Tuesday, 13 March 2018

"Caja Cafe" - A Homey Restaurant in Bontoc

After our 2 days stay in Bontoc, my colleague suggested to have a snack in Caja Cafe before going back to Manila. The place is hidden and you can't find it easily, but it's still famous for travelers. 

Upon entering the cafe, you will notice alot of plants and we have discovered that they are using it as an ingredient to most of their menus. There is also a veranda that is overlooking to a mini rice field. Caja Cafe serves flavorful pizza and good taste of cakes with affordable prize.

The place is so homey and it was so relaxing while eating. Also, the staff is nice and friendly.

I tried the slice of banana chocolate cake and the garlic pesto pizza then shared it to some of my colleagues. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

Mt. Kufafey and Mt. Fato - Twin Hike

"Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world."

My first real exposure to the mountains in particular was just last month when we climbed Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas. At that time, I didn’t know that I will actually love to climb a mountain. I am naturally adventurous, but I didn’t see myself going for this hobby. After some short treks in Mt. Batulao, I just knew in my heart that I had found something I wanted to do long term. Then I decided to try it again.. this time it is too far from the city.

Bontoc, Mt. Province is more than 400 kilometers away from Manila and getting there requires a combination of bus and jeepney ride. To travelers looking for a low-paced lifestyle, this town is quite easy to call home. The weather was pleasantly cold. 

After dinner at Suzette's homestay, we slept at 9pm and woke up at 3am to start our twin hike. I had prepared  my headlamp, jackets and other stuff then met our tour guide and started our journey. We ascended to an open space where we have seen the amount of stars and the moon. We turned off our headlamp to witness the perfect view of the universe. I just wanted to stare above but we have to continue our hike going to Mt. Kupapey. We were pretty early in the summit at 5:30AM, and it was freezing at 16 degrees. 

Mt. Kupapey

There were other climbers waiting for the sunrise amidst the sea of clouds. We stayed for a few hours at the summit, trying to immortalize ourselves in frames. 
Mt. Kupapey has a very spectacular view. I've witnessed the glorious sunrise above the sea of clouds and the heaven opens up to reveal the glassy rice terraces below. 

After taking alot of photos in Mt. Kupapey, we continued our journey to the next mountain - Mt. Fato. We walked an hour within the pine forest and white flowers. The view is getting more beautiful as we were walking along the highest cliff. 

Mt. Fato:

Mt. Fato is a rocky mountain, and you will know that you are almost there because of the mossy forest. 

Just sharing our travel itinerary:

"Day 0 (Feb 23):
2200H – Departure from Quezon City (Coda Lines 45Seater No CR - Semi Deluxe, advance reservation is advised)

"Day 1 (Feb 24):
0630H: Stopover in Nueva Vizcaya
0900H – Arrival in Bontoc / Breakfast
0900H – Jeep to Maligcong
1030H – Arrival in Maligcong / Check-in at Suzette’s Homestay
1130H – Lunch
0300H – Tour Rice Terraces
1800H – Back in homestay / Dinner / Take a bath
2000H - Lights off

"Day 2 (Feb 25):
0300H – Call time / Light snacks
0330H – Start trek
0500H – Summit of Mount Kupapey
0730H – Trek going to Mt. Fato
0900H – Back at homestay / Breakfast
1100H – Back at homestay / Fix-up / Check-out / Proceed to Bontoc (Jeep)
1300H – Arrival in Bontoc / Lunch at Caja Pizza and Cupcakes
1530H – Bus departure from Bontoc to Manila
(Coda Lines 45Seater No CR - Semi Deluxe, advance reservation is advised)
"Day 3 (Jan 26):

0330H: Arrival in Manila"

Friday, 2 March 2018

Maligcong Rice Terraces - Bontoc,Mt. Province

"It's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times."

I was invited to join the climb of my colleagues in our Department. We planned our itinerary a month before our travel. It was an 11 hours long travel from Cubao to Bontoc, Mt. Province. Thanks to Coda Lines, our trip to Bontoc became more easier. They said that, they're the only bus company offering direct trips to Bontoc and Sagada from Manila and going back. Upon arrival, we took our brunch at Cable Cafe then rode a jeepney going to Suzette's Homestay. Giddy and clueless what more surprises were to come, I volunteered to take the topload to enjoy the view of the countryside. That was my first toploading experience. It was not very easy but it was fun. 

