Exploring Burias and Alibijiban Islands

My very first island excursion experience

I can never forget this trip. This was the first time I went on an island excursion that took 3 days. Yes, 3 days of hopping from one island to another. Why so long? It’s because these 6 islands were located in 2 provinces: Masbate and Quezon. Both are separated from each other by bodies of water. This meant that we spent most of our hours at sea on our big boat doing nothing but talk, sleep, eat, drink and repeat. Haha!

The trip was somehow a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. It was a long weekend and I have got nothing to do. So when a best friend of mine heard about a group who planned to tour 6 islands in 3 days, we thought of joining them. I also invited my sister along and after we packed up all our essentials, we were ready and excited for this new adventure.

We started our trip early in the morning so we can reach Port of San Andres in Quezon Province on time. From Manila going to this part of Quezon takes about 6-8 hours so it’s a good thing that the view was nice and I had good company so the long trip wasn’t such a bore.

This photo was taken somewhere along the way. I have always loved watching the sun rising and setting and this picture is still one of my favorites.

At last, we arrived at the port and waited patiently for our boat to arrive.

San Andres Port. All passengers are required to register before boarding.

And then, we were off….

The whole crew.

We started embarking on our journey towards Masbate. There, we explored 5 islands that were part of what they call, Burias Group of Islands.

And so our adventure begins!

Our first stop was an island in San Pascual, Masbate called Dapa Island. Some call it Dinapa Island or Snake Island since many sea snakes live there.

A large part of the island is covered by massive rock formations that can serve as shade for those who want to go swimming. However, if you opt to see the view of the calm sparkling blue ocean, you must carefully climb the rugged terrain to reach the top. Just don’t forget to wear slippers or aqua shoes to avoid cuts on your feet as the rocks are sharp.

Tranquil waters are perfect for swimming.
Massive rock formations surround the whole island.
Instagram-worthy view from the top.
Sea snakes (walo-walo species) are seen resting all around the island. These snakes are nocturnal creatures so they sleep at daytime. Just be extra careful not to disturb them.

Another abundant species that can be seen all throughout the island are the pandan groves that grow into trees or shrubs with spirally twisted, candelabra-like branches and large prop roots.

Pandan groves in Dapa Island.

After getting enough of Dapa Island, we went on to explore the next one on the list.

We reached Tinalisayan Island late in the afternoon. There, we set up camp so we can rest overnight.

Our Camp site at Tinalisayan Island.

This was my favorite time during the whole trip because of the amazing sunset view.

Tinalisayan Island at sunset.
Sunset watching at Tinalisayan Island.

In addition to this, the island has a mini sandbar where you can sit down, gaze at the calm waters and reflect on how lucky you are to experience such wonder.

Tinalisayan Island Sandbar. (CTTO: Albert Henoguin)

After a restful sleep under the stars, we woke up realizing that the island’s view in the morning was as captivating as it was at night. We spent a few more hours basking under the sun before we went on to our next destination.

Look at this paradise.

Tinalisayan Island. (CTTO: Albert Henoguin)
Tinalisayan Island. (CTTO: Albert Henoguin)

Need I say more?

If you are not fond of water activities, this is also a perfect place for some R&R. Just set up a hammock and chill all day long.

This rocky part of the island is also an instagram-worthy sight.

Check out how much fun we had under the sun.

Tinalisayan Island. (CTTO: Albert Henoguin)

Now it’s time to proceed to another picturesque spot.

Animasola Island was the 3rd stop in our itinerary. From a distance, it just looks like an ordinary, boring island but once you dock and take a closer look, you will be able to witness some of Mother Nature’s masterpieces.

Animasola Island. (CTTO: Albert Henoguin)
Animasola Island. (CTTO: Albert Henoguin)

Huge sedimentary rock formations with distinct patterns created through years of erosions and depositions gave this island its uniqueness.

One of the main attractions for travelers is an isolated piece of rock that resembles a giant reptilian head. As I stared at that work of art, I can’t help but be amazed on how nature could created such beauty.

Another intriguing feature of this island is a nature-made pool of sea water enclosed by panels of big rocks. Its cool salty waters come from a small opening in one of the rocks which allows continuous flow. Taking a dip in the pool is highly recommended but be mindful of the barnacles clinging to the rocks as they might cut your skin.

Welcome to Animasola Island’s Jacuzz-sea. (CTTO: Plan B Tours)

As if these were not enough to leave us in awe, we were informed that by climbing all the way up to the peak of the gigantic rock formation through a wooden ladder, we can have a bird’s eye view of the island. I wanted to take a peek so I went up together with some other brave souls.

Gentle warning: The makeshift ladder they provide here is only a series of wooden planks held together by ropes, so this will not be an easy climb up and it will be more difficult climbing back down as there are no proper handles and the planks sway as you take a step so if you want to try this, take extra precaution.

