Mt. Balingkilat (Mountain of Thunder) — Travel Guide

I’ve always wanted to climb Mt. Balingkilat and spend a night on its summit, so me and my friends went to experience this mountain.

Mt. Balingkilat is a well-known mountain for most hikers. Due to it’s proximity from Manila plus the view and experience it offers to its visitors, no wonder it is one of the most climbed mountains in Zambales.



The name Balingkilat is derived from the native Aeta language which means Mountain of Thunder. Mt. Balingkilat is located in the province of Zambales, which main jump off point is at Brgy. Cawag, Subic, Zambales. It stands at a towering height of 1,100+ meters above sea level. It is one of the most hiked mountains in Zambales and is popular to day hikers.


Before you can go and hike Mt. Balingkilat, you need to let the Chieftain of Brgy. Cawag know that you are planning to hike the mountain. He will be the one who will assign your guide and transportation if you don’t have your own vehicle. He will also serves as your main local contact whom you can ask regarding the hike.

Once you’re done coordinating with the Chieftain, it is now time to prepared yourselves. If this will be your first major hike, it best if you will climb at least two minor mountains in order to prepare your body for a strenuous major hike.

On the day of your climb, you are required to drop by the Subic Fire Rescue — SPOSO, near the public market, to have you names registered and your photos taken. It is important that you’ve coordinated with the locals/chieftain of Brgy. Cawag because they’ll be getting the name of your guide too.

The Hike

When hiking Mt. Balingkilat, you’ll need to consider the time when you will start your hike, and the duration of the trek/climb from jump off point to the summit or camp site. In our case, we started at exactly 10AM, when the sun is bright and shining hot. We really don’t have other choice but to start at that time because we want to reach the campsite before dawn.


The first part of the hike will just be a gradual trek going to the first and only water source, the Kawayanan area. It took us one and a half hour going to the first water source, and from here we took our lunch, drank as much water as we can, took a little rest, and then started the second part of the trek, a moderate to hard assault going to the summit. We we’re a little slow in this part, aside from it is an assault trek, the heat of the sun affected our speed because it is already 12PM.




We trekked for almost 3 hours to reach the last section of the hike to summit. This last section is the most technical part of the trail, extra precautions is required as you will be scrambling through the edge with rocks and boulders with high steps. You might also do some face-the-walls in some parts of this section.

At around 6PM we reached the camp site, which is and open area 15 minutes from the summit. We’ve had a hard time setting up our tents because of the strong winds blowing from every direction. There’s little to no shade for setting up tents in the area.


After setting up the tents, we started preparing our meal for the night, eat, and then rest for the night. I never had the chance to go out of the tent for star gazing because the wind is so strong and cold that I chose to just sleep inside my tent. But as per my friend who went out that night, the sky was clear and there are plenty of stars that night. Next time, I will be getting out of my tent regardless of the cold. 😛

We woke up at around 6AM, prepared our breakfast, cleaned our camp, and then proceed to the summit. From the summit, you’ll see a 360 view of the Zambales and the West Philippine Sea. You will also see the Talisayen Cove and near by islands. The sunrise view is also to die for, offering you the view of Subic during sunrise.



At around 9AM, we started our trek back to the jump off point. We are bit faster this time since there will be less assault this time, but we are still careful getting down the technical sections of the trail. Same as day one, our trek back to summit is also hot as hell, with little water in our bottles, we pushed through fast going to the water source.

We reached the jump off point past 2PM, where two our friends are already resting, waiting for us. We also took a rest, washed up, and then bounce out back to Manila by 4PM.

Summit Camp Itinerary (Back Trail)

Day 1

02:30 AM — Meet up Victory Liner Cubao
03:00 AM — ETD to Subic, Zambales
06:30 AM — ETA to Subic, Zambales
07:00 AM — ETA to Subic Market, register at SPOSO, buy supplies.
08:30 AM — ETA Resettlement, Brgy. Cawag. JOP, final preparation
10:00 AM — Start trek
11:30 AM — You’ll be reaching the first and final water source, the Kawayanan
03:00 PM — Start of the final assault section
06:00 PM — Reach summit camp site, set camp, prepare dinner, rest
09:00 PM — Lights Out

Day 2

06:00 AM — Wake Up, prepare breakfast, break-camp
08:00 AM — Summit trek
09:30 AM — Start descent
12:30 NN — Arrive at the Kawayanan (Water Source)
02:30 PM — Arrive at the Jump-off-point, rest, wash, up
04:00 PM — Back to MNL
08:00 PM — ETA to MNL

Nagsasa Cove Camp Itinerary (Traverse)

Day 1

01:30 AM — Meet up Victory Liner Cubao
02:00 AM — ETD to Subic, Zambales
04:30 AM — ETA to Subic, Zambales
05:00 AM — ETA to Subic Market, register at SPOSO, buy supplies.
05:30 AM — ETA Resettlement, Brgy. Cawag. JOP, final preparation
06:00 AM — Start trek
07:30 AM — You’ll be reaching the first and final water source, the Kawayanan
11:00 AM — Start of the final assault section,
11:30 AM — Summit, Lunch, traverse to Nagsasa Cove
06:00 PM — Reach Nagsasa Cover, set camp, rest, prepare dinner
09:00 PM — Lights out

Day 2

06:00 AM — Wake Up, prepare breakfast, break-camp
07:00 AM — Beach bum
09:30 AM — Free Time/Island hopping
11:30 AM — Break camp, prepare to get to Pundaquit via chartered boat.
01:30 PM — Arrive to Pundaquit
04:00 PM — Back to MNL
08:00 PM — ETA to MNL

NOTE: This itinerary are estimated times only and some parts are based on our own experience. This itinerary might change depending on your meet up schedule, pacing, and acts of nature.