Visiting Maligcong Rice Terraces is the initial part of our two-day trip in Bontoc, Mt. Province. We arrived in Maligcong at 10 in the morning and took a rest in Suzette Homestay for a few hours. Considering the cold weather in Maligcong, the warm welcome and hospitality of ate Suzette made our stay very comfortable. Suzettes Homestay is overlooking the Rices terraces. It was a sight to see. She is very helpful and accommodating. They served us good food for our breakfast, lunch and dinner with unlimited coffee and tea.

She advised us to trek the rice terraces while there was still light. So after taking some rest, we have visited the Maligcong Rice Terraces at 3pm with our Tour Guide and dogs. These lovely dogs guided us along the rice fields. The fist time I've seen rice terraces was along the road when I went to Baguio. But I haven't tried to see it in front of me.

The rice field was not green when we visit. But still, Maligcong Rice Terraces is a must place to visit. You will never get tired of looking at this place, as it offers a jaw dropping view from the top of Mt. Kupapey. What surprised me is when I got to trek into the rice terraces, you will notice how big the place is and planting rice on these terraces is not the easiest task to do. 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Mt. Batulao: My First Climb

"When the wind calls, you know, that somewhere in the mountains, it has found the answers that you were really looking for. I've learned that, happiness is always a choice. It's never about forcing yourself to be happy but not letting sadness dominate. So, I choose to be happy because I deserve to be.."



I was climbing (crawling) towards the steep summit of Mt. Batulao when I asked one of our companions: "Bakit ba natin ito ginagawa?' (Why we are doing this?).. I should have stayed home and relax.. I should have not agreed with my roommate to climb... But I'm here already, I had to focus on my own climb, because one wrong step could lead to an unpleasant incident. 

I asked our tail guide to help me because I was very nervous crawling the rocks, I was holding the rope but I did not know where to step. I have fear of heights. So, he held my hand even if he was also in a dangerous position and shouted: "Joan, you can do it, don't look back". So, I took away the rope and continued crawling on the rocks with fierce and determination then lifted my heavy butt towards the summit.. When I reached the summit, I remember telling myself, “wow, it’s beautiful.” It's like taking away all the pain and the complains I had when I was climbing the mountain. Summit is worth it, and in life there are things that are worthy of our effort, action and time.


Me, my roommate and other officemates met in RCBC Plaza at 4am then went altogether to LRT Buendia to take the DLTB Bus bound to Nasugbu, Batangas. We were full of courage without having an idea of the challenge this strange mountain would be. 

We arrived at Evercrest at around 7am and met our Organizer with his fellow Mountaineers and other friends who waited for us.

Mt. Batulao is for beginners, but as a first time climber, I found it very hard and dangerous. I wanted things to be safe. But since I was with the real Mountaineers, their adrenaline rush was overwhelming. With the knowledge that the old trail’s harder than the new one and includes rappelling, they wanted to take both. So, I gave in. 

The trail was open all throughout except for the part on which we had to pass through a forest. As we walked along the narrow trail, we’d stop from time to time to take some break. I felt like walking forever and my legs are about to gave up. But I still focused on the trail and tried to ignore the deep cliffs that are ready to catch anyone who loses their balance. Mt. Batulao has a total of 12 peaks where you have to pay alot of environmental fees. 

We took 2-3 hours reaching the summit. I still feel the fear I was trying to ignore when I was climbing up clinging only to rocks and refusing to look away as I might lose focus and fall. I remember I only used the rope at first then took it away on that 90 degree mini rock climb as I felt climbing up through the rocks was easier.

We did not stay long at the summit as there were alot of Climbers taking photos and eating lunch. So we decided to walk in the new trail going down. I found it more challenging than climbing up. The soil was dry and slippery and it was more dangerous than I thought. But, we have survived and no one was harmed. When we reached Peak 8 going down, we took our lunch under the trees and rested for 30 mins. 

It took us I think a total of 6-7 hours to finish the trek back and forth. (includes breaks and rest). 


Nature is a medicine for some other diseases and I think that immersing oneself in nature can cure heartaches as well. I was in a LOVE tug of war - it's so hard to hold on but for some reason it's hard let go. I learned that if HE really miss me, he will call. If HE still wants me, he will say it.  But, my messages were all seen zone where I do not know what's going on. Despite the patience and the long distance relationship, I decided to let him go. The funny thing is that my relationships always ended up when reaching 3 years. 

So Oppa, I would like to say thank you. I would not have found this passion if not for you. I would not have become the best version of myself if you didn’t push me away. I wouldn’t have realized that I need to love myself more and not settle for anyone who would give me less than I deserve. Oppa, 여러가지로 감사합니다.