Top View of Animasola Island. (CTTO: Plan B Tours)
Top View of Animasola Island with some of the brave souls. (CTTO: Plan B Tours)

Iniwaran was our 4th island and a small one at that. We just had a quick sightseeing here since it was getting a bit late and we had another island on our itinerary before we call it a day.

Iniwaran Island has 2 parts: Norte and Sur. The Norte part has 2 cliff diving spots but no one from our group did any jumps at that time. We just opted to walk around the Sur part of the island and had photo sessions at the beach.

Selfie at Iniwaran beach.

And then we were off to see our 5th island, Sombrero. Just by looking at its shape, you will know how it got its name.

We just had another quick tour here. A few people from our group wanted to go to the hat-shaped rock formation but my sister and I were already tired of walking so we just goofed around the place as we waited for them to come back.

One quick selfie with my sister in Sombrero Island.

The sun was nearly setting so we needed to get back on our boat so we can head on to set camp for the night on our 6th and last island, Alibijiban. We saw a rainbow on the way and I just had to take a snapshot.

Alibijiban Island was the last island on our excursion list. Since it was already dark when we arrived, we just had a quick dinner, freshened up and laid down to rest to prepare for our activities for the next day.

Now here’s what we did on our 3rd and last day.

Sunrise watching at Alibijiban Island.
Swimming and starfish diving (PS. we returned all the starfishes back to the sea after some quick photo-ops)

This island has a mangrove community and the others decided to explore that area while a few of us stayed near our boat to swim and float on bamboo rafts.

After a couple of hours of fun, it was now time to go home. We purposefully made Alibijiban Island our last stop since it was already near the port where our rented vans and private cars were parked.

Everyone fell asleep all throughout our journey back home. The whole experience was really physically tiring. As for me, my whole body was aching but my heart was full and it was all that mattered.

I went home with many realizations after that trip. It reminded me of how awesome our God is for giving us the gift of beauty in the form of NATURE. From that day on, I promised myself to never stop exploring God’s creation and to help spread awareness in preserving nature’s beauty for the future generation.

Below is a video link made by Plan B Tours who organized the whole trip. Check out how much fun we had.

Till my next trip! — xoxo, Cherry

Burias X alibijaban 2015

last year independence day burias X alibijaban

Posted by PlanB Tours on Saturday, May 14, 2016

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“Taj Mahal” of Negros: Feel the love

Have you been to the “Taj Mahal” of Negros?

I am referring to Bacolod’s “The Ruins”. This Philippine heritage landmark is famous for a love story that is both romantic and tragic. The remains of a once magnificent 2-storey mansion stood the test of time and has been named one of the 12 most fascinating ruins of the world (https://www.oddee.com/item_96671.aspx).

I had a chance to visit Bacolod’s Monument of Love last July. I have long heard about this place but I never knew that the backstory was a romantic one.

It was built by a sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, as a loving tribute to his wife, Maria Braga who succumbed to her death following a freak accident while carrying their eleventh child.

Let me share to you the mansion’s beautiful history as told in their website (https://theruins.com.ph/our-story/)

An area inside the mansion where visitors gather to hear the love story behind The Ruins.

Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson was living a sweet life, the youngest child of 8. He was the young, dashing and bachelor baron of a 440-hectare plantation in Spanish colonial-era Talisay City. As much as he worked hard, he was enjoying his young life to the hilt. One of his passions was seeing the world, and he often did so in the company of an equally wealthy friend.
In one of his meanderings abroad, Mariano caught sight of Maria Braga – a beautiful, young Portuguese lady from Macau – in old Hong Kong. It was love at first sight. He did not hesitate meeting her and her father, a captain of his own ship. He thought, “Mariano and Maria – a match made in heaven!” He offered her marriage and brought her back home and raised a family in Talisay.

Mariano and Maria’s married life was blissful. They were blessed with ten children – Victoria, Rafael, Mercedes (who later married a Javellana), Natividad, Sofia, Felipe, Consolacion, Angelina, Ramon and Eduardo. But it was not fashionable to have a small family in those times. The number of children a couple had also formed part of a family’s wealth. Maria became laden with an 11th child.

Suddenly… the cruel hand of fate dealt a tragic blow. In some nasty twist of events, the pregnant Maria slipped in the bathroom and began to bleed. Her condition was so precarious that she wouldn’t even be able to take the rigors of travel to the nearest available full-fledged physician in the next town, now Silay City (site of today’s international airport). So Mariano had no choice; he frantically summoned his horseman to take what at the time was the fastest mode of transportation, a horse-drawn carriage, for fetching the physician who can attend to Maria.

At the time, a horse-drawn carriage took two days to reach Silay. So Mariano had to suffer the four-day wait for the arrival of the carriage as he tended his wife. Sadly, both Maria and the baby passed on even before the doctor arrived. Mariano was devastated and heartbroken – the love of his life gone, taken by a freak accident. No mortal would have been able to fathom the depths of his grief.

