The sun was in its full glory as I watched it set along the seascape of Zambales. The shoreline was bustling with people – kids enjoying their swim, a couple of guys riding the waters with their skimboards, and the sunset catchers enjoying the orange-red sun. Despite the different activities happening around, the chill vibe of the place was very evident. It seemed that time stood still as soon as we stepped onto the sands of Liwliwa, Zambales.
Tucked along the western coast of the Philippines, Liwliwa is a small sitio in San Felipe that is a popular destination for surfers and skimboarders. It is an off-beat destination that exudes the chill vibe that gives its guests the opportunity to disconnect and simply enjoy time as it slowly passes through. It is interesting that Liwliwa has maintained its laidback atmosphere despite its surging popularity among travellers.
Here are 7 #WhenWithFilipinos things that you can do to enjoy the weekend chill of Liwliwa.
CATCH THE SUNSET
I was in complete awe as I watched the setting sun along the coastline of Liwliwa. Catching the sunset was one of the reasons why we travelled for 4 hours from the Manila and the place did not disappoint. It was amazing to watch the round sun glaring in red and orange against the light blue and light pink shade of the sky. Sitting down by the beach while watching nature’s beauty makes you realize that the best things I life are definitely free.
So #WhenWithFilipinos in Liwliwa, never miss out on watching the glorious sunset of Zambales and don’t just watch it… take off your shoes and enjoy it! It will definitely sweep you off your feet.
Although Liwliwa has a number of decent accomodations, the best way to enjoy your visit is to set up camp. We initially wanted to camp out for the night but I did not want to miss out on the opportunity of spending a night in our own "bahay-kubo" - a Filipino house made from bamboo. Mommy Phoebe's have a number of wooden huts that are for rent. The prices vary depending on the number of occupants. I think we did end up renting the biggest hut for a really good rate and we enjoyed a peaceful slumber, cooled by the beach breeze.
We still had our tent set-up the next morning right at the beachfront. As the shores of Liwliwa stretches long and wide with minimal shelter, our tent served as our shelter from the heat right by the beach. Just make sure to anchor your tent very well as the wind can be tricky.
Whether you are renting a hut or camping out, Liwliwa is all about going back to the basics and #WhenWithFilipinos expect it to be lots of fun.
INDULGE YOUR PALATE
#WhenWithFilipinos expect to be in a company of food lovers and Liwliwa is a place where you can indulge yourself to variety of food that would tease your palate. We ended up satisfying our tummies with green mangoes with alamang (shrimp paste) as our afternoon snack just right after we watched the sunset. This usual Filipino treat is heavenly.
There are a number of eateries in Liwliwa but nothing beats the hospitality of Mommy Phoebe's. It really feels like home when you dine here. I enjoyed their fresh seafood and their longganisa. And one thing that you should not miss out is Mommy Phoebe's shakes. It is said to be the best in the area. It is so good that whenever I remember it now, I crave for it badly. It is one of the best!
SHARE STORIES UNDER THE STARS
Evenings are very laidback in Liwliwa and the best way to enjoy the evening is to share stories under the stars. We headed off to the shoreline and enjoyed listening to the sound of crashing waves while being refreshed by the cool evening breeze blowing from the beach.
You can also opt to gather around a bonfire and have a nightcap with your friends. Share stories and make new ones. And as the evening goes deeper, you can all try your hand in capturing the Milky Way.
#WhenWithFilipinos, there will always be stories shared around the campfire and under the stars.
EXPLORE: KEEP WALKING
Never miss out on exploring Liwliwa when you find yourself in Liwliwa. I found myself doing an early morning walk along the beach and was lucky to catch Liwliwa waking up to a new day. Campers preparing breakfast while others were tidying up their areas from the evening's night cap. In one of the open huts by the beach, I caught a young boy who just woke up to a new day. It was nice to catch the Zambales seascape and landscape void of the usual crowd.
I was even luckier to catch a group of fishermen who just came in with their fresh catch from the sea. It is one of those things that I love capturing in my photos. I also enjoy buying fresh produce from locals. Unfortunately, I had no cash with me so I had to be content with just taking photos.
