NEGROS OCCIDENTAL AND ILO-ILO: Solo-Backpacking

Negros and Ilo-Ilo travel itinerary
After my successful Cebu Solo-Backpacking, another solo-backpacking in the Visayas was planned - this is it, a solo-backpacking in Western Visayas. Language barrier wasn't a problem because Hiligaynon has similarity to our native language in Romblon. During my travel, I found out that the Negrenses are really accommodating and has a good sense of direction. In a simple question like: "where is it located?" they provided me a detailed instruction. In general, Negros Occidental and the province of Ilo-Ilo are Must Visit provinces in the Philippines. Sorted according to my itinerary, historical, heritage and tourist spots below were my destinations.

ANTIQUE PROVINCE: Tourist Spots (with hotel)

Mararison Island
The province of Antique is situated in Western Visayas and is part of Region 6 with its neighboring provinces Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Ilo-Ilo and Negros Occidental. Antique has a lot to offer, from the breathtaking beauty on top of the mountains, wealthy underwater creatures and magnificent beaches. Below are just two of the must visit in destinations in Antique.

Explore Intramuros for less than 100 Pesos

Intramuros Manila
I visited Intramuros and Binondo several times but I thinking am missing something in and outside The Walled City in Manila. Inspired by the question: “Hanggang saan aabot ang isan daang piso mo?” Our journey today explains that budget is not a problem to see the gorgeous artifacts erected centuries ago. Without a formal itinerary, we walked on the streets in Intramuros Manila.

SOMBRERO ISLAND, Burias, Masbate

Sombrero Island
Sombrero Island is one of the islets of Burias Group of Islets. Crossing the waters of Burias Passage from Tinalisayan to Sombrero was a heart pounding experience. Not only that, as we were getting nearer to the shoreline,  coral ecosystems and underwater flora and fauna are visible because of its clear waters. I took off my pink sando while on the boat because my skin hurts, a sign that, for sure, I will have sun kissed skin due to sun burn but it's fine, am positive that my skin will still recover after a week. Instead of covering myself or applying Belo sun block before jumping off the boat to the shallow water, we just grabbed our cameras and proceeded walking by the shore.

WHAT TO DO IN THE CORDILLERA

Must Visit in Cordillera
There's too much chaos on the roads of the Metro, so searching for deserted places with a picture perfect landscape is now a norm. With the gorgeous and stunning photos scattered on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is now easy to promote, search and catch a glimpse of places to visit in the Philippines. If I would suggest places in Luzon, the provinces in the Cordillera region are on the top. Been here a few times and I noticed that it is one of the favorite destinations of countless international and local tourists. Who says no to a place with a big picture of a so called paradise. There's healthy forest with fresh air, cool and relaxing ambiance, pristine lagoons, colorful flora and fauna, and has a cool weather with no heavy traffic and no cellular signal perfect for bonding. Here are 3 of the Top Must Visit Places in the Cordilleras:

AZURE URBAN RESORT RESIDENCES, Parañaque City

Azure Urban Resort Residences
Azure Urban Resort Residences is one of the newly developed vertical residential structure in Parañaque City. It gotten the attention of social media and Filipinos because it is designed by Paris Hilton, a world famous socialite and a hotel heiress. She has great sense of art and class as it appears on the outcome of Azure Urban Resort Residences, from its details, facilities, pool side, residential units and the white sand beach by the pool. Through an invite by one of the unit owners, had a chance to enter and enjoy what's inside Azure Urban Resort Residences, photos below will describe:

BUTUAN NATIONAL MUSEUM, Agusan del Norte

Butuan National Museum
Butuan National Museum is one of the historical structures in Butuan City that houses and protects the relics discovered in the region. It also holds several objects used by the locals for their daily life such as jars, ceramic and earthenwares, hand woven clothe, and many more. Photos below are just some of items inside the museum:

BALANGAY SHRINE, Butuan City

Balangay Shrine
In Butuan City, Agusan del Norte | The Filipino word Baranggay came from the word: Balangay or Balanghai which is watercraft used by the ancient people in the Philippines for transportation and for barter and trade. If I am not mistaken, it was discussed when I was in the fifth grade, in HEKASI. I am happy that today, it’s time to see the actual relics of Balangay, discovered in Butuan. Since the guard did not allow me to use my DSLR or even my digital camera, photos below were captured using my mobile camera:

WHAT TO DO IN BUTUAN CITY

Butuan City
Backpacking in Butuan City is easy because all the historical sites are located just within the vicinity, accessible using the local's public utility vehicles such as jeepney and tricycle. During our visit in Butuan, at the intersection of the Narra Road (where Jollibee, McDonalds and KFC are located), we chartered a tricycle to visit two museums in the city. Below are two of the museums in Butuan City.

