BEAUTIFUL DISASTER? That's me and the Pinatubo!
Since it's summer and we've felt that going to the beach is kind of overrated, we gave it a try to other summer adventures like trekking. It's all our first time to went trekking this year so we thought of Mt. Pinatubo as the perfect place to do it, I mean because why not? We all know that it errupted in the year 1991 and I wasn't born yet so I and my husband find it interesting to visit with our good friends (and since my husband is a Chinese, I want him to learn why IT'S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES!)
Because we do not know how to get there, we strive to search for it and came up on reading a blog which contains contact numbers of trekking organizers. We tried to call 2 persons to inquire. The first one is a bit pricey than the second one so we took the offer of the latter person and we fell under the assistance of "Mount Pinatubo Jolly Tour" (FB page available). Their rates are:
2,300/head minimum of 3, 6, 9, 11 pax
1,780/head minimum of 5, 10, 15, 20 pax
No hidden charges.
Package inclusions are:
- 4x4 wheel
- Local guide
- Aeta Botolan Fee
Before the actual adventure day, the Jolly tour asks us to deposit at least 1,000php/head in their BDO account. What we did was a combination of DIY and package tour because it's a tropa trip and some of our friends came from the province.
HOW TO GET TO MT. PINATUBO?
1️⃣ Take a bus going to Capas Tarlac. Because we live in Pasay City, we needed to take a bus going up north. We took an ordinary 5 star bus at 2 o'clock in the morning because it was the only available bus at that time. We arrived at 5:30AM in McDonald's Capas and we also took the chance to have breakfast there while waiting for the tricycles that the travel tour has assigned to fetch us.
2️⃣ The tricycle arrived at 6AM and it took us 45 minutes to get to Sta. Juliana. The tricycle drivers charged us 300php only per tricycle (). Other tricycle drivers who are not affiliated to any travel tours are charging the tourists 500-800php sometimes (). We met our contact person, Jo Mallari of Mt. Pinatubo Jolly Tour, upon arriving at Sta. Juliana. You can reach her through 09156354895/09283410402. We did registration and orientation quickly and she also let us sign the waivers. What a waiver?!?? Yes. At first I was like "Seriously?!". And then we've found out after our adventure that it's really risky to trek there because landslides can happen anytime since majority of the place were lava formation. It's also very risky if it rain while you're trekking because the water from the streams can get high easily. Also, according to our local tour guides, there were 5 Germans who died before while trekking because it rained that's why since then they are not allowing people to go on their own if they don't have a tour guide with them.
The cut off for registration is 8AM already because there will be a strict clearing operation within the area so don't be late!
3️⃣ After the registration we took the 4x4 ride until we get to the starting point of trekking. One 4x4 is good for 5pax. The ride was fun! It took us 1 & 1/2 hours of 4x4 ride to trailhead. It's super dusty and hot so better bring with you your mask, jacket with hoodie, sun block, scarf and tissues/wet wipes. We pass through a dusty-rocky field and beheld beautiful lava formations. We stopped for a while at the Toblerone Hills to have a picture taking and interaction with the natives. They were approachable, kind to tourists, disciplined for not asking anything like money or food, and they love groufies!
4️⃣ When we get to the starting point of the trek, our tour guide told us that it would be a 5km walk back and forth (a total of 10km walk!) It took us 5 hours of trekking back and forth. There were times when I feel like giving up because it's so far! My goodness! But of course not because nobody will gonna carry me. Haha. We pass through the streams, rocks, plains, and stairs to get to the top so make sure to wear your most comfortable trekking shoes. There were like 4 stop overs and in each there were vendors selling souvenirs and drinks which prices vary from 50php-100php. There's also selling buko juice for 60php only. I tried it and it's so refreshing! We also tried the buko ice candy for only 20php each. If you don't wanna spend that much in drinks, carry with you at least 2-3L of water.
5️⃣ Finally we made it to the top! The view was breathtakingly beautiful!!! Can't believe I'm staring at a real one when I thought I was just looking at a post card. It's too good to be true! Any part of the place was instagrammable! We took a rest first underneath the tree and ate our lunch. So the travel tour prepared our food. We had one cup of rice, chicken adobo for our ulam, banana, cupcake and 1 regular bottle of water. After eating we fix ourselves for being so dugyot and get ready for picture taking at the crater!
