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 The Department of Tourism Office, 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”…

Its’ tires at 1100 x 20 (all terrain), 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!” (English translation: “The rough road is so visible in front, while the roughness and bumpiness is felt most at the back!”)

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. #thisthingwithwelcomearchs

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

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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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A whimsy and quirky place in Lubao, Pampanga

Prado Farm – A whimsy and quirky place in Lubao, Pampanga

“Seeing how beauty and functionality have been coaxed out of chaos, perhaps accounts for the sense of magic that one feels for Prado Farm”. ~Mariel Francisco~

It is a rare occurrence that I get to find things that are new to me. Things that inspire, fascinate and drive me to move forward. Even slowly but surely getting where I want and who to be.

Over the years, I have explored in my own little way and maybe more in the coming years if I can afford them already. A few friends inspire me too, pushes me to my limits because they know and desires seeing me making my big dreams come true.

They knew what’s it like how to place random items together and uncover a new-born artistry. They don’t just know how, they feel it.

Targeting a place somewhere in Bulacan, as I do my research, I went farther north and landed to a farm in Lubao, Pampanga. Thanks to fellow bloggers, they unveiled to my senses a place that arrested my attention.

I researched further if those who wrote about it are professional photographers as their photos are really amazing and soulful. It reminded me that it takes two to create beautiful pictures. Someone who’s got the eye for it, and the subject itself. I didn’t include a modish dslr, cool tripods/ monopods or even gargantuan lenses. All it takes are young convivial hearts that are unafraid, seeking and lovers of fun with their up-to-the-minute mobile phones. And voila!

So their photos brought us one weekend to Pampanga. A few hours travel by bus and we reach our seasoned and whimsical destination.

Prado farm is located at Siongco, Prado in Lubao, Pampanga. It is strategically situated in the main road and can easily be spotted if you have your own vehicle or just riding a bus.

The gate that’s made of old gas tanks was the only thing that I wanted to see in my own eyes, but Jen introduced me to several Instagram photos that there’s a lot more to it. Seriously, I don’t know what inspired the owners but the place is a mixture of anything which results into a very bewitching place.

I even got a vintage coaster which has a “1930” stamped to it. There’s a lot of grizzled items but they’re a bit pricey. Just to get there is sufficient to me already and to shop is something I candeal with another day soon.

I must say the 5-hectare farm is truly a “wander and wonder” thing to me.

The Facade

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The Souvenir Shop

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The Blue House

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The Old Train Station converted into a Museum

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On our way to the Yellow house

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The Yellow House

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On our way to the Hotel

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I opted not to visit the pool as like a mermaid I might plunge into the water instantly, rather, listed in our bucket an overnight stay with them soon.

Junk architecture, sustainable designs, vivid colors, a vast flora, unique innovativeness, organic food, a set of artworks here and there that are literally surprising, country and vintage feel, a place that brings you back in time, giving you feelings of incredulity yet reckon that they are real right there in front of your eyes. All quirky and whimsy. =)

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If you want to visit the farm, their address is: Km 94 -95 Jose Abad Santos highway, Prado Siongco Lubao, Pampanga. You may call contact them at: 0920 903 0964 and you can visit their website too: http://pradofarms.com/

 

Rediscovering Batangas…

Acua Verde – Rediscovering Batangas…

“Balance is not something you find, it is something you create.” -Jana Kingsford-

It is vacation mode. A few days back, all the shades of excitement are in our faces. We all know, that in a fast-paced corporate life, a time will occur that there’s a need to reconnect with nature. Be recharged. And be alive. The best time is? Summer!!!

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Road trip…

Going to Acua Verde, Laiya, Batangas on a road trip that took us less than 4 hours en route the newly constructed Star toll way.

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Guide map
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An ads that I borrowed.
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Acua Verde…

We arrived a little late for lunch and we headed straight to the restaurant.

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Cocina is Spanish word for kitchen…=)

The sumptuous buffet were waiting for us. The free flowing coffee is what I love best. Without guilt, I took advantage. Instead of the famous “tamarind juice” that they served as welcome drink, I had coffee over lunch. I do not want to be sleepy when everyone is basking under the sun. After taking some photos, we headed to each of our rooms and snag our forty winks.

