Pangil is one of the municipalities in the province of Laguna that is accessible in the east of Metro Manila. Most of its barangays are conveniently situated at the southern tip of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Thus, Pangil is blessed with all sorts of natural attributes. And the best place for ecotourism in Pangil is none other than Panguil River Eco Park.
What is Panguil River Eco Park?
Panguil River Eco Park is an ecotourism resort by the river. They offer several water activities, riverside cottages, a camping ground, and a gazebo for events. The place has a nice receiving area right across a wooden hanging bridge. The staffs are friendly and every transaction comes with a receipt.
What to do in Panguil River Eco Park?
There are several things to do in Panguil River, but the best and most enjoyable activity is the trek to Ambon-ambon falls. And this is mainly what this blog is all about.
The trek to the waterfall is mostly by the river. You will walk, swim, and/or ride a bamboo balsa to reach the falls. The first part of the trek is just a clear and well-maintained pathway of concrete and stairways made of pebbles and stones.
We reached the first river crossing after a few minutes of walking and we were too excited to take a dip thinking it’s the only river crossing. We were reminded to leave our cellphones behind, but I guess we never paid attention. Lol!
The second river crossing was relatively easy too. It was only knee-deep with a rope across the river as a guide.
It was just a walk in the park up until the 3rd river crossing when there’s no pathway anymore. You already need to swim or ride a bamboo balsa to continue with the trek.
As we get closer to the waterfall, it was like the challenge is getting upgraded. And yes, that was the best part of this unique trip.
The last part of the trek is a wooden ladder sitting on top of a huge slippery rock. And you’re there already. You will see a glimpse of Ambon-ambon falls after climbing that ladder.
WHAT ELSE TO DO IN PANGUIL RIVER?
Panguil River is an Ecotourism Park. They have several cottages by the riverside, pavilions for those who want to stay overnight, a dorm-type accommodation, a kiddie pool, a dam/spillway, a camping ground, and a gazebo for events. They also offer a water-tubing activity down the river from the lower portion of Ambon-ambon falls.
How to go to Panguil River Eco Park?
DRIVE: Pangil is just 2-3 hours away from Metro Manila. Drive to Famy, Laguna via Tanay-Pililla Road. Once you reached Famy, Panguil River is just 5-10 minutes away.
COMMUTE: Ride a Raymond bus to Infanta and drop off at Famy 7-eleven. The bus terminal is in Sampaloc, Manila. There are jeepneys passing through Pangil from Sinilioan going to other Laguna Municipalities right across the road.
I spent most of my childhood days in the province of Rizal. Located in the eastern part of the Philippines’ capital, just approximately 16 km (9.9 miles) from Manila, Rizal is one of the most easily accessible provinces from the metro. It is probably one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country with its several mountains and waterfalls.
Some of its towns lie on the western slopes of the southern portion of the Siera Madre mountain range. Thus, making it perfect for mountain biking, day hikes, road trips, and camping.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT RIZAL
You can hike the mountains of Rizal all-year-round. But the best time to visit is during the rainy season, June to December. It is when the current of its several waterfalls are strong.
PLACES TO VISIT IN RIZAL
During summertime, you can visit Rizal’s museums and galleries. Rizal is not only known for its mountains. It also has a taste of history and art. In fact, one of its municipalities, Angono, is known as the ‘Art Capital of the Philippines’. Here’s a list of places worth visiting in the Province of Rizal:
MUSEUMS AND URBAN AREAS
Pinto Arts Museum (Antipolo City) – Have you seen a museum with a gallery, a cafe, and a park all in one place? It’s a museum in the middle of a forest!
Art Sector Gallery and Chimney Cafe (Binangonan, Rizal) – Art Sector is an art gallery with a cafe and a 360-degree view of the Metro, Laguna Lake, and the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.
Blanco Family Museum (Angono, Rizal) – Blanco Museum is a gallery of the Blanco Family’s artworks. The Blanco Family is one of the noblest families of artists in the Philippines. The museum has a cafe inside.
Taytay Mega Tiangge(Taytay, Rizal) – Taytay is dubbed as the ‘Garments capital of the Philippines’. And then, a few years ago, they decided to take it to another level by creating a bazaar market. It’s definitely a safer alternative to Divisoria.
Angono Petroglyphs (Angono/Binangonan) – The oldest known work of art in the Philippines, the petroglyphs are said to be more than 2000 years old.
ADVENTURES AND HIKES
The province of Rizal does not lack adventures. It has awe-inspiring waterfalls, challenging biking terrains, and a list of mountains worth-hiking. Here are few places that should be on your bucket list:
Masungi Georeserve (Baras, Rizal) – The Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area located in Baras, Rizal. It features geological rock formations, suspended nets attractions, hanging bridges, rope courses, and eco-trails.
Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls (Tanay, Rizal) – Daranak Falls is probably the most popular falls in the municipality of Tanay. Batlag falls on the hand is not that known to many, but it’s actually right at the top of Daranak. Thus, the water from Batlag flows down through Daranak.
