5.30.2015

Take Me To Mercedes

When Bicol Bloggers was invited to take part of the familiarization tour organized by the Mercedes' Municipal Tourism Development Operation Center, I made sure I will come. The three-day activity was organized to promote the Belle of the Pacific - the islands of Mercedes Camarines Norte. Together with ABS-CBN Bicol, Manila and Bicol-based bloggers, we experienced the serene beauty of Mercedes.

Mercedes lies along the eastern part of Camarines Norte. The northern part of Mercedes faces the Pacific Ocean, while the eastern part is bound by San Miguel Bay. Its neighboring towns are Daet and Basud, located west of the Municipality.

There is currently no direct flight to the province of Camarines Norte. It is accessible by a 45-minute flight from Manila to Pili airport in Camarines Sur. From the airport, tourists can take a 15-minute drive to Naga City and another 2 hour van ride (van terminal is located beside LCC Mall Sabang) from Naga City to Daet. From there, take a tricycle or jeepney to Mercedes. If you are traveling by land, the best option is to take an 8-hour bus ride from Manila to Daet. From Daet, follow the same steps as aforementioned.

If you are planning to visit and experience the hidden beauty of Mercedes, it's best to get in touch with the MTDOC/Tourism Office at discovermercedes@yahoo.com or call them at (054) 444-1261 for a hassle-free tour around Mercedes' Islands.

You can include in your itinerary the activities below:

1. Try a unique way to dine with Doña Mercedes Floating restaurant while exploring Catandunganon River.
For inquiries & reservations, contact Goodchow Restaurant and Catering Services: (054) 444-1263, (0917) 558-0339, (0920) 553-3452, (0918) 605-6606. 
2.  Visit the 7 Islands of Mercedes: Caringo, Apuao Grande, Apuao Pequeña, Canton, Canimog, Quinapaguian, and Malasugi.
3. Dine with the locals of Caringo Island. 
Try their unique dishes: seaweed gulaman, ginataang Tuhad-Tuhad, sweet and sour Abo in fresh tomato sauce and my fave, ginataang octopus. You can also try snorkeling at the fish sanctuary.
4. Plant mangrove seedlings at Canton Island and have a small trek up the island's hill to enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
5. Enjoy a relaxing stay and some water activities like kayaking and Hobie cat sailing at Apuao Grande Island.
Book your stay at Apuao Grande Residential Houses, Apuao Grande Island, Mercedes, Camarines Norte. Contact them at +63 927 428 3211.
6. Be amazed by the powdery white sand of Apuao Pequeña Island. Enjoy a swim in the crystal clear waters and get yourself a good tan while sitting under the baby pine trees by the shore.
7. Appreciate nature by having a short trek at Apuao Pequeña Island and be amazed with the number of fruit bats around.
8. Visit the 'Secret Surfer's Spot'- a perfect place for soul searching. 
The short trek will lead you up a small hill at Apuao Pequeña. You will see the surreal view of the Pacific Ocean waves crashing by the shore.
9. Take a deep in the shallow waters of Cayucyucan Beach together with your family or friends. You can also have firefly watching or star gazing at night.
 Book your stay at Palms Farm Resort, Brgy. Cayucyucan, Mercedes, Camarines Norte. They offer modern amenities without setting aside the touch of nature. Rooms come with ceiling fans. Family rooms range from P2,000/night with 2 double beds (max 4 people) to P3,000/night for 4 double beds (max 8 people). 

Contact Nos. +63 927 587 1001 +63 917 500 6639 +63 49 545 1683. You can also email them at mariquit915@yahoo.com.
10. Eat healthy. Try the fresh products of the organic farm located at Brgy. Cayucyucan.
I was amazed how they managed to grow lettuce and other herbs here, considering the hot climate.
11. Be adventurous and discover this hidden beauty - Colasi Falls.
To visit Colasi falls, you will go through a one-hour hike on rocky slopes and steep trails. Tip: Wear your rubber shoes and pack your slippers too. Also, get geared up with a bottle of water and protect your gadgets with a waterproof bag. It’s best to coordinate with the local tourism of Mercedes so that everyone will be safe. If you're also planning to have lunch there, locals can prepare packaged meals and picnic lunches as part of the community-based tourism effort.
 12. Take a swim at Hinipaan River.
They have the cheapest fees: Adults 7.00, Children 4.00, Cottage 400 Large, 200 Small; Parking Fee 20.00. In this way, you can help the community too.
13. Take an extended tour around the mainland by staying at Villa Criselda.
  They offer basic and comfortable air-conditions rooms and has a swimming pool. They are located at Brgy. 1, Mercedes, Camarines Norte. You can contact Ms. Gliezel Napili at +63 915 868 4692 or email her at GLIEZEL_42@yahoo.com
Summer never ends at Mercedes! Plan your next beach trip now. (•‿•)

