All The Way To Tagaytay

Another long overdue article here. 😀

I did mention in my previous articles I have quite a pile of article drafts for editing and publishing and I am in a rush to publish them all (hopefully) while I am in a period of waiting and time is still on my side.

The summer escapade for me and hubby along with his family for this year was in the cool breeze of Tagaytay. We just had to take advantage of the summer season before the rainy days start to fill the last quarters of our calendar. It was a short holiday break thus the rest of the family members were all free to have this short family time and get-together.

It always is a privilege to spend some quality time with the family despite the busy schedules and varying demands of priorities in life – something that is far too precious to waste. My parents are in Bicol which is a 17-hour land travel to get directly to our hometown. Now that is something that I don’t have the privilege to do. Going to my hometown meant allotting 1 day for travel time then another day to rest which, after doing the Math, requires at least a week if you want to make the most and the best out of your family get-together. Simply put, visiting my family in Bicol is synonymous to careful planning ahead of the scheduled visit.

But well, this is the part where I need to thank God for technology. Skype made the term “homesickness” just a term. Again, family time meant quality time and this requires we set aside time for this despite the busy schedules. If most of us have the same free time, my family and I are able to Skype with one another once a week. And Skype-ing in the family means this – the minimum talking time is 4 hours starting at around 9 or 10pm.

Wuhaaat?!?! 😀

Yep, you can already hear the rooster crowing and we’re still on our “high” conversing with one another. Well, that’s for us, women in the family. For the men, 2 hours is the maximum and they bid their “goodbyes” in the middle of our conversation. The ever popular difference of men and women, eh? 😀

Anyway, going back to the Tagaytay escapade, we tried the Pamana restaurant with its awesome overlooking view of the Taal Lake and the food was superb too. I only captured shots of some dishes though, the long trip sure made us all pretty hungry.

I also loved the interiors which exude the ambiance of an old Hispanic house. Indeed, the concept of the restaurant matched with its name “Pamana,” a Tagalog term for heirloom/inheritance.

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Captivating, isn’t it?

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We also scouted for anything new in the area which includes this food park called “StrEat.” We didn’t get to try the food stalls though as it’s flocked with a huge crowd when we got there. The next day, there was no plan where we will have our summer escapade. We’ve been traveling without a destination actually and we came to that point of giving up and just head back home because all the resorts we’ve inquired were fully booked. Well, it’s summer so we kind of expected that.

When we were on the verge of turning back, voila, God gave us one resort that’s not so jam packed with visitors but the place was nice (and budget friendly) enough to bond with the family. Hotel Monticello was indeed “heaven sent”  hubby and I actually thought it’d be perfect for a wedding reception too. We couldn’t spend overnight though as we’re only geared up for a day tour. When we arrived, we had all the pool to ourselves which means this – LOTS OF SELFIES! Hahaha 😀

Nope, don’t get me wrong, I seldom take selfies. You can actually check my Instagram account for that. I just choose moments best for selfies and those moments that are not. And I only take selfies when nobody’s around, not even my hubby. 😀

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Selfie moment. My ever seldom selfie moment. 

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But really, when it comes to moments, there are just those that a camera snap isn’t enough to capture them all. I guess that’s the reason why God created our memories, an infinite storage at the back of our heads where every single memory is captured and safely stored.

So this one article is up in the memory of my head, but in case I have amnesia days or years from now, I have WordPress to retell and rewind them for me. Ah yes, the joys and perks of blogging – your online journal indeed. 🙂

P.S.

WordPress, please don’t ever shut down. Like, EVER. 😀

Oh and check out this amusing video of my hubby and sister-in-law. Reminds me of my brother and I – siblings moment, they are. 😉

 

 

My Kind of Summer Swimwear: Nonconformist

So you must be wondering why I am oh-so-fueled with energy to write more than 1 post for this month. 😀

Answer: I am making the most of my idle and waiting time lest I become busy the following months – again. We can never tell so I am letting those ideas out in the open. Oh and yes, before I forget them. 🙂

Anyway, this is a late post since summer is already over and the rainy season has welcomed its way already here in the metro and some provinces. Last summer getaway with my husband and his family, I was thinking about what to wear for my swimwear. I sure have a lot of two-piece swimsuits but I am not sure if I could wear them and swim without nothing on top.