Pililla Windmill Farm (Pililla, Rizal) – This windmill farm consists of 27 wind turbines located on top of the mountainous town of Pililla, Rizal. Its purpose is to supply alternate energy, but it has also become the main attraction of the municipality.
HIKING IN RIZAL PROVINCE
Since most of the municipalities of Rizal Province are situated along the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, hiking is the best thing to do here all-year-round.
Mt. Tagapo(Cardona-Binangonan) – Located in Talim Island, Mt. Tagapo provides a scenic view of Laguna de Bay and the skylines of Metro Manila.
Mt. Balagbag (Rodriguez, Rizal) – Mount Balagbag is accessible by trekking or mountain biking. But the best thing to do here is camping. It’s nice to have a cup of coffee in your tent while seeing the metro night lights.
The mountains of Wawa and Mascap (Rodriguez, Rizal) – Rodriguez Rizal is one of the most popular mountain hiking destinations in the Philippines. Barangays Wawa and Mascap gather hundreds or thousands of hikers combined every weekend before the pandemic happened.
The mountains of Tanay (Tanay, Rizal) – Tanay is home to the most majestic waterfalls, rivers, and hike-worthy mountains. Most of these mountains can give you a higher chance of seeing a sea-of-clouds from its summits.
WHERE TO STAY IN RIZAL
With its proximity to Metro Manila, a day trip to Rizal is enough to visit a few tourist destinations. However, staying for a night or two is highly recommended to explore more of this province. You have so many options with your accommodations. You can stay in a fancy hotel, a cozy Filipino hut, a budget-friendly motel, or in a quiet campsite.
Ten Cents to Heaven Leisure Camphttp://tencentstoheaven.com/
Address: Sitio Mayagay II Cuyambay, Marilaque Hwy
Tanay, Rizal 1980
Contact Numbers: (+632) 8542 2087
Treasure Mountain Camp Sitehttps://www.facebook.com/TreasureMountainTanay
Address: Cuyambay, Marilaque Hwy, Tanay, Rizal 1980
Contact: They are active and responsive in Facebook
WHERE TO EAT IN RIZAL
Although Rizal is a mountainous province, it is bordered by Quezon, a coastal province, and Metro Manila, the country’s capital. This means that you several choices on the menu, from seafood to meat and even pasta.
Rizal is just sitting right next to Metro Manila, but sometimes we tend to look somewhere else for our leisure travels. This province has a lot to offer, from adventures, food, arts, and a taste of history. And you may find the tranquility you were looking for here, without traveling on a plane or making a long drive.
I want to see you here in our humble province of Rizal. À bientôt!
Some of us are already working from home when the pandemic started. This gives us the flexibility of taking our jobs anywhere where there is an internet connection. And that is how Birdland Beach Club came up with the idea of making their beautiful resort into a tech-resort to allow online workers to work from the beach!
ABOUT BIRDLAND BEACH CLUB
Birdland Beach Club is an eco-oriented resort in the heart of Bolinao, Pangasinan. This resort was built around existing corals and trees without destroying them. It’s a pet-friendly resort that also offers high-speed internet for working from home individuals who are in dire need of a trip to the beach.
The resort offers several accommodation options like modern-airconditioned cabanas, Ifugao-inspired wooden homes, and outdoor Kubo huts.
HOW TO GO TO BBC Bolinao?
Bolinao, Pangasinan is a 6-hour drive from Metro Manila. Here are a few tips on how to get to BBC Bolinao:
PRIVATE CAR: If you’re up for the challenge, you can drive north to Tarlac via NLEX. Bolinao is just a couple of hours away from Tarlac.
*You may also opt to rent a van for your family’s trip through Van Rental services. I highly recommend Taong Kalye Van Rental Services. Visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/noahoberez
COMMUTE: Five Star bus offers a direct trip from Cubao, Quezon City to Bolinao. You may also take a bus to Tarlac, and then take a regular bus from Tarlac to Bolinao. From the bus station, you can ride a tricycle to the resort which is just 6 minutes away.
WHAT TO DO IN BIRDLAND BEACH CLUB?
Birdland Beach Club is a birds’ paradise. Imagine waking up in the morning to the sound of singing birds. It’s certainly one of the best ways to relax your soul. There are also several things to do here since Bolinao is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pangasinan. Here are things that you can do while in Bolinao:
Take a dip at the resort’s swimming pools
Birdland Beach Club has two swimming pools that you can enjoy. Each pool has its own identity and both are artistically designed to match the resort’s rustic jazzy style.
2. Visit Patar Beach and Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
Although Birdland Beach Club is right at the beachfront, you should not miss taking a side-trip to Patar. Patar Beach is a public beach area in Bolinao, but it’s the best beach in this municipality! The Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is just a few minutes from Patar beach.
3. Waterfalls chasing in Samang Norte
Samang Norte boasts of three waterfalls in its barangay. The waterfalls are only 30 minutes away from the resort, and it’s certainly worth driving to.
4. Discover the underwater caves along Patar Road
There are three underwater caves along Patar Road. Each cave has a natural spring water pool inside. It’s a must-visit in Bolinao! These caves are just a few minutes away from the beach.
