Puerto Galera, Mindoro: A Quick Dose Vitamin Sea

Summer of 2015 came in a rush. As early as February, I’ve been planning for a getaway with Teloyskie soon as school days are out. We wanted a relaxing beach stay and the kid wanted to see the Boracay that was mentioned in his books. But because we kept on stalling, fares soon started to mount so we settled for our second option – somewhere nearer and cheaper. We headed to Puerto Galera.

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Puerto Galera is a popular beach bummer’s option because of it’s proximity to the metro. It is located in Oriental Mindoro and has three major beach options – White Beach, Sabang and Talipanan. Travel time can take, 2-3 hours by bus from Manila to Batangas Port and 1 to 1.5 hours by boat. But for us traveling from Legazpi, it took us more or less 10 hours to arrive in Turbina and another hours to get to Batangas port.

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Just a couple of days before heading to Batangas, I checked out several hotel booking sites and found a long list of accommodations in Puerto Galera. Based on blogs I’ve read, Talipanan is the best beach for people who want to relax and unwind. Among the hotels suggested in Talipanan, Amami Beach Resort got a fantastic rating and this made me decide to book for one night.

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We met Baba’s older sis in Turbina before we headed to Batangas Port. Teloy and I are tired and weary from the overnight bus ride from Legazpi when we arrived in Batangas and the throng of travelers and assist-you-pay-me-dudes in the port made me a bit irritable. We rode the Gallerian en route to Puerto Galera, and we will not ride it again for the very lousy customer service.

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Finally arrived in Amami at 9:00 AM got our welcome cold drinks and met with the “Fabio.” He advised us that check-in time is at 2:00 PM but we are welcome to leave our stuff if we want to explore the beach which is fine with us of course. After finishing our brekkie, we headed towards the beach and explored Talipanan. Teloyskie wanted to play in the water already so we allowed him to enjoy while Ate Karen and I enjoyed the shade, the view and some cold drinks at the famed Luca’s Cucina Italia.

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We’ll talk about the lovely, lovely Amami Beach Resort in the oncoming post. Anyway, Talipanan Beach was indeed a quiet strip of white sand and clear blue waters. Most guest around this area are couples and families who want to relax and unwind. The beach here is not as white as “White Beach” and some portion have rocks and corals. There are bars and restaurants in the resorts in the area but they are not the noisy kind that you can find in White Beach. Our resort  has a very restful and relaxing ambiance, it is also very near the snorkeling area but we hardly explored that and enjoyed beach bumming to the fullest!

Barkada Trip Series: 4×4 Ride and Sand Surfing at Paoay Sand Dunes

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Among all the activities we had during our Ilocandia Trip with my lifelong buddies, this must be my son’s most favorite part.

After a tiring day of museum hopping and sweltering under the hot summer sun, we’re all weary and eager to rest our tired bodies. Just a few moments of shut eye, I heard my companions stirring. A message from our new found buddies and a couple of nods and grunts, we all agreed that we need to experience Sand Surfing in Ilocos.

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Our driver, though a bit disgruntled, agreed to take us back to Paoay. It was almost sunset and we reveled in the last rays of sun as we rode the 4×4 jeep over sand dunes. Teloy would scream in excitement and enjoyment while we adults try hard to swallow our nervousness every time our ride seems ready to topple.

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We reached the highest dune where we’re supposed to surf just as the first stars started to appear. Our instructor hurriedly but carefully gave tips and how to’s of sand surfing. It would have been an unlimited surfing spree but soon darkness set in. We didn’t bring our cameras and most of our pictures are just taken with out phones.

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We could hardly see anything around us anymore when we started to climb up to our 4×4 jeep on our way back. Everyone is on high spirits, even when our preferred restaurant couldn’t accommodate us anymore, we gladly settled for the second one on our list.

Reflections: The Kind-Hearted Souls that Paved Our Way to St Padre Pio Shrine, Batangas

Traveling during the Holy Week is a skill that every Filipino could master. I’ve promised to stay away from tourist destination during this season but we were set to do a Visita Iglesia at St. Padre Pio Shrine in Sto Tomas, Batangas.

