Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Charming Mangyan Village in Puerto Galera

Destination: Mangyan Village
Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Galera

....He occupied the front seat when they departed from the Ponderosa Golf and Country Club off to their next destination, the Mangyan Village. 

High on the hill where the grass was half clover, a clear view of the panoramic Puerto Galera and its surrounding islands was very real, he thought, "No one could ever paint this magnificent view" .   

As they drove down the hill, Rome took one last glimpse of the nature and made sure it will remain in his memory.

"Where's next?", he asked  their driver/tour guide, initiating a small talk. He was told that their next stop would be the Mangyan Village. A settlement of Mindoro’s indigenous ethnic group by the bank of Big Tabinay River and a gold-digging sites along the Small Tabinay River. 

The women of the village were gathering at the river doing their daily tasks when they arrived. Bathing their kids, do their laundry, or others perhaps gold panning. While the men were fixing their identical traditional wooden house. There are almost 300 identical houses in the village and a school.

Funded by the Ayala Foundation, he was told. A Non Government Organization, the village was initiated to provide sustainable working and learning opportunities for the indigenous Mangyans on the island of Mindoro, their driver added.

Rome used to work in a Non Government Organization, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Malampaya project based in Palawan in conservation and protection of wildlife with focus on the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin in his hometown, this project too is being funded by the Ayala Foundation. But that's another story.

At the main entrance of the village, handicrafts like woven textiles, beaded items, nito and rattan baskets handmade by Mangyan people in the mountainous regions of Mindoro are being sold. Any profits go towards cultural program, healthcare, and scholarships for Mangyan students.Check out their gallery here and how to order online.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Close to Heaven at Ponderosa Golf and Country Club, Puerto Gallera

Destination: Ponderosa Golf and Country Club
Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

When they went to their second destination on that day, he felt so close to heaven. He whispered thank you,  raised his hand and touched God's face.... He thanked God for the gift of nature....The air that gentle blew on his face was scented like a breath of million angels....

Rome and his travel buddies headed up to the mountaintop, the most spectacular view, overlooking the lovely Puerto Gallera. The panoramic zigzag roads located on mountain slopes 600 meters (2,000 ft) high above the sea, are surrounded by exotic and tropical flowers, plants and fruits.

Atop the mountain the Ponderosa Golf and Country Club is situated. From the Ponderosa Golf and Country Club, he was amazed by the unobstructed view of Puerto Galera in all its majestic beauty. The blue skies ended  to the island of Batangas. The reflection of the blue sky to the ocean was different shades of blue. It was a beautiful sight!

The Ponderosa Golf and Country Club has nine hole, artfully designed course. With abundant greens, trees, azure skies and gentle wind, it makes for an ambient and relaxing environment. It is an appeal to both nature lover and golfer.

A 1.2 kilometer zip line is being constructed when they visit the place. That will be a new attraction later of  this year! He was so excited  to come back and try it by the end of this year.

He hoped that this new attraction would push through and not be corrupted by some traditional politicians in the province.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Twofolds Tamaraw Waterfalls, Puerto Galera

Destination: Tamaraw Waterfalls,
Barangay Villaflor, San Teodoro City, 
Puerto Galera Oriental  Mindoro, Philippines

Ykaie's Birthday Celebration didn't just end with the fabulous Luau Party. The following day, Rome and his cousins availed a packaged and an exclusive trip up to the Tamaraw Falls, 15 kilometers from Puerto Galera and two other destinations (will be revealed on the next posts) apart from the waterfalls trip.  The scheduled tour costs Php 2000 courtesy of Ykaie's mom, Peachy. 

They went to the town's market first to buy food before proceeding to their destination. Anney bought seafood and some meat to be grilled.

A beautiful scenery paved away boredom on their way up. Lush, green vegetation on the right side while different shades of blue, endless ocean on the other side. The trip was approximately 1 hour. 

The 423-foot Tamaraw Falls is just a few meters off the road in Barangay Villaflor near the city of San Teodoro. The falls has a series of small falls. Water descends a series of rock steps into a natural pool that run under a concrete bridge into two man-made swimming pools across the national road, then flow out again into a jungle.

The falls derived its name from an endangered species of buffalo which can only be found in Oriental Mindoro. 

Rome stood by the edge of national road for a while, amazed by the magical beauty of the falls. From the tales of his childhood, he was imagining fairies roaming around their territory. He noticed small waves subsided against the bank of the natural pool, "perhaps the fairies were bathing", he thought.

He continued to be awed with its grandness that greeted him. Summer days has just started, he figured. Wildflowers were in full bloom. Looking steadily at the picturesque sight, the mist from the falls bring shivers inside him.He cant help but smile....

