Saturday, March 26, 2016

Travel Guide to Cagbalete Island X Dahoyhoy Falls

Holy Week Escapade

Loving the Sunrise!

Heyyy! Summer has officially started, we all can feel it! The heat index has gone up and people are starting to go out as the school year has ended. I have been organizing trips with and for my friends for the past year and as the summer started, Elvis and I thought that we should go on a trip that is near the Metro and somehow avoid the crowded place. We thought of Cagbalete Island in Quezon, which is just 3 hours drive from Manila and has a good colleague who owns a resort in the island, her name is Ms. Jen Torre. Too bad that I was not able to have a picture with her,  we were so busy that day, but here's a 360 view of the whole resort.

Dahoyhoy Falls

Mauban, Quezon is a first class municipality in Quezon, it was made famous because of Cagbalete, as it is the main jump - off going to the island. Mauban has many things and sights to offer, more than the white sand beach of Cagbalete. They have several waterfalls, one of which is the Dahoyhoy Falls. Not famous to all, as this place is only reachable by foot or bike.  If you are into rustic vibes, they have several ancestral houses that were built during the spanish era.

Panoramic view of the island during low tide


Cagbalete Island is a small island in the eastern part of Mauban, Quezon. It is famous for its long stretch of creamy white sand. It may not be fine as compared to Calaguas or Boracay but if you love white sand combined with crystal clear water, Cagbalete will be your best option. Plus, it has the perfect sunrise! 


1. Via private car

From Manila, you can either take SLEX or Manila East Road/R5. If via SLEX, you can exit at Turbina then off to Calamba - Los Banos - Pagsanjan - Cavinti - Lucban - Mauban.  If via R5, you will pass through almost all the municipalities in Rizal and Laguna.

2. Via public vehicle
Your jump off point will be Lucena, as this is the grand terminal in Quezon. Going to Lucena is very easy as there are lots of bus companies offering hourly trip going there. From Lucena, you can either ride a bus or vans that goes straight to Mauban.

*Once you've reached Mauban, proceed to the port area and ride either Private or Public Boat to Cagbalete. 

Disclaimer: Sorry, I have no idea how much is the bus fare as we rented a van on our way to Mauban. 
*** For Van Inquiries: You may call Sir Macq at 0998 - 5615 - 736.

The public boat only costs 70 Php per head while the private boat ranges from 2,000 Php to 5,000 Php for a two - way trip. If time is of the essence, renting a boat is your best option. During holy week, expect high volume of tourist wanting to visit the island, waiting time for a public boat could take you up to more than 4 hours.


1. Again, if you are visiting the place during peak season, securing your return trip is highly recommended. Negotiate with your boatmen and ensure that you have their numbers just in case they forget your pick up time.

2. If commuting, ensure that you get back at Mauban Port before lunchtime as there are limited trips going to Manila via JAC Liner.


2:00 AM Meet up at Jolibee Shaw
2:30 AM Travel to Cagbalete
7:00 AM ETA at Cagbalete (We were caught in traffic at SLEX)
7:00 AM Secured tickets at the port, waited for an available boat.
11:00 AM Travel to Cagbalete Island
12:00 NN ETA Cagbalete Island, Pitch Tent, Lunch
4:00 PM Socials
7:00 PM Dinner, Party at the Beach, Socials!
5:00 AM Wake up, watch sunrise
6:30 AM Island Hopping
9:30 AM Heavy Breakfast, Wash up
10:30 AM Break Camp
12:00 NN ETD for Mauban Port
1:00 PM Lunch, Wash up
3:00 PM Travel to Dahoyhoy Falls
3:30 PM Trek to Dahoyhoy Falls
5:30 PM Travel back to Manila
8:00 PM Dinner at Emin and Mila's Canteen in Pagsanjan
12:00 MN ETA Manila

Our Budget: 1,500 Php (inclusive of all transpo, environmental fees and food) 


1. It would be best if you have a contact at Cagbalete Island, it makes all thing easier. :) Luckily, I have an angel who owns a place in Cagbalete, her name is Ms. Jen Torre of Joven's Blue Sea Beach Resort. She is very accommodating and answered all my queries plus, their rates are reasonably priced. Be sure to book your next trip with them.

2. You will curse the place during low tide. HAHA! We were forced to walk under the scorching heat of sun just to ride a boat because they could not dock at the shore. Looking on the bright side, hello sand bar! Perfect time to travel to Cagbalete Island from Mauban Port is at 6 in the morning. Low tide starts at 9 in the morning and ends around 4 in the afternoon.

Vandalized Sand bar! 

Tent City!
3. The electricity is only from 6pm - 6am. You don't need it anyway! :)

4. Cagbalete is one of the best places for sunrise. Be sure to wake up early and capture the magical moment. Plus, during holy week expect a blood moon! :)

A couple enjoying the blood moon.

Las Chicas!

5. During peak season each resort has their own way of keeping the whole island alive e.g. live bands, strobe lights, fireworks, fire dancers, etc.
Dinner time!

6. The best time to do island tour is between 4pm - 6pm (sandbar is visible and witness the sunset) or 6am-8am (best time for snorkeling and perfect lighting for photo shoot). The tour usually range from 1,500 to 2,000 which is good for 10 pax.

