Marian Orchard

I may not be that religious in the eyes of others, but believe it or not, I have this passion for Catholic churches/theme parks. Last January 2018, I had the chance to visit Marian Orchard, in Balete Batangas. It is a 5 hectare pilgrimage site that is surrounded by several kinds of trees and flowers, and different Catholic-themed sculptures.

✨ This theme park is located in Barangay Malabanan, Balete Batangas

🚘 I traveled via private car and took skyway /SLEX and STAR tollways. I spent more or less P600.00 for the toll fee. If you will be commuting, you may take a bus going to Lipa or Batangas City. Drop off point is Levitown in Marawoy. From there, you can ride a jeepney that passes by Marian Orchard

✔️ Parking Space – outside the theme park

✨ Entrance Fee: P50.00 per person – As stated in the ticket, the entrance fee serves as a donation that goes to the upkeep and development of the pilgrimage site.

✨ They are open daily, from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM.

✨ Mass schedule is every first Friday of the month, Saturday, and Sunday, 4:00 pm

✔️ They have souvenir shop that offers several items such as key chains, mugs, t-shirts, and accessories

✔️ They also have cafeteria that sells snacks and drinks

📱 +639156042566

🌐 http://www.marian-orchard.ph

Talisayen Cove, Zambales

Of all the places I have been to this 2017, Talisayen Cove is on top of my list (well you’ll notice that I kept mentioning it in my previous posts). In fact, I visited this place three (3) times this year, first was last January, second was on the 2nd week of December, and third was last December 30, 2017, which I considered as the most memorable because I was with my family.

January 2017. My friends and I planned to stay in this place overnight and we’re able to contact Kuya Paul America.

Contact Number: 0939902539 / 09175919524

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/talisayencove

They do not accept walk-in guests because they want to make sure that those who are coming can use their cottage and other facilities, and will not go home disappointed.We paid P6,000 (divided into 7pax). I think their minimum package is at P4,000. Inclusions are as follows:

1. Boat

2. Accommodation (cottage with 3 separate rooms

3. Kitchen/Cooking utensils

4. Free use of cooking area (charcoal included)

5. Common (but clean) rest rooms

6. Trekking

7. Free use of cooler

8. Water supply

9. Electricity until 12mn (but there is no power plug and sockets)

10. Free use of volleyball court

They also have a sari-sari store but of course, expect the items to be a little expensive than its usual retail price.

We all had a great time because all of them, who are taking care of the island, were accommodating. They even bought the meats and fishes that we asked to ensure freshness since we were coming from Manila and had to travel 5 hours. The place was also not crowded.

2nd week of December 2017, we booked again our Talisayen trip, but this time, with Kuya Joven.

Contact number: 09159599595

If what you are looking for is a camping-like tour, then I would recommend kuya Joven. P500 per person fee is inclusive of the following:

1. Boat

2. Tent (sharing for 2pax)

3. 5 gallons drinking water

4. Common rest rooms (not that maintained)

5. Scheduled water supply

6. Cooking utensils

We stayed on the other side of the island (far from the previous one where we stayed). The beach in front of us was rocky. We had a hard time cooking our food because there was no kitchen. We had no choice but to look for rocks that we can use and we also had to make fire in the sand. It was very challenging because there was no electricity. It took us 2 hours to cook our adobo for dinner. But to be fair, the caretaker and her family were really trying their best to accommodate us well. They let us borrow their monobloc table and chairs. They also gave a us hot water for our coffee.

Last week of December. As I have said, this was my most memorable Talisayen Trip because I was with my family. Although it was just a day tour, I still had a great time and I felt like it was a first time experience. We booked again our tour with Kuya Paul. We were 11 (4 were kids) and we paid P4,000. Inclusions are the same when I first traveled to this place.

Another thing that I appreciate about Kuya Paul is his honesty. My brother-in-law left his Oakley shades and he informed Kuya Paul when we were about to get off from the boat. He gave us assurance that it will be safe and that he will be returning it once he had the chance to travel to Olongapo City. Few days after our trip, he texted my brother-in-law and met with him to return the shades. Now I have another reason to recommend him and their place.