6️⃣ We endure almost 200 steps in the stairs to get to the volcano crater. It's so easy to get down but you must be careful especially for those who have fear of heights for it's an open cliff. One wrong step and you're dead! The crater was so amazing! It's so beautiful and indescribable! We had groufies and selfies here and there! The tour guide said that the volcano has the possibility to errupt again after 300 years. (I know we're all gone by that time!) We're also informed that we cannot touch the water in the lake coz there were harmful susbtances which can irritate the skin so I never dare! Water sports were being held in the lake before but they prohibit it already since it becomes risky coz of the immeasurable depth of it. I've heard that you can also camp there but only good for a night. Drones are allowed in the crater. Felt happy for winning good Vietnamese friends during our adventure!
7️⃣ Afrer enjoying at the crater, it's time to take the stairs again! It hurts crazily to the biceps! We need to pause a lot and be patient to get to the top! After the trek, we went to Capas Shrine to get our certificates. It was fun and more than an adventure!
8️⃣ I and my husband's exact total expenses (could be an idea for couples out there who are planning to have a Mt. Pinatubo adventure).
4,600 - travel tour packages
610 - fare from Pasay-Capas and vice versa
90 - McDonald's burger breakfast
300 - tricycle from Capas to Sta. Juliana
60 - buko juice
100 - Gatorade
40 - ice candies
100 - 7eleven snacks after the trek
100 - others
6,000 - TOTAL
PS. You can still lessen this expenses especially if you're near Tarlac or even mas matipid than us.
TIPS & REMINDERS
Bring 1-2L of water. Prices of drinks in Mt. Pinatubo starts from 50php to 100php.
Wear your most comfy shoes. Not slippers. Not sandals. But comfortable rubber shoes.
SUNBLOCK! This is a must if you don't want your skin to get tortured.
Jacket with hoodie, scarf, tissues, WET WIPES! (it saves us from being so dugyot), extra clothes, umbrella, cap/hat - for extra sun protection!
MASK!!! Please, please bring one! (You'll thank me later for this.)
NO SIGNAL so no My Day updates!
Comfort Rooms are available! They have 2 CRs and it's FREE!
Bring your MEDICINE! I suggest always carry a loperamide in your pocket. You'll never go wrong with it!
Food. You can carry just right amount of food especially for those who have ulcer and unless you're not gutumin.
Always bring enough cash when in travel.
Of course!!! Never ever forget your camera (phones), GoPro, instax, drone (it's allowed ). You shouldn't miss taking unli pictures of the view, with your friends, and of yourself!
EXERCISE!!! Make sure you are physically fit and healthy before going on adventures like this. Mt. Pinatubo trekking is perfect for beginners and can be done in a day! This was my second hike/trek after 10 years and my biceps were in shock!
9 years old can join this adventure already as long as physically ready! We just get to know a girl who went trekking with her Daddy.
Other activities like volcanic ash massage and mud pack are waiting at Pinatubo Spa Town but we never tried it, but you can!
Endure for being so dugyot! Better get ready to deal with super duper dust, melting and sticky sunblock as time goes by, and unli sweat coz of the abnormal heat caused by lava. That day was the day I have felt I'm at my dirtiest!
PRAY. Do not forget to ask for guidance and safety from up above.
✍️ MY PERSONAL INSIGHTS ✍️
It always feels satisfying when you reached your goal together with the people you endure with.
Mt. Pinatubo taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you still have to find life beautiful. Because it is. Because it's the one that never gets dull.
Going down is easy, going up is hard.
Beautiful view comes after the hardest trek.
If you want something, sweat at it.
Line upon line, precept upon precept.
You cannot run faster than your strength.
There is no view so shattered that time cannot cure. Just like, there is no life so shattered that heaven cannot cure.
By facing challenges, we come out more beautiful.
If you want to shine bright like a diamond, you got to be willing to get cut like a diamond.
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This branch in Pasay area must be really famous for having some of the best Filipino food. We spend our dinner here tonight and waited in the line for almost 10 minutes to get a table inside. The hostess asked to place our orders while we were waiting outside so there wouldn't be wasted time. Good thing!
This is my husband's favorite place to get sisig because it's one of his favorite Pinoy food. We waited for 15 minutes for the food upon getting here inside. We ordered sizzling sisig, lumpiang shanghai, and pinakbet.
Sizzling sisig - /5
We ordered 2 plates of sisig because the first order didn't meet our expectations. It's not crunchy just like the one that we used to order. It's our 3rd time to dine here already and we never forget to get sisig. The second plate of sisig finally meet our expectations! It's crunchy and tastes really good with just right amount of onion and mayonnaise.
Lumpiang Shanghai - /5
We're a bit disappointed about the plating (as you can see) but the taste is really good. But of course they need to improve the plating also so that the food will look presentable, at least.
