Be amazed by ABRA

Be amazed by ABRA

If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.” ~ Tory Burch

I have always been inspired by bloggers all these years and as I do my daily readings, I came across this place: Kaparkan Falls in Tineg, Abra. Upon research, Abra is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Bangued, and is bordered by Ilocos Norte on the northwest, Apayao on the northeast, Kalinga on the mid-east, Mountain Province on the southeast, and Ilocos Sur on the southwest. Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abra_(province)

I have been to the Ilocos region several times, and I honestly wondered why I missed this spectacular province. Thanks to the bloggers I follow who’ve been there and densely illustrated its’ beauty and what to expect. In my heart, I knew then, Abra is one I shouldn’t miss. Specifically that falls in Tineg.

So one weekend of October, our travel agency announced that it’s time to go, it has been postponed for several times already due to the typhoons in the Philippines and my heart is pounding at the thought of waiting for another year to see Kaparkan falls. The best time to visit is during rainy season as it runs dry during the summer months. However, I’d still insist to call it my own Summer in October. =)

I have to thank the agency: Traveler Point PH for being so organized, caring and had us experience this “ABRAMAZING” weekend.

Day 1 – Friday night:

Our pick-up point is at Greenfields (Mandaluyong City) at 9:00 pm, our organizer is a couple who loves to travel too, we shared the trip along with 8 millennials who made the trip more exciting and full of fun despite of the perplexity of reaching our destination(s). We arrived at DPWH, Tineg around 6:00 am, it is estimated at 8 hours travel time from Manila, however due to several stop-overs, it took us 9 hours to reach Tineg, Abra. We were briefed before hitting the road. And at exactly 7:00 am, we are ready.

I am actually surprised knowing we’re riding on this Army truck.

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They refer to it as “Monster truck”…

It’s tires at 1100 x 20, I thought I was lucky that my assigned seat is at the front with 2 millennial girls who made me laugh the whole time. While Jen is at the back along with the other travelers. I was telling her she wouldn’t like it in front, and she’s also saying I wouldn’t like it too at the back. As they say: “Sa harap, kitang-kita, sa likod, damang-dama!” Here’s why:

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I can do this! =)
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It is necessary to lodge the tires with these chains to avoid being bogged down in the deep mud.

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Connecting Tayum and Dolores municipalities:

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is The Don Mariano Marcos bridge. The third longest bridge in the country with a total length of 886.812 linear meters.

Reference: http://wikimapia.org/2423591/Don-Mariano-Marcos-Bridge

red bridge

As oriented, this “one hell of a ride” is more or less than 4 hours, and less than an hour trek to reach our destination.

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It is my first time to experience one such ride, upon being there, and finally witnessing this magnificent falls, I hear everyone saying “Oh My God!” several times! Myself, speechless. I must say it (bruises, scratches, broken nails, etc.) was truly worth it, I totally forgot about that “ride” upon seeing Kaparkan falls. Let these pictures speak for themselves. =)

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Nature has it’s own special way of taking my breath away.

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If you noticed, they do not bother to remove the falling leaves for a purpose, it adds beauty in time, the marks they leave, creates art naturally.

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You will notice too that the place isn’t that populated by guests. The Dept. of Tourism gave strict directives that the maximum # of guests is only 90. This will allow guests to enjoy its’ tranquility too.

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Those rows of limestones are naturally formed in that wondrous presence through the years, though it made me wonder, they aren’t slippery. I was too careful as it glistens when one of them told me that it isn’t slippery. Because of this, I began my wanderings and conquered my fear. =)

Our coordinator must know how famished we’d be, upon reaching our Transient home dinner time, they had this “Boodle fight” dinner set-up to welcome our group. Yum! =) We have fresh fruits too!

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Our itinerary come Sunday is composed of some interesting places which I will blog separately.

Just this one at Kaparkan Falls substantiates that my more than a year waiting time to visit Abra is truly worth it. While there’s more this province can offer.

It is the highlight of this trip while I have my own personal highlight too, it is our visit to Gabriela Silang Carino Gallery of Fine Arts, which really satiated not just my eyes but my soul too.