What do you have to consider when preparing your budget for this trip?

1. Transportation – If you will be commuting, ride a bus to Iba Zambales or Olongapo City then transfer to another bus to Iba Zambales. Drop off point in Zambales is Pundaquit.

2. Environmental Fee – P20 per person

3. Boat/Accommodation – minimum P4,000 or P500 per person depending on where you will book your tour and the total number of pax

4. Cottage – P350. However, cottage in Talisayen Cove (c/o Kuya Paul) is free

5. Food – you can drop by Castillejos Public Market

6. Bonfire – P150 – P300

7. Parking Fee – P100 (day tour); P200 (overnight)

8. Ice block / tube ice – P50 – P150 depending on the size. You will find a lot of stores in Pundaquit but make sure you have your cooler where you can store your ice.

What to consider when traveling?

https://mhaggiecardo.com/2017/10/04/things-to-consider-when-traveling/

How to get to Pundaquit, if you are coming from Manila (this is where you will ride the boat to Talisayen Cove)

1. Private Car

Option 1.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45

– SCTEX to SFEX/Tipo – P429

– Tipo Exit to SBMA Exit in Kalaklan – P0

– Kalaklan – Pundaquit – P0

Total: P474

Option 2.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45

– San Fernando Exit – P169

– SCTEX Dinalupihan – SFEX/Tipo – P60

– Tipo Exit to SBMA Exit in Kalaklan – P0

– Kalaklan – Pundaquit

Total: P274

Option 3.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45

– San Fernando Exit – 169

– SFEX/Tipo Exit – P25

– Tipo Exit to SBMA Exit in Kalaklan – P0

– Kalaklan – Pundaquit – P0

Total: P239

Option 4.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45

– San Fernando Exit – P169

– Service Rd from San Fernando to Olongapo – P0

– Olongapo to Pundaquit – P0

Total: P214

2. Public Transportation

– Travel to Olongapo City then Pundaquit (via Victory Liner going to Iba Zambales)

– Travel to Pundaquit via Victory Liner going to Iba Zambales)

https://www.victoryliner.com/FareMatrix.aspx

Tip: you will not find any ATM in Pundaquit, or even after Castillejos Zambales, so make sure you already have enough cash before heading to the island.


All photos below were taken during my 1st and 3rd visit to the island. I was a bit disappointed on our 2nd tour, probably because I was expecting for the same experience and location, which unfortunately did not happen. I learned after that Talisayen Cove (c/o Kuya Paul) is considered a private island that is why other contact persons (or boatmen) are not allowed to use whatever facility they have in Kuya Paul’s place.

Crystal Beach, Zambales

I have been longing to see Crystal Beach Resort since Q1 of 2017, and finally, after several months of dreaming about it, I was able to see the place, not just once, but twice. First visit was with h.s. friends, and it was unplanned. We were just thinking of where to go and I suggested Crystal Beach since it is just an hour and a half drive from Olongapo City (of course part of it was for me to tick the place off my bucket list). We only had a day tour because we all have other commitments the following day. Second visit happened only 2 weeks after the first one, with officemates. We stayed in the place overnight. Different date, different companion, but the excitement i felt when I saw the place was the same. Although I was not really impressed with everything that they offer, I still think the place deserves a fair review.

What I appreciate about the place?

1. The vast and relaxing beach will surely give you a spot where you and your friends/family can enjoy without being destructed by other guests.

2. The view is just so perfect for your selfies (though Im not really into it), and the place is filled with so much hugot lines that many people can surely relate to.

3. Tent they offer also includes basic toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste), beddings (foam, pillow, blanket), and bottled water.

4. Acoustic night was one of the things that I really enjoyed. It’s really fun listening to good music, while chilling out with friends at the beach.

