Posted in Batanes, Journeys, Travel

5 Things to Do in Batanes!

For most Filipino travelers, Batanes is definitely part of the bucket list. So, I am listing 5 things to Do in Batanes for you. The place is definitely breathtaking, but it seems like an impossible dream for many since most people think that it is costly to go there. Truth be told, the only barrier between you and your Batanes escapade is the cost of transportation which is around 8,000 – 15,000 pesos, but the cost of stay there is as cheap as 7,500 including tours for 3D/2N!

What’s in store for you in Batanes, you may ask? Well, I’ve been there for two times already in 2017 mainly for medical and surgical missions, so for me it was a travel with a definite purpose. We had limited time to see the different areas, and we were just invited by our partners for a quick tour, hat’s why we obliged. 🙂 Even if it is just a half day fast-paced tour, Batanes was still breathtaking for me. So here’s the 5 things you can do in Batanes!!

  1. Appreciate the AIRPORT

I have been to quite a number of airports in the Philippines, and a few international ones, but for me Basco Airport stands out! It’s interior reflects the culture of the island. 🙂 Then, there’s a small lagoon in the center.Most flights are in the morning, so you have the chance to capture the morning sun!
The people in the airport are warm and accommodating. Since we went there for a med mission, we were not charged for the fees (environmental/tourists fees), but if you’re there just for tour, you might need to prep the payment upon arrival.

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2. Enjoy the FOOD!

Surprisingly, food is very affordable in Batanes! We ate mostly in Pension Ivatan which is a hotel near the airport. The coordinator there, Mr. Jayson, is very kind to us. He accommodated our whole team last November.  Here’s a glimpse of what Batanes has to offer in terms of culinary indulgence. If you are lucky enough, you will be able to try their famous coconut crab! yum!

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Platter meal from Pension Ivatan

Basco also has numerous areas where you can dine including a place with Halo-Halo (though I was not able to go). There are also local vendors who sells snacks in areas like Sabtang. 🙂

 

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The Doggo is not the vendor! Haha. 🙂

 

3. Visit the LIGHT HOUSES!

Another activity to include in your things to do in Batanes is visit the light houses! There are many light houses to choose from, but I’ve only been in one – the one in Basco. It’s majestic and it  can give you a scenic view when you reach the top. My dream lighthouse is in Sabtang, but I was only able to catch a glimpse of it on our way to the medical mission venue. Sad, but work comes first before leisure! 🙂

Here are some shots of the lighthouse in Basco. So instagrammable!

Here’s the abot-tanaw light house of Sabtang!
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4. Tour around Basco

Basco in itself has so much to offer, and just by walking along its streets, you will be able to appreciate its beauty through the traditional houses and the people. The people of Batanes are one of the warmest people I have known, and they are very friendly too! Here are some of the things you can do in Basco.

The Rolling Hills

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The Boulder Beach

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Have Fun with the Animals

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Shopping for Souvenirs
For Souvenirs, you can visit Tawsen’s Souvenir Shop or the souvenir shop area near the plaza. I find Tawsen’s products cheaper though!

 

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Viewing Deck

We went down the viewing deck, but we later found out that 2 people died there while taking a selfie, so better be not as adventurous like us!

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5. Visit Sabtang
One of the nearest island from Basco is Sabtang. Definitely, visiting this island is in my 5 things to do in Batanes list!!! To be able to go there, you need to go to Ivana Port which is at the bottom-most portion of Batan island. Here, you will be able to see the honesty store where there are no vendors, you just have to pay honestly on your own. 🙂

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Then, you have to ride a boat going to Sabtang. The waves can be a bit scary so you might want to take Bonamine. 🙂 The view is absolutely amazing specially in the morning!

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En Route Basco from Sabtang, Early in the morning

When in Sabtang, you can go to Chavayan where the old houses are located! It is where you can wear or even buy their native Vakul. I find this barangay really beautiful!

 

There is also a drop off point which you will pass before arriving at Chavayan. The view there is breathtaking!