The place was such a lovely site to behold. It’s a vast resort – Filipiniana theme, made use of bamboos as posts and cogon grass as finish for the roofing.

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(–,)
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The trees are part of the deal..
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And of course the beach front.

Our suite was at par, with 2 pieces of soft pillows and sheets and towels that smells ultra sweet. There is a hot and cold shower, hair dryer and personalized stuff. The personnel themselves are very friendly and assisted us with grins on their faces.

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Our place..
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Complete sets of toiletries.

Those huge trees that were lined up left and right, back and forth made me confused to decide who among them is the prettiest like a muse. I ended up surrendering to admitting that each of them inherits individual beauty.

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So pretty..
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Trees are heaven’s gifts..
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Giant bonsai..
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Loved the skies…

I devoured on where my feet are stationed and revel on the loveliness that’s all around me. The trees are truly welcoming. The wind softly blows allowing my hair to prance on my shoulder and whether they came from the north or south, I do not have the slightest idea. I only knew two things. I am free then and happy being with wonderful people. It made me forget the not so good things part of everyday life.

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We had bonfire during the night…and some booze.
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The bar is open 24 hours.

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Good company..
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Girls just wanna have sun!
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Great view..
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One of my favorites..
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And this one too.

When the sun is still capable of kissing our skins, we didn’t mind going around and explore the surroundings. Me and my bff as usual are natural explorers with our feet, eyes and cameras always ready.

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Me and my soul sis..
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She took this shot..

We’re like hunters for picture perfect subjects and didn’t get tired taking photos in all angles, appreciating the beauty of almost anything that captures our attention, in return, we capture them too. Fortunately, there were plenty.

I have collected these stunning panoramas.

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Boats are pretty subjects, I just realized lately..
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So stunning..
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Good times!
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I bought a biri hat..

For 2 days, short as it is. I have come to savor the incredulity of being with one with nature and good friends. Beauty from both. Captured. It is liberating. It was comparable to an emotional outburst of being free.

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Heaven and earth..
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Pink skies..

There are some activities that are too attractive to miss. We played like kids on the crystal clear water before riding on the banana boat.

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Crystal clear..
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More please..

It was so much fun!

The jet-skis are like begging for us to ride on them. So we did!

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Sis on it!
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My turn..

The ride created a lovely base for summertime. I have yet to find a more amusing way to describe the ride. It’s just so addicting, you wanted to do it again. Even in some other time.  I noticed my skin (or our skins) getting darker due to the heat of the sun, but what else can be lovelier If we would not enjoy being under it so much if we didn’t sizzle?

It is so worth it and getting a tan won’t hurt just to be able to bid this specific Summer goodbye…It’s already June anyway.

So long Summer of 2014, looking forward to Summer of 2015! I just can’t wait! =)

PS

I am taking this in as my finale… (–,)

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Mushroom omelet please!

Acua Verde is located at San Juan – Laiya Rd., San Juan, 4226 Batangas. You can get in touch with them at 02-651-5967.

Have fun! =)

 

Of Windows, Doors and More

Of Windows, Doors and More – Breathtaking Batanes

“Be an opener of doors.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

I am so fortunate to witness the unspoiled and undisturbed beauty of Batanes, if not for the Ivatan’s (True Insulares) uniformed goal to preserve mother nature, this will not be achieved. Thanks to my soul buddy, for this once in a lifetime experience. =)

Batanes is one of those few provinces, the smallest one in the Philippines, yet, with the most unique way of living and not to forget highlighting the breathtaking natural beauty of the whole island. Setting your foot there is awe-inspiring and truly unforgettable. A laid-back province yet is very rich in culture and natural resources.

The Architecture is unique too since they are situated along the typhoon belt. They created roofs made of cogon grass that are sturdy enough to weather storms especially during the rainy season. Because the islands are surrounded by the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, they are oftentimes exposed to very strong winds.

Here is a collection of doors and windows I’ve witnessed in the stone houses of Savitug in Sabtang island.

There are endless ways to enjoy your visit to Batanes. For me, this is just one of those.

La Union and side-trips to Vigan & Laoag

La Union and side-trips to Vigan & Laoag

La Union is the next town after Pangasinan.

