Misnomers and Campingers

“may nagcorek skin… MANGO FLOAT daw… huh ?? magic??? lumulutang yung mango ? xD aral poh kasi muna..”

Image result for hala mango float aral po kasi muna

This tweet had become of those classic Pinoy memes that never fails to tickle our funny bones whenever we come across this one. The tweet itself and the people criticizing (bashing at the least) this certain MhinE ckuu 18, is an epitome of the present Filipino way of thinking. Admit it or not, good grammar is a very big deal to us and even the proper way of discourse, and if not followed, we, the irate internet citizens will start to lash out and show how witty we our to the whole world by replying back or tagging someone at the least. This applies even to the present mountaineering scene. *grabs popcorn

With the advent of new adventurers, who thrives on the proliferation of seat sales and organized mass climbs, who seeks nature for several reasons, the evolution of words and abbreviations are now used even more, and more often than not, some usage is not used in proper context. Maybe a new Climbspeak! glossary will be useful for the present generation to read. In this article, Transit Pinas, who is also one of the new breeds who is also guilty at one point in bad grammar and choice of words, will try to look at some mountaineering misnomers, misspellings and what should be used instead to help you correct if ever you’re guilty of the following. G! #StopTheHateEducate

(PS. Wag niyo po akong i-bash)


Saan Klaymb Niyo? Wala kayong Itirenary?

With the evolution of words and language which changes dynamically, it is still not acceptable to just use something because majority of the people uses it too. The internet is a vast place and searching for the proper word through Google and other sites is as easy as checking out your Instagram feed. GMG!

So, here it goes!

  • Mountaineers ako, ikaw?” – said by a certain individual identifying himself with that kind of label.
    • There’s a certain distinction with singular and plural words, moreover a difference between mountaineering, trekking, climbing, and hiking. Maybe you should try to read what they all mean here: Monkeys and Mountains. But certainly, definitions don’t matter, just go out there, be responsible in enjoying the outdoors.

mt. apo-sta. cruz-sibulan

  • “Saan Klaymb niyo? Nabasa ko nga sa Klaymbers – to start with, one should not pronounce it as “klaymb” and instead as “klaym”, so as with “bamb jowk”, “tamb mark”, “dumb and damber” which all has silent b’s at the end.

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  • “Oo, Master Idol/ Ate Girl, RevTrav ito.” -coming from the words Rev meaning Reverse and Trav meaning Traverse:
    • Some people still uses this out of the context since the word traverse itself means you are crossing the mountain from jump-off point to a different exit point, and not the back trail. And if that traditional route will be done backwards, meaning from exit to jump-off point it will now become a reverse. But I kid you not, saying you are doing the reverse traverse actually means that you will be going from point A to B then back to A. It is like doing the Mt. Pulag via Akiki to Ambangeg then back to Akiki again. Whew, harkor.
  • “Ma’am pasend naman ng Itirenary” – “Nasa page na po, pakibasa na lang sa details.” – It should be Itinerary and not Itirenary which means a planned route or journey. Sometimes this is shortened down to “IT” or “Iti” so the real word gets lost in translation. (Tip: Read everything on the page before asking questions. Basa-basa din kasi.)
  • “Ang bagal-bagal ng Phasing niya, nag-overtake na ako.” – the word to use should be Pacing, which means walking at a steady rate regardless of speed. While Phasing means certain stages in particular like the phasing out of plastic straws, phasing of moon. (Tip: When overtaking someone along the trail, it is still good to ask for permission that you are going to overtake them and say “Pa-advance!”)

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  • “Naputol yung Trecking Pole ko!” – well, Trecking is a new word at the very least, but you can still use Trekking if you mean to walk by foot over a period of time.
  • “Ahhh, kami dayhike ng Mt. Tarak.” – “Mas masarap overnight, dami niyong pinapatunayan” – There is no such thing as Mt. Tarak, but there is a place called Tarak Ridge which happens to be one of the few ridges of the looming Mt. Mariveles in Bataan. (Tip: Scaling mountains still depends on the choice of the person, if one enjoys to finish it in a day or two or more, then we should respect their decision as long as they follow the LNT Principles.”

See how big the ancient volcanic caldera of Mt. Mariveles is, and where Tarak Ridge lies?

  • “Mas mabilis kami nung Descend na.” Ascent-Descent should be used since this is a noun pertaining to the action and the way by which one ascends instead of Ascend-Descend which is a verb which denotes the action.
  • “Asdfghjkl! ang stiff ng ascend paakyat ng summit! *bleep *bleep” – if you’ll translate this one, this means “Ang tigas ng umakyat paakyat ng summit.” . Try use this word instead, Steep, which means sharply inclined. Be careful of the spelling!

This article seeks to share and correct some of the commonly used words that are not used properly and not to bash and criticize people. Stop the hate, educate.

If still looking for more of the Filipino Moutaineering-lingo, check-out Pinoy Mountaineer’s Climbspeak!

P.S. Campingers means undisciplined people who climb mountains without following rules.


Do you know of any other mountaineering misnomers and words that are out of context? Do you know someone who needs to read this? Share it and comment on the section below!

Misnomers and Campingers
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Updated as of July 10, 2018

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Isabela Travel Guide

The Queen Province of the North, the province of Isabela, might be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the island of Luzon, but Isabela still holds untouched gems that only the brave of hearts will pursue to rediscover. This travel guide only covers a day’s worth of land travel over historic churches and parks, while the premiere destinations such as the coastal towns of Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan, Dinapigue which is only accessible via long boat travel from Aurora, or via Cyclone Airways in Cauayan City, has breathtaking white sand beaches, islands and forests that are cut off by the Sierra Madre Mountain Range which I have not been able to visit. These places is still on my list and with the 80+ kilometers worth of road from Ilagan City being paved and developed, it is only a matter of time before these places will be rediscovered again.

But if short on time and still trying to know the second largest province in the country then I suggest to pay homage to the historic churches, parks and landmarks of the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines.

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Where is Isabela?

Located at the center of the Cagayan Valley region in Luzon, Isabela is bordered by Cagayan to the north, Kalinga to the northwest, Mountain Province to the central-west, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya to the southwest, and Quirino and Aurora to the south.

