It was my first time travelling beyond La Trinidad Valley and into central Benguet and all the way to Mountain Province in the Cordilleras. I was excited since it is also my first time heading to Sagada, and first time travelling in one of the most scenic, highest, yet (perhaps) precarious highway in the Philippines—Halsema.
Halsema Highway, or also known as “Mountain Trail,” spans more or less 150 kilometers between Baguio City, Cordillera’s regional capital, and Bontoc, the provincial capital of Mountain Province. The highway was named after Baguio City’s mayor, James Halsema, who led the construction of the road that connects Baguio to Bontoc and was eventually opened in the 1930s.
I got this penchant for exploring new things whenever I’m travelling, especially when it is something that is deeply etched in the psyche of the locals. As for the Kankanaey-Igorots of Sagada, chewing betel nut or momma is a tradition that has been in their culture for generations. And for the loco like me, I wanted to try one!
Two days to go before 2013, and it was also our last day in Sagada. Wouldn’t it be nice to symbolically embrace a new beginning by watching the sunrise in the Cordilleras, as the golden rays gradually touch the mountains while the clouds embrace the earth? The place to be? It is Kiltepan view point.
“Typhoon (insert name here) is estimated XXX kilometers east of Baler, Aurora…”
Most of us Filipinos have heard or read about this announcement every time there is an upcoming weather disturbance in the Pacific, and the capital town of Baler in Aurora Province is the reference point. PAGASA, the state meteorological agency of the Philippines, has a weather station in this laid back town, and is one of the town’s ‘must visit’ attractions.
Philippines will hold three local conferences about Google Map Maker this April 2012, after the successful Google Map Maker Workshop which was held in Makati City last March. The local Google Map Maker Summits will be held at the cities of Bacolod City, Baguio City, and General Santos City respectively.
It was morning, and I just came from Laiya Beach. Dang! I had a hangover that morning…must have been that brandy I took when we were having a party with my officemates last night. Bad shot, stomach’s sour, head was heavy and the gravity on earth seemingly increased to 2Gs!I was hungry and I was really craving for that hot thick and rich bowl of noodle soup called Lomi, Batangas‘ answer to savory hot noodles like the mami and the batchoy (and of course, ang walang kamatayang instant noodles!). I was looking for one at San Juan town proper but the food shops are not yet open. So I went all the way to Lipa City, an hour away from San Juan, just to have that heavy soup!
When we say San Juan in Batangas, everyone would say–Laiya! Yup, this strip of cream white sand beach at this town has made this town a pilgrimage site for sun and sea lovers. From an obscure town in the southeastern portion of the province, it became an instant celebrity. Yet a lot of tourists or perhaps people in general took for granted the other San Juan, before Laiya went boom. Yes, I know it’s boring for the most, but the town center or poblacion itself is a treasure worthy of cultural recognition due to numerous heritage ancestral houses and buildings.
It was a much unexpected outing. Our boss from Los Angeles came into town and of course, would like to get a taste of the Philippine sun and sand. After browsing and inquiring several beach resorts near Manila, we finally decided to head for Laiya, the last beach frontier in Batangas. I read and heard rave reviews about this new fun place under the sun, and I was simply curious about it. In fact, I haven’t been here! ‘Twas my opportunity to conquer this Batangueño treasure, even if it hurts my budget for July.
Laiya is located some 20 kilometers away from the heritage town proper of San Juan de Bolbok in southeastern Batangas, bordering already the province of Quezon in the east. It was an outdoor campers’ secret. Its relative isolation and inaccessibility has preserved many of its laidback assets. It was only recently when the government has constructed good roads from the town proper that made this several kilometer long cream-white sand beach more accessible to tourists.