But he had to move on for the sake of his children. In one of those healing moments, he thought of a way to immortalize Maria in his memory for the rest of his life: build a mansion adjacent to his ancestral home. He wanted to dedicate it to Maria’s love, especially to their 10 children. He touched base with Maria’s father and told him of his plan to erect a grand palace in honor of Maria, where he and the kids would live as well as desert the scene of Maria’s tragic mishap. Mariano’s intentions was well-received by his father-in-law, who not only provided some finances but might also have given Mariano the design of his very own mansion.

Construction of the Don Mariano Lacson Mansion went in earnest. Mariano entrusted the design and building specifications to a local engineer, Luis Puentevella, and asked one of his sons to supervise the construction and make certain that the A-grade mixture of concrete was precisely poured. It was finished to perfection, upon which the Don told his children the mansion was theirs to live in for as long as they are unmarried. The family cherished in the new mansion the loving memory of Maria. And life went on beautifully for them all from then on…

The two-story mansion was of Italianate architecture as evidenced by its neo-Romanesque columns all around. Since the engineer was a Filipino, it is believed the design came from that of Maria’s ancestral mansion which was given by her father to Mariano as sample. The imprimatur of Maria’s father, a ship captain, is now clear from the shell-inspired décor all around the top edges of the mansion – the same ones that identified the homes of ship captains in New England at the time.

Neo-Romanesque columns.

Tell-tale signs of Mariano’s adoration for Maria abound. There’s the two “M” letters molded in reclined positions onto each and every post around the mansion’s exterior – symbols that stand for Mariano and Maria. The final touches to the concrete walls and posts were made with egg whites mixed into the cement for a fine, marble-like touch, representing Maria’s alabaster skin characteristic of Mediterranean women. And the load-bearing pillars were reinforced, not with ordinary metal rods, but with the thick, dense metal columns used to build railways for long-lasting ability – an edifice for Maria that can last “forever.”

The two Ms are seen on both sides of the entrance.

In this magnificent mansion, three of Mariano’s daughters lived to the max and never married. On Mariano’s arrangements, the daughters stayed on the upper floor while the sons occupied the ground level. Victoria, Consolacion and Angelina stayed single and enjoyed every moment in the mansion. It is surmised that, because the females stayed on the upper floor, their suitors were not lucky or brave enough to get past the brothers on the lower level, thus failing to court their lady loves and win them over to married life.

But all good things must come to an end. During the early part of World War II, the guerilla forces under American command were constrained to raze the mansion to the ground so as to keep the occupying Japanese forces from using it as headquarters. The resulting 3-day inferno brought down the roof and the two-inch wooden floors, but the entire skeletal frame remains intact to this day.

Now, the remains of the burnt mansion is a majestic sight to behold. Its huge, ornately designed fountain reminiscent of those in piazzas around Italy stands proud by the front entrance of the mansion, back-dropped by the Simborio – the smokestack outside where the ancestral home used to be, which actually was the vent used for milling fine mascovado sugar at the plantation.

Entrance Fee:
Adults: 100 pesos
Senior Citizens: 70 pesos
Students: 60 pesos
Children (below 8): 20 pesos

P1,000 for the first 5 persons, crew included. In excess of 5 persons, each will just pay the corresponding entrance fees.

How to get there:
From the airport, take a shuttle to Bacolod and tell the driver to drop you off at The RUINS. It is along the way to Bacolod City from the airport.

By private car or taxi, from the airport, take the access road to the airport going south to Bacolod City. Turn right to Don Mariano L. Lacson Highway (5th intersection) and in about 900 meters you will arrive at The RUINS.
From Bacolod City, take a jeepney ride to BATA and get off at Robinson’s Mall. Walk to GO Hotel and take a shuttle from there to The RUINS.

By private car or taxi, take Lacson Street going north to Talisay City. After the flyover at the CERES North Terminal and PEPSI bottling plant, turn right towards the mountains on Don Mariano L. Lacson Highway and in about 2.3 kms. you will arrive at The RUINS.


The Gazebo Restaurant is located within the property to cater tourists and visitors of The Ruins.

Contact details for queries and reservations:
Landline: +63 (34) 4764334
+63 (917) 8326003
+63 (905) 5133347
+63 (939) 2985657

So when you are in Bacolod and you feel a little romantic, “The Ruins” is the place to visit.

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A fun day at Holy Carabao Farm

Have an amazing farming experience for only 300 pesos!

Welcome to Holy Carabao Holistic Farm!
About an hour away from Manila, this serene place is located near Acacia Waldorf School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Holy Carabao Farm, Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Founded more than a decade ago by two moms, Melanie Go and Hindy Weber, the farm continues to live up to its mission. It aims to grow and provide healthy and whole foods for Filipino families. The farm also conducts different lectures and workshops to spread awareness on proper farming techniques, nature conservation and overall wellness.

I heard about this place through my sister. She planned the farm visit together with the family so that her two-year old toddler can have first-hand experience on farm life and of course to see real farm animals (her favorite!)

When we arrived at the farm, we proceeded first to the Farm Shed Café and ordered some food and drinks.