Our itinerary for Day 2 includes: A visit to St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Tangadan Tunnel, Gabriela Silang monument and Abra Pasalubong Center, passed by Don Mariano Marcos bridge, the open theater and view deck at Victoria park, another visit to an old heritage church: San Lorenzo Ruiz church at the Camposanto, Bangued, side trip to Calle Crisologo, Vigan City, we also went to Balay ni Gian to buy Vigan longganiza and Bagnet (at Carl Louie) as pasalubong (goodies for loved ones at home). Our itinerary includes the Bantay Church Bell tower, the Gourd hat maker, the Loom weaving village, Acosta panciteria (that famous Abra pancit miki). But due to time constraint, we missed those ones. But it’s okay. For those who will visit Abra, these are also some spots you would want not to miss.

So this is how we spent this one amazing weekend at Abra. I must agree whenever they say it’s “Abramazing!”

Below is a map of Abra:

 

Courtesy of: http://www.abra.asia/_pages/GoSeeStay.htm

Should you be interested, feel free to call Grace or Chris of Traveler Point PH for more details at: 0945 813 0618.

PS

Kaparkan falls is prettier in person. =)

 

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Las Casas Manila

Las Casas Manila

So much of our future lies in preserving our past. ~Peter Westbrook~

Aside from food, Jen and I shared our love in exploring new places and travel together as far and as much as we can. Anything new to us. She had been requesting from me for years to bring her to Bataan, at “Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar”. However, we’ve been busy lately and when I discovered that there’s an extension of said place somewhere in QC, I am thrilled to inform if she’s okay into venturing to this one that’s nearer, for now.

So up we went one Friday, and reveled in its’ own version of preserving and restoring one of the old manors in Quezon City – Casa De Juico.

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They converted the place after being sold to Jerry Acuzar: The owner of San Jose Builders, it is complete with a boutique hotel and a restaurant by one of Asia’s Best Female Chef: Margarita Fores.

After the attendants with pleasing demeanor took our food choices, we wandered around the place with its’ classic ambience and took pictures (a lot) while Jen is checking from time to time if our food is already served. We were starving as we arrived there at almost 2:00 pm.

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We were ushered by two smiling faces and directed us to the dining hall and let us choose where we want to be sitted.

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I definitely enjoyed chosen spots which they call Instagram worthy. Little did Jen know, I’ve spotted some favorites since I already saw them several times from Instagram. =)

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A version of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt .

So here’s what we’ve got: Spaghetinni con Mariscos (Seafood pasta), Callos (Ox tripe, Chorizos and garbanzos), Tres leches (a slice of chiffon cake topped with smoked coconut and dried mangoes and jackfruit) for dessert and red grapes shake for me (which I so loved) and yellow mango shake for Jen. She loved her pasta as it is thinner than usual, they used Spaghetinni, my Callos were made of slow-cooked to tenderness tripe.  

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We also had Huevos con gambas, for a starter. It’s hard-boiled egg topped with prawns relished in paprika.

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This wheel of cheese is part of their buffet offer, it’s called Parmeggiano Regiano, it’s known to be the “King of Cheese”, it’s so tasteful, gritty and lactose-free too. The cheaper version, is known as “Parmesan” cheese.

It’s just one manor, unlike the one in Bataan, there are more than 20 Casas there, but just this one brimmed our phones with pictures both inside the place and outside as well, I actually enjoyed more the “Al fresco” feel. You wouldn’t know how much I belong to it. The trees, the grass and all. =)

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For a different experience, visit Las Casas Manila and it’ll stir your senses until you realize that you’re heading to Bataan the soonest you can. =) Either places, I’m sure, you will enjoy. =)

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You can make reservations thru: 866-8500 and 0917-711-3714. They’re open from Tueday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm. Las Casas Manila is located at 134 Roosevelt avenue, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City. You can also check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/LasCasasQC/

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BALAY INDANG, Finally..=)

Finally, Balay Indang…

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, however, only those who are true friends will stay…”

It has been months that we have been eyeing to spend one of our birthdays at this cozy locale in Cavite – Balay Indang. And due again to schedules that won’t meet, we had to postponed it, until finally, It is Theresa’s birthday this month of October, so we all agreed to do it at Balay Indang.

