Chasing Mr. Sunrise: A Ride to Pililla, Rizal

We met with the HOTMAMA! riders at five in the morning for a ‘breakfast ride.’


My own Mr. Dorito

It was  a loooooong ride from Malabon to Rizal but such was the feeling of those people who went to a different place for the first time.


You can imagine how difficult it is for a nocturnal to sleep at one in the morning and wake up at four but the view was worth it.


One would think that going to Rizal might be dangerous given how steep the roads and sharp the curves were but we saw a number of cyclists on the road, obviously in awe of the inspiring Mr. Sunrise.




His hair and his big bike got the attention of many.

The first part of our itinerary being finished, we rode on to the place where the windmills were: Pililla.

I didn’t miss the chance to ask them for a photo-op!




The HOTMAMA! Boyband. Yep, they’ve just started a band.


Apart from the quail-egg vending children, you can find places where you can get sustenance nearby. Look at Gerard here who was able to purchase some wafer sticks for an affordable price.


I may not be a windmill expert but I thought the ones in Ilocos looked taller than these guys but who knows? Perhaps the location was also a big factor to their sizes? What I do know though is apart from the serenity the place brings, the alternative source of energy is also big help to us. Then again, who cares about green energy when one look at the place can energize you?


Sir Chester and Ma’am Van took a pose for the nth honeymoon? 


The Guitarist and the Lead Vocalist of the HOTMAMA! band.


Congratulations on your first long ride, JM!


Affordable souvenirs from the Pililla!

We also found an adorable place not so near the windmills: The Daily Beans.


Situated in L. Sumulong Memorial Circle, Antipolo, The Daily Beans red and brown facade beckoned us to enter and have a light snack– well, it’s either that or we were so hungry.

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I certainly had fun taking pictures of the whole place just as much as I had trouble deciding between uploading the pictures in my own blog and doing a write up or submitting the whole thing to another online magazine!

The whole experience required a more personal approach as I immensely enjoyed it. I suppose you already know what choice I made.


A Guest Speaker’s 24 hours in Albay

Feb 23rd

Out of my excitement, I got to the airport about four hours before my flight. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited? I decided to make the most out of my time and stayed at the nearest charging station where I squeezed my brain out for an article.

While working on my pending article for WIM, I decided to go over my presentation again, wondering if I somehow missed something. Surely, I could modify some parts, add more information and delete the ones that weren’t exactly necessary for the presentation.

I had been invited by St. Raphael Academy, Legazpi, Albay, through the help of VIBAL Publishing, to deliver a speech for the school’s 69th Foundation Anniversary.
Containing my excitement had been very difficult because it would be a number of firsts for me: first time to travel to Albay, first time to handle a seminar with 2000+ participants, first time to speak in a foundation anniversary, etc. Seeing Mt. Mayon intensified that feeling. Who wouldn’t be so humbled seeing something so majestic?
Vibal booked me a room at Lotus Blu Hotel, a new hotel–as I was informed–somewhere in Terminal Rd 1. The place was marvelous. I had the room all to myself not unlike when I had been seen to Taiwan two years back.
The only difference was the view. If in Taipei, my room had had a great view of Taipei 101, in Legazpi, I had a great view of the sunset and Mt. Mayon engulfed in her blanket of clouds– I had assumed the volcano was a he but it was a she all along. Nonetheless, it was love at first sight.
After sifting and refining my article, inspired by the looming mountain of fire at a distance, I decided to head out to Four Seasons, a restaurant nearby. I’ve got to admit that I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t find a place where I could get authentic Bicolano food but man! Their fried chicken was amazing and you’ll love their beef noodles!
Just about five steps from the restau was a coffee shop after my own heart:
Artisan’s modern, chic, black and white environment called upon my Minimalist soul and I enjoyed it along with my iced Americano and double chip cookie cheesecake.

Feb 24th


Good morning, Mayon!

By now, I think it is obvious how much I loved Mt. Mayon.


One mirror-selfie chance that I couldn’t let pass ^_^


Miss Cindy and I almost got lost but we arrived at Legazpi City Convention Center just in time for my talk and lo and behold! Look at that crowd! The place was brimming with people: St. Raphael Academy’s administrators, faculty, students and parents. Sister Marilyn Gustilo confided that there were approximately 2300 participants in the venue.

What an honor!

The theme of St. Raphael Academy’s 69th founding anniversary was ‘Strengthening the Bond of Solidarity as One Raphaelite Community’ clearly embodied through the participation of 2300 people in the event.




Yours truly with Ms Cindy Go from Vibal and Sister Marilyn Gustilo of St. Raphael Academy

I was honestly amazed by how participative and enthusiastic the students and their parents were! It came as no surprise though since my topic was “The Impact of Social Media on Millennials” and I was pretty sure about 80% of them had access to social networks. Then again, Grade 3 students amazed me by reading a number of my slides and answering my questions in complete sentences. How cute!


After a one and a half hours of talk, I had to give myself a pat on the shoulder for preparing slides that the Raphaelites found interesting. It was amazing being asked questions about the presentation and responding appropriately in return. The commendation from the parents and Sister Marilyn with the certificate I got from the school was enough a reward for my efforts. I was blessed to be part of the celebration, and even more blessed to be recognized as a speaker.

Feb 24th, afternoon

After the event, Ms. Cindy accompanied me to places where I could buy souvenirs and try the famous SILI Ice Cream — which I definitely love!
We also visited Cagsawa where I had the chance to get a closer look at Mt. Mayon.



The girl in the black scarf!