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Going to Batanes might not be as easy, but you can always save up for it or wait for seat sales! Skyjet, PAL and Ceb Pac flies there daily. If you are planning to go, it is better to plan a summer trip because flights in the latter part of the year might be cancelled due to the weather. 🙂 You might need to bring extra clothes and cash as well if ever your trip back to Manila gets cancelled (due to rain/wind). However, if you are willing to take the risk, going there during the off-peak seasons are cheaper in terms of the airfare and hotels (Pension Ivatan is at 50% off).

For hotels, you can opt for a hotel or hometel, there are various establishments there. We stayed at Tawsen’s Place which is a relatively new hotel with good interior. Also, I recently found out that Tawsen just renovated a traditional home and their opening it so people can rent! It’s gorgeous. To know more about this. You can visit them at Facebook. Ms. Daphne, their manager, is very accommodating, approachable and helpful!

So, there you go. That’s my 5 things to do in Batanes! Definitely worth visiting again, for leisure this time – God willing!

Hence, as they say in Batanes…
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until my next post!

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Posted in Journeys, Travel, Uncategorized

5 things to do in Taipei: For First Time Travelers

Legend says that you can hear the rooster’s crow in Taiwan even when you are in the Philippines. Well, they say that it’s possible when in you’re in the upper most islands of the country – Batanes. Taiwan is not so different if you happen to be a Meteor Garden fan like me, and since they have made travel, visa free, until July 2018, you still have time to explore the beauty Taiwan has to offer.

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Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

My travel was limited to Taipei since I  went there for another purpose.
Given this, I will  share with you 5 Things To Do in Taipei when you’re in a tight schedule. 🙂

1. FOOD TRIP
Taipei has a number of night markets you can go to, and these are the best sites for food trips! 🙂 For me, the best seller is the pork buns in Raohe Night Market. Raohe is a relatively smaller night market compared to others like Shilin, but the finds there are absolutely amazing. The Pork Buns are located at the entrance of the night market near the temple. You can easily find it since there is usually a line for those buying.

The Raohe pork buns are a bit spicy, so you should bring water just in case. They make the buns on the spot, so you can actually see how they prepare it. What’s unique about it is that they bake it using a special/traditional oven. 🙂

There are other things you can try out, here are some of the photos:

When In Raohe

Another highlight from Raohe, aside from the pork buns is the one-of-a-kind ice cream where smoke can be blown from your nose. 🙂 The vendor is so friendly, he even made it a point to speak a little Filipino. He will even take your photo/video. He really makes sure that you will enjoy the experience. 🙂 Keep in mind that you need to follow his orientation first before eating your smoking ice cream! 🙂

Here’s a few shots of my ice cream experience! 🙂


When in Shilin
Probably the most famous night market in Taipei is Shilin Night Market. For an introvert like me, there’s just so much people!!! I felt really exhausted after the stay. We agot lost there, but it’s just a small area, so we easily found our way back. 🙂 It is near 2 train stations so it’s very accessible.

Other Food Trip Opportunities

If you are fond of coffee, tea and milk tea, Taipei is one of the best places to go. Actually, my first meal there was in a cafe which offers coffee and meals. There are also various restaurants both Japanese and Korean inspired, and of course authentic Taiwanese. For first time budget travelers, Mcdonald’s can also be a good place to eat. :p

 

2. HISTORICAL TOURS

Taiwan boasts of a rich history and there are many historical  areas in the island. One of these is the Chang Kai Shek memorial hall where one of the nation’s leaders was immortalized through a structure/statue.

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Gate / Court of the Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall at Night
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The Garden and Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
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Flag Retreat at the Memorial Hall
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Grandiose Ceiling at the Statue of Chang Kai Shek
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Chang Kai Shek’s Monument

Aside from this, there are numerous historical areas in Taipei including their national museum and the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, among others. Appreciating a country’s history should definitely be part of one’s top five things to do, since it will give you a glimpse of how the country has become what it is now, even if you are just staying for a few days.

3. CULTURAL TOURS

Aside from its rich historical preservation, Taipei also has a rich culture and there are many ways to be familiar with this. For me, a trip to Maokong (the TEA capital of Taipei), is a must! Maokong is very near the Taipei Zoo so you might want to drop by also, you just need to go there early so you can enjoy both places.

