Saturday, July 22, 2017

Travel: Batanes #breathtakingbatanes

Last week, my friends and I travelled to Batanes! When I posted photos on my social media, friends began messaging me for tips. So here goes:



Accommodations:

We stayed at Marfel Lodge (airport transfers included). However, since there are more than one Marfel Lodge in Basco, please note which branch you will be at, as people who you will ask for directions and tricycle drivers will tell you, madaming Marfel Lodge.

We stayed at Marfel Lodge Main, which was very near the airport (isang tumbling lang). The Main Branch has two houses, and me and my friends actually stayed in the back house. It has two rooms (room 6 and 7). Lucky for us, we were the only ones staying there.

Even luckier was that it felt like our house for the days to follow. There was a stove and gas, with pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates, silverware and more. There was also a water dispenser, so no need to worry about getting a bottle of mineral water.

Tour:

At the airport, you will be asked to pay PhP350 as environmental fee. You will be given a ticket and a map of Batanes, which I really found helpful. The map also has a grid map of Basco with street names. Don't worry it's not as big as it looks, you can walk or bike around, if it pleases you.

The owner of Marfel Lodge, Ma'am Fe is also the owner of Chanpan Tours.

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Regular rate for North Batan Tour is Php1,200 per person.
Regular rate for Sabang Tour is Php2,000 per person.
Regular rate for South Batan Tour is Php1,800 per person.

So, if you are going for that three day tour of Batanes, better prepare PhP5,000. You can try to haggle for that three day tour of Batanes, she gave us the tour for Php4,500. But, we only paid Php3,000 as we only took the the North Batan tour and Sabang tour. We had the option to take the South Batan tour or not na.

North Batan Tour

If you want to go biking, I suggest that you take this trail. Unfortunately for us, I don't know how to bike, plus it was a rainy Sunday.

Tour begins at around 12noon, so I still had time to wander around Basco (use that trusty map if you don't want to go running around in circles).

Chanpan tour first took us to have lunch (which is included). Then after to Fundacion de Pacita (it is also a resort with a resto, Cafe de Tukon). Then after we went to the Japanese Tunnel then Boulder Beach. We weren't able to go to the Rolling Hills and Lighthouse as it was raining. We went here the next day, after the Sabtang Tour.



If you want to explore the Japanese Tunnel, I suggest you go with the tour, as there is a guide. He will show you other ingresses, where of course we exited. It's total darkness in here (except of course for the entrances), so best to have your phone fully charged for flashlight and pictures.

Sabtang Tour

To go here, you will need to ride a boat. I suggest that you take the tour, as there are no tricycles here (as far as I saw) plus, the tour covers the boat ride, environmental fee, plus of course lunch.

This is the island where you will get to wear a vakul, the Ivatan headdress. It was at Barrio Chavayan, where we stopped and posed for pictures. May I suggest that you buy some of your souvenirs at the Weavers Association (also at this barrio).



You can also go swimming at Morong Beach (Ahao Arch is here). Morong Beach was where we had lunch.




South Batan Tour

We choose to just DIY the South Batan tour. We didn't have to wake up early for the tour, although we did. The original plan was we go biking to the Honesty Store and other locations on South Batan. Unfortunately, my sense of balance failed me, plus the sun was so happy to be finally given some air time, that it was so freaking hot. We instead opted to take a tricycle.

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From Basco to Honesty store, it's worth PhP220. However, we subcontracted our tricycle driver for a whole (or half as we began 11am and ended at around 4 to 5pm) day tour. We paid him PhP1,000. It was worth it. Not only because of the locations we wanted to go, we went, but also because most of the path was uphill (and downhill), and not flat which will make it a lot harder for a beginner biker like me, and would probably have taken us more time.

The Honesty store is good for snacks as there is coke Php20 each bottle, cookies and chips ranging from Php25 to PhP50. You can also buy some pasalubong from here, as there were many cookies that  were not available in the souvenir shop where Chanpan Tours took us.

We also stopped by the Song-song ruins, a couple of churches, a hillside view of the beach with goats (which obviously I forgot what its called), and Marlboro Country. You can also go to the viewing deck, but we didn't want to tire ourselves out and the viewing deck according to the map is good for sunset.

Food

There are a few restaurants and carinderia in Basco. However, if you are on a budget and you'll be staying At Marfel's, better to bring canned goods or buy from the local stores (there are many) or from Marfel which also sells some plus rice. You can cook at Marfel's as I said earlier. We cooked our breakfast. We even bought eggs (PhP8 each), garlic, tomatoes (PhP20 for three to four pieces) on the General Merchandise store.

You can also try to buy some blue crab (I forgot what it's called, Coconut Crab?). My friend bought a small one for less than Php300. If you are going to buy some crab, best to cook and eat it at Batanes, as you will need to pay a penalty fee if you bring it to the airport.

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One of the restos we tried was Cafe de Tukon (we went here two days straight). It has good food and an awesome view. Must tries include Dulce de Leche, Corned Beef Panini,  Rich Chocolate Cake, plus of course local dishes (Lunis, worth about PhP330, was yummy).