Breakdown of Expenses

Php 226/pax — Victory Liner Cubao to Olongapo (via San Fernando)
Php 285/pax — Victory Liner Cubao to Olongapo (via SCTEX)
Php 20/pax — Olongapo to Subic PNP/Market
Php 100/pax — Subic PNP/Market to Jump Off Point
Php 2,000/7 pax — Guide Fee
Php 60/pax — Registration Fee
Php 500/pax — Food allowance
Php 2,500/7 pax — Boat Fee

Safe budget for 7 people back trail: Php 2,000
Safe budget for 7 people traverse to Nagsasa Cover: Php 2,500

Important Contact Numbers

Sir Jimmy Ablong (Brgy. Cawag) — 0921 954 3215
Subic Fire Rescue — 0939 443 4776


Mt. Balingkilat is a great mountain for both experienced hikers and to those who are looking for a nice hiking challenge. Just be sure that you are prepared to conquer and enjoy hiking this mountain. Bring enough water that will suffice your needs the whole duration of your hike, at least 2L per person is advised. Everything your bring up to the mountain must also come down with you. leave no trash and trace.



How To Photograph The Milky Way

Ever dream of taking a photo of the milky way but you don’t know where to start? In this article, I will show you the easiest step on how you can capture the beauty of the stars, especially, the Milky Way.

The Lover's Tree

First off, you must know the basics of photography, how the exposure triangle works (shutter speed, ISO, aperture).

What is the exposure triangle?

It is a common way of associating the three variables that determine the exposure of a photograph: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. One must balance all three of these to achieve a desired result, an adjustment of one requiring adjustments of at least one of the others.

Related image

  • Shutter Speed: the amount of time your camera shutter is open.
  • ISO: the sensitivity of your camera sensor
  • Aperture: the opening of a lens’s diaphragm through which light passes. The wider the opening, the larger amount of light comes in.

Things you need:

  • Camera
  • Wide lens with at least f/3.5 aperture
  • Tripod
  • Intervalometer/Shutter Remote
  • Flashlight

Planning: When and Where to Shoot

  • There are some things you need to consider in order to photograph the stars.
  • A place where there is less to zero light pollution.
  • A day when. the moon sets early, or a day that is set to have a new moon.
  • Best time to shoot Milky Way is between the months of March and October, this is when it shines the brightest and most visible.

Step 1: Test Shot

Set your camera settings to the following values:

  • ISO: 2000
  • Aperture: 2.8 (or the wider your camera can)
  • Shutter speed: Compute your camera shutter speed by dividing 500 by the focal length of your lens. Example: 500/18mm = 27.xx secs.

Once you’ve set your camera settings, focus on a distant light or set your lens focus to infinity. One technique I am doing is that I ask my friend to go few meters away from the camera and hold a flashlight and then I will focus at him/her. Once I am satisfied with the sharpness of the focus, I set my camera to manual to avoid the settings to be altered. You should also set your white balance into fix value, you can always change it in post. Also, you should always shoot in RAW so it is easier for you to adjust all the values and information stored by your camera.

Step 2.0: Shooting the Milky Way

Now that you’ve set your camera settings, you can now photograph the Milky Way. You can use a star tracker app like Stellarium in order to determine the position of the Milky Way and what time it will rise.

milky way
The Billion Star Hotel

Step 2.1: Shooting Timelapse

In order to shoot a star timelapse, you need to have a shutter remote or intervalometer so you can control you camera shutter without moving or shaking the camera. An intervalometer can also help set the interval and number of shots of your camera without needing to monitor it every shot.

Star Trails
My first attempt doing a star trail timelapse. 🙂 100 photos stacked using StarStax app.

In my case, I am using a Fujifilm X-T10 with 18-55mm f/2.8 lens, which has a built-in intervalometer. In order to get your desired output, you should remember that 1 second is equals to 24 still photos. So if you are planning to have a 5 second video timelapse, you should shoot the milky way 120 times.

1 second = 24 photos

Step 3.0: Post-processing Your Milky Way Shot

There are a lot of tools you can use to post-process your photos, in my case, I’ll be using Adobe Lightroom because I find it easy to adjust settings and color correct the images. If you are into presets, you can easily apply it to your photos and adjust it to your liking.

Under the cosmos. #astrophotography #milkyway #camping

A post shared by Paolo Imbag ?? (@paoloimbag) on

The main variables I adjust when editing a milky way shot is just the basic stuff:

  • White balance
  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • HSL (Hue Saturation Luminance)
  • Clarity
  • Blacks & Whites
  • Highlights & Shadows

Once I am satisfied with my adjustments, I will apply my final touches and share it on the internet. 😛

Step 3.1: Creating a Timelapse Video

Assuming that you have post process every photo in your timelapse, you can now open your video editing software (in my case, it’s Adobe Premiere Pro), and import the first photo. Don’t forget to import it as an image sequence so your software knows that it is a video clip/timelapse. By default, it is set to 25fps.

Apply all the necessary adjustments you need and then export your clip at 24fps. 🙂

Step 3.2: Stacking Your Images (Star Trails)

This one is super easy. You just have to download a star stacker app caller StarStax, then drag and drop your timelapse sequence to the app, then execute the process. Once it’s done processing your star trail, you can now export it to your computer and share it to your friends.

star stax milky way star trails
star stax milky way star trails

Download the StarStax App here.

So there you have it! If ever you are confused with the steps I listed above, or have any question regarding astrophotography, don’t hesitate to message me on facebook. 🙂

Follow me on instagram: @paoloimbag and @itineraryph


#BestOfPH2 – Show Off Your Best Shot of the Philippines

Our country is composed of over 7,000 islands, meaning that there are so many places that we can visit and explore, and are worth sharing. Now, we are calling all of the travellers out there to share us your best shot of the Philippine Travel Destination to showcase the hidden charm of our beloved country.

