Madongan Dam: A New Favorite Summer Getaway In The North

This past few weeks, photos have been circulating over social media about a newly discovered summer attraction with its cascading waterfalls and crystal clear waters – the Madongan Dam.

Initially, the Madongan Dam in San Marcelino, Dingras, Ilocos Norte was just out of curiosity of the locals. In just a span of a week, the local dam (which is also called Papa Dam) is now a tourist attraction and a new favorite for a weekend getaway.

Cascading waterfalls of Madongan Dam


Madongan Dam, a new favorite spot


Visitors at Madongan Dam


Crystal Clear Water

If you are looking for a cheap but a relaxing and fun weekend escape this summer, visit this eye-catching spot located in the northeast part of Ilocos Norte.

Top Summer Destinations in the Philippines

It’s officially summer in the Philippines. Summer here means more fun and more sun. Philippines is known to its famous beaches in the world. You heard of Boracay, right? We have more of that. Beach, beach and more beach! If you speak of summer, the Philippines defines that word. So if you’re planning for a summer getaway, here a some perfect summer destinations to visit.

1. Boracay Island – Boracay Island maybe overrated but it is no denying that this beautiful island is one of the best summer destinations in Asia. A tourist’s favorite because of its stunning beaches, fine white sand and so much fun.


2. Palawan – With Boracay in the south, Palawan is a beautiful gem in the north. Famous places include El Nido where you can see the Marine Reserve Park and the Puerto Princesa where UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Subterranean River Park and Tubbatha Reef Marine Park are located. 

The Undergound River at Puerto Princesa by Mike Gonzalez

3. Cebu – Do you want to experience whale shark diving? Well it’s true. Watch local fishermen in Sumilon Island feed these lovely creatures by hand. And if you want a real up-close encounter with these friendly giants, try scuba diving with whale sharks. How is that for an extreme summer experience? Whale Sharks Watching


Get up-close encounter with the friendly whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu

4. Ilocos Norte – If you’ve visited Boracay a couple of times already, have a taste of the Boracay of the north- Pagudpud. Ilocandia’s pride Pagudpud is a fourth class municipality and a coastal resort town located in the north-most part of the Ilocos Region. Afraid of heights? Conquer your fear with Asia’s longest over water zipline at Hannah’s and have an unforgettable summer ever.Hannah’s Zipline in Pagudpud


Saud Beach in Pagudpud by John Ryan Cordova

5. Camarines Norte – Ah the Calaguas Island. A newly-discovered paradise in the Bicol Region. Though local tour operators are still gearing up towards a better local eco-tourism in the island not that bad to visit the island while it’s fresh.

Calaguas Island
6. Laguna – I’ve been talking about beaches in this post. I know, I know I am a bit bias. Next on my list is not about the beach and sandbar. The province of Laguna may not have those huge seas but they are still rich in water natures. Waterfalls, hot springs and lakes are all over the province of Laguna. Check out the local travel sites of Cavinti, Pagsanjan, Los Banos and Liliw to name a few. There’s a lot more Laguna can offer.

 7. Aurora – Baler the provincial capital of Aurora province is rich in historical stories. It is host to a spectacular geographic formations and situated ion a vast plain at the south end of Baler Bay, a contiguous segment of the Philippine Sea.Baler is said to be the birthplace for surfing in the Philippines.Baler provides small to large size waves best for beginners and novice surfing. List of surf spots in Baler   

A local surfer sporting his surfinfg skills with Baler’s wave

8. Cagayan de Oro – From north let’s go down far southern part of the country. Another extreme activity to do during summer is water rafting. White water rafting could be Cagayan de Oro’s most popular tourist’s getaway. Waters splashing and slamming against boulders will remind you of nature’s powerful effect on life. If you want real adventure and at the same time commune with nature, include Cagayan de Oro on your list.White Water Rafting Package

White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

Well, these are just few destinations you can add-on to your bucketlist to experience adventure, fun and nature-loving summer in the Philippines. Being a tropical country and summer is the most favorite season, now is the best time to experience Philippines!


What’s in Your Luggage?