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The province is divided into three physiographic areas. The eastern area, straddled by the Sierra Madre mountain range, is rugged and thickly forested. A substantial portion is uncharted. These unexplored hinterlands are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, and some are under government reservations. It is home to one of the world’s largest remaining low-altitude rainforests, with numerous unknown endemic species of flora and fauna and biological diversity in the protected area known as the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. – wikipedia.org, 2018


How To Get There

  • From Sampaloc in Manila or Cubao in Quezon City, buses have direct trips to cities like Cauayan City and Ilagan City in Isabela, or Tuguegarao trips then drop off at locations of your choice since it passes throughout major Isabela access points. There are frequent delays during stopovers and the likes (Travel time is about 8-10 hours depending on the stops. Fare: 526-940php)

    • Victory Liner  – Earnshaw St. cor Lacson St., Sampaloc, Manila

Sampaloc Terminal to Tuguegarao City ScheduleUntitled
Sampaloc Terminal to Ilagan City, Isabela Scheduleaerwaer
Sampaloc Terminal to Cauayan City, Isabela Schedulehrhty

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  • Check out other bus companies passing through Isabela: Pinoy Travel

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The fresco of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary in Our Lady of the Pillar Parish of Cauayan City

Getting Around Isabela

  • Travelling in between cities and towns, there are buses and UV Express Vans plying the main highway
  • For short distances inside the cities and towns, one can rent tricycles at reasonable prices
  • Most of the tourist spots are far from the main highway and requires long land travel, private modes of transportation are much more recommended to save on time
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Tricycle rides, more fun in Isabela

Where To Stay


Travel Tips:

  • Plan ahead and prepare, make sure that you have already contacted your hotel/home stay/tour guide of your choice as some of them may get fully booked during peak season.
  • Always remember to treat your tour guides / drivers nicely and even include them in your meals as a sign of courtesy with these hardworking locals.
  • Travel during the night so you can still have enough rest and avoid the traffic at the main highway.
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Just another day at Ilagan City
  • It is advisable to travel with a companion or a group so rates can be divided to how many of you are in the group so your budget stays on the safe zone. But if travelling solo, make sure you have enough budget with you.
  • Pack food and water with you, although stores are present at most of the destinations, it is much better to be ready than sorry.
  • Pack your trash and leave no trace, practice LNT Principles all the time
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Snake encounter at the Ilagan Sanctuary

Things To See In Isabela

  • Ilagan Sanctuary – located in Ilagan City inside the Fuyot Springs National Park, is a traveler’s one stop shop since it has almost everything a place can offer: from caves, waterfalls, hiking trails, animal kingdom, swimming pool, hotels, extreme activities and many more.

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  • Sta. Victoria Caves – located inside the Ilagan Sanctuary in Ilagan City, has several Chambers with speleothems stills glimmering with life.

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  • Giant Butaka – the largest lounge chair in the world as declared by the Guinness Book of World Record, is now taking refuge inside the busy highway of Ilagan City.

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  • Tumauini Church – located in the town of Tumauini, the only church in the Philippines with a cylindrical bell tower. This Cagayan Style church is made from bricks which are carefully placed by Artisans from Pampanga.

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  • Our Lady of the Pillar Parish – located in Cauayan City, this Cagayan Style brick church contains one of the largest frescoes in the country which is the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.

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  • Our Lady of Atocha Parish one of the pilgrimage sites in Isabela located in the town of Alicia, also boasts of the distinct Cagayan Style brick architecture which had seemingly stood the test of time.

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  • Ilagan Japanese Tunnel Museum – located in Ilagan City, is one of the few remnants of the Japanese occupation which has a long tunnel system that is turned into a museum displaying some Japanese artifacts found in the area.
  • Magat Dam – located in the town of Ramon, is one of the largest dam systems in Southeast Asia, supplying the energy needs of Central Luzon and Metro Manila while servicing the irrigation needs of 95, 000 hectares of farmland all-year round
  • Palanan Rainforest Park –  Declared by UNESCO as one of the most biodiversity-rich rainforest in the world; also one Asia’s remaining virgin rainforests
  • Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park – The largest protected area in the Philippines. It is rated number 1 in the world for biodiversity and home to 60% of Philippine endemic flora and fauna species.

Photo Gallery

 


Extend Your Trip:

  • Callao Caves – located in the Barangays of Magdalo And Quibal in Penablanca, Cagayan, is the most famous cave in the Philippines which has seven enormous chambers the first of which houses a chapel illuminated by the open crevice at the ceiling.
  • Ganano Falls – located in Diffun, Quirino is an underrated waterfall near the footholds of Mt. Battumbaket which has several more cascades on its downstream and is worth a visit.
  • Palaui Island – Located in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, this island off the coast of mainland Luzon, cradles a lonely sentinel of a lighthouse called the Cape Engano Lighthouse.

Itinerary and Expenses:

Isabela Solo Day Trip plus Callao Caves
3-Day Byahe Norte 2018 Adventure

Day 00
0915 Depart for Isabela (497php, Regular Aircon Bus) Five Star Bus

Day 01
0345 Arrival Alicia, Isabela breakfast (150php)
0530 Our Lady of Atocha, Alicia, Isabela
0600 Depart for Cauayan City, (30php)
0625 Our Lady of the Pillar
0700 Depart for Ilagan City, (40php)
0800 Provincial Capitol, Queen Isabela Park
0830 Depart for Ilagan City,(13php)
0845 Ilagan City, Snacks
0900 Giant Butaka
0920 Take van to Marana Junction in Ilagan City, (20php)
0935 Marana Junction, Tricycle to Ilagan Sanctuary (150php)
1000 start tour
1015 Animal Kingdom
1030 Caving (Altar, Moon, Main Cave)
1130 back to swimming pool, tidy up (300php guide fee)
1200 tricycle back to marana 150php
1220 Marana Highway, take van bound for Tumauini (60php)
1300 Tumauini, St. Matthias Church
1330 Take van bound for Tuguegarao (120php)
1440 Tuguegarao Van Terminal, hire tricycle to Peñablanca (450php)
1520 Callao Caves, Brgys Quibal and Magdalo, Peñablanca, Cagayan
1530 Start Cave tour
1630 End, 250php guide fee
1700 Depart for Tuguegarao
1830 Check in at Tuguegarao City
1930 Dinner
2200 Lights Off

Day 02
0700 Travel to Abulug, Cagayan

*Expenses for the Isabela Day Trip plus Callao Caves:  2080php for a solo traveler excluding food

**Disclaimer: This is based on the actual trip that I have done, all information stated above is up to date as of writing. There are more options to choose from and please feel free to message me for any concerns and suggestions that comes up as you browse this series. 

2018 Biyaheng Norte Solo Backpacking Adventure – Isabela

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Isabela Travel Guide
Biyaheng Norte 2018: What to do in Isabela-Cagayan-Apayao-Ilocos Norte in Three Days
The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish  –  Our Lady of the Pillar Parish  –  Tumauini Church
Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves
Through the Monastic Chambers of Light and Darkness – Callao Cave

*Have you visited Isabela Province? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Isabela Travel Guide
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Updated as of July 04, 2018

Through the Monastic Chambers of Light and Darkness – Callao Cave

The province of Cagayan, when mentioned at any given moment, the first thing that comes into every traveler’s mind is Palaui Island, the Cape Engaño lighthouse on one of its highest point, the Pansit Batil Patung, and also one should never forget the monastic chambers of the Callao Cave – one of the most famous in the country. But during the author’s last sojourn in the province, they missed what seemed to be the most accessible of the lot that was mentioned earlier, the Callao Caves in Peñablanca and headed directly to the sulfur infested caldera of Cagua Volcano in the town of Gonzaga. This time, he did not missed anymore.