I heard that there is a nearby waterfall that you can explore but we opted to just enjoy the beach during our visit. I will probably check it out when I return. Just keep exploring Liwliwa #WhenWithFilipinos.
DO THE 3S – SWIM, SURF, OR SKIMBOARD
Apart from swimming, the waves that hit the shores of Liwliwa is ideal for surfing and skimboarding. This is the reason why Liwliwa attracts enthusiasts of the board culture. So do not be surprised to find individuals riding its waves. It is interesting to find the mix of surfers, skimboarders, and beach bummers in one venue on a regular day.
There are instructors available if you want to learn how to surf or skimboard. We did hire a teacher to teach Asher how to surf. We did try to make Asher stand up and surf but she was too afraid to just let go. We will probably have to do it again soon.
Remember that there is always something new and exciting to learn #WhenWithFilipinos.
BE AN ARTIST (EVEN FOR JUST A DAY)
There is something about the vibe of Liwliwa that makes your creative juices flow. It can be because of its laidback vibe, its board culture, or a combination of both. Whatever reason behind it, let the creativity flow and do not suppress it. In fact, the Circle Hostel allows its guests to contribute their artistic skills to decorate its hostel.
In my case, I found every corner of Liwliwa photogenic so I enjoyed trying my hand in mobile photography. It was easy to capture Liwliwa's facet in a frame. I especially enjoyed trying to capture the waves using my Go Pro. We tumbled and laughed just to capture that great Liwliwa wave.
You are always in a company of creative talents #WhenWithFilipinos so just inhale the creativity. Write a song, draw, take that shot, or simply hum that tune that is ringing inside your head.
POST TRAVEL NOTES:
If I were to describe Liwliwa in one word, "chill" is the best one to use. This is one destination that ultimately defines the real meaning of the "chill vibe" that we all look for during our trips to the beach. Liwliwa is so laidback that our trip, even if we were only there for less than 24 hours, seemed a full 2-day respite from our city lives. It was as if time slowed down and that we enjoyed every minute of our stay. It did help that we had the basics to enjoy - camping out, swimming, a night under the stars, etc. It is a destination where you get to really chill even with the crowd, which there is not much either. More importantly, the sense of community and the hospitality of the locals made the experience memorable. Liwliwa is a place where you have to be one with the locals to enjoy it.
From the mountains to the beach, @thetravelingdada continues to uncover different destinations that calls for a different sense of adventure. Liwliwa had taught us the right way to chill and enjoy the beach. So if you are looking for a relaxing weekend vibe, Liwliwa will not disappoint you. It is a 5-star destination on our list and it is a place that is worth heading up to every now and then.
Getting there: You can take a Victory Liner bus that goes directly to Sta. Cruz or Iba in Zambales. Ask the driver to drop you off at San Felipe where you can take a tricycle to Liwliwa. Alternatively, you can also take the Olongapo-bound bus (via SCTEX is preferred). From Olongapo, you can then take a bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz.
We highly recommend Mommy Phoebe's Place if you plan to rent a cottage or pitch a tent. She and her staff are so accommodating. She also has a small canteen where you can have your meals and a their must-try fruit shakes - guaranteed to be one of the best. You can reach her at (0918) 5458007.
Budget Allocation per head: Php1500 approx. It covers transportation, accommodation, and 3 meals.
“Mobile phone lang gamit mo?” (You only used your mobile phone?).
This is an interesting question that I usually get when people find out that I only use my mobile phone for my travel shots that I post on my social media platforms and on my travel blog. My friends and those who follow me on social media assume that my “weapon of choice” for photography is a DSLR or a digital camera. I remember one time when one of my college friends was concerned with pre-booking check-in luggage for our Indonesia trip because he thought that I will be bringing along with me “photography equipment”. He was pleasantly surprised to find out that I only use my mobile phone during trips.
