Nature meets heritage in Sitio de Amor

There was no telling of what awaits when one enters the narrow, one-way dirt road that leads to Sitio de Amor, a heritage and farm resort in San Antonio in the mountain city of San Pablo. Hidden and gem have been used to describe the place. And we couldn’t agree more.

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The streets are alive with the sound of pedals

I learned that you can circumnavigate the island of Batan in less than a day, using a bike. It sounded like a romantic proposition—pedaling between hills, going in and out of villages, with the wind in your hair and the grass on your feet—until I tried to leave the relatively flat terrain of Basco and came face to face with my first twenty degree uphill slope. It took my legs two minutes to convince me to turn around and go back to town.

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The rolling hills of Vayang

My guide led me through a narrow path on top of a hill. The sky was blue and the wind, carried by the ocean, was singing hallelujah. The space to walk on was less than a foot wide and flanked on both sides by knee-high cogon grass.  The vista opened up to the verdant hills, sparkling with gold from the drying cogon, and the violet, wide, open sea. It felt like the whole universe was in front of you and you love it and it’s loving you back. I couldn’t tell if the water on my eyes was from the wind chill or I had reached paradise and those were real tears.

The hills of Vayang is quintessential Batanes, a land that endlessly rolls and ebbs and flows while covered in green and golden grass danced by the Pacific wind. Mount Iraya towering above and watching the harmony of it all.

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Stone houses of Batanes

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetMany locals in Savidug, the village after Central Sabtang, still live in the original stone houses of their ancestors

At some point before the trip, I may or may not have declared that I only want to see the old stone houses, and nothing else. The rest of the time I’d be happy to just find a spot and catch up on my reading, backdropped by a hill or something.

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In Basco, slowing down onto siesta

What’s your plan for today, sir, my host, Rowena asked me. Just walk or bike around town siguro, I said. OK, I have a spare bike there in the garage, you can use it.

Without hint of where exactly the town center was, I pedaled my way to the north and hoped to locate a plaza or a church, knowing I would most likely find both next to each other. The Basco morning sky was overcast. Steve Harvey’s voice was blasting from the television set of a house I passed by. Nearing the town center, I caught a glimpse of a lighthouse perched on top of a hill. I followed the road until I noticed the lighthouse was coming closer and closer. I went past the capitol building, a Rizal monument park, a state high school and college campus and the Basco cathedral. When it became too difficult for my chicken legs to bike uphill, I walked the bike all the way up.

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Basco Lighthouse, Naidi Hills

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Romblon, queen of unspoilt

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It’s not one of the first places that come to mind when you think of summer destinations. Considered the marble capital, Romblon is the RO in MIMAROPA, which I’m now convinced is the better looking sister of CALABARZON. I mean, who beats Palawan here, right? Our friend Rob invited us to take this trip. Cebu Pacific just opened flights this year to this archipelago. See, that it was an archipelago in itself was a pleasant surprise!

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