5. Food is just fine. You need to have at least Php 150.00 for each meal, otherwise have it outside the beach (you will find stores that sell bbq, rice, siomai, etc.).

6. They offer variety of foods in their buffet breakfast and you can stay from 6:00 am – 10:00 am.

7. You are allowed to stay in the restaurant to play board games/ cards with your family/friends.

8. You can learn surfing from their professional surfing instructors (Php 400.00 per hour and that includes surf board rental).

9. Sunset view is perfect. Well, who doesn’t like to see sunset at the beach?

What I appreciate less about the place?

1. Front desk officers are not that accommodating. Oftentimes, you have to make a follow up for them to process your concern.

2. The place is too big that you have to walk quite far to the bathroom, unless maybe if your room has its own.

3. Some rates seem to be a little unreasonable. Their day tour is Php 500.00. From this, you’ll get a meal stub amounting to Php 150.00, which means that you do not have a choice but to buy food from their restaurant. You also need to pay the deposit fee of Php 100.00 that is refundable only if you check-out not later than 5:00 pm. I do understand that they need to charge extra if you will be staying at night because they have this acoustic night and fire dance show, but I don’t think charging additional Php 100.00 is still needed if the guest checked-in late afternoon. Another unreasonable rate is the tent. Tent rental is Php 950.00 per person and is usually for sharing, up to 4 pax, and again, you will be asked to have your deposit fee but this time, you have to pay Php 1,000.00 per tent, refundable upon check-out. Rate is also unreasonable even if you have your own tent. Whether you stay only for a day or overnight, if you want to pitch your own tent then you have to pay a fee of Php 685.00 per person, plus a separate deposit fee. Again, your payment includes meal stub.

Note: This place is more advisable if you wish to go surfing.

How To Get To Here?

Crystal Beach is an hour and a half drive from Olongapo City. If you are coming from Manila, that would be 4.5 to 5 hours travel. Well, if you will take public transport, ride Victory Liner bus to Zambales, or Olongapo City then take another bus to Zambales. Nearest landmark is San Sebastian Catholic Church in San Marcelino. From there, you can ride a tricycle going to Crystal Beach.

If you are using waze, do not turn left when it says, or you see, that you are arriving at the place. I saw a lot of cars heading the wrong way or to another beach beside Crystal Beach. I also did the same and so I had to make a u-turn. Entrance has signage and it is located just along the road. Anyway, it is the only thing that is not accurate with waze’s direction.

How Much Budget Would You Be Needing?

Entrance Fee:

Day Tour – Php 500.00 per person + Php 100.00 deposit (valid for refund if you check out not later than 5:00pm)

Beach Cottage – free

Accommodation:

They offer several types of accommodation depending on budget and number of pax.

Take note, you need to pay for deposit fee upon check-in.

Food:

Meal is included in your entrance fee (Php 150.00 meal stub for day tour, and breakfast meal stub if you are staying overnight). For other meals, an average budget of Php 150.00 is enough.

Just bring extra cash if you wish to have some beer or buy some foods.

That’s it!

You might also want to consider visiting Subic Bay before heading back home. Here is the link for some tips on where to go:

https://mhaggiecardo.com/2017/11/12/places-to-visit-in-subic-bay-freeport-zone/

Places to Visit in Subic Bay Freeport Zone

Heading Subic Bay anytime soon? Let me share with you some ideas on where to go. SBMA or Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has been a part of me since I was a kid, and I am proud of this place because they were able to maintain the discipline in the area (though it wasn’t as disciplined as before). There are lots of tourist attractions that you can visit, so if you are planning to spend your weekend or vacation in Subic Bay, here are some places that you may consider:

1. Funtastic Park – An educational fun park that offers several indoor and outdoor activities such as Mirror Maze, Dark Room, 3D Enchanted Forest, 3D Trick Art, Optical Illusion, Garden Maze Adventure, Souvenir Shop, Cafe, and many more.



