Sunday, August 31, 2014

Final Thoughts and more Batanes Travel Tips

In my first trip to Batanes, I was part of a tour group but this second trip was mainly do-it-yourself. As such, I do have a few more tips to share.

I believe there is only one boat trip from Batan island (where Basco is) to Sabtang in the morning and I think it departs the port at around 7 AM. The boat trip back to Batan leaves Sabtang at around 3 or 3:30 PM. As the port is several kilometers away from the municipal center, you can ask around for vehicle rentals to bring you to the port in the morning and pick you up in the afternoon. I was unable to join my friends for their trip to Sabtang - you will know why towards the end of this blog post - so I don't really have the details. If you do plan to take a trip to Sabtang, and you definitely should if you are already in Batanes, just ask around when you get there (that's what we did).

We rented our bikes from two places. The owner of Amboy Hometel which is in the town center had a couple of mountain bikes and a Japanese easy rider bike for rent. The owner directed us to another place just a couple of blocks away that had a whole bunch of bikes for rent. Unfortunately, I can't remember how much the bike rental was; I vaguely recall the Japanes easy rider was around P200-250 for about 4 hours while the mountain bikes were about P800-1000. If you plan to bike all the way into the late evening, your bike needs to have a headlight; it's illegal to ride a bike in Batanes at night without a light on.

Where to stay

I stayed with three other friends in Marfel's Lodge. Or more specifically, the Marfel Lodge extension. It's a homestay set-up which means that this place is a house that is rented out to tourists who are looking for a place to stay. We got an aircon room that had four beds and it cost P2,000 per night (so each of us paid P500 a night). If you are looking for a good place to stay that doesn't cost a lot, this is for you. More info about Marfel:

  • There's a kitchen and you can cook your own food. Also in the kitchen is a self-service, honesty-system store where you can buy stuff like spam, instant pancit canton, chips, and softdrinks.
  • It's clean and well-maintained. Visitors are requested to leave their footwear at the doorstep.
  • The restrooms are communal. In the extension lodge, there are two shower areas and two toilet rooms. As is the rest of the house, these areas are clean and well-maintained too.
  • There is hot water in the showers although sometimes the water pressure is a bit weak.
  • There's a communal living room with TV.
  • Clean towels are provided so you don't have to bring your own.
  • You do have to bring your own toiletries i.e. soap, shampoo, toothpaste. If you forget to bring your own, you can always buy these items from the store.
  • The rooms aren't soundproof though so make sure you keep your noise level to a minimum in the late evenings. (We played Monopoly Deal quite loudly close to midnight one evening and the folks staying in the room next to ours requested us to be a bit more quiet LOL).
  • This isn't a hotel so don't expect room service.
  • It's a 5 minute walk from the airport.

Places to eat

Probably the best place to eat in Basco is Pension Ivatan. It's right across the airport. Unfortunately, I had horrible stomach problems on my last day in Batanes so I wasn't able to eat here as often as I wanted to but my friends enjoyed a meal there three times. I did have breakfast there once and the longganisa meal was really, really good. They also serve brewed coffee!

In the municipal center, right next to the Basco Cathedral, is a canteen. I think it's called SDBC canteen but I'm not 100% sure. The food is pretty basic but you can get a meal for about P100 or less. We had a few meals here and we also enjoyed their halo-halo a couple of times.

Final thoughts

As great overall as this trip to Batanes was, I had a horrible last day. I must have eaten something  that didn't agree with me on my second to the last night there and as such, I spent my last day having terrible stomach problems. Because of this, I was unable to revisit Sabtang. Such a shame since I was really looking forward to seeing the beautiful Savidug and Chavayan villages again.

I did leave Batanes with some new friends because I got to meet and interact with the other relatives and close friends of Marco and Cha. They had maybe about 50-60 guests there and we all spent a full day touring Batanes together. The reception which was held in Fundacion Pacita. Oh, and I was also extremely honored to have been requested by Marco and Cha to do lector duties for their wedding.