Another was Casa Napoli, one of two pizzerias in Batanes. Apparently this one is older and it made good pizza. Promise! We planned on taking home some of the pizza (margherita and pepperoni), but our tastebuds wouldn't allow it, as it wanted more. Pizzas here are 16 inches big and priced quite reasonably. Our bill was less than PhP1,000 for two pizzas, nachos, and iced tea.

The food in Batanes, I have to say, was satisfying and yummy!

Overall, Batanes provided me with a different view of the country (not just beaches and mountains) but also hillside views with goats on them (hahah!). The wonderful work of nature will certainly inspire you to do more and be more than you can be. Even better, is that Breathtaking Batanes is a perfect place to find yourself, as even though the signal was very good, there was no mobile data nor even wi-fi. So, better be senti and labas na lahat ng #hugot.

The pictures here do not do justice to the scenic view that your eyes will lay upon up at Batanes. Whenever you will decide to go to Batanes, make sure to bring your sense of adventure and sense of pride for our country.







Sunday, May 28, 2017

GUEST POST: The Story of Derrick and Nadia by Georgette Gonzales

(Not a spoiler, promise!)

In the Tagalog romance publishing world, authors go through this process: Write the 20k-plus-word long novella, submit it, then follow up for feedback several weeks later. If approved, we got paid, and wait for the story to get published after a few months. If the story didn’t get approved . . . Ahh, that’s a tragedy many indie authors would never get to experience (although the feeling may be the same when one gets negative reviews).

The year was 2009. I submitted a manuscript that was a story loosely based on my own experience (gah). That one was memorable not for the content and inspiration (yes, please believe me) but because of the process by which I wrote it. I wrote the ending scene for that one before I even began it. Not a normal thing I usually do but I just had so much faith in that scene. Loved it, even. Only to be told the story was being returned.

*Cue sfx of world crashing around hapless author*





I made revisions to the story and the version that eventually got approved (and subsequently published) was one that no longer ended with that scene from the original manuscript. Said original MS ended in my trashed WIPs folder. I keep all the old rejected versions (yes, there’s a number of them) in the hopes that someday, I might be able to use them, and with improvements, be able to re-submit them.

When Kate Sebastian came up with the idea for a summer-themed anthology, I immediately thought that was it! That unpublished story, or at least that particular scene, was being given a second chance. All I needed was to write a short beginning and middle, make the story happen in summer (the original one happened during the rainy season), and I’d have a short story to contribute.



And that was how Then Derrick Was Back was born. A story about a second chance at love (which I never got in real life and which made the story all the more a work of fiction. Hah), and how truth and trust triumph over odds. Naks!

I can’t very well narrate here how the story ended… err… how it went. You, dear reader, will have to get a copy of #SummerFeels to find out. *wink*

To buy a copy click here.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra



There's one quote that hit me "You don't do it because you don't need it, and you've never wanted it badly enough yet."

This was about relationships, and why the two main characters never had been in a long term relationship. Never been in a relationship myself, I can relate well to these two.

When the attraction heats up, Daphne tries to stop herself, because that was one of the reasons why Greg got her. Because he knew that she was just Aaron's type. However, circumstances and of course Aaron pursues for an eventual thing on a holiday.

So this is book is a lot steamier than most (New Year, beach, etc), but still there is still that signature fuzzy feel that I only get whenever I read a MVE sex scene, ahaha! 💟

Okay, so I'm actually a fan of Mina's Chic Manila Series, so when Anton and Julie guest starred here, I was ecstatic. After all, their story (That Kind of Guy) was the last MVE book that I read (early this year). So, am hoping that the next Chic Manila book, we'll get to see Daphne and Aaron, and this just won't be a happy for now.

Blurb:


Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?


Order the book here:
Print copies: https://www.amazon.com/
For Philippines: bit.ly/mvebooks

Friday, February 17, 2017

Read: That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra

Synopsis:

Good girl Julie never expected her hot former-player boyfriend to propose marriage. But when he did, she turned him down for reasons even she couldn't figure out. Will she settle for a nice, safe guy instead? Or will she let him find his way back into her carefully guarded heart?




My favorite Mina Esguerra books will always have to be the ones which are of contemporary romance. Why? It's like talking to a friend.

Julie, as she admits, may not have many friends, but she has won me over with her romance with (eh-em) playboy Anton and her friendship with pudgy geek Harry.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Read: Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

A truly great read.

I stumbled upon the second book the series in a sale in our local bookshop, then I luckily found this before I purchased Blessed are those who thirst.  I did not know who the author was. But, just took a shot. Thankful, that I bought both (discounted!) .



Even though it says it is a Hanne Wilhemsen  novel, it is not really just about her. It is not just her thoughts, in fact, the first hundred pages of the book, she seems to be missing. If it wouldn't have been for the (spoiler) accident, I wouldn't have cared about her. But then, as you read through and then read through her thoughts  you wish you knew her more, like her Harley and of course Cecile.

Karen Borg and Peter Sands are another thing that though.

As for the plot... this is about drugs and murder. So, this really (really, really) interested me  (ehem, I don't think I need to emphasize because of the current state of Philippine politics).