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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remarkably attractive Majayjay falls

After having a great time journeying on foot to discover the beauty of Pagsanjan falls (via vertical trek in Cavinti Laguna), we decided to take a quick trip to another falls in the neighboring town of Majayjay Laguna which is the renowned “Taytay falls.” 

Taytay falls was once called “Imelda falls” because of former first lady Imelda Marcos’s big contribution in promoting the place as one of the best tourist destination in Laguna. However, over the years it is then called Majayjay falls that derived from the name of the town itself where it is located.  According to locals, Majayjay falls gained its name from the two words “Ma” which means many and “jayjay” that implies a sigh after exerting an energy to reach the place (“many sigh”). 

Honestly, we got lost from searching Majayjay falls with the thought that after passing the arch of Majayjay town we can easily see this falls but we've got difficulties finding it due to the reasons that the falls is more notable with the name "Taytay falls" and road signs are limited. After an hour and half road trip and stopping by to ask direction to passersby, we finally found the location and then paid 20 pesos entrance fee per head for day tour (35 pesos for overnight) and an additional 10 pesos parking fee for each vehicle. 

From the jump-off point, Majayjay falls is accessible to guests from a 10-15 minutes trekking to well-paved pathway. Rain started to pour when we’re halfway from the falls but it did not hinder campers to enjoy the place whom we passed through. 

Upon reaching the magnificent Majayjay falls, we got astounded by its beauty since we’re expecting is just a usual waterfalls but much to our surprise it’s an over the top and incredible God’s creation. Unknown to many that in the foot of Mount Banahaw in the middle of lush greenery, is a magnificent waterfalls flaunting its beauty with extremely clear and freakin’ cold waters. “Can someone tell me who put tons of ice on the water?” Or should I asked, “Ice-bath anyone?” Its cold-as-ice waters can make you shiver that is why some campers bring with them hard liquor that they can booze whenever coldness attacks. 

swim as you can! haha

We stayed in Majayjay falls for about an hour that provided us sufficient time to take pictures, enjoy the green scenery and plunge in the ice-cold water falls. Limited time but filled with joy and self satisfaction while wearing a smile on our face and uttering, “We will surely go back in here to camp, the soonest!”

Commuting to Majayjay falls:
HM Bus from LRT Buendia or Alabang travels to Sta. Cruz Laguna (150 pesos) daily. From Sta. Cruz town proper, ride a tricycle to Sta. Cruz market where the jeepney terminal to Majayjay is located. After alighting Majayjay town proper ride a jeep that can take you to Taytay falls. Travel time from Alabang to Majayjay will take you 3 to 4 hours. 

Via private vehicle (recommended)
Drive all the way to South Luzon Expressway and exit at Calamaba tollway. Enjoy the road trip passing by different towns of Laguna until you reach the town of Pagsanjan. Turn right after Jollibee Pagsanjan(just before the Pagsanjan Arch) towards Magdalena then just follow road signs to Majayjay town until you reach the right side road of the Majayjay church then left turn just after the church. Observe promptly road sign since it is limited and at times small in size otherwise ask for locals for they are much better guides.

Quick Tips:

Please observe cleanliness if you’re going to camp. As much as possible bring with you a black waste bag where you can put your trash after camping. We saw in some tent pitching areas different plastic and garbage which is not disposed of properly that can ruin the beauty of the place. Be a responsible traveler. “Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, and above all leave nothing but Footprints.”

For more info about the  town of Majayjay please check their website

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pagsanjan Falls via vertical trek at Cavinti Laguna

Usually month of May is the time where students start to gear up for another school year while others are pursuing the time for last minute outing before the rainy season comes. And since we can’t get enough of summer, we decided to explore waterfalls in Laguna province last weekend (May19). It was last year when we started chasing Pagsanjan and Majayjay falls for the beauty it contains, but time restraint us from visiting the place since we’re occupied every summer and it’s not advisable to drop a visit during wet season. 
Pagsanjan Laguna Arch
Pagsanjan falls was once called “Magdapio falls” derived from the legend of two brothers, Balubad and Magdapio who suffered from drought then eventually called as Pagsanjan falls. This magnificent falls is actually within the province of Cavinti Laguna but entrĂ©e to the falls by boat originated from the town of Pagsanjan. You can reach the waterfall via shooting the rapids which costs 1,350php per head that includes life vest, boat ride with 2 boatmen (3 people per boat), entrance fee, and the water raft ride to devil’s cave. Just get ready for chances that boatmen will charge you an exorbitant tip, usually 200 and up which according to them is for their hardwork in controlling the boat from the rapids. Since we’re on a budget and can’t spare thousand of pesos for just a day trip, we ended up taking vertical way to Pagsanjan falls. It can be done through trekking and rappelling from the starting point in Pueblo El Salvador Nature's Park & Picnic grove at the town of Cavinti. However, before taking the Pagsanjan falls via Cavinti way make sure that you are in good shape, without medical condition such as heart problem or asthma, ready to face long walk to almost 500 steps of steel and  two times rappelling since it’s the same way you will pass through back to Pueblo. 