The café also serves as the meeting place for those who want to do the farm tour. Here, you can read books, play board games or have your kids draw and color to pass some time.

The Farm Shed Café

Here are some of the things to do during your visit (P300/person):

Breathe in the fresh air

Feed and interact with the farm animals

Learn about organic farming and its benefits

Chill and dine the healthy way at The Farm Shed Café

Buy organically grown products:

~ Chemical-free Veggies & Fruits
~ Grass-fed Beef & Pork
~ Pasture-raised Poultry & Eggs
~ Non-GMO Rice & Grains
~ Cold-pressed Juices & Elixirs
~ Hormone-free Milk
~ Wild Honey & Raw Sugar
~ Gluten-free Bread & Cookies
~ Artisanal Ice Cream
~ Artisanal Cheese & Chocolate
~ Culinary & Medicinal Herbs
~ Fermented Foods, Drinks & Condiments
~ Toxin-free Household Products
~ Paleo & Vegan Options
~ Veggie Box Sets

Unlimited rides on a swing zipline (my favorite part of the tour!)

How to get to the farm:
Holy Carabao Farm and The Farm Shed Café are located in the area of Acacia Waldorf School, an exclusive private school. The most convenient way to reach the farm is by using a private vehicle. If you are using waze, set the destination to The Farm Shed Café/Acacia Waldorf School. Take SLEX, then ETON exit. Follow the road towards Sta. Rosa, making your way towards Nuvali. Before you get to Nuvali Solenad, there is a huge Sta. Elena City sign on the left (right across Jollibee). Turn left at the sign and proceed towards Georgia Club / Promenade / Belle Reve. Go straight until you see a blue guard house. Inform the guard on duty that you are going to Acacia Waldorf School. Make a right at the rotunda then go straight for about 2 kilometers. The farm will be on the left side of the road, right beside the school. There are parking spaces available inside the school parking lot.

To learn more about Holy Carabao Farm, visit:

Website: www.holycarabao.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/holycarabao

Instagram page: @holycarabaofarm

Contact: 0977-813-4659

Operating hours:
8:30AM to 5:30PM on weekdays
9:00AM to 5:00PM on Saturdays

Here are more activities and workshops offered by Holy Carabao Holistic Farm. Check them out!

HAPPY FARMING EVERYONE! Feel free to share this good news!


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What makes ILOCOS travel-worthy?

The main reason why I love to travel is to learn. I love that I can go to a place and discover its people, history, culture, food and way of life. Last May, Bridges Travel and Tours paved a way for me to explore two of the four provinces of Ilocos Region. For four days, my eyes and palate were exposed to the rich heritage, beautiful sights and delectable food as I wander around Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

Sunset view at the Bangui Wind Farm, Ilocos Norte

What is so special about Ilocos?

The first time I have been to Ilocos was in 2015. A friend invited me and my sister to go visit her hometown in Ilocos Sur over the Holy Week. She was able to show us around and it was then that I initially learned about their rich heritage, interesting history, great leaders and culture. I really enjoyed that trip and vowed to come back to enrich my knowledge even more. And so, I did.

Here’s a list of reasons why Ilocanos are proud of Ilocos:

ILOCOS was awarded three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Paoay Church, Santa Maria Church, Vigan)

Paoay Church. It is also known as Saint Augustine Church. It has a unique Earthquake Baroque Architecture and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

This is the picture-perfect façade of Paoay Church with walls made of corals and bricks.

Santa Maria Church. It is also known as The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. It was built on top of a hill not only as a religious center during spanish colonization but also as a lookout and citadel. Together with Paoay Church, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

The famous Calle Crisologo of the historical City of Vigan. UNESCO awarded it as a World Heritage Site in 1999 and named it as the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. 

ILOCOS is the home of three Philippine presidents and other great Filipino leaders (Elpidio Quirino, Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Ramos, Diego Silang, Juan and Antonio Luna, Jose Burgos, Gregorio Aglipay)

The town of Batac is called the Home of Great Leaders. For one, former President Ferdinand Marcos is from this town. Gregorio Aglipay, founder of the Aglipayan Church, is from here. General Artemio Ricarte, the Father of the Philippine Army, is also from this town.

Luna Shrine is dedicated to preserve the memories of brothers Juan Luna and Antonio Luna.

ILOCOS is famous for having beautiful beaches, magnificent windmills, historical churches and structures that stood the test of time


Beautiful beachfront of Kingfisher Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Bangui Windmills lined up in Ilocos Norte. Did you know that these were the very first windmills built in SouthEast Asia? There are currently 26 Bangui windmills scattered in this area. Amazing, right?

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (Burgos Lighthouse). This lighthouse was first lit over 100 years ago and is still functioning to serve ships entering the Philippine Archipelago from the north.

Santa Monica Parish Church (Sarrat Church) is the largest church in the whole Ilocos Norte province.

Did you know that Sarrat Church was declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines? It was also the setting for the grand wedding of Gregorio Araneta and Irene Marcos, daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos. This church is so huge and  also so instagrammable as you can see (haha!).

