The Rocks, The Sea and the Sun in Sisiman

Energized by my venture into Albay, I was pumped into looking for my next destination.  After scouring the net, this beach in Sisiman, Bataan kept calling to me.  And as we say here in the Philippines, I’m very agreeable so I packed my bag and spent a weekend there.

Sisiman’s beach is rocky and  even has hardened lava in some sections. Although sandwiched by two factories, the beachfront itself is a beauty and the local community surrounding it is charming in its own way.  Fishing and making dried fish appear to be the main livelihood.  Videoke is very much alive as early as 7 am too! Hahaha 😀

Until now, pitching tents there is free, and the local community also rent cottages for a minimal fee.  Toilet and bathroom are communal, and they charge per pail.

The best time to go here is either by sunrise or sunset; it looks like it gets pretty crowded later on in the day.  In fact, groups of people started arriving by 7:30 am.  Not by the busload, but it’s getting challenging to take decent landscape photos.

How to get there?

  1. Take the bus going to Mariveles
  2. Alight at Baseco
  3. Take a tricycle–tell the driver to drop you off at Sisiman Beach.

Here’s the cost breakdown:

Cubao – Mariveles RT:  PhP560

Tricycle fare:  PhP13 (Special:  PhP50)

There’s no entrance fee to Sisiman beach

A Day in Albay

No ATV rides, no sili ice cream, but it was still quite an experience.

I swore that this year, I’ll explore Philippines more, so one seat sale or so ago, I looked for a place to go to and decided on Albay.  I want to see Mt. Mayon up close!  But after this trip, I found gems, both in places and people.  So enough with the narratives and on to the pictures!

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View from Legazpi Airport’s runway

Even if you end up sitting at the wrong side of the plane, you’ll still get a nice view of Mayon after the plane lands.  One of the best runway views I’ve seen so far 🙂

Lignon Hill is just behind Legazpi Airport, so I hopped on to a tricycle right away.  Manong was very helpful; he was actually teaching me where to go, how to go around and he practically got that I prefer experiencing the place like how locals do.  He assured me that I, with no exercise at all and practically sits all day in the office, can reach Lignon Hill’s peak.  He said he even jogs there in mornings.  Okay then, I thought, I’m ready!

The road was paved, yes; you won’t get lost, yes; but it was steep.  Not exaggerating here, but I was tempted to crawl up at some parts of the trek haha^^ I was that out of shape.  Thankfully though, I was able to reach the peak and was rewarded with these views:

A lot of people were exercising there too and there was someone selling coconuts.

Lignon Hill has a minimal entrance fee after 9 am but it’s free in the mornings (and personally, considering how hot it can get later on in the day, mornings are the best time to go there).

After Lignon Hill, my next stop was Cagsawa Ruins.  Two jeepney rides away from the foot of Lignon Hill, Cagsawa is hard to miss since there’s a sign pointing to the park.  About half a kilometer’s walk and you’re already by the entrance.  They charge a fee of 20 pesos and you’re free to stay there as long as you like.

There are plenty of souvenir shops and some restaurants inside, and I don’t really like to say this, but it’s a little too touristy for me.  There are plenty of locals too offering to take pictures for visitors for a fee.  What I appreciate about them is they just ask you once and then if you say no, they leave you alone.  Here are shots of the bell tower, the church hall’s remnants and a rice field:

After about an hour, I headed back to Legazpi City to check out Starbucks in Ayala Mall Legazpi.  I chose the seat with the best view of Mayon, but I wasn’t satisfied because a column was blocking the view.  So no picture from there.  After recharging, I headed to Embarcadero de Legazpi, but upon reaching the mall, I realized it’s not worth killing time here for the rest of the afternoon, so I did a quick research and stumbled upon Quitinday Hills.  And I’m glad I chose to go to this place.

From Embarcadero, jeepneys going to Camalig pass by.  So I got on one, and the jeepney driver guided me and had me alight at Sentro, where the tricycles are.  The roundtrip fare costs PhP350 – 500 pesos, and the tricycle drivers will allow probably just 2 or even at most 3 per ride.  It takes about half an hour before you reach the drop-off point.  That half-hour though is through a grueling rough road, so as a tip, don’t eat too much before heading off to Quitinday, and make sure you don’t have stomach problems.