To reach Maokong, just ride the train going to Taipei Zoo Station. You can ride a taxi or -the more fun – cable car from there. 🙂

The cable car is located  in the top most floor, so you might need to be ready for that climb. Upon reaching the area, you just need to line up. There are 2 lines – one is for the regular cable cars and the other for the glass bottom cable car. If you have the heart for it, ride the glass bottom so you can see a more full view going to Maokong.

Upon reaching Maokong, you can visit different tea shops and food establishments. There is also a nice view there because it is located on top of a mountain. We did not have much time, but you can also try to find shops that have a better view which you might hike. 🙂

 

4. SHOPPING

There are many things to buy and many places to shop in Taipei. Both Raohe and Shilin have many shopping areas aside from food.

Raohe and Shilin Shopping Stalls

 

Lao Mian Cheng Lantern Shop

Lao Mian Cheng Lantern Shop located at No. 298, Section 1, Dihua St, Datong District offers a wide range of Lanterns that you can bring home as a souvenir. There are elegant hand-painted lanterns which costs around 1,000 – 2,000 pesos each, but there are also cheap items such as fans and scarves. The shop is located in an alley, so it might be difficult to find. I suggest that you go there in the morning / afternoon since the location is a bit scary at night.

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Eslite 24-hour bookstore

 

As a bookworm, I was looking forward to a trip to a 24-hour bookstore. However, since I had limited budget for this trip, I was not able to fully enjoy the stay here since the items sold are quite pricey. Aside from that, my feet were aching from all the walking in Shilin Night Market, and the bookstore was quite far from the train station. However, if you have the budget, this store offers not only books but stationeries and different cute items like the pop-up Harry Potter book above. They also have a place for you to eat sort of like a food court (not 24 hours though). There’s also Starbucks there, but it’s not 24 hours as well.

LOCAL MARKETS

Local markets offer different items at affordable prices. Going around a local market near Taipei 101 and near our hotel (Charming City Hotel) we were able to find a school / office / stationery supplies store! It has everything in it! PENS! ALL COLORS! Post its! Cute Notebooks! Hooray!

 

5. SIGHT-SEEING

There are many great areas to visit in Taipei. One of them is Taipei 101. Taipei streets at night are also a sight to behold because of all the lights. 🙂 Here are some of my shots.

 

Aside from these things, there are many more areas to explore not only in Taipei, but also in nearby places. For me, Taipei is one of the best cities I have been to because people are warmer and friendlier to tourists than in other Asian countries, the place is relatively safe, and there are many areas to explore!
MANILA – TAIPEI – MANILA can be as cheap as 5,000 – 7,000 round trip when there are promos. You can try to scout around or follow local travel agencies like from friends at Metro Wanderer Services (www.facebook.com/travelpisofare).

So, there’s my #ThankfulTaipeiTrip last November 2017. Hope you can visit and enjoy the place as I did! God bless! 🙂

Posted in Jesus, Uncategorized

My Open Heart Surgery in Hong Kong.



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My heart was cut open. Examined. The blocks were taken out. It was given a renewed flow of blood, and it was healed anew. This pretty much summarizes what I underwent during a heart operation in Hong Kong last August 24-26, 2013.

August 24 (Saturday)

The most ideal day to fly to Hong Kong was Friday. Unfortunately, I had work, and I even had to do overtime. Hence, I flew Saturday. With one hour worth of sleep, I was in the airport at 3 AM. My flight was at 5. Eagerly waiting for my first trip alone and my second trip to Hong Kong, I felt God’s presence stamped all over my pre-departure. 🙂

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During the ride on the plane which was about  2 hours, I had the opportunity to talk with the woman beside me.. and also her husband.They were a nice couple, and our chit chats were very interesting. Besides that, i was also able to commune with my Creator as I was high above the sky. Now, that’s one devotion I will never forget! God told me about Esther, and how she was called to be in her place of position to be able to make a difference in that appointed time. 🙂 I believe God also calls me to be where I am right now because He wants me to do something significant like Queen Esther to her people at that time of oppression of the Jews.