Saint Augustine Parish Church (Bantay Church) in Ilocos Sur is one of the oldest in the Ilocos Region.

Bantay Tower is the old historic belfry of Bantay Church and served as a watchtower for pirates back in the Spanish colonial era. “Bantay” means to “watch out”.

Patapat Viaduct.  This is an elevated road (over 30 meters above sea level) located in the municipality of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. It is known to be the fifth longest bridge in the Philippines. 

Oh yes, the Paoay Sand Dunes.  A vast 88-hectare spread of sand filled with awesome adventure. It is classified as a non-disposable public land and is a protected area. The sand dunes found in Ilocos are the only ones in the Philippines and SouthEast Asia. Go for wild 4×4 ATV rides and experience sand boarding here and don’t forget to just have fun! 

ILOCOS is known for their well-curated museums and shrines where Filipino culture and history are preserved and displayed

Behind me are magnificent fiber glass masterpieces displayed inside Taoid Museum, Ilocos Norte. Visit this museum and learn more about the rich history and culture of the Ilocanos.

Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Center (Marcos Museum) houses a large collection of Marcos memorabilia. One of its most frequently visited section was a mausoleum where the remains of the late former President Marcos were displayed before he was transferred to Libingan ng mga Bayani.

ILOCOS is admired for having a wide variety of food delicacies (bagnet, longganisa, poqui-poqui, dinardaraan or crispy dinuguan, pinakbet, empanada, tinubong, bischocho, chichacorn)

Empanada is a signature snack/merienda in Ilocos. It is mainly composed of bean sprouts, ground pork, sometimes longganisa, shredded carrots, cabbage and egg wrapped in a crispy crust made of rice flour. Ilocos Norte empanada is a bit different from its Ilocos Sur counterpart. I recommend you try both. 

Marsha’s Delicacies is a great place for buying pasalubong. Must-tries: Royal Bibingka, bagnet, longganisa, pudding, brownies, pichi-pichi, chichacorn, camote and banana chips.

ILOCOS is a provider of export-quality products (tobacco, garlic, onions, mangoes, salt, wine) and handicrafts (abel weaving, burnay pottery)

Ilocos is still one of the top tobacco-producing provinces in the country.

ILOCOS currently has the largest Dragonfruit Farm in the Philippines

A vendor selling Dragonfruit ice cream. Aside from the health benefits of the fruit itself, dragonfruit can also be made into jam, wine, vinegar, tea, cookies, pastries and even soap bars.

Ilocos History 101

Allow me to share with you a snippet of information about Ilocos in the Philippine History.

The Ilocos Region (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan) is located in the northwestern part of the Philippines. The area was originally inhabited by aboriginal Negritos but were overpowered by Malayo-Polynesian immigrants. When the Spaniards came, one conquistador named Juan de Salcedo landed in Vigan, Ilocos Sur in 1572 and proceeded to some towns in Badoc and Laoag, Ilocos Norte. He and his men noticed a lot of coves and caves or “looc” along the shoreline, thus named the region “Ylocos”. During this time, Ilocos was still one province. It was not until February 2, 1818 that a Spanish decree divided Ilocos Norte from Ilocos Sur. It has been said that reasons for the division was the increase in population, excessive monopolies and forced labor which led to constant rebellion by the North against the Spaniards, challenging their administrative powers thus forcing the separation.

How to get TO Ilocos

By Air:
To Ilocos Norte: Laoag International Airport accepts tourists from Manila and other Asian countries like Taiwan, Hongkong and China
To Ilocos Sur: Mindoro (Vigan) Airport is an airport serving the capital of Ilocos Sur. However, it serves only chartered flights. The nearest airport with regular commercial flights is in Laoag. Manila to Laoag takes about an hour travel time. Land trip to Vigan takes about two hours.

By Land:
To Ilocos Norte: Bus Terminals in Cubao, Pasay and Sampaloc have regular trips going to Laoag (I recommend Partas Bus Liner, Farinas Transit and Rabbit Bus Lines). Partas Bus Liner also have Baguio to Laoag schedule.
To Ilocos Sur: Bus Terminals with direct route from Manila to Vigan are served by Partas Bus Liner, Dominion Bus and Viron Transit.

How to get AROUND Ilocos

Various modes of transportation are available in Ilocos. Tricycle is the common one but I still recommend you to try and experience riding a “Calesa” (a horse-drawn carriage). Price for Calesa rides may vary but the usual rate is P150.00/hour per carriage. For those going to farther places and neighboring towns, jeepneys, vans and buses are advised.

But of course, a vacation would be even more fun if everything (tickets, accommodations, food and tour schedules) are organized. For a hassle-free trip to Ilocos, book via Bridges Travel and Tours and get the best deals and travel itineraries. For tour inquiries, please call (02)-7503372/75 or email at tryus@bridgestravel.com. You may also log on to their website: www.bridgestravel.com | www.govisitphilippines.com

Have you guys been to Ilocos? What did you enjoy the most during your stay? For those who haven’t been there, share this post to your friends and plan your trip now!


