Sorsogon: Why It’s Every Traveler’s Dream Destination

“Are you from Bicol?”, was what I remember someone asking me back in high school when I told him that my favorite food is laing, a Bicolano dish cooked with dried taro (gabi) leaves, coconut milk (gata), and chili peppers for a kick. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I hate eating vegetables, but this vegetable dish won over other more popular and meat-based Filipino and international dishes.

 

I am not from Bicol. I was born in Iloilo and grew up in Manila and only tasted laing when someone in our house cooked it – not even authentic Bicol laing. The truth is, I haven’t even been to Bicol yet, not until last week when I spent 6 days in the region with Beep and our friends.

 

More than the destinations, I was excited to finally eat laing in the place where it came from. “My Mom’s laing is better than this“, my friend Steff, who grew up in Bicol, assured me as we ate the dish in one of the most famous carienderias in Legazpi on our first few hours in the region – and what we were eating was already one of the best laing I’ve had.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

How Traveling Around the Philippines Heals a Broken Heart

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”, this quote recently sparked a lot of conversations on social media. Meryl Streep, the recipient of Cecil B. DeMille Award in the most recent Golden Globes, mentioned this in her acceptance speech in honor of her late friend Carrie Fisher. I believe that art truly comes from some intense emotion may that be pain, joy, and even anger. When you feel like you’re stuck and can’t seem to find inspiration in anything, maybe what you need is a little change of location.

The Philippines is a traveller-friendly place for both locals and international guests. Pristine beaches are within reach in a two-hour drive and exotic places are few steps away from you – the perfect escape for the heartbroken. 

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Christian eats pop culture for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (midnight snack, too). In his spare time, he tags along with his family and travels to his hometown, Pangasinan, and to a few other Philippine towns, too. He works as a content marketing specialist by day and stans for Beyoncé by night. He dreams of visiting the big apple someday and experience the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.

Best Meals in Dumaguete City Under PHP200 and Where to Find Them

One Saturday night, Beep and I found ourselves on a ferry ride to Dumaguete from Cebu. Trust me, reflections on the water at 10:00pm are not ingredients for a good sleep. But I was far from drowsy. I was as awake as my cup of instant coffee can get me. Beep had to choose that particularly time to take a short nap, so it’s just me and the monster-ish little waves, wondering for the nth time why I am not in a plane heading somewhere else instead. But the hobo scored free George and Peter Lines tickets, and who can ever say no to him when he’s being his usual supercalifragilisticexpialidocious self?

A little after 2 am we docked at Dumaguete wharf. I was famished and sleepy (caffeine effects now starting to wear off) so we headed to the nearest inn and flaked out, but not before I extracted a promise from Beep to feed me with the best meals come morning.

And that he did. With barely enough money for a week’s respite, the Hobo succeeded in finding me affordable meals that cost less than P200. I swear, he is getting good at this. In the remotest chance that your boyfriend is as frugal as mine, I’d like to share these cheapsake places that do not sacrifice their quality for affordability:

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Escape to Nature: Aquascape Lake Caliraya

 

What’s your idea of a perfect escape? If you ask me and Beep, it’s getting away from the noise of the city, just the two of us, alone and one with nature. It doesn’t even have to be in a high-end resort or beach – the more isolated we are, better. Like when we pitched a tent in one of the islands in El Nido, Palawan where we cooked our dinner by fire under the moonlight;  the soft waves, the rustling of the trees, and the sounds of the animals living in the island lulled us to sleep. Spending time outdoors, and one with nature, has a lot of health benefits too! While there are islands that are a couple of hours away from the bustling city of Manila, it’s seldom that you’ll have the place to yourself since you’ll have to share the island with other campers or travelers. That’s why Beep and I are always on the lookout for private getaways that we can easily drive to. We’ve tried renting houses but none of them can compare to that night in our own island, until we found out that there’s a floating cottage  somewhere in Laguna thanks to an invitation from the owner of Eco Saddle [now Aquascape]. Planning a trip to Manila and its nearby provinces like Laguna? Find cheap flights to Manila here.  So last weekend, we drove to Eco Saddle in Caliraya Lake/Aquascape and spent the night in their motorized floating cottage. It was like having an island all to ourselves again, but this time we had a fully-furnished house that can cruise around the lake. Who needs a yacht when you have a real Hobo house? 

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Pradera Wake Park: Your New Weekend Playground in Pampanga

pradera wake park pampanga

As the pair behind Travels with a Hobo, you’d think that Beep and I are always traveling during weekends. The truth is, we’re both home buddies and often spend the weekend sleeping in and watching Netflix. We love traveling but we love our beds more! So when we do go out on weekends, it has to be something worth losing a good day of sleep and binge watching for.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Siquijor: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Travel to This Mystic Island

Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Travel to Siquijor “Don’t look straight into their eyes” 

“If someone insists on giving you a gift, politely decline it” 

These are just some of the warnings that people told me when they found out that I was going to Siquijor for a week-long Central Visayas trip with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines. While there were other destinations in the Philippines to choose from for TPB’s first-ever domestic Product Familiarization Tour which I was invited to take part in, I immediately chose the Siquijor-Dumaguete-Bohol tour just because I’ve always dreamed of going to Siquijor.

