On Travelling with A Kid: Raising A Considerate Traveler

Teloy: Mommy where did you keep my Piattos?

Mommy: It’s inside your bag.

Teloy: Okay. Then he started to open his bag while I lean back, close my eyes and tried to sleep inside the moving commuter van  from Tiwi to Legazpi.

Moments later, peered at Teloy and asked  him, “why are not you eating your Piattos?”

Teloy:
“I’ll just eat it later, were near already.There are people sleeping and they might get disturbed by the sound of the plastic.”

teloy1

I smiled inwardly and allowed him to lean on my side as we tried to sleep out the remaining minutes of the trip. My son is turning nine this year and I feel really proud that he’s becoming a well-mannered travelling kid.

teloy3

Most moms or parents dread travelling with their children because it is difficult, it’s complicated, it’s chaotic, nightmarish, yes, but travel with kids could also be the coolest, most enjoyable and the happiest moments of your lives.

teloy8Three years ago, Baba and I finally decided to cut the crap on long-distance parenting.

Daddy has been working outside the country, Mommy has been working in capital and Teloyskie has lived with my parents since he was three months old.  While both of us are busy making a living we only get spend 2 days or 2 weeks maximum with Teloy. We are hardly ever there to see how’s he’s growing up, how he’s developing  physically, mentally and emotionally.

teloy10

When I settled in Bicol in 2012, it was my first time to become a full time mom to Teloy. He was really skinny then, with a weird skin allergy on his face and neck because he won’t eat anything that’s not fried egg or hotdog. He’s bratty, he complains a lot about things that are not comfortable or familiar to him. The first time I took him on a trip is for a beach camp in Calaguas.

Teloyskie was just five years old then and he was really excited about going to the beach, but then he complained a lot about sleeping in a tent! “It’s hot inside Mommy, it’s hard on the back and I only have one pillow!”

After a long day of traveling to get to the island, sweltering under the intense heat of the sun, swimming, and keeping your eyes on the tot, any parent’s patience can tire out with this bed time scene. Well at least he isn’t crying and there are no more tantrums.

teloy6

I’ve always read about travel with kid tips and experiences so that each trip will become more and more enjoyable for all of us. Every time Baba comes home now, we try to explore together and talk to Teloy about travelling and the places we visit. We also learned some simple ways to make traveling with kid a little less stressful and  even more memorable.

  1. Food for picky eaters. When traveling, Teloyskie has learned to pack snacks, biscuits and drinks. We always tell him that snacks or chips are expensive on the road, so whether it’s just a day out or week-long trip,  he’d fill up his Nalgene with water, get  some Chuckie out of the fridge and pack some Pillows, Bread Pan, Dewberry or Oreos before we leave home.

teloy72. Kiddie Entertainment.

Although many people are against it, iPad, Tablets, mobile phones are very helpful in keeping the kid/kids entertained while waiting for the plane/boat/bus or jeep. But of course you have to moderate their time in using them. A booklet of crossword puzzle or headset plus his playlist on his mobile are also great tools for passing time.

teloy11

3. Listen to the Kid.  Although adults have a different appreciation of their destination, kids do too and they want to share their thoughts with you too. So aside from talking to them about the historical importance of a place or the eccentricities of Calle Crisolo, listen to them too. Teloyskie’s imagination can sometimes turn super silly and while some places bore him to bits, we draw him back quick when we ask him what he thinks about carved “Anitos.”

teloy4

4. Empathize with their worries and fears. Kids can be quite fearless with their exploration, but they worry and get scared too and they only got you to reassure them. Our first Zip Line experience was in Danao Adventure Park in Bohol, and it was scary! On our first run, I was so scared I couldn’t scream and so does Teloy. When I screamed my lungs out, he did the same. And as we walk toward the line going back, I asked him if he was scared, when he said yes, I hugged him and told him how scared mommy is too. Then I asked him if he still want to do it or not. He smiled widely and gamely said yes!

teloy2

 

5. Be a role model. Kids are sponges and they would readily copy what you do and say. If you freak out and panic, they will freak out and panic. If you keep your cool, they will too. If you leave your trash everywhere, they will too!

teloy9

Baba and I are keen on being good examples to our Teloy. I think having him around while we are traveling makes us even better persons because we would follow rules, laws and norms which most of us tend to bend or ignore.

