Cagayan Day 2: Claveria and Sta. Praxedes

“Wake up at 4:30 am. Bed at 8:30pm. Hahahaha. I wish this happens at all times in Manila.”

I reported on Twitter because it was true. There wasn’t really anything to do apart from watching local tv shows, and endlessly looking at my phone. No nightlife in Claveria, and establishments close as early as 6pm. I say, it was better that way.

On our second day, with no chance to cross the ocean, we decided to go around the town of Claveria and the next town, Sta. Praxedes. We arranged the tour with Kuya Walter (+639488290573), recommended by Juanderfulpinoy.

Our first stop, Portabaga Falls and Resort is located at the town of Sta. Praxedes, about 20 minutes away from the town of Claveria. There is a minimal entrance fee of P25/head.

Portabaga Signage
The Falls

There had been a lot of construction going on; must be preparation for summer.

After some time of appreciation and snack, we headed back to the town of Claveria. Kuya Walter drove us to the Taggat Lagoon.

Taggat – Right Side / Rock Formation – Panorama

Weather was not in favor of us that day. It drizzled and poured heavy rains. Thus stepping on these rocks was an ultimate challenge. Kasalanan ko rin naman, who wears flipflops on this kind of adventure? Wala rin naman akong choice! I slipped on a rock at the far left end of Taggat which resulted to a sprained left arm and bruises on my palm! Ngunit, hindi iyon ang tamang oras sa pagiinarte, kaya tumuloy pa rin ako sa paglalakad sa mga bato.

Taggat – Far Left End; Area where I slipped
That mini falls

After the walk along the beach and the rock formations and visit to their new wharf, we headed back to the main town to eat lunch. It’s another carinderia is the house with interesting cabinets full of their personal stuff. I ordered Kare-Kare and knew it’s Cara-beef. Pero napunta sa akin puro taba, kaya sarap ng gulay at bagoong ang peg ko sa pagiinarte. Then headed to an optical shop because my right contact lens popped out of nowhere during the Portabaga – Taggat ride.

MAHAL. NG. ISANG. PAIR. 550. IYAK. TAWA.

Next stop was Sentinela Cove, which was about 10 to 15 minutes travel from the centro. Weather was still the same and it started pouring heavy rain when I reached the far end.

Sentinela Cove – Panorama

Took several selca, because why not? Then headed back to the town and Nikita.

Day 2 Expenses
P10/each – Tricycle (Nikita – Market)
P40 + P30 – Basic fried fish and rice and 1L bottled water Breakfast
P25 + P8- Portabago Falls and Resort Entrance Fee, Cheeze It Snack
P75 – Lunch share for four
P550 – Contact Lens
P134 each- Tricycle Tour Share P400
P11 – Ice (for my bruises) and Surf powder (because I planned to wash my top – remember, nagkalumot because I slipped)
P245 – Grocery (Random food and stuff)
P50 – Dinner
P12 – Egg for breakfast the next day
Total = 1190 *Could had spent half if not for the contact lens. Cry.*

Up North: Cagayan

Why Cagayan?

PAL Express’ seat sale frequented last year thus being impulsive led me to purchase a MNL – TUG round trip tickets. Yes, even though I didn’t have any idea what to see there. Feeling ko ang adventurous ng peg kapag ganon. Hahaha. So I Googled after booking.

Boarding Pass

My first choice was Palaui Island. Then I forgot why and how I changed my mind. I fell in love with the photos and blogs about Calayan Island. I didn’t even know how I came to know Babuyanes can be traveled to. Uy, aminin, hindi rin naisip na pwede palang mapuntahan ang mga isla na ito! I booked the tickets sometime June 2014 and totally decided to go to Calayan Island by October 2014. As early as October, tinawagan ko na si Ms. Tessie at nagconfirm na pupunta ako ng February 19 – 22, 2015. Okay, go!

Cagayan’s capital is Tuguegarao, which is my gateway to explore the province. Who was I with? Total strangers! You know what happens when you kept on asking your friends to come along but no one confirms because they are busy (and tell you ‘you should have invited me’ after you posted pretty photos) and other reasons? You meet new friends who share same passion, same interest, same adrenaline to just go anywhere.

Tricycle ride from Tuguegarao Airport

It was my first time flying on a Bombardier Q400. It’s small but has the same feels just like any aircraft. I got a free Skyflakes Condensada and thank God for that snack because I was so hungry I didn’t have breakfast and lunch yet (ayoko namang bumili ng cup noodles, ang mahal mahal)! My flight was at 2:00 PM! There were no delays and arrived at Tuguegarao 26 minutes earlier than scheduled. Sweet.