Ticket:

Kids: P220.00

Adult: P250.00

We were also able to get 1 free 3D animation movie experience pass (you may choose from rollercoaster, underwater, horror, etc). Ticket cost for this, if you want to get more passes, is 50.00 per person.

Address: Bldg. 2070 Corregidor Highway, Ilanin Forest Area, SBFZ

Operating Hours: 9:00AM – 6:00PM

Contact Number: (047) 252-3099

2. Magaul Bird Park (Jest Camp) – This is a park with different kinds of birds. Aside from the bird park, they also give basic jungle survival training (making kitchen utensils, fire, out of bamboo, etc). They also offer a lot of outdoor activities such as arial walk, giant swing, life sized angry bird, and a lot more. Unfortunately, we were not able to try these because they were undergoing maintenance to improve their service. Another unfortunate thing is that their Bird House Cafe was closed that time and I learned from the tour guide that management is now deciding if they will continue or close the operation because the cafe only has few customers.

Kawayan Kitchen is also in this place. They offer several Filipino foods cooked using bamboo. They operate only until 4:30pm so if you arrive in the afternoon, I suggest that you dine in this place first before proceeding to your tour.


Entrance Fee: P250.00 inclusive of 2 hour tour with assigned tour guide

Operating Hours: 8:00AM – 5:00PM

Address: Upper Mau, Cubi-Triboa, SBFZ

Contact Number: (047) 252-1489

3. Malawaan Park – A recreational park that is best especially for those who are on a tight budget. This park is open to public and there is no entrance fee nor hidden charges. These are the activities that you can do:

1. Picnic – Just bring and set-up your food/drinks and picnic blanket, and have fun! No picnic blanket? No problem. The park also has plenty of cottages where you can stay. Just a reminder, alcoholic beverages are not allowed.

2. Fishing – This is also for free, even if you catch a fish, but you have to bring your own fishing rod.

Malawaan Park also has mini playground for kids.

Operating Hours: 24/7

Address: Argonaut Highway, Subic Bay Freeport Zone (Beside Sea Port)

Entrance Fee: FREE

4. Zoobic Safari – Adventure park that is also known to have the first and only tiger safari in the Philippines. Zoobic Safari has different kinds of animals, mostly wild, and they also showcases the talents of indigenous people of Zambales. Just a friendly advise, go early if you want to really experience tiger safari as they cannot really guarantee that tigers will come close to you in the afternoon after being fed whole day.

Operating Hours: 8:00am – 4:00 pm

Address: Group I Ilanin Forest, Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Telephone: (047) 252-2272 / 09297072222

Rate: Php 695.00 per person

How to get to Subic Bay Freeport Zone (From Manila):

1. Private Car

Option 1.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45.00

– SCTEX to SFEX/Tipo – P429.00

Total: P474.00

Option 2.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45.00

– San Fernando Exit – P169.00

– SCTEX Dinalupihan – SFEX/Tipo – P60.00

Total: P274.00

Option 3.

– NLEX Balintawak – P45.00

– San Fernando Exit – 169.00

– SFEX/Tipo Exit – P25.00

Total: P239.00

Option 4.

– NLEX Balintawak – 45.00

– San Fernando Exit – 169.00

– Service Rd from San Fernando to Olongapo – P0.00

– Olongapo to Subic Gate – P0.00

Total: P214.00

If you are traveling via private car, please do not disregard traffic rules. SBMA is very strict in implementing the stop and go / first to stop, first to go policy, so when you get to see a stop sign, make sure to stop for at least 2 seconds before crossing the intersection. Do not just follow the car in front of you unless there is a traffic light. Be mindful as well of your speed. You may not see a traffic enforcer but cars as still being monitored.

2. Public Transportation

– Victory Liner Bus to Olongapo

https://www.victoryliner.com/FareMatrix.aspx

– Yellow or Red Jeepney from Victory Liner Terminal to Magsaysay – P8.00 per person

– Walk from Magsaysay to Subic Bay Entrance Gate

Travel time from Manila to Subic, whether private or public vehicle is 3 to 4 hours. Aside from taxi, you will not find any public transportation inside Subic Bay, but some places offer free shuttle service.