COLLECTION: A MULTI-MILLION WORTH OF DOLLS

International Doll House
The International Doll House was mentioned by John, our guide. Somehow familiar because we already saw it on TV. John encouraged us to visit this doll house by giving us details of what are displayed inside. According to him, there’s a doll with gold on the head, there’s a doll with a hair from the original Rose of Titanic, there’s a toy motorcycle with a value of 2.5 million pesos and many more. So there, we were all curios about these and here are photos:

LIBUACAN COLD SPRING, Surigao del Sur

Libuacan Cold Spring
Libuacan Cold Spring is a river system with cold and crystalline water, free flowing, and surrounded by relaxing greens. Since the area is surrounded by trees, the ambiance is really cool and relaxing; everything seemed to be fresh. It was our second option because the famous Enchanted River was closed due to its renovations but its fine, there will always be a perfect time for us.

MANLAWI SANDBAR, Caramoan - 2020 Travel Guide

Manlawi Sandbar
Manlawi Sandbar is one of the “must visit” in Caramoan group of islands. This sandbar has an amazing shape, sometimes forming a heart, that captures most of the eyes of the tourists worldwide. However, visiting Manlawi sandbar is very crucial because it disappears during high-tide. Our bangkero knows the accurate time (12NN), so we experienced its beauty for thirty minutes.

MINALAHOS ISLAND, Caramoan

Minalahos Island
Minalahos Island is a small islet in Caramoan group of islands. It has a limited space for visitors due to its undersized shore line but the shape and rock formations are stunningly gorgeous. The plants and hanging on the rocks also added a beautiful landscape. If you’re fond of rock scrambling, I highly suggest to bring outdoor sandals for the sharp edges of the boulders.

SABITANG LAYA ISLAND, Caramoan

Sabitang Laya Island
The island of Sabitang Laya is one of the Caramoan group of islands. It is almost the same with the other islets with a crystal clear waters, amazing rock formation, but the only difference is that it has longer stretch of fine white sand. Aside from that, by the shoreline, there’s a wide and long stretch of trees and grasses. Of course, the wind is cool and fresh.

LAHOS ISLAND, Caramoan

Lahos Island
The Lahos island is one of the prominent islet among the Caramoan group of islands because of its amazing rock formation, fine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. On the top view, it appears like two boulders on the waters linked by the white sand. Don't mind the dried sea weeds because we visited this island after or while the typhoon Marce is still inside Philippine Area of Responsibility, so the water wasn't calm but we owned the island during our visit.

MATUKAD ISLAND, Caramoan

Matukad Island
The Matukad Island is special among the other islands of Caramoan group of islets because it is guarded by a majestic creature; plus it has a long stretch of fine white sand, crystalline water, surrounded by greeneries and the wind is delicate, cool and fresh. Instead of renting an air-conditioned room at Brgy. Paniman, we camped by the beach and stayed here for about twelve hours, enjoying its goodness.

TAC ATTACK 5 | Tanay Adventure Camp

Tanay Adventure Camp
If you’re looking for an adventure, Tanay Adventure Camp is one perfect places you can visit, just two to three hours near Manila. In 2014, I was invited to join the TAC Attack, an annual anniversary celebration held at the camp. This year, a lot of activities were added to their itinerary, such as the ultra-marathon and outdoor cook fest. Since we a had problem with our availability, we opt to travel by 7 in the evening to Tanay and we arrived at the camp around midnight. Travel itinerary listed below.

AN ACTUAL SEGMENT OF THE BERLIN WALL, National Museum

National Museum of the Philippines
After seeing on Facebook that the National Museum of the Philippines has FREE admission for the whole month of May 2016, we chose spending the whole day inside the museum than watching TV, with the hot election in the mainstream. It is better to be in front of the historical artifacts than listening to some people for their political agenda. 

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, Manila

National Museum of Fine Arts
A few days after my solo-backpacking at the Museum of the Filipino People, it is the second part for Oktubre ang Buwan ng mga Museo. These two buildings of the National Museum of the Philippines are just a few steps away from each other. Also, they both have historical values in the country and played a huge part in preserving and restoring the ancient and modern artifacts of the Philippines.

MARIKINA SHOE MUSEUM, Marikina City

Marikina Shoe Museum
The Marikina Shoe Museum was conceived in 1998 under Mayor Bayani F. Fernando on the assumption that the City, being the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, can be a significant venue for nurturing the historical and cultural values of its shoe industry. It was opened in February 16, 2001 and was initially called the Footwear Museum of Marikina. Information courtesy: Marikina City Website

BORACAY ISLAND: Backpacking and commuting tips

Boracay Island
From the NAIA International Airport, take a flight bound for Kalibo International Airport, the travel time is about an hour. Beside Kalibo International Airport, there are different modes of transportation that you can choose to go to Boracay Island via Jetty Port. Instead of booking a private transport, I asked the guards or sales ladies at the airport about the public utility vehicles to Jetty Port. As instructed, I rode in a van bound for Jetty Port for 200 pesos and the travel time is about 2 hours. On the other hand,another option is via Batangas Port where you can board with 2Go Ferry to Caticlan, travel time is within 7-9 hours.

