Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Motherland's Calling ...

As you know, I'm in the process of building up my 30 Before 30 list, and so far it's looking like a lengthy trip to the Motherland will be necessary. Filipino friends have been reminding me of some very cool things that I have yet to do in the Philippines, and I'm not letting 30 come without gettin'er done!

One thing that I already had on the list is swimming with whale sharks in Donsol, Sorsogon. It's always been a dream of mine to swim with these majestic creatures. The whale sharks, known to locals as butanding, migrate to the waters surrounding Donsol to feed on plankton between the months of November and June, with numbers peaking between March and May. In case that picture there hasn't driven the point home that these are some massive creatures, here's a stat: the largest whale shark ever measured was an impressive 12.65 meters in length and over 21 tonnes in weight! Tourists flock to Donsol every season to leap into the waters from chartered fishing boats and get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Next year I intend on being on one of those boats! You can read up on Donsol here.

Since a plane ticket from JFK to the Philippines costs a pretty penny, I thought it would probably be best to add the Philippine adventure trips that I've put off for way too long to my bucket list. Upon the suggestion of my friend, Mitch, who I fondly dub Ms. Philippine Tourism, I've decided to beef up my list with these two adventures:

- Spelunking in Sagada.
- Trekking to the crater of Mount Pinatubo.

Sagada has been a dream destination of mine since my college days, but I kept putting it off because it is entails a loooong and rather uncomfortable drive from Manila. But I've heard many wonderful stories about all the wonderful things to see: the lush mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, fascinating hanging coffins, and of course the spectacular Sumaguing Cave. (I should also mention the Sagada gold, but I won't. Whoops, just did!) There are over 60 caves underneath Sagada so it must be an amazing place to go to for caving and spelunking. But from the pictures, it seems like spelunking in Sumaguing Cave alone is worth the crazy-long drive. The stalactite and stalagmite formations are supposedly pretty fantastic. More information, including rates for guided tours, can be found here. And you must see this guy's truly breathtaking pictures of Sagada. If that doesn't make you want to pack up your bags and go, I don't know what will! 

Finally, I think it's high time I trekked to the crater of Mount Pinatubo. I still remember when this volcano erupted back in 1991. I was on vacation in Hong Kong with my family and ended up getting stranded there because Metro Manila had gotten coated in ashes from the one of the largest volcano eruptions in history. Almost 20 years later, Mount Pinatubo has become a popular tourist spot, with trekking tours to the crater, swimming in the lake and hot springs, and even a volcanic ash spa! It seems to be an easy day trip from Manila, which makes it all the more plausible for me. Tons of pictures and info on trekking Mount Pinatubo here. The amazing picture above taken by this incredibly talented fellow has got me jonesing to go NOW.

So yeah, I'm pretty excited about these new additions to the list! Do you find yourself suddenly wanting to go on a Philippine adventure?


  1. Hi Celine,
    I chanced upon your blog from Manila Fashion Observer. I'm an avid reader of your other blog as well. :)

    I, too, am turning 30 this year so I found this site interesting. I have my own 30 Bucketlist. ;-) Anyway, if you're planning a trip to the Philippines, I strongly suggest you try exploring Coron, Palawan. If you crave an idyllic and breathtaking experience, this is THE place to be. The beaches and surrounding islands are just as beautiful as the forever populated and commercialized Boracay but more to my personal liking. There are a lot of activities that you can do and places to see all for a reasonable price.

    I'm sure if you ask around, you'll find many "locals" have been here in the past 2 years. I've been there twice and each visit did not disappoint!

    Hope this helps and goodluck on achieving your 30 before 30 project!


  2. Thank you so much for the comment and the great suggestion Ish! I've never been to Coron actually, but I've gone to a few other resorts in Palawan. I'll definitely look into it.

    So what's on your bucket list? Care to share? :-)

  3. Sure no problem! I'll send you a link once I get home. I'm still at work now. ;-)

  4. Hey Celine..

    Here's my list. It's not so complete though...still a work in progress!



  5. Whoops! ;) Here it is:

  6. Great list Ish! Good luck with the Deutschland plan, especially. I lived in Stuttgart once upon a time (though I'm guessing your German is waaaaaay better than mine which is utter sheisse), so that country has a special place in my heart.

  7. Thanks, Celine. We got a lot of things in common and I find it relieving that I can relate with a lot of the things you write about.

    It's all about change, change, CHANGE. That EuroTrip (Germany and perhaps the surrounding countries) is just one big step towards the *possibility* of moving my Filipino arse to Deutschland. It's both exciting and scary and I'm hoping that I am prepared enough to survive the big change.

    My German is very limited to "My name is.." "I live in" "How old are you", "I'm hungry/tired" the cuss words, etc. I have a loooong way to go! Good thing my Schatzi has a good command of the English language. hihi.

  8. Grabe. I've done that three things already (swim with the butandings, spelunking in Sagada, and trek the crater of Mt. Pinatubo). I hope you would be able to do them. They are really great experiences.

    If you'll be having a new list before your 31st birthday, I suggest you also do these things (if you havent done them before hehe)

    a. witness the sunrise of Mt. Pulag
    b. trek the mountains of Batad and bathe in the cold water of Tapia Falls.
    c. visit the Unesco Protected Sites here in the Philippines.
    d. visit Batanes (this one is also in my to-go list hehe).

    ... most the I can suggest are only here in the Philippines because I am just here all my life. But I can say that there are a lot of beautiful places and exciting things to do here :)

    - charlie-j

    ps. sorry for the very delayed response, I am backreading your posts. :D

  9. charlie-j - wow I am so thrilled you're reading so far back! YAY :-) Was the spelunking difficult? How much time do you think I need in Sagada? Would be grateful for suggestions. Those are some pretty amazing suggestions. I don't know if I'll have the energy to tackle on another 31 things in one year, but I'm gonna make sure I try all four things you suggested at some point in my life! If I wasn't living on the other side of the world right now, I'm sure I would've come up with 30 things I wanted to do in the Philippines alone without much difficulty! You are blessed to be surrounded by so much natural beauty :-)

  10. hmmmm... actually, if you're just going to do the one we did, it's a little difficult at the beginning. =D

    There's this what they call cave connection in Sagada, I haven't done that one yet. =)

    You can check my multiply entry on the sagada trip I had last 2008.
    and some pictures too

    I hope you don't get bored. =D

    =) - Charlie-J

  11. ps. Sorry I have a tendency to get carried away when it comes to adventures and travel. =D


  12. Haha love it, thanks for the links Charlie! I will have a good browse through your blog tonight!

  13. Wow! coming from you nagblush ako dun a! =D

    Thanks ha? =)


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