The TTs that you should Experience while in Benguet

5 04 2016

TTs – Mt Tabayoc (+/- 2685m asl); Mt Timbak (+/-2,545 m asl)

Saturday, 2 – 3 April 2016

Benguet, Philippines

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Mt Tabayoc – Picturesque mountain and said to be the second highest in mountain in Luzon. One would see the view upfront Lake Tabayo even from the ranger. Official record shows an elevation of 2,842 m asl.

Mt Timbak – sacred place for the locals, ninth highest mountain in the country. Official record shows an elevation of 2,717 m asl. This is located between Atok and Kabayan



Day 1 (travel to the destination)

21:30 ETD Pasay, Joy bus


Day 2 (actual hike)

3:00 ETA Baguio (the business district of northen Luzon, +/- 1540m asl considered to be a tropical pine forest ecoregion of the country)

7:00  ETD Slaughter house compound to catch the bus bound to Kabayan, This was where we met Pedro (Peter, real name), a Dutch volunteer and backpacker

11:00 ETA Poblacion, Kabayan, Benguet

12:00 Have lunch at Chogong Restaurant

13:20 Take the local bus going to the jump off (Ballay Elementary School, 1st registration at the local barangay; Take a chartered ride to the Ranger station for the 2nd registration. Otherwise, start walking on a rolling hill up for 1 hr)

15:00 Start pitching tent (Remember that this is the best tip when camping – Pitch tent before it gets dark! Ensure that you will minimize risks while pitching during the night and most of all you could immediately rest after night trekking! Leave unnecessary things on the trail. Make sure you carry your trail food, water, torch/headlamp, raincoat or poncho, jacket. We did hiking at 11 deg C in the dark mossy and rooted forest trail)

16:00 Start hiking (at +/- 2,480 m asl, farm land area so please respect crops of the local community while walking)

17:40 ETA Dungawan (+/- 2,505 m asl, already in the middle of the forest trail, halfway to the summit)

19:20 ETA Summit (be careful stepping on the wooden stairs).

19:30 Start descend

22:00 ETA Ranger, prepare dinner

23:00 Dinner

24:00 Lights out


Day 3 (actual hike then travel back from destination)

06:30 Wake up, prepare breakfast, break camp, clean your tent and pack up your things

08:00 Have breakfast with the locals

09:00 Enjoy watching the locals harvest carrots! (if you are lucky to catch the season)

09:30 ETD Ranger bound to Timbak Elementary School (The chartered ride takes 30 minutes only but we did quite a number of stops for photo opt and giving way to counter flow vehicles. Make sure you choose a very good driver like Kagawad)

11:30 ETA Timbak Elementary School, register

11:40 Start hiking (enjoy the short-distance ala pilgrimage trek up alongside farming area of lovely flowers)

11:50 ETA Summit

12:15 Start descend then head to the highway

13:00 ETA Halsema highway km55

15:30 ETA Baguio


Side trips within Baguio

18:00 Tam-awan Village for a unique blend of indigenous aesthetics and craftmanship of Cordilleran art

19:00 Go to Session Road and chill out (too many restaurants to choose from for various foods – pasta, pizza, local food)

21:00 Try the night market for “Ukay-Ukay” or bargain shopping (with defective items or second hand goods)

22:00 Catch the bus back to Manila


BUDGET for:+/- 5,000php for a group of 4 pax inclusive of bus from Manila to Baguio, environmental fee, heritage fee, guide, camping fee, entrance fee, food, taxi within Baguio, chartered vehicle within Kabayan and Atok areas, FX or bus from Baguio to Benguet areas

*NOTES: 1) elevation- from my reading using the 2015 calibrated Casio ABT watch; 2) Conserve water from the Mt Tabayoc Ranger, local female/male guides patiently fill up pails for the visitors; 3) Coordinate with Jahmes Calixto for onsite guidance – 0917-3818041 globe, 0918-510 9711 smart. h





Packing Checklist: Mt Kilimanjaro AdventureHescape

8 06 2012
Saturday, 9 June 2012

Few hours to go and I need to see if my checklist is gearing up:


Backpack, Mountain Hardwear, Fluid 32

Bag, Duffle, Hawk

Camera, Canon EOS 60D + wide and long lenses

Camera bag, Lowepro

Carabiner, Black Diamond Neutrino >>

Dry bag, Exped


Headlamp, Black Diamond Icon

Headlamp, Petzl

Moneybelt pouch, Coghlan’s

Mattress, Thermarest

Medicines (including LARIAM and YELLOW FEVER shot)

Neck Pillow, Thermarest


Rain cover, Deuter

Shades, Columbia Carabiner temple

Shades, Oakley

Sleeping bag – 0

Sleeping bag liner, Coghlan’s

Spork, Light My Fire

Trekking pole, Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact >>

Wrist watch, Casio ABT


Baselayer, Columbia

Baselayer, Marks & Spencer, thermals

Baselayer, Marmot

Gloves, Columbia Omnitech

Gloves, Marmot (thanks to Almond!, my sponsor ! >>

Gloves, Thinsulate Insulation 3M

Hat, Peruvian Columbia

Jacket, Marmot

Jacket, Mammut

Socks, Fox River

Socks, Marks & Spencer, wool

Trekking pants , Arcteryx; Army Knife; Lowe Alpine

Trekking shirts, Equipe; Mountain Hardwear;

Trekking Shoes, New Balance 1201

Trekking Shoes, Hi-tec (thanks to Crinkles who thought of this in 2007)

I started buying since January this year: from Metro Manila, Davao (thanks to C and J), Singapore (thanks to Ensaymada and Almond my hosts in Singapore) and even on line shopping (thanks to M who made it happen completing my Campmor cart).