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Carabao Island, Romblon: Boracay’s twin sister

Carabao Island, San Jose, Romblon

When we were in Boracay last March, we decided to have a little side trip to an island in Romblon. We heard that this island, called Carabao Island, looks a lot like Boracay. Some even coined it as its twin. To satisfy our curiosity, we planned a quick trip to see it for ourselves.

Carabao Island is more popularly known as Hambil to the locals. I asked one of our boatmen how it got its new name. He wasn’t so sure but he told me two theories: first theory is that maybe because the island resembled a water buffalo when viewed from a boat and the other theory is that years ago, the island supposedly had herds of carabaos grazing all over the area thus the name.

This island is twice as big and is only an hour away from the now-controversial Boracay. The entire body of land is actually the whole municipality of San Jose, Romblon. The population’s main source of living is fishing but many of its residents work in various establishments in Boracay.

True enough, all of us were in awe at the island’s raw beauty when we docked at its shore. The blue waters sparkled as the sun hits the sea. The white sand may not be as fine as Boracay’s but it is still AMAZING.

Here are some of the photos we took at Hambil Beach. We could not help but take oh, so many. Haha!

This place is so peaceful and serene with fewer tourists walking on its beach. Quite different from her busy and crowded counterpart, Boracay.

So if you are looking for another paradise but aren’t the party-loving kind, this is the place to be.

How to get there

Since Boracay is temporarily closed, the usual route from Bulabog Beach is not feasible. Tourists can go to Carabao Island through Caticlan port. From Caticlan to Hambil Pier in Carabao Island, there is a scheduled chartered boat trip every 9AM. Fare is 100 pesos + 50 pesos Environmental Fee.

If you prefer to book your own private boat, you can contact Kuya Rey Montesa at these numbers: 0917-762-3047 / 09984520773. One way trip from Caticlan to Hambil is 3,000 pesos. If you want to be fetched from Hambil back to Caticlan, there is an additional charge of 2,000 pesos. For a larger group (10 or more), package trips with tour around the island plus food preparation can be discussed with him as well.

Activities you can do in Carabao Island

• Swimming in its cool blue waters
• Beach bumming the whole day
• Scuba diving/Snorkeling in different dive sites (Kuya Rey may be able to provide the gear for you for as low as 1,500 pesos only)
• Cliff Diving in 3 sites (Entrance fee of 100 pesos/site): Buding Buding, Cathedral and Bugtong Bato
• Go caving in 3 caves: Ngiriton, Bunayag and Angas Caves
• Set up camp (bring your own equipment) and watch the sunrise in Hambil Beach
• For Day Tours, you may look for BB Bar and Café in Sitio Inobahan for some refreshing food and drinks. You may contact Kuya Thomas Linayao at 0929-678-2911 for cottage and food reservations.
• For those who wish to stay longer in the island, there are several recommended lodges/inns that you can check out: Reynald’s Place, 5-13 and Cameo Lodge. Fan Room price ranges from 750-800 pesos per night while Air-conditioned Room price ranges from 1,200-1,500 pesos per night.

Aside from Hambil Beach in Carabao Island, Romblon has so many other beautiful beaches that I plan to visit next. So what are you waiting for? Plan that trip to Romblon and visit Carabao Island now. Don’t forget to take lots of photos and have a Cherryfic Moment!



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A Paradise Lake within reach

Lake Pandin, Laguna.

It was just one of those quick day trips.

As a summer getaway, our clinic decided to take a break and close up for the day for a little road trip to San Pablo, Laguna. This city is tagged as the “City of Seven Lakes” as it is known to have these seven enclosed water bodies: Lake Sampaloc, Lake Palakpakin, Lake Bunot, Lake Pandin and Yambo, Lake Muhikap and Lake Calibato. We decided to check out the most popular of the seven which is Lake Pandin.

Since we are a group of 14, we agreed that renting a van is more convenient as we also brought additional food along with us. We booked a Hi-Ace van with a very jolly driver named Sir Joemar. Do not hesitate to contact him for any of your transport needs: 0926-884-6795.

So, at around 5:30 in the morning, we sleepily headed off to our destination. From Manila, we headed to South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and exited to Calamba. From Calamba, we headed straight to San Pablo, Laguna. It took us only less than 3 hours to arrive at the area and once there, we readied ourselves for the 10-15minute hike going to the lake. The simple trail led us to an entrance where we were asked to pay 60 PHP per person as payment to the owner of the private land we will be passing through in order to reach Lake Pandin (a bit expensive for a few minutes of walk-through if I might add). However, the lake itself has no entrance fee.

Once there, you will be greeted by friendly locals who will orient you on the tour details. The main activity is a 2-hour bamboo raft tour in Lake Pandin with an option to do a side trip hike to have a view of Lake Yambo. The tour package includes a food bundle consisting of grilled tilapia, ginataang hipon, ensaladang pako, fresh banana and rice.