At some point, it is flattering for my output to even be considered a product of a highly sophisticated equipment when the truth is that I am an avid fan of mobile photography – a relatively new spectrum in capturing images using mobile phones. The advent of mobile phone cameras provided a new “artillery” for people who loves to travel. The new medium allowed us to capture quality images and share our travel stories in real-time using a gadget that we can conveniently bring along trips.
Interestingly, a friend of mine asked me to check out the Sony Alpha A5000 in one of our trips. It took a lot of prodding from him to convince me to checking it out because I am not a huge fan of bulky DSLR cameras. I reasoned that I once owned a DSLR and I found it to be a real hassle during trips. He said that this camera was of a different league.
One thing that really stood out for me when I checked out the Sony Alpha A5000 is the camera’s compact size and low weight which makes it appealing to me as a traveler. Yes, size matters for travelers. I make sure that I pack light during my trips and the gadgets that I use for travel photography should fit in one backpack or messenger bag. With the Sony A5000’s sleek size and weight, travelers will no longer have to worry about slugging a bulky and heavy DSLR. The camera complements the size of mobile phones so it is a lot easier to slip it in your bag and take it out to capture more precise pictures while on a trip.
Travel stories are best expressed with clear and crisp pictures. The narratives of my travels are good but the pictures gives that spice that make the story come alive to my blog readers. It is very important that I capture great pictures using my mobile phone. You will be surprised as to how much phone photography accessories inside my bag whenever I travel to help me catch that perfect shot.
The Sony Alpha A5000, despite its size, can breathe more precision and life to a traveler’s capture, be it a panoramic shot or a selfie. The camera, unlike mobile phone cameras, allows the traveler to manually manage the specifications to enhance the quality of the traveler’s capture. The ability to enhance the quality of the photos at the time of capture is a huge come on for mobile phone users, like me, as most mobile phones does not allow us to manually adjust the specs of the shots that we take. At the same time, the tiltable LCD screen allows the traveler to capture images from a different angle with more flexibility. This means the user has more opportunity to capture moments at different perspective with ease.
The fun part of it is that the Sony Alpha A5000 can communicate with mobile phones with its WiFi capabilities. This means that the user can easily transfer pictures from the camera to their mobile phones which also means that the traveler can easily edit these captures and post it on their social media platforms in real time. It is about sharing that moment with the traveler’s families, friends, and followers as it happens.
The Sony Alpha A5000 is one gadget that levels up the game of mobile photography enthusiasts and travelers. It is a camera that allows travelers the flexibility to capture precise shots, share it on different social media platforms, and it comes in a travel-friendly and compact size that is almost similar to mobile phones. It covers the three basics that travelers look for in their gadgets – convenience, creativity, and connectivity. It is a compact camera that would enhance the traveler’s visual storytelling.
As summer kicks in here in the Philippines, the camera would come in handy as a great travel companion when I explore the islands of Balabac in Palawan, Romblon, and the falls of Real, Quezon. It would be interesting to level up my photography skills for my social media platforms and this travel blog using a perfect travel companion – the Sony Alpha A5000.
First, let me start off by saying that this was not the initial topic that I wanted to blog about for this week. In fact, I am almost done with the blog that I initially started writing about when I decided to shift topic after a disappointing hotel experience yesterday. Yes, I am deviating from my politically charged blogs this week to give way to a more “learn from experience” blog.
I seldom blog about bad customer service in length because, being in the customer service industry, I have learned to be understanding of situations that involves meeting customer expectations. I have had my own share of clients, handling concerns from the tame ones to the really rude ones, so I am aware of the things that happen when these kinds of situations arise. I always put myself in the shoes of the staff to make me see what is viable among the “solutions” that they present to me and to make me calm down.
But yesterday’s experience was definitely one for my books.
Let me kick it off by sharing with you what happened. On the last week of January, my wife told me that they were going to have their annual conference in Marriott Hotel in Pasay City. Just like in her previous physician conferences, we always tag along with her so I decided to book a room near the venue. I know that these kinds of conferences are well-attended that it was imperative that I book way ahead of time. I did book a room at Belmont Hotel because it is close to the venue and it has a swimming pool.
