Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 Jan: Philippines: Tuguegarao: Callao Cave, Penablanca

How to get there: Take a tricycle going to Penablanca terminal (as the locals say, "parkingan") going to Iguig.  There are 2 options, take a tricycle going to the port for the boat ride or take a tricycle directly going to the cave.  From our research, it would cost 500php for a special trip, we tried to huddle, but the cheapest we can get is 700php for a direct tricycle ride.  It is almost less than 40 minutes ride going up, until we reach the gates.  It is a safe trip, but the only scary thing I notice is there is landslide on a side of the mountain, where the road was limited to an alternate passage of the vehicles.   

As a new policy of the cave officials, no guide no tour.  It started with 183 steps going up to reach the entrance of the cave. 

1st Chamber known as Aviary because Nido birds are staying there and now getting they are tying to prohibit those getting the bird’s nest.  
Passage going to the small chapel is already easily accessible as it is already flattened and in concrete.

2nd chamber is “Divine”, this is the chapel area. 

3rd chamber is “Dark”.  Simple concrete stairs are built to easily reach Chambers 4 and 5.
4th chamber is Cream, there is rock formation that looks like 3 scoops of ice cream.
rock formation above the chapel
5th chamber is the Jungle, there are rock formation of mushroom, king kong and rice terraces.  You'll also see the forest and greenery area.

Chambers 6 and 7 are slightly difficult to reach at first, but still accessible with a help of a guide.  (difficulty level? Sagada is much challenging, so I say, Callao is much friendly).  You’ll see there rock formation of merlion and motor boat.

Looks like Chamber 7 is the lowest point but also the closest from its opening on the ceiling.

2014 Jan: Philippines: 3 Churches to Visit in Tuguegarao

Iguig Calvary Hills and St. James the Apostle Parish

How to get there:
Take a tricycle (10ph/pax) going to Don Domingo Van Terminal. Take the van going to Iguig (25ph/pax) its about 30 minutes, remind the driver to drop you off on Calvary, because we missed it even if we have reminded the driver and the conductor.  So we have to walk back by around 10 minutes.  From the main street, we walked another 10 minutes inside a smaller street.

Behind the cross is the river - The Cagayan River, also known as the Rio Grande de Cagayan, is the longest and largest river in the Philippine Archipelago. [Reference]

We were welcomed by an old brick church (feels like the one from Fr. Adriane's drama). This is St. James the Apostle Parish.  They say that the place became one of the pilgrim sites specifically during holy week.

Going back: 
Find your way back to the main road, vans going back to city centre with sign boards "Tuguegarao City" will be passing by.

Saints Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
Located in Rizal Street.  It is another made of brick church.  On our visit, they are still restoring the church and noticed that they allowed shops inside the church grounds.

Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat
How to get there:  Take a tricycle going to “parkingan” (parking area, terminal) going to Piat.  Take the van and it will take less than an hour to reach town of Piat.

2014 Jan: Philippines: Tuguegarao: Holiday Plaza Hotel

Flight from Manila to Tuguegarao took only 60 minutes.  Since it is only a national airport, do not expect much, there is no conveyor belt and if you are just travelling in short time no need to check-in your things (grab that seat sale!).

For airport transfer, there are tricycles or better yet ask your hotel if they offer airport transfer service. 

Location: Good. We stayed at Holiday Plaza Hotel on the quiet area of Arellano Corner Blumentritt St., Centro 6 in city center. 

On the same building, they house Max's Restaurant which opens for late breakfast until around 8pm.  Levitate Cafe opens at 9pm to serve cocktail drinks, too bad many of what they normally offer are not available when we visited the place on a Sunday evening.

On the opposite building, you can check Ice Craze for desert or Chick-Boy for dinner.  On next street, Bonifacio Street, you can stroll for local stores and fast food same as what we have in the Metro (Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowing, Red Ribbon, McDonalds). 

Hotel lobby is very stylish, from the seats, to mirrors, wall decors, to chandeliers and clocks.

Check-in Experience: Average.  Since we arrived past 1pm, good that we were allowed to go directly in our room.

Room: Average.  It is a bit old room, but I considered decent one for a province.

When you get to your room, it feels eerie.  Quite dark at first, due to limited light and lamp.  Lower part of the walls are a bit dilapidated.  Wirings are exposed, air-conditioner is window type and not controlled by remote.  No water thermos and no free bottled water.

On a positive note, bedding is soft and clean.  Bathroom is spacious, with hot water on the shower but not on the sink.  For the towels provided, one is clean the other one is a bit dirty.

Glad to have wide windows.

Housekeeping: Average.  Looks like they missed to include a trash can, so I have requested one.

Issues and Suggestions:
To have wifi enabled on rooms and lobby.  To add lights on rooms.  Repaint room walls.

Itinerary: Iloilo, Philippines

Itinerary: Places to go, Things to see, What to do in Iloilo?

Day 1
Museo Iloilo
Jaro Cathedral
Calle Real

Day 2
Molo Church
Miag-ao Church
Guimbal Church

2014 Jan: Philippines: Iloilo: Days Hotel

Where to stay in Iloilo?
I prefer the boutique hotels in Smallville area, but these are pretty much new so they still have fewer reviews online and much are not yet found on printed maps.  If you stay here, there is unending night parties on the streets.

We also considered Sarabia Manor Hotel & Convention Center, but decided to stay in Days Hotel Iloilo.

Price: Above Average. 110USD for Classic Deluxe Room 

Location: Good.  Days Hotel is less than 20-30 minutes away from SM City.  It is located on 4F and 5F of The Atrium Mall at the Capitol, Cor Gen. Luna-Bonifacio Drive.  Easily accessible by jeepney and cab.

Check-in Experience: Not the Best.  Strict to its check-in at 1 pm, and while waiting for it sleeping at the lobby is prohibited (they will really wake you up).

Room: Very Good.  Feels like Im not in the province, of course given above average for its cost, I must expect something better and it is indeed.  Cozy feeling, clean white and soft bed, well lighted, ample mirrors, television with cable channels, and free newspaper every morning.

They also offer free coffee and tea, good thing that the drinking water thermostat is working.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 Jan: Philippines: 7 tasted restaurants in Iloilo

Tibiao Bakery
Food: 8 out of 10
Value: Affordable
Atmosphere: 7 out of 10
Food: Chicken Mami with Egg (37php), Ham Sandwich

Feels like Pan De Manila inside because of the brick wall.  They are very generous on vegetables and ingredients for the soup.  It tastes so good as well.  It is commendable that they served the sandwich hot and yummy.

Floyd's Famous BBQ
Food: 7 out of 10
Value: Affordable
Atmosphere: 7 out of 10
Order: Country Sausage Meal, hot chocolate, four season’s juice

The one in Atrium closes early, but the one near Small Ville area stays open late in the evening since it is place for late drinking.