The Sound of Las Piñas Bamboo Organ

Las Piñas Bamboo Organ
If I am not mistaken, the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ was our topic when I was a in grade four in Sibika at Kultura. The subject was interesting, so the history of the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ remains fresh in my memory, even the long name of man who created this majestic organ. Fray Diego Cera Dela Vergin del Carmen, a Spanish missionary born on July 26, 1762 and was the first parish priest in Las Piñas during the Spanish era. He is the man behind this national treasure - Las Piñas Bamboo Organ. He actually came from Graus, now Huesca, a town in Spain, but still his heart loves the Philippines. F. Diego Cera is also a man of titles; he is a Musician, Architect, Organ Builder, Botanist, Physician, Painter and Geologist.

FORT SAN PEDRO, Cebu City

Fort San Pedro
The Fort San Pedro or Fuerza de San Pedro situated inside the Plaza Independencia, Cebu City. It is is a military defense structure built by the Spaniards and the locals of Cebu under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish conquistador. The date of its construction wasn't sure but there are claims that Jesuit Antonio Campioni built the fort in 1630. Like the other century old churches in the Philippines, there are a lot of major renovations in the 19th century for the structural improvements of Cebu.

CASA GORORDO MUSEUM, Cebu City

Casa Gorordo Museum
The Casa Gorordo House shows how a prominent family lives during their generations. From the floor, artistic walls, windows up to the roof top - it's really gorgeous. At the main entrance of this house, its historical background was written and here's what it says: "This house was built in the mid-19th century by Alejandro Reynes y Rosales and was bought by Juan Isidro de Gorordo, a spanish merchant, in 1863.  Four generations of the Gorordo family lived in this house, including Juan Gorordo, first Filipino Bishop of Cebu, 1910-1932."
 

YAP-SANDIEGO ANCESTRAL HOUSE, Cebu City

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House
The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House was originally owned by Chinese merchant, Don Juan Yap and Doña Maria Florido.  It is one of the oldest residential house in the Philippines.  It was built between 1675-1700 and was made from Coral stones, used egg whites as glue and "Tigas" or clay for the roof. The wooden pats of the house were made of "balayong" and "tugas" or molave which is the hardest woods in the country.

CEBU CATHEDRAL MUSEUM, Cebu City

Cebu Cathedral Museum
Cebu Cathedral Museum is an ecclesiastical museum of the Archdiocese of Cebu. The building itself doesn't have an exact information when it was constructed because the archdiocesan archives were burned along with the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace during the trial bombing of the U.S. forces in September 1944. But according to some historian, it was built by Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon during mid-1800s.  Bishop Marañon was known as a church builder.  He designed the Metropolitan Cathedral and other religious structures in the province of Cebu.

RAJAH HUMABON MONUMENT, Cebu City

Rajah Humabon
Rajah Humabon, also known as Rajah Hamabar, was the Rajah or a leader of Zubu (now Cebu) during Ferdinand Magellan's exploration in the Philippines in 1521. According to the writings on the marble plate that can be found in Plaza Hamabar Marker: Rajah Humabon was the first Filipino chieftain to embrace Christianity.  Regraded as the wisest and bravest man in the island.  When Ferdinand Magellan landed on Cebu on Sunday, April 7, 1521, Rajah Humabon made a blood compact with Magellan as a symbol of their new found friendship.  Captivated by its noble teachings, Rajah Humabon was converted into Christianity.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Zamboanga Sibugay (with Hotel)

Zamboanga Sibugay
My first destination in Region 9 was Zamboanga Sibugay, a 3.5 hours land travel from Zamboanga City. Ipil, it's capital, is the usual stop over of the buses heading to the cities of Dipolog, Pagadian and even Cagayan de Oro City. Since it's a center, like other municipalities, there are big business establishments and the streets are busy. Ipil, as a busy area, hides something unique and a very Instagram worthy tourist spots and attractions.

ZAMBASULTA, Zamboanga Provinces and Misamis Occidental

ZAMBASULTA
ZamBaSulta is an acronym given to Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi - the normal route, however, I made a twist and created ZamTaSuBa. Let me make it more extreme, my solo-backpacking includes Region 9: Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Occidental part of Region 10. Details below is my actual itinerary for 9 days that cover 7 Provinces and the independent City of Zamboanga.