Mt. Lubog

So here’s the contest mechanics:

  • One should submit their best photo of the Philippines. One entry per person only.
  • Entry must be in high resolution with 1920px on the longest side.
  • Landscape oriented shots are highly preferred.
  • Entry must be his/her original work. We will be not liable for any copyright complaints for submitting photos that are not yours. Your entry will be subjected to disqualification if proven so.
  • Photo must be taken here in the Philippines (obviously).
  • Together with your entry, you must write a short description/story about that photo. Entries without description will automatically disqualified.
  • Only minimal photo improvements are advisable, intense post processing may ruin your photo and will not be selected at all. Minor lighting, exposure, contrast and highlights improvement will be accepted.
  • Composite photo entries are accepted as long as it is not manipulated.
  • You must send you entries to with a subject containing your entry name. Example: Best Of Philippines – <Entry Name>
  • By submitting your entry, you are agreeing that we can share your photos anywhere to our social media accounts and website. We will give due credits and you still have the ownership of your photo.
Mt. Pamitinan

How are we going to choose the winner:

  • Entries will undergo into 3 stages.
    • The Initial Screening
      • Here, we will select entries that met the mechanics above.
      • All photos that passed the initial screening will be posted on our facebook page for the second stage.
    • The Second Stage.
      • Once photos are posted on our facebook page, it can now be shared and top 20 entries with the highest score will pushed to the final stage.
      • Scores will be based on the combined number of vote and judges score.
      • 1 Facebook reaction = 1 vote
      • Facebook Reaction = 40% of the total score.
      • Judges Score = 60% of the total score.
    • The Final Stage
      • Once we’re done determining the top 20 entries, they will be again reposted on our facebook page, and will be voted for 1 week.
      • Scores will be back to 0.
      • Same process as in the second stage will be followed in determining the winner. Facebook votes (40%) + Judges Score (60%) = Winner (100%).
Mt. Batulao


There will be 3 main prizes for the top 3 photos that will win, and will definitely be a useful piece for travelling. And there will also be 7 consolation prizes for photos that are in the top 10.

First Prize – TBA + printed copy of your entry.
Second Prize – TBA + printed copy of your entry.
Third Prize – TBA + printed copy of your entry.
Consolation Prizes – TBA

#OnTheList: 10 Travel Destinations You Can Visit With Php 22k! Nagsasa Cove
A less than 30 minute trek in Nagsasa Cove where you can see a really nice view of the Island. Best for sunrise and sunset watching. Entrance fee here is Php 40.00

Contest Duration

  • Deadline of submission of entries is until the November 31st.
  • Initial Screening will take 5-7 days depending on the number of entries received.
  • Photos that are selected in the Initial Screening will be posted on December 7th, 2017.
  • Voting and judging of photos for the second stage will start on December 7th until December 14th.
  • Top 20 photos will be reposted on December 15th are will be up again for voting and judging until December 31st.
  • Winners will be announced on January 1st, 2018.

Non-compliance of the above mechanics will lead to disqualification. If you have any questions about the contest, you may email us at or you may directly message us on our facebook page.

We are looking forward to seeing your best shots of the Philippines and we can’t wait to share it to the world.

* Mechanics and Prizes are subject to change without prior notice.

#ReforestTheRoad — by Fredd Ochavo


Calling out all trail runners who frequently visit Mt. Balagbag to be a part of the #ReforestTheRoadinitiative on that mountain. This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to volunteer in the ongoing tree planting and tree nurturing activities on the roads that were constructed there without the approval of DENR and MWSS. These roads have encroached the boundary of Ipo Watershed and are causing soil erosion. Trees were cut and vegetation was cleared to make way for these roads. Because of these, the water that is stored in Ipo Dam becomes heavily silted.

In August of last year, customers of Maynilad Water suffered because their water supply was cut off for days in spite of the heavy rains in Metro Manila. Maynilad blamed the high turbidity level of the water in Ipo Dam. It became too difficult for them to treat the heavily silted water coming from Ipo Watershed. We do not want this to happen again that is why we are doing what we can to bring back the forests of Mt. Balagbag that some people are destroying. It is very clear that the culprit of the murky water supply in Ipo Dam is the deforestation of the mountains in Ipo Watershed. We, therefore, need to do something about it.

If you want to plant trees at the #ReforestTheRoad sites on Mt. Balagbag to help ensure that Metro Manila will have a steady supply of clean water, just send us a message and we can give you seedlings of native trees for FREE. All you have to do is pick them up at our mini tree nursery along Commonwealth Avenue in East Fairview, Quezon City. Aside from planting, you can also contribute by pulling out grass and vines that choke the seedlings we planted last year together with DENR and other volunteer groups. Weeding will help the seedlings have a higher rate of survival.

We cannot visit the sites on a regular basis so it will be good if there will be more volunteers going there on days that we cannot. This is for all us anyway. This is for Metro Manila’s source of water.




Travel Guide: Mt. Mariveles — Tarak Ridge’s Sweet Assault


We’ve been wanting to hike Mt. Mariveles popularly, know as Tarak Ridge, since early 2016, it is when I was new to hiking. Then early this year, we decided to celebrate our friend’s birthday to this mountain.

We started our trek at around 4AM. Trek up until papaya river is just a smooth rolling terrain, so everyone of us still manage to have a consistent pace. We passed by the house of Nanay Cording, we registered and gave her some supplies and then we proceed trekking to Papaya River. There are different trails that are going to the summit, but we took the normal trail most hikers are following.




After almost two hours of trekking in the dark, we reached the Papaya River. There are still campers sleeping when we got there so I advised my team to tone down their voices. We took a nice rest before we commence the assault going to ridge, then to the summit.



Starting from Papaya River, it was a gradual assault then after few minutes of hiking up, it became a direct assault that is almost 90 degree angle the will require you to hold on to the roots and push yourself to be able to move forward (or upward). It was almost an hour ascent till we reach the ridge that also serves as a camp site for most hikers. At the ridge, you will see an amazing view of Bataan and its neighboring island like Corregidor.


Screenshot at Aug 25 21-25-55

We continued our hike going to the summit after a few minutes of rest. It was almost a 30 minute assault before we reached the summit. We took time to appreciate nature before we descend our way back to Papaya River to have our lunch and to swim a little.