Upon arriving, I asked Kuya tricycle driver to drop me off at the van terminal. He did drop me off at the nearest terminal. It was not even more than 10 minutes of transport and it cost P70! I guess if the Lady Officer from the airport didn’t tell me how much it should cost, Kuya will charge me more than P70. Kasi nung tinanong ko siya, ako na rin sumagot na, “Sabi kasi nung Pulis, seventy daw po.” Hahaha. Edi, sabi niya, “Osige, seventy. Malapit lang naman.” I didn’t expect it was that near!!!

So I met with Albert and Rayn on February 18 at the van terminal. They were the travel buds I met online. Medyo kinakabahan talaga ako before meeting them. Syempre first time ko kaya to meet total strangers for a travel. Thoughts like, “Magnanakaw ba sila? Baka magkakilala sila, tapos patayin nila ako” and so much more were running on my mind. Then they arrived from the city proper to see a church. Surprisingly, Rayn is beki so napanatag naman loob ko na may girl at heart akong kasama.

Me, Rayn, Kuya Medi (Tour Guide) and Albert at Tapwakan having lunch

We waited for some time for the van to arrive and off we were to Claveria at 3:30PM, our entry point to Calayan Island. Claveria is 4 hours travel from Tuguegarao City. It’s the second to the last town of Cagayan before reaching Ilocos Norte.

Claveria Arch from Sta. Praxedes

Our driver was really nice to drive us around Claveria even it was dark and raining. Dapat bumaba na kami and tricycle na lang eh. Inikot niya kami ng Lagoon and Fishlanding to ask kung meron bang ba-byahe the following day to Calayan. Pero wala talaga eh. Ah, yes! I forgot to mention, Tuesday night, Ms. Tessie informed me that weather will be bad for the next few days. Still we pushed through because why not.

Kuya driver finally dropped us off at El Dia Beach Resort. We were offered a rate of P1200/room/night. Expensive! Especially we already knew we may be staying for a couple of days. Good thing, they were fully booked for the next  few days since they will host a conference. Kuya was kind enough to refer Nikita Beach House which was just beside them.

Nikita Beach House shot from their cottage area

Nikita’s gate was closed already but thank God, they still accommodated us! We were offered a rate of P800/night. Ito yung part na nagiinarte pa ako. I asked Ate Eden, person-in-charge that night if they have another room for 1 person and how much would that cost… It’s P500/night. The bigger room she can offer at P500/night for two, too! So dahil alam kong walang mararating ang pagiinarte ko, sige na nga. Sama sama na kami sa isang room. Our room has four beds, one is double deck bed. I got the double deck. It also has its own comfort room, a balcony, small cable tv,  lamp, fan, aircon, chairs and table.

We were given time to settle and Ate Eden asked us if we want something to eat. She ordered us Miki for P35/order. So for P105, we were already full. Kaso lasang butter talaga yung luto eh. Hahahahaha. Pero tamang panawid gutom na!

Called it a night after around 9 or 10 PM.

Expenses: February 18 – Tuguegarao – Claveria

Tricycle (Airport – Van Terminal) – P70
Van (Tuguegarao – Claveria) = P180
Dinner (Miki) – P35
Accommodation (Nikita) – P267/night (shared P800 for 3 persons)
Total = P552

El Nido: Day Two (Tour B)

Visiting El Nido is not complete without island hopping (based on me). There are variety of tours available from A to D.

P1,200 Tour A: Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach

P1,300 Tour B: Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave

P1,400 Tour C: Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach

P1,200 Tour D: Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon and Paradise Beach

I guess if you want that perfect El Nido shot, go for Tour A. If you want that total adventure, go for Tour C as most of the blogs I’ve read, going through hidden and secret beach will require a lot of effort. (Kaya nga sikret at tago, dapat hinahanap pa!) No idead with Tour D though.

JP and I availed Tour B. I know I had a reason (one would be that I don’t like Tour C) but I forgot why I chose it over the other three. We could have done two tours but I really wanted to go to Nacpan/Calitang. (Combination tours can be done through private tours.)

To start the day, we woke up very early as in 5am early. We looked for a place to eat breakfast. Most of the restaurants open at 6am. One of the ladies from Bulskamp Inn suggested a nearby 24/7 diner but reading from online reviews, nah, pass!

