Bicol Photo Diary: Panoramic views and the Deer Farm in Ocampo

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My visits to Bicol have always been very chill and relaxed, but last week we had quite a packed itinerary, thanks to fortuitous circumstances and some spur-of-the-moment planning! We went to several towns and this is the first of a series of posts about my longest (and most event-filled) visit to Ranie’s hometown — so far 🙂

I still spent Monday and Tuesday primarily at work, hogging a couple of couches in some neigborhood coffee shops. But on Wednesday afternoon, we piled into a couple of cars and drove through Ocampo’s scenic highways to visit the Deer Farm — who knew?! After rows and rows of rice paddies and small houses, there the deer were — serenely napping in groups unless they were feeling hungry for sweet potatoes. Entrance to this sanctuary is free, and it’s a great stopover especially if you’re with children.

It was the first of several newfound discoveries about Bicol on this trip. The weather was cool and the rolling hills were begging for selfies and then some. Ranie’s friend, Francia, happens to be a wedding photographer / videographer and she wasted no time in setting us up in various layouts for a very late prenup / very early honeymoon shoot — we were more than willing to pose anyway.

Before heading to our next destination (to be revealed in the next post), we drove through a highway that thoroughly resembles Tagaytay, except that there is nothing on each side of the road except tall grass and overlooking views of more rice paddies and coconut farms. We stopped at the side of the road to have lunch, and I was surprised with how cool the weather was, high up on those hills!

I must admit that though I’ve always known Bicol to be a beautiful, wide region, I’ve never truly understood or appreciated its vastness until last week. I got to experience both everyday life and “adventure life” and felt so good throughout that the idea of staying here for longer periods didn’t seem too intimidating or impossible. Now if only 4G were more available everywhere…


Mt. Daguldol and Laiya

dagundong-daguldol-26 Continue reading “Mt. Daguldol and Laiya”

Walking on the ‘Dinosaur Spine:’ Mt. Batulao, Batangas

BATULAO (811 masl) – It’s one of the most popular hike destinations in the Southern Tagalog Region!

And with good reason: the “new trail” is basically a traverse through 12 mini-peaks that offers a scenic, sprawling view of Balayan Bay and even Taal and Mt. Maculot on a clear day. Continue reading “Walking on the ‘Dinosaur Spine:’ Mt. Batulao, Batangas”

Mt. Ulap, February 2017

Mt. Ulap (Ampucao-Sta. Fe Ridge) in Itocon, Benguet offered quite a few firsts for me – cold-weather hiking (in the PH at least), camping at the base of a summit, and at 1856masl, it’s the highest local peak I’ve reached so far.

We traversed this “Mini-Pulag” last weekend, when the temp reached at least 10 degrees Celsius (but felt like a 6), and there was a dense, delicious fog that permeated the trail. (“Forks!” said Justine. I completely missed the Twilight reference). Continue reading “Mt. Ulap, February 2017”

Postcards from Siquijor


With my meager travel experience, Siquijor isn’t top of mind when recommending beach or getaway destinations in the Philippines. But thanks to a work trip, I discovered that it deserves more attention, especially for those who are seeking adventure-filled itineraries.

I’m filing an official story this week and here are some of my outtakes (will update this post with excerpts once the article is published). Scrolling through all the photos we took again, for inspiration. Continue reading “Postcards from Siquijor”

Taal Crater Lake, June 2016

Father’s Day, June 19 – 24 hours awake for another working weekend with a pickup truck and an SUV. This time, we followed an adventure-loving family around Taal and Tagaytay. I had completely overlooked the part of our shot list which mentioned a 45 minute hike so I showed up in dark jeans, slip-ons, and had zero sunscreen – the view was worth the sunburn though. We also had stopovers at Asia’s largest stone church (been here at least four times already), an unnamed back beach, and of course, steaming bulalo. Continue reading “Taal Crater Lake, June 2016”

Bantayan Island in Cebu, June 2016

Our last hurrah for the summer was a short but very fulfilling trip to Cebu! It was my first time here and I am glad to report that I was able to pack in our 2.5 days with the good stuff. I thought I’d make a video 🙂 Hope you enjoy.

Continue reading “Bantayan Island in Cebu, June 2016”

Masungi Georeserve, May 2016


Masungi Georeserve is only 30 minutes away from Marikina. It is a 1600-hectare property where the PH’s only exposed Paleocene (50-60 million years old!!!) rock formations can be found. Since 1996, it has been painstakingly restored, protected, and prepared to help people appreciate our country’s biodiversity and to inspire them to protect our environment as well. There are issues concerning its ownership at the moment but am inclined to side with the development company currently in charge of it now as their model aims to mix conservation and empowerment of the immediate community.  Continue reading “Masungi Georeserve, May 2016”

La Union, April 2016

Processed with VSCO with e3 presetSan Juan, La Union – a veritable surf town, a paradise for backpackers, and a very accessible getaway for those who want to ride waves, relax, and slow down time for a little bit, for a little while, or forever.

It wasn’t hard to understand why so many people I know (friends, co-workers, people I stalk on Instagram) have fallen hard for this place. On the weekend we headed there, the swell was barely present, but we managed to get a couple of hours of lazy waves. Next time, we’ll make sure to check out those wave forecast websites.  Continue reading “La Union, April 2016”

Norte, February 2016

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Went to Ilocos with a few good friends two weekends ago. At one of the northernmost provinces of the Philippines, we found good food, scary waves, icy mint waters, and a breathtaking awareness and gratitude for nature’s Creator.

More photos after the jump!  Continue reading “Norte, February 2016”