Thank you Tomoka Aono of JICA and the Municipal Local Tourism Development Operation Center (MTDOC) of Mercedes for making us part of the #TakeMetoMercedes Media Tour. You can follow and check out their social media sites below for more details:
Credits to Naga City Deck and LoveKoSiMercedes Facebook Page  for some of the photos.

xoxo, 
  Didi


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5.20.2015

Tumblr Class of 2015

This is a throwback post just in time for the upcoming Tumblr Summer Ender Meet up!
This is my second meet up to attend to and of course it was a day of meeting new people, fun games, cool prizes, and lots of learnings, too. I also got a chance to bond with my old college friends and some new Tumblrista friends.
This 27th of May, another meet up will happen to end summer with a bang! Doodle masters, Kerby Rosanes and Lei Melendres, are coming to create a doodle wall live. Fun games and great prizes awaits, too. I heard gift certificates and freebies from our sponsors will hit like a hurricane - super excited for this one! Haha.
top, bazzar; jogger pants, Folded and Hung; floral sneaks, Nike
We are inviting you all to join! It's for free, all you need is a Tumblr URL and you're off to the most awaited #TSEM2015! Follow our official hashtag for more updates!

RSVP Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/363667587165829/ and
https://www.tumblr.com/meetup/45749


Credits to Paul Echano and Nick Pahati for the photos.

xoxo, 
  Didi


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5.12.2015

Gotta Go To Gota


This year, I promised myself to travel and explore more. As much as I can, I squeeze my time with work during the weekdays and I make sure my weekends are well spent. On top of my travel bucket list is to visit the renowned world-class tourist destination - Caramoan. This group of magnificent islands is well known for its lush and green forests, incredible limestone and rock formations (I was very amazed at how nature sculpted its breathtaking beauty), clear blue green to deep blue waters having rich aquatic life, white sand shores, and of course, it is known to be the location for Survivor. Experiencing firsthand the beauty of the island, I have no doubt why it has been chosen by CNNGo to be one of the 10 Best Islands and Beaches in the Philippines.
Located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur, there are two ways to get to Caramoan - by land and by water. If you are coming from Manila, take a bus trip going to Sabang Port in San Jose, Camarines Sur - this would cost around P800. It would take 8 hours tops of traveling so I suggest taking the evening trip to avoid heavy traffic. From Sabang port, board a passenger boat that goes to Guijalo Port in Caramoan; the travel time would be around 2 hours depending on sea conditions. It would cost around P120; however, if you miss the last trip by 11AM, you can rent a boat around P2,500 - P3,000. Tourists coming from Naga can ride a passenger van bound for Sabang at the terminal located behind St. Joseph School. Van fare is around P100 per person and travel time would be around an hour and a half. From Sabang, follow the same steps as aforementioned.
If you have sea sickness, going to Caramoan by land is already possible. From Manila, take a bus trip to Naga (around P650-P800 and 6 hours travel time). From Naga, you can rent a van that can take you to Caramoan. I highly recommend (for so many good reasons) our rented van during our trip - you can contact them at 09156115895. You can also take a direct flight from Manila to Pili Airport, from there, your rented van can fetch you. If you plan to take your own vehicle, make sure it's ultra ready for some rough and winding roads. The usual travel time would be around 5 hours but in our case, our driver shortened it to 3 hours (even making it to 2 hours on our way home. Haha!)

Travel Tip: Plan your trips in groups so that payments can be split and the cost will be cheaper. I also suggest getting a guide or driver (if you're planning to rent a van) who knows the place well and takes special care of the tourists - this could save a life (I should know because of our experience).