road trip to Cavinti Laguna
We left Alabang 4:30 in the morning and travel all the way to Cavinti Laguna. We passed by the town of Calamba, Bay, Victoria, Pila, Pagsanjan where we are hounded by boatmen offering their service, and finally Cavinti. 

We arrived at Pueblo El Salvador around 9:30am after our heavy breakfast at Jollibee Pagsanjan. At the front desk you will be asked if someone in your group has heart problem, asthma or fear of heights reminding visitors that payment is non-refundable once you backed-out. We paid 150php per head that includes entrance fee, guide and rappelling gears. All set for an extraordinary adventure. 

The trek to the falls takes an hour or two depending on your speed. Along the way you will be greeted by lush greenery and tall trees that can somehow alleviate your sweat. 

After 30 minutes of trekking down the quite muddy path we reached the statue of El Salvador del Mundo, a mark that the next pace will be 600 steel steps down and two times rappelling. From here you will be equipped with safety harness. 

El Salvador Del Mundo. 1st stop over.

First vertical ladder to rappel

Followed by steel steps

Second vertical ladder to rappel

Followed by super steep steel ladder and wearing harness is strictly observed here

View from the elevated ladder

canoe along the river
Boats at rest

After sweating out and challenging our endurance, we finally see what we’re looking for. The magnificent Pagsanjan falls. 

Tour to Pagsanjan falls is not complete without experiencing the raft ride. Tourists will be asked to board the bamboo rafts and rafters will pull the rope up to the big falls. We really relished the raft ride and even tried it two times. When we’re nearing the falls everyone got so excited and some of us were howling like we’re in the middle of a storm where it’s hard to breathe and see. It was like a natural massage with a bit of pressure as the water is so heavy gushing down our head and neck. Like as one of my friends said, “Para tayong binatukan ng sampung beses!” (Feels like we’re being hit on the nape 10 times hahaha). Nonetheless, it was so enjoyable and exhilarating!

Exhilirating raft ride passing through the falls to Devil's Cave

Behind the falls is the Devil’s cave with waist-deep water where you can spend some time swimming.

After the thrilling raft ride, we rested for few minutes and prepared ourselves for another tiring climb back to Pueblo. We then asked some boatmen if they can take us to Pagsanjan town because we want to experience shooting the rapids but they charged us 1250php per boat which is equivalent to 400+ per head (3 pax per boat). For the reason that it’s out of our budget we decided to take the route up and since it’s a one way track to Pueblo we need to wait for our turn to go up as tourists coming down consecutively. Otherwise, use your convincing powers here so people-in-charge on the harness will prioritize you to ascend.

We were so worn out and sudated when we finally got to our service van but our hard work paid off because of the gratifying chance to see the beauty of Pagsanjan falls plus the extraordinary raft ride experience we really enjoyed. Trekking, Climbing, Rappelling, Rafting, and Passing through the falls to devil’s cave; it was one heck of a memorable Pagsanjan adventure. We survived and it’s worth the sweat!

Helpful tips:

1. Bring a lot of water since trekking and rappelling needs lot of energy to consume.
2. Sure you will perspire throughout the whole trek, so bring towel for your sweat and your back.  
3. If you will take the same route back to Pueblo, it is advisable to bring food or any snacks because for sure you will starve after the tiring trek and you’ll be energized while waiting for your turn to go up. 
4. Be in your comfortable clothes and footwear.
5. Bring extra clothes because you will surely get wet and you can change clothes at the shower room just across the falls. 
6. Bring only the important things needed on your trek like towel, water and your camera on a resealable plastic bag to protect it from getting wet or better yet bring a waterproof camera.

Driving direction to Cavinti Laguna:

From Makati Area drive all the way to Sout Luzon expressway until you reach Calamba exit, turn right at Calamba crossing then passed by neighboring towns Bay, Victoria, Pila, Pagsanjan and Cavinti. Observe carefully road signs (since road signs are limited) until you reach a big billboard-like poster of Pueblo El Salvador Natures Park and Picnic grove on the left side of the road.