Suggested Itinerary

Day Hike

  • 0400 – Assembly time at Bataan Transit Cubao station
  • 0430 – ETD Bataan Transit Cubao terminal
  • 0730 – ETA Alas Asin Barangay Hall. Register
  • 0800 – ETA to Aling Cording’s hut. Register and give donation.
  • 0820 – Start trek
  • 0940 – Arrival at Papaya River. Take early lunch.
  • 1000 – Start ascend to the Ridge
  • 1145 – ETA Tarak Ridge.
  • 1300 – Start descend
  • 1400 – ETA Papaya River
  • 1520 – Back at jump off. Wash up. Eat.
  • 1700 – ETD Jump off
  • 1730 – Back at waiting shed. Ride bus going to Pasay/Cubao
  • 2030 – ETA Manila

Overnight Hike

Day 0

  • 0200 – Assembly at Makati
  • 0215 – ETD Makati to Bataan Transit Cubao
  • 0245 – ETA Bataan Transit Terminal

Day 1

  • 0300 –  ETD to Mariveles, Bataan
  • 0600 – ETA in Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
  • 0605 – Breakfast at Alas-asin
  • 0630 – Registration at Alas-asin Barangay Hall
  • 0645 – Start Trek! 🙂
  • 0715 – Stop-Over at Nanay Cording’s
  • 0730 – Start Trek to Papaya River! 🙂
  • 1030 – ETA Papaya River
  • 1100 – Lunch at Papaya River
  • 1130 – Rest, Fill all water containers
  • 1200 – Start Trek to Tarak Ridge
  • 1700 – ETA Tarak Ridge (Set up Camp)
  • 1730 – Wait and watch sunset at Tarak Ridge
  • 1830 – Dinner/Socials
  • 2000 – Lights Off 🙂

Day 2

  • 0400 –Wake-Up Call
  • 0430 – Start Trek to Summit
  • 0500 – Wait and watch sunrise
  • 0600 – Start descent to Tarak Ridge
  • 0620 – ETA Campsite
  • 0640 – Start descent to Papaya River
  • 0930 – ETA Papaya River
  • 0945 – Have fun at Papaya River 🙂
  • 1030 – Lunch at Papaya River
  • 1100 – Have fun at Papaya River 🙂
  • 1200 – Start trek!
  • 1430 –ETA Nanay Cording’s
  • 1500 – Back to Jump-Off. Wash.
  • 1600 – ETD Mariveles to Manila
  • 1930 – ETA Cubao/Manila 🙂

Expected Expenses

  • Php 272.00 – Bus Fare Cubao to Mariveles
  • Php 272.00 – Bus Fare Mariveles to Cubao
  • Php 40.00 – Registration Fee
  • Php 20.00 – Fee at Wash Up Area.


Guide Fee: Php 900.00/Group (OPTIONAL)

How to get there

  • Ride a bus bound to Mariveles, either Bataan Transit or Genesis Bus
  • Tell the conductor to drop you off to Brgy. Alas Asin
  • Register to the barangay and start your trek
  • Contact Numbers

Contact Person

Nanay Cording – 0917 472 3978


  • Be sure to be prepared if you plan to hike this mountain.
  • If you can bring some grocery or anything for Nanay Cording, please do. You’ll be paying nothing when you register at her place. Just for courtesy, please give her something.
  • Conserve the Papaya River
  • Bring your trash with you
  • Clean as you go


Photo Credits

  • Lala De Guzman
  • Katrina Barrameda
  • Robinson Jabagat

Travel Guide: Mt. Lubog 923+ MASL

I’ve been wanting to climb Mt. Lubog for a long time and for it to be part of my 2017 project, The 100 Mountains Project. So I joined a group of hikers that is set to climb Mt. Lubog on a date that I have a free schedule.

Our group is composed of 11 awesome hikers, and we met each other at Commonwealth Market, this is where the terminal to Brgy. San Isidro is located and also where the habal-habal we rented waited for us.

When we arrived at the jeepney terminal in Brgy. San Isidro, we immediately transfer to a habal-habal which can accommodate 4-5 passengers including the driver. Expect a 1-2 hour bumpy ride from the terminal to the registration area, so bumpy that we need to get off the vehicle multiple times and push it up just to pass by those deep gaps on the trail.



After that excruciating ride, we reached the registration area where we met up with our guides and register ourselves. Few minutes later, we started our long journey to the foot of Mt. Lubog.

It is about 1-2 hours foot journey going to Sitio Lubog, the place where the real hike to the summit of Mt. Lubog will start. The trail from the registration area to the main jump off is bearable, rolling hills with few assaults. There are some water sources that you’ll be passing by, so if you ran out of water, just ask your guide to stop and fetch water to the sources.

After almost 2 hours, we reached Sitio Lubog, we took a few minute rest, bought some drinks and snacks at the store which open that time and then continued for the final assault going to the summit.


Prepare yourself for a continues rocky assault going to the summit. The trail is composed of sharp rocks which can be so slippery during rainy seasons, so be mindful of your steps and be cautious all the time.


We reached the summit within an hour and the rock formations on top welcomed us with its astounding beauty. Even though we did not have a clearing that time, we still enjoyed taking photos with the rock formations on different sides and angles of the summit. On a clear day, you’ll get a view of Mt. Oriod and other mountains of the Sierra Madre.



We went down after almost an hour of appreciating the summit’s beauty, and then reached the jump off in less than an hour. We then proceed to the Blue Lagoon, where we had our lunch and rest. We did not stay for a long time because it was raining hard and most of us wanted to reach the registration area.

The Blue Lagoon

After 1-2 hours of trekking, we finally reached the registration area. We had some snacks, coffee and noodles while we wait for our other team members to arrive at the area. When the whole team arrived, we rode the habal-habal again going back to the jeepney terminal. It was a super bumpy ride again, but we where thankful that none of us got hurt and we were all in one piece when we reached the jeepney terminal. From the jeepney terminal, there are jeepneys waiting for you that will bring you back to Commonwealth Market.