Talking with God high above the clouds gave me assurance that He was with me. So, despite the turbulence on our descent, I felt peace and joy in my heart.

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I arrived at HK International Airport at about 8 AM. I waited for other churchmates to arrive so I can have companions going to the JIL International Center. I got my Octopus Card and had breakfast at Mcdo. This place was special for me, for it is the same place where I had my first breakfast in Hong Kong together with my whole family last March. I waited a bit for my co-YAMs.

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When they arrived, we rode a bus going to Prince Edward and eventually through many untoward circumstances, we arrived at the JIL International Center in Shek Kip Mei.

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My heart surgery started at about 11:30 AM in that place. Pastor Jerome Ocampo was speaking. I missed Pastor Bobot’s first talk. But it was okay. That day, God always reminded me of Romans 8:28, and I know He is in control. Here are a few things that struck me during Pastor Jerome’s message:

  • Do not be scared of testing. JOB had 2 years of testing. From super blessed, he became super mega over blessed after his trials.
  • We want to go through our issues, God wants us to grow through our issues!
  • Hold on to your fork! (The best is yet to come!)
  • If you trust God, you will have a gracious spirit like Daniel.
  • Complaining gets you stuck in the wilderness
  • Don’t belittle your job, if you are excellent, you will shine.
  • Joy is not a mood, it is a muscle. We must exercise it so the joy of the Lord will be our strength.
  • The best is not behind you, it’s right in front of you. The best is yet to come. The best for JIL is yet to come.
  • All you have to do is release the excellent spirit.
  • Even in prison, Joseph became the best. He shifted the destinies of nations.
  • Though you feel like you are in your Babylon, God has a promise for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Sometimes, I really feel that what I am doing in life and in the ministry is insignificant. At that point, I was thinking too low about myself because of how people treat me. I felt that I was in my Babylon. But God promised me that Babylon is just a phase in life. He has great things in store for me, and He shall give this for His glory.

Other lessons or take aways from the Conference include:

  • “We talk about the second coming, half of the world has never heard of the first.” Oswald Smith
  • Your job is your ministry, your mission.
  • You are the temple of the Holy Spirit and nothing about you is “secular”
  • Missions is no longer about crossing the oceans, jungles or deserts, but about crossing the streets of the city.
  • Our life should shine so that they can see the Lord in us.
  • “My job is a holy, God-given expression of God’s call on my life to advance His Kingdom.”
  • Fulfill your mission, Fulfill your calling.

Pastora Cora shares:

  • “Pag ang Diyos ang nagbigay ng pangarap, nagkakatotoo..” (i feel like cryin again while typing this..)
  • “Wala tayoong binigay sa Panginoon na hindi niya pagyayamanin.
  • When much is given, much is required.
  • Vision Killers: Pride, Lust, Fears.
  • YAM is not personality-centered. This is the Lord’s idea. This is the Lord’s Ministry.
  • YAM – You are Master! 🙂

As God opens my heart to see what is inside it, I believe He was able to see my brokenness, my frailty, my disappointment on myself. I know He saw all my fears, frustrations, sorrow and dreams. I believe that God, during that time, assessed the current state of my heart, and He told me/revealed to me these things.

As he carefully saw the brokenness of my spirit, pastor Bobot’s message came like a breath of fresh air. His teaching was deep but simple. Huge but understandable. It was about the Holy Spirit. I have known the Holy Spirit. I must admit though that I had some notions about Him that was not right. I always thought of Him as a teacher  – He teaches you the right things to do. Yet, another side of teachers also include a disciplinarian – and I deemed Him as such. Having the fear of being a disappointment all my life, I also thought He was someone who would dislike me if I err. Pastor Bobot’s message was simple, but it struck me to the core. He introduced to me the Holy Spirit as a persona so close, so real, so in love with me. He is a teacher indeed, but He is also full of compassion and love just like Jesus and the Father.