While the rest of the world during summer is revealing too much skin with its very daring two-piece swimsuits (praying for a change), I can only be grateful to God for fashion designers who opted to create a swimwear that will preserve the dignity of women and not be treated as sex objects with their skimpy outfits by coming up with a comfortable and yet fashionably elegant outfit.

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I personally LOVED these swimsuits because they are made from a swimming material so they easily dry up, they are light-weight, securely padded, have an undershorts/bikini attached underneath, and they’re made of silky fabric that glides and never sticks on the skin even when sweating.

Of course, who likes to change outfits often right after swimming if you don’t like to walk around in your two-piece swimsuit?

I can wear this around comfortably, no cover-up needed, which can serve as a dress for a lunch date too at the resort without the whistles, the catcalls and the “heavy” stares. If you know what I mean. Oh and yes, it’s very convenient too if you want to travel light for your summer getaway – a swimsuit and a dress in one, no shorts and no cover up as added extras in your baggage. 🙂

P.S.

I purchased these swimsuits at SM Department Store and Farmer’s Plaza (Cubao) flea market at almost the same price (a reasonable one) – 500 php. I saw similar swimsuits being sold online and they tag them as three-piece swimsuits.

[Paul said,] “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” – 1 Timothy 2:9

Holiday Gift Ideas: Shop Early!

Hello, lovely readers! 

Bells are ringing, children are singing.

Oh wait, did I hear that Christmas is coming?

BER months are indeed fast approaching. 

Now, what are we buying?

Buying for gifts, you’re asking.

Never worry about anything because here is a little something. 

So there went my futile attempt to be a poet.  😀

Seriously though, holidays meant a lot of things but it is synonymous to this word as well – rush. Everything is in a rush. How do we avoid this so-called “rush” ? The answer is this – prepare and shop early.

Buying Christmas presents in advance and scratching them off your long list is such a life saver. I usually do this often during the holidays.

But first, who are our recipients of these awesome gifts? On top of the list is our families of course, followed by relatives, friends and coworkers or bless someone randomly.

Then again, another dilemma is this question – “What will I buy for each of them?”  

Honestly, thinking about choosing the right holiday gift ideas can be cumbersome and overwhelming. But allow me to make choosing a lot easier for the lady recipient: How about a tote bag?

Very simple, eh? BUT this isn’t your ordinary tote bag. These are custom-made from photographs of anything and everything by yours truly. I love to share so I am sharing these for you to have for keeps. No art is ever called art without the artist’s individuality showcased in it, as they say. These printed tote bags carry each in itself a particular story – a memory so to speak. So, I am sharing to you a bit of my life’s journey in each item. Do bring me along in your journeys too – wherever they may be and whatever it may be. 😉

This one tote bag for example illustrates a photo during our first summer vacation as a couple in Zambales, Philippines. If you were enamored by the pristine waters and pure, white sand, you can actually plan a trip and head on over there to see the beauty for real. You don’t just have a photo as memorabilia, but also a bag which will remind you always of the beauty of the place for as long as you often use it.

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Another in the memory lane is this precious red rose (which I preserved for sentimental reasons) symbolizing an everlasting love – the first I received when hubby and I were still dating. Thought about editing it to make it look more rustic and not look like your typical red rose because it’s a special one for a special you.

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These are also some of the bags featured in this recently created collection which is a variety of different kinds of themes and concepts from black and whites to macros and landscapes:

If you want to browse for more tote bag designs, you can check out more of the collection in this website:

http://shopvida.com/collections/christine-lailani-ginete-rome

Oh, and if bags aren’t that alluring, the other collection I am starting might capture your interest like these awesome sleeveless tops:

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Happy shopping and wishing you all a VERY advance happy holidays! 😉

P.S.