Shrouded in magic and dark tales, the mere mention of the word Siquijor sends chills down the spine of many Filipinos. Believed to be inhabited by mystical and dark creatures like aswang, ghosts, witches, and sorcerers; this reputation might have gotten people to repulse the third smallest island in the Philippines , but it’s for the same reason that tourists (myself included) are attracted to the island once called Isla de Fuego (Island of Fire). It was dubbed so because of the eerie glow of the island according to the Spanish conquistadors who discovered it in 1565. The truth? It was just swarms of fireflies that flitted around the island’s Molave trees seen from a distance.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

#PhilippinesFirst Friday: This 7-minute Video Will Make You Want to Go Backpacking in the Philippines Now!

Mark David Acoba's Travel Diary: Backpacking Philippines 2015

Last week, we launched the first part of our #PhilippinesFirst Weekly Blog Series, where we round up articles/content published in the recent week to prove just how beautiful the Philippines is. The series is our own little way of helping our fellow Filipinos realize how lucky we are to live in this country, feel proud of our roots, and bring inspiration to travel the Philippines first before the rest of the world.

What inspired us to travel more of the Philippines this week despite the disgraceful laglag-bala extortion racket in NAIA headlining the news recently?

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

#PhilippinesFirst Friday: Palawan is the Best Island in the World (Yet Again!)

Palawan is the best island in the world

As part of our #PhilippinesFirst advocacy, we’re launching a weekly blog series called #PhilippinesFirst Friday  where we round up articles published in the recent week that prove just how beautiful the Philippines is. This is our own little way of helping our fellow Filipinos realize how lucky we are to live in this country, feel proud of our roots, and bring inspiration to travel the Philippines first before the rest of the world. 

1. Palawan is the Best Island in the World (Yet Again!) 

Probably the best Philippines travel news for this week is that Palawan is once again hailed as the best island in the world in the Readers’ Choice Awards 2015 of award-winning US travel magazine, Conde Nast Traveler (CNT). This is the second straight year that Palawan has gotten this recognition. You go, Palawan!

Book a plane ticket to Palawan now! Find the best airfare deals to the best island in the world here. 

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

An Open Letter to Filipinos: Travel the Philippines First

To my dear fellow Filipinos,

“If you were given an all-expense-paid trip to any place in the world, where would you go?”

That was the exact question that started my talk on budget travel last October 15 when I was invited as a resource speaker for Take the Risk, an Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) held at the University of the Philippines Diliman organized by the UP Travel Society, which aims to teach students about budget travel, backpacking, and hiking with travel bloggers as teachers for a day. While I gave tips on how to make budget travel possible, the heart and soul of my talk was my ‪#‎PhilippinesFirst‬ advocacy- to inspire Filipinos to explore more of the Philippines.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Why I Keep Coming Back to El Nido, Palawan (and Why Every Filipino Should, Too)

Why I Love El Nido Palawan

Two days before my birthday back in the year 2011, I had one of my fainting episodes at home. I don’t suffer from any serious illness but once in a while I faint whenever I have dysmenorrhea (I’m telling you, it was brutal). While my Mom would usually brush it off like my previous episodes, she brought me to a clinic to have me checked up by a doctor, just in case I need medications. The doctor had a better idea though, he had me confined in a hospital to run some tests on me because he thought that I might be epileptic. I ended up spending my birthday in the hospital with negative results for the tests, proving that I’m not epileptic and that I needed a better doctor.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

6 Budget-Friendly Eats in Cebu City for the Hungry Cheapskate

budget-friendly eats in Cebu

We’re cheapskates even when it comes to food – Beep especially. Most boyfriends take their girlfriends to fast food joints when they’re on a budget date, Beep, meanwhile takes me to the UV Express terminal in Park Square, Makati to eat at the stalls (we’re frequent customers of Paotsin!) before heading home.

We set a PHP7,000 budget for our recent Cebu-Bohol trip, so we had to choose the more affordable dining options. While we usually eat in carinderias like the locals in our budget trips, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the highly-recommended eats in the Queen City of the South.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Budget Trip in Coron? Stay at Patrik & Tezz Guesthouse

When you’re traveling backpacker style (with a very limited budget), a luxurious hotel is definitely out of the question. Why stay in rooms with 21-inch flat screen TVs when you’re just going out the entire day anyway? You’re traveling to enjoy a place you’ve never been to before (or some place you like going back to again and again), not to watch TV just like your usual lazy weekends in your own home.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.