Sunday, July 26, 2015

Solo Backpacking Trip to Cebu

Here I am venturing on my FIRST S-O-L-O trip to a place that I do not know anybody or have a knowledge on their dialect. So why did I choose Cebu? Simply because I haven't been there and they say FOOD in Cebu is worth visiting. Here are my reasons why I chose Cebu:

1. Traveler Friendly
2. Food is cheap but delicious "LAMI-AAA"
3. There are several beautiful Beaches you can visit from Northern to Southern Part of Cebu.
4. So many travel blogs about Cebu, you will never get lost.
5. I haven't been there!

Anyway, I am going to share with you guys my TOP FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER when venturing on your FIRST S-O-L-O BACKPACKING.


A handy backpack is your top priority when traveling, it should carry all your stuff needed for your trip. Months before my trip, I got a backpack that was on sale. At first, I was hesitant because it is the most expensive bag I will ever had if I buy it BUT my partner said that it will be useful in all my travel. Anyway, I bought the Berghaus Bioflex Light 35 Rucsack.


There are soooooo many travel blogs about Cebu! Just ask Google about it or better ask a travel blogger like ME! ahem. haha! Looking at different blogs made me decide to visit Bantayan and Malapascua mainly because I love white sand beaches and enjoys long driving.

Always know the Do's and Don't s of a place your visiting. It pays to respect their culture! :) Credit to several blogs that I have read!!! Thank you so much, I could not do it without your guidance. Tagging Lakwatsero, Travel with Chichi and Traveling Panda.

Photo Credit: Google

I know Cebu is a friendly province but you must consider your safety especially if you are traveling alone. I am a practical or control freak traveler, I want everything in place when traveling. I don't want any hustle and bustle of looking for a place to stay, gaaah! It is such a waste of time.

Months before my trip I was all set! I booked everything in advance especially where I will stay and how to get to places. As in, I have my itinerary on my tablet, which is from my mom. I never road a taxi whenever I go to places, even coming from airport! There is an app in Google play about Jeepney routes in Cebu, it is so easy to follow!

Note: If you are travelling during peak season, better to book weeks or months before your trip. It can save you a lot of time, money and effort.


It is always cheaper by a dozen, be a "joiner" to other tours. How to do this? Simply talk to the locals (boatmen) and ask if they trips. Usually they will be the one to offer you. My trip to Virgin Island in Bantayan was cheaper because I shared it with a group!


This is really hard especially if you do not know their dialect but don't be a stranger on your own country! It was hard for me at first to connect with people but I manage to keep it simple and smile at people. Keep on interacting with them and as Cebuano says "Iba na kapag may kakilala ka diri" (It pays to know someone in this place). 


Too much of anything will harm you, just keep it balanced. Be adventurous, try new things, new food, new activities that you rarely do in the Metro BUT always stay safe and alert.You should know yourself, especially your limitations and always secure your things.

Take a leap of faith but be careful during your leap. ;)

That's it. So where will be your first S-O-L-O backpack trip? Share it with me!



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mudhike at Mt. Manalmon

Mt. Manalmon, San Miguel, Bulacan

This hike was organized by BaseKamp Galleria, a shop selling outdoor stuff and organizing budget hike for marketing purposes. It was not our first time to join their event and I vouch that they are great with what they are doing. 

Mt. Manalmon is part of the historical Biak - na - Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan. From Manila it is just 2 hours drive from Manila. Mt. Manalmon is famous for its Rock Formation and the monkey bridge at the Madlum River (which was featured in the Bear Brand Commercial). Summer is the best time to visit this place because the trail is dry and you can do river crossing, plus the water is clear.

Ikaw saan ka kumukuha ng tibay mo?

Anyway, this hike was rescheduled because of a storm and you know what happens to the mountain after a storm. MUD! Yes, we were welcomed by mud. I was not prepared for it and even my shoe gave up for too much mud. :( The hike would have been easier if the trail was dry! Haii. I will do a revenge hike for this. Probably when my schedule permits. 