Pinakbet - /5
It's really good! The vegetables are crunchy and it tastes perfect. Even my mom who used to cook pinakbet gave her two thumbs up () for Gilligan's pinakbet. They used alamang for it and it's not salty. It's like a perfect combination of salt, sugar and pepper.
We feel satisfied for our cravings and spend for a total of 777php only for all of our orders. Our tummies are full!
Service - /5
Aside from being known for the delectable sisig, this place is also known for having a very poor service. It's so obvious that they are lack of manpower. We have to request repeatedly (like 10 times) to get water, tissues and other needs. They even spill the water on my feet while serving it. The waitress is also very rude to us when we ask her nicely about our first sisig order for not being crunchy. Also some of the staffs are also yelling/flirting at each other which I find unprofessional. I really hope that the owner is aware on what's going on here and will do an action to make things better. But it's really disappointing if the owner knows all these already and just chose not to mind it. 🙄
Entertainment - /5
There's a live band here tonight but it's placed outside. I think they should just prioritize hiring more waiters/manpower than having a live band since the customers do not mind about it that much. They can use radio instead as an alternative.
If not for my husband and for the sisig I will never go back in this place because I mean who would love to deal with long lines, rude staffs, and poor services, right?
Well, we definitely need more practice of patience like what we did today for in the future days of dining here, again!
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Makes you think why there were dogs in the pictures when in fact we wanna talk about restos here, aye? Introducing the not-your-typical-kind of resto, The Wagging Tails Cafe!
The place is located at 120 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City, Philippines. It was so cool to dine in a place which offers more than food served on the premises but also interaction with dogs. What? DOGS?! You've read it right. This place has been made perfect for us, dog lovers!
I got so excited upon arriving at the place because of the shih tzu standing on a high bench waiting for us to get in. He was kind of an usher to send immediate good vibes to the customers. We've learned that his name was Dan and he was so cute, fluffy and friendly. Since I got too distracted of his cuteness and how awesome the place was, I began taking pictures while my husband was placing our orders. The cafe was divided into two zones. First was the DINING ZONE which the customers munch on their food and the other was the DOG ZONE. My husband called me for a quick sign in and reading of the basic guidelines in the dog zone (meaning the do's and don't's when started to play with the dogs) such as do not interrupt the dogs when they are sleeping, do not bring food inside the dog zone/play area, turn off the flash of the cameras, etc. We paid P500 for both of us (P250/pax) and it includes UNLIMITED drinks of your choice (coffee, milk tea, juice) and 2-hour maximum play time with the dogs.
We ordered strawberry juices (includes in P500) and caramel cake (P75/slice) since we only got limited options to choose from. We didn't order much food because we weren't there for it, just for the dogs basically. Haha. Here's the food thing: I was never a fan of caramel so I was hesitant to try it but I did and it turned out for me to like it. No, actually I love the taste of the cake which I never thought I would! The bread of the cake was also soft and the icing melts into the mouth. The sticky caramel feeling was present but it's not too sticky which I appreciate. The bread of the cake will mix directly to the caramel once it reach your teeth is my most favorite part. Too good for P75! A sip of strawberry juice was so refreshing right after swallowing the cake. It wasn't that sweet as what I thought. It's just right. Even the strawberry juice tastes just right. The food that we've got just paired perfectly balance for me. You wouldn't believe it if you come to think of it. But to be honest, it was just so perfect! They refill my glass with strawberry juice again after I finished my first. For the refilling thing, they will stick to what you have ordered. So now I'm also considering that I went there also for the food and not just for dogs only. Haha. We enjoyed eating our food on the elevated part of the cafe since it's not allowed to bring it inside the dog zone.
According to them there are lots of people visiting the place during weekdays but since it's weekend when we get there, there's no long line to avoid. They handed us the tickets right after we eat. One of the staffs asked if we're wearing socks because it's a must before entering into the the dog zone to avoid scratches (maybe) or to avoid getting wet from the dogs' licking. They will provide socks for you if you don't have it but you need to pay additional P50 for it. Good thing we're wearing our socks!
As we enter into the dog zone, the staffs assist us to remove our shoes and wear the rubber slippers they have provided. It was comfortable for me and it feels like home. They also get our bags and placed them inside the big, transparent aquarium along with other customers' stuff so we can still keep track of it. Only the assigned staff will be the one to get your things there so I think it's safe. We brought our phones and camera with us and began to interact with the dogs.