Are you a budget traveler? A backpacker? Traveling with luxury? What are the things you always keep inside your backpack or luggage?

As a budget traveler, I always prefer to travel lite. So I make sure I bring the best and most important stuff I can use throughout my trip. Packing your stuff is quite a job, really. You pack all the things you need and make sure you don’t forget anything. That is why making a travel checklist is very essential. And before generating your checklist, you have to be acquainted with your planned destination. What am I saying? Packing your stuff when you are traveling in a humid country is different from packing when traveling to a cold country. Check the current weather of your destination so you know what to bring or not to bring during your trip. Also, this could help you avoid getting exceeded on your allowed baggage load returning home. Sure you’ll get to have lots of those souvenirs from your trip back home. In this post, I’m sharing my own list.

  1. Travel Documents – This include your passport, air ticket or e-ticket, boarding pass, invitation letter, etc. These are your A-tickets to all of your trips especially when you’re going out of your mother country. Double check your destination because some countries require VISA when entering their land. Don’t forget to bring your Personal ID’s. If I may suggest put all your travel documents in one envelope or pocket organizer so you can keep all these in one place and for your own convenience.
  2. Reservations, Itineraries & Contact Infos – Before you leave for your trip, it is vital to write down and bring along with you important contact information of services you may need. To maximize your travel, have your itinerary on-hand, always.
  3. Money – Of course you will need to eat during your trips. And don’t forget to visit the local markets to buy some goodies to take home.
  4. Technology – This includes your phone, cameras, chargers, power banks and other useful tools you may need during your trip.
  5. Lightweight Clothing – As I have mentioned, this depends on the weather/climate of the place you’re visiting. As much as possible, pack basic, lightweight clothes. and if you’re traveling to a place with a cold climate, you may want to bring one or two sweater or jacket. Pack an extra swimsuit just in case you may want to dive into a pool or beach.
  6. Toiletry Bag – What’s in it? The basics. Toothbrush, deodorant, sunscreen, moisturizer, facial wipes, lip balm, personal feminine hygiene products (for females of course), hairbrush/comb, lotion and if you’re particular to your hair products, bring your own shampoo and conditioner. But these are available at your hotel for sure.
  7. Day Bag – This can be used in a variety of ways and help you stay comfortable and prepared. This is where I put my sunnies, purse, cellphone, lip balm, face powder and hanky.
  8. Footwear – I only bring a pair of flip-flops and a pair of comfortable shoes – sneakers or a comfy flat.

Necessities for each traveler may vary, but these are the basics that are always in my luggage. What’s inside your bag?

Sometime in Saigon

I am posting this again. I wrote this in my old blog and since I am moving all my travel stories on this new blog I just created a week ago, I thought of re-posting my Ho Chi Minh City trip with friends last December 2015.

After almost three months of planning a trip with my friends, finally came December before the holiday comes and before we ran out of budget (lol) our Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) trip came at last.
We had a four-day visit to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, a city in Southern Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh is known to be the largest city in Vietnam. The city is undeniably attractive most especially to tourists because of its historical story and tourist spots that marked the battle of the Vietnam War.

On our first day in Ho Chi Minh, we visited the famous Cu Chi Tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. Pretty much info we had from our tourist guide named Tin.

On our second day, we get to get a short visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and were able to see briefly the Royal Palace.

Our third day in Ho Chi Minh is our city tour. Oh, we visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame, built during the French revolution. I was mesmerized with its architectural features and can’t help but took a couple of photos. Then we went shopping around the city. Truly they got best and cheap buys in there, and for days we got to experience being a millionaire (lol).

Despite the annoying motorcycle mob in the city, it was a great staycation. We were given the opportunity to learn more about Vietnam and its people. Got to embraced their culture and not to mention their great history- I was fascinated by their story.