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Detour to Peñablanca

I was just a stone throw away from Tuguegarao City that afternoon, during a whole lot of walking and transferring of rides during my 2018 Isabela day trip. The last on my list was the church ruins of San Pablo which was just a couple of minutes away from Tumauini Church via any commuter vans, but as it stopped in front of me, the driver immediately howled “TUGE!! TUGE!!”. Torn as I was, I weighed in if I will continue to visit the last church or head to Tuguegarao City, and in that split second, I made that decision, which caused me to write this as of today. Detour it is!

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I saw the looming bell tower of San Pablo Church from afar, as we passed swiftly along the national highway (sigh). The sweltering heat was felt inside the van as if it had no air-conditioning but apparently it was on full blast, but sleep still came not until I woke up and found myself somewhere in Tuguegarao. I hopped out of the van and asked the locals where I could hire a tricycle that will take me to Callao (pronounced as “kal-law”) since the tricycles in here are color coded depending on which area they service in. Then as I was pointed to the yellow ones, I haggled for the price and got mine for 450php since I was traveling alone. It took us roughly an hour through the 24 kilometer road leading down to the banks of Pinacanauan River, one of the major tributaries of the Cagayan River in the town of Peñablanca.

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A long wooded boat awaited me after I paid for the entrance fee of 20php and paid another 20php for the back and forth boat ride. Through the serene waters of Pinacanauan, which means clearest in the native “Itawes” dialect of the locals, our boat traversed the gap which separates the cave from the main land via the major tributary of the Cagayan River.

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As I arrived, Joy, one of the student guides approached me, and allowed me to leave my bag at the tourist lounge before we started the 184 steps staircase leading to the awning mouth of the cave. I was kinda breathless after that, but lo and behold.

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Ginormous, Gargantuan, Grabe, Grabe

Callao Cave is one of the 300 caves dotting the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape that covers some  118,781.58 hectares, in which the most premiere and accessible cave – the Callao Cave is so massive that it covers two barangays which is Quibal and Magdalo. Peñablanca got its name from Spanish origins which means “White Rocks” which is owed to the white limestone walls of the mountains surrounding the area, Callao on the other hand is from the word “Callado” which means calm.

Callao and the other caves are situated in the western foothills of the Northern Sierra Madre Mountains of the Philippines. They are situated within the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape, which stretches from the caves to the eastern shores of Peñablanca town of the Pacific Ocean. – wikipedia.org

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It has a total of nine chambers, seven of which can be explored by visitors. Its remaining two chambers were closed off by an earthquake during the 80’s.. The mouth of the cave loomed in front of me after reaching the last flight of stairs, and I was just awestruck upon entering and witnessing the most sought after Ka-Cave-bang Chapel (Kakaibang Chapel, pun intended).

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The first chamber of the show cave is the largest room from the seven accessible ones. The cathedral-like room has been turned into a chapel by the local people that mass is held inside weekly and a wedding was also held last 2017, and it sounds really interesting, a cave wedding.

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A rock formation serves as the altar of the chapel lit by a stream of light coming from a rooftop crevice. This large opening beams down natural illumination to the area giving it a range of ambient light from bright to gloomy.

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Then theres the wooden pews facing the main altar which is a rock formation similar to a church retablo. The conditions inside the caves have caused the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, more so in the deeper chambers.

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The room mas massive, no, gargantuan, but as I walked inside, with Joy describing each unique rock formations along the several other chambers, I was even more wrong, the other chambers were actually even more ginormous.

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The natural skylights had caused vegetation along the speleothems such as flowstones, glittering dripstones, cave curtains, crystal helictites, columns and similar ones which have varied colors from white to green and even reddish hues and glittering white. Do not fear walking inside as the pathways are well maintained and is not even challenging compared to the other caves like that of Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, Mountain Province.

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As i was about to exit the cave as the sunset is already approaching, heavy rain poured from above that stopped us from descending, thus giving us more time to dwell around the now gloomy and dank first chamber of Callao. Then I had the time to read the tarpaulin that showcases the archaeological digging near the mouth of the cave.

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Interesting fact is within the cave complex, one fossilized remain found in the year 2007 has changed the course of human history. Antedating the 47,000-year-old remains of Tabon Man which was discovered in Palawan, and is one of the oldest human remains in the Asia Pacific, the Metatarsal of the Callao Man was found to be as old as 67,000 years old, an even more older homo sapien ancestor that is believed to be anout 4-feet tall.

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Truly, Callao Cave lives up to its name, and definitely a must visit in the province of Cagayan. If one is seeking for more adventures, they can also check out the Odessa-Tumbali Cave or Abbenditan Cave which is said to be the longest in the country at 12.6-15kms long, also there’s the Jackpot Cave, which is said to be the second deepest cave at 115 meters depth. There’s also the San Carlos and Sierra Cave which is a lot more challenging out of the 300 caves dotting the whole protected area.

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I got back at Tuguegarao City by 06:00 in the evening and had my dinner before checking in at one of the cheap hotels nearby the city center before calling it a night.

Next on Byahe Norte Solo Adventure 2018: Apayao Province!


How To Get There

  • Several bus companies travels directly to Tuguegarao City in the province of Cagayan daily, night trips are usually the norm. (Travel time: 12hrs, Fare: 650++ for regular air-conditioned bus)
  • Alternately, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies directly to Tuguegarao City regularly. (Flight time: 1:05)
  • From the city center , take any tricycle and ask to be dropped off at the tricycle terminal that is located at the back of Tuguegarao Cathedral which has trips to Penablanca. (20php/trip)
  • Hire a tricycle to Callao Cave at Penablanca and prices usually starts at 1000php for a group of 3-4 persons, but you can haggle it down to 600-450php if traveling solo or in pair. Do not try to lower it down as the trip takes an hour to reach the river banks of Pinacanauan River, also consider their waiting time.


*Have already set foot at this northern gem ? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Through the Monastic Chambers of Light and Darkness – Callao Cave

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Logomakr_5P0UNA
Updated as of July 03, 2018

 

Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves

Ilagan City, Isabela: It might be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the island of Luzon, but Isabela still holds untouched gems that only the brave of hearts will pursue to rediscover (What’s up, coastal towns of Isabela?) . But if short on time and still trying to know the second largest province in the country then I suggest to pay homage to the historic churches of the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines. Follow Transit Pinas on his Isabela day trip as part of his three-day Biyaheng Norte solo backpacking adventure.

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Parseltongue Allowed

The second largest province in the country after Palawan, Isabela is now competing and starts to show what it has to offer. Although it does not really interest most of the travelers out there, I decided to see for myself what lies inside the Ilagan Sanctuary on my Isabela day trip. Quite disheartened upon not being able to sit at the giant Butaka, I flagged a van bound for Tuguegarao and alighted at the Marana Junction that is still inside Ilagan City. From there I took a tricycle and asked the driver to bring me to Brgy. Santa Victoria where Ilagan Sanctuary is located.