It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was so proud of what I had been able to accomplish but like what I mentioned before, seeing Mt. Mayon humbled me and reminded me once again that I was a representation of something bigger.
PLUS: Reading this tweet on my flight back to Manila capped it all off.


Blog Feature: The Backpack Adventures

Our first Blog Feature highlights a travel blog, The Backpack Adventures hosted by a former classmate, Neil Alvin Nicerio. Through a series of chats in Facebook, I finally managed to convince him to answer questions about how he started blogging and what tips he could give to those who enjoy traveling and want to share their experiences.


Howdy, I’m Neil Nicerio. I’m a teacher, photographer, and a travel blogger.

You can check out my blog at (The Backpack Adventures)
  1. What does your blog offer?
My blog used to be a variation of a personal travel diary. However, through time it evolved into an educational type of travel blog where one can find out about the history of a place and the rates and itineraries too.

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2.What inspired you to put up a blog?
I love travelling and taking photos of landscapes and architecture. From that passion and my “acquired” love of words… my blog was “conceived”.
3. How often do you post updates?
During my first year, I “require” myself to post at least 10-15 articles but now I limit it to once a week.
4. Do you accept author contributions in your blog?
I don’t accept author contributions in my blog but I have a corner where I promote my peers blogs and websites
5. What awards/ recognition have you received through the blog?
So far, I haven’t received any awards and recognition for my blog but I have been invited to some media tours and promotional tours. I also got to write for travel mags.
6. Do you have any tips for those who want to put up a travel blog?
Travel, take plenty of photos, then write.


Neil Alvin E. Nicerio

Travel Blogger – Educator

Neil has already covered quite a number of places in the Philippines and Japan.
You can find Neil’s articles featured in TravelPlus.Ph here:
Kansai in a Week []
The Raw Beauty of Palui Island []
Visit his blog or tweet him @NeilNicerio



A two-cents worth on my short vacation in Ilocos and whatnot

By Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco

One of the perks of working hard in a good company is being able to travel to any place at any time and enjoy the experience. Naturally, the fatter your wallet gets the more freedom you have when you go on a trip. You don’t have to worry about the number of days you will spend in your destination, nor the budget you have for souvenirs and meals. All you have to worry about is the next pay day. Even that does not faze you because you know it is easy to get your money back.

After a long time, I felt this again. I felt the liberty a huge paycheck gives, and the satisfaction of exerting one’s effort and devoting one’s time in a company that gives back. A year ago, I experienced traveling to a famous tourist destination in the Philippines but not exactly enjoyed it due to the lack of resources. My previous workplace had a number of reasons—or I better say alibis–for deductions: taxes, absences, tardiness, delayed deductions, even computations that changed every year. Of course, I was not at all innocent. I have to say that going to that school was a pain and I intentionally went to school late. When my friends and I got to our destination, I found out that I only earned about twenty percent of my usual salary.

The place was breathtaking, every bit of it was a treasure to me. However, I did not feel any attachment to it despite the romantic view. It was a place meant for those people who wanted to feel good about their lives, but it only served as a reminder of a bad job I got myself into. I even asked myself if people only traveled to loosen up. What about those people who could go to places they wanted to go, spend their own money for the sake of exploring a place? It sounded all cheesy but then not everybody received two thousand pesos as a salary from their full time jobs so pardon me for the cheesiness.

This year, I told myself, it would be different. It would be one of the trips that I would always look back to. And it is.

I enjoyed a four-day vacation with Russell, our little gang, and some friends from a local TV station in Ilocos. We traveled from Pasay City to Ilocos via van; it not exactly the best way to travel to a far place considering the time we had but the journey was worthwhile and tolerable. We went to Calle Crisologo, a famous spot in Vigan. I would have enjoyed it more had there been few people around since the place gives off an aura of mystery in it. It was like being transported back in the era of the Spaniards.

Our next destination was Chavit Singson’s Baluarte. It was a zoo. That’s all there was to it. By the time we got there, it was only half-finished. It looked promising but what more can people actually look for in a zoo? I ended up pitying the tigers locked up in cages. But then again, I would pity myself more if they weren’t. It was good to see snakes slithering down the huge grassy lawn though unlike the ones children usually see in glass cages.

We got to the lighthouse too, a bell tower, Marcos’ Museum, Malacanang ti Amianan, and Paoay Church. The next day, we went to Bantay Abot Cave, Kapurpurawan Rock and Bangui Windmills. We were honored to take a look at the famous place where Fernando Poe Jr.’s Panday was shot.

The best part of the trip for me was swimming in Pagudpud where I was strongly tempted to try the Hannah Zipline which is the longest one in Asia. However, I had to argue with myself: nobody works so hard to spend a two-day earning on a zipline that lasts for two minutes, right? I only settled myself in swimming in the beach with my sun and stars. The experience was reminiscent of the Palawan one, when we had to settle our minute differences.

Getting back to my work place was almost difficult because I wished the trip could have lasted longer. What made it worse was when I saw my used-to-be-untarnished record marked with a very low percentage—the payment of not working for three days. I had a good surprise though when I got my pay slip: my pay was not as low as I expected it to be. It was…fair. There was a huge difference between that and what I usually get with complete attendance and good track record. But then again, the experience of going to a place cannot be paid and my salary deductions seem pretty low compared to what I get back. It was priceless.

Other people see going on a trip as an excuse to unwind, to lessen the stress they get from work. I have to admit that I also feel that way from time to time. This trip to Ilocos has given me a new perspective. There are three things I am grateful for: I can enjoy my trips because I have a job, I love my job even more, and my passion for traveling my country gets stronger. I realized the Philippines is too big for me and I have got to earn more money to explore it.

Those, ladies and gentlemen, encourage a person to work harder.