I was so amazed that I was able to work and speak with my US-based clients on my mid-range laptop without any technical issues. There are three working stations in Birdland Beach Club with decent Wi-Fi connections sufficient for online tasks. I also tried using my cellphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and Smart Postpaid’s connection in Bolinao didn’t disappoint.
WHY VISIT BIRDLAND BEACH CLUB?
Birdland Beach Club is one of the few eco-tourism resorts in the country. They also support sustainable tourism by growing their own fruits and vegetables and serving them directly in the resort.
This rustic-style resort has been featured several times on TV. It was also nominated as the best resort in Pangasinan in 2017. We have been to Bolinao several times already, and I can say that this is indeed the best place to stay in the province of Pangasinan.
During this pandemic, tourism is one of the most affected industries globally. Though it is unsafe to go out on a leisure trip at this time, supporting resorts such as BBC Bolinao is one of many ways on how we can help in these trying times.
Antipolo city is the new capital of Rizal Province. Antipolo has been the most populous component city in the Philippines for years, but it did not become the province’s capital until July 2020.
This highly-urbanized city prides itself as the Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines. Religious Catholic people will never miss visiting Antipolo during the Lenten season. Antipolo is also one of the best choices for a quick vacation with its proximity to Metro Manila.
WHAT TO DO IN ANTIPOLO CITY
To some religious Catholic people, Antipolo is the pilgrimage capital of the Philippines. During the Lenten Season, my Catholic friends will never miss visiting Antipolo Cathedral, the Mystical Cave, and the White Cross of Antipolo.
But Antipolo is actually a mix of urban and rural life. You’ll get both the taste of crowded city life and the tranquility of a quiet camping area not too far from the city proper. The city, with its high elevation, also boasts of a panoramic view of Metro Manila. Thus some resorts and restaurants are too perfect for relaxation.
PLACES TO VISIT IN ANTIPOLO
Here are few places worth visiting in Antipolo:
Mystical Cave – A cave full of beautiful stalactite formations and shiny minerals. This cave is just 30 minutes away from the city proper. It is popular as one of the pilgrimage destinations in Antipolo.
LULJETTA’S HANGING GARDEN SPA – Luljettas is a resort and spa that offers a spectacular view of Metro Manila. It’s a beautifully designed resort sitting on the cliffs of Antipolo ridges.
CLOUD 9 ANTIPOLO – Cloud 9 is a hotel and restaurant that offers a 360-degree view of Metro Manila and Antipolo. They accept walk-in tourists, so you don’t necessarily need to book accommodation or a pricey dinner to get access to the viewing deck. A hanging bridge connects the restaurant and the viewing deck.
MOUNT PURRO NATURE RESERVES – Mount Purro is a 36-hectare forest sanctuary in the Sierra Madre mountain range. It offers Filipino hut accommodations and camping options for its guests. For more information, please read my Mount Purro blog.
BUNSURAN FALLS – Bunsuran is the most accessible waterfall in Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo City. It has few swimmable basins, and its water flows on a huge wide rock. Read more about Bunsuran by following this link: Bunsuran Falls.
HINULUGANG TAKTAK PARK– Hinulugang Taktak was the flagship of Antipolo long before it became a city. It used to be a beautiful waterfall. Today, the waterfall is no longer swimmable but still offers a magnificent view.
PINTO ARTS MUSEUM – A museum with a gallery, a cafe, and a park all in one place. It’s a museum in the middle of a forest!
WHERE TO STAY IN ANTIPOLO
Due to its proximity to Metro Manila, a day trip to Antipolo is more than enough to visit a place or two. But staying for more than just a day is not a bad idea at all. Here are the recommended places in every corner of the city.
LULJETTA'S HANGING GARDEN SPAhttps://luljettas.com/
Address: Sitio Loreland, Barangay San Roque Antipolo City, Rizal 1870Contact Numbers: (+632) 534 2517, (+63) 925-766-7544
MOUNT PURRO NATURE RESERVEShttps://www.mountpurronaturereserve.com/
Address: Purok 5, Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 534 2517, (+63) 925-766-7544
LEBLANC HOTEL AND RESORThttps://www.facebook.com/LeblancPhilippines
Address: 3 Taktak Rd, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 518-9303
Address: M.L. Quezon Extn. Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal
Contact Numbers: (+632) 954-8607, (+63) 917-793-0973
HOW TO GO TO ANTIPOLO
Antipolo is really just a 30-minute drive from Makati City. This travel time may take up to two hours during rush hours. Ortigas Ave Extn and Marcos Highway are the most common way to Antipolo, but you may also travel via C6-Floodway to Angono Baytown to avoid heavy traffic.
UV express is the most convenient public transportation to Antipolo. UV stands for Utility Vehicle. They are mostly SUVs, and 18-seater Vans turned into non-metered taxis. There are several UV terminals in Metro Manila located in each Business Centers in Makati, Pasig, Taguig, etc.
Jeepneys and buses are also available as cheaper alternative transportation. Terminals are located in Cubao, Quezon City, and Edsa-Shaw Mandaluyong.