Batanes remains one of the most amazing places I have visited in the Philippines. I have now been here twice and I'm pretty sure I will get to visit again at some point in the future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Revisiting Batanes: Changes since 2012

A few notable changes since I was in Batanes two years ago. First, the Mahatao Lighthouse was repainted. Before seeing the picture I took back in 2012, I was convinced that this lighthouse used to be red so I when I saw it again, I thought it went through a major facelift. However, as you will see in the following photo, the lighthouse apparently has always been white and it was just given a fresh coat of paint. Another change: at least on the day that we were there last April, visitors were not allowed to go up the lighthouse. In my previous visit, I actually got to go up.

Another Batanes structure that was repainted was the San Jose De Ivana Church. As you can see below, the accents were changed from maroon to yellow.

It wasn't just the outside of this church that changed though. Inside, the altar area was also changed.

Inside the San Carlos Borromeo Church, visitors can find a statue of Mama Mary that is adorned with gold jewelry. The "clothing" of the statue has since been changed from violet to white and the statue is now protected behind a glass casing.

The saddest change though was the passing away of Lola Inday who resides in the House of Dakay, the oldest house in Batan island. I met her personally when she welcomed us into her home back in 2012. Unforunately, she passed away early this year at the age of 87.

I'll wrap up my Batanes trip by sharing a few travel tips and recommendations based on my latest experience here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Revisiting Batanes: New sights and experiences

While second Batanes trip allowed me to revisit a lot of familiar places, it also gave me an opportunity to see new places and have new experiences. One of these places was the Mahatao View Deck which we visited during our Saturday tour day.

This stone steps lead to a small secluded beach. As you can see from here, the water looks pristine and clear. There is a grotto at the top of the steps.

Also during the tour, we passed by an inlet which serves as a dock for boats during storms; the mountain protects the boats from strong winds and massive waves. My friend wanted to stop by to take photos in this area although the really good shots were taken from the road looking down into the inlet since you can see the beautiful blue water from that vantage point.

I also got the chance to have my photo taken with one of the many "Blow UR Horn" signs along the road.

We spent a good amount of time in the Basco municipal center and this allowed me to pay a visit to the Santo Domingo Church or Basco Cathedral (Simbahan ng Basco).

The church is named after Santo Domingo, the patron saint of Basco, and was founded by Fr. Baltazar Calderon and Fr. Bartolome Artiguez in 1783.

The day before our tour, my friends and I decided to rent some bikes which we rode to the Basco Lighthouse. I honestly don't recall the last time I was on a bike prior to this Batanes trip.

Finally, the main purpose of this trip was of course to attend the wedding of Marco and Cha. It was held at the Tukon Chapel near Fundacion Pacita.

Next post: things that have changed since I was there last.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Revisiting Batanes: Basco Highlights

As I mentioned in my previous post, my friend Marco and his wife Cha organized a tour for all the wedding guests. It was designed to give people a chance to see some of the highlights of Basco despite the limited time. First stop was the Valugan Boulder Beach. Not sure if this spot is always the first place to visit in every tour but this was also the first part of our itinerary in my previous Batanes trip.

Valugan Boulder Beach

We then headed to the Vayang Rolling Hills.

Vayang Rolling Hills

Even in my second visit, the views here remain awe-inspiring.

Incredible view from the Rolling Hills

Next stop was the Mahatao Lighthouse where I ran into my friend Meg who was also visiting Batanes at the same time. Visitors were not allowed to enter the lighthouse; I'm not sure if it was only for that day or if it is now off-limits.

Mahatao Lighthouse

We then proceeded to the Marlboro Hills which is known locally as Rakuh-A-Payaman.

Marlboro Hills or Rakuh-A-Payaman

Similar to my previous trip, after going up the hills and soaking in the amazing scenery, our tour group had lunch here.

Cliff at the Marlboro Hills

First stop in our afternoon itinerary was Alapad, which is where some scenes from the movie "Hihintayin kita sa Langit" were shot.


We then headed to the Honesty Cafe where we spent some time purchasing some souvenirs and food items.

Honesty Cafe

A few folks crossed the road to visit the San Jose de Ivana Church (Simbahan ng Ivana).

San Jose de Ivana Church

We then made our way to the House of Dakay. There was a major change in this house since the last time I visited and I will write about that in one of my next posts about this trip.

Dakay House

Before the tour ended, we also visited the San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao.

San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao

We stopped over in the town proper to purchase souvenirs before going to the Basco Lighthouse, our dinner venue that evening. Thankfully it didn't rain since our tables were out in the open. It was a cool experience having a good meal while the sun was setting.