As I anointed myself with oil in the head, hands and feet, I just felt really humbled that the God of the Universe would choose to live in me. Someone who could never be proud of anything, I just felt God so close by that I couldn’t stop from crying. God is here. I feel His presence. God redeems. God loves sinners. God wants us to be Holy, and He is there to help us to be holy. He wants to be Holy so we can be one with him. 🙂

The day ended with much joy. Though I didn’t have enough sleep, I felt my spirit energized. God has removed the clot in my blood vessels, and a new energized blood flows in my spiritual veins. 🙂

More than that, I was also able to eat at an all-you-can resto with fellow YAMs in Mong Kok! Along the road, we were able to see a group of young people having a concert in the street near the Ladies Market. They were singing Christian songs in Mandarin! What a way to end the day!

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August 26 (Sunday)

I slept earlier than most of my hotel-mates during the first day because I was tired and sleep-deprived. Since my body clock has adjusted to my early work schedule, I was able to wake up at 5 or 6 am. I took a bath early and went out ahead of others. I went to Tsim Sha Tsui, the place my family and I stayed last March. I ate at Tsui Wah restaurant, our favorite Breakfast place in HK (only to found out later on there was a Tsui Wah resto at the 2nd floor of our hotel). Yet, I had fun traveling alone. :p I had breakfast with God and he told me about Isaiah 40..

15 No, for all the nations of the world

    are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more
    than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
    as though it were a grain of sand.
16 All the wood in Lebanon’s forests
    and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough
    to make a burnt offering worthy of our God.
17 The nations of the world are worth nothing to him.
    In his eyes they count for less than nothing—
    mere emptiness and froth.

27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

There in a foreign land, I was amazed at God’s ownership of the whole world. Surely, He is God not only in the Philippines, but in every nation that ever existed, exists and will exist! My God is strong, and he can provide me strength to overcome the trials that will come my way. God is prompting me that I should trust Him and He will do the rest. 🙂

After such a filling of the body and Spirit, I tried to go to places alone. I still had time before the Sunday Service started. So, I headed to Prince Edward to see the goldfish market and the flower market.

 

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I got lost a bit. But, i eventually found my way. haha! I saw baby turtles for sale! I got caught in the rain, bought an umbrella at 7-11 and spent about 200 pesos for it! Whew. Sa Pinas, 50 pesos lang yun! hehe.

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Then, I went to the JIL Church at  Shek Kip Mei to enjoy God’s presence with my brothers and sisters in Christ. 🙂 During the praise and worship.. I will not forget ever what God told me. Thinking about it makes me cry more and more with gratitude even until this day. Well, God told me in His still small voice.. “Anak. I’m proud of you. You are not a failure. I am proud of what you have done. Though you feel that you have failed me, I am proud of you. Don’t believe the evil one. You were able to fulfill my desires for you in College and until now. Yes, you are not perfect, but you are not a loser. Great things await you.”

With that, I broke down. God telling you how proud He is! I am humbled. He reminded me of things I aspired and worked for to do for Him. Though people may not notice nor remember, He does. My God does. 🙂 This was the healing after the surgery. God moves! God heals! God is good!

The day ended with bonding time with new YAM friends – Ate Hanna, Ate Rhea Salazar and Ate Aimee who works for Compassion International (small world!). 🙂

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We had ice cream at a mobile ice cream store! It was my first time!

We also had to catch the train going back to Yau Ma Tei. We ran all the way to the platform! 🙂 I remember Ate Rhea’s word during our running moment in the walk-alator, citing that the equipment helped us to run faster. 🙂 Kailangan talaga dalawa, mas effective. Hehe. (How I wished Dek was there as well.. Yihee).

August 26 (Monday)

Before flying back to Manila, i spent one more day in HK. I fulfilled some dreams this day! I saw a Panda and a Penguin! YEY!

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I enjoyed Ocean Park alone.994267_10201685259954677_858371035_n

I was also able to conquer a roller coaster! 🙂 I was alone physically, but I really felt God with me.

 

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I went home in Manila with renewed faith, renewed hope.. and a renewed HEART.

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