I think my Africa gears are ready. Next question is: how will I carry them?

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Touring Baguio City and La Trinidad in Benguet

15 05 2012
6 Sunday May 2012
Baguio City,
Luzon Island, Philippines

Escape the heat of Metro Manila and pack your bags to feel the natural breeze and country air of Baguio City!

This I say to you before urbanization and mining activities within the region takes another shape in its ecosystem.

Sample 2 days and 1 Night itinerary that you should not miss and kids enjoyed much:


Kennon Road. Leave Manila on or before 9am. After 250km, you could enjoy the scenic view of Luzon via Kennon Road. During non-summer months (June-February), fog causes almost zero visibility. Along the winding steep ascending road to Baguio, you could stop at the upper end of Kennon Road to have a spectacular view of the mountains and knolls. Other access points to Baguio: Marcos Highway from Agoo, La Union; Naguilian Road from Bauang, La Union; Halsema Highway; Nueva Vizacaya.

Lion’s Head. This 40-foot high lion head made out of limestone boulder is few kilometres from the Kennon Road view deck and considered to be the landmark of Baguio City. If you are travelling on a tour package or with your own/rented vehicle, you could stop for some photo opportunities. No need to worry since there are no lions in Baguio City! This is just a symbol of an artwork conceptualized by the Lions Club International. As you walk along the area, you will see some stalls selling native handicrafts. Prices are about the same when you reach further up so if you find something that would interest your shopping mood, don’t hesitate.

Lady of Lourdes Grotto. Take some 252 steps hike up to the grotto for fun and or some meditation. This place is also good for some photo snap since you could take a peek of the panoramic view of La Union.

Baguio Cathedral. Take another challenge in climbing up the concrete stairway of some hundred steps or so to give thanks to your blessings. Or just look at the beautiful structure that once became a saving grace to thousands of lives during the Japanese occupation in 1945. After being nostalgic, have some mini donuts near the cathedral to regain strength in order for you to continue strolling!

Burnham Park. This is the favourite spot of both locals and tourists since this artwork of renowned New York-born Architect Daniel Burnham back in 1900s have facilities for fun, simple recreation and relaxation. One could do some boat paddling with kids or love ones, have a picnic, watch outdoor events or even people watch while eating in a restaurant for local merienda!

Session Road. This is the heart of Baguio’s commercial areas so you could slow down and take a leisure walk while you window shop. There are many to choose from for your dinner and nightcap! Food choices can be native (from Benguet, Tagalogs, Ilocos, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Bicol) or international cuisine (Japanese, French, American, Chinese).

Public Market. If your hotel is within the areas of Burnham Park and Session Road, the Public Market gets near you since local vendors convert the main thoroughfare into a night market. One could shop before calling it a day from handicrafts to apparels (watch out though you might find UK –ukay-ukay item in the dark! Ukay –ukay is the local term for second hand items). Or else go to the Public Market the following day for some brand new items like knitted items, beddings and hiking gadgets and accessories.


La Trinidad’s Strawberry Farm.  In less than 10km away from Baguio, you could start your day by strawberry picking at La Trinidad while you sip the local strawberry flavoured sweet “taho”, a soft tofu with sago (tapioca). The unique strawberry picking experience is guided by the local Ibaloi farmers. The “fruits” of your labor are weighed afterwards to determine the price. There are other vegetable crops for your home-made salad.

Bell Church. After having the sweet staple food in the country, have an adrenalin visit to the nearby Buddhist Church for the view of a pagoda, dragon, landscape gardens or pray, as applicable. They welcome all religious denominations in this church. You could even light an incense for good fortune and health.

Mines View Park. After your solemn moment, find hope by going onto the observation deck of Mines View. Enjoy the view, meditate or even take some snaps on a horse, with a dog or with the local tribal people. Better yet, do some more shopping!

The Mansion. This is a gated park and has a mini museum inside the facility. This is known to be patterned after the Buckingham Palace of London and only open for official events. One could only take a photo at the gate or just swing by while inside your vehicle to see the glimpse if photo op does not suit your taste.

Wright Park. Adjacent to The Mansion is Wright Park where kids and adults could rent some ponies for horseback riding. Or ‘vendor watch” and be amazed on how fashionably they could be while selling within the riding area of the park. Out of curiosity, you could also try dressing up like the local Igorot tribal people for a snap (with a minimal fee on the clothing rental).

Camp John Hay. Have pancake for merienda inside Camp John Hay, a 690 hectare facility that has a golf course, horseback riding, biking and hiking trails, picnic areas, camping areas (with no tent-pitching fee) and a little pricy cottages, duplexes apartments, and lodges.

Philippine Military Academy. This is located at Fort Gregorio H. Del Pilar, a 373-hectare military training facility. Have some photo opportunities with the local “men and women in uniform” before heading back to Manila. If time permits, interview one of the cadets and learn their military career preparation.

*from the indigenous dialect in Benguet region, bagiw, moss in English language..
WHEN TO GO: Peak season starts from March to May. Best is after Holy week since hotel booking may not be difficult and shopping for native artworks, wood and metal carvings, silver jewelries and the like are more economical.

WHERE TO STAY: During off season, booking could be easy. But if you plan to go specially during Holy Week, book ahead to avoid some hotel inconvenience.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are various bus lines to choose from. But you could take my fave Victory bus liner from the cities of Pasay and or Cubao. Please note however that driving your own/or rented vehicle sounds better if you only have 1 night and 2 days to spare for this adventure.

BUDGET: No entrance fee for all mentioned sites. Hence, for 11 adventure seekers including kids and adults, 20K php (400 USD) at the minimum is enough. This includes your petrol budget direct from and to Manila. If you have more cash to burn, lavish touring more than 500 USD suits you best. h

Just being Curious…

25 12 2011
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Manila, Philippines

I have been on travel this year and heard a lot of relationship stories from people I only met in the airport, on the plane, etc. But what caught my attention even during my feverish nights these past few days was how busy people found the time to personalize their gifts this Christmas. I found the gesture surprisingly beyond the material context of it. As my Godfather wrote on his published book* “..give because you want to, not because you have to.”  So, if you have a moment to spare, please join me in this poll adventure. Thanks! h

*Crazy Love

Thanksgiving Attraction!

23 11 2011
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Guam, USA

I felt that I will see her. I looked around and I knew it was her. We got connected.   Who wouldn’t be? Thanks to Tiffany. h

It’s Crazy Being a Millionaire

10 07 2011
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Jakarta, Indonesia

Once again, I am a millionaire.

This time I feel crazy being one.

Tired of counting off the zeroes and end up paying for half of every peso!

1M Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is equal to 5K Philippine Peso (PHP)h

Masala CNY

9 02 2011
Tuticorin – Chennai – Dhaka
Monday, 7 February 2011
Dhaka, Bangladesh

My Chinese New Year in Binondo, Manila did not push through. I instead flew to the land of colourful “incredible India ” and Bangladesh .

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India Pilgrimage in Tuticorin

The Basilica of a Lady of Snow built 400 years ago caught my attention for its beauty having a blue and white façade. I have travelled to India in 2005 and this was the first time for me to see a very big Catholic church considering that the country has less than 3% Christian. To my surprise, the church also houses the miraculous statue of our Lady of Snows that arrived in the area since June 9, 1955 passing through Beach Road . To add up to the Indian pilgrimage, Ajay took me then to the temple that accepts non-Hindu.

Indian and Bangladeshi Cuisine

I had a very good Indian cuisine the whole time at Hotel DSF. The fast food called “Big Boy Fried Chicken” known as BFC in Chennai on the other hand brought the western with the Indian taste. Sonargaon buffet breakfast provided vast choices to start your day right. Chicken barbeque and “soup” would be a good experience for you too at Hirajheel Hotel in Dhaka . Make sure you go to this restaurant with a local, just like I did. Thanks to both Ekramul and Itrat who knew what to order for me.

The best vitamin C in Dhaka called Boroi is a good fruit tasting experience giving you a neutral taste for the palate. While the local Igloo ice cream adds up to the chill!

Shopping in Chennai

Chennai has a number of shopping areas. I only had Raahat Plaza from where I was. Looking around, I may say that items depend on one’s taste.

Killing time

Once you are in Chennai airport, kill time at Bica business lounge for news watching.


There are few well-maintained hotels in Tuticorin. I stayed in Hotel DSF Grand Plaza, a 3-star category with clean facilities and friendly staff that could assist you hundred times for the wifi connection. By the way, don’t be surprised seeing a lot of mothballs around your room. It is their “preventive” control at the same time used for room perfume. (You may opt then to tell the staff one moth ball would be enough).

In Chennai, the environment friendly Green Park Hotel brought me back to nature. And offered quite a number of freebees: welcome fruit platter, free night cap business cocktail that already filled my stomach and polo candy before going to bed.

While in Dhaka, I got pampered by the clean sheets, good breakfast, unlimited internet access, friendly staff of Pan Pacific Sonargaon.


Depending on what your travel program preference is, both Tuticorin and Chennai welcome tourism any time of the year. During my CNY week visit, I was lucky for the weather was cool at 21 degrees Celsius.


From Manila, I flew in India on Chennai via Singapore Airlines and took the local flight with King Fisher to Tuticorin. From Chennai to Dhaka, I had one layover in New Delhi with Jet Airways. (You could look for other airlines for this India to Bangladesh leg since both my flights were delayed.)


Insect repellent would be a handy thing for those with sensitive skin specially in Dhaka Zia International Airport. h

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