So let us just take it easy. Stop and smell the flowers. As adults we tend to haste and hurry, we walk fast, eat fast, and do most of our stuff in a hurried fashion especially if we are on the road. We should never forget that when we are traveling with kids, no matter how responsible and how hard they try to cope up with us, they are still KIDS. They eat slower, walk slower, shower slowly and dress up like they’re dragging the luggage on their frail little shoulders. Sometimes they have short attention span easily gets curious by something or an event they notice along the way.

teloy12

Sometimes they just want to sit and watch cartoons than chase the ostriches in the zoo! Considering their needs every now and then, may create chaos with our itinerary, but what the heck?! We take them travelling because we want them to learn about the world outside the familiar. We are slowly but surely indoctrinating our little travelers worthwhile values that they can put into good use soon as they’re ready to take on their own adventures.

 

Malacanang of the North and the Paoay Lake

Malacanang of the North served as then President Marco’s residence in Ilocos. The Marcoses has built several homes around the country during his regime but this is only the second one I’ve visited. The first was the Sto. Nino Shrine located in Tacloban City.

IMG_5135

This residence was later turned into a museum which showcase the late president’s collections and memorabilia. And like the Sto. Nino Shrine, Malacanang of the North gives us a glimpse of the opulent life the Marcoses had and still has.

IMG_5155

The property has a magnificent view of Paoay Lake. I could just imagine the late president taking his time to admire the calm waters and fresh air through those large sliding capiz windows.

IMG_5154

And because this museum is included in almost all itineraries for Ilocandia tour packages, the place is packed and overflowing with tourist and vacationers when we where there. Personally though, I can skip this out if we were doing a DIY trip. Would rather spend time sand surfing in Paoay.

IMG_5164

Currently, Malacanang of the North is open from Tuesdays to Sundays. Entrance fee is Php 20 for adults and Php 10 for kids.

Brankolei Pizza Italian Vero

It was the day we’re about to leave Daet and go back home to Albay but since my colleague still has a meeting to attend, I decided to meet up with my friend from college first.

IMG_4469

The guys from my office were raving about the pizza place that is owned presumably by an Italian so according to them, the food there is something I should try. I eagerly contacted her and set up a short meet-up for brunch. After getting lost in downtown Daet trying to look for the elusive “Allaga” which was in fact found at every nook and alley. She finally decided to meet me at Jolibee along Bagasbas Road and we started walking towards David St. The corner has a furniture shop and Brankolei is housed in an orange building (or was it red?) at the back of this furniture shop.

IMG_4470

IMG_4473

At 10:00Am the pizza house is just opening up for the business day. We requested seating at the second floor for more comfort and privacy, plus it has air conditioning. We had the place to ourselves so we started taking pictures. According to my friend Myra, her agency uses this place for meetings that is why the waitress knows her already.

I first ordered the “Daet on the Go” pizza which was highlighted one of the tarps in the room but the waitress said they no longer serve this because it has seasonal ingredients that they do not have in storage.

IMG_4465

So I went for their “Daet Overload” instead. Myra also recommended their Bolognese and the Tiramisu Ice Cream for dessert. Their menu is filled with mouth-watering varieties so I couldn’t help but order two more pasta dishes for take out.

IMG_4466

Our pizza must be one of the best ones I’ve tried in my entire life (n0 exaggerations here!). It was just the way I liked it, thin crust, crunchy without going flaky or oily. For toppings, it has ham, beef bits, olives, bell pepper, pineapple and corn kernels! Every bite is heaven!