My wife checked a day ahead in the same hotel and I asked her to confirm our room reservation for the next day to which the hotel staff confirmed our booking. I asked her to make a request for an earlier check-in time to which the same staff said that they cannot guarantee it but she will give Jeh a call if it was possible. She did give her a call on the day of our reservation to inform us that our request cannot be accommodated due to the volume of hotel guests. I understood the situation.
So we arrived at 3pm.
To my surprise, I was turned over to the manager-on-duty and I was told that I cannot be accommodated in the hotel because the electricity supply got cut-off in one of the floors rendering it “uninhabitable”. I perfectly understood the situation but after being told that it was out for a week now, I was asking as to why they confirmed my booking and denied my request for an early check in considering that they had a situation? All that she could do was apologize and they did give me options – be transferred to another hotel, about three blocks away, or to another hotel along Roxas Boulevard.
My wife insisted that we stay there as it would be a hassle moving her stuff from one hotel to another and we told her that we were willing to wait. The manager-on-duty said that even we were to wait the whole day, there is no room available. Jeh then said that why did your staff confirm with her yesterday? Again, all she could do was apologize. She also verified that rooms are assigned to guests only upon check-in.
I gathered my thoughts and weighed the options. I was looking into transferring to the hotel three blocks away but remembered that the reason why I did not book in the hotel was it has no pool. So I told the manager that I wanted to be transferred to a hotel with a pool. She gave me two options – transfer to the one on Roxas Boulevard, which is far from the venue, and use their hotel pool. Funny that she would ask me to walk three blocks just to use their pool and just imagine having to walk back dripping wet – such a hassle.
Here comes the clincher – her fellow doctor comes in, 15 minutes after us, and was able to check-in to a room. I also observed some guests coming in and were being given rooms. We asked as to why she and the others got a room and she explained that there are rooms that were checked in from the day before. How can somebody be checked in from the day before when obviously she just arrived? It was then that I got upset and made my demand that they find me a room in the hotel or an alternative hotel in the area with a pool at no extra cost.
In my frustration, I blurted out that I was a travel blogger with my own website. I saw the change in her face and asked for a moment. She went inside the office and in less than 5 minutes, take note… 5 minutes, she comes back to us and informs me that we can now check-in.
I asked her to help me understand as to why suddenly they have an available room. She quipped that it was because of a late booking cancellation. Two things came into my mind – luck was on our side that she came in just right in time for a room availability or the hotel was just simply a f*ck up and was giving me a convenient excuse. Save your conclusions for later.
We were able to check-in 50 minutes later after we arrived.
What did I pick up on these “unique” experience?
WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS TO YOUR CLIENTS
We have always heard that what you say does not matter, it is how you say it.
This statement only holds true IF you are being honest and transparent to your clients. However, if you give false information and, through the process, your client figures it out, no matter how nice you give your justification, you simply tarnished your brand. It will then affect how your customer will deal with you during and after the rendering of your service. In short, what you say and how you say it will determine whether your client will trust you or not.
Let me be transparent with how I processed the information that was being relayed to me and how it affected the whole “Belmont” experience:
Belmont Staff Statement: You are only assigned a room once you check-in.
My thoughts: With this statement, I easily figured that they overbooked and the hotel is already at maximum capacity. Why then was my wife’s colleague able to check-in considering that we arrived 15 minutes earlier before her? We had the same case, we were booked on the same day and yet a room was assigned to her immediately.
Belmont Staff Statement: Even if you wait for the rest of the afternoon, no room will be available.
My thoughts: The staff stood her ground and held us up for 45 minutes but after I asserted my point and introduced myself further, a room suddenly became available in less than 5 minutes. I was given the reason that the room availability was because of a last minute cancellation. So I go back to the first statement – you are only assigned a room once you check-in. I definitely did not see anyone at the reception cancelling their room after they checked in.