Here is a sample itinerary:

5:00 AM Ride a bus that is bound for Cabanatuan (via Bulacan) *Baliwag Transit has an hourly trip going to Cabanatuan. 
7:00 AM ETA San Miguel and take a tricycle to jump - off 
8:00 AM ETA Jump - Off, Register at Sitio Madlum get guides at community
8:30 AM Start trek
10:00 AM ETA summit of Mt. Manalmon; take pictures. Have lunch
12:00 NN Start descent
2:00 PM Side trip at Madlum and/or Bayukbok Caves (Optional)
4:00 PM Try Monkey Bridge at Madlum river
5:00 PM Freshen up | Travel to the main road
6:00 PM Bound for Manila
8:00 PM Home Sweet home!

For the registration and guide fees you may inquire with this number. (0948) - 916 - 3928. This is Sir Lian our guide in this hike. He is friendly and even let me borrow his hammock when I decided to just stay at the registration while I waited for my team to return from the Bayukbok Cave. 

VERDICT OF TARA GUMALA: Mt. Manalmon is a very easy hike what makes it challenging was the excruciating mud! It is a must visit for beginners during summertime. I will definitely comeback and do a revenge hike.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Travel Guide to Battad

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Stunning beauty of Battad

I have been to Battad when I graduated in grade school, it was a graduation gift from my mother. I remembered how dangerous it was to travel from Banaue to Battad, we almost fell off to a cliff and the trail from saddle point to Battad was not a piece of cake.

Now that I got a chance to revisit this wonderful place, I observed that lot of things were changed. The road from Banaue going to the saddle point is already paved but still prone to landslide, the trail going to Battad is already established AND they are planning to make a road that will send you straight to Battad! In no time, Battad will be accessible to private cars. Poor Battad, it will be exploited by tourist as it is exploited now. :(

ANYWAY, the place still awes me! There are things I love about this place, besides the feeling of being reconnected with your history, the scenery itself is picturesque! It will leave you breathless (literally) because of the walking from one place to another.

I will give you guys my travel guide to Battad.


Going to Battad is a piece of complicated cake. Hahaha.

1. Make your way to Banaue, a municipality under the province of Ifugao. There are 2 (two) prominent bus companies that have daily trips to Banaue. One is OHAYAMI and the other is FLORIDA (DANGWA). We chose the latter because the terminal is along EDSA, which is in Kamias and the buses are new. The fare costs 530 Php.

2.  From Banaue, you can ride a public jeep in the market or rent a van. If you are travelling with groups and time is of the essence, renting a van is more convenient, for 2,000Php you get a round trip fare to Battad plus a side trip to Banaue's best view points. The public jeep only has one trip during lean season that is 3:30 in the afternoon but during peak season they have a 8:30am trip.

The van/ jeep will drop you off at the Saddle point.

This is Kuya Randy, a tourist guide/ van driver. Here is his contact number (0919) 362 - 5752!

3. Then from saddle point, walk 15 - 30 minutes to your transient house in Battad.

First Glimpse of Battad Rice Terraces

See! It is so easy but it will require a lot of energy. The trek from saddle point will test your endurance, not suitable for those with heart problem and arthritis. Hehehe.


You may opt to do a daytrip to maximize renting a van OR stay at a transient houses in Battad and  make the most of your stay plus experience their beautiful sunrise while sipping a hot coffee! :)

We stayed at Ramon's Homestay and rented his Native House which costs 1,000 per night during lean season. It was a bit expensive for a native house with very basic amenities like pillows, blanket and foam beds BUT the experience of staying at a native Ifugao house is one for keeps. Also, the food is not that great and they have a slooooow service, better request you food in advance! Ohh and expensive too. A meal costs 120 -200 per order! Hehe. Good thing we brought canned goods.

This is a view from a small window of our hut. (c) Anne Orquiza


1. Trek the Battad Rice Terraces. What a great experience to trek the Battad Rice Terraces BUT it is not advisable for those who has fear of heights! From a far, the terraces looks like stairs but up close the distance between each level of rice paddies is 10 - 15 ft!

2. Photo Shoot at the View Point.

3. Swim at Tappiya Falls. After a hot day of trekking the rice terraces, it is nice to take a dip at the cold waters of Tappiya Falls, just be careful because the current is really strong. Ohh, the way back to the town proper is really exhausting! It was a never ending stairssss!