(There are still a lot that you can visit. I’ll include more some other time.😊)

Downside of Posting A Photo Without Watermark, And Making It Available To Public

I was browsing my photo library and found again the picture that I believe was grabbed, by one facebook user, without my permission. This actually happened few months ago, but only my friends knew about it. I decided to write this blog so you’ll be aware of the downside of posting your own photo without watermark, and of course for all of us to be reminded of proper netiquette.

Ok, so let me share how things started. I posted some photos of our trip to Talisayen Cove, and it was set to public. I am very much aware that internet users have access to these photos and it was fine with me, because the main purpose why I allowed it to be viewed by public was to inspire and encourage them to include the place in their bucket list.


Again, i know that everybody has access to my downloaded photos, however, I never really expected that someone will have the nerve to just grab and edit it, and worse, use it for travel advertisement without caring to ask for my permission. Now, here’s the catch. The text inserted in the photo was not its real location.

This is the original, raw photo that I took:


This is the edited, grabbed photo. This place is Talisayen Cove and not Nagsasa Cove:

Few minutes after I made the post in my personal account, I saw this edited photo in a travel page that I also follow. It was used in advertising an island hopping tour package. I wanted to send a comment but decided not to because I still had to do some office work from home (well, i regret not telling the person).

From what happened, the photo grabber seemed to forget some netiquette:

1. Give Credit. Using other’s photo is ok but please have the decency to give credit if you cannot personally ask for the owner’s approval to grab a photo.

2. Do Not Mislead People. The photo grabber deceived other people by marking it with a wrong location. Apparently, he posted fake information when he made an offer for island hopping. Sharing photo with wrong location is like sharing fake news.

3. Have Sense of Professionalism. He was offering a tour but he doesn’t have any original photo of the location. He also didn’t consider reaching out to the owner of the photo that he grabbed. If he wanted to offer a great deal, then he should’ve visited the place himself first and take a good photo to share with  other travelers.

What have I learned from this experience?

1. Do not tolerate netizens’ wrongdoing. My photos do not have copyright symbol nor any watermark because I am totally ok if others want to share it (well, except of course for photos of myself). I just don’t like it being used to fool other people. As i have said, I regret not telling the person that I knew what he did. He could’ve deleted it immediately if he was informed.

2. Validate carefully the travel package offers. Do not be cozened by exciting photos and cheap rates. Avail travel package only from registered travel agencies, or better yet, plan a DIY trip.

Internet now occupies a huge part of our lives. It helps us in many ways so we should use it responsibly. Let’s not abuse the benefit we get from it.

Things to Consider When Traveling

I was thinking of the things that should be considered when traveling, and being one of the many who enjoys outdoor activities, I really know the importance of responsible traveling. We travel to collect memories. We travel to enjoy, but it doesn’t mean that we are permitted to do whatever we want to, especially if it harms our natural resources.

The idea of writing this started when I was browsing the internet and trying to get more tips on how I can be a more responsible traveler, then I saw Leave No Trace’s website and found the 7 Leave No Trace Principles:

https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

I could say that they have given a complete guide to travelers. We must all learn to consider the stated principles in order for us to have a fun and safe journey.

I remember when we visited Talisayen Cove in Zambales last January 2017. My friends and I identified our travel needs as we all wanted to ensure that: 1. We will be having fun; 2. We will not be spending money like water; And 3. Mother nature is still protected.



These are the things that we have considered:

  • Know the place and its regulations.
  • Check the weather. Make sure it gets along with the plan, otherwise, have another option.
  • Prepare a checklist of the things that need to be brought (ex. emergency kit, medicine, clothes, personal hygiene kit, tent, canned goods, in case we ran out of food, etc.). We drafted our checklist in an excel file and noted the responsible person for each item.
  • Budget planning to avoid overspending (ex. gasoline, toll fee, entrance fee, boat fee, accommodation, etc.). We went on a DIY travel and stayed in the island overnight, so we also had our meals planned.
  • Know exactly where to go.
  • Hello, Waze! Having this app (or a map) is a must, especially for someone like me who has an average sense of direction.
  • Bring a tent but make sure to pitch it in a perfect and safe spot only.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Bring own trash bag and properly dispose waste.
  • Leave alone whatever is seen. As the saying goes, leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, kill nothing but time.
  • Give everyone the opportunity to have fun. Respect other visitors.

