Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baguio for the Long Weekend

MANILA, Philippines  It's a four-day long weekend and my family and I are off to Baguio.

This will be a trip of many firsts:
  1. It'll be my first time in Baguio! *gasp*
  2. We're bringing along Bebeh and her mom, our trusted house-help for 25 years.
  3. It's actually the first time in 10 years that I'll be vacationing again with my parents! 
It was also for these reasons (the last one, in particular) that I gave up a secret solo trip that I booked. In fact, I was supposed to fly out tonight. I just hope that I made the right decision.

All packed!

Let's see how Baguio turns out! No expectations. The grown-ups have been doing all the planning and I'm just going with the flow.

For a change, the only planning I've done is on what I'll be wearing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What to buy in Coron

PALAWAN, Philippines  There's a lot to buy in Coron but nothing really unique to the place. 

Here are some of the things we bought:

1. Bandi 
If you're looking for a cashew product that's pretty uncommon, try bandi. It's a native delicacy that's subtly sweet and reminds me of pili nut brittle.

Price: Php 100
Where: L. Escarda' Coron Harvest

Coron's pride. With Lita Escarda (center), the first person to market cashew nuts in Coron.
She's literally a tourist attraction! Look at all the photos with famous personalities at the back!

In general, roasted cashews in Coron are twice as expensive compared to Puerto Princesa. A big bag sells for Php 350 while the same size sells for Php 180 in Puerto Princesa. But I'd still recommend buying it. After all, Palawan is the cashew capital of the Philippines.

2. Wooden jewelry and crafts
There's a lot of woodwork talent in Coron. Necklaces here are very intricate and unique. So are the other items on display! A bit pricey, though.

Price: ~Php 300+
Where: Kuweba Arts and Crafts
(Necklaces here are examples only as photos weren't allowed inside)

3. Danggit (Rabbit fish)
I noticed that the danggit in Coron is extra large. Ate some for breakfast and it was pretty good! My friends bought these as pasalubong. I didn't bother buying since we don't eat danggit at home.

Price: ~Php 135 for one bag
Where: Coron Public Market
Vendors pack it extra well so it can be taken on the plane. 

4. Miscellaneous items
We stopped over at the Coron Souvenir & Gift shop. My friends bought a lot of stuff. I didn't buy anything since nothing really amused me.

Price: Rainsticks - Php 25+
(These were Php 12 in Puerto Princesa!)
Where: Coron Souvenir & Gift Shop

Other items found in the souvenir shop:


The only thing that amused me in the shop was this:

Close, are we?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Subic without an Itinerary

It's more fun-tastic in Subic.

OLONGAPO, Philippines  It was one of those trips where we left town for the day without an itinerary. It's more fun-tastic in Subic? Yesterday, it was.  

After a late breakfast at McDo Katipunan, we were off.

Perfect weather for a road trip!

We had a late lunch at Xtremely Xpresso Cafe. On our plates: nachos, chili wings, and the Big Albino Ben pizza. Go for the albino if you're into white-sauced pizzas.

Late lunch at Xtremely Xpresso.

Xtremely Xpresso Cafe
1 Dewey Ave., Olongapo City

After getting caught by a traffic enforcer for not stopping when there was a stop sign (yes, it's strict in Subic), we went to walk around in the new Harbor Point mall.

There was a singing contest among the indigenous people as part of the IP month celebration. We won't forget that one contestant who was an instant crowd pleaser. Let's just say she sang her heart out. People went out of the shops just to see what the commotion was all about!

Indigenous people participated in a singing contest to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' month.

And as if we weren't stuffed yet from lunch, we had dessert at CBTL.


With my favorite beckies!
(Photo by Fidz Pamintuan)

Still without an agenda for the afternoon, we drove aimlessly around town.

Philippine Flag near the waters.

Monkeys on the road!

"Hello, mAnkeys!" - Fidz

We ended up in Camayan Beach. There's a Php 300 fee to go and swim but for those who just want to walk around, pay a Php 10 "washroom fee".

Bumming around

With Andrew and Fidz

Boy Wander in Subic

Anti-social mode.

Camayan Beach during sunset

Before heading home, we dropped by Angeles City for Japanese food. Yu-Fu-In is fairly new and the food is to die for. The presence of Japanese people there tell me that the food tastes authentic. 

Aside from sushi, try ordering the uni (sea urchin) and okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza)! 