Suggested Itinerary

  • 04:00 –– Meetup at Commonwealth Market
  • 05:00 –– ETD to Brgy. San Isidro Jeepney Terminal
  • 06:00 –– ETA to Brgy. San Isidro Jeepney Terminal, transfer to habal-habal
  • 08:00 –– ETA to Registration Point (Caingalan), Register, Guides
  • 08:30 –– Start trek going to Sitio Lubog
  • 10:00 –– ETA Sitio Lubog, prepare for summit assault
  • 11:30 –– ETA Mt. Lubog Summit
  • 12:00 –– Start Descent
  • 12:45 –– ETA Sitio Lubog, Lunch
  • 14:00 –– ETA Blue Lagoon
  • 16:00 –– ETA Registration Area (Caingalan)
  • 18:00 –– ETA Jeepney Terminal
  • 19:30 –– ETA Commonwealth Market

How to get to Mt. Lubog (Commute)

  • Ride a jeepney bound to Brgy. San Isidro at Commonwealth Market.
  • Transfer to Habal-habal going to Caingalan (Registration Area)

Budget and Expenses

  • Commonwealth Market to Brgy. San Isidro –– Php 25.00 (Php 50.00 Roundtrip)
  • Habal-Habal –– Php 1,000.00 (Roundtrip, can accommodate upto 5 passengers including the driver)
  • Guide Fee –– Php 500.00 (1:6 Ratio)
  • Registration Fee –– Php 50.00


Contact Persons

Kagawad Peter Idala –– 09284647447 / 09074913840, please make sure that you contact him before hand because he will be the one who will be arranging your habal-habal ride to and from the jeepney terminal of Brgy. San Isidro.


There are some caves, waterfalls, and lagoons that can be part of your sidetrip, just tell your guides in advance.


Hiking Mt. Lubog can be very satisfying especially when you will have a clear view of the surrounding mountain ranges from the summit. It was one of those long treks that can make some newbie hikers reach their limits. Prepare yourselves to the bumpiest ride you’ll ever have, and keep holding on for you not to fall. 😛

A traverse going to Mt. Balagbag is possible, just make sure you coordinate with the right persons, and also make sure that you have a ride back going to Tungko from Licao-licao.

Special thanks to Sir. Daneth Obongen for sharing the contact persons and budget breakdowns for this itinerary. He is hosting some budget friendly hikes, you can check him out if you are interested to join his fleet.

5 Accommodations In Puerto Princesa, Palawan For Under Php 500.00 Per Night!

As a budget traveler, I am always looking for decent accommodation that will hit the sweet spot of my budget. So here are some budget accommodations that you might find helpful for your next Puerto Princesa, Palawan adventure.

  1. Airportside Inn

    Address: Rizal Avenue Exit, 1 Gacott Road, Brgy Bancao Bancao, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

    Price Range: Php 350.00 to Php 1,045.00 per night

    Click here to book this accommodation!

    Airportside Inn Garden (C) Airport Side Inn

    Begin your Palawan sojourn by visiting the captivating city of Puerto Princesa. Near the airport are the comfortable accommodations and services of Airportside Inn.

    Airportside Inn  is a quaint and homey inn conveniently located along Rizal Avenue, just a few meters from the airport. It is accessible to all modes of regular public transport, and offers free shuttle services to and from the airport for its guests.

    Airportside Inn has all you need for a fun, exciting, and memorable stay in Palawan’s capital. It features free WiFi access and a garden. The hotel is also equipped with a generator, ensuring continuous supply of electricity even during power interruptions. Each of the 12 rooms in the inn all comes fully air conditioned and equipped with a TV. Toilet and bathrooms are also en suite, equipped with hot and cold shower, complimentary toiletries, and other bath amenities.

    Dubbed as “The City in a Forest,” Puerto Princesa boasts of well-preserved natural attractions that are a welcome treat to just about anyone. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and National Park tops the list of attractions that you must visit while in the city, followed by an island hopping tour around the stunning Honda Bay. Take a tour of the city and visit various sites such as the Puerto Princesa Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, Baker’s Hill, and the Iwahig Penal Colony. Capping the list of attractions to visit the city are the diverse dining options available throughout the city.

    Apart from the city’s interesting sights and sounds, Airportside Inn—with its convenient location and value-for-money accommodations— is yet another reason to fall in love with Puerto Princesa City.

  2. Eden’s Traveler Lodge

    Address: P. Vicente Street (Former Baltan Street), Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines 5003

    Click here to book this accommodation!

    Price Range: Php 360.00 to Php 1,200.00 per night

    (C) Eden’s Traveler Lodge

    Right in the heart of the “”city within a forest,”” Eden Traveller’s Lodge is a cozy bed & breakfast where you’ll surely feel right at home. This homey B&B is located right along P. Vicente Street, about 10 minutes away from the Puerto Princesa International Airport. While the B&B is easily accessible to all modes of public transportation in the city, you can avail of their free airport transportation services for a hassle-free arrival.

    Eden Traveller’s Lodge features a 24-hour front desk, ensuring that all your needs and concerns are well-attended to. The B&B offers free WiFi access to its guests. There is also a terrace where you can enjoy a remarkable view of the neighborhood and the city. They also offer a wide range of services for a fee, including massage, laundry, and dry cleaning.

    There are a total of 16 rooms available at Eden Traveller’s Lodge. Each room is equipped with a cable TV for your in-room entertainment and a private toilet and bathroom with hot and cold shower, towels, and free toiletries.

  3. Matutina Pensionne 

    Address: 40 Taft Street, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

    Click here to book this accommodation!

    Price Range: Php 360.00 to Php 2,000.00 per night

    (C) Matutina Pensionne

    Matutina Pensionne, at 40 Taft Street, 5300 Puerto Princesa City, aims to makes guests feel at home. It’s the ancestral house of the Moratos, whose lineage is from the city. Their amenities and facilities will make guests forget that they are in a foreign place and will feel the comforts of home.

    This home away from home has WiFi access in public areas, handicapped-friendly facilities, and a garden. They also offer services such as giving morning calls, room service, and cleaning service.

    Matutina Pensionne’s rooms each have air-conditioning, a television, and WiFi access. The private toilet and bath has hot and cold shower, towels, shaver, hair dryer, and toiletries.

    It is located 7 minutes away from Puerto Princesa International Airport.

  4. Ezy Stay Pension

    Address: Garcillano Subdivision, Rizal Avenue Extension, Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

    Click here to book this accommodation!