The first two statement are both crucial as I lead to the third statement. But before I just do that, let me point out that at the time that we were having the “stand-off”, these thoughts were running in my mind. I was starting to doubt the integrity of the information being relayed to me. In simple terms, “niloloko ba ako nitong kausap ko?”
Do not get me wrong, the manager-on-duty were saying things in the nicest way she can but when a room suddenly became available, I started to not trust her and any of the staff from that point on so no matter what assistance they offered, like assisting me to the room, I blatantly refused. I simply did not trust them.
Which then leads me to the third statement.
Belmont Staff Statement: One floor does not have electricity so we have less rooms to accommodate guests.
My Thoughts: Throughout the duration of my stay, I made a mental note of the floors where people were going on and going off from the elevator. I had to confirm whether there was truth to what I was told. Guess what? All floors seemed to be occupied.
This was a case where the words spoken by the staff mattered to a guest and the conflicting statements had an adverse effect towards the actual guest’s experience. My whole experience became a “witch hunt” on the validation of what I was being told earlier on. It did not help that the conflicting statements at the start and as the whole experience progressed my doubts were being validated. In the end, I started to cast doubt on the integrity of every staff that even if they offered help, I simply turned them down. I simply did not trust them.
In short, be mindful of what you tell your clients because they will always find ways to validate the information you hand them. The honesty will determine the level for trust, or in my case - distrust, that they will give your brand and your staff.
MANAGE CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS AND CONSIDER CONVENIENCE
It was also interesting to note that my Belmont experience also brought into light a very crucial element of service delivery – understanding the expectations and convenience of the guests or clients.
Understand that prior to us entering the premises of the hotel, our expectations were already set. We confirmed our booking from the day before and the turning down for our early check-in request was some sort of a confirmation on the hotel’s end that we had a confirmed booking with them. So you can just imagine the frustration of traveling for 2 hours from my point of origin only to be greeted with a “booking concern”.
If I were to take Belmont Hotel’s excuse that they had maintenance issues that has been running for a week, they should have had anticipated the problem. Remember that they had two opportunities of open communication to us prior to our arrival. And yet they still went through with the confirmation.
It was interesting to also note that they would inconvenience me to walk three blocks just to have access to the pool. It was quite obvious that they cared less about giving their guests a great experience. I got the impression that they didn’t care for their guests to even consider offering me pool access that was three blocks away. I couldn’t imagine myself walking the streets of Newport dripping wet.
Honestly, I did not feel the sincerity of the apologies of the hotel staff the whole time. They were simply trained to speak that way and they do not care less.
A great experience will always emanate from the value of caring for your guests. It is about managing expectations ahead of the actual experience. I have always maintained with my team that you anticipate and inform the affected client, way ahead, because it shows that you care for them. Furthermore, you always provide solutions based on their expectations and their convenience because it shows that you are not only addressing the inconvenience that you caused them but it also shows that you are taking that extra step to make the situation better for them.
It is simply showing that you care.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER
I have always shared that the first point of contact will determine how clients will evaluate the brand. A good impression will give a lasting one but a bad impression will make clients critical of everything. As an example, a client who had a bad first impression who sees a single candy wrapper on the floor will see your facilities as dirty.
It was the same case during my stay in Belmont Hotel. The initial contact created an “untrustworthy” atmosphere that I started being critical about the experience. I did not entertain any assistance from any of the staff. I found the room small. Worse, I got an impression that they do not really put emphasis on cleanliness after I saw an empty C2 bottle, from the previous guest, tucked inside the refrigerator. The housekeeping did not even bother to clean it out! It was gross that I did take a picture of it. As a result, we kept checking the complimentary water if it was sealed and was not previously opened.
The bad experience at the start magnified the small things. The usual stuff that I would have probably set aside on a normal day became noticeable and all these noticeable things defined my Belmont experience. And it all began because of a bad first impression.
As of this writing, I received an email and a reply on my FB feedback from a Belmont Hotel manager apologizing for the inconvenience and offering me a free room upgrade on my future visit. Honestly, I am no longer interested on staying at the hotel. My recent stay have clearly defined what I now call my Belmont experience and it was not a nice picture. It is definitely an experience that I do not wish to repeat.