Basco Lighthouse

There were a couple other places we visited during the tour, but as those were places I visited for the first time, I will instead write about them in my next post where I talk about my new Batanes experiences.

Read more about:
  • Valugan Boulder Beach, Vayang Rolling Hills, and Basco Lighthouse here
  • Honesty Cafe and San Jose de Ivana Church here
  • Marlboro Hills, Alapad, House of Dakay, and San Carlos Borromeo Church here

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Revisiting Batanes

Two years after my first trip to Batanes, I got to go there again. My good friend Marco got married there and I figured it would be as good a time as any to see these beautiful islands again.

The wedding was held on a Sunday and a few of my friends and I arrived on Friday. Saturday was spent doing a full-day highlights tour of Basco with the other wedding guests (it was organized by Marco and his wife Cha). This allowed me to see some of same places I got to see before, such as the Vayang Rolling Hills.

I also got to see a few new places and experience a few new things, like the Simbahan ng Basco.

I will be writing more about this trip in my next few blog posts.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Filipino crew A Team wins Gold at HHI Worlds 2014

This is several days late already but I still want to congratulate Filipino megacrew A Team for winning the top prize at the Hip Hop International World Championships! Here is their winning performance:

video uploaded in youtube by OfficialHHI

A Team is composed of dancers from different schools, including St. Paul, Claret, UP, UST, Ateneo and La Salle among others.The UP Streetdance Club took bronze last year so it's great that another Filipino megacrew bring glory to the Philippines once again this year. Way to go, A Team!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Family time

I guess it's true what they say that life is a like a wheel; sometimes you're at the top and sometimes you're at the bottom. While I may posted a couple of terribly tragic family moments recently, there have been some bright rays of sunshine as well.

I got to see my cousin Fr. John when he was in Manila last month (before coming back home again for Doyle's interment). It was a last minute thing but somehow things fell into place, allowing us to meet up. When I realized that John was about to leave, I asked him if he still had free time. He said he could do lunch and thankfully he was doing some errands just 10 minutes from where I lived. To make things even better, my mom was also able to join us despite the very short notice.

Amidst the family sorrow, we still made time to celebrate the birthdays of my brother and my mom. My family had never been to UP Town Center so we decided to have dinner there for my brother's birthday. We initially planned to eat in Liberty New York Steak House but the only available seating was outside and it was a bit warm that evening. As such, we decided to have dinner in Marciano's. I've always liked Marciano's, although the menu in UP Town Center seems to be different from the one in Greenbelt 3. Either that, or it's changed since I ate there last. In any case, my family did enjoy our meal there. After dinner, we headed to Dulcelin where I got a full Mango Torte for my immediate family and a take-home slice for my grandmother. We also had some coffee and dessert there; we tried the Irish Cream Butter Cake and the Pecan Pie, both of which were very good.

My mom's birthday came in two parts. On Saturday night, we had dinner in Lola Cafe + Bar. I discovered this restaurant the night I stayed in Cocoon Boutique Hotel and decided to start wandering around the Tomas Morato area. As I walked through Scout Lozano, I saw this restaurant and thought that it might be a good place to try. Indeed it was. I will probably write a bit more comprehensively about this restaurant in a separate post some time soon.

The next day, I decided to take my family to Yabu in Glorietta 5. We got there a bit early and as such, we didn't have to wait for a table. It was a very enjoyable meal, made even moreso by the fact that the miso soup, cabbage, rice, and fruits were all refillable.

Last but not least, I also joined the surprise party birthday of my uncle (this time, from my mom's side of the family) earlier this week. My nephew's birthday is coming up as well so I have to start planning that too. I'm just thankful that my family has also had some good moments recently to balance things out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nadal out of the US Open

Well this sucks. Rafael Nadal just withdrew from the US Open which starts next week. He sustained a wrist injury during practice a few weeks ago as he was getting ready for the North American hardcourt season and unfortunately, it hasn't healed yet.