I’d like to thank VIDA for this one great and wonderful opportunity and most of all to God for bringing in people to share what they can share and help the community. This is also in support of the Literacy Programs that VIDA offers to their makers to learn to read, write and do basic Math skills.

Stay tuned for more upcoming designs, my dear readers. Let’s continue sharing our God-given blessings and bless others too! ❤

Much love,

Tin

Hidden Paradise: Bicol’s Virgin Beaches

If I will be allowed to be proud of something, that I will reserve for the beautiful beaches that my hometown offers. I grew up in the province and as a kid, summertime with family means scouting local beaches and nature hopping from rivers, falls to springs and mountains.

It is through this that I got to appreciate nature at its best in its original beauty. Yes, that kind of beauty that is not tampered by man or any modernization. I have somehow developed this kind of appreciation when it comes to what is beautiful and having gone to commercialized beaches such as Boracay, I must say that I wasn’t fascinated that much at all compared to the ecstatic feeling I get every time my eyes lay upon the sight of paradise in its original state – how God created them and not how man created them.

It was this appreciation that taught me to love nature and care for it as if its part of me. I actually wanted to promote in our province, in light of this, an advocacy to tourists and locals alike how to enjoy nature’s bounty and yet at the same time, preserve its natural beauty. Commercialization of beaches as tourist spots means a flock of tourists which is also equivalent to more use of resources as well as more litter. The latter is what becomes far too common in all commercialized beaches.

I do not mean to be selfish and enjoy the luscious and diverse beauty that nature can offer just by myself, and yet it saddens me to know the fact that not all tourists have the same kind of appreciation and concern as I do. Seeing a single trash along the seashore is enough to make me furious and the first thing that goes into my head is this – how irresponsible the person who threw this trash is. Now this is something I should not do, for it is not right – judging and thinking negatively about any person. It is similar to committing a crime in God’s standards.

Instead of that accusing thought though, I might as well divert my thoughts how I could partner with the local government units in preserving local beaches which include but is not limited to informing the public (tourists and locals) about a policy that will implement stricter discipline when it comes to taking good care of nature. And I mean STRICTER DISCIPLINE.

I told my husband that this summer, instead of going to commercialized and expensive hotels and resorts (being the practical me), I suggested we visit my family in the province, celebrate Mother’s Day there and scout for local beaches which is what my family would usually do during summertime. So we went to this beach which is a 30-minute drive from home and we usually spend our family outing there during the summer and once during Christmas. What we saw next was the ultimate paradise deal.

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Mt. Bulusan in the background, the province’s active volcano.

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Combination of patches of seaweeds and sand.

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This beach is an inlet rich of diverse marine ecosystem and at the end of the reef is the Pacific Ocean. Pretty deep this ocean. So if you are not a swimmer like me, better stay a little closer to the shore. My husband is adventurous and yet when we both saw the different sea creatures we found in the reefs, we were fascinated and yet a little scared at the same time. He started joking that there might be a great white which somehow got inside the shallow reefs as there were plenty of other sea creatures to feed on.

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Something pink underneath.

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There’s the edible seaweed.

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My foot was here.

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Funny hubby with his signature wacky pose.

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There’s me introducing the rock.

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Well, it is a possibility, I told him and yet it should not hinder us from exploring what else does that inlet could offer. Besides, my family and I have been there a couple of times already and we never encountered or heard any incident about shark attacks or a jellyfish sting even. Although we saw this jellyfish-like sea creature which we could not identify whether an eel, a variety of a jellyfish or a sea snake. It looked harmless as local kids were poking it and covering it with sand. We tried to uncover it after they left but we couldn’t find a solid object to remove the heavy sand away. Besides, it is heaving so we know it is still alive.

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Local children covering the slimy sea creature with sand.