My Belmont experience highlights an important lesson - building your brand boils down to experience. The experience that you give your clients will define your brand and the values that the brand stands for. The experience that you offer will make your brand stand out from the rest and it starts at the moment your client steps into your establishment.
The cool February mountain breeze of the Cordillera was a relief from the heat of the sun and from the trekking along the mountain trails of Benguet. I was telling Asher, my little girl and my travel partner, that you are not considered a Baguio local unless you have tried and survived hiking along the many trails in Baguio. This was not the first time that both of us were on a trail but it was definitely our first mountain trail. And this time, we were joined by Jeh who was also eager to breath in some mountain air.
It was definitely a hike to remember as we all walked ON a cloud.
Mount Ulap, located in Itogon, Benguet, sits on a height of 1846 meters above sea level. The hike along the Mount Ulap Eco-Trail offers scenic views of the Cordillera mountain ranges and Baguio City. On a fine day, you can also catch a glimpse of the flat lands of Pangasinan and the seascape of La Union.
The whole Mount Ulap experience involves trekking to the three peaks of the mountain range – Ambanaw Paway, Gungal, and Mount Ulap. The hike usually takes 5-6 hours from start to finish depending on your pacing and your stops along the way. You can opt to go for a day hike or spend the night in one of its two designated campsites.
Rocking It Out in Ambanaw Paway Peak
Kuya Amor was explaining to us that the first part of the trek was usually the most challenging for those who visit the Mount Ulap Eco-Trail. The early part of the activity can be physically demanding because one deals with the ascent, for most parts. After registering at the barangay hall, paying the necessary fees and being assigned to Kuya Amor, we had to take a 10 minute walk along the paved roads of Itogon to the jump-off point.
The ascent to the mountain range started as soon as we reached the jump-off point. The uphill challenge took us by surprise considering that we did not physically prepare for this hike. Every now and then, we were treated with a glimpse of the beauty of the Cordillera mountain ranges. There were viewing decks along the trail that offered amazing views of Baguio City, Santo Tomas, and the Cordillera Mountain Ranges. These brief stops were our chance to stop, enjoy the view, and recharge ourselves before moving along the trail.
One of the viewing spots along the trail is a suspended rock formation that gives you an amazing view of the mountains. Stepping onto the stone is a challenge for people who have fear of heights like me. My legs got shaky looking down at the complete drop onto a steep mountain side from the rock. Kuya Amor said that this particular rock formation was just a teaser for what is ahead.
After about an hour of trekking along the dense mountain cover, we finally caught a glimpse of the rolling mountain side of the Ambanaw Paway Peak – the first peak. Standing at 1788 meters above sea level, the first peak gave us a full view of the trail that was ahead of us. The peak offers a panoramic 360-view of Mount Ulap, Baguio City, Philex, Santo Tomas, and the flatlands of Pangasinan.
I consider the Ambanaw Paway Peak to be the place for rockies. It was a place where most visitors try their hand on rock balancing so do not be surprised to see a lot of “rock artworks” around the area especially on one of its peaks. This attraction make the Ambanaw Paway unique among the three peaks of the Mount Ulap Eco-Trail.
No Fears In Gungal Peak
We were lucky that we had cloud cover when we traversed the eco-trail of Mount Ulap. As there were not much forest cover, we were blessed to have been shielded by the clouds from the sun’s rays and the winds blowing from the Cordillera side. I did end up getting sunburned though. I guess it was because we started late on the trail compared to most visitors who start very early in the morning so the sun was relentless on us, at certain parts of the trail.
As we continued on to the next peak, we were treated to more panoramic views of the surrounding areas as we traversed narrower trails. At certain points, the heights can be dizzying on both sides and it can be uncomfortable to people who are afraid of heights. I kept reminding myself to focus on the trail.