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We were staying in Sto Tomas for four days and the shrine is in the area thus I read blogs and Google-d the best possible way for commuters to go. One directed us to go to Waltermart Tanauan and take a tricycle from there which I we thought was the best option for us. I woke up on Maundy Thursday with a migraine and an upset stomach, prolly due to indigestion and being on constant travel for the last 5 days. My son and sister-in-law hesitated about our trip planned for the day but I insisted we go.

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We took a jeepney bound for Lipa and alighted at Waltermart Tanauan, which thankfully was still open that day. I took a light breakfast still fearful of my upset stomach, bought a couple of medicines and waited a while to feel better.

Then we approached angel number 1 to ask about the right direction to St Padre Pio Shrine, he told us, “Go back to Sto Tomas and take the San Pablo bound jeepney there. Just tell the driver to stop at the shrine. The tricycles here might rip you off especially because of the season. They will ask you for P250 or more.”

So we went back to Sto Tomas, Ate Karen suggested we alight at the crossing to San Pablo and wait for a jeepney there. A vehicle traffic is building en route to San Pablo and all the jeepneys passing us are full.

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A guy in BFP uniform from the group of “Lakbay Alalay” approached us and ask where we are headed, he was actually our angel number 2.  We told him where we are going and he patiently explained to us that all the traffic is caused by the influx of people visiting the shrine. He discouraged us from walking and said that he will find a tricycle or any ride for us instead. He also offered us seats in the shade while he try to flag down buses, jeeps and tricycle for us.

Finally a tricycle agreed to take us to St Padre Pio Shrine for cheaper fare, and he became our angel number 3. Manong driver maneuvered his tricycle to a less crowded route. When we are nearing the shrine, he advised us gently to avoid getting into empty tricycles that are calling for passengers back to Waltermart. According to him, these people may charge us P300 or more. He told to just walk the way out to the highway, or if we really want to ride a tricycle, ride one with other passengers already to lessen the cost.

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As we sit and pray at St Padre Pio Shrine, I couldn’t help but feel that we must have encountered those angels because He wanted us to travel safely and securely to His place. He made everything possible just when everything seemed hopeless. He made a way for us to be near Him, and He wanted us to come to Him and reflect on His great Love for us. All those people we’ve encountered are His reflection.

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With my heart bursting with gratefulness for His love and sacrifice, we started to leave St. Padre Pio Shrine and walk to the highway only to be surprised with angel number 4. A tricycle with a lone lady passenger stopped in front of us and simple said, “Tanauan, P20 lang ang isa.”

We were all quiet on our way home. Just when you thought there is No greater love than His, He gives you even more.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.”

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Paoay Church (St Augustine Church)

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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.

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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.

2013: Finding the Perfect Balance

Reading through Nomadic Matt’s heartfelt article about the end of his solo travels, I realized what it was that was giving me “cold feet” as the day of my settling in back in my home province comes. I am still hesitant to let go of my traipsing and wandering days. Yes I had Teloy more than 6 years ago but being a long distance mom to him also gave a lot of idle time in my hands that was led to one small trip or adventure to another.

Since Teloy was born, I have lived independently and decided what happens in my/our life on my own. I could brag about being to a number of places here in the country that only a handful of my office mates know exactly where. I’ve also had a number of adventures that made people look weirdly at me. And there are also instances that some sh*t just happens and you simply have to cope with it. Yes life’s like that but it ain’t gonna stop just because we don’t want something that it gives, right?

Baba’s smooth entry to our life changed a lot of my plans and also my take on the vagabonding life. 2012 gave us time to get to know each other better and experiences that bonded us even more. This time, it’s no longer my plans, but our plans. It’s no longer my and Teloy’s adventures or life, but it will a life and adventures for the three of us. He wants a share of it, all of it – joys and pains.

My new boss here in Bicol warns me, life here might become boring but I’m actually making a list of things that will help me cope with a tamer adventurer’s life.

Cook. Both Baba and Teloy loves my cooking. My second family in the office also loves it. I might be really good in the kitchen than I what I thought. This year I want to experiment more in the kitchen. Come April, my project would be to fatten up my Teloyskie and make him even more cuddly so he won’t look too haggard when we start travelling together.