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Low tides are a great opportunity for me to explore what is on the ocean floor. Being a lover of Science (probably because my Mom used to be a Science teacher), I love exploring everything most especially when it comes to nature. I even thought that maybe I would’ve ended better if I pursued a degree in Biology. But that is not God’s plans for me. Or maybe it is, I just don’t know. Yet.  *smiles*

For me, the sea is a huge exploration ground. Very ironic because I do not know how to swim. Now you must be wondering how did that ever happen. Well, I am wondering about that too. *wink*  But I never let anything hinder when it comes to pursuing things that I am interested about.

So back to our seafloor exploration, we found a live snail, a small one and hubby and I enjoyed observing how it attempted to raise  “himself” up back to its crawling position. I didn’t know that a snail has a tiny claw/hook of some sort and it is fascinating to know that that hook is strong enough to lift itself up considering the hardness of the shell. We wanted to take a video of it but unfortunately we left our cameras already as we decided to swim and explore and we didn’t bring any waterproof camera case with us.

Oh and this edible seaweed. We eat them raw and just dip it in lime juice. It is a perfect side dish for barbecues or grilled fish. We call it as  “lato.” We saw local fishermen harvesting them during low tide somewhere before the reef ends and big waves from the Pacific Ocean hit the side of the reef or the wall of the continental shelf.

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The Pacific Ocean and the continental shelf.

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Our harvest.

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Harvesting a big one.

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We got to the beach about lunch time and after 2 hours, the tides begun to rise. Hubby and I waited as each small patch of dried seaweed start to be submerged in water again. We did swim nearby when the water level became high enough but because it was late in the afternoon approaching night time, we decided to take our leave and let nature have her rest too – it was feeding time for the sea creatures. Yep, we don’t want to be part of their food chain so out we went and just took photos around.

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High tide is finally here.

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White sand it is.

Indeed, right they are when they say that in order to keep things balanced with nature, you have to know your limits. Hubby usually is the adventurous type and is always on the go. But this time, it made me smile when I saw him learn to have this respect and love for nature out of awe and fascination. This was the same kind of awe and fascination that I first had when I was a kid which made me love and care for nature because I have learned to understand our relationship with it. We felt guilty though when we showed some locals the seaweeds that we were able to harvest and they said it was the right one but they usually pluck the stems out but leave the roots so it could reproduce.  *insert sad face here*

But it made me smile still. It means that they already know their limits as to the proper use of nature’s resources and how to take good care of her and this will be very essential in informing tourists like me about the limitations/boundaries between man and nature. 🙂

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God’s awesome creation, including him. 😉

I Love BICOL (Part 1): Masacrot Spring

I was born in Bicol region at the far end of the province of Sorsogon. I am a Bicolana and this is how we, the locals, are commonly called. I only transferred in the metro when I attended college at UP Diliman but my love for nature didn’t stop there. I grew up being a nature lover because of this – Bicol offers a very luscious nature with its beautiful and wide biodiversity making it one of the famous places there is here in the Philippines to visit for ecotourism.

You can also find in Bicol the majestic Mt. Mayon volcano which is known for its perfect cone. Though we are located in the ring of fire housing two active volcanoes, they are actually the few things that made our region a tourist spot because of the hot and cold springs which can be found at the foot of the volcanoes.

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Mt. Mayon Volcano

Hot springs are very common but I am not sure if you have heard of cold springs in a tropical country – and I mean, an ice cold spring. 🙂

In this article, I will be featuring one of the famous cold springs in the province of Sorsogon in Bicol which my family visited last May 31, 2015 – the Masacrot Spring.

So why the name? “Masacrot” is a Bicol term which means “astringent.” 

Astringency

Some foods, such as unripe fruits, contain tannins or calcium oxalate that cause an astringent or puckering sensation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Examples include tea, red wine, rhubarb, and unripe persimmons and bananas.

Less exact terms for the astringent sensation are “dry”, “rough”, “harsh” (especially for wine), “tart” (normally referring to sourness), “rubbery”, “hard” or “styptic”.[73]

When referring to wine, dry is the opposite of sweet, and does not refer to astringency. Wines that contain tannins and so cause an astringent sensation are not necessarily classified as “dry,” and “dry” wines are not necessarily astringent.