They say Antipolo is an alternative to Tagaytay. Its high elevation provides cold weather and beautiful views of Metro Manila. Personally, I believe that Antipolo City has a totally different identity. Some tourists visit Antipolo for religious reasons, that’s why they call it the “Pilgrimage Capital.” But there is more to this city than just religious practices and sacrifices.
Antipolo City still has a long way to go with its tourism. At this time, it is not yet comparable to Tagaytay at all. But like what Tagaytay used to be (when it wasn’t yet too crowded), Antipolo is a perfect definition of tranquility.
Bolinao is one of the coastal towns in the province of Pangasinan. It is popularly known for its giant clams that are locally known as ‘Taclobo‘. This municipality is also widely known for its waterfalls and beautiful fine-sand beach.
HOW TO GO TO BOLINAO PANGASINAN?
Bolinao is a 6-hour drive from Metro Manila. Here are a few tips on how to get to Bolinao:
PRIVATE CAR: You can drive north to Tarlac via NLEX. Bolinao is just a couple of hours away from Tarlac.
*You may also opt to rent a van for your family’s trip through Van Rental services. I highly recommend Taong Kalye Van Rental Services. Visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/noahoberez.
COMMUTE: Five Star Bus offers a direct trip from Cubao, Quezon City to Bolinao. Or you may also take a bus to Tarlac, and then take a regular bus from Tarlac to Bolinao.
WHERE TO STAY IN BOLINAO?
We have been to Bolinao four times already. And during our most recent 3-day stay in Bolinao, we stayed in Birdland Beach Club in Long Beach, Bolinao. It’s the best place to stay in Bolinao! It’s just 5 minutes away from the market and bus terminal. It has a reliable internet connection, several room accommodation options, and an overall quiet, relaxing environment.
You can book your stay directly by contacting them using the following information, or you can book using Airbnb, just like we did.
El Pescador Resort Hotel
Address: San Andres St, Bolinao, Pangasinan
Contact Numbers: +63 999-992-6184, +63 927-145-0110
TOURIST SPOTS TO VISIT IN BOLINAOPANGASINAN
Bolinao is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pangasinan, and even in North Luzon. Not only that it has very good and relaxing accommodations, but it also has a few places worth visiting! Here are some of the places you should not miss visiting when in Bolinao:
Patar beach is a public beach area in Bolinao. It has beautiful cream-white fine sand and clear turquoise blue water. It is free for everyone’s access, and one is not required to rent a cottage. Wouldn’t it be nice if all beaches in the Philippines are like that?
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse.
This lighthouse was built in Patar, Bolinao in 1903. It stands at 351 feet above sea level on top of Punta Piedra Point. It provides a panoramic view of Patar white beach and Cape Bolinao Dendro Thermal Ipil-Ipil Plantation.
The enchanted cave is indeed so enchanting. It’s probably the most beautiful underwater cave that I have seen so far. It has clear cold water inside and there are lights installed. There are also giant clams shells around the area which means that this cave as well as its surrounding used to be part of the ocean!
There are two other underwater caves in Bolinao, but the Enchanted Cave is the most popular.
Bolinao Falls 1
Bolinao has a series of waterfalls on its streams. The first waterfall that you will see when entering Brgy. Samang Norte is simply called Bolinao Falls 1. It’s the tallest waterfall in Bolinao and has a deep basin of more than 30 feet.
Bolinao Falls 2
I like the second waterfall better than the 1st one. It looks more quiet and peaceful. It has several huts beside the waterfall perfect for a family picnic or barbecue time.
There is a third waterfall downstream which we decided not to visit at this time.
WHERE TO EAT IN BOLINAO
My personal favorite in Bolinao is Tummy Teasers because they offer a variety of food options on their menu. For budget travelers, I would also highly recommend JQ’s Corner. Tummy Teasers restaurant is in Poblacion, along Saturnino Camaingan Street (the road leading to Patar Beach), while JQ’s Corner is right beside the bus terminal.
Bolinao, Pangasinan is a 6-hour drive from Metro Manila, but it’s so much worth it. It has everything that you will ever wish for in a vacation; waterfalls, underwater caves, a white-sand beach, and a totally relaxing accommodation.
It is possible to visit Bolinao on a one-day trip. Some tour agencies and operators offer day-tour packages to Bolinao which are normally really cheap. The itinerary includes leaving Manila at 12 AM, arriving in Bolinao at 6 AM, and going home after a whole day full of adventures. But I highly recommend that you stay for a few days so you can maximize your time at each tourist destination.
The secret to a perfect Bolinao trip is to spend a few days and just feel the serenity of the place. Thus, choosing the right accommodation is certainly one of the most important things in planning your travel to Bolinao.
There is a waterfall in Antipolo City known as Hinulugang Taktak. It used to be the flagship of Antipolo long before it became a city. Unfortunately, it became polluted in 1960, and it never recovered despite a few rehabilitation efforts. But did you know that there is another waterfall in Antipolo City? I just recently discovered Bunsuran Falls.
Bunsuran Falls is flowing at the foot of Sierra Madre Mountain Range, in the heart of Upper Marikina Watershed, Calawis, Antipolo City. The Upper Marikina Watershed is a protected landscape. Its preservation is crucial to Metro Manila as its streams flow directly to Marikina and its nearby cities. This gives us hope that Bunsuran will not end up like Hinulugang Taktak.