    Price Range: Php 400.00 to Php 960.00 per night

    (C) Ezy Stay Pension

    Located along Rizal Avenue Extension in Bancao Bancao, Ezy Stay Pension is only 600 meters from Puerto Princesa International Airport and offers airport transfers for your convenience. Boasting free WiFi internet all throughout its property, the inn is home to practical and well-appointed guestrooms and a myriad of facilities to suit the needs of all kinds of travelers. It offers shared rooms with bunk beds ideal for backpackers, as well as private rooms perfect for couples, families, and group of friends. All guests can experience its personalized form of service rendered by the friendly and accommodating staff manning the 24-hour front desk.

    Ezy Stay Pension houses a total of 14 guest rooms, each fitted with basic comforts to make you feel at home. Each air conditioned room is quaint and cozy, and features free WiFi access, complimentary toiletries, and a private toilet and bath.

  5. Prima Residence

    Address: D. Cabanillas Road (in front of Seed Farm) National Hiway, Barangay Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City Proper, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

    Click here to book this accommodation!

    Price Range: Php 490.00 to Php 1,320.00 per night

    (C) Prima Residence

    Prima Residences have a variety of activities to offer guests, aside from the relaxation and comfort of their rooms. Located on D. Cabanillas Road, National Highway, Barangay Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City Proper, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, it’s the ideal place for all kinds of travelers.

    The residences has handicapped-friendly facilities, cooking facilities, and pet-friendly facilities. They also have a coffee shop, family room, shared kitchen, bar, barbeque facilities, a garden, karaoke, and a smoking area because of their non-smoking rooms. Some services they offer to guests include room service, airport transfers, car hire, luggage storage, express check-in/check-out, laundry service, tours, massage service, and cleaning service.

    Prima Residences’ rooms have air-conditioning, cable television, and WiFi Internet access. The toilet and bath in each room has hot and cold water, a shower, a bidet, towels, and toiletries.

    It takes about 20 to 25 minutes from Puerto Princesa International Airport to get to the hotel via three different routes.

These are just some of the budget accommodations you can find in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. You can find more affordable accommodations at They offer one of the most affordable selections of accommodations across the Philippines, plus you will have an extra 12% off of your booking because they will be shouldering the 12% vat of your purchase! How cool is that?

Hiking Hong Kong’s 2nd Highest Peak – The Lantau Peak – 934+ MASL

My first ever international hike happened in Hong Kong as we hike its second highest peak, the Lantau Peak towering at around 934+ MASL, residing in the Lantau Island. It is one of the most famous hiking spots in Hong Kong not only because of the challenge it gives to the hikers, but also because of its accessibility via public transportation.

The mountains in the Lantau Island also serves as training ground for those trail runners, preparing for their upcoming races. Lantau Peak is one of the perfect training spots for them because it offers a tough elevation training, assault hikes and some technical terrains.

Trail from Ngong Ping to the summit.

How to get to Lantau Peak

PRO TIP: Familiarize yourself with the MTR system map, then plan your route going to any destination in Hong Kong.

ATTENTION: I’ll be setting the start point of the route from the Central Station a.k.a. the Hong Kong Station. Just create a route depending on where you are staying in Hong Kong.

  • So from Hong Kong Station, we took the train route going to Tung Chung. Train lines in Hong Kong are color coded, so there’s less chance for you to get lost. For the Tung Chung Line, just follow the Orange signs.
  • Then, from Tung Chung Station, you may have your breakfast or any meals at the area. There are a lot of restaurants with reasonable prices and generous servings that you can choose from. You can also buy your final supplies here, i.e. trail foods, water, etc.
  • Look for the bus number “23”, going to the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha). Fare is at HK$17.20 on weekdays and HK$27.00 on weekends, so plan you hike accordingly.
  • Tell the driver to drop you off to Pak Kung Au, this is where the trail starts going to Lantau Peak.
  • Once you’ve alighted the bus, cross the street, and look for the trail head of Lantau Peak. The trailhead going to the summit is near the stairs. There are trail signs at the area, so you will find it in no time.

The Trek

We arrived at Pak Kung Au by 9:00 AM. Once we’ve all made our final preparation, we commenced our hike immediately. The first parts of the trail are covered with trees, and are consists of boulder steps going up.

We took a rest on the first stop where we found a resting area with a nice view of the Sky Scrapers. That resting area is about 30 minute assault trek from the trail head. Most parts of the trail going to the summit are assaults and will require a lot of strength for you to be able to reach the top.


The mid part of the trail up to the summit is an open trail with less trees providing shades for the hikers. Luckily, it was foggy midway so we did not feel so much heat the rest of the hike.

We reached the summit in less than 3 hours. We have no clearing that time, so we just took a quick rest, solo and group photos, and then we descended down after a few minutes. We traversed our way going to Ngong Ping, where the Tian Tan Buddha or the Bug Buddha is located.

Our Team at the summit of Lantau Peak, 934+ MASL

The trail going to Ngong Ping is a little bit technical, and may cause chronic knee injuries if someone will not trek with cautions. The steps going down is over 1ft high, so be cautious so there will be less impact to your knees.

After less than an hour, we reached the end of the Lantau Trail from the summit, it is marked by an arc with Chinese characters on it. You will also know that it is the end of the trail when you reached the Wisdom Path, where you will see 38 timber columns that are about 8 to 10 meters high. Each of them have 260+ word prayers from the Heart of Sutra, all in Chinese characters. It also forms an infinity symbol when viewed on top.

The Wisdom Path. Photo by Mia Borloza

When you walk just a few steps further of the entrance of the Wisdom Path you will get to a small viewing platform where you admire the complete arrangement of the thirty-eight timber columns. It is also the entrance or end of the one of the Lantau Hiking Trails.

Then few meters from the Wisdom Path, we reached one of Hong Kong’s famous tourist destinations, the Ngong Ping 360, where the Tian Tan Buddha is located. The Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong.

The Tian Tan Buddha a.k.a. the Big Buddha

Since we have some spare time, we explored the place and the nearby village at the area. Then went back to Tung Chung via the 25 minute cable car ride.