IMG_4468

My friend’s reco on the other hand was just okay. But the real deal here is their super affordable price! Teloy and I also enjoyed my take out from Brankolei – another Bolognese and some 3-Cheeze Pasta!.

 

Barkada Trip Series: Laoag Legacies and the Heritage of Paoay Church

We stirred and woke up inside our van which was parked in a church courtyard. We didn’t where we are so we asked the driver/instant-guide to take us to Laoag as it is shown in the itinerary. We later realized that the courtyard was in Bacarra, and the old bell tower there would have looked amazing as the sun rise.

IMG_2452

IMG_2513

The Sinking Bell Tower, call out to every passerby as it boldly stood in the middle of the city center.

Well, next thing we knew we are already in the center of Laoag. A city with a mesmerizing mix of Spanish and Ilocano heritage. While the city slowly woke, we walked around to admire red brick structures alongside more modern buildings and business establishment.



Our group soon headed to the still closed Marcos Museum and Mausoleum. The place is soon filled with tourist and vacationers as it was also the holy week.

IMG_2473

IMG_2492

 

IMG_2465

While the rest were still caught up in the museum, me and my boys sneak out and headed to the nearby Burgos Church.

laoag2

And then decided to snack on some Empanada while we wait for our group. Ilocos empanada are best eaten fresh off the pan. Inside that crisp orange pastry are vigan longganisa, egg and veggies. I’m not very fond of vinegar but this empanada is best paired with it.

IMG_2500

Apparently, Ilocos does not only have the Marcoses to boost, Juan Luna, renowned Filipino Artist during the Philippine Revolution and the man behind the masterpiece “Spoliarium, 1884” is also a son of Ilocos. He got here some cool cafes called “Johnny Moon.”

laoag

 

Paoay Church (St Augustine Church)

laoag4

We soon left Laoag and traveled to Paoay to see St. Augustine Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A massive structure that sure stood the test of time and elements, Paoay Church is a famous icon of the Paoay town and Ilocos province.

laoag3

According to websites, this church is made of coral stones and bricks and is made so grand to adapt it’s unique Baroque design to the country’s conditions. St Agustine Church or familiarly, Paoay Church also has a garden that is open to church goers and visitors.

While we swelter outside under the midday sun, the church cool interiors were undoubtedly inviting. Like anywhere else in Ilocos though, the church courtyard and inside was brimming with tourists. We can’t even get a good shot of the church’s facade!

It’s Who You Travel With (Barkada Trip Series:Ilocandia)

We must be getting old. Fifteen years of friendship made our bonds stronger and while we seek more adventures together, we also yearn for the easiest, most comfortable means there is. Among our group, only me, the tot and the baba are for the backpacking, commuting, DIY sort of travels. The rest of the group wanted a “group tour” fixed by some agency. The majority won of course and us three are not complaining, we are all eager to travel with everyone.

It’s All About Who You Travel With

For 15 years, our group of friends have experience a lot and out of it all, we grew to strong, mature and dignified individuals — well most of us. Our work and personal lives has kept us busy that is why, every opportunity for a get together is always a welcome respite. For 2014, we decided to explore places up north – Ilocos.

We arrived in Vigan, at around 3 in the morning. We were sleepy and asking our van driver what we are doing there, he replied with “Dito daw tayo magpa umaga sabi ng kaibigan kong driver dun sa kabilang van.” He clearly doesn’t know anything about tour guiding in Ilocandia. Our group along with 5 other people suggested that we just stick with the itinerary provided by the agency since he also don’t know where or why we should go.

Places of Interest

There were a whole lot of destinations listed on the itinerary that the agency provided us. It could have been one cool road trip if only he was more accommodating with our suggestions. Being a little wayward, my boys and I took some time exploring nearby areas while the rest are still checking out one spot.

On Day One we were able to tick off these sights and spot in Laoag.