In the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, one of the six tastes is astringency (kasaaya).[74]

– WIKIPEDIA

They say that the water in the Masacrot Spring contains one of the best minerals in the world and this is probably why the water is astringent. But nothing to worry because the water at the Masacrot Spring is potable.

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Masacrot Spring

The blue green waters of the pool will captivate you that much it’d make you want to take the plunge right away. I know those who loves to swim will agree with me. The pool was hand-carved and set up in a natural background making you feel more one with nature. This was the second time we visited Masacrot Spring and the first time was when I was just 5 years old. Whew! That was way, way back I could barely remember a thing except that there’s a very cold pool that exists in this world. 😉

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Pristine, crystal blue green waters.

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Hand-carved pool.

Taking a plunge in the cold pool can only be described in one perfect word – invigorating. YES, that is a definite. Chills will run down from your spine to your bones the moment the cold water touches your skin. Though I wouldn’t advise taking a dip in the pool without moving for a long period of time because it is REALLY that freezing cold.

Locals visit the place during the peak of the summer season wherein weather temperature rises to as high as 39 degrees. With this kind of temperature, dipping in a freezing, ice cold water is such a life-saver to combat the extreme heat wave.

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Masacrot Spring pool.

The bottom of the pool is not made of cement or tiles but with the regular clay-ish soil similar to that of the entire resort covered with moss. Nothing to worry because it is not that slippery as you imagine. There are parts in the pool though that go as deep as 6 feet. So if you are not a swimmer, better rent or bring your own floaters for swimming, old and young alike.

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Don’t forget your swimming floaters. 😉

The cold water is free flowing too so the water stays clean even though it is usually flocked by a lot of swimmers and visitors during the peak season. They also have a lot of cottages which you and your family could rent and grill stations for your barbecues and grilled fish. Now, that makes me hungry. 😀

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The perfect summer snack: unripe, pretty sour mangoes with shrimp paste.

Masacrot Spring is located in Bulusan, Sorsogon and if you will be coming from the airport in Legazpi, Albay, it will be a 2-hour drive. There’s no problem commuting except that I suggest you hire a van or a jeepney that will take you there and pick you up for a hassle-free vacay for you and your family or friends. 🙂

TRES AMIGOS Boracay: A Mexican Delight

I have to apologize, yes. For this post is long overdue. But it came in timely as it is the start of summer now and beach getaways are on top of the list. 🙂

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Beach Essentials

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Pure white sand, the hot sun AND our feet. *wink*

I was supposed to write this over the holidays. But well, the holiday season is just the busiest in our calendars – vacations, getaways, dining out with families and friends. But this article is not about the holiday getaway with my fiance and his family last December 2014 at Boracay Island in Aklan, Philippines. Allow me though to post some photos of our holiday getaway there:

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Boracay 2014

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Fairways and Bluewater Resort

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Infinity pool.

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ATV fun with the Rome family.

This post will be a food review about one of our favorite type of cuisines – Mexican. We found one at the heart of Boracay inside D’ Mall exactly on our last day – Tres Amigos. Indeed, it was a nice way to cap off our island experience in Boracay.

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Tres Amigos Boracay

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Tres Amigos’ Menu

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Table centerpiece.

My fiance ordered chimichanga while his brother and I ordered beef burrito and quesadilla.

Tres Amigos’ beef burrito is one of their best sellers. And I can tell why. It has that smooth blend of Mexican spices that are not too overpowering and mixes well with the mango salsa. Of course, the perfect aroma of Mexican spices never fail to tease my palate.

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Beef Burrito

For the chimichanga, it is similar to our beef burritos except that it was fried. When I saw the crisp sides of the dish, my mouth just melted away I just went ahead and indulged myself over a good crispy, crunchy portion.

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Chimichanga

The quesadilla will surely melt your heart away. Every part of it was melted to perfect goodness and the smooth texture of the beef and cheese just complemented well with the overall texture of the pita bread.

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Quesadilla

I forgot to take a photo of the refreshing mango shake, the perfect all-natural fruit drink to pair with the tasty Mexican dishes we had.

So if you are headed towards Boracay this summer, you might want to try Tres Amigos if your appetite is craving for that Mexican delight and yes, at a very affordable price too. Bon appetit! 🙂

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The Mexican lovers. 😉

Summer Splashin’ at Anawangin Cove

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The hilltop view of the ocean.

The choice of our summer destination came just out of the blue. It was a random decision to have our summer getaway at Anawangin when I came across one advertisement over Facebook about tour packages.

We chose Anawangin Cove in Zambales for two reasons: 1) it is near the metro we wouldn’t be traveling for long hours and 2) the camping in the pine trees idea seemed interesting and exciting enough. So off we went planning and organizing the getaway.

Came the day of our summer escapade and we were absolutely thrilled the moment we set foot on the first island during our island hopping. It was Capones Island. A secluded, tiny island host to an old lighthouse. The island was littered with white, big stones smooth enough for you to walk on barefoot but I don’t recommend it at all as the stones tend to get really hot during the day until mid afternoon.

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Beach of Capones Island

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Me and Ja at the old lighthouse of Capones Island.

After Capones Island, we went to Camara Island, an island smaller than Capones with beautiful rock and cliff formations. After taking photos for a couple of minutes, we then headed to our final destination, the Anawangin Cove.

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Rock and cliff formations.

When we got to the venue, the first thing that my gaze searched for were the pine trees. You wouldn’t see them right off the beach but only after crossing the lake that’s between the beach and the camping site. Our package included the camping tents that we will use, our meals for our overnight stay, 5 gallons of water, entrance fee, boat fee as well as fees for our tour guide.

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The Anawangin Cove

We have no problems with the dressing and comfort rooms as there are about 14 of them and there’s enough water supply for all the campers. The toilets are clean although all of them do not have proper locks so I suggest you have a companion waiting for you outside when dressing up or using the comfort room.

The camping site is clean and all the staff are very generous in helping us with our needs and in providing assistance. Better prepare yourself with a good flashlight as there is no electricity and inform your family beforehand that there is no signal in the island for all communication networks.

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The camping site.

The seaside is very clean and the pristine, shallow waters a few meters from the shore made it suitable for non-swimmers like me to enjoy swimming big time.

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Our boat.

But what I wasn’t prepared at all was the trekking to the hilltop overlooking the Anawangin Cove. We were all not prepared for the treacherous hike with its very steep slope, rocky and slippery trail which resulted to shaking knees and extreme exhaustion. But tolerable enough to make your way up and down the hill. So, don’t worry. 🙂

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The hill.

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Onset of the trekking.

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Halfway the climb, almost there.

But cheer up for all your efforts are just completely worth it when you reach the top and be amazed by the beautiful, picturesque scenery that’s in front of your eyes. Ahh the beauty of wonders that forever remain a wonder. 😀

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Finally made it to the top!

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The Anawangin Cove

After the trekking, my friends and I decided to take a dip to cool down our exhausted and tired bodies and then prepared for our departure from the island.

It was a wonderful experience that made me say I am VERY MUCH FULFILLED indeed. I am definitely looking forward to going back and appreciate the beauty of the Anawangin Cove once again. It’s beauty is endless, it is just plain captivating. Captivating enough to make your memories of it worthy reminiscing. Praise be to God for these awesome wonders! 🙂

Little Shells, Little Shells

Little Shells, Little Shells

A hanging lamp made of tiny shells. This is a common native ornament found in coastal areas like my hometown in Bicol here in the Philippines. The design is very intricate and weaving these delicate shells is quite a challenge as you have to make sure they won’t chip or break as you try to form them into different patterns.

This lamp is about 1 foot and a half long and we usually use a yellow bulb to light it up. The tiny shell used in this lamp is about the size of your pinky fingernail. Quite amazing, isn’t it? 🙂