Strava Activity Record

Pro Tips

  • MTR opens as early as 6AM, so have your travel time arranged and be at Tung Chung Station as early as possible so you can start you hike early too.
  • Reload you Airport Express cards with minimum amount of HK$100.00. You will be using this to pay for the bus going to Pak Kung Au. This will lessen the hassle on your part because you will just tap your card like beep cards instead of paying in cash. You can also use the reloaded amount in purchasing in most establishments in HK, so not bad, plus you can refund the excess amount at the airport too!
  • Bring your own water bottles with at least 750ML capacity. Water sold at convenience stores are kinda expensive. For example, a 1L water cost HK$ 10 to HK$ 15. So bring water bottles and fill them up at your hotel or hostel, surely they will provide you complimentary drinking water.
  • Do not buy drinks near the stairs going up to the Buddha, it’s expensive by +30%. Buy at the eating area nearby. I bought a 500ML coke near the stairs for HK$15 which only costs HK$10 at the restaurants.
  • Best way to go back to Tung Chung is via Cable Car. We pre-booked our tickets via Klook app to save time and money. Click here to get your Cable Car tickets for the Ngong Ping 360.

Vouchers Used

Discover Hong Kong — 6 Days Backpacking Itinerary

Streets of Mong Kok

It all started with the Cebu Pacific seat sale. Me and my friend Mia were just talking about an over the weekend trip in Hong Kong then suddenly, Cebu Pacific announced that they will be having another seat sale and it matches our preferred dates. We then booked a 6-day trip to Hong Kong from June 8 to 14. Since it’s always fun to travel with friends, we invited some of our friends just after we booked these dates.

The Preparation

We booked this trip six months before the actual trip, so we have plenty of time to save up and prepare everything that we need to make this backpacking trip smooth and less of a hassle.

The main person who managed everything for this trip is my friend, Mia. She took care of everything from accommodation, train tickets, tours, etc. She listed down everything that we need and how much it would cost so we can save up and prepare for those. Here’s a list of all the things we bought and arranged prior to the trip itself.

So every cut-off, we ticked off one of these items since it is easier that way.

Apps and Websites To Check For Cheap And Discounted Rates

  • Klook — We used this app for booking Disneyland, Ocean Park, Ngong Pin 360 Cable Car Ride, Sim Cards, and Train Pass. There are a lot of things you can do in HK that is offered in this app. 🙂 Click here to join Klook and get Php 150.00 Credit which you can use for your next adventure.

  • Airbnb — If you are traveling with a group, Airbnb is one of the best options to book your accommodation. Get Php 900.00 off to your first booking with Airbnb when you sign up here.

The Devised Itinerary

Mia devised an itinerary that will serve as our travel guide to Hong Kong. The itinerary started at the airport where we will take our flight to HKG.

Day 1 — Flight To Hong Kong

Flight to HKG and re-grouping our team by 9PM. We have different flight schedules so we need to regroup by 9PM since the last person will arrive at around 6 to 7 PM.

Airport Express

Upon arriving to Hong Kong International Airport, we proceed to the booth where we will procure our sim cards and transport cards.

Day 2 — Hong Kong Ocean Park

Day 2 was the official start of our Hong Kong Trip. First stop on our itinerary was the Hong Kong Ocean Park. We woke up at around 5AM the left the hostel by 7 AM. The ticket we booked from Klook includes 1-way transfer from HK Post Office going to the park. We arrived at the meet up place an hour early, which gave us some time to explore the nearby attractions.

While waiting for the bus to arrive, we went to the Avenue of Stars, which is just minutes away from HK Post Office. Here, you can see statue of famous Chinese Actors and a studio setup where you can take photos with your friends.

Avenue of Stars Jump Shot!

After 30 mins, we went back to the post office and wait for the bus to Ocean park to arrive. The bus arrive on-time and we lined up going inside the bus. We booked the Ocean Park tour via Klook, and we experience a hassle free transaction with them. The Ocean Park Klook voucher we bought includes unlimited rides at the park and one full meal at any restaurants inside the park.

It will take you one whole day for you to explore the whole park so you better bring extra clothes and water bottles with you. To read more about our Ocean Park adventure, please check a dedicated blog for it here.

Day 3 — The Lantau Peak

On our third day, we had our first ever international hike, summiting the peak of Lantau in Lantau Island traversing to the Tian Tan Buddha in Ngong Ping.

Trail Lantau Peak

Lantau Peak is the second highest peak of Hong Kong, towering at around 930+ MASL. Good thing about hiking in Hong Kong is that, their trails are open to all enthusiast who wants to experience HK’s outdoors, provided that you will be responsible in everything that you will do along the trails. There’s a little chance that you will be lost going at the trails because there are enough trail signs installed and the trails are visible and established.

At the summit of Lantau Peak

We reached the summit at around 2 hours of trekking, then we traversed our way going to Ngong Ping. Ngong Ping 360 is one of the most unique attractions in Hong Kong, it comprises of a world’s top 10 amazing cable car ride and a culturally themed landscaped garden called Ngong Ping Village.

At the end of the Lantau Trail, you passed by the Wisdom Path. Wisdom Path traces a series of 38 wooden steles (upright monuments) containing verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra — one of the world’s best-known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. These steles display the Chinese version of the prayer, based on the calligraphy of famous contemporary scholar Professor Jao Tsung-I, and are arranged in a ∞ pattern, which represents infinity.

The Wisdom Path. Photo by Mia Borloza
Tian Tan Buddha also know as the Big Buddha in Ngong Ping

We then explore the villages of Ngong Ping and make our way back to Tung Chung via the Cable Car ride that we book via Klook. 🙂

Day 4 — The Sunset Peak Traverse / Tai O Village Tour

The day our group was divided into two. Four of us went hiking going to Sunset Peak then traversing two other mountains going to Tung Chung. They the other three went to Tai O village for a tour. Will be posting another article for the Tai O Village Tour for reference. 🙂

At the summit of Sunset Peak

Sunset Peak is the third highest peak of Hong Kong, towering at around 860+ MASL. The trail going to the summit is almost similar as the trails of Lantau Peak. Both of them have short point to point distance but with steep assaults going to the summit. It took us 2 hours going to the summit. Since we did this as a traverse, it took us at around 7+ hours for a 15km+ traverse from Pak Kung Au to Tung Chung.