The Marcos Museum
Sinking Bell Tower
Johnny Moon Cafe
Burgos Church
Empanada
Malacanang of the North
Paoay Church
Paoay Sand Dunes

Day Two was all about Pagudpud, and though it was only a short stint, we were able to soak our weary bodies at Saud Beach and later on, joined the beach party where Glock 9 played! We were able to visit:

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Bangui Windmills
Patapat Bridge Viaduct
Kabigan Falls
Saud Beach

Day Three was all set for Vigan’s Calle Crisologo and Baluarte.

Our travel dates were set on the super peak season – Holy Week of 2014. This is the first time for us to set a trip for this occasion and woooh! I will never travel to such kind of destinations during Holy Week!!

DIY vs Group Tour

Because of our desire for comfort, our group opted for the group tour though I always preferred going on DIY trips. Well based on our experience, we’d never ever recommend – MTF Educational Tours and Services. Their Manager, Ms Marie Fallorina was a pain in the *** to talk with especially after the tour and we were fixing our refund. And yep you guessed it – no refund were ever given. She promised and promised and promised until we eventually gave up on them. Ms. Marie Fallorina stopped replying to our text messages and email. They also ceased answering our calls. Sad story of expenses charged to experience.

If it wasn’t for our longing to spend time with one another, our 2014 Barkada Trip Series would have been a great fail. Ilocos was brimming with tourist at that time and we can’t fully appreciate the view or places we visited. But like any great journey – it is always the people you travel with, that makes every journey an unforgettable and enjoyable adventure.

Caramoan Chronicles – Matukad Island’s Enigmatic Lagoon

Matukad island boosts one adrenaline pumping activity that other islands in Caramoan do not – discovering the enigmatic lagoon! Soon as we arrived in Matukad the third island on our island hopping itinerary, Kuya Sonny, our guide said that we should go and explore the hidden lagoon. Teloy is left with his companion because he think that my son won’t be able to carry on with the climb (though I think Teloy could have done it easily).

Our guide headed the way and lead us to a rock wall. (My thoughts was: “What? hey that’s a rock wall! Are we going to pass through there and magically come out in another place?”) Then he pointed that we are going up – yep we are going to climb the rocks with jagged edges with all our sweaty palms and soles. The sun was already up and blazing so some of the rocks that we held on to were hot. Thankfully there are sandy spots to cushion our soles as we huffed and puffed our way up then down these jagged edges.

The lagoon is enclosed and kept hidden behind walls of sharp and pointed rocks. We needed to climb a few steps finding stable footing to see the enchanted Milkfish living in the lagoon. According to Kuya Sonny, no body knows how these fishes came to the area and how they grew so big – approximately six kilos at the moment. Also according to our guide, there used to be two Milkfishes in the lagoon, but a local speared one of them and fed it to his family, then they all died the following day. And because of this event, the Milkfish was considered to be enchanted and no one else dared harm the remaining fish in the lagoon.

Aside from this enchanted tale, this lagoon also boasts some of the most breathtaking views of Matukad beach and the surrounding Caramoan islands. We would have stayed longer on the top of the lagoon but we soon worried about Teloyskie who might be throwing fits for being left out of the adventure. So we hurriedly climbed down and enjoyed our time at Matukad Beach.

Finding the Hidden Gems of Caramoan

The name “Caramoan” has surely made it’s mark in the lists of best international destinations especially for traveler who want to explore the outdoors – no thanks to the Survivor series. This area has hosted several seasons and versions of the hit-reality show and it seems that they will be staying for several years more.

 But what is it really in this area that makes Survivor want to stay and lures more and more travelers, tourists – both local and foreign to take the high road visit Caramoan?

Island Hopping in the many islands of Caramoan is more than just moving from one island to another. There are two island hopping tour offers in this area – A. Php 1500 and B. Php 2500 The three of us traveling on a tight budget, choose the cheaper option and it covers 4-7 nearer islands in a day. 
We contacted Kuya Ramil, a tour operator recommended to us by some friends. A jeepney with blasting sound picked us up from our hotel on the day of our scheduled island hopping tour. What we didn’t know was this pick-up service is not included in our island hopping fee! Kuya Ramil asked us for additional Php 300 for it which then sabotaged our food budget!