HOW TO GO TO BUNSURAN FALLS?
PRIVATE CAR: Drive to Marilaque via Marcos Highway, passing Cogeo/Padilla. A few minutes after passing Boso-Boso Highlands resort, there is a wet market. Turn left as soon as you see the busy marketplace. Follow the signs that lead to Mount Purro Nature Reserve, and then turn left when you see a bridge and a sign that says ‘Bunsuran Falls’.
COMMUTE: Take a jeepney to Paenaan. There are terminals in Marikina and Cogeo. Tell the driver to drop you off at ‘Veterans’ or ‘Kanto ng Veterans’. Then you can take a tricycle going to the falls jump-off point. There is no hike required. The waterfall is just a 5-minute walk from the parking area.
WHAT TO DO IN BUNSURAN FALLS?
Bunsuran has an interesting landscape. Its water flows on a huge wide rock that creates a series of steep drops to a few basins. One of its basins looks like a natural jacuzzi, while another one downstream is a deep basin where no one is allowed to swim. Here are a few things you can do in Bunsuran:
Relax on a Natural Jacuzzimade by Nature
One of the basins of the waterfall is a 3-foot natural pool rock formation that looks like a Jacuzzi. This is one of my favorite spots on the falls.
We have seen some locals cliff diving from a huge rock towards a 6 ft water. Please be careful though, it only has a tiny space between the rocks and the water, and it may be prone to injury.
Outdoor enthusiasts can camp by the riverbanks. A local guide is required if you are staying overnight.
There are only a few areas for swimming in Bunsuran. Most parts of the river are shallow with less than 4 feet depth of water. And that’s a good thing for non-swimmers.
Picnic or Foodtrip
You can bring food, or grill a barbecue on the riverside. There are also food stalls near the falls. Please be responsible for your own trash. Clean as you go and leave nothing but footprints.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BUNSURAN FALLS?
The best time to visit the falls is BER-months or rainy season in the Philippines. If the stream does not have enough water, the place looks too dull and unattractive. In Bunsuran, the more water, the more fun there is! Let me share some additional photos to help you decide if the waterfall is worth visiting.
SAVE THE STREAMS!
Antipolo City has become Rizal Province’s capital since July 2020. With this, we can expect more infrastructure buildings and subdivisions in the next few years, but it’s good to know that Antipolo has not totally lost its natural beauty. We really hope that we can keep Bunsuran Falls as it is and protect it from becoming polluted like the other streams in the city.
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Tourism allows us to witness the most breathtaking natural wonders in the country. It also has the power to significantly change a place and the local people’s lives positively or negatively. When there is a balance between earning a livelihood and protecting the environment, it’s called sustainable tourism. We have seen how a beautiful beach paradise can easily turn into a garbage and waste dump site when sustainable tourism is not practiced. Unfortunately, only a few organizations promote sustainable travel.
Recently, I learned about Mount Purro Nature Reserve (MPNR).
WHAT IS MOUNT PURRO NATURE RESERVE
Mount Purro is a 36-hectare forest sanctuary sitting in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is part of the Upper Marikina Watershed, a protected landscape area in the province of Rizal. It offers Filipino hut accommodations and camping options for its guests.
WHAT TO DO IN MOUNT PURRO
Mount Purro Nature Reserve’s tag line is #disconnecttoconnect. Visiting MPNR allows you to disconnect from your daily lifestyles and connect with mother nature. You can choose to do nothing all day long. The relaxation that nature brings is sufficient to make your stay so worth it.
Just in case you are easily bored, there are also several things you can do in MPNR. Here are some of the things worth doing while you’re there:
Forest Hike – A one-hour trek to Malvar’s peak is one good way to start your day in Mount Purro Nature Reserve. The trail is not that difficult. It even has some stairs on the descending part.
Swim – There is a swimming pool inside Mount Purro. Taking a dip in a pool surrounded by tall trees in a quiet sanctuary seems a perfect way to relax.
Game Room – You can play some game boards, table tennis, billiards, sungka, and foosball in the game room without an extra fee. Items can be borrowed at the Reception Area.
Kids Playground – There is a playground for kids where they can climb and play. There is a small obstacle course, swing, slides, a small hanging bridge, and toys that kids can play with.
River Trek – They say that flowing water can provide deep relaxation. A guided trek to the river is also one of the fun activities that should not be missed in MPNR.
Camp – There is a tent-pitching option for outdoor enthusiasts. The camping ground is safe and secure. It is just right beside the Pavillion which is a dorm-type accommodation.
HOW TO GO TO MOUNT PURRO
Mount Purro is located in Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo City. It will take a 1-hour drive from the city proper to MPNR.
The most convenient way to MPNR is via Marcos Highway, passing Masinag and Cogeo, Antipolo through Marilaque Highway. You can easily navigate the place through Google Maps and WAZE. MPNR will also provide you with very detailed driving instructions.