The entrance at the resort is Php 20 per person. There is a picnic area, recreation halls, picnic huts, and shower rooms adjacent to the two man-made swimming pools with flowing waters. They stayed near the kiddie pool.

The water was extremely cold! His nieces trembled at their first dip but when they get over the initial shock, they refused to come up anymore.

His desired to dip into the natural pool with gushing water pouring in him, but the water stream was so strong and the natural pool was barricaded. 

He decided to come back to fulfill his desire some time next summer.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Thursday last week when my cousins, nieces and I arrived in the nearby Province of Pampanga and stayed overnight in a hotel outside the Clark Freeport Zone to witness the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta the following day. 

We chose the Second Fiesta Day (Friday) avoiding the large influx of visitors during weekends. The kids were very excited! wondering what this out-of-town trip could offer (they thought, we'll be going swimming). They keep asking what the hot air balloon was look like and how big was it. I couldn't answer those question for that will be my first time to witness big balloons carrying people and reaching the sun too. 

Our accommodation was comfortable. We all woke up at 4:00 A.M. because we need to prepare and commute via passenger jeepney (30 minutes) going to the event's grounds. We arrived just in time, it was still dark. We spotted plenty of front row spaces and secured our area so the kids could see everything that flies on that day.

A beautiful Friday morning greeted us with a gale force of cold wind brought by the Northeast Monsoon in Pampanga's Field. 

I guess it was the perfect weather a hot air balloon pilot was waiting for to generate a lift and maneuver his balloon aircraft.

When the daylight came, we saw colorful and big hot air balloons partially inflated with cold air from a gas-powered fan. 

Fact: Raising the air temperature inside the envelope makes it lighter than the surrounding (ambient) air. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. 
Everyone stood still when the national anthem was played.

The kids and I were surprised when we saw a team of people sky dove from an aircraft while the Philippine National Anthem was being played. I was scared for them but entertained with what I've just witnessed. 

The Philippine Flag was attached in a parachute of one of the members of the skydiving team, waving through the air, slowly going down to the grounds. 

The Philippine Flag jump marked the start of the event. 

Propane burners are used for final inflation before the Hot Air Balloon flight.

Balloons were prepared for liftoff. 

The fields became a balloon safari, scattered balloons ready to fly... 

Spectacular! British Airways Balloon in flight. 

This big cake was my nieces' favorite!

The balloons took off one at a time and the sky was painted with colorful balloons afterwards. It was such a beautiful sight!

Everywhere I looked, I saw different shapes, vibrant colors... 

Seems like the balloons were racing to touch the sky.  Reminds of the song "I Believe in Dreams".... 
"I believe in dreams 
And I believe in miracles 
I believe the toy balloons 
Can reach the moon.... " 

Just like the song, the Balloon Fiesta dreams to fuel the passion of flying to both the young and the old to help move the aviation industry forward.

It also hopes to create jobs and business opportunities by promoting Tourism.

The Fiesta hopes to instill discipline in the young pilots participating in it so that they may be safe aviators for the country as well as impart the spirit of volunteerism to everyone. 

We purchased our tickets in Manila days before the event, P200 per person. This is our small contribution to the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Foundation that allows us to stay in the event site for the whole day.

The foundation utilizes these funds for organizing the show and for sending less privileged high school graduates aspiring to take a career in aviation. 

When the balloons took off, other aerial exhibitions followed like skydiving, paragliding, aeromodelling, ultralight flights, RC aircraft displays, and professional kite exhibitions. 

It was indeed a whole day of fun flying! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ykaie's Luau Party in Puerto Gallera's Shore

Location: White Beach, Puerto Gallera

The moment we arrived in our destination, the power duo of Anney and Peachy immediately prepared the much anticipated tropical Hawaiian themed birthday party of my niece and goddaughter, Ykaie. It's her 4th birthday celebration. Every year, she celebrates her birthday party in a grand style courtesy of her mom and her creative genius aunt Anney.

By the shades of a coconut tree, at the sea front of our accommodation they assembled the dishes that they pre-made in Manila. We had Bacon wrapped pineapple bites, Pineapple tarts, Hawaiian Fruit Skewers, Mini chocolate cupcakes, Pineapple cream cheese spread and crackers, Soy ginger porkchop with pineapple salsa, Sodas in hula skirts, and her Beach Luau themed birthday cookie tray. Click here to see the close up images.

We stayed at Villa Bienvenida resort we occupied 2 rooms . Click here for Peachy's accommodation review.