Quitinday is a relatively new attraction which boasts of two viewing points where you can see Mayon (and the rest of the hill formations as well).  According to one of the locals, Quitinday is better than Chocolate Hills because you actually get to climb its hills, while with Chocolate Hills, you just get to see it from a viewing deck.  From my trip, Quitinday is definitely my favorite stop.  Why, you ask?  Here’s why:

I wish I had time to check out Quitinday falls and Hoyop-hoyopan cave which was on the way, but I had to go back to Embarcadero to view the sunset and I had to be within Legazpi City so I won’t miss my flight back home. Still no luck seeing Mayon, and the sunset was on the other side of the port, but I still enjoyed the scenery.

After I had my fill of shots from the port, I had dinner at a local coffee shop then headed to the airport.

So, the itinerary:

6:00 am – land at Legazpi Airport

6:15 – 8:00 am – Lignon Hill

8:00 – 9:30 am Cagsawa Ruins

10 am – 12:00 nn Legazpi City center

1:00 – 4:00 pm Quitinday Hills

5:00 – 6:00 pm Embarcadero de Legazpi

6:00 – 7 pm Dinner at Artisan’s Specialty Coffee

7 pm – Head back to Legazpi Airport

 

Breakdown of expenses:

PhP 3400 : Roundtrip ticket (MNL – Legazpi)

PhP 40 : Entrance fees (20 pesos each for Cagsawa park and Quitinday)

PhP 500 transportation

 

 

Relax

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Sunken Garden, University of the Philippines, Diliman.  Taken on a Sunday afternoon.

Occupied for a week in a year for the university fair; otherwise, it’s pretty much free for everyone to enjoy.  The field is great for sports and the surrounding shade is perfect for picnics, studying or just plainly relaxing.

 

For the weekly photo challenge Relax

Cherry on a Mountaintop

mesteereanwinds pulled me out of this sort of hiatus and pointed out the weekly photo challenge, so here’s my piece of cherry on top–more specifically, my attempt to hike Mt. Pulag.

Mt. Pulag is the highest peak in Luzon, the largest island group in the Philippines.  It’s very popular with both complete amateurs (like me) and hardcore mountaineers alike, and the breathtaking sunrise and sea of clouds at the summit is really worth making the effort for.

Well, that was my plan but I got sick even before we reached the drop-off point, so I only could make it until the campsite.  I may not have “tasted” the ultimate cherry on top, but the experience itself, bonding with fellow trekkers and the fresh view were enough cherry on top for me.

It’s almost been five years since but I’d definitely want to give reaching Pulag’s summit another try.  Someday.

Cherry On Top

The Two SMs

Here’s SM North EDSA.  A mall of the masses, one of the biggest in Asia, a link in the most pervasive mall chain in the Philippines. A nightmare to tread during payday weekends; perfect to stroll in just short of midnight during the Christmas holidays.  Quite distinctive on the outside, but the inside is pretty much similar to the rest of the malls of its stature.  A transport hub for commuters to the north and to different parts of Metro Manila; a slow killer of small-scale, homegrown stores.

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Then there’s Sierra Madre mountain range, or at least a portion of it.  Traversing throughout mainland Luzon, a shield that staves off typhoons and holds off floods; home of water basins and beautiful landscapes; a looming testament of the Philippines’ active fault lines.  This portion of the range is mystical on cool and clear mornings, and on a cloudless day, the shades of brown and blue provide relief from the stresses of technology.

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Here’s the vantage point where you can see both, and so much more…. traffic jam.  And that eyesore of a billboard. But hey, I like kopiko!

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A Look Back: Punta Fuego

Named for its shape, Punta Fuego has a place in Philippine history because it is where one of the early battles of Spaniards took place.  Now, it’s home to an exclusive club. It’s one of those places that I’d never think of going to alone–one is for transport reasons, and the hassle that comes with possible fees and paperwork.

Which is why I’m glad our company got to book two days at Peninsula de Punta Fuego almost three years ago for our summit.  Great food, great scenery, and most important of all, great memories.

Kumori Bakery, Part 2

I’ve been craving for sweets again (but then again, it’s maybe more of a habit rather than a craving! haha!) and besides, it’s that time of the year when we corporate slaves get our midyear bonus, so why not give ourselves a treat?

Mine came in two, and these cost me just a little over PhP 200 combined. Continue reading “Kumori Bakery, Part 2”