Since Rafa is the US Open defending champion, he will be dropping a huge amount of points in a couple of weeks, which opens the door for Roger Federer to overtake him as the world #2 after this fourth Grand Slam event of the year. I guess the only good thing going for Rafa now is that he isn't defending any points in the last few months of the year. Hopefully he gets better soon so that he can slowly make his way back up and start winning again.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

A friend of mine told me a while back that The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a really good movie and that I should go see it. I didn't get a chance to watch it when it was still showing so I decided to get the DVD. I finally got to see it this week and I absolutely love it! 

This movie tells the story of a kid named Charlie who just started high school. He's quiet, shy, unsure of himself, and doesn't have any friends at the beginning. This changes when he strikes up a conversation with his shop classmate Patrick and his stepsister Sam. While you may think this is your typical high school coming-of-age story, it's a lot deeper and has a lot more substance and heart. If you're interested, you can check out the plot in the movie's wikipedia page.

This film resonates with me on so many levels. It has a lot of great themes, both overt and underlying. It talks about acceptance - of new people into your life with no questions asked, of people for who they are, and of yourself - and how difficult true acceptance is for a lot of people. It talks about forgiveness and how friends and family can weather even the most turbulent of storms. It talks about standing up for the people you love. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I also love the fact that Charlie's family is incredibly loving and supportive, a bit of a change compared to lot of other films about teenage angst and fitting in.

From a technical standpoint, it is also superb. The plot gradually builds towards a powerful climax and I love how a lot of hints are dropped all throughout the film to help lead the audience to the film's dramatic conclusion. The editing is done impressively well, making good use of flashbacks to help give us a glimpse into Charlie's mind. The script is brilliant, the soundtrack is cool, and the musical score is moving. Check out "Shard" that is played in one of the last scenes of the film. It's just so haunting:

video uploaded in youtube by Infinite

As well-made as this movie was and with all its compelling themes, it would not have been as great if not for the sensational performances of the cast. Emma Watson, who gained global popularity by playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films, takes on an American accent as she shows how it is possible to be both confident and edgy while also being insecure and lacking self-esteem. Ezra Miller has that perfect mix of smart, unaffected, and vulnerable that just makes audiences love him.

However, the performance that wowed me the most was Logan Lerman's portrayal of lead character Charlie. I only previously knew him from the Percy Jackson films so I wasn't expecting him to be this impressively good.  It is such a difficult role that requires a lot of nuance, subtlety, and understatement as there is a huge swell of emotion and anguish hidden just below the surface and Logan delivers all of this astoundingly well. I personally think that this is one of the best and most moving acting performances I've seen, especially considering that he was only about 20 or 21 when this film was shot.

I have now watched the full movie twice and I've replayed the last sequence of scenes multiple times over the last few days. Needless to say, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now definitely one of my favorite films of all time

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random stuff

I was driving in Eastwood a couple of weekends ago when I see DLSU lady spiker Mika Reyes crossing the street with Ateneo basketball star Kiefer Ravena. Since I'm a Mika Reyes fan, I knew that she and Kiefer are seeing each other at the moment. It was pretty cool seeing Mika Reyes in person, albeit through my car windshield. I also have to say that I'm a fan of this Romeo-Juliet-esque romance, with two athletes from rival teams dating. Pretty cool. :)


In line with my recent stupid mistakes, I stubbed my big toe pretty badly. I wish I could say it was because I hit it against a bed post or coffee table or something but I can't. What happened was that I was watching an FIVB volleyball game and saw a spectacular save. I don't know what possessed me to pretend that I was making a save like that but as I went to the restroom to wash my hands, I made a massive kicking motion, acting as if I was trying to save the ball with my leg. As I did, I slammed my foot, or more specifically my big toe, right into the door jamb of the restroom. It was really so tremendously stupid. I mean, who does that? Well, apparently I do. :)


I've been hearing good things about Shrimp Bucket so while doing late morning errands in BGC, I decided to have an early lunch there. Unfortunately, I was there alone and I didn't want to eat a pound of shrimp by myself because I was worried about ingesting too much cholesterol LOL. so I ended up getting another shrimp dish. It was pretty good but I still want to go there again soon with other people so I can try the full pound.