The long travel time will be worth it because you will be welcomed by the pristine beauty of Caramoan. We got to stay at Gota Village Resort which is also the home of the people behind Survivor. Just five kilometers away from the town proper, this world-class resort offers wooden comfy cabins equipped with pampering amenities. It could get a little pricey but of course it's because of the luxurious stay that you will experience here.
Room rates are as follows:
Small Wood Cabin (P2,500.00/night) 
Standard occupancy 2 pax
Includes: 1 queen sized bed, air conditioned room with TV and DVD player, private toilet bathroom with hot and cold shower.
Medium Wood Cabin (P2,750.00/night) 
Standard occupancy 2 pax (can add 1 extra person charge P500/night)
Includes: 1 queen sized bed, air conditioned room with TV and DVD player, private toilet bathroom with hot and cold shower, mini ref, receiving room and dining area.

Large Wood Cabin (P3,000.00/night) 
Standard occupancy 2 pax (can add 2 extra person charge P1000/night)
Includes: 1 queen sized bed, air conditioned room with TV and DVD player, private toilet bathroom with hot and cold shower, mini ref, receiving room and dining area.
Travel Tip: If you would want to have an exclusive stay in Caramoan, you can also try Hunungan Cove which is just beside Gota Village. This would be perfect if you want to get away from the crowded beach during summertime. Accommodation rates are quite expensive though - ranging from P5,000/night (for the duplex) to P10,000 (for the presidential suite).
Gota Village Resort has a resto by the beachfront which serves all-time favorite dishes and Bicolano specialties. Serving sizes can be for sharing or a la carte ranging from P200 to P500. 

Travel Tip: Order your meals 30 minutes earlier - preparing time for the meals might take quite a while, so make sure you order beforehand and tell the staff what time you're coming for your meals. If you are on a tight budget and would just stay for a short time, you can pack your meals already. Foods are allowed in the cabins; however, they are not allowed by the beach front.
The resort is by itself a one-package tour already, it offers extreme activities such as river trekking to Umang Cave (P500/person), river tubing to Mandiklum Cave (P700/person), mountain trekking/rappelling (P300/P500), intro to rock climbing (P700/person) and spelunking (P500/person). It also offers marine activities such as island hopping (ranges from P2,200 - P5,000 depending on the number of islands to visit), kayaking (P500), cliff diving (P150/P300) and snorkeling (P150/person). All of these already include the equipment rental for each activity. You will definitely not run out of fun things to do during your stay.
We went island hopping during our second day at the resort. We went to the nearest islands around Gota Beach: Cagbalinad, Lahos, Matukad and Busdak. Caramoan is well-known for the group of islands that you can visit. Each one of them has its unique beauty. Lahos and Matukad Island have fine white sand and are the frequently visited ones by the tourists. You should check out the enchanted lagoon on top of Matukad Island (didn't try it though because I went for a swim), they say it has a mystery legend behind it.
Travel Tip: If you're looking for cheaper rates for your island hopping, you can bargain your price at the other side of Gota Beach. The wooden bridge above will lead you to the jump-off point for island hopping. You can rent a boat ranging from P1,500 - P2,000 depending on the number of passengers and the number of islands to visit. You can try haggling with the boatman - use your charm! Haha. What's good about this is that they provide life jackets and they really keep an eye on the guests' personal stuff.

For package inquiries and reservation at Gota Village Resort, you can email at nnpelonio@gmail.com or you can call at Smart -09188862764; Globe -09175800750
Look for Ms. Narnie Pelonio
 You can also check out their Facebook Page and their website for more details.
I hope this post helped you to be ready for your island adventure in Caramoan. Another post will be out soon - a summer OOTD taken by the beach front. (•‿•)

For now you can follow our Caramoan adventures through the hashtag #GottaLoveCamSur. All of our snippets are posted on Instagram. My Instagram account appear to be very bitchy lately - oh I mean beachy! (•‿•) You can also check out and follow our beach gang: (L-R) Marky, Ivy, Jamie, Kim, Yvette, Fen, Ralp and Nick who's always behind the camera.

Thank you very much Governor Migz Villafuerte for having us!

Credits to Nick Pahati and Caramoan Islands Website  for the photos.

xoxo, 
  Didi


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