Monday, April 9, 2018

Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home.

We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the afternoon.

Our only major stop was for lunch at Kamayan sa Paisdaan in Tayabas to celebrate Easter and our trip.

5 Day Complete Itinerary:

Day 0:

Drive to Legaspi

Day 1:
Lunch at Small Talk Cafe
Check in at Woodland Beach Resort Donsol
Book Tours
Firefly Watching Cruise (1250 for 5 pax)

Day 2:
Whale Encounter Tour Tour (3425 for 5 pax)
Dinner at The Oriental Legaspi

Day 3:
Ticao Island Hopping (13,000 for 5 Pax)
Dinner at Legaspi
Drive to Caramoan

Day 4:
Arrival at Caramoan
Check in at Casita Mia
Caramoann Island Hopping (16390 for 5 Pax)

Day 5:
Return to Manila
Lunch at Tayabas

Photo Credit:
Francis Tan
Crimson Tayco
Orville Zaragosa
Carlo tenerife

Day 4: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

By this time, we were used to waking up early for our tours.  Meals at Casita Mia is included in the rates and breakfast served as early as 6AM.  The weather is a bit gloomy and was raining the entire morning.  We were still optimistic that it would improve during our tour.

A tricycle was arranged to pick us up from the Bed and Breakfast to the port for our our boat ride.  Packed lunch was included.

On our way to our first stop, repairs on our boat was done in the rain, we were made to take shelter under the cover of canvas sheet for 30 minutes.

Around 9AM we are on our 1st stop, a Malawi Sand bar with floating cottages you can rent for as low as 300 pesos.  We got one that stocked with beverages and vendors are everywhere selling everything from their fresh catch, coconuts, plantains and other snacks.  Its good to note that prices are kept reasonable considering the holidays.

The weather improved on our first destination.  We had our lunch here and stayed longer for photos.

Our next destination was the light house nearby, but the tides are low preventing us to come closer.  We settled on another sand bar part of Guinahoan Island.

The third stop is another beach that made Caramoan popular.  Its being used as the location for some of the Survivor Franchise.  Sabitang Laya Island is a wide stretch of white sand beach and limestone coves in one end.

Scorched from our 3 day adventure from Donsol, to Caramoan, we asked our boatman to take us back to the port, so we can still do some Pasalubong shopping and prepare for the long drive back to Manila.

Day 3: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide To Bicol

We woke up early on our third day.  We need to pack our things, because the Island tour would take longer than time required for us to check out.  After breakfast, we endorsed our things to the reception, where the tour organisers arranged tricycles to bring us to the dive centre in charge of taking us to Ticao.

We were surprised to find out that two additional people were joining us for what was supposed to be an exclusive trip.  After that was settled, we got our mask and gears and was on the way to our 1st destination.

The boat ride took more than an hour to reach Halea Beach Resort and Nature Park in San Jacinto, Masbate.  The shallow reef is ideal for snorkelling and if your lucky, white tip reef shark sightings.

Halea is teeming with marine life, but please take caution of the spikes from the sea urchins that lined the reef bed.

Friends were fortunate to see reef sharks, but the rest of us enjoyed snorkelling on the shallow reef.  We were off to our next destination.

The next top is a free diving site, with calm waters and a good visibility.  This is where i was able to try what i have learned from the pool lessons the previous day.

Lunch is ready when we got back to our boat.   Eating became a challenge as we move to our next destination at lightning speed.

This stop got us excited.  The site of the waterfall from our approach was breathtaking.  We were challenged with huge waves.  Armed with life jackets, we were off to the drop where the fresh water meets the sea.

Battling the waves at Katandayagan Falls took its toll on us. We we were tired when we got back to our boats that some of us did not even went down to check the last Island on our itinerary.

After this island, we were off to our long trip back to Donsol in Sorsogon.

Upon reaching the Dive Centre, we settled our fees, brought to the resort what was left of our lunch and use the Pool Toilets to freshen up.

After ensuring that all fees at the resort was settled, we were on our way to our next destination, which is Caramoan.  It was late in the afternoon when we left.  We passed by Legaspi again in time for dinner.

We were surprised to find a restaurant that offers a buffet for 199 pesos on a Good Friday, when most establishments were closed even Embarcadero.

The drive to Caramoan was made challenging with processions at every Parish.  It was Holy Week after all.   The last 2 hour stretch from Naga is also challenging with road improvements and unpaved sections.  It took us almost 6 hours from Legaspi to what was originally secluded Caramoan, driving along the coast of Camarines Sur.

We arrived at Casa Mia, just past midnight in time for a few hours rest before we explore the Islands of the coast of Caramoan.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Day 2: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Woodland Beach Resort in Donsol exceeded our expectation.  The modest accommodation was compensated by the Villa Style building, well maintained gardens, an adjacent spa, swimming pool, restaurant, bar and the beach.  Also, its walking distance to the Tourism Office that regulates the Whale Shark Encounter.