Anyway, we started quite early. It wasn’t 7 in the morning yet when we set sail and headed to our first island. Our boatman, pointed Gota Beach, Hunungan and Tugawe Cove as we passed by them from afar.

TINAGO ISLAND/COVE

I’m not really sure if this is an island or just a beach but this is where we stopped first. The water is calm and cool and it has an eerie emerald shade. It is surrounded with limestone karsts and it is accessible through a narrow entrance which one might not easily notice. My boys started playing around though the sand wasn’t really fine and there were insects jumping around. Baba told me about the “bantay” in the beach and told me to look up. We saw a Tiki face protruding from the sharp edges of the rock wall. Maybe that’s why it felt a little eerie. 🙂

LAHUS ISLAND

We approached Lahos island from the side and saw only a bunch of jagged limestone rock formation over the water. As our vessel moved over, a bright strip of sandy beach was slowly revealed what came to be our favorite island among those we’ve visited! “Lahus” means “through” and that is what this island really have – a strip of white sand double beach nestled between two sets of jagged limestone formation.

One side of this island has calm and shallow waters while the other have slightly rougher waves coming in. Baba even conceded and claimed that Caramoan is indeed worth all the hassle of long travel. The sand is fine, powdery white and the water is iridescently blue. We lingered on this island a little for our breakfast. I also took work related calls while I marvel at the beauty surrounding us.

MATUKAD ISLAND

A few distance away from Lahus is probably the most popular island among the Caramoan group of islets.  It can be seen from Lahus island because of it’s bright white strip of beach. Although we’ve already declared that Lahus island is our favorite, Matukad island has the finest sand among those we’ve visited and probably the most beautiful too. The beach is wide and the clear blue shallow waters is great for swimming.  There is also a lagoon that you can explore — read about it here!

Most of the islands in Caramoan have limestone rock formations so most of the beaches have sparse vegetation. It is best to start your island hopping adventure early so you won’t have to deal with extreme midday heat and enjoy your picture taking at the islands to the fullest!

MINALAHOS ISLAND

The last island we have visited is a quiet nook compared with the compared with the more popular islands. The beach has dark colored sand, but some fine white powdery sand, probably carried over from the other islands, gives the beach a lighter brush. It was still high tide when we arrived in the island and we settled beyond the rocks where it is more shady for our lunch.

While resting, the tide started to turn and it revealed a wider more shallow beach. Despite having a small stretch of beach, you will appreciate Minalahos differently. Rock formations in this island are quite imposing and they make up most of the island. It is nearer Hunungan cove and a great spot for afternoon swim because of the shade and the cool, calm waters.

Our boatman/guide asked us if we still want to check out other islands after lunch, but we declined. I think we already had our fill and it’s time for us to rest our swim-weary bodies. Not to mention that our little adventurer is now several shades darker!  

Sorsogon Road Trip: Bulusan

From Barcelona, jeepneys bound for Gubat and Bulusan pass by just in front of St. Joseph Church, one of the oldest churches in Bicol Region. Our little group wrapped it up and readied ourselves for the next leg of our day trip – Bulusan.

Bulusan is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines – Mt Bulusan and this is our next destination for this day. We arrived at Bulusan town proper and while it is still early, we looked for a place where we can get our brunch. After a hearty meal, we took a tricycle that will take us to Bulusan National Park.

I’ve been here many years ago, I was around 10 years old back then and I was able to go around the lake with my friends without us knowing where it was leading us. We registered and soon started our trek. We felt really proud that Teloy is comfortable with the surrounding vegetation and never complained about the long walk. There were several rest area around the lake but most of them were already in ruins. Me and Baba couldn’t help but compare tourism efforts in other places we have visited.