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Upon entry, I paid for the 100php entrance fee, not knowing that the pool area is still a few kilometers away as we passed through a narrow path hugging the mountain side and forests. Upon arrival, it did not disappoint.

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The Ilagan Sanctuary offers the following attractions for visitors: a mini-zoo, butterfly park, natural spring water pool and ATV rides. During the celebration of 326th years of Ilagan’s founding anniversary last May 2012, the government inaugurated the 350-meter Zipline inside the park. Contrary to its naming, it is still residing inside the larger Fuyot Springs National Park, a protected area of the Philippines spanning from Ilagan City to the town of Tumauini which covers some 819 hectares of land. This also serves as a buffer zone for the larger Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park which houses a more diverse set of wildlife.

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As I wandered around the area, with a man-made lake in between, a guide approached me and said that he can take me to the caves, animal kingdom and waterfalls. So I obliged since the fee they’re going to collect is just a donation. Without any further ado, I changed into my adventure clothes and off we go.

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First in the list is the Animal Kingdom, in which it houses several animals ranging from local to imported ones, some Kuya Gelo said have died during the height of a devastating typhoon last year.

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But I felt pity for the animals inside the small enclosures, they don’t look well fed and seems to be lonely in there.

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But what I enjoyed the most out of the short walk is I was able to hold and sit together with a large Reticulated Python with the caretakers asking for a small donation for the “perfume” and the reptile’s food. Parseltongue is definitely allowed in here!

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Spelunking

After the short encounter with the animals inside the mini zoo, we proceeded at the Santa Victoria Caves house inside the sanctuary. It is composed of several chambers and caves; Altar, Main, Moon, and Adventure Cave to name a few.

It does not require to be physically fit to enter some of the caves since it is just a walk in the park inside as you will be guided along the cold and dank rooms and see some peculiarly shaped stalactites and stalagmites. But the latter, Adventure Cave is for those who wants to kick it up a notch.

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Please be mindful once you enter any kind of cave and please refrain from touching any rock specially those glimmering in pure white meaning they are still alive, but acid from our sweat affects this kind of rocks since it takes hundreds of years before it grows into a larger one. A common joke inside the caves is that “May Forever!” (There’s Forever!) once the stalactites and stalagmites meet to form a column, since it takes ages before they meet. See what they did there.

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“Peak-a-boo!” – Casper

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After hours of roaming around, the park does not seem to run out of activities to do, they have everything you are looking for. They have function halls, swimming pools, hotels, hiking trails, waterfalls, ATV rides, obstacle courses, bike lanes, zipline ride, wall climbing and many more.

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Hanging bridges around the area

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I packed up immediately since I am running out of time in exploring two more churches in Isabela before the day ends. So I immediately called my tricycle driver, Kuya Sammy to fetch me inside the park while I swam a little in one of their pools before I tidied up. Alone but never lonely hahahaha!

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Next stop: The Tumauini Church!


Since I was not able to take note of all the rates, here’s some of the rates as posted by www.thejerny.com:

Entrance Fee: 100 per person / 80 – Senior citizens

Activities and Rates at Ilagan Sanctuary (per person)

Bicycle rental – 100 Php
Wall Climbing/Rappelling – 100 Php
Cable Car – 100 Php
Zipline – 200 Php
Cable Car with Zipline – 250 Php
Horseback Riding – 150 per round within the sanctuary
Paintball – 250.00 per 50 bullets
Kayak – 100 Php per 30 minutes
Swan Boat – 200 Php per boat // 30 mins
Zip Bike – 150 Php / round trip
Obstacle Course – 100 Php

There also are packages and accommodations. For rates, see photo below.

Ilagan Sanctuary rates - http://thejerny.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.thejerny.com

How to Get There

  • The Ilagan Sanctuary, 447+ kilometers north of Manila, is located in the province of Isabela, inside the Fuyot Springs National Park in Ilagan City
  • From Manila, take any bus bound for Tuguegarao via Victory Liner or Five Star Bus. (Travel time: 8-9hrs depending on traffic conditions, Fare: 650++ php airconditioned bus)
  • If coming from Tuguegarao, take any bus bound for Manila or UV Express Vans bound for Ilagan City and alight at Marana Junction in Ilagan City
  • From Marana Junction, hire a tricyle to take you to the Ilagan Sanctuary, trip takes around 20 minutes and they charge 150php per way. It is best to get your tricycle driver’s number since there are few tricycles entering the park
  • Pay for the 20php entrance fee, and from the gate, the swimming pool area where the guides are waiting is around 5-10 minutes of drive away
  • Nearest airport is in Cauayan City, flight takes 1hr and 10mins, Cebu Pacific flies regularly to Cauayan City, then take another van bound for Tuguegarao and alight at Marana Junction in Ilagan City
  • You can contact my guide in Ilagan Sanctuary, Kuya Gelo Mendiola (09556217113) and the tricycle driver Mang Sammy (09261075392)


This is part of Transit Pinas’ Three Day Biyaheng Norte Solo Backpacking Adventure. Follow more of his adventures here!

2018-06-17 22.29.46.jpg

Isabela Travel Guide
Biyaheng Norte 2018: What to do in Isabela-Cagayan-Apayao-Ilocos Norte in Three Days
The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish  –  Our Lady of the Pillar Parish  –  Tumauini Church
Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves

*Have you visited this place? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves
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Updated as of June 17, 2018

Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park

Ilagan City, Isabela: It might be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the island of Luzon, but Isabela still holds untouched gems that only the brave of hearts will pursue to rediscover (What’s up, coastal towns of Isabela?) . But if short on time and still trying to know the second largest province in the country then I suggest to pay homage to the historic churches and urban jungles of the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines. Follow Transit Pinas on his Isabela day trip as part of his three-day Biyaheng Norte solo backpacking adventure.

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Bambanti

As second highest rice-growing province nationwide, owing to its vast agriculturally rich and fertile lands, the province of Isabela is dubbed as the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines. The province’s name was derived from then reigning Queen Isabella II of Spain that time during the Las Islas Filipinas era. It was consisted of nine towns of which were formerly part of Cagayan and seven others detached from Nueva Vizcaya. However as of today, it is now detached as a sole province whose name many groups were opposing to change into something that is directly related into its historic roots.

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At the Cauayan City Hall before taking the next bus bound for Ilagan City.

Nearly half the hour past 09:00 in the morning, I alighted from the passenger bus that I hopped into from Cauayan City after a seemingly short trip after I visit the Our Lady of the Pillar Parish. The busy provincial highway is littered with rows of stores and eateries on the other side while the Queen Isabela Park also has the same volume of stores and even has kiddie rides and Ferris Wheel since the Bambanti Festival has recently concluded last January.

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Held annually in the month of January, the award-winning festival has become a key factor in helping to build a cultural identity for the residences of Isabela.

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From all the provincial capitols I have visited, Isabela has the biggest capitol grounds area, it even has a lake dividing the Capitol and and an astrodome and an ampitheater like area that can house thousands of people at once. I can already imagine how this place looks during the night of festivals and other events, lit!