Day 2

Our Day started early with the breakfast we ordered the night before.  A quick tricycle ride brought us back to the Tourism Office where we settled our fees, watched the video tutorial and await our boarding.
Dons Whale Encounter Boat Ride

Unlike Oslob, where the Whale Sharks are being lured to your boats, in Donsol, we adjust to the Whale Sharks feeding pattern.  Fins and Mask are helpful to catch up with these gentle giants.  Tours can take up to 3 hours.

We were not disappointed during our visit.  After swimming for a few minutes, we were back on our boats and to the boarding station.  We were surprised that the encounter was done in two hours.

Lunch at Woodland Resort

We decided to extend our stay in Donsol, instead of spending the night in Naga as originally planned. This gives us another day to explore the nearby islands on the Burias Straight.

The remainder of the day was spent at the pool, with a crash course on Free Diving.

Thank you to friends for the free diving lesson

Since the weather improved, we decided to take the more than 1 hour drive back to Legaspi hoping that Mayon Volcano would grace us with her appearance for dinner.

We arrived in time for sunset on an elevated location close to The Oriental Legaspi.

Passed by Legaspi in time for Sunset 

We were not only rewarded with the best view, but the buffet at The Oriental proved to be a value for money.  The spread included seafoods, complimented with an acoustic band, and a fire dance production just before we left.

Buffet Dinner at The Oriental Legaspi

We only had a few more hours remaining before the bar closes when we got back to the resort.  After a few rounds of very lethal serving of Long Islands, we retired to our beds for another day of adventure.

Day 1 : Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide To Bicol

Its hard to admit, but we're maturing.  Not just in terms of age but also on the way we travel.

At this point we have reached the Tito's level.

How do you know when your a Tito Traveller?

  1. When you have enough clothes to last you a month for a 5 day adventure!
  2. When you bring a trolly to the beach.
  3. When your baon includes a loaf of bread and coffee for morning emergency!
  4. When your sunscreen SPF is enough to match the ozone layer.
  5. When you won't take bullshit from anyone.
  6. When you will get your money's worth no matter what.
These are my realisation during our 5 day road trip to Bicol.

We planned ahead to reserve our Holy Week for this adventure.
As agreed, we left Manila, Tuesday night to avoid the crowd headed south.

Day 1


Just before midnight of Tuesday, we hopped on a friends car for a 12 hour drive to Legaspi.
Thinking that most of our days will be spent in Donsol, we made sure to stop at Small Talk Cafe to sample the best Bicol favourites.

1st Stop (Starbucks SLEX)

We made a few stops along the route, changed drivers in Gumaca, and arrived just in time for lunch.

Our Lunch Feast at Small Talk Cafe

Our lunch included boneless crispy pata with bicol express, shrimp sinigang, pinangat and chicken adobo sa gata.  A welcomed reward after the long drive.

It was a bit cloudy when we reached Legaspi and the Mayon Volcano was hidden from sight.

After lunch, we proceeded to our resort in Donsol, which is more than an hour away from the city.


Upon confirming our reservation at Woodland Beach Resort, we went directly to the Tourism office to book our Whale Shark Encounter Tour and Fire Fly Watching Cruise.  These are operated by different groups, and has different offices.   The Firefly Tour does not need to be booked advance because sightings is available whole year.

Woodland Resort in Donsol

Beach at Woodland Resort in Donsol

We finally checked in around 4PM, got settled, rested a bit before going back to Pilar, the adjacent town for the Firefly Cruise.

Firefly River Cruise in Pilar

We were among the first group taking the river cruise.  The sun is just setting, and were rewarded with amber skies as the night approaches.  It was hard to capture the fireflies in action but we were taken to a mangrove that looked like christmas trees filled with these flickering creatures.  

After more than an hour, we were back at the dock and drove back to Donsol for dinner.

Our guide recommended Barracuda for their seafood, which is just beside our resort.

At the entrance of the restaurant, we were greeted by a frantic lady, we now call Madam Barracuda.

Their Menu is literally a chalk board being passed from table to table.  The restaurant is full, and were running out of food options.  Madam Barracuda, seems to be manning both the kitchen and front of the house and forces you to order whatever she has prepared.  Since, our drink order is still being prepared, we decided to just leave and try the restaurant at our resort.

Dinner turned out great at Woodland Resort.  We ordered our breakfast the next day in time for our early departure for the Whale Encounter.  After a quick massage, we finally settled on our beds for our Day 2 adventure.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Industrial Brick Look For 260 Pesos

Finished Wall
I'm crazy about bricks, but the cost and effort to install them is outrageous.

I was able to get the look that I wanted for only 260 pesos.

When I moved in, this is what I had to work with.

With the limited floor space, I decided to maximize the wall by adding slotted posts and shelving.  It allows flexibility, and extends my kitchen with added storage for the appliances.

