The Lumineers blared through my earphones as our bus cruised along the North Luzon Express Way. After a fun breakfast at Jollibee, we were now bound for our next stop.
“O, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind, girl, since the flood,” crooned Wesley Schultz as we sped by fields of grass.
I was lacking sleep and Nueva Ecija, whose treasures we’ll be exploring for two days, inched on the corners of my listless mind much like Ophelia does to the folk singer’s. This year’s installment of Lakbay Norte will take us across two provinces. And the underrated province of Nueva Ecija will be our gateway – the municipality of General Tinio, to be exact.
5:25 AM. Our car was parked in front of the Masungi Georeserve gate waiting for them to open. The wind howled and sent chills down to our bones making us seek warmth inside the car. I have long been interested on visiting the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal but booking a tour was a challenge as slots are often filled. DIY or walk-ins are also not allowed as booking should be done in groups of 6–10. Fortunately, our friend Lea, whom I met in Batanes Asus event called for joiners to complete a group of her friends with her father. We chose the earliest schedule to somehow catch a good light on the trail.
Weekend escapes usually entails some planning – from where to go, how to get there, what food to bring and where to stay. The choice for weekend trips from Manila are usually at the popular beaches of Batangas, Zambales and Quezon. What if I tell you there’s a tranquil and secluded cove only 3–4 hours away from Manila that you just have to conveniently bring yourself and not think about the food or the place to stay? Aroma Beach Hideaway is tucked in between Morong and Bagac at underrated Bataan. Managed by Bataan Nature Adventure, they emphasize on just enjoying your time at their beautiful cove and let them handle the rest.
When the call of the waves beckons, now it’s fairly easy to ride a bus or drive up north. La Union can be as easy as a 4–5 hours drive or six hours commute on a good day. Staying in ELYU, there’s now a wide choice of accommodations to chose from. But if you are looking for something of value and at the same time imbibes the surf culture vibe, how about trying Yang House? A fairly new guest house in La Union that wants you to be part of their bonafriends.
Isabela consist of 34 municipalities and 3 cities in a province. It is the second largest province in the country. The vast area consist of agricultural plains, forested areas of the Sierra Madres and coastal towns. As one of the top corn producers in the country, Isabela found the bambanti, an Ilocano term for scarecrow, as a significant icon, symbolizing Isabela farmer’s diligence and resoluteness to earn his keep, feed his family and produce for the community. Hence the Bambanti Festival was born in January 2013. It aims to unite the municipalities, showcase their creativity, unique products and increase tourism.
Purple hues enveloped the sky as I watch over the ocean greeting the sun good morning at Sambawan Island. I am mindful of the tide’s ebb and flow at the beach below, the grass swaying from the breeze, the cool air touching my skin and gently the warm light creeping in the hut where I’m seated. Such a calm morning up the highest point of the island where I have a full panoramic view of the surrounding area. The volcanic Maripipi island looms over like a big brother.
We’re bringing back Backpack Photography this first half on 2017. We’re going to our favorite haunts in Bontoc and Batanes while offering a new offbeat destination in Biliran. Our Backpack Photography tours are not your typical tourist trip. Our itinerary are designed with photography in mind. We’ll take you to locations on the ideal times of the day and help you get back quality images you will be happy with. Check out details and trip dates of our upcoming photo tours below.