Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Not-So-Late Year End Post: Where I've Been in 2013

Pursuing my passion for travel and outdoor adventures ain't always easy since I am a family man with a full-time job. Malou, my wife and constant travel buddy,  also has her own job that has to be given consideration. Given these constraints, spontaneous trips and long term travels are naturally out of equation. Every getaway needs to be carefully planned, itinerary should be in synch with our vacation leaves, we need to stick to the budget and most importantly we should ensure that our growing kids will be well taken cared of while we're away.

In spite of this situation, we still managed to sneak out for a few days worth of exploring in different places from time to time. Vacation leaves, long weekends, holidays and airline promo fares are always our biggest allies in this regard. The year 2013 was another exciting year of journeying together as we were able to visit 3 provinces for the first time, get reacquainted with the land of my birth and explore more of our home province Bukidnon.

Here are my best travel memories of the year that was:


My year started with a rare solo travel to Cebu, the Queen City of South. My primary purpose was to run in the Cebu City Marathon since I won a free race kit courtesy of the website Aside from successfully finishing the 21K route, I was able to visit Mactan Shrine for the first time, had a sumptous early dinner at Fredz Sutukil (courtesy of Mark and Rose Buenconsejo, the running couple behind and, attended the Sinulog sa Kabataan Mass at the Basilica del Sto. Niño and got treated to a filling lunch at Bon Chon Chicken by my couple friends Doel and Tina Pacana.


Our wonderful 4-day journey to the northern edge of Luzon happened on this month of love. From Cagayan de Oro City, we flew to Manila then to Laoag City on the same day. The morning after we went straight to the charming small town of Claveria, Cagayan and explored its sandy beaches and astounding rock formations. 

The following day, we went to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte and visited its northern attractions via tricycle. It was a Valentine's Day and Malou and I spent the late afternoon watching the splendid sunset in Saud Beach and capped it off with dinner and drinks at a nearby carinderia. The fourth day was the longest of this journey as we made blitzkrieg visits to Bangui Wind Farm, Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Cape Bojeador Light House, Marcos Mausoleum in Batac, Paoay Church, Paoay Lake and Malacañang of the North. An early evening flight took us back to Manila where we stayed overnight before flying back the next day to Cagayan de Oro.     


It was a busy birthday month for me. It started with a photography workshop organized by fellow blogger and officemate Bonz of Contour Blog. The speaker was no less than Estan Cabigas, a multi-awarded photographer and the blogger behind, one of my earliest influences when I got interested in travel blogging. 

Kaamulan Festival was held in Bukidnon and a number of Pinoy Travel Bloggers came over to witness the event. I was delighted to finally meet the faces behind the blogs I followed and we defintely had a great and fun time during our meet ups. Aside from watching the Ethnic Street Dancing Competition, I was able to guide them to a trek in CEDAR and an early moring hike in the Provincial Tree Park.

Probably the most exciting thing which happened to me this year was being co-featured in a segment of GMA7's popular TV program Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho. In their Summer Special episode, I and my fellow Bukidnon travel bloggers Bonz and Tupe were shown showcasing the adrenaline-pumping adventures of Dahilayan Adventure Park and the still unexposed river tubing in Can-ayan, Malaybalay City. It was a tiring 2-day shoot but the exposure gave me (and my blog) instant 10-minutes of fame aside from showing why Bukidnon deserves to be in every adventurer's bucket list (Check this LINK for the video).

The month ended with Malou and I making a sweet escape to the highland barangay of Lorega in Kitaotao, Bukidnon during the Holy Week. An overnight stay in Wildberry Camping Grounds was all that we need to ward off the summer heat. Since the barangay is elevated at 4,000 feet above sea level, its climate is generally cool all day.


The intense heat of this summer month did not prevented us from exploring the great outdoors of Bukidnon. My friends and I went for a day hike at Mount Musuan in Dologon, Maramag. It was only my second time to scale this short peak and the beautiful vista seen down below was all worth the sweat. Feeling the need for more exploration, we ventured farther down south and reached the Overview Nature and Culture Park and the Overview Helipad in Palacapao, Quezon. There we enjoyed the sweeping panoramic sights of the mountains of Bukidnon.