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One that will immediately get your attention is the monument of Queen Isabela straddled right in front of the highway. It is a 17-feet sculpture of Queen Isabella II of Spain at the center of a fountain in the mini park. Surrounded by sculptures of the former leaders and heroes of the province who serve and freed the province, ranging from the fictional up to the modern day heroes.

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Joel Paragas, UNESCO artist and park consultant, is the one who designed the sculptures.

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Along the capitol grounds, are the murals and mascots of each municipality lined up in front of the capitol building, called as the Bambanti Village. The Bambanti or “Scarecrow” has become a symbol and mascot of the celebration because of its historic ties to farmers and their crops. Symbolizing the diligence, resoluteness, and the enduring spirit of the people of Isabela. This village is open and lively during fridays where products and pasalubongs are available, and the night ends with live bands and food trucks along the park.

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I took some time to rest along the benches near the man made lake, and was hesitant to roam around a little bit more since the weekly flag ceremony for the government officials were taking place.

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After quite some time, I got back at the main highway to visit the Giant Butaka in sentro of Ilagan City, hailed a jeepney and dropped off at the Gaisano Mall where I had my late breakfast.

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But I was even unlucky to find out that the Pavilion where the giant armchair is taking refuge was under construction. I guess no giant seat for the big guy today. So I just hailed another van bound for Marana also in Ilagan City for the next leg of adventure inside the Fuyot Springs National Park.

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Bulag na pakikibaka.

How to Get There

  • The City of Ilagan, 427 kilometers north of Manila, is located in the province of Isabela, between Cauayan City and the town of Tumauini (known for its Church and its cake-like bell tower)
  • From Manila, take any bus bound for Tuguegarao via Victory Liner or Five Star Bus. (Travel time: 8-9hrs depending on traffic conditions, Fare: 600++ php airconditioned bus)
  • If coming from Tuguegarao, take any bus bound for Manila or UV Express Vans bound for Ilagan City and alight at the Provincial Capitol
  • If coming from Cauayan City, its is just half an hour away and take any van bound for Tuguegarao City, and alight at the Provincial Capitol
  • Nearest airport is in Cauayan City, flight takes 1hr and 10mins, Cebu Pacific flies regularly to Cauayan City, then take another van bound for Ilagan City which will take you atleast an hour, fare range is around 50php+


This is part of Transit Pinas’ Three Day Biyaheng Norte Solo Backpacking Adventure. Follow more of his adventures here!

2018-06-17 22.29.46.jpg

Isabela Travel Guide
Biyaheng Norte 2018: What to do in Isabela-Cagayan-Apayao-Ilocos Norte in Three Days
The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish  –  Our Lady of the Pillar Parish  –  Tumauini Church
Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves

*Have you visited the Isabela Provincial Capitol Grounds? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Logomakr_5P0UNA
Updated as of June 17, 2018

 

The Old World Churches of Isabela – Tumauini Church

Tumauini, Isabela: It might be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the island of Luzon, but Isabela still holds untouched gems that only the brave of hearts will pursue to rediscover (What’s up, coastal towns of Isabela?) . But if short on time and still trying to know the second largest province in the country then I suggest to pay homage to the historic churches of the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines. Follow Transit Pinas on his Isabela day trip as part of his three-day Biyaheng Norte solo backpacking adventure.

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The Devil in the Details

All drenched in sweat as the sweltering heat of the Cagayan Valley became evident that afternoon, I flagged a UV Express Van again at the junction of Marana and the main highway after the quick visit inside Fuyot Springs National Park in Ilagan City. I was planning to visit my second to the last destination in Isabela which is the Tumauini Church. Luckily a van stopped by and it had a nice air conditioning unit that made me doze off for a while, I forgot how much I paid for after alighting again at Puregold in Tumauini some forty-five minutes later. Sluggishly hauling my backpack, I headed towards the Municipal Hall a few blocks away inside a seemingly deserted street, with the phone on my left hand where my offline map shows my real time location. The noon time heat becoming more unbearable as the minute passes by, soon enough, the circular bell tower of St. Matthias Church came into view.

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Designed in the Brick Baroque style of architecture, specifically of Late Baroque or Early Rococo, it has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site last 2006 as an extension, in addition to the four UNESCO Inscribed Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Additionally,  it is also listed as a National Cultural Treasure and a National Historical Landmark.

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I am standing at perhaps, the most artistic brick church in the Philippines, it may be made during the Spanish colonial era but what sets it apart from the rest is the way it was built. The church first was built from light materials in 1707 and was rebuilt in its fiery red brick structure 21 years after it started in 1784. Upon close inspection, I can’t help but admire the way everything was put together, it may lack in scale as opposed to the other baroque churches, but it makes up with how the rich ornamentation were intricate and carefully placed together. Indeed, the devil will always be in the details.

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The Cake Tower

The Cagayan Style facade is made up also of bricks since Adobe and other quality stones are not available in the area, contrary to other writings, it is not the artisans from Betis, Pampanga who carefully pieced everything together and constructed it, rather they are the ones who were hired to craft the wooden mouldings for the clay inset of the bricks for the facade. Each of the bricks if one will closely inspect is customized to fit in a certain portion of the wall and numbers and dates can be clearly seen, how painstakingly placed huh?

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“What we see now are mostly the original red bricks, most notably the rich heavy ornamentation of the rococo-baroque façade: flowers, leaves, ovules, hearts, sunbursts, wheels; squares and circles, oblongs and rectangles, curlicues; three long garlands, vegetal forms, clamshells; three saints in niches, one headless; eight pilasters; six mini reliefs of saints and cherubim, one cherub defaced.

Inside are 24 symmetrically arranged, neo-Corinthian faux columns; 10 arched windows, with white-green-yellow stained-glass panes adorned with yellow and blue clamshells and red crosses.”  (www.lifestyle.inquirer.net, 2015 )

The pediment is curved on top and is complemented by a circular window which is renovated after the reconstruction programme took place after being affected by one of the strongest earthquake to hit Cagayan Valley. The admired and tiered cylindrical bell tower is the only of its kind on the country,  built in the Spanish colonial era of 1805, it is adorned with garland like flowers draped around the cake like structure.

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Standing proud as  is one of Isabela’s pride and glory; the confectionery like designs such as flowers, leaves, ovules and sunbursts, just like in the facade was also carefully placed together that at first glance it looks nothing short of extraordinary but if you just closely look upon it, one will realize how it was built carefully. The white plaster finish were all original, but due to the passage of time and pillage of other elements, it got eroded showing the embedded red bricks that is now contrasting wildly up to this day.

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I may not be able to enter the church but it is said that it is the only intact church interior in the province to date that it looks moody and dank at first glance. The sweltering heat got more unbearable so I spent some time admiring the church under one of the tree canopies in the area before I left for San Pablo to visit another historical church in the province but I just took the liberty to take its photos from afar since I got short on time after spending a good amount of time having lunch along the highway of Tumauini.