4. Request for a Cultural Show. If you will stay at Ramon's Homestay, be sure to ask ahead of time for a cultural show, so that they could prepare one but this comes with a price. Not sure how much it costs, I forgot to ask because I was blown away by the next item.

5. Bonfire Story Telling with Kuya Ramon. This is a nice way of Kuya Ramon to reconnect with his guests. He sets up bonfire and each one will tell their names. He even told us some stories why the place is called Battad, why he isn't married yet, his vision for Battad etc. I do not want to share it with you guys because it is better to hear it from him.

6. Get a massage from a local.

Meet Irene, she is a local and niece of Ramon. According to her, she is the owner of the hut and it is used to be their home. Also, this hut is where Piolo Pascual stayed during his visit. OHA! Whole body massage only costs 300 Php!

(C) Anne Orquiza

7. Watch sunrise while sipping a hot coffee! This is what I love about Ramon's place, it has the best view of Batad Rice Terraces and what makes it perfect is their organic local coffee plus their ethnic canister!

8. Join/ Observe locals harvest rice.

This is how they dry their harvested rice grains.

Since they do not have machine to carry those grains, farmers are carrying it back to their house to dry.

Well, this is equality. Ladies are farmers too, no exception!


1. Wake up early, around 6 in the morning. So that you will have time for breakfast and other stuff. 

2. Start trekking back to the Saddle point before 8am. 

3. Be at the saddle point before 9am to catch a public jeep going to Banaue which costs 150 Php. 

(c) Anne Orquiza


1. Always greet every local you see, it is a way of showing respect! Locals are very accommodating, they will chat with you even they cannot speak Tagalog. 

2. Bring your own food and water to save money, though their organic rice is the best! My digestion was really good during or trip, which rarely happens whenever I travel. 

3. Get a local guide to bring you to the view point and Tappiya, you are helping them in return. 

4. Stay at a native Ifugao Hut, the experience is really nice and it connects you with your ancestral domains. 

5. Sunrise in Battad is really wonderful, be sure to wake up early and have those cameras ready for photo shoot. 

6. Bring extra money, there are no ATMs in the area. Restaurants do not accept Credit Card or Dollars. 

7. Hiking / Trekking your way to the Rice Terraces and Tappiya Falls is really exhausting! It is not fit for people who has hypertension and/or arthritis. It is like a never ending stairwell! 

8. It will save you a lot of time and money when you travel with a group.

HERE IS OUR ITINERARY IN BATTAD (this is my giveaway!)

8:00 am - ETD for Battad
8:45 am - ETA Saddle Point | Start Trek
9:30 am - ETA Battad Town | Went to Ramon's Homestay settle things
11:00 am - Early lunch
1:00 pm - Start trek going to Viewpont
2:00 pm - Viewpoint photo Op
3:00 pm - Tappiya Falls
5:00 pm - Back to Ramon's | Freshen up
7:00 pm - Dinner | Socials

6:00 am - Wake up | Breakfast
7:30 am - Trek back to Saddle point
9:00 am - Top load at a public jeep going to Banaue

You may opt to go to Sagada, Benguet, Kalinga OR wait for the scheduled bus that will go back to Manila. We opted to proceed to Kalinga and visit Apo Whang - Od. 

Total Breakdown of my budget for this trip:
Manila to Banaue - 530
Breakfast at Banaue - 130
Van Banaue to Battad - 500 (2,000 /4)
Heritage Fee - 50
Ifugao Hut at Ramon's Homestay - 250 (1,000/4)
Lunch, Dinner and Breakfast - 440
Jeep Battad to Banaue - 150

TOTAL COST = 2,050 Php!

Verdict of Tara Gumala:
Battad is relatively expensive but mother nature with the help of our ancestors did an amazing job. It will not be a UNESCO World Heritage Site for no reason. I highly recommend that you visit Battad now, before it's too late. 

See this is a perfect weekend getaway with your barkada! Don't forget to thank and credit me for whatever you will gain from this. :)