We spent more than a week arranging our trip and we all didn’t mind staying up late just to finalize everything. The result? All efforts were paid off because we achieved our goal as planned.

R&R Near Metro Manila

Traveling to different places is in demand this time. Some people do it for the purpose of updating their social media accounts, while some are really looking for R&R, especially after going through a very stressful week at work. No matter what our purpose is, we cannot deny the fact that for many of us, traveling holds an inherent element that causes our happiness. Some are lucky to be allowed to have a prolonged leave, but some need to maximize their rest day just to escape temporarily from the busy, bustling city.

So, if you want to spend your rest day somewhere else, but you cannot travel that far, here are some places, near Metro Manila, that you can visit for one day, or where you can stay only for overnight:

1. Potipot Island – Zambales


It takes about 6 hrs to get here from Manila. You can stay overnight, but you have to bring your own tent otherwise, book a hotel in Candelaria Zambales. You can also roam around Subic Bay Freeport Zone before heading back to Manila.

Budget: Php 1,500.00

2. Hundred Islands – Pangasinan


Wanna go island hopping? Go visit Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan. Not all islands are open to public but there are still many that you can visit. You can also do different water activities here, aside from swimming. Tour Guides are also open to assist you in everything that you may be needing, from accommodation to food preparation.

Budget: Php 1,500.00

3. Mt. Pinatubo – Boundaries of Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales


Ok. R&R means rest and relaxation, but some would love to spend it through a strenuous activity such as trekking. So if you are an adventurous type of person who would literally love to go extra mile, then you should try trekking activity at Mt. Pinatubo. It takes about 3 hrs from Manila to Tarlac. From there, you’ll be riding an ATV for 1 hour and trekking for 2 hrs. It’s seriously tiring, but believe me, it’s worth it.

Mt Pinatubo really is a beautiful disaster.

Budget: Php 1,200.00

4. Talisayen Cove – Zambales


If your idea of R&R is to be in an island where you can spend quality time with your loved ones, then Talisayen Cove is the perfect place for you. This island is very peaceful. They do not have electricity nor mobile signal, so you don’t have a choice but to spend your whole time appreciating it’s beauty and enjoying every single moment with family/friends (every once in a while, it’s good to stay away from your social media account and talk personally to people that matter to you). You can bring your own food, you can cook, you can also do trekking, and of course, swimming. Your choice if you want to bring your own tent but their overnight package rate is already inclusive of boat and accommodation (around 4.5k for 5pax or less, 6k for 6-10pax, 10k for 11pax). However, I suggest you to bring your own blanket and travel pillow. Room that will be provided is a nipa hut, and it doesn’t have any other facility.

Budget: Php 1,300.00

5. Buracai De Laiya – Batangas


Getting to this place is rough because the road is still under development, but Buracai De Laiya  is still commendable because of its ambiance. What I appreciate in this resort is the trust that they give their clients. It was the first time that I heard from a resort staff that payment can be done through bank deposit, after check-out. The resort just opened last 2016 so the facilities are still good. The pool is also well maintained. I didn’t have the chance to enjoy the beach but I was told that it’s a bit rocky.

This resort is so INSTAGRAMmable. Just don’t expect that you can post your photo/video immediately because of the intermittent mobile network connection, and internet is only available at the lobby area.

Budget – Php 1,500.00

There are actually a lot more that you can visit near Metro Manila, but so far, these places are on top of my list.

Have fun when you travel, but never forget the “Leave No Trace” Principles.

Happy Rest Day!