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My Isabela day trip might be short and not really the kind that one would really enjoy, but it really is fulfilling that I got to know the province more than just a far road up in the north leading to Cagayan. The churches in the area are all unique in its own way, although their precarious and fragile existence is a threat to the cultural patrimony of the country, it is also paramount that we know of their existence since awareness is one of the keys to preservation and protection.


How to Get There

  • The town of Tumauini, 460+ kilometers north of Manila, is located in the province of Isabela, between Ilagan City and the town of Cabagan (Eponymous with the noodle dish named after it, Pancit Cabagan)
  • From Manila, take any bus bound for Tuguegarao via Victory Liner or Five Star Bus. (Travel time: 8-9hrs depending on traffic conditions, Fare: 650++ php airconditioned bus)
  • If coming from Tuguegarao, take any bus bound for Manila or UV Express Vans bound for Ilagan City and alight at Puregold Tumauini
  • If coming from Cordon or Santiago City, its is just a town away and take any van bound for Tuguegarao City, and alight at Puregold Tumauini
  • From Puregold Tumauini ask the locals where the church or the adjacent Municipal Hall is located, it is two blocks away from the main highway
  • Nearest airport is in Cauayan City, flight takes 1hr and 10mins, Cebu Pacific flies regularly to Cauayan City, then take another van bound for Tumauini which will take you atleast an hour, fare range is around 50php+


This is part of Transit Pinas’ Three Day Biyaheng Norte Solo Backpacking Adventure. Follow more of his adventures here!

2018-06-17 22.29.46.jpg

Isabela Travel Guide
Biyaheng Norte 2018: What to do in Isabela-Cagayan-Apayao-Ilocos Norte in Three Days
The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish  –  Our Lady of the Pillar Parish  –  Tumauini Church
Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves

*Have you visited this church? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

The Old World Churches of Isabela – Tumauini Church
Logomakr_5P0UNA
Updated as of June 17, 2018

 

The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of the Pillar Parish

Cauayan City, Isabela: It might be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the island of Luzon, but Isabela still holds untouched gems that only the brave of hearts will pursue to rediscover (What’s up, coastal towns of Isabela?) . But if short on time and still trying to know the second largest province in the country then I suggest to pay homage to the historic churches and parks of the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines. Follow Transit Pinas on his Isabela day trip as part of his three-day Biyaheng Norte solo backpacking adventure.

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A van stopped in front of me as the driver rolled down his windows at the passenger side yelling “TUGE!! TUGE!!”. Waiting time was fast, around five minutes along the other side of the Our Lady of Atocha Parish, surely, the town of Alicia is about to start her day immediately.  I seated right next to the driver who kept telling others who already boarded that he will be stopping right in front of DFA Tuguegarao, then I paid him around 30php and told him to drop me at the church in Cauayan City which he promptly called as “Pilar”

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Around 20 minutes passed as we swiftly traversed the Maharlika Highway, he made a right turn upon arrival at Cauayan City and just a few hundred meters from the intersection is where my second church for the day stood still.


The Coronation

As I laid eyes upon the church facade, it was indeed almost the same as the one in Alicia, but with a larger bell tower, and the brick layers looking more weathered than the first one I have visited, it also has rich ornamentations such as flowers, leaves, sunbursts, ovules embedded together with the bricks. The Cagayan Style, which looks more of the Antique Castillan design is prominent in the structure.

The facade is made up of three layers, the base with recessed niches with the patron saints inside, it is separated by several pilasters articulating the extent of the wall with the third pediment standing out from the rest as it projects seven tower like bricks ending with a circular brick at the upper most portion. It also has a circular recessed window on the pediment that has stained glass installed on it.

In the year 1741, the parish was established by the Spaniards and was named after the Our Lady of the Pillar with it first vicar, Fray Antonio Del Ocampo. Gaddangs, who first inhabited the area, converted their religion to Christianity as time passed by inside this institution whose very location were later named as “Cauayan”. It is owed to the fact it is built near the creeks of Bulod, Sipat, Bungkol, and Marabulig which is abundantly filled with bamboo clusters where crocodiles were said to take refuge.

But what tickled my imagination more is when I set foot inside the old looking church. From the main arched doorway the interiors were loud and looked modern as it contrasted the exteriors. The aisle and the ceiling was surprisingly long enough, with a hundred pews organized at both sides. But what is more attention grabbing is the majestic fresco at the other end above the altar, ‘The Coronation Of The Blessed Virgin Mary’ and I must say that it is one of the most beautiful frescoes I have laid eyes upon to date.

I offered a prayer again, and stayed for a while admiring the beauty of the church. I was also hungry that time, but I dismissed it and pushed forward to the next city where the provincial capitol is.


How to Get There

  • Cauayan City is the business hub of the province of Isabela, 400 kilometers north of Manila
  • From Manila, take any bus bound for Tuguegarao or Cauayan via Victory Liner or Five Star Bus. (Travel time: 6-7 hours depending on traffic conditions, Fare: 500php airconditioned bus)
  • If coming from Tuguegarao, take any bus bound for Manila or UV Express Vans bound for Cauayan or Santiago City
  • If coming from Cordon or Santiago City, its is just a few towns away and take any van bound for Cauayan City, the church is just along the highway
  • Nearest airport is inside the city, flight takes 1hr and 10mins, Cebu Pacific flies regularly to Cauayan City


This is part of Transit Pinas’ Three Day Biyaheng Norte Solo Backpacking Adventure. Follow more of his adventures here!

2018-06-17 22.29.46.jpg

Isabela Travel Guide
Biyaheng Norte 2018: What to do in Isabela-Cagayan-Apayao-Ilocos Norte in Three Days
The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish  –  Our Lady of the Pillar Parish  –  Tumauini Church
Inside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves

*Have you visited this church? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of the Pillar Parish
Logomakr_5P0UNA
Updated as of June 14, 2018

 

How Travel Did Not Changed My Life

“Mag-travel ka na din para hindi naman masyadong boring buhay mo.” (Travel, so your life wouldn’t be as boring as ever”)

I overheard this statement during a random night from a couple of twenty-something year-old group of individuals, as I sat alone in a fast food chain somewhere in Quezon City. Waiting for our van bound for Kalinga Province, that statement played back in rewind as it hit me. Ironic as it is, with me feeling guilty since I also thought of saying that a few years back, with all the traveling I have done for the past three years, did it changed my life? Did it made big impacts on how I live my life now? If you are looking for the list in here of how it did, the answer is NO, it did not changed me.

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Going on random trips, communing with nature, experiencing new cultures, waking up in a strange town did not changed how I see myself, my lifestyle, the way I see life and not even the relationship status (pun intended).

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However, it allowed and made me open up my eyes and realize my way slowly to self discovery, to gauge where your limits lie and how far can you go when all else seems to fail.


