mr. Lacoste is peeling a ficus fruit and gave it around to taste after
By now I have held five crocodylus mindorensis since I started working with the Mabuwaya Foundation through Merlijn Van Weerd.  Will write my press release at the :)

In good grace at Sta. Ana, Cagayan

I had the good grace to be assigned to two exciting events these past few days … I owe the Department of Tourism (DOT, Region 2) the challenge to be there.

First, I was asked to facilitate two trainings in Sta. Ana, Cagayan: Frontline Service Management (FSM)also known as Effective Customer Service and Tourist Reception and Guiding Techniques (TRGT) last May 14-17, 2012. The following day I have to go to Isabela for the Mini-Summit for the Crocodile Conservation Project of the Mabuwaya Foundation from May 18-21, 2012.

The TRGT participants at Nangaramuan Beach
The Monkey Rock on its stomach
The training in Sta. Ana proved to be a very challenging one because the DOT and the LGU of Sta. Ana had to make sure that the trainees will be equipped with the necessary skills to face the challenges of the tourism  industry in the future. The participants profile for the FSM  include non-working professionals as well as out-of-school  youths and frontline service providers.

 For the TRGT, we had 24 participants at the start but was trimmed down to 19 on the last day, some chose not to continue with the training maybe because they think they cannot take the heat. Participants had to pass some oral exams and a mock tour which allowed each one to act as a tour guide while inside a bus and while visiting the destinations in the town  as well as while inside the training room. During the last day, everyone was graded by the trainer and DOT officials.
A view from the top of the aka sleeping dragon

The trainees will serve as local tour guides in the town of Sta. Ana in the northeast of the Province of Cagayan. Preferred destinations include the Boacag waterfalls, St. Anthony Museum, Nangaramuan local Beach, San Vicente Port, Crab Farms and local resort facilities.

Monday, April 09, 2012

What to see and do when in Basco, Batanes

February 22, 2012… Wednesday, Ash Wednesday

The Island Province of Batanes is the smallest province in the Philippines with a land area of about 230 square kilometers. It boasts of ten islands (of the 7107 of the Philippines), three of which are inhabited by peace-loving and friendly Ivatans.

When people asked me about Batanes, I always end my story saying  that every Filipino should go there in their lifetime just to experience how was it living in the olden times when we have to make do with what nature hands to us.

Batanes has a different beauty, it has similar land forms with that of Scandinavian countries (as I’ve seen in pictures and movies) rolling hills, endless black rock cliffs and strong waves splashing on them, can you imagine what that look sounds?  You would wish you can capture a shoreline scene with your video and bring back the memories to your home so you can play it over and over again.

The group, whose trip to Batanes I have been directed to facilitate,  arrived on a 32-seater plane from Manila ( note that I arrived yesterday from Tuguegarao City where my office is based) and were heralded by the third day of the cold front. You can see what I mean by the pictures I’ve taken with the Cannon IXUS digital camera. Let’s call them PHILTOA.

After checking in  at the Batanes Resort and a hearty breakfast off we go St. Carmel Church

The outer structure of the St. Carmel Church was designed like a typical Ivatan home. (The people of Batanes are called Ivatan, even their language is called Ivatan). Inside the church, the ceiling was painted with the patron saints of the six towns of the Province of 
Batanes and it is said that the faces of the saints depict that of local people/local townsfolk. It is said to have been built  as a venue for the wedding of a daughter of a renowned political leader of the country who hails from Batanes.

The place is so serene and could be a very wonderful setting for a rustic wedding ceremony, that is, if the bride and groom can afford to bring the entire entourage to Batanes.  Add to the trip, a couple of days to see the sights, sounds and culinary delights  of this wonderful province.

Please note that when I say “can afford” I take note of the fact that going to Batanes has always  been “on official trip” for me, otherwise, I could not really afford to go there because my salary as a government employee is not that much, unless I save up for at least a year, hahaha. No, seriously, during this trip, I saw a wedding invitation that was left at the church pew by a Filipina and a foreigner.

Today, Batanes’ facilities for tourists range from spartan to one of the best money can buy if one dreams of  a relaxing vacation. So, where do you go for the reception and honeymoon to complete the out-of-this-world wedding experience? Fundacion Pacita…. Look at my pix in the previous blog lying on a bed . . .

 If you plan to wed in Batanes (or in any of the churches in Batanes which are all equally enchanting), it has to be in the Roman Catholic rites.  The priests in Batanes are some of the great preachers in town. You can also bring your own minister though and have the wedding officiated outdoors, in windswept locations.

Every time I get back from Batanes, I always feel  rejuvenated physically, emotionally and spiritually.  As a practicing Roman Catholic, I had the privilege of celebrating Ash Wednesday while in Batanes for two years  in a row now, today happens to be the second time.

Oh, where can you find a place without noise, traffic, burglars,  loud blaring music, dust maybe…  and because the ivatans eat healthy you will be able to really enjoy the vacation without worrying about the excess weight. No big shopping malls either!

