I’ve never imagined going to Batanes. EVER. I usually only hear about the place whenever there’s a storm or a typhoon in the northernmost part of the country. Very seldom do I hear about it being talked about as a vacation or a tourist spot. Which, I now realize, is very puzzling considering how breathtakingly beautiful the place is.

Since I didn’t know anything about Batanes (at that time), my friends were the ones who took care of everything. They booked the flights (which were on sale at that time – half the regular price if I’m not mistaken), the accommodations, and the tours.

We got the round trip tickets (Manila-Basco-Manila) for around 7,000 PHP or 156 USD. The original price at that time’s around 14,000 PHP or 311 USD. PAL Express regularly flies there now for 12,000 or 267 USD (roundtrip).

We were picked up at the airport by our very cool and very kind tour guide – Chris Cataluña. And then headed towards the port going to Sabtang Island.

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It has been a while since I blogged about traveling. It’s not because I haven’t been traveling; it’s actually the opposite. I’ve been to a lot of different places over the past few years and now I’m back(b)logged. For the next few weeks (or most probably, months), I will try to write about all of my travels.

Let’s start with my very peaceful and relaxing stay at Palm Beach Resort, San Juan, Batangas.

Depending on traffic, it’s a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from Manila. It took, my friends and I, 4 hours though. But that’s because we had stopovers along the way. It’s located somewhere after La Luz Beach Resort (which, in my opinion, is a little overrated).

We didn’t have  a reservation when we got there. Actually, we went to La Luz first but didn’t like what we saw so we tried to look for another resort. We were in luck because there were still a couple of rooms available. There were 6 of us in the group – a newlywed couple and 4 singletons. In short, we crashed our friend’s honeymoon.

We got the Casitas Royale Suite (6,300 PHP or 141 USD). Standard room occupancy is 4 so we just added 1,600 PHP or 36 USD for the extra 2 people. The room was large enough for 6. They just had to put extra mattresses and towels.


  • 2 double beds
  • 1 day bed
  • A/C
  • Mini fridge
  • DVD Player
  • Cable TV
  • Use of pool and jacuzzi
  • Welcome drinks
  • Complimentary use of Wifi

For an extra 1,540 PHP or 35 USD per pax, guests get to eat buffet lunch, snack, dinner and breakfast with bottomless fruit juice, iced tea, coffee and/or tea. You actually have no choice but to avail this because aside from being “mandatory”, there aren’t any other restaurants near the resort.

We didn’t mind though, because the food was good and service was great.

Even if it doesn’t look it, there are actually a lot of things to do there. For a fee, guests can do any of the following:

Glass Bottomed Boat P3,000/hour (up to 10 pax) minumum 30 minutes
Speed Boat P1,375/15 mins. OR P4,500/hour minimum 15 minutes
Kayaks P 200/hour P 200/hour
Bancas Check at reception Check at reception
Snorkels and Masks P100/2 hours P50/additional hour (Lost/Damaged P1,000)
Banana Boat w/ Speed Boat P1,500/15 mins. for 7 pax OR P5,000/hr. minimum 15 minutes
Wall climb P 150/head per climb
Rappelling P 100/head per rappel

If you’re like us and you just want to get away from city and the stress, just chill and relax by the beach or the infinity pool.

They don’t have a spa there but if you want, to complete your relaxing trip, ask any of the wait staff or the receptionist if they know any massage therapists and they will send one (or more, depending on how many of you want to have a massage) to your room.

I fell asleep while I was being massaged. That’s how good the massage was. I had a great time there.

Palm Beach Resort
Hugom, San Juan, Batangas
+63 (920) 951-6051 / +63 (920) 945-6215

Red Butterfly Travel Series: Boracay Weekend


Only really, really, really busy people or crazy people would go to Boracay and stay for just one night. Unfortunately for us, my friend Hazel and I fall under both categories. I don’t know what we were thinking but somehow, we both decided to spend one weekend in Boracay.

We arrived at the Kalibo “International” Airport (one of the worst airports I’ve been to) before 12nn. The land travel took more than an hour and a half plus another 15-20 minutes or so for the boat transfer, so we arrived at our hotel a little before 2pm.

We stayed at Hey Jude Resort Hotel Boracay. We got the Deluxe room for only 2,000 pesos (43 USD). This includes:

  • 2 double beds
  • A/C
  • Hot and cold shower
  • Safety deposit box
  • Cable TV
  • Free Wi-Fi access (which we weren’t able to access)
  • 24 hour standby generator

The room was ok. It was actually large enough for 4 people. The hotel’s a little far from the beach though but it’s near D’Mall at Station 2.

Hey Jude Resort Hotel Boracay
D’Mall D’ Boracay, Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan
+63362885401 to 02 / +639216247157 / +639228173227

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Red Butterfly Travel Series: Patar, Bolinao


The first time my friends and I went to Bolinao, it took us more than 12 hours to get there. It’s actually not that far and usually only takes around 6 hours or less (depending on traffic and how fast you drive). The reason it took that long is because we did the Visita Iglesia along the way. We went to 14 churches; from Antipolo to Marikina to Quezon City, all the way to Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Tired and hungry, we arrived around 9:30pm at Bing’s Beach Resort. Tempers flared when we found out that they already gave our room to someone else. Since we didn’t have the energy to look for another place to stay, we decided to just terrorize the receptionists and demand that they give us a room. We ended up spending the night at the reception hall/conference room (we didn’t have a choice). They gave us two rooms the next day. Continue reading

Red Butterfly Travel Series: Boracay


The first time my friends and I went to Boracay, we were greeted by large clumps of floating algae on the beach. Then when we got off the boat, I learned about the 3 stations:

  • Station 1 – for snob, rich or “feeling rich” people (socialites and foreigners included)
  • Station 2 – for people who are neither rich nor poor
  • Station 3 – for locals or really, really cheap people

I know. It sounds really harsh but that’s how it was explained to me. This really made me question people’s fascination with the place. But then I reminded myself that I was on vacation and that I didn’t go there to be bothered by such things. I went there with my friends to relax, enjoy and have fun.

It’s really hard not to like Boracay, what with its white sand (even though I like Bohol’s better), calm waters, its slew of beautiful half-naked people and gorgeous sunsets. I’m a sucker for sunsets. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I eventually fell in love with the place. Continue reading

Red Butterfly Travel Series: Mt. Pinatubo


I was in grade school when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. I remember asking my granny why it’s raining sand while I watched our roof slowly get covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash. The eruption was so destructive it killed a lot of people, destroyed a lot of properties and infrastructure, and even caused the earth’s temperature to drop (the volcanic ash reached as far as Russia and some parts of North America).

(photo from USGS)

After so many years of (thankfully) not exploding, this is what the crater looks like now.

When I saw this, it got me thinking; how could something so breathtakingly beautiful be so destructive? I wanted to cry. Seriously. But maybe that’s because I was also thinking: “What the fuck?! More than 3 hours of walking under the sun with blistered and bloody feet?! FINALLY! No more walking please or I will die!” Yes. I was really thinking that. Continue reading

Red Butterfly Travel Series: Potipot


Potipot is an island surrounded by white sand and calm, clear waters. It’s a perfect place to relax and escape the craziness of the city… for a few hours or so. Unless of course you bring your own tent, food and water, and you’re cool with cleaning yourself up with salt water.

When my friends and I went there a couple of years ago, there weren’t any establishments on the island yet. There was no electricity and no fresh water. I’m not sure though if things have already changed. Continue reading