I thought I got a bargain using Cushioni Foam Bricks on the opposite wall, until I found wallpapers sold in the streets of Divisoria with a coverage of 4.5 sqm for only 130 pesos.  I got lucky they have the gray brick design on stock and was so worried that I would have enough rolls that I got 8 of them.

I immediately worked on my walls as soon as I got back.  The rolls were easy to work with, with built in adhesive like stickers.

I initially aligned the paper along the slotted posts, but it proves to be challenging when you align the print next to each other.  Instead, I unscrewed all the posts and worked on the blank wall.

I was surprised with the coverage.  It only took 2 rolls to cover the entire kitchen wall including the backsplash on the kitchen counter.

Once covered, I re-attached the the posts and rearranged the shelves.

Here's the before and after side by side:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Additional Overhead Storage Under 2000 Pesos

Photo Credits to the Owner

When I moved to my new condominium unit in Mandaluyong, I gradually started to work on doing the decors and make room for the stuff I've collected over the years.  The closet that comes with the unit is just not enough.

Since, its relatively small, with a floor area of 28 sqm, I decided to add storage into the walls.  The most convenient is adding overhead cabinets, but i find it too costly. Instead, I drilled .5m slotted posts on the overhead beam, installed brackets, added planks as shelving and placed basket crates to hide the clutter.

Heres the finished product.

2 - .5m Slotted posts from Ace Hardware at 250 pesos = 500 pesos
4 - Brackets @85 pesos from Ace Hardware = 340 pesos
3 - 2 in. x 4 in x 6 ft @ 180 pesos from Ortigas Home Depot = 540 pesos
4 - Basket Crates from Dapitan @ 150 pesos = 600
Total Cost: 1,980

Friday, July 29, 2016

Foodie Find: My Kitchen by Chef Cris

The Oasis Hotel, located within the perimeter of Paco Park holds many treasure. Among them, is an Italian Restaurant called My Kitchen by Chef Chris!

Tuck hidden from the busy streets of San Marcelino, the restaurant offers authentic classic italian dishes as attested by the many reviews displayed on the walls.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cebu City in a Day

Although, my recent visit to Cebu was a bit short,  I still managed to discover places I haven't been to and restaurants I haven't tried.  If you happen to find yourself in the city for a day, here's my suggested itinerary.

Breakfast at Trattoria da Gianni

Sausage Set at Trattoria du Gianni

Corned Beef Set at Trattoria du Gianni

Admittedly, we were suppose to go to Abaca at Crossroads, but it was full when we arrived.  Instead, we explored the establishments beside it and found Trattoria du Gianni.  Later on we found out that it was owned by Mateo Guidicelli, a popular local artist.  You can customise your breakfast with a choice of protein, eggs preparation, 3 types of vegetables with either rice or bread.  All meals are served with coffee.

City Tour

Sto. Nino Shrine

Im glad to see the facade fully restored after the earthquake that struck the province a year ago. There's a museum at the back housing church vestments and collection dedicated to the Sto. Nino.  Schedule your visit as they're close during the lunch hour.

Sto. Nino Shrine

Magellan's Cross

Inside the Minor Basilica of Sto. Nino,  Cebu

Yap - San Diego House

The Yap - San Diego Ancestral House is a privately owned museum built in the 17th Century.  Its 90% intact and is still being used by the owners to this day.

Yap - San Diego Ancestral House


Casa Gorordo

Casa Gorordo is right around the corner coming from the Yap- San diego House.  Its being renovated during this time, but a visit to this place is must once they open.

Lunch at House of Lechon

Of all the Lechon places I've tried in Cebu, House of Lechon would have to be the best.  I loved it so much that I'm drooling just remembering their juicy, succulent lichen and the crispy skin.

Munggo, Dinuguan and the Best selling Lechon of House of Lechon

Shop at SM Seaside

What better way to shed the calories from lunch, than a walk on the biggest mall in the Philippines.  With 5 levels of shops and restaurants, its a shopping heaven!

Dessert and Coffee at Rica's Cafe of Henry Hotel

This is my favourite coffee place.  I love the artsy vibe of the interiors, with every nook and corners Instagram worthy.

Me and Yabby at the Henry Hotel

Dinner at Lantaw, Busay

Lantaw is a Native Restaurant with three different locations in Cebu.  They have a floating version in Mactan, The Seaside version at SRP, and the best one to visit at night, The Busay Branch.  Imagine dining on a mountain deck with the night cityscape of Cebu as your background.

Party at Alchology

This happens to be our favourite weekend night hangout.  Not only do they have good air-conditioning, and affordable drinks, they are also very gay friendly.

There you have it!  My condensed itinerary for Cebu City.  Of course there are more attractions and out of the city destinations.  Let's reserve that for another day!

Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home. We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the ...