I was a major fan of the TV show The X-Files when it was still on TV back in the 90s. (Wow, I can't believe it's actually been that long ago!) I had the complete box set of this show, including the two X-Files films, in my cart in for the longest time when I decided to finally purchase it earlier this year. I got to watch a few episodes one night recently and it was a pretty good case of nostalgia. The pace is a bit slower than that of current shows (although I actually like that kind of pace) but the storytelling is still pretty solid and it is still borderline hair-raising and chill-inducing even if I already know what will happen. I have ten seasons worth of episodes so it will take me a while before I finally go through the entire show.


For the first time in years, I am not taking any multivitamins. I'm not sure if that's a good thing but this decision was heavily influenced by someone on the TV show The Doctors saying that he's not a fan of taking vitamins regularly because he's not sure what it'll to do your liver long-term. Maybe I'll do a bit of research on this and ask some of my doctor friends one of these days and make a more informed decision then.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Commemorative P10 coin

The other day, I bought a cup of coffee and when I received my change, I noticed that one of the coins didn't look like a normal peso. I thought it was a Euro or a Thai Baht. I was about to return it but since I was curious to see what currency it was, I took a closer look. Thankfully, I did. Apparently, it was a P10 coin!

I did a quick check online to read up on it and apparently, this coin was released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Andres Bonifacio. These coins apparently have been in circulation since last December and yet is is only now that I actually saw one.

Thankfully, I checked online first and discovered it is commemorative. I thought BSP released new P10 coins already and I was almost going to use this one to pay for something. Knowing that this is a limited-edition coin now means I will now be keeping it in my currency collection. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rest in Peace, Doyle

To say that this has been a trying time for my extended family is an understatement. Just two weeks after we experienced the loss of Tito Roy, my cousin Doyle passed away. It was quite difficult for us since it came as a shock; he was still in his 40s and in pretty good health.

My immediate family made it to the wake last Saturday. We all arrived separately but we did make it in time for the mass that my cousin, Fr. John, was celebrating. It was unfortunate that he was just in Manila a month ago and had to fly back home again. After the mass, several members of the family and Doyle's closest friends shared some words. It was bittersweet to hear them all share with everyone there what Doyle meant to them.

The funeral was held the next day. It was heartbreaking and seeing his family say their final goodbyes just made it even sadder. After the ceremony, we all started talking about how we need the ultimate 'pagpag' since recently, we have all been seeing each other under pretty dire circumstances. So right then and there, we made plans for a potluck family reunion. My cousin Rainier even joked that everyone have to stay on their maintenance meds to make sure we all see make it to the reunion. :) I am definitely looking forward to that.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables: Reducing Food Waste

This is an amazing program created by Intermarché to encourage people to purchase "ugly-looking" fruits and vegetables. They make use of a brilliant strategy that combines edgy marketing, reduced prices, and free product sampling to reduce food waste. The result? Well, just check out this video.

video uploaded in youtube by Marcel

Hopefully we end up having more programs in the world like this.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

UP finally wins in UAAP men's basketball

The UP Men's basketball team finally snap their streak of 27 consecutive losses that dates back to season 75 (two seasons ago) by beating Adamson 77-64.

photo courtesy of Richard Esquerra from

Given how many losses in a row the team experienced, this is a pretty big win for them. Apparently UP will be doing an Ateneo by celebrating bonfire-style. Hopefully they can notch at least one more win this season. Congrats, UP!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Rest in Peace, Tito Roy

Another sad moment this year: my tito Roy passed away. His health had been deteriorating over the last few years but while he did start getting better recently, apparently it wasn't enough.

My cousins (his children) live abroad now and only arrived on Saturday. I wasn't able to go to the wake so I made sure I attended the final mass and cremation last Sunday morning. It was a sad affair not only because Tito Roy is now gone but also because my cousins have now lost both their parents. My grandmother was also there and I felt horrible that she has now lived past some of her children. Thankfully, she seemed to be handling it quite well. Despite the immense grief my family was going through, after the ceremony, we somehow found some composure and got to catch up with each other over lunch.

My other cousin, Maricel, said that our recent gatherings have been somewhat like the (old) mysteries of the rosary. Mama's 90th birthday and the 50th wedding anniversary of Tito Mario and Tita Florence were like the joyful mysteries. Tito Roy and Tita Ghie passing away were like the sorrowful mysteries. As such, she was saying that maybe the next time we all see each other, it will be glorious. Hopefully that does come true.

"Eternal rest grant unto Roy Pobre, O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon him
May he rest in peace