If reading my blogs can make you think you wanna get there, I suggest  you please go from Tuguegarao City and enjoy the valley first before flying to Batanes  :)

Gosh! I love what i do for a living!

Now, live a marvelous and enchanting life!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Y i started blogging

I wish i started blogging when i got my computer  (at home) years ago and my DSL, too.

My work in the Department of Tourism brings me all over Region 2: that's CAGAYAN VALLEY REGION

But my time at work is not enough for me to write, which means i have to look into my notes in order to be able to put everything on record, specially about the trips i made years ago.

My No. 1 reason: If not for my mentor, Jomar Hilario who gives the inspiration to his students to write a blog, i wouldn't be pushed into doing it. Part of the push-over is to be able to pass the lessons on being a VA and OMC2.  Will write about it in future postings.

My No. 2 reason: But then again, thinking about the legacy i will leave when the time comes for me to  get out of the system is indeed very inspiring.

My 3rd reason: It's very hard to memorize information specially when one is getting old... i don't want to hoard files to keep things on record.

Hirap nga lang walang mag eedit ng mga kwento ko.

My 4th reason: Gusto kong kumita sa tamang paraan na ma-eenjoy ko. Sabi ko i want to earn more!

So, see yah in my future postings!

Live a Marvelous Life like Me because my God is a Gracious God!


To go to Batanes on February during a cold front

February 24, 2012, 0920 hours


In fact, am typing this blog from Basco, Batanes (Viola Internet Cafe, Basco, Batanes).

Sabi ni JH (my mentor) no Bachelors Degree Diploma needed here, just expressing my self.

Since i just learned 2 hours ago that my plane from Basco to Tuguegarao will be arriving by 11 am, i decided to find and internet cafe to check on my emails.

JH's topic: ADVANCED AND BEGINNERS, keep on writing... hhhmmm we'll see.

Work brought me to Batanes on Feb 21, flying Tuesday, by NorthSky from Tuguegarao City.  NorthSky is being operated by the Florida Bus Company. If you are a traveler to Region 2 (Cagayan Valley Region), it is the pink bus company with station along Earnshaw, Sampaloc but the plane is not pink, though.

It was showering and bonecold in Tugue on Monday and I was confirmed to fly on Tuesday   at 7 AM to check in at the Tuguegarao Domestic Airport, the weather was still cloudy and cold.  I was previously in Manila last Feb 17-19 for the 19th Travel Tour Expo and was back in Tugue on Monday ( the TTE will be another story). Suffice to say that the 19th TTE  is one of the country's biggest travel show and Region 2has to be there, it's where the action is for the travel industry.

Okey, now am flying to Batanes on a ten seater plane leaving Tugue a little before 9 am in  the morning (oo na, late nga), with cloudy skies and some showers. According to a website I've been using to check the weather, there is a three-day cold front starting Monday hovering over the North Luzon area of the Philippine Islands. The day I am flying was the second day of the cold front.

Arriving in Basco, Batanes after an uneventful flight ( yah!) because i dozed off the past hour or so, ganun ka light ang trip, i woke up with a numb right arm which i used as a support while leaning at the glass window.  Did i described my plane? It was a ten-seater Dornier, there were two pilots on the first row, of course! To my left is Marivic, a staff of the airline company and that makes me as the only paying passenger for  this trip.

There were 5 rows of seat, behind  me are crates of eggs and other food supplies like chips, vegetables and other boxes flying with me to Batanes. Now you have an idea what goes in to the plane if there are not enough passengers to ride them.

The pilots were looking over the windshield, (is that what its called?) of the plane for the airstrip. The red roof of the Batanes Resort was a positive signal that the plane is now above land, i thought so because there was a murmur of Ivatan words and high-fives when the lighted (reflectorized ata) airstrip was in full view, and i saw the roofs of the resort myself when the plane passed over them.  Why the roof sign, you will know what it feels like when you see water under you when the plane is about 400 meters high above it. These things you won't experience when flying a bigger plane, the 32-seater planes.

I arrived in Batanes with the rain showers and was glad to have chatted with Mr. Wily Cabitac, the Batanes Airport Manager who shared some good news  about Batanes flights in the future.

Promise to let you in on that as soon as the details will be confirmed.

Meantime, just to let you know that the reason i was in Batanes was the arrival of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA)  familiriazation tour. The group was headed by PHILTOA President, Mr. Cesar Cruz, and other equally important personalities and the media group.

The day was spent finalizing the requests for and in behalf of the PHILTOA Group. A lot of help was extended by Mr.Elmo Merin, the Supervising Tourism Operations Officer of Batanes and Ms. Juliet Cataluña of Batanes Eco-cultural tours.

As usual Ms. Lydia Roberto was at her happy-best mood kahit ika-ika sa sakit ng katawan nya. Her restaurant, Hiro's Restaurant hosted one dinner for the guests and was the venue for the very successful Travel Exchange Meeting between the private sector managers and the tour operators.
Where do i stay when in Batanes? At the Batanes Resort, great place! Contact Elmo :)

Pwede ka din mag order kay Elmo ng beef tapa at one day old flying fish to bring home... enjoy!

Have a good life, always!