At the end of the year 2011 I had this strong feeling that my 2012 would be more awesome than the year before. I did not know how it would be more awesome but there’s that irrational sense of optimism within me that is ready to burst when 2012 arrived.
How did things go with my 2012? Here’s a month by month summary of the journeys I embarked upon.
With my irrational sense of optimism I launched my 12 for 2012 Travel Project which aims to document a place each month throughout the year around the Philippines to help travellers explore our country.
The first location for my travel project was Bolinao and Alaminos in the Province of Pangasinan where I was accompanied by Laiza of AzialBatangGala.com. We visited 3 caves with freshly cool water inside, a lighthouse, the white-gold colored beach of Patar, an old church, a marine laboratory and the Hundred Islands National Park.
Then I boarded a plane to the longest travel I will be doing away from home. It’s pursuing my dream of establishing a farm in Palawan.
When I arrived in Palawan I heard that my friends were going to visit Alimanguan in San Vicente, Palawan which I hesitated to invite myself but eventually did due to my itchy fit. I did not know then that Alimanguan was on the northern end of the Longest Beach in the Philippines.
Since I wanted to start a farm, an organic farm to be exact, I needed to equip myself with the proper knowledge and skills. I inquired at the Department of Agriculture on where they could provide training for Organic Farming and they said it would be in the off-the-beaten path baranggay of Caruray in San Vicente, Palawan! So for the following weeks I had to go back and fort riding the truck that looks like a jeepney through the bumpy road to Caruray which passes by a steep road that the locals call Ay Dios Ko (Oh My God in English).
Went to Taytay, Palawan to see a Medical Mission in Northern Palawan Provincial Hospital and by coincidence a friend of mine, Val, who was volunteering then for Tubbataha Reef was conducting an information dissemination campaign to students in town on how important it is to take care of our seas. After their lecture we visited Caniqui Falls.
My big brother then visited me in Palawan and we went to Sabang in Puerto Princesa. We already visited the Underground River before so that was no longer in our plan. We wanted to try out the different activities that Sabang has to offer. Unfortunately, we were on the mercy of a fixed day trip itinerary when we first went there that we were not able to try other activities. At least we got information on what else to do there. When we came back we visited the waterfalls and trying the paddle boat tour through the mangroves.
I went back to San Vicente, Palawan but this time to cover more grounds and seas as my friend, Val, and I explored the municipality visiting one of the best islands I’ve seen, the longest beach in the country, a dairy farm and the famous Port Barton.
Got a PM from Marky of NomadicExperiences.com that he was going to El Nido, Palawan. Since I only spent almost only a day on my first time in El Nido, I decided to join them and explore more of El Nido. Some people had other plans for adding spice to our adventure there.
And after 3 long months away from home, I excitedly went back to Manila to pursue my 12 for 2012 Travel Project.
I then went to the Cordilleras to document Hungduan, Ifugao where I visited one of their many rice terraces, a waterfall, a hot spring and slept in a lodging in the middle fo the rice terraces. Eventually, I toploaded again on the jeep going to Bontoc, Mountain Province and visited Sagada fulfilling two secret missions, to fulfill a promise and buy my mother coffee.
Spent almost the whole month of May in an adventure to go around Romblon with Dazl of DazzlingDazzle.com, Marky and new found friends named Pam and Jessica. We visited different waterfalls, islands, beaches and there were also islands we visited with the maximum width of the road is only less than 2 meters. This is one of my favorite travels of the year.
This was the time that my finances were already dwindling. It was one of the hardest decision that I had to make and that is to postpone my 12 for 2012 Travel Project. I’m not stopping or cancelling it, I’m just postponing it and achieve it slowly and surely. I already covered 5 out of 12 months and I hope I helped the 5 places I’ve been to. At the very least, I now had focus on the farm and will only be able to travel whenever my schedule is free.
But before I go back to Palawan I decided to give myself a challenge and to go on an overnight trip with only a thousand pesos as my budget and that’s how I ended doing the Bataan 1,000 Pesos Overnight Challenge. Luckily, Maui of TheTravelure.com was able to accompany me on this endeavor and we succesfully spent less than 1,000 Pesos on an adventure that included a church visitation, an attempt to hike to the top of Mount Samat and eventual hitch hiking, camping by the beach and visiting a pawikan sanctuary.
Then it was back to Palawan for me.
With the help of a friend in the Department of Agriculture I was able to do a visitation on Abo-Abo in EspaÃ±ola, Palawan where I had my super crash course on how to grow rubber trees. I also got to observe a unique public market that only gets busy on Thursday, on other days it has an atmosphere of a ghost town.
Dong Ho of EscapeIslands.com messaged me and he said that he was going to visit Southern Palawan. When I asked where specifically in Southern Palawan, he said go as south as possible. No itinerary. Just a simple plan to go as south as possible. When we met at the airport of Puerto Princesa we went straight to Rio Tuba to catch the boat going to the southernmost municipality of Palawan, Balabac Island. Unfortunately, we were late by an hour. So after admiring the houses on stilts design of Rio Tuba Pier we decided to slowly go back to Puerto Princesa but not before we explored the waterfalls of Brooke’s Point and we tried to look for the Katala of Narra which we unfortunately didn’t see given how easy it is to see one according to the locals but we did explore Borbon Beach and was lucky enough to see the old pier while a fishing boat just arrived.
My parents visited me in Palawan and since El Nido is one of my favorite beach in the country I decided to tour them around El Nido. It was a great to see them and spend some time with them even without the comfort of our home.
No travels for October.
When we did the go-south-as-possible plan we met Terrh inside a van going to Rio Tuba. She was just finishing her solo trip around Brooke’s Point and we were glad to have shared information with her. Turns out she also wanted to visit Tabon Caves in Quezon, Palawan. I asked when she was planning to go there and we set November as our trip to finally visit the historic site. I wasn’t expecting much of Tabon Caves but it turns out to be one of the best cave systems I have visited in the country.
I got in contact with Grasya of Grasya.com and found out that she was visiting Puerto Princesa and since I saw that she was visiting the Batak Center, I decided to tag along. We were also accompanied by friends who I already travelled with namely, Jeremiah and Julius, who was also into agriculture. The people of the Batak Tribe showed us what the almasiga sap is for and we get to know how they are doing in there. But only for a brief moment, it takes time to really get to know how people live.
I was having a hard time working at this time of the year as I was really excited to be coming back home and spending quality time with family and friends. And on December 19, I was able to come back home here in Manila. Dine with parents, brother, cousins, pamangkins, titos, titas, lolos, lolas and friends. Sleeping on my own usual bed and eating the delicious homegrown lutong-bahay food. There’s really no place like home.
Do I consider my 2012 more awesome than my 2011?
YES! Even if there was a change of plans in the middle of the year I still had a great year. I still travelled and I travelled with fellow Pinoy Travel Bloggers. Met new friends on the road and still keeping in touch with them, though some no more communication. And most importantly, I learned a lot of lessons.
But I’m still not finished with 2012. I still have to finish my 12 for 2012 Travel Project. One place at a time.
I started my 2012 with an irrational sense of optimism, I ended the year with a rational one.
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