Here are the rates of the tour:

Small Bamboo Raft                                180/person
Big Bamboo Raft with food                 360/person minimum of 4
                                                                    1,000/person good for two
                                                                   1,200/person good for three
Big Bamboo Raft without food          180/person minimum of 4
                                                                  500/person good for two
                                                                  600/person good for three

Refreshingly cool waters of Lake Pandin.

A swing for you to sit and relax while looking at the lake.

The calm waters created a mirror image of the clouds in the sky.

You can also swim in the lake provided that you wear the life vests they provide. The water is cool and refreshing. A perfect way to fight off the summer heat. Overnight camping is also allowed. However, there is no fixed rate but usually starts at 100 pesos.

There is also a wash up area for those who wants to change after swimming in the lake.

To ensure that a tour package is available upon your arrival, I suggest that you inquire and book ahead of time.

Contact Aling Siony at: 0929-978-9565.

Lake Pandin 2018


Lake Pandin, 2018.


Lake Pandin, 2018


So if you want a quick nature getaway that is near Manila, I recommend that you visit Lake Pandin. I wish we had more time to explore the other 6 lakes but we had to head off back to Manila so I guess I will just have to explore them in my next Laguna trip.


’till my next blog!

xoxo, Cherry

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A Tribute to one of my favorite islands, Boracay

Boracay Island, Aklan, Philippines

A small but amazing tropical island located in Aklan is world-famous for being one of the top destinations for people who seek tranquility as well as exciting nightlife. In 2012, it was awarded best island in the world from Travel + Leisure magazine. Conde Nast Traveler magazine listed it at the top as Best Islands in the World last 2014. This beautiful island has long garnered praises from both locals and foreigners alike.

I, for one, can truly say that this tiny piece of bliss will forever hold a special place in my heart. My first visit to Boracay in 2011 was also officially my very first travel after finally finishing my Derma Residency Program. My friends and I spent 7 memorable days exploring the beauty of the island as well as experiencing its water activities and nightlife. We had so much fun that we never wanted to leave. That is what this island does to you. It captivates you and leaves you wanting for more.

I have been to the island twice two years after that and the feeling remains the same.

My first visit in Boracay (2011)


Boracay March 2014


Boracay May 2014

For those who have been to Boracay, I know you know what I mean. So many people have fallen in love with the island.

Because of this, influx of tourists to the island has increased during the past several years. Its popularity may be good for Philippine tourism but there are downsides too.

Overpopulation, overdevelopment, poor and inadequate septic and sewerage system, algal blooms caused by pollution led to serious environmental issues that prompted our Philippine government to temporarily close the whole island starting end of April this year (April 26 to be exact).

Hopefully, proper actions and renovations will be implemented and Boracay will be restored to its former glory.

Undeveloped Boracay back in the 80’s.
Photo credit: http://www.localphilippines.com/travelstories/boracay-the-past-and-the-present

Luckily, I was able to revisit Boracay before its recommended closure.

Last Holy Week, me and my group of travel-loving friends called Certified Biyaheros decided to spend 3 days in the island.

During those days, we have seen enough to know that this little paradise badly need to rest and heal.


Boracay taken last Holy Week 2018

Let me share with you some of the reasons why I think Boracay is worth saving for the future generation:

1. It has beautiful beaches.

Did you know that Boracay has 17 beaches?

According to an article in Boracay Compass, there are 12 beautiful beaches and 5 less interesting ones.

The main beach called White Beach is ever so gorgeous with its fine, white sand surrounded by azure, calm waters. This beach is the biggest and most popular since many of the hotels, bars, restaurants, supply stores and water activities are located here.

Palm trees line up along the shoreline, perfect for those who want to spend hours daydreaming under some shade.

The cool breeze and breathtaking view is enough to make you sigh and say, “Now, this is life.”

Chillin’ at Shangri-la Boracay with my sister


Shangri-la Boracay Resort and Spa


Fairways and Bluewater Newcoast Boracay


Fairways and Bluewater Newcoast Boracay Beachfront


White Beach, Boracay


White Beach, Boracay taken last March 2018


Puka Beach taken last March 2018

2. It has breathtakingly gorgeous sunsets.

Boracay is actually the reason why I fell in love with sunsets.

Ever since I started travelling, I have seen a lot of beach sunsets but those in Boracay are probably my favorite ones. (Well.. for now, that is.)

Staring at them always calms me and makes my heart melt with happiness.

Whenever I set foot in Boracay, I see to it that I find a good spot along the beach, sit on its fine white sand and gaze on the spectacular sky, slowly changing its colors from bright blue to a golden hue as the sun kisses the calm blue waters goodnight. I describe them as romantically peaceful.

This is me, waiting for my sunset.

Of course, there were also those days where I was just busy posing for the camera as the sunsets never fail to make fantastic backgrounds. Haha!