Take 5, before summiting the Sunset Peak

We manged to summit 3 peaks with this hike, the Sunset Peak, the Yi Tung Shan Peak and the Lin Fa Shan Peak. Along the trails, there are 3 other mountains that can be summited, but we’re tired and hungry, so we just passed them by and trekked to the side of those peaks.

Like Lantau Peak, there’s a 0 chance to be lost here. There are trail signs installed and the trails are established. Plus, we are using a GPS tracking app, Strava, to check on the trails we are taking.

Lin Fa Shan Peak

Day 5 — Free Day A.K.A. Open Itinerary Day

Our fifth day is a chill one, a rest from the hikes we did with the past two days. We went to The Peak at Central for a chill relax day. No itinerary, just a spontaneous flow of things.


Day 6 — Hong Kong Disneyland

We spent our last day in Hong Kong at the happiest place on Earth, the Disneyland. It was a rainy day, signal number 3 at that time, but we were still high spirited that this day will be okay and we will be able to enjoy our remaining days here in Hong Kong.


We reached the Disneyland at around 10AM, it was still raining, but nothing can stop the inner children inside us to enjoy Disney. After claiming our tickets and voucher at the ticketing area, we rushed and lined up for a photo op with Mickey and Minnie, the stars of the park, and we did not fail.

Few minutes later, the Gods heard our prayer, and the rain stopped, and the park opened the outdoor rides! We knew that it was our day. We were more than happy that the rain stopped. We can’t contain our excitement, we rode every ride at the park, and watch shows that we can see.

Unleash the inner child in you 🙂

A post shared by John Sebastien Legisma Palos (@papalos__) on

We felt like children again, did crazy things and never gave a f***, and just enjoy every moment at the park.

After an exhilarating day of amusement, we wrapped up our Disney adventure with the colorful Light Parade of the Disney Characters and a finale of the Magical Fireworks over the Disney Castle.



That was one hell of an adventure that is surely one for the books!

Day 7 — Flight Back To Manila

This was my first every backpacking trip outside the Philippines, and also my first international hike. There so many first times with this trip, and I can’t thank my friends enough for making this possible.


There maybe some misadventures, and little hassle on the side, but that just makes the whole journey worth it.

We will surely miss everything we experienced here in Hong Kong, from the transportation, MTR, mountain trails, and shopping spots, we will surely be back for more.

Also, Mia deserves a spot to this blog for taking care of everything, from budget, accommodation, tour passes, and transportations passes. You surely made this adventure even more memorable. Hope to have you as a travel buddy again for more out of town trips.


Weekend Wandering In La Union

La Union is one of the go to’s of most travelers who wants to go surfing, but Elyu is not only about riding the waves and getting stoked. Just over the weekend, you can experience trekking to the waterfalls, museum hopping, grape picking, and many more. So, here are some activities and places you might want to explore when you visit the beautiful province of La Union.

1. Riding The Waves at Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union

Urbiztondo is one of the most famous spots in Elyu where you can find nice waves to ride on. There are a lot of surf school that offer surf lessons for newbies and allows rental of boards ranging from the beginner ones to pro level. Surfing lesson rates ranges from Php 300.00 to Php 400.00 an hour with instructor, if you already know how to surf, you can just rent a board and hit the waves, and it will be a lot cheaper.



2. Go Trekking to the Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel, La Union

One of the most famous attraction here in La Union is the Tangadan Falls, a two tiered waterfall which is about 50ft high and 30ft deep. Most of the visitors of here are either jumping to its cliff or riding the bamboo raft to get nearer to the drop.

Getting here is a breeze, from San Juan, catch a jeepney going to San Gabriel or hail a tricycle going to the registration area. Fare ranges from Php 15.00 to Php 250.00 depending on which transportation you’ll choose. Once you’re done with the registration and acquiring guides, you’ll start your trek at the trail head and will start walking going to the waterfalls for 1 to 2 hours.

There are actually two trail heads going to the waterfalls, one which is just few minutes walk away from the main waterfalls, and the other one (the way we took) which requires 1 to 2 hours of trekking. We suggest doing it the long way, its more fun!



3. Visit the Bahay na Bato in Brgy. Nalvo Norte, Luna, La Union

From the name itself, most part of this museum is made out of stones and pebbles found along the beaches of the municipality. Showcasing various wooden artworks and handy crafts, this spot in La Union has generated jobs for its residents.

The place is open for all occasions, and people are welcome to enjoy the place daily at 6 AM to 8 AM with admission fee of Php 20.00. Children below 4 years old are free of charge. One can enjoy the view of the ocean and listen to its crashing waves to the pebbles at the shore. Swimming is not allowed for safety reasons.




4. Indulge With the Grapes at the Vineyard in Bauang, La Union

When in La Union, your trip will not be completed if you will not drop by to the grape farms at Bauang, La Union. One of the famous ones is the Lomboy Grape Farm which was founded in 1972 by Avelino Lomboy, who was dubbed as the Philippines’s King of Grapes.

The entrance fee is Php 100.00, and if you want to do some grape picking, that would be Php 150.00. They are open from Monday to Saturday, at 7AM to 4PM and on Sundays at 7AM to 3PM.

© @youreverydayjoy

5. Pay A Visit to the Ma-Cho Taoist Temple in San Fernando, La Union

Your La Union trip will also not be complete without visiting the Ma-Cho Temple, a Chinese temple located in downtown San Fernando, La Union that has an overlooking view of the South China Sea.

© @glenjohn

These are just some of the places you can visit in La Union, you just need to explore more and research as you go. 🙂

Book your hostels or hotels at for more a affordable rate. Click here to check out all the hotels in all areas in La Union. Btw, we stayed at The Circle Hostel, which is just few minutes to the surfing spot in Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union. You can also consider the Flotsam and Jetsam as an option.

The Circle Hostel La Union Facade
Book at The Circle Hostel here: