December 31, 2011. The last day of the year brought me to memory lane. Reminiscing my travels this year made me realize how blessed I am. I thank God for letting me experience bold and daring adventures which made me learned lessons worth remembering.
Here’s a summary of my travelholic year: 14 Flights. 6,085 miles. 16 provinces. 1 international destination. Yes, I love numbers except when you add mathematical signs (“,).
Let’s take a look at how the year went:
- Lingayen, Pangasinan was my first destination where I first saw this huge specie of fish Arapaima and heard about the Chinese pirate Limahong.
- The last week of January was very fortunate. I became part of the Lakbay Norte for the second time around. We went up to the province of Benguet, where I met National Artist Ben Cab at his extraordinary museum in Baguio City.
- After Baguio, we proceeded to Pugo, La Union, where I zipped happily up to the point of getting stranded just to get a good zipline photo.
- From La Union, we went all the way to Capas, Tarlac, where we spent the night for the early climb to Mt. Pinatubo. This was the most memorable travel in January. It felt great to reach the crater of this historic active volcano. From being destructive, it has built a reputation as one of the must-see destinations in the Philippines. It claimed lives before. Now, it’s giving livelihood to the locals. I haven’t blogged it here yet.
- February made me believe that dreams do come true. My dream to experience Batanes was finally fulfilled. I got the chance to get inside a lighthouse, jump in front of a lighthouse, watch the sunset at Naidi Hills, drink water from the Fountain of Youth, be blown away by the winds at Racuh-A-Payaman, meditate at Chamantad Viewpoint, wear a vakul, do cartwheels infront of Nakabuang Arc, meet inspiring Ivatans, earn great friends, and most especially, discovered “something” that made a mark in my life today.
- Thank you Lord! Thank you to those who supported me to win the blogging contest of SEAIR (which I joined for the 3rd time). I’ve written a total of 7 blogs about Batanes. Yet, I have so much more to tell, which you’ll read in 2012.
- The 2nd leg of the Lakbay Norte was even more exciting. What could be more thrilling than going against 6-foot high raging waves just to set foot on the elusive Palaui Island.
- In Tuguegarao, we feasted on the sumptuous pancit batil patong. We left Cagayan Valley with good memories. Cagayan Valley has the most hospitable Filipinos that you’ll ever meet.
- Ilocos Norte made me see the natural wonders of Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, the gushing waters of Anuplig Falls, and the La Paz Sand Dunes. It was my second time to experience sandboarding and the 4×4 ride. Nonetheless, there’s always something new to discover.
- From Luzon, we flew to Leyte, Visayas. It’s in Leyte where MacArthur fulfilled his promise to return to the Philippines. From Tacloban, we endured a three-hour ride to Bato, Southern Leyte, the hometown of my Mama. It’s my first time in Eastern Visayas together with my family, cousins, aunt, and lola. We went swimming in Canigao Island, caving in Hindang, roadtripping in Maasin and Padre Burgos, zipping in Sogod, and plunging in Gunhuban Falls.
- May was supposed to be a summer month but climate change ruined our trip to Bais City, Negros Oriental. The dolphin-watching turned out to be a bird-watching activity at Manjuyod Sandbar. The rains continued to pour in Dumaguete City. Nonetheless, the popular Sansrival and the search for Casaroro Falls in Valencia made my trip worthwhile.
- In between typhoons (last days of June and first few days of July), my friends and I traveled to the Bicol Region, home of the pili nuts, for the first time. Camsur welcomed us with open arms, up to the point of getting stretched literally and figuratively at the Camsur Watersports Complex, where we tried wakeboarding.
- From the physically tiring wakeboarding, we woke up earlier than the rooster to proceed to Caramoan, home of several beautiful islands. Her majesty, the perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano showed up as we journeyed from Sabang to Guijalo Port. But, the highlight of trip was our impulsive rock-climbing at Matukad Island. It was a successful DIY trip since we traveled on a budget.
- Travel Hiatus. We were supposed to go to El Nido, Palawan but schedule won’t permit us. From 4 confirmed buddies, we were down to two so we just decided to postpone the trip for next year. And yes, we have our tickets.Hopefully, in June, I shall see you El Nido!
- Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental–I wouldn’t have visited this place if not for an assignment. Most divers both local and international visit Galera for its rich marine life. Puerto Galera gave me a not-so-good experience. It was somehow traumatic to be stranded in the island in the middle of the typhoon. It also meant being away from the loved ones. I almost didn’t make it to my flight to Vietnam. God was so great that my flight was at 11pm of Wednesday. I was only able to return home at around 8 in the morning. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Galera.
- Who could resist buying a seat sale if it would only cost you Php 1,800 roundtrip to go to Vietnam? Of course, the travelholic in me won’t let that opportunity pass. It was in September when my folks and I left a rainy Philippines. We thought we had eluded typhoon Pedring only to find out later in the days of our trip that the typhoon went to Hanoi, Vietnam. Thank God, we were in the south of Vietnam.
- We explored on foot the motorcycle-crazy Saigon and immersed in the life in the Mekong Delta.
- Travel Hiatus. Time to take a break and of course, gather funds.
- My birthday week adventure in Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Misamis Oriental was epic. Imagine, 10 hours of land travel covering 378 kilometers from Bislig to Cagayan de Oro. Hinatuan Enchanted River and Tinuy-An Falls were worth the long journey. My travel buddy J and I were fortunate to have a friend like Alfie, who welcomed us in her home in Cagayan de Oro. We’re so grateful that we also went on a roadtrip from Cagayan de Oro to Dahilayan, Bukidnon. This trip completed my goal of traveling yearly to LUZVIMIN.
- Travel Hiatus. Time to write and reflect. It’s also the month of giving back to the community which we did last December 17 at a remote village up in Mt. Makiling.
2011 has been a year of growth. It has taught me to take risks, to deal with the uncertainties, and to face the challenges. All of these made me stronger, braver, bolder–better. Thank you Lord for all the lessons that you made me learn. Thank you Lord for the people who became part of my 2011. Thank you Lord for all the blessings and for more blessings to come.
Farewell 2011! It was a roller coaster year! I enjoyed it nonetheless.