Alternatively, you may also take a jeepney from Cubao to Cogeo. And take another jeepney from Cogeo to Sampaloc Tanay or Paenaan. Advise the driver to drop you off in Brgy. Calawis or ‘kanto ng Veterans’. There is a tricycle terminal right across the market.
THINGS TO NOTE
Here are some things, you need to note before deciding to book your stay in Mount Purro Nature Reserve:
No walk-ins are allowed during the pandemic, prior reservation is required.
There are no ATM’s in the area, please bring cash with you.
MPNR is not like any resorts, you need to bring your own towels and toiletries.
Camping is allowed, but cooking is prohibited.
Outside food is allowed but can only be consumed at the Pavilion area which is right beside the camping area. There are tables and monobloc chairs available there.
Food is available in Loli’s kitchen but you need to order it in advance during the reservation for 300 pesos per meal. The serving per meal is plenty for people with a small appetite like myself.
There is a curfew policy which is 10 PM. Please show respect to the people around you by observing silence all the time, most especially after the curfew hours.
Possible side-trips near Mount Purro
Bunsuran Falls. Just 1.2 kilometers away, or a 5-minute drive.
Boso-boso Highlands Resort. 11.8 kilometers away.
Palo Alto Falls. 17.9 kilometers away.
Masungi Georeserve. 19.1 kilometers away
WHY VISIT MOUNT PURRO NATURE RESERVE
Visiting Mount Purro has been an eye-opener for me about Sustainable Tourism. I admire the efforts of Mr. Toto Malvar in creating the forest sanctuary and educating people about the importance of a watershed like the Upper Marikina Watershed. Mount Purro Nature Reserve is the perfect place to visit if one wants to experience nature in a safe and secure environment.
Please follow Mount Purro on Facebook or contact them directly using the following information:
Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo City
Phone: (+632) 8 542-3005
Cebu (Cebuano: Sugbo) is a province in Central Visayas, the southern part of the Philippines. It is mostly known for its white-sand beaches and beautiful waterfalls. One of its cities, Cebu City, used to be the capital of the Philippines. Metro Cebu is also known as the second-largest Metropolitan in the Philippines, next to Metro Manila. Here’s my 2020 Cebu Travel Guide.
Traveling to Cebu can be planned in three parts; South Cebu, City Tour, and North Cebu.
If you’re looking for adventures, down south is the best place to go. If you’re looking to relax; or dive with some thresher sharks, you can go up north.
Cebu City tour, on the other hand, can be done as a side-trip before going back home. Yes, there are a lot of things to see in the city, but do yourself a favor and get away from the city traffic on your first day if you can.
For me, it is best to go straight to the bus station after you landed at the airport.
Getting Around Cebu City
As a backpacker, getting around Cebu City through public commuting may be a little challenging. I’ve been to Cebu three times already, but I still have not been used to it. The best option I discovered was to rent a motorcycle or a scooter and let Google Maps take care of you.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CEBU
You can visit Cebu all year round. Go to the beach during summer, and experience canyoneering during the rainy season.
PLACES TO VISIT
Fort San Pedro
Temple of Leah
Sirao Flower Farm
Cebu Taoist Temple
PLACES TO VISIT IN CEBU
I have been to Cebu three times, but there is still a lot more to discover. Hopefully, when this pandemic is over, I can go back and finally visit Bantayan Island and then explore the rest of the waterfalls down south.
Osmeña peak (Patung, Badian) – It stands at 1,013 MASL, the 2nd highest peak on the island of Cebu, next to Mount Manunggal (1,097 MASL). But don’t let its height discourage you from hiking this mountain. Your hike is going to start at a high elevation, so it will only require a 20 to 30-minute walk to reach the summit.
Basdako (Moalboal, Cebu) – Basdako comes from two Cebuano words; Bas and Dako. Bas means sand, and Dako means big. It’s a two-kilometer white sand beach, mostly known for recreational diving.
Kawasan Falls (Badian, Cebu) – Kawasan is probably the most popular tourist destination in Cebu. Canyoning and cliff diving are the things you can do here. But for the old souls and less-active people, just seeing the magnificent blue turquoise-colored waterfalls is so much worth it.
Cuartel (Oslob, Cebu) – Oslob is known for whale sharks watching, but it also has few historical sites such as the Cuartel ruins and the Baluarte.
Malapascua Island (Daanbantayan, Cebu) – Malapascua is a diver’s haven. Most tourists that visit this island have one goal; to dive with thresher sharks! If you’re not into diving, the island also has white-sand beaches, snorkeling sites, and a cliff diving spot.
Bantayan Island (North) – Bantayan Island is one of the few tourist destinations up north. It can be reached through a 4-hour bus ride and a ferry going to the island.
Temple of Leah (Cebu City) – The grandest symbol of love of a man, Teodorico S. Adarna, who spent millions to build a Roman-inspired temple for his late wife, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna. Wow, just wow!
Krus ni Magellan (Cebu City) – Magellan’s Cross is a Christian cross planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers upon arriving in Cebu in 1521.
Fort San Pedro (Cebu City) – Fort San Pedro is a military defense structure in Cebu, built by the Spaniards in 1565. It’s just a few blocks away from Magellan’s cross.