After "laying low" in May, June and July, the month of August came with a vengeance as I was finally back to Bohol, the land of my birth, after many years of absence. I was with Malou and our couple friends James and Blessie Paulican. The main goal of this trip was to join Bohol International Marathon in Panglao. A Bohol-based college classmate, Kerwin Pasoc, hosted and took us to a country side tour and we were able to visit most of the province's major tourist attractions. The day before the marathon, we went to the town of Maribojoc to visit my relatives. Right after finishing the 42K route (my third time), we frolic in the white sands of Virgin Island before sailing back to Cagayan de Oro via Jagna.


Malou and I joined the 37th Milo Marathon in Cagayan de Oro. It was Malou's first attempt to obtain the Milo 21K Finisher's Medal so I paced her from start to finish. Thankfully, our training paid off as we finished the course way before the 2 hours and 30 minutes cut-off time.


Malou, James and I ran to the Big Rock for the first time. The Big Rock is a running destination in an interior barangay of Malaybalay. It is known among hardcore runners and bikers not only for its 3-kilometer tough uphill stretch but also for the beautiful view of mountain ranges and rolling hills it offers. Unfortunately, the day we ran to the Big Rock was also the day the killer earthquake struck Bohol. Thankfully, my relatives were all safe and are now recovering from the tragedy.

On the last week of this month Malou and I flew to the Island of Panay to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary. Our first stop was the coastal town of Concepcion, Iloilo where we hopped to the stunningly beautiful Bulubadiangan Island more popularly known as Sandbar Island Resort. We then proceeded to Roxas City in the Province of Capiz, where Malou's former officemate Albert hosted and toured us for one night and one day. It was our first time in Capiz and aside from feasting on the freshest seafood at the famous People's Park, we were able to visit the historical structures in Roxas City Plaza and the beautiful Sta. Monica Church in Pan-ay.


The day after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck Visayas, I and my friends Dax and James went for a first-time day hike to Kolkol Range in Maramag, Bukidnon. Since our province was unaffected by the typhoon, we went on with excitement and anticipation for this trek. What we experienced  however were the arduous tasks of upward river trekking, passing in-between dangerous ravines and unestablished trails and finally making a descent through a very steep slope. It was a physically and emotionally draining hike but, thankfully, we all survived. Upon reaching home, the grim aftermath of Yolanda greeted me on TV news.


I became more interested in trail running and by doing so, discovered beautiful hidden spots in my hometown Malaybalay. The Bukidnon Forest Inc. (BFI) fire road which stretches from Barangay Kalasungay up to the City Swimming Pool is a marvelous beauty of undulating terrains strewn with pines which made my running more closer to nature. One weekend, we took our run even farther by going up to the BFI Tower and there we were astounded by the 360-degree view of mountain ranges, pine trees and verdant hills.      

With the year 2013 now etched in history, I am looking forward to an even more exciting 2014. Just like the past 3 years, Cebu would be by first travel mainly due to Cebu Marathon which I will be joining once again. I have a booked flight to Manila on March and I am currently researching on what Luzon province/s I can possibly explore. Then I have another booked flight to Palawan in October and I am very much excited to visit El Nido for the very first time. And as always, I look forward to explore more hidden places of my home province Bukidnon and possibly explore the southern edge of Mindanao towards the end of this year.

See you down the road!


  1. Ang ganda ng napuntahan mo sir. More adventure this year! :)

    1. Likewise Marco. Wish you more places to explore this year too!

  2. Wow... must be a great year for you Sir...

    Great to hear that you were able to visit my hometown, Claveria, Cagayan. Hope you enjoyed your visit there... how I wish I was also there so we can meet maybe :)

    Looking forward for your new travels this 2014. Keep traveling.

    1. You have a beautiful hometown Sir. I love its quaint charm, beaches and rock formations. I haven't got the chance to visit the nearby waterfalls though. Hope I would have the chance to visit your place once again someday.


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