Traveling did not changed the way I see myself

In contrast to the popular opinions like “It will turn you into a completely different person”, “Your life will not be boring anymore”, and even peppered with the constant lie of “you will learn to become humble”. Traveling for the record, did not changed the way I see myself, I just learned to embrace what my flaws are, and how I tried to wrestle with the inner demons and turn them into something positive.

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Do not fall into notions such as becoming confident or not being shy anymore. We will still be our old selves just trying new things and checking out what kind of clothes fits into us and what will not. With all the self confessed travel enthusiasts out there, we are just trying to brand ourselves just for the sake of it – a hiker, mountaineer, trekker, climber, traveler, photographer, blogger and whatever name that ends in the suffix -er, and that just messes up everything even more.

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It just taught me that the more I know about life and myself, the more I know nothing, which makes every day even more exciting. Take chances and experience things for yourself not for the approval of others and every one around you.


Travelling did not changed the way I lived

Contrary to the popular adages of how it is life changing and how it will make you a better person, I am telling you, you are falling into a vicious trap. It might apply to some, but the post effects will be more anxiety-inducing more than ever. I still stay at home after work and still become who I am back in the days, reading random books and whatever I browse upon the internet, but with the proliferation of social media posts and everything in between, it is now like becoming more of a competition more than a journey to self discovery.

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We are now part of the crowd engaged in do-this and do-that itineraries, always on the hunt for the next destinations and seat sales – since our friends have been there and we are all left out. We are now urged, no other than ourselves, to finish a list of mountains or beaches to visit before we die, we are completing a list of places to visit, notwithstanding, the PH81 project, because it feeds our own egos. We are thinking we will be as awesome as those persons who had been everywhere if we become like them. We are just becoming a pressured generation with so many requirements to fulfill.

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I kid you not, but I did not become rich or famous with all the traveling I did, nor did I traveled the world and became a jet setter. My salary still depends on how hard I work and not with how many vacation leaves I have consumed. I It just made me realize that the world is still made up of assholes trying to lure you into pitfalls because they want you to be as awesome as them. Even if we admit it or not, the number of likes in our social media posts equates to living the kind of life everyone thinks of as cool and not the other way around.

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However, it taught me to prioritize my budget and schedule in doing the things that makes me alive the most. Traveling taught me that you don’t really have to be rich since I still (and always) get broke after every trip. It made me realize that life is not a race on how many places you’ve been into, but what are the realizations and how you pondered  on it and how you carefully thought about major decisions once you got back in circulation.


Travelling did not changed the way I see life

Along the way I still encountered locals trying to squeeze out more money from us through their exaggerated fees, companions whose mouths are still the same way as before – foul, cancelled/re-booked/missed/delayed flights, sight of poverty that looks Instagram-able, pick-pockets, how you became resourceful after an unexpected incident and many more. Traveling did not changed the way I see life, it is still unfair.

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Life will not always favor you every time, you will still either be on the lower or upper hand. And if the time comes that you are on the upper hand, that is only where that you will say that it is fair, but that is now how it goes. Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you don’t.

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But it taught me to have a positive outlook in life, that for every problem encountered along the way, I consider it as a challenge and that I should be resourceful and practical in dealing with it. It just taught me to not become a show-off and sometimes, I even dreamt of living a simple but happy kind of life.


Travelling did not changed my relationship status

Yes, it did not. (HAHA)

“Walang Forever!” (There’s no forever!”) as some may shout along the mountain trail upon seeing two lovebirds, but do not try traveling if you are just looking and searching for the heck of it. It is not how it goes, but who knows you might meet someone along the way, just waiting for that right moment. Of course there are happy endings from individuals who have met in one of their adventures, there’s no denying to that fact.

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Do not expect to find love and a change in your relationship status, but expect good Samaritans and kindred spirits in the form of a local stranger, an acquaintance, a new friend, and even a mean person – treasure the lot of them.


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Traveling did not changed me, nor did it made me into a new kind of person, but it just taught me to deal with the things that I can/cannot control and change. It made a massive impact in my life not by changing who I really was, but on how I deal with all the circumstances encountered. I never relied on traveling to change me into a new person nor expected it to turn my whole life around, but it did taught me to accept the things as they were, made me realize the extent of my fears, potentials, and what I value the most. Life is but a series of contradictions, but it will and always be you who can change yourself  for the better and not by something or someone.

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So travel if you must, but never rely on it as a catalyst on becoming someone new and not becoming quite a literally a tabula rasa. This is a journey to self discovery, and those who are brave enough to try new things and up for the challenges are the one who makes it out alive in the end.

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Travel and change the world for the better, make a difference through simple acts of kindness, but not by showing the world how better of a person are you because you’re doing such things.

Travel not because you just need to be validated and feel appreciated by everyone through the number of likes your photos have gotten.

Travel and believe that what makes man truly happy is not the material things and earthly possessions.

Travel not because you are pressured by what society deems as awesome.

Travel not because they want you to, but because you want it too.

Travel and enjoy every minute of it because life it is too short.

Travel to realize the things you easily take for granted.

Travel to see the world through your own eyes.

Travel because it makes you who you are.

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How Travel Did Not Changed My Life
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Updated as of June 14, 2018

 

The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish

Alicia, Isabela: It might be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the island of Luzon, but Isabela still holds untouched gems that only the brave of hearts will pursue to rediscover (What’s up, coastal towns of Isabela?) . But if short on time and still trying to know the second largest province in the country then I suggest to pay homage to the historic churches of the Rice and Corn Granary of the Philippines. Follow Transit Pinas on his Isabela day trip as part of his three-day Biyaheng Norte solo backpacking adventure.

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Where am I, Again?

Solo backpacking had been my thing this year since there are so many plans in my head that floats and drifts away from time to time, so why not try Isabela this time? During the latter months of 2017 we happened to pass by the province and got me a little curious as to what I can do for a day if ever the schedule permitted me to. Several months later, I hopped on a midnight trip of the Victory Liner bound for Tuguegarao City in Cagayan without an itinerary but places in mind to visit.

“Where am I?”

It was only a little past four in the morning when the bus conductor told me that I am already in Alicia, Isabela, looking out of the window with my eyes squinting what’s there to see, with practically nothing to see but an empty highway and deserted waiting sheds. I willed my half awake body to bolt out of the bus aisle and alight at a place without an idea where the church that I am seeking might be.

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As the bus zoomed past, with me alone along the highway, It just came to me that I was in front of the Our Lady of Atocha Church as the antique church emitted gloomy shadows as it is lit by LED lights practically creeping along the exteriors. “Saan ako tatambay nito?!” (Where will I stay for a while?!) I told myself, then not far from where I stood dumbfounded, a local fast food chain came into view where I spent time after having breakfast.

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Fast forward – two hours later I retraced my steps back to the church. The deserted highway started to come into life with tricycles lining up to fetch passengers, stores opening up to serve breakfast, and cars now passing by as the sun started to rise up from the horizon. Upon entering the church gates, the church seemed smaller than I have expected it to be, but nonetheless it was a sight to see.