10,000 Roses (Cordova, Lapu–Lapu City) – 10,000 Roses is a cafe designed with thousands of artificial white roses. It’s best to visit this cafe at night.
WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU
If it’s your first time in Cebu, I highly recommend you go down south because there are more things you can do compared to the northern part. Book your accommodation in Oslob or Moalboal, depending on your chosen itinerary. Moalboal is just a few minutes away from Kawasan Falls. Oslob is more than an hour away from that falls, but it’s more accessible to other tourist attractions.
Blue Water SumilonRates: P7,000.00 - P 10,300 ($144.00 USD - $211.00 USD)
Address: Sumilon Island, Oslob, Cebu
Contact Numbers: (+63)32 353-5578, (+63) 998-964-1879
Seascape Beach ResortRates: P3,000 ($62.00)
Address: Natalio B.Bacalso S National Hwy, Oslob, Cebu
Contact Numbers: (+63) 917-328-7015, (+63) 917-142-1917
Brice Barbecue and GrillType: Pork barbecue, Chicken Inasal and more
Address: Oslob, Cebu
Contact: They are active and responsive in Facebook.
Ging-ging's Garden RestaurantType: They offer the best breakfast in Malapascua!
Address: Malapascua Island, Cebu
Contact #: (+63) 905-777-8672
Ocean Vida RestaurantType: A cafe and Restaurant right at the beach front.
Address: Malapascua Island, Cebu
Contact #: (+63) 918-666-0240
Things to note for Cebu Travel Guide
I don’t like sharing a step-by-step itinerary because it’s never followed anyway. I’ll share some tips instead.
There are a few things you need to consider in traveling to the island of Cebu.
Weather. The weather should be your biggest concern. Last year, our travel plans to Bantayan Island failed due to a tropical storm. We didn’t have a choice but to travel back to the city. It was one full day wasted on the road.
Time of Flight. The best time to arrive in Cebu is in the morning. It will allow you to catch a morning trip to your destination and be there on time for your check-in.
Itinerary. Consider your itinerary carefully based on how much energy you think you or your travel buddies can spend on Day 1. Do you want adventure right off-the-bat, or just relax on your first day.
Dry Bag. Cebu is an island of adventures. You will need a durable, high-quality dry bag if you don’t want to leave your wallet and cellphones during canyoning or island-hopping.
Action Camera. If there’s one line you need to remember when planning a Cebu trip, it’s “Capture every moment!” GoPro is your travel best friend.
The travel and tourism industry in the Philippines is now slowly going back to business despite this pandemic. Tagaytay has been opened for tourists in September, while Baguio and Boracay have opened their doors since October 1, 2020.
Bataan province, on the other hand, is still strict with accepting tourists during this pandemic. Bataan is not a popular tourist destination compared to Tagaytay, Baguio, or Boracay. But it has one of our most favorite resorts hotel in the country, the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Leisure Travels are still not recommended. However, to save the economy, the Tourism Industry is doing its part. We can contribute by going out, but let’s make sure not to disregard the health and safety protocols, not just to protect ourselves, but everyone around us and our family that are waiting for us at home.
This blog post is your 2020 travel guide for Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
About Las Casas
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzaris a 400-hectare heritage resort consisting of 63 Casas with 128 rooms open for accommodations. The heritage houses came from different places in the country. The resort’s owner, Jose “Jerry” Acuzar, bought abandoned ancestral houses, transported them to Bataan, and reconstructed them to save them from total ruin. In other words, it’s a collection of ancestral houses!
Las Casas Filipinas is active on Social Media like Facebook and Instagram. They also have a website with up-to-date contact information. But most importantly, they have Sales Associates who are efficient and prompt with answering inquiries.
You can book your stay directly on their website or through a Sales Associate. In our case, we booked our accommodations a month ahead with the help of Francis Mae, Corporate Sales Manager at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. We were able to avail of a 55% discount on our accommodations for two rooms.
There were four of us, my wife Siona and I, and our couple friends, Efraim and Abby. It’s a double-date!
How to go to Las Casas Filipinas
There are no buses that travel directly to Bagac, Bataan. You will have to take a bus to Balanga, Bataan and take a jeepney to Bagac. During the pandemic, there are no buses at all. But don’t worry, it’s only a 4-hour drive. The best option would be via NLEX-San Fernando Exit. At the Expressway Exit, keep driving to your right, passing the towns of Guagua and Lubao, all the way to the City of Balanga. In Balanga, follow the directions to Bagac, which is to the right.
The Japan-Philippines Friendship Tower is the nearest landmark. Las Casas is just a few minutes away.
ARRIVING IN LAS CASAS
The first casa you will see upon entering Las Casas Filipinas is Casa New Manila. This casa serves as the reception area of the resort. There is also a western-type restaurant on the 2nd floor, but it’s closed during the pandemic.
Casa New Manila
The good thing about staying in Las Casas is that you can already stroll around the resort as early as 8:00 AM, even if your check-in time is 3:00 PM. This allows you to see the whole place, discover every corner of the resort, relax on the beach, and eat at your preferred restaurant before taking a rest in your hotel room.