You will see a lot of wagging tails, wet noses, and floppy tongues at the dog zone. There are more than twenty resident dogs, many of which are very cute and playful puppies. All of the dogs are well-taken care of and completely vaccinated. The staffs are so nice and friendly. They will assist you if you want to take picture with any of the dogs, get the dog's attention, and even hand you the dog so you can carry and pet them. I commend the staffs for being so attentive, well-trained and knowledgeable in managing them. They know each dog's personality and address their issues properly. They even know them by name! There were instances when the dogs would seemingly fight but they were able to stop the commotion quickly. There's also one piglet but I never approach it because I'm scared (though it's friendly!). According to the staffs they have their own photographer before but I didn't ask about what happened anymore since they don't have it now.
Et voila! We have been so busy playing with the dogs which made us neglect our refill of drinks already but it's okay because they will let you to take it out if you like to.
Also, if you want a more intimate solo time with the dogs, they allow reservations of the dog zone for families and couples. If you are also looking to get your first dog, this cafe is also a great place for you to be acquainted with dogs and decide on what kind of dog would best suit you. For queries, you can reach them through this mobile number 0995-206-6511.
The cafe's operating hours:
11AM - 9PM on Tuesdays to Thursdays
10AM - 10PM on Fridays to Saturdays
11AM - 9PM on Sundays
They're not operating on Mondays because it's the dogs' rest day!
Part of their service are:
✔️Free WiFi (it's fast, in fairness!)
In totality, I and my husband were very happy that day. We just got our newest favorite place and we love it! It's just so perfect for family bonding and even jamming with friends. It's NOT STINKY just like what you might think because they observe cleanliness and orderliness. Their good choice of music adds to the coziness of the place. We get to unload all the stress that we've garnered from the whole week. We've spent a total of P575 only (excluding fare) and we don't think it's pricey for "a bit of heaven on earth" experience! If only we could live like this fur-ever.
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When you spell stressed backwards, it's desserts! Just found the perfect place to unload stress and get some glycemic meal loving. My friends and I have very big hearts for ice cream. Don't know why or how but when we hear the word "ice cream" we're always on the mood for it.
We went to SM Mall of Asia to try Magnum Bar, specifically located at 2nd floor, main mall, MOA complex, Pasay City. Their make-your-own ice cream concept made it as fun dining experience as it is munching on it. It was really an exciting experience for us and this kind of food activity will unleash the creativity in you (of course who on earth would like to eat food with unpleasant plating/presentation, right?).
First step on how to design your very own Magnum is to select your preferred toppings "up to any 3" that you like. Sad to say but yes, you are only allowed to pick 3 toppings from the many delectable topping options in front of you. You can start choosing from a delicious range of classic, special or experimental toppings. For me I chose nuts and kisses to make the taste balance because I do not like it to be so sweet.
Step 2 is to select your naked Magnum if it will be vanilla or chocolate. For me I picked chocolate.
You need to select your Magnum chocolate coating for step 3. You can choose between Magnum white, classic or dark. I just pick the third.
For first timers you just can't get rid of looking at others on how they manage to decorate their own ice cream and you just can't think of a better way on how to do yours because of being distracted to tons of options. This ice cream fun activity only cost Php120/person and approximately Php300 for two people (could be lovers or child-parent bonding). Cash only. They are also serving other desserts and bakes and takeaway is available too.
Magnum bar is open from 10am-10pm. Best time to go there is any time you crave for an ice cream (lol). Just go on your most preferred/available time so you will not be on a hurry and enjoy the activity. You should go and see for yourself. Definitely on my list of favorite dessert parlors!
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I just get married last month and we went to eat at Harold's Hotel after the wedding ceremony. The first thing I noticed upon entering the place is the cozy ambience that a foodie like me would love to feel.
I like the set up of the buffet area because it's very organized and the chefs in charge are very approachable. The crew are also alert and have the initiative to ask for the diners' needs. I love all the food from main dishes to appetizers and up to desserts.
Since I'm not really into main dishes, I spent my time trying all the desserts and it just perfectly matches my taste. The texture of the macaroons is good and even their yogurts in cute glasses. I also enjoyed the fruits and the natural fruit juices. I also tried their main dishes and it's all delicious.
We never regret to have our reservations in this hotel. They just met our expectations and our guests are all full. Some of them are complaining already for having their tummies full but still they want to eat.
We went there at 12nn to spend our lunch. We ate all we can because they will close the buffet area at 2pm and I do not know what time they will open it again. But it's not a problem to us because having 2 hours is more than enough for us to enjoy our lunch while having good talk with our guests. We are satisfied, especially me. Good service, good food, good ambience -- I am just but a happy customer on that day.
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