Still, Bulusan Lake is enchanting and charming than ever. I remembered seeing shrimp swimming near the rocks and there are still plenty of them even today. The place was very peaceful and all you can hear are the sounds of the wind and the birds. We passed by one or two men quietly fishing as if they too hesitate in breaking the calm. You see green everywhere you look, there’s lush green forests that surrounds an emerald green waters. It looked so deep, you’d feel kinda creepy sometimes when you try to imagine what creatures might be lurking underneath!

We arrived back at the entrance and rested for a while. I appreciate the new additions that the management are trying to introduce though the park’s upkeep still lacks a bit. There are kayaks and other water vehicle you can try out to explore the lake. They also offer climb packages for those interest to scale the mysterious Bulusan Volcano.

The trek was tiring, but we still have one more destination for this day trip and it’s going to be a wonderful, soothing and relaxing end to this roughly planned trip.

Sorsogon Road Trip: Barcelona, Sorsogon

While the school year is still ongoing and the travel fund is slim, we with our little tot are limited to weekend exploration and day trip adventures. Good thing Bicol Region has a lot of nook and corners that we have yet to explore.

Sorsogon City is only an hour away from Daraga, Albay so it sounds like a day trip is convenient enough for us. Oh we were wrong! The province of Sorsogon is indeed blessed with natural wonders and beautiful sights to behold, but of course, you have to go off the beaten track to discover them. So from the city, we headed to Barcelona, a municipality that is one hour away from the city. 
The municipality of Barcelona is located in the eastern shores of Sorsogon and is surrounded by the municipalities of Gubat, Bulusan and Casiguran. Being fond of old churches, we specifically chose this route to see one of the oldest churches in Bicol, the St. Joseph the Worker Parish which now called the Barcelona Church. It was constructed using coral stones, egg whites and “tuba.” It is an imposing structure with the original facade and the belfry though several restoration efforts in the church interiors were apparent.

Barcelona Church faces the sea and a small park where ruins of the late Presidencia Building and which were once used by the Spanish. Being close to the sea, it was destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This day, what appears to be a busy port during those days still exists but now it has become a silent onlooker to busy fisherfolks and youngsters passing time at the park.

After taking pictures and resting under the trees in Barcelona Church’s yard, our little group decided to pushed on to our next destination and continue with our exploration in – Bulusan. 

Star City: Cityscape for the Kids and Kids at Heart

When travelling to Manila with a kid tagging along, you are expected to adjust your itinerary so that they too will have a good time. Baba and I decided to check out interesting venues for Teloyskie’s age and settled for Museo Pambata and Star City.

So right after exploring the museum, the three of us headed to Star City, a decent theme park seated beside the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Most people say decent because it’s not as high-tech or as grand as the more popular Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna, but that’s alright, it is accessible and it can easily make one bored kid bubble with excitement.

A couple of weeks before our trip to Manila, I already scored Metrodeal coupons for Star City and got a Ride All You Can plus discounts on Lazer Blaster and WInter Funland for P 280 each. 

Some of the attractions we’ve tried included –
The Time Tunnel, Peter Pan, Pirate Adventure, Gabi ng Lagim and the Land of Giants.

After scaring ourselves witless at Gabi ng Lagim, we decided to pass of the Dungeon. Teloyskie spent lots of time at the Little Tykes and Ball Pool playground and then drove the kiddie bumper car a gazillion times!

The three of us also tried out some of the Family Rides including the Magic Forest, Red Baron, Giant Star Wheel, Telecombat and the Dragon Express. We missed out many other rides such as the Blizzard, Jumping Star and Tornado because they are under maintenance repair during that time.

Ninang Roslee and Ninang Jane arrived sometime in the evening and joined us so Baba and I were able to try out other extreme rides where Teloy is not yet allowed. But because ze Baba is also weary of these rides we only got to try out two – the Jungle Splash and the Star Flyer. 

Our little “boss” for the day passed out on our way back to the hotel after all the excitement and hyperactivity at this theme park. Been working in Manila for almost 7 years but it was only this time that I was able to visit this. It was a first for all us then which made the trip a little more extraordinary and memorable for us three.