Read. Just before 2012 started, I had bought bunch of books. I also accumulated more books when I went to Baguio with my housemate. They owned a book shop and I got discounted books of my choice. Maybe one day I can open a similar book shop here in my area.

Run. I think 2012 had be the laziest year for me. I had no exercise nor any physical activity that would help burn the amount of food that I’ve consumed. For this year, I will go back to running. I have done it before and I know I can go back to it. I may start slow but soon I’ll be ahead of others.

Save. Baba and I resolved to grow our savings this year. He also made me promise to inform him of my expenses and any loans that I will have so that he can adjust his savings and expenses. We have a home loan (yes we’re building one) coming up so we’re cutting costs on some of our luxuries.

Travel. I finally found my RDigest that has a feature article on “The Evolution of the Independent Traveler.” Funny I already fall on the middle-age travel type. Though Baba and I are cutting costs on our luxuries, we think that Travel is a need that we shouldn’t lack for the year. Occasional weekenders, quarterly big trips and some surprise/spontaneous getaways will still be a definite part of our 2013.

Explore Bicol. Most of us travel far and wide to explore, search for adventure or make a story but stay strangers to their own land. I am guilty of this, I’ve reached places in Luzon and Visayas but I am so ignorant of the beautiful places that are easily accessible here in Bicol. Now that I am here, I plan to explore more of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate.

Life continues to change. Our travel through life will have changes whether or not we’re ready. The best we can do is adjust and accept it. It’s not really that bad, and sometimes it best to simply embrace change to finally find balance in our lives. If it haven’t met Baba, my life with Teloy might take on another course, but right now, I am just so happy to have them with me.

Mom Gen’s Great Finds Sunday

Great Finds Sunday
This is actually my first time to join in a meme. I was so proud of our finds in a thrift shop just before Baba left for KK so when I saw this Great Finds Sunday meme I was so eager to write. We were actually looking for long sleeve shirts for his field work in the gas plant. But while scouring the shops and going from racks and racks of clothes, not the mention the constant urging of Baba to pick out anything I like, I came to him with these :
Levi’s Baby Tee (White)
Charlotte Russe Long T-Shirt (Navy Blue)
Hurley Tee (Black)
Hollister Vintage Shirt (Brown/Beige)
Everything was in great condition and each costs only Php 50.00. Great deals and definitely great finds. I Love these and Baba also got 6 branded long sleeve shirts for Php 50.00 each, but I wasn’t able to take a picture of those. 

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MisAdventures of Mommy Cotz and Teloyskie is a personal blog owned and maintained by yours truly – Cotz Yuson. For questions and inquiries about this blog, please email me at qtcotz@gmail.com
Articles, reviews, content and photos posted in this blog are original works by me or re-posted with permission or as a quote from other sources. I accept any form of compensation for ad space or advertising. 
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Reading: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel



to keep from thinking things i shouldn’t be thinking about, i usually resign myself to reading. a habit i have which despite heartaches and heartbreaks still made me think and believe in happy ever afters.

this book, like water for chocolate by laura esquivel is a fresh read from historical romances, vampire stories and mysteries that i was used to reading. it is witty and funny with all the exaggerated stories and descriptions. the mexican tradition for family and women is also very informative and enlightening. i felt quite lucky not be under any of those strict traditions they have and to have an understanding Mama. the book not only told of a love story, it was also about war, food and sex during the Mexican Revolution. I have a great sympathy for the Mexicans and I have always tried to practice the little Spanish i knew from college. This book really warmed my heart and palette at a time when i needed it. Simply again, it made me realize that love knows no tradition, pride, norms nor time. Love will wait, it will never fade.
My favorite line from the book would be about the matches Dr. John Brown talked about. I think he is also my favorite character in the book.
“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle would be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food. If one doesn’t find out in time what will set off these explosions, the box of matches dampens, and not a single match will ever be lighted.

*Dr. John Brown – Like Water for Chocolate”



the book was made into a movie and i hope i can find a copy and watch it soon.