7. Bring extra cash because there are no ATM in the island and bring all the things you need before heading to the island e.g. drinking water, food and booze. *wink*

This is Sir Edgardo, you can contact him with this number (0907) 854 5945 if you want to visit Dahoyhoy Falls
8. Make sure you visit Dahoyhoy Falls before you go back to Manila. It is a perfect side trip for your Cagbalete Trip. Dahoyhoy Falls is just 10 minutes away from Mauban Market and 30 minutes walk from the jump - off area. You can ask for assistance at the the tourism office.

Jump off

Diyosa ng Tubig!
With the whole gang!

9. Before heading back to Manila, be sure to try Emin and Mila's Canteen in Pagsanjan, Laguna. "Mura na, Masarap pa!"

Verdict of Tara Gumala: Cagbalete Island is a must visit if you are looking for a white sand that is quite near the metro: perfect for weekend warriors! If you are a fan of white sand beaches, you'll definitely enjoy this island, its long-stretch of white sand will leave you breathless (literally and figuratively). 

Joven's has the best view for sunrise!

PS: Watch our video Cagbalete Island X Dahoyhoy Falls trip last Holy Week. Shot by Xperia Z5!



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Visita Iglesia in Tarlac and Pampanga

A Holy Week Special
7 Churches in 12 Hours

What does Visita Iglesia means? According to Rappler, Visita Iglesia or Church Visit is a Holy Week practice where devotees visit and pray in at least 7 separate churches. It morphed into a form of pilgrimage and meditation for the Holy Week, and also a form of seeking penance for sins. Superstition even has it that wishes would be granted upon completion of a Visita Iglesia. 

This holy trip is becoming a yearly thing in our office. We started it last year and visited 7 churches in Laguna and Quezon. This year, I was the one in-charge of looking for churches that we could visit. We are very particular with the churches we choose to visit, it must be old, a church that holds history. Also, I personally love to visit old churches, I feel reconnected to my past. 

Anyway, I am going to share with you guys out itinerary for our Visita Iglesia. We left Manila at 5 in the morning and arrived at 7 in the evening. 

Sir Ronald Sanchez beside his new Toyoto GL Grandia
You can do it also or choose other churches. I highly suggest that you hire a van/car whenever you are doing visita iglesia as it will save you more time. In that case, I personally recommend Sir Ronald Sanchez, you can reach him with this number, +63-932-255-3733, a very techie and polite driver I have ever met. He uses a navigation app and you don't have to worry about getting lost plus his van is spacious enough for 11 people. He was referred by Sir Macq, who also have a wide network of vans for hire, +63-998-561-5736. If you are looking for a van, you may contact Sir Macq, just tell him that you were referred by me and he will give you discounts. :)

Here are the churches we visited:

1. St. Josemaria Escriva, Gerona, Tarlac
A newly built church dedicated to the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva. This luxurious church is in Bgy. Maspac, Gerona, Tarlac and it is only 10 minutes away from Pura/Gerona Exit in TPLEX and an hour away to Monasterio de Tarlac.

With Fr. Ato

the so - called "drive thru" of the church, for those who need to feed their soul

2. Monasterio De Tarlac, San Jose, Tarlac
Where the 30Ft statue of Risen Christ is standing. Monasterio De Tarlac became popular and going there is really easy, you just have to follow the signs. One could take TPLEX and exit at Victoria or exit at Tarlac in SCTEX. Monasterio is 30 - 40 minutes away from Tarlac City.

A very scenic place

Since the chapel is small to accommodate large number of devotees, the station of the cross is in the quadrangle.
Statue of Risen Christ

3. San Bartolome Parish Church, Lacson Street, Magalang, Pampanga
From Monasterio De Tarlac, this is an hour and a half drive but I suggest that you skip this church and just head your way to Angeles especially if it is already past 11AM. The best alternative here is the Apung Macalulu Church.

Note that they're closing the church at lunch time
This is interesting, those are tombs

4. Holy Rosary Parish Church, Angeles, Pampanga
This is situated at the downtown of Angeles. I love the ambiance of this place, very rustic. There are old houses around the area which were turned to business but still managed to restore it. This church is part of the 7 Holy doors in Pampanga.

We were able to witness a wedding. <3

5. Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando
Don't be confused with this cathedral, the google map will tell you that it is along McArthur Highway but the truth is, it is located at downtown of San Fernando, facing the Capitol. This church is also part of the 7 Holy doors of Pamapanga.

7 churches of Holy Doors.

6. St. James the Apostle Parish Church commonly known as Betis Church, Guagua, Pampanga
Among the churches we visited, this is my favorite. It may look old and shattered on the outside but inside it is full of saints and painting. It may be rustic but I love every piece of it. I love the wooden floor, the walls that were hand painted and the simplicity of it. This is a must visit church in Pampanga, plus every lenten season they have a museum which showcases the life of Christ and some of the Saints. 

The Museum
Inside of the Betis Church

7. Santa Rita De Cascia Parish Church, Dalan Betis Rd, Santa Rita, Pampanga
This is the final church for our Visita Iglesia. The church was crowded because of devotees from Diocese of Antipolo, they almost filled the church. The church is renovating but they still preserved the outside structure. 

The Exhibit during Lenten Season
The facade of Sta. Rita Church

That ends our Visita Iglesia, I hope this post helped you decide where to go on your next church visit. I think no matter what your religion is, visiting old churches is still a must do in traveling if you are into history and culture. Visiting churches will not just feed your soul but also feed your knowledge about the churches you visit. 

Verdict of Tara Gumala: Pampanga will not just feed your soul but also your tummy. This is a perfect place to visit churches and to be gastronomic.