The trek to Gungal Peak makes you face the fear of heights. Apart from navigating through narrower trails, the rest stop has a natural feature of a jagged rock that juts from its steep mountain side. It will pre-set your mind on what to expect once you reach its peak.
Gungal Peak sits at 1814 meters above sea level. The peak is unique because of its jagged rock formations. Its main attraction is not for the weak of heart as it will make you come face-to-face with dizzying heights – Gungal Rock.
Gungal Rock is a huge slab of rock that protrudes out of the steep hillside of the second peak of the Santa Fe Ridge. The rock is suspended with its base anchored on the side of the mountain. It is a favorite photo spot by those who dare take on the challenge of stepping on the slab for that gritty shot. Of course, we mustered enough courage to take on the challenge.
Panoramic Mount Ulap
Mount Ulap’s peak can be seen from Gungal Peak. Judging from the vantage point, I figured that it was going to be another 20-30 minutes of hike to reach the most popular peak along the ridge. The groups who went ahead of us were like small ants on a line as they continued on the final leg.
We trudged on the trail but we were more cautious because of the loose soil along the narrow trail can cause you to slide down its steep slope. Every now and then, I would stop to admire and capture the beauty of nature. We had one final assault before reaching the peak of Mount Ulap. Our tired muscles were already screaming from the physical activity but that did not stop us from pushing forward. Great thing was that the final leg was done under the canopies of forest covers.
Mount Ulap is the poster image of the Santa Fe Ridge. Sitting at 1846 meters above sea level, the peak offers a panoramic view of the Cordillera mountain range and Pangasinan on the left while La Union and Santo Tomas is on the right. Baguio is also visible from the peak. The 360-view was simply awesome.
While most recent visitors probably had to deal with the influx of hikers during their visit, we had a full unadulterated views from Mount Ulap’s peak in all its glory and without the usual crowd. It worked to our advantage that we started our hike late because we had the whole summit for ourselves. We even requested to stay behind for a few more minutes just to enjoy our Mount Ulap moment.
Post Travel Notes
As we cautiously traversed the steep downhill trail to our exit point in Santa Fe, the Mount Ulap Eco-Trail experience brought back childhood memories of my growing up years in Baguio. The verdant mountainside that surrounds Baguio City is enough reason for the younger ones to explore the outdoors. I must say that my love for the outdoors and adventures were born out of the hikes that my friends have done during the early years.
The trail that leads up and down Mount Ulap was a welcome relief from the very emotional weeks that preceded it. Nature has a therapeutic way of healing. The greens, the fresh air, and the amazing panoramic views helped ease the pain of losing someone dear in our family’s lives. It seems that the mountain ranges of the Cordillera seem to have that healing power emotionally. It is funny BUT it is true.
The Mount Ulap Eco Trail challenges you and yet manages to give you your due reward in the end. The 8-hour traverse challenged us physically while the trail challenged us mentally by making us face our fear of heights. Mount Ulap is our first family encounter in conquering a mountain and I am extremely proud of my little girl for having overcome Mount Ulap at a very young age.
Mount Ulap did not only challenged us but it also managed to lead us to emotional recovery through nature’s healing. The whole experience taught me that everything in the world was created interconnected with each other and the earth has a natural way of healing itself and everyone in it. I like the way it was phrased in one of my favorite movie “Jurassic Park”… “Life finds a way”.
Getting There: Baguio is a 4-hour non-stop Deluxe trip from Manila via Victory Liner or Joy Bus (Fare is at Php750). From the Baguio Bus Station, you can take a cab to bring you Baguio Center Mall where PUVs bound for Ampucao are stationed along Rajah Soliman Street (Landmark is Jollibee). The trip from Baguio City to Ampucao takes around 45 minutes.
Once you reach Ampucao, you need to register at the Barangay Hall where a guide will be assigned to you. I suggest that you pre-register first prior to heading up to Baguio City. To pre-register, you can call the Mount Ulap Council at +63946 1159154. They also have an FB page where you can register. You can also request from the barangay to assign our guide Kuya Amor Sadang. You can reach him at +63930 5056419.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.