At The Royal Palace
Trying to fit in the tunnel at Cu Chi Tunnels
Cathedral of Notre Dame


Street foods at Ho Chi Minh City
Thai food

Top 6 Destinations to Visit this Holy Week

Last Wednesday is the start of the Lenten Season. This season is observed by Christian traditions particularly by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Methodist to name a few. It begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. In the Philippines, since the majority of us is Roman Catholics and mostly is Protestants, the Holy Week is very important to each and every Filipino and is well observed. Beginning Maundy Thursday until Black Saturday, business operations mostly are shut down. This means most offices are not in operation to give meaning to its purpose, the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, and repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial. In the Philippines, it also means long weekend. There are certain traditional and non-traditional activities and practices most Filipinos do during this season. Some, most especially the Catholic devotees, practice Holy Week rituals. Some practice abstinence during Holy Week, where they restrain themselves from indulging in something, typically alcohol and smoking, while others travel to faraway places to reflect. And for those who choose the latter, here are top six destinations where you can reflect, soul-search and simply relax.

1. Ilocos Norte
They say if you want all sorts of fun and make sure you cover everything the Philippines could offer, start right at the top. Ilocandia is the perfect start to an awesome Holy Week getaway. If you’re looking for an adventure this Lenten Season, Ilocos Norte is a must visit destination. What to do in the northern part of the country? A lot! To name a few, a diverse beach experience in Pagudpud, site-seeing at Bangui Wind Farm, entice with the amazing rock formation at Kapurpurawan in Burgos, climb the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse and a city tour in Ilocos Norte’s biggest city, Laoag. From up north, go down south and indulge to another escapade that the southern part of Ilocos Norte can offer. Go sand-boarding and try an ATV ride at LaPaz Sand Dunes, stopover at Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, visit the Paoay Church in Paoay, a national treasure of Ilocandia and a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and the list goes on.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Burgos, Ilocos Norte
Saint Augustine Church – Paoay, Ilocos Norte

2. Boracay Island
There is no way Boracay would not be included in the list. Boracay could be the most popular destination not just for summer getaways but also to spend Holy Week with family or friends. Enjoy the beauty of the beach and fine white sands. Though Boracay is known for its loud celebration and crowd in every station, you can still enjoy and relax in observance of the Holy Week with lots of great hotels and resorts to check out and enjoy quiet sunrise and sunset at the beach.

By Mikkel Duvå Lund – Own work, Public Domain,
By Joannerfabregas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

3. Camiguin Island
There are too many places to visit in Camiguin Island, and this is one perfect destination for your Holy Week getaway. You may visit the Sunken Cemetery marked with huge cross which is placed below sea level. Aside from this, the island is full of natural attractions that keep visitors coming. The Camiguin Island is rich in hot springs and waterfalls. The White Island, a sandbar is the most popular site the small island of Camiguin has. Its serene view and clear waters makes it one of my favorite places for getaways. It is composed solely of white sands and calm water. And from White Island you can view the Hibuk-Hibul Volcano and Mt. Vulcan in the background. Aside from all the beautiful natural attractions, you can also visit the walkway in Mt. Old Vulcan dotted with 14 life-sized Stations of the Cross. The Panaad Festival is celebrated by tourists and pilgrims during the Holy Week.

White Island
Fine white sand at White Island

4. Marinduque
A more enjoyable way to spend your Holy Week is to witness the Moriones Festival, Marinduque’s pride. Here, locals are seen in their costumes of Roman soldiers to depict the story of the Passion of Christ. This practice for the people in Marindugque is an act of penance and as a way of thanksgiving.


5. Palawan
If relaxing is your main purpose during Holy Week, there is no other way to spend it than in beaches. The island of Palawan is one perfect place. Have you heard of Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa? These are just the famous islands in Palawan that showcase the richness of paradise-like beaches and not to mention abundant in beautiful coral reefs.

By User: (WT-shared) Jdkoenig at wts wikivoyage – Own work, Public Domain,
By IRRI Images – originally posted to Flickr as POTW_MichelleELLA01, CC BY 2.0,



6. Christ of the Divine Mercy in Misamis Oriental
The Shrine of the Divine Mercy is located in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental overlooking Macajalar Bay on the southern island of Mindanao. This shrine serves as a pilgrimage site for Divine Mercy devotees.

Shrine of Christ of the Divine Mercy

By Tin2little – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

So, have you decided where to go this coming Holy Week? Do you have a destination in mind that is not included on my list? Feel free to share yours!