For tour packages to Pagsanjan falls either via shooting the rapids and vertical trek check out this site:

Additional info here:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Side trip at Ogtong Cave with our new Korean friends

After much deliberation on where to go on a 4 days vacation last November 2010, we finally decided to explore Bantayan Islands in the northernmost part of Cebu province. Before reaching Bantayan Island, you need to travel 3 to 4 hours via public bus from North Terminal near SM Cebu to Hagnaya Port and another hour for Roro ride to Santa Fe wharf. After a long tiring trip we checked-in at Budyong Beach Resort which offered us not only a friendly rate for beachfront room but a beautiful place in the middle of huge coconut trees good for relaxation we longed for after spending hours on the road. Second day of our stay in Bantayan Island we got the chance to explore its neighboring island called as “Virgin Island.” If Bantayan Island boasts of long shoreline, white sand  and calm blue waters, Virgin Island has more serene, pristine white powdery sand and having clear blue-green waters. We really had a great time relaxing and exploring the island. It was a fun- filled day because we enjoyed the beauty of the place and we had a great time eating fresh seafood feast.  In addition to our wonderful experience was the chance to meet new Korean friends who are having their school break vacation in Bantayan Island  from studying English language in Bacolod. After having fun talking, swimming and playing volleyball in Virgin Island, Young, Sab, Daniel and Yelana asked us to join them on a side trip to Ogtong Cave resort which we agreed on. We then rode our respective boats and the fun continued as they waved their hands on us and signaled that they want a boat race, haha. After several minutes the waves started to pile up that caused panic to one of our friend that is why we decided to dropped off first our stuffs at Budyong resort and then went on to Ogtong Cave via pedicab. The pedicab ride costs us 100pesos for a 2–way ride and our driver patiently waited for us outside the gate of Ogtong cave. It was a hilarious and thrilling ride because of the “Amazing race” we insisted and every time there’s a sloped road we need to go down the cab. 

pedicab ride to Ogtong Cave

When we arrived at Ogtong cave resort, our Korean friends were already there enjoying the swimming pool. At the reception area we paid 100 pesos per head for the entrance fee and usage of their pool (strictly swimming attire is observed) and then we started to roam around the resort. Ogtong cave resort is a peaceful relaxing place with good facilities and a private house with pool for honeymooners. The main attraction at the resort is the Ogtong Cave that looks like a concave pit with small water lagoon. Unfortunately from the day of our visit, cave swimming is not allowed anymore because of some DENR issues. Instead of being sad, we then enjoyed the resort’s facilities together with our Korean friends. It was a pleasurable moment of non stop conversation and recreation we shared with them until dusk.

Ogtong Cave unswimmable

Honeymooners pad

relaxing hammock

overlooking the beach with sandbar at Ogtong Cave Resort

Before returning to our respective inns Yelena, Sab, Daniel and Young told us that they are overwhelmed with our hospitality, they really had a great time and they never expected to have Filipino friends like us. As a sign of gratitude they invited us once more for a karaoke night that we instantly accepted. 

After dinner, we have prepared ourselves for one hell of a karaoke night with the Koreans. We were very startled to know that as early as 7pm our Korean friends are already waiting outside Budyong resort so we immediately ran to the gate to take them to our cabana. They eventually came by surprise with two reasons: 1 is to inquire if there are available rooms so they can stay with us for one day and 2 is to fetch us to unwind at a local bar. Unfortunately we’re scheduled to go back in Cebu City the following day that’s why they cancelled their plan to checked-in at Budyong. Upon seeing our room they were amazed to know that we were like brothers and sisters sharing the same cottage and sleeping together which definitely shows true Filipino values and we're proud of it! After few minutes of story-telling and laughter we rode a pedicab to this creepy isolated Karaoke bar which was recommended by a girl named FC, native of Bacolod which we’ve met on Virgin Island. Good thing is our pedicab service waited for us just outside the bar if in case we need to go back immediately to our inns. Even though the place is somewhat weird and creepy we continued the fun and belt out some songs which our Korean friends really enjoyed doing. Yelena enjoyed singing Bed of roses with the help of our friend Eric while Daniel and Young having a fun conversation with us and Sab was delighted on a free English tutorial from our two boys, indeed it was one hell of a fun-filled night. 