Antique Castillan

Sandwiched between the two cities of Cauayan and Santiago, the town of Alicia, called Angadanan back in the days, is known for its Pagay Festival and a church that is a National Religious Tourist Destination in the Philippines. Standing stern along the Maharlika Highway, the Our Lady of Atocha Church, is one of the Cagayan Style Churches in Cagayan Valley which roots its architecture and devotional origin to Spain.

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Built in the 18th century by Spaniards, as a convent made up of bricks and local wood, timber, and bamboo; it was then rebuilt by Fr. Tomas Calderon, OP and inaugurated in 1849. It is known for its Antique Castillan architectural design, which exudes the vibe of the Cagayan style for the similar use of fiery red bricks laden and plastered carefully.

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The facade is made up of three layers, the second layer with three recessed niches with the patron saints inside at each dividing segment, it is separated by several pilasters articulating the extent of the wall with the third pediment standing out from the rest as it projects seven tower like bricks ending with an urn like finial bricks at the upper most portion.

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There was no one around the church that morning but the church interiors were open so I paid a visit inside. What is more interesting is the contrast of what’s inside compared to the outside. If the exteriors were ornately designed, the white washed walls were subdued and not much stands out aside from the arched windows with stained glass with images. The altar looks short of being grand but in its simplicity comes out the uniqueness that is of Alicia.

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Adjacent to the church stands the statue of Our Lady of Atocha, draped in elaborately sewn wide dress carrying an infant. Atocha is Madrid’s royal shrine, Our Lady of Atocha in Isabela looks every inch a Spanish church, there’s no denying in that.

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After spending half an hour admiring the church, I crossed the highway and hailed a UV Express Van bound for Cauayan City, for the next leg of this solo backpacking adventure – The Our Lady of the Pillar Parish.

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How to Get There

  • The town of Alicia, 382 kilometers north of Manila, is located in the province of Isabela, sandwiched between the cities of Cauayan and Santiago
  • From Manila, take any bus bound for Tuguegarao or Cauayan via Victory Liner or Five Star Bus. (Travel time: 6-7hrs depending on traffic conditions, Fare: 497php airconditioned bus)
  • If coming from Tuguegarao, take any bus bound for Manila or UV Express Vans bound for Santiago City
  • If coming from Cordon or Santiago City, its is just a town away and take any van bound for Cauayan City and alight at Alicia, the church is just along the highway
  • Nearest airport is in Cauayan City, flight takes 1hr and 10mins, Cebu Pacific flies regularly to Cauayan City


This is part of Transit Pinas’ Three Day Biyaheng Norte Solo Backpacking Adventure. Follow more of his adventures here!
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Isabela Travel Guide
Biyaheng Norte 2018: What to do in Isabela-Cagayan-Apayao-Ilocos Norte in Three DaysThe Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish  –  Our Lady of the Pillar Parish  –  Tumauini ChurchInside Isabela’s Seat of Power – Queen Isabela Park
Rediscovering Fuyot Springs – Ilagan Sanctuary and Sta. Victoria Caves

*Have you visited this church? How was the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below!

 


The Old World Churches of Isabela – Our Lady of Atocha Parish
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Updated as of June 14, 2018

 

As Featured: #SinoPinas and the Filipino Identity

oWhAn online community of both Filipino and foreign travel enthusiasts basking in the warm sunlight of this tropical archipelago. Sino Pinas relentlessly reposts and shares photos and the experiences of fellow Instagrammers in their quest of discovering the beauty of the Philippines.

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Who is #SinoPinas

The 7000+ islands of the country never runs out of beautiful landscapes that deserves to be appreciated even more. And snaps from every nook and cranny on this tropical country under the sun sums up who we are as a Filipino, establishing our identity, and showing the world that we are more than what everybody paints us to be. I have been a fan of all the awesome photos of that page that feeds the travel bug in me, and I even included #SinoPinas in my hashtags followed by another hashtag pertaining to the province visited, #Si(insert province here) – e.g. #SiDavaoDelSur

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Luckily and unexpectedly, I was featured as one of the #SinoPinasTraveler last April 2018. (Yehey!)

#SinoPinas is a community of Filipino Instagrammers in quest of discovering the Philippines, its beauty, culture and people, one place at a time.
Sino Pinas started out as a mini advocacy that stemmed out from an Instameet or Instagram Photowalk that MeRanielKarl, and John started last November 2014. Four individuals with random personalities united by passion for photography and travel.
Now, it’s one of the fastest hashtags in the local social media scene with over 20,000 hashtag uses.
http://www.litratonijuan.com/sinopinas

So how did the journey started? Let me share a little bit about my story and how it all started and how I landed a feature in this kind of community that I came to love. 


Where It All Started

I am guessing nobody expected that I will be one of those adventure junkies out there since people came to know me as the “Aral-Bahay-Trabaho” (Home to School to Work) kind of guy who comes to school, study all day, then goes home right afterwards, and also works on the weekend as a sideline to earn money. I also don’t exactly know and point out how I ended up doing what I love today, but I am guessing it all started after an invite to hike Mt. Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan. That was the first time I felt I was in charge of my life, that a reward always awaits those who perseveres the most.

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It has been almost three years since I started sharing my adventures and experiences online on Facebook and Instagram (I even made a WordPress site to immortalize them even more) and I can say that so far, I have grown a little bit better than the person I was after finishing college. Without any background in photography nor a good camera to capture priceless moments, I just made use of what I have during that time – starting from the Samsung phone camera I am using since college, until I had my first taste on using a GoPro Action Camera then eventually had an old Panasonic Point and Shoot Camera. And until today, I am not a somebody in terms of how I capture the photos and how I tell my stories to anyone, but I do hope that I did inspired a couple of people through the stuff I share.


The Feature

Sino Pinas features travelers twice a month regularly, and it is really overwhelming if you will be one of the 24 local travelers this year who will be given the spotlight. The feature comes in six (6) separate photos answering questions as given by the moderators through the e-mail that they will be forwarding to you. So here it goes!


  • Photo taken from a boat during a morning ride to Capones Island in San Antonio, Zambales on a last hurrah for travel during the new year’s eve, December 31, 2016

  • Photo taken from Ganano Falls in Diffun, Quirino during our September 2017 three day trip in Plan-B Northern Luzon adventure after missing our flight going to Davao

  • Photo taken at the summit of Mt. Iglit in Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro during our October 2018 overnight hike to see the last remaining natural habitat of the endangered Tamaraw

  • Photo taken at the majestic Asik-asik Falls of Alamada, North Cotabato during our February 2018 trip in Mindanao

 

  • Photo taken at Shimizu Island in El Nido Palawan during our November 2017 trip in Palawan

Big big thanks to the people behind Sino Pinas for the one of a kind feature. This inspired me to share even more contents and transits about the archipelago we are all in!

Follow them here:

Instagram: @sinopinas 

Facebook: Sino Pinas

Alexis Lim of #SinoPinas: @sinosijuan


As Featured: #SinoPinas and the Filipino Identity

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Updated as of June 12, 2018

 

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