My First Boracay Silhouette (2011)


One of my (oh so many) Boracay Sunset sessions.. haha! (2014)


The amazing Boracay sunset taken last March 2018. Still world-class.

3. It has a lot of fun water activities to offer.

Daytime activities in Boracay include fun-filled water activities that are great for group bonding with family and friends.

Here are some of the suggested ones: Banana Boating, Flyfishing, Helmet Diving, Island Hopping, Parasailing, Sunset Sailing, Snorkeling, Stand up paddling, Jet skiing, Kitesurfing, Windsurfing, ATV riding, Scuba Diving, Cliff Diving, Reverse Bungee, Mermaid Swimming, Glass Bottom Boating, Zipline and Zorbing.


Mermaid swimming lessons are offered by the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy (PMSA)


Banana Boat ride is fun!


Parasailing is a must-try!


You can do snorkeling in Boracay waters too.


A glimpse of the Boracay underworld.

4. Colorful Nightlife

This island never sleeps. When dusk sets in, bars and restaurants are filled with the party-loving crowd who stay up until dawn breaks. Every night, locals entertain guests with great music, fire dancing and relaxing body massages. You can also go to bars, meet new friends and dance the night away.

Laboracay 2014

5. Fresh seafood and Drinks

I love seafood! Boracay is known for its wet market located in D’ mall called Talipapa where fresh/live seafood can be found. You can opt to buy and cook for yourselves in your hotel or have them prepared in the restaurants beside the market.

Fresh seafood at the talipapa found in D’ mall

Boracay also has a famous local store that serve fresh fruit shakes that is a must-try for those who visit the island. Jonah’s fruit shakes are so satisfying and thirst quenching, especially after a long, hot day of strolling around the island under the sun. Try their Mango Shake, it’s my favorite.

So there, my Top 5 reasons why I love Boracay. A tiny piece of heaven on earth. For now, let us give it time to heal.

Rest well, Boracay. See you again soon!

Boracay Paradise taken last March 2018. Truly worth saving.

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Sweet Escape at The Dessert Museum

Sharing to you my  Dessert Museum experience. Yes, it is a unique museum filled with nothing but sweets!

This instagram-worthy museum is a perfect place for couple and family dates alike. Kids and the kids at heart will also have lots of fun touring around the 8 colorful, mouthwatering rooms.

The whole sugary journey lasts for two hours. Each room has a guide who will give you trivias about some of our favorite candies. You are allowed to enjoy 10-15 minutes in each room (enough time to take lots of photos for social media 😂)

This sweet wonderland opened last February 10 at Manila’s exclusive shopping address – S Maison located below Conrad Hotel Manila.

How much?
Online Rate per person is P699 while Walk-In Rate is P799.

You may book online and save:

The museum is open on Mondays to Sundays at 10AM to 10PM. Last call is at 8:15PM.

– Have your cameras ready and click all you can
– The museum offers up to 6 mouthwatering desserts for you to enjoy. If you dont plan to eat them inside, bring a bag for you to place your sweet loots. They sell water inside for 30 pesos. Not sure if you are allowed to bring one along with you though.
– They have friendly staff who are sweet enough to take your pics. So don’t be shy to ask.
– Don’t forget to have fun like I did!

Go visit Dessert Museum and enjoy a sweet-filled experience! 🤤


First Room: The Donut Room.

Second Room: The Marshmallow Room.

Here in the Marshmallow Room, you will receive a free dessert. You guessed it. Marshmallows!

Third Room: The Candy Room.

Free Macarons in Candy Room! Yum!

Yummy Cake Display.

Fourth Room: Ice Cream Room.

Free Ice Cream!

Fifth Room: Bubble Gum Room.

Sixth Room: Gummy Bear Room.

Seventh Room: Cotton Candy Room.

Eighth and Final Room: Cake Pop Room.

Free Cake pop before you finally get to exit.

Another freebie! A balloon with chocolate inside. Talk about Sugar Rush!

Souvenir Room at the Exit Area.

Hope you had fun browsing the photos. What are you waiting for? Go and experience The Dessert Museum now! Enjoy!!!

xoxo, Cherry

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The Wanderlust In Me


Ever since I was in college, I really envied my friends who got to travel a lot. I never had the opportunity to do so because my overprotective Dad never allowed his precious eldest daughter to go out and explore the world without supervision. Hence, I just relied upon the stories of adventure my friends so graciously shared with me.

After college came Medical School, Post-graduate Internship, Medical Board Exam and my Derma Residency training. For almost 9 years, I chose to focus on my studies and medical training and set aside my love for travel. So when I finally finished my Dermatology Residency training, I really felt FREE! It was time for me to go explore the world! (well, Philippines first before the world.. haha!) And so, the adventures began.

For my next articles, I will share with you my wanders. As of now, my travels are all around the Philippines. I have always been proud of my country’s beauty. I want to explore it first before I go and travel any place else. So feel free to visit my blog every now and then and join me and my journeys.


xoxo, Cherry

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