First St., corner Second Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City

We capped the trip by hanging out at one of our comfort zones: Cantina in Katipunan.

Can you guess which drink is mine?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Places to Eat in Coron, Palawan

PALAWAN, Philippines  Maybe my taste buds were acting up but I didn't really enjoy the food in Coron. 

The food tasted... well, normal. Average, perhaps. It was generally expensive, too. Meals averaged at Php 250. Good thing the restos were walking distances from each other.

Here's where I ate:

1. Sea Dive Resort
This is the place to be if you're not into Filipino food and you'd like to see foreigners. Wi-Fi is free, too! Food is pretty good compared to others and there's a wide variety of choices.

Try the spicy chicken carbonara. The sauce is a bit wet but it's not bad. Look at the chili!

Sea Dive Resort
(Photo on the left from

2. Bistro Coron
It's an ideal place to pig-out after snorkeling the entire day. Servings are quite big. Pizzas here are said to be the best but I'd like to try the ones at Sea Dive before concluding.

Order the Bistro Coron Special. The 10-inch pizza is Php 299. Can't believe I finished it by myself.

Bistro Coron
National Highway, Barangay 5 (beside Swagman Travel)

3. Public Market
There are lots of little eateries here for those with extra tight budgets. I walked around and saw the locals crowding around this food stall. I ended up snacking on a fried jalapeno stick. 

Fried Jalapeno Sticks
Can't remember how much it cost. Php 12?

Coron Public Market

4. Kapemon
It's a quiet little place that it isn't really known. The food here is quite good and very affordable, too. The downside is that it's a longer walk from the port area.

Their specialty is the chicken binakol. It's a chicken soup dish similar to tinola. Php 100. 

National Highway near San Agustin Church

5. Food Trip
The place known for its sizzling plates. Average meal here is Php 250. Try its famous Sultana Plate. It's a mixed seafood sizzling plate. Not bad, though I'm not a fan of seafood. 

Food Trip
Near Harbour Center and Coron Public Market

5. Ice Valley
I think this is the only dessert place in town. It's a cute place to hang-out in for merienda or after dinner. I came mostly for the air-con and free Wi-Fi.

The mixed fruit halo-halo is ideal for sharing. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I didn't have anyone to share it with. It's Php 250.

Ice Valley
National Highway beside Centro Coron

6. Dad's Coronzy Coffee & Tea
To me, this seemed like the ideal breakfast place just because they served homey breakfast items and is near Xpedition, the place where I booked all my tours. 

I think I ordered the Maling-silog. It cost roughly around Php 120.

Dad's Coronzy Coffee & Tea
National Highway (beside Centro Coron)
(Image on the left from 

7. Centro Coron
The place boasts of pink salmon and its many health benefits like helping prevent cancer, alleviating arthritis and reducing the risk of heart disease. There I was convinced that pink salmon was a specialty of Coron *facepalm*. But really, it's imported from a different country. 

 Order the Pink Salmon sa Miso. 2-3 people can share this. Cost is Php 350.

Centro Coron
National Highway (in between Dad's Coronzy and Ice Valley)

Why don't you give these a try? Maybe my taste buds were really screwed at the time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Advocacy for Boy Wander?

I won’t deny feeling kilig (giddy?) when my entry on The Bataks of Palawan was reposted on Rappler.

Perhaps it was seeing that byline—something that I never imagined on any publication. Writing has always been one of my insecurities. 

But beyond the giddiness, I felt a sense of fulfillment and hope—that through a humble entry, people would learn about the Bataks, their problems, and how they can be of help.

My entry on the Bataks of Palawan reposted on Rappler!

I was glad that some people commented and asked questions about the article when it was shared on Rappler's Facebook page. It meant that somehow, they cared. It was a fun discussion.

Engaging readers in a friendly discussion.
(Image from Rappler's Facebook page)

Say hello to Boy Wander 15 pounds ago! The little write-up about me at the end of the article.

I remember starting this blog as a trivial outlet because I was heartbroken. Then it evolved into what it is now: Boy Wander, a travel blog that chronicles my wanderings while helping people plan their trips better.

Perhaps it'd be nice if this blog went beyond helping people plan their trips. What if it could spark change as well? Could Boy Wander give a voice to the voiceless? Help raise awareness for issues that deserve attention? Serious food for thought here.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dr. Wingky's Letter | Batak Tribe

While trying to double-check facts for my entry on the Bataks of Palawan, I came across this letter.