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Chel to drive with 5 back-seat drivers!Lol!

It is a less than 2 hour drive taking the new MCX, we went straight to Trese Martirez and after reaching the junction at Tagaytay, we turned right several times (Savemore and Mendez) and 30 minutes after, we’ve reached our destination.

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Welcome arch is a tradition for me..
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The signage…

Balay Indang is a 5-hectare lot of massive flora. I’ve mused on numerous rare species of very pretty flowers in all colors.

sweet violet

violets

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The orange petals blended with Theresa’s blouse..Beautiful!

Big and small trees with leaves in different shapes and varying shades of green. Being around it, nature per se, is truly beguiling. Like it was rendered by an artist in an all natural crisp palette that went well with the country-side like setting on this secluded part of Indang, Cavite.

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pool

fountain

It is a Bed and Breakfast destination meant for those who really needs peace and quiet or that so called R&R (rest and relaxation). Once you are there, as we were, it is just between the sound of silence or the sound of frolicking leaves.

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Aaaw! They dedicated a room for us! Lol!
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Lanai ng Balay…
were here
Spanish era..Vigan tiles..
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Can’t help but look up!
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Cutie pie!

They also accommodate Retreat activities and the place is just so right. I just learned it later prompted by my wondering of seeing several Holy bibles in the area. There are 17 rooms, a pool, some gazebos, some cabanas, even a vast hall probably to hold events like birthdays and weddings for big groups.

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feel at home

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balcony

The staff are friendly as expected, they will instantly greet you with an anticipated smile on their faces, and even if you are enjoying your own moment, you can’t help but greet them back. As I have been observing them, they all too must love their surroundings. I am amazed how positively genuine ardor can nature provide to anyone who see through its’ beauty. It reminds me of this famous saying: “May the force be with you.”

And so some force led us to the dining area. Lol! It’s time to make our tummies happy. It was a long trip anyway.

dining area
Signages…
sun flower
Happiness!
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It’s hers next month..=)
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Yey!
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Lunch time..=)

So this is what we feasted on:

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In less than 10 minutes… our food were served…

Fried rice with teeny weeny bits of
carrots.

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With teeny weeny carrot bits…

Chicken – Inasal style.

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Chicken – Inasal style..

Oatmeal coated shrimp balls was the winner on the table.

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Winner! (–,)

Among those on the spread, the green salad is my personal favorite. I especially love their vinaigrette, the mixture worked for me and I guess with everyone else too.

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Greens! =)

Beef Caldereta. Flavorful and very tender.

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Loved the chorizos here..

Gising-gising is another chance for us to have veggies. =) (Oh my, I don’t have a picture of it!)

Baked Cream dory in cheese.

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Baked in Parmesan cheese..

And pancit (for the celebrant’s long prosperous life) utilizing sotanghon instead of the typical bijon.

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Pancit sotanghon for Tere’s long & prosperous life! (–,)

We had fresh Dalandan juice, we consumed a number of pitchers.

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Thirst quenching, not too sweet for me..

And a very soft maja for dessert.

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Happy birthday Tere! =)

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Total of six sissies!
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Bday girl’s is the biggest one! ehehe

The talks were non-stop, from while traveling, eating, taking photos at every chance, laughter in between. Even inside the loo. Even jump shots!

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Mirrors became our favorite too..
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One of my favorites! This certainly “Look up” mode!
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Vintage mirror..
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And this doll! Ahaha!
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Fun side of these two..=)

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May relo ba jan? lol!

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And we were like kids during the 30 minute trek, wandering and wondering. It is doubtlessly moments created out of sterling friendship.

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Bday girl! ❤

Our photos might have give justice to it.

Happy birthday Theresa!!! Now we’re all looking forward to (Jhona) our youngest’s bash, where and when we will do it, is yet to be known. #excited

god bless
Our friendship has always been one of our life’s greatest blessings!

ps

We wouldn’t want another group chats reaching 400 plus messages. Lol!