Time to say goodbye and everyone is saying their words of farewell, “You always take care,” “Thank you!” We will surely miss you!” “Thanks for the good time!” these are the words that soared in the silence of the night. They’re so overwhelmed and thankful for making their vacation extra ordinary, likewise to us. Before parting ways, we exchanged contact numbers and email addresses assurance of a continuous communication in the future. They also invited us to tour in their country anytime we want and if in case they return from Korea they wanted to explore the Philippines more with us. Just recently, Yelena texted us that they already finished their English studies and ready to go back in Korea to pursue their respective jobs; Yelena as a nurse and Daniel as a businessman. It feels so good to have friends like them and until now every time we reminisce about our Bantayan Island trip we are still in awe knowing that we befriend them unexpectedly. This trip is incredibly wondrous not only that we’ve got the chance to see the beauty of the place, the adventure we made, the hospitality felt from Cebuanos, but the chance to know deeply Korean culture and tradition shared to us by Yelena, Sab, Daniel and Young; memories and true friendship we once created. 

For additional info please check this helpful sites:

The friendship we made at Virgin Island Cebu

It is -ber month of year 2010 when we visited for the first time the province of Cebu and Bantayan Island is first on our itinerary. Bantayan Island is located on Northernpart tip of Cebu City. The name “Bantayan” comes from the Cebuano term that means “A Place to Watch”. It was once a lookout place called as “Bantayan sa Hari.” The people who lived on the island adopted the term that described the purpose of being there and shortened the name to “Bantayan Island”.

Why choosing Bantayan Island among other destination spot in Cebu? Simply because we want a total relaxation in a restful & tranquil place where we can hear is just the sound of the beach waves cascading the shore line, embracing the fresh air and the sunlight kissing our skin. Even we know that it will be a long tiring trip, we are certain that it’s gonna be a worthy adventure.

breathtaking view during sunrise

Magdagdag ng caption

view from our cottage

We started our 2nd day of stay in Bantayan Island by a sumptuous breakfast in the middle of huge coconut trees. What a comforting way to start the day, isn’t it?! After our breakfast we started preparing our things for an island trip in “Virgin Island.” To minify our expenses we bought drinking water, rice, seafood and vegetables from Bantayan market and had it cooked on the island.  We paid 1000php for the boat rental good for 8 pax which Eddie (Budyong resort staff) arranged the night before our island trip. From Budyong beach, reaching Virgin Island takes 30 minutes boat ride. Make sure that you go there as early as 7 or 8 in the morning to fully enjoy the island. The island is a privately owned island prohibiting anyone for an overnight stay. You will be charged for an entrance fee of 100 pesos per head and 150 pesos for cottage rental.  Moreover, boatmen will wait for you in the island anytime you want just before it gets dark or unless highest tides begin to pile up. They’re also in charge in preparing and cooking of your food just make sure that you have an extra budget for the liquor they will get from this small store that will be charged to you afterwards. (Believe it or not, it is the tradition on the island, lol)


 Virgin Island has a powdery white sandy coast line and clear blue waters that suites an enjoyable snorkeling. It is a lovely, peaceful and tranquil place for fresh air and relaxation. You can simply enjoy here the sun, sand, and sea while unwinding or just roam around the island for a few minutes. On the right side of the island is a snorkeling spot where you can see that the water is very clear while on the left side is a scenic view of rock formation good for photo op.

 During lunch time we’re pleasantly surprised that there are plenty of scrumptious foods on our table. Crab, Fish, squid, grilled eggplants, red eggs & tomatoes and big oysters – so fresh and luscious food. We’re so glutted after the extraordinary feast! The feeling is so great knowing that eating with your travel buddies and at the same time enjoying the scenery of white beach Virgin Island is a wonderful memory we will never forget in our entire life. 

food feast
 Furthermore, after enjoying our pig out session four Korean tourists arrived in the island. Since we’re the only group in the island and because we’re notable for being hospitable we immediately approached them and asked to join us. They didn’t hesitate and started a conversation by introducing themselves & ours and asking more about the Philippines that we proudly answered. Sab, Daniel, Young and Yelena are all studying English in Bacolod, since it’s their semester break they got time to explore the neighboring towns. Several minutes of conversation have passed when they invited us to swim and play volleyball, which we never realized that we’re starting to be comfortable with each other. 

Conversation with the Koreans

enjoyed playing volleyball with them

Team Philippines hehe
with Daniel

on our way to Ogtong Cave

After our enjoyable bonding everyone decided to take a side trip to Ogtong cave and while on board our respective boats the fun continues as they were waving their hands to us, throwing jokes and playing around. It was a magical moment for us because we never expected to be that close with them like we were old friends not seen each other for a long time. Such a wonderful adventure we will treasure forever.

Continuation of our Bantayan Island Cebu Adventure here

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