Looking at the photos, I wondered why the people looked familiareven the clothes that they were wearing. Was it also a coincidence that pancit was served for lunch that day?

Then it hit me. This was about the Batak tribe on the day that I was also there!

The letter chronicled the same day from a different perspective.

The letter was written by Dr. Welthy Villanueva (aka Dr. Wingky), Missions Director of Heaven's Eyes Tribal Missions. It was addressed to friends and partners of the organization, updating them on the school being built for the Batak children.

Too bad I wasn't able to talk to her.

The letter let me see the same day from a different perspective. It chronicles her struggles, dedication, and hope for the Batak's new schoolchronicles that I never knew about while I was there.

Dr. Wingky is the Missions Director of Heaven's Eyes. She is responsible for the new school for the Batak.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Some excerpts:
"It was a day I thought would never arrive anymore. [...] With all the hindrances that arose, I seriously doubted whether it was still God's plan for us [to build and operate a school for the Batak.]"
 "...Communication between the tribes and I became very difficult... the weather wouldn't cooperate, a government project wanted to duplicated our program...then rumors that the tribe doesn't want our group ... I was considering giving up."

Dr. Wingky mentioned that the Bataks denied rumors that they didn't want the education being offered to them. They told her that "they still wanted what they have asked God for since 2008a school for their children in their own village."
"And so, after four years of the tribes' asking God for a school, God led five of usHis precious children to trudge on a trail towards the fulfillment of a dream." 

"Carabao Taxi"
Dr. Wingky couldn't walk for long distances so she was brought to the tribe by a cart pulled by a carabao.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

"We were laughing at how ridiculous I looked on the carabao cart. [...] You also have to avoid being hit when the carabao pees while walking. It was an amusing ride but I had no choice..."

"The carabao taxi crossing the second river."
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

It seemed like they had a more challenging time crossing the rivers than we did. She mentions that the knee-deep river became chest-deep.

"The rains must have poured so hard high up the mountain causing the river downhill to be flooded."

"The river now with raging water flooded waters."
The rivers weren't like this the following day when we crossed.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

"To get me across, Godong (guide) had to ride the cart with me to put on some added weight. [...] The river water reached our chest. On the second crossing...the water [was] carabao deep. We had to turn back."

The water reached their chest! When we crossed, the highest water level was around the crotch area.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

"My legs were now starting to cramp but I knew if I gave up, we will be washed away. [...] I was now praying hard as the waters hit my chin. I was now soaking wet."

The flooded rivers looked very dangerous to cross.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

"...My heart was singing with gratitude to the Lord for sending His angels to rescue us... Meanwhile, I could hear inside my head my friends and family asking me if what I was doing was worth it."

The guest house and where Dr. Wingky and her team spent the night.
(Photos from Dr. Wingky's letter)

"Cooking the Pancit"
At first, I thought that it was a coincidence that pancit was served on the day that we were there.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Dr. Wingky and volunteer teachers with Batak elders.
I guess some of the Bataks still wear traditional costumes!
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Dr. Wingky during the church service. This was right before we arrived.
(Photos from Dr. Wingky's letter)

This photo made me realized that I was there on the same day.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Fulfillment of the Dream.
These are the foundations of the new school being built for the Batak in Kalakwasan in Sitio Tanabag.

After reading the letter, I learned that 35 students are enrolled in this school: 22 pre-school students and 13 in Level 1. And while the school is being constructed, classes will be held in the Church.

I also found out that the community meeting was actually the launch of the new school. Too bad we only stayed for a few minutes.

Barangay officials were seated in front for the launch of the new school.
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Surprise! I saw a photo of myself!
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Hips don't lie. That's me at the back!
(Photo from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Dr. Wingky mentioned that there are still a lot of things needed to complete the school. She identified these items, including a Php 17,000 monthly fund for operations. She's confident that God will provide.

A total of Php 146,300 is needed by Heaven's Eyes to complete the school.
(Source from Dr. Wingky's letter)

Dr. Wingky thanked friends and partners for continuing to support Heaven's Eyes in its tribal ministry.

"And yes. Everything was worth it all for the sake of the call."

PS. I wish Dr. Wingky and Heaven's Eyes all the best in trying to raise the literacy levels of the Batak children. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.