But the best thing about Las Casas is that they have outstanding customer service. They allowed us to reschedule our booking due to an emergency for free! They even let us check-in early at 9:00 AM without a fee!
Most hotel rooms in Las Casas is in Accessoria. Accessoria is a term for Row House. Thus, it’s a row of hotel rooms on the beachfront. If you want to book a room with the best beach view, you may specifically ask for Accessoria 8. However, you may not be able to check-in early due to the limited number of rooms in Accessoria 8.
Where to eat in Las Casas
There are a few restaurants and cafes in Las Casas. La Bella Teodora, an Italian Restaurant, Cusina ni Nanay Maria, a Filipino Restaurant, several cafes, and a bar at the beachfront.
Lechon Carajay is a must-try in Cusina ni Nanay Maria, while Risotto de Teodora is La Bella’s signature dish. Risotto is now my favorite Italian dish!
What to do in Las Casas
There are several things you can do in Las Casas. But the best thing to do is to take your time and admire the beauty of the place. The whole resort and every casa on it are like artwork. Everything you see on it is carefully handcrafted.
Heritage Walking Tour
Do not miss joining the walking tour! It’s been my 3rd time in Las Casas, and there is always something new in every walking tour I attended. The tour guides are so friendly and entertaining.
Tips: It’s best to wear a slipper during the walking tour. You will be required to take your shoes off when visiting some casas.
*The first casa on the photo is under-renovation that’s why we did not have to take our shoes off.
You can tour around the casas that are not covered by the walking tour through a motorized balsa. There are new casas added to the balsa tour since we last visited the resort.
Take a plunge at the batis-inspired pool with a view of Hotel de Oriente across the river. Batis is the Filipino word for brook.
You may also tour around Las Casas on a Calesa. You can skip this activity if you have a soft spot for animals. But one thing I noticed was that their horses seem healthier compared to the horses in Tagaytay.
Las Casas Filipinas is facing the West Philippine Sea. Its beach has fine brown sand with big waves during the rainy season.
HOTEL DE ORIENTE
Las Casas’ Hotel de Oriente is just a replica of the real Hotel de Oriente in Manila that was destroyed during World War II. But this building is artistically magnificent inside-out.
Golf Cart and Bicycle rental
If you are traveling with an elderly, it might be a good idea to rent a golf cart for 750 pesos to tour around the resort. There are also old-school bicycles for rent at 200 pesos per hour.
You can stroll around the resort without a tour guide. You can take a picture anywhere you want, except on some privately-rented casas. Yes, the hotel rooms are not just in Accessoria. Most of the casas are open for accommodations and can be rented privately. Some casas have a pool of their own.
Every corner of the resort is so picturesque. Every spot you sit on is worth a click of your camera. That’s why Las Casas is one of our most favorite resorts hotel in the country.
Is Las Casas worth the money for a Day Tour?
Most of my friends would tell me that Las Casas is so overrated and not even worth a day tour. Personally, I can only agree with the latter part. Las Casas Filipinas is certainly not worth a day tour. It’s worth an overnight stay. You need to stay for more than just a day to really appreciate the place.
Las Casas Filipinas Gallery
There are too many ancestral houses in Las Casas, and each one has its unique design and character. I hope this helps you decide to visit the place and support our tourism industry during these trying times.
Project 81 pertains to the eighty-one provinces of the Philippines. It’s a goal to revisit the whole country and share it with the world. The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It has 7,641 islands scattered among the 81 provinces.
The Philippines has three main island categories; Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon, where the capital Manila is situated, has 38 provinces. Mindanao and Visayas have 27 and 16, respectively.
The Gems of Luzon
There are a few notable tourist attractions in Luzon often missed by first-time visitors due to the popularity of Palawan and Boracay. Mount Mayon, Batanes, and Batad Rice Terraces are amongst a long list of the most awe-inspiring places in the Philippines.
The Visayas region is a group of islands in the central part of the Philippine map. One of its major cities is Cebu City, the Queen City of the south. The Visayas’ most popular tourist destination is Boracay. Boracay is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the whole world.
They say that you can find the best beaches in the Philippines in the Visayas region. Cebu, Bohol, Ilo-ilo, Aklan, Leyte, and some other Visayan provinces all boast of fine-white beaches of their own.
The Land of Promise
Mindanao, on the other hand, is further down south. Its major cities are Davao and Cagayan de Oro. The surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao Island is probably the most visited place in that part of the country.
Mindanao is also known as the Land of Promise due to its rich biodiversity, natural resources, and some unexplored forests.
The Land of Ophir
Some biblical historians said that the Philippines might be the Land of Ophir, a land of wealth and the most precious type of gold. Honestly, I have never seen a genuine gold bar my entire life. But I can agree that this country is indeed wealthy.
Our wealth is our natural resources; enchanting reefs, vast marine life, unique wildlife, fine white-sand to pebbly beaches, magical rivers and waterfalls, well-cultivated farms, some naturally-engineered landscapes like hills, volcanoes, and unspoiled forests and mountains.
Let’s revisit the whole Philippines as soon as this pandemic is over.