Browse, browse, browse. I remembered we passed by Silog Republic the other day and looked it up on the web. Aha, good reviews from TripAdvisor. It was even at the third spot of El Nido’s bests. We rode a tricycle because I thought it was far but no way. It could have been at least 5-7 minutes walk (pasensya, first day pa lang).

Silog

Upon arriving, we immediately checked their menu. Opted for -silog meals as these were the only available dishes that time. I’ve had longganisa and JP had corned beef.

LongsilogJudging from this plate, nothing is extraordinary. Just props for being open 24/7, having okay customer service and ‘affordable’ meals. We paid P165 for two meals plus soda and 3in1 coffee.

Right after breakfast, we went to the shore to just check out the beach. Though hindi ako sure kung pwedeng maligo doon eh. Medyo maraming kalat plus doon nakadaong yung mga bangka.

We headed back to Bulskamp minutes before 7am to prepare for our tour. We confirmed from Northern Hope that we’ll be picked up at 8:30am. We were outside earlier than our call time but no signs of anyone yet. We went to the sari-sari store to buy a cheap waterproof bag but the store was still closed.

We returned to Bulskamp Inn to wait for our tour guide and called our coordinator from Northern Hope. The lady said pick up will be between 8:30am – 9:00am. HUH? Patience, patience.

While waiting, we had a nice chat with Ms. Virgie, the owner of Bulskamp Inn. We knew that she was originally from Bulacan and has relatives in Puerto Princesa, permanently staying in Europe where she met her husband. When they (Virgie and Eddie) visited the municipality of El Nido, they fall in love with it quickly and purchased a house and lot at Osmeña St.. They had the place renovated. They do not permanently stay in El Nido, they fly back and forth to Europe and have her brother manage the place.

Amid our conversation, Kuya Dexter arrived. We walked to the kiosk of Northern Hope Tours to get the rented underwater camera. Supposedly we were to settle our account but because we were pressed for time, Ate said we can do it later after the tour.DSC_6619-1

We were 8 tourists in the boat, 6 of them were foreigners. From what I heard, 2 were from South Africa, and the other 4 were from Sweden. Without so much arte, JP and I sat on the endmost of the boat. Neither we knew that that was the bad spot.

Tour B boat travel was rough. Water was throwing left and right, back and front… the bad spot. Not wanting to spoil the moment, I just enjoyed every water thrown at me by the sea. And oh boy, the waves (kept asking myself, was it practice for my Calayan trip this Feb?) and the wind. Just crazy.

Kuya Dexter told us Tour B was a good choice since there were very few tourists who avail this package. Was it too bad? Nah. There are two beaches to see and feel~, short hike experience, two snorkeling area and two caves. What else to ask for? I didn’t want to tire myself too much anyway.

DSC_6673-1We had our lunch on the boat at Snake Island. It was the best lunch ever. JP and I seated at the sides of the boat (or whatever you call that part), it was perfect.

DSC_6721-1

Everyone was raving about the lunch of Norther Hope or how the guide prepares the food. But nothing really is extraordinary. Sorry, I was not just a fan. Plus they were using aluminum cups that tasted rust (uy, rustic feels~). But overall, I was satisfied. Lunch sa boat, ano pa gusto ko?

After lunch, we went to Cudognon Cave. I wish though I didn’t come along because it was the most challenging activity I’ve done in my whole life. Everyone has to go through a hole, good thing there were mats… kung hindi, sugat sugat tuhod. Hahaha. Inaalala ko ngayon, sumasakit ulo ko.

Then we passed by the Cathedral cave. Buti na lang there were no holes to go through. The photo below was taken from the underwater camera. ;)

After passing by the last cave, we went to Pinagbuyutan Island where we spent more than 30 minutes. Our boat couldn’t reach near the sand so if we want to go to the shore, we have to swim. But since it would be a challenge for me (because I don’t know how to swim), I didn’t dare to. Another activity that can be done is snorkeling, which you may guess, I opted to do. However, I wasn’t pleased because there were too many sea grass!!! I panicked twice so ending naka-inom ako ng tubig dagat twice!!! Panic galore e naka-vest naman, say mo? Medyo mataas pa naman yung sea grass, akala ako may humahawak sa paa ko. ):

Inggit ako sa mga kasabay namin sa boat na foreigners. Ang gagaling nila mag swim!!!

When the other 3 foreigners came from the shore, we started our journey back to the port. We finished the tour shortly after 3:00 PM. I headed back to Bulskamp Inn to take a bath and that was when I felt very sick.

Ended the day in the room, sleeping and had JP buy dinner alone.