Ten most exciting travels I had in 2011

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I have never traveled this much in my life except this 2011; be it a research project or a training implementation or just unfussy moments with friends, I had it all in so much fun, inspiration and modest attempt to make it fashionable.

I am giving you a rundown of the ten most exciting, interesting, inspiring and meaningful travels I had this year.

Let me start with the most colorful one I had in INFANTA, QUEZON last April 7-8. It was in full color because of the Art Workshop we’ve conducted for 31 children who live inside Sierra Madre. The activity was done in the very humble space of Coronaccion Beach Resort that offers a unique view of the Pacific Ocean.  Nothing fancy about the resort or even in the services, all will really depend on your creativity. What is exciting about the place is the short ride in the middle of “sasaan” and when you are lucky enough, you can catch the big waves embracing the long shoreline.

00. Ate, pakuha naman ng picture wala kasi akong kasama

Next in the list is my acquaintance last January with the famous UNESCO Heritage site up in the north – VIGAN, Ilocos Sur. That very short side trip gave me a lasting impression on how beautiful Calle Crisologo is. From the brick, to the tile roof and the intricate yet classy designs of the houses gave me an inspiration to read again my history books. Not to mention the delightful meal in Café Leona and yes, the souvenir shops that gave me good deal for my mother’s handbag.

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Then, I had the chance to see again this August the majestic stature of almost perfect MAYON VOLCANO in LEGAZPI, ALBAY. Regardless that I did not have Bangkadero experience this time, the view of Mayon from the Liñgon Hill was already enough to capture my lonely heart.

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Seventh on my list are my frequent visits to one of Haribon Foundation’s Rainforestation Site in MANGATAREM, PANGASINAN inside the Manleluag Spring and Protected Landscape (MSPL). In April, instead of having a transportation service going to MSPL from Brgy. Catarataraan, we decided to give our feet some pact of actions trekking to the rainforestation site.

On top of the hill, I interviewed two officers of our partner People’s Organization in Catarataraan, Pangasinan for the Training Impact Assessment I was doing that time. But more than the works that I had accomplished, the panoramic view of the Zambales Mountain Ranges and its surrounding village made the view from the top really memorable.

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Speaking of the training impact assessment and the trekking activity, well my travel inside SIERRA MADRE in Pangotloan, Gatuan and Pagsangahan, GEN. NAKAR, QUEZON was all about talking to people and walking in various surfaces of the earth. We tramped inside the dense forest, in a muddy trail (caused by the strong rain) and the rock-strewn river bank. Sobrang Hirap! I got a souvenir I didn’t like, amoebiasis.

one hazy morning in agos river

In my journal I wrote these thoughts: The panorama of soggy mountains was perfect for our quick rest while waiting for our turn to traverse the wide river through the local-made canoe. Everything is so quiet. You will only hear the water and the pounding of our hearts. The river however is an exception; the rain is pushing it harder and giving the current the reasons to run fast… when we arrived at Nanay Julie’s house in Sitio Pangatloan, the first things we did was to sit down and sip an extra serving of coffee and toasted bread.

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Fifth on my list are the nuggets of fun happenings in NAGA CITY, CAMARINES SUR last August. The travel is in binding with the research assistance work I had with the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD) on Agrarian Justice Delivery. I must admit that the churches around the city gave me an inkling that I just stepped on in one of the country’s most religious town as very evident from the stunning churches of Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Peñafrancia Shrine and the Naga City Cathedral.  Thanks again to CARRD because they let me enjoy the number one attraction in Naga, the CAMARINES SUR WATERSPORTS COMPLEX. My first wakeboarding experience was a disaster, I finished the loop calling the lifeguard, taking-off my safety helmet, putting it back and taking it off again. I capped the day with the best food CamSur can offer.

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But before we went to Naga, we visited first the seafood haven, CAPIZ. Still part of our research in CARRD, where we interviewed agrarian reform beneficiaries. Roxas City is so beautiful and lovely, it has a romantic feel and really has a potential to be as captivating as Paris. The San Antonio Village Resort is the best place to stay; good accommodation and pool facilities that you will surely enjoy plus it has quick access to wonderful restaurants by the bay. But the best part of our travel was the visit to a secluded island in Basiao, Ivisan, Capiz. White sand, clear water and a magnificent view of the ocean – a perfect combination of travel you will always recommend to your friend.

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Well, I am sure that summer getaways are always part of our best travel adventure. The sun, the beach and bitches always give you reasons to take off your clothes, show some skin and give a feisty attitude. That’s what we did last March for our summer escapade. The fun was in exponential point because of my best buds Louie, Celo and Mike, and the family who sponsored our stay. We had spectacle of great experiences for our three-day stay in MULANAY, QUEZON. The boat ride, island hopping, bird-watching, very close encounter with native pigs and school of fish, the white beaches, dense mangrove forest, trekking, drinking sessions with the locals, great delicacies and the celebration of the brgy. fiesta; I just cannot put our adventure in a capsule. Thanks to Louie who introduced me in that wonderful haven.

Now for the best travel I had this year is the jam-packed adventure we had in SURIGAO DEL SUR.

If there’s one thing I am very much thankful about my work in Haribon Foundation is the travels that comes along with my meek post. That Training Impact Assessment in our various sites was a very meaningful project for me. I will never forget the interview I had with the fisher folks of Cortes who are literally risking their lives to protect the Burgos Birds and Fish Sanctuary. I think they deserved so much support and recognition for the heroic things they do for our environment.

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To get to the island, we had to walk in the brackish sand in the middle of a mangrove forest…. But the best “walking” experience I had is in the floor of Cab-Ilan Island, sea grasses were caressing my feet and there were a living display of biodiversity in the ocean – starfishes as big as my face.

We also stayed in Lanuza Bay for a night. Lanuza captures my heart and I felt that I want to live there, the place was so peaceful with so many things going on – you can do swimming, surfing, fishing and biking in the boulevard or just spend the day looking in the marvelous horizon of the ocean.

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Then, we went to IBUAN. I must admit the “habal-habal” ride is freaking me out, inside. I cannot complain because there were also two girls in the ride. Seeing TOOG (the tallest trees in the Philippines) and a big forest lizard (as big as a cat) was among the many first things I had in this travel. But one thing that I couldn’t take out in my memory is the picturesque community of the two IP groups, the MAMANWAs and the MANOBOs. The village is like a winning movie production set; the rock formation in the river, the stream, the flow of clear water, the native houses, the surrounding forest and the beautiful people. That short interaction with them will stay forever in my mind, even though I didn’t understand any single word they said, I picked-up a good message that “we really have to live in community with nature.”

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Whow! 2011 was a big ride for me and I pray that it just go on and on in 2012. I might be visiting other breathtaking places this year, may be Palawan, Bohol, Davao… I don’t know. OR I might just stay in the city for I may be bound to love this time. See you on the road in 2012. 

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