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I often remember as I passed by these towns, that I really never gave it a thought that going further I will realized how equally beautiful the northern part of the country is. I have ventured on the sweet mangoes and puto Calasiao of Pangasinan, had gone barefooted in their beaches, hopped on the hundred islands as a little girl, basked in the sun on a foggy morning in Baguio. I thought that was it. My focus was in the Vismin area. I am so enthralled by Vismin! This brought me to discover that I was somehow misled in a way. Both ends has a lot to offer and as I reached one place after another, my list keeps getting longer and longer.

Going out of the country, which I have set aside first (due to budget constraints) and primarily due to to this itch to set foot first to places in the Philippines (81 provinces) that are still unknown to me (Obsessive/ compulsive). I was even informed of a Santorini inspired resort in La Union (ongoing construction during the time when we visited), a church inside a cave in Tuguegarao, the lighthouse in Capones, the beaches in Baler is also enticing though not a priority and pine trees of Zambales on queue among many others.

I also discovered the advantages of traveling by land, that you can pull-over and stop for a while to take souvenir photos or just enjoy some corners. Drop by some attractive spots here and there, say a prayer on some old churches, check out some stuff from ambulant vendors and those lined up in the street sides. And the best part of which is try some enticing restaurants for the first time when our stomachs are aching for munch time.

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Macho temple…

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We spotted a park and stopped for a while…
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Lunch time…
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A grotto…
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And another grotto…

After, La Union, since our goal is to comb region 1 and 2 by land. Of course we didn’t dare to skip enjoying the beauty of Vigan.

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and Laoag.

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We fancied the windmills with that innocuous puppy,

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Puppy lookin’ straight to the camera! (–,)
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Bangui bay…approaching dusk…

Bangui bay…approaching dusk…

the lighthouse,

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I’m so in love! (–,)

Crisologo street,

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The famous street…
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Crisologo street…

and Patapat viaduct.

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Patapat viaduct!

and Pagudpud.

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Welcome to Pagudpud… a tale has it that the word originated from an American father and his son, it was the son who said “Pa! Good food!” while they’re sailing and saw some fresh catch…

That one activity you must not miss. Is to try out the famous Vigan longaniza which we can’t get enough of. Longganiza for breakfast,

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Cafe Leona…this restaurant since mostly frequented by tourists, they had to put up tables in front covered with a tent. We were lucky to find our table inside…
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Longganiza at Cafe Leona is a must…

longganiza for lunch and longganiza for dinner. ahaha!

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We had dinner (longaniza again) from Macy’s diner..

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My pink & purple room at Tiffany Hotel…

Well, we had “bagnet” in one of our dinners for a change. It’s an Ilocano specialty dish made of deep-fried pork belly, with its’ skin so crisp and tasty. Its’ flavor was due to the long process it had been cooked, after marinating the pork belly, it’ll be deep fried twice after letting it cool, refrigerate and deep – fry for the last time. And the empanada too..

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Vigan empanada…

Ilocos was such a gifted place. We haven’t visited the white rocks because as I’ve said before, the road there is a road less traveled unless you have planned it or if you have all the time in the world. Ours is very limited.

By the way the hotels in La Union was a riddle to me. As we hop from one hotel to another for an overnight stay, most of their names are with Bali hai, Aloha nui or some Hawaiian words in it. I found out from one of the staff that a number of Americans from Hawaii have settled for good in La Union finding it irresistible.

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Hotel hopping in La Union…
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Witnessed a wedding when we visited one of their old churches…and took advantage to have a picture with this decorated cart…
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From this hill, we had this panoramic view in sync with the soft sound of the wind and leaves dancing in front of us…

Had I not visited La Union, I am still innocent of that story maybe until this very day. It was such a fulfilling discovery. The long hours of travel from region 1 and 2 had been more exciting even if it’s so exhausting. Not only because I captured a rainbow along the way but because of the beautiful sceneries that we encountered and the people we’ve met in each town. I am topping this off with this restaurant that we found serving my all time favorite. A slice of blueberry cheesecake. (–,)

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We spotted La Preciosa and we took our slice of blueberry cheesecake…(–,)

Next stop? Isabela… =)