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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity and Plaza Dela Virgen

Whenever I visit a new town, I also try to stop by Churches.  They say if its your first time to visit a church, you can make a wish.  But, that's not my reason.  I just want to appreciate the structure.  Upon reaching the Agoo,the oldest town in La Union, we instantly caught sight of the Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity.

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity
The Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity is elevated as a basilica minore by Pope John Paul II in 1982.  It is the basilica minore in the north.  The Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity holds masses in Ilocano and English.  And, they have masses everyday from Monday to Sunday.  It also has novenas for the Mother of Perpetual Help and Our lady of Charity.

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity
It's majestic and stable foundation is a masterpiece.  Unlike other churches, this has two bell towers instead of one.  

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity
As we entered, we were awed by the beautiful chandelier, wooden planchment and colorful window panes. There were a lot of people praying so we tried to roam around as quietly as we could.  The whole church was in deafening silence that a slight sound will gain attention.  

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity
The altar has an exquisite dome above it.  It also has a few window panes that allow sunshine and colorful lights to seep in.  The figure of Our Lady of Charity has a grand baldachin.  

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity
Like any other churches, there are displays of saints and donation boxes to help maintain the church.  The church may be old but it looks like it is kept in its best condition.

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity
There were also frames of glass arts hanged on its walls. 

Plaza Dela Virgen
Our Lady of Charity Icon
Just a street apart from the Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity is the Plaza Dela Virgen.  The plaza only has two monuments and nothing else so they were quite noticeably from afar.  The first one we encountered is the Our Lady of Charity Icon which is made of brass.

Plaza Dela Virgen
At the back part is the statue of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  As we were roaming around, we wondered why the venue is empty.  It is as if they have it only to be observed or respected.  We then assumed, it is because of the hot day that no one would dare roam around under the sun especially in an open space without a shade like this.

Overall, we Travel Tripsters seethe Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity as one of the Agoo's centerpiece and is a must visit when in the area especially since it is the only basilica minor in the north.  You can also learn about a town's history and culture by its church.  It gave us an impression that Agoo is a religious and peaceful town.  The church is fronting the town plaza and the town municipal hall so it is easy to spot.  It is also located along Mac Arthur Highway so most public transport passes through it.

Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity 
and Plaza Dela Virgen
Basilica Minor of Our Lady of Charity 
 Map
Price Per Person FREE
Payment Options
Mass Hours Monday-Saturday: 5:15 pm
Sunday:
5:30 am - Ilocano
7:00 am - English
8:30 am - Ilocano
10:00 am - English
4:30 am - English
Reservation Required
Contact
Other
Address
Mac Arthur Highway Cor. Grotto Road, 
Agoo, La Union, Philippines
Transportation to Attraction
Tricycle, Jeepney, Buses
Commute Guide

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tuddingan Falls: Waterfalls in Naguilian La Union

I've been wanting to visit a real waterfalls so we decide to commute to Naguilan La Union just to see Tuddingan Falls.  I've never seen a real waterfalls up close before.  The closest I've seen is the artificial waterfalls at Villa Escudero in Laguna more than a decade ago.  

tuddingan falls
Our tricycle dropped us off at a small bridge where we had a clear view of a bit worn out sign "Welcome Tuddingan Falls".  We were wondering if it was still open for viewing.  But, there was no one in the area to ask.  So despite being a bit doubtful, we went along the trail.  Soon, we came across a local who confirmed that we were on the right track.  He was so quick though that we never saw him again.

tuddingan falls
The trail had cemented steps and metal bars for safety.  There were also random animals like goats and hens along the way.  

tuddingan falls
We've been walking for 20 minutes under the scorching heat of the sun with no clues whether we were near or far from the water falls.  Then, we heard a weak water and spotted some water flowing through the rocks.

tuddingan falls
We went along further and found this semi-stagnant water.  The water is flowing but not much.  Since there's a side track with bars, we were assuming that the flow of water would be strong and a bit dangerous.

tuddingan falls
After passing through the trail  Well, it was unlike what we've seen from the photos because the flow is not that powerful.  We visit during late April.  Is it because it's summer time that's why its like this?  We also noticed that there were irrigation tubes sourcing the water from the waterfalls.  

Overall, we Travel Tripsters were a bit disappointed that we didn't see much from the Tuddingan Falls.  But, it was a pretty good trek and it was the falls had a high rocky formation for viewing.  Perhaps, you have some tips on when we should visit again to witness it in full force like the pictures we see on the net.  We'd really appreciate that.

Tuddingan Falls Tuddingan Falls Map
Price Per Person FREE
Payment Options
Business Hours
Reservation Required No
Contact
Other
Address
 Barangay Tuddingan, Naguilian, La Union, Philippines
Transportation to Attraction
Bus with Tricycle 
Commute Guide
From San Fernando La Union: Ride Bus to Naguilan (50 php) then take tricycle to Tuddingan Falls (30-50 php)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thunderbird Resort Poro Point: Santorini in San Fernando La Union

When you're in La Union, you'll notice a lot of posters of Thunderbird Resort Poro Point which will entice you to come and visit.  Since we we're in the area, we Travel Tripsters decided to check it out.

thunderbird resort poro point



thunderbird resort poro point
The view of the entire resort from afar is beautiful.  It has a blue and white theme which is the exact color of the Santorini in Greece.  The place is elevated to so you can enjoy a nice view of the pool side, beach and the sea.

thunderbird resort poro point


If you've enjoined the back view, this is the front with the drive way.  They have a shuttle that brings in guests from other parts of Luzon.  My aunt who is a local of La Union told us that it is better to visit at night because the lights makes this place more exquisite.  They have a wide space for parking for its very convenient.

thunderbird resort poro point
The lobby area is a non-air conditioned area with a circular ceiling with blue painted sophisticated Greek paintings.  We came at mid-day around 2 p.m. and it was scorching hot.  

thunderbird resort poro point
There is also a cafe but it seems empty perhaps because no one wanted to get exposed to the heat.

thunderbird resort poro point
The Olives is the only restaurant at Thunderbird Resort Poro Point apart from the two other in the casino.  It is a fine dining restaurant.  It was fully packed when we got there with customers waiting in line on their outdoor bench.  We decided to just come back and dine here next time.

thunderbird resort poro point
The pool area had al fresco tables and chairs.  There's also a half court and a volleyball area.  There is also a way to the beach which can only be used by their guests and members.  They also have a golf course.

thunderbird resort poro point

There is a simple outdoor theater which I presume can be used as a stage for a party.

thunderbird resort poro point
The lots beside the resort is being sold and developed into units like this.  The resort services extends here to.

thunderbird resort poro point
This is what the units look like from afar.  I think once every unit is occupied, it will look more of a Santorini when numerous structures in the villa will be complete.

thunderbird resort poro point

Aside from the casino, the facilities are for members.  So if you are interested in more than just sight seeing like we did, better check in.  My cousin says the service is really good and the rooms are grand.  My aunt says shareholders have a FREE stay once per year.  That's a very cool perks. =D

Overall, for us Travel Tripsters, Thunderbird Resort Poro Point is worth checking out for sight-seeing, casino or a luxurious stay.  The beach side they offer is more peaceful since its exclusive unlike the beaches on other parts of La Union.  We saw that there's a huge complex being constructed as their Wellness Center.  We'll probably be back to check it out next time.

Thunderbird Resort Poro Point Thunderbird Resort Poro Point
Price Per Person 2,500-10,000
Payment Options Cash
Business Hours 24 Hours
Reservation Required Yes
Contact (72) 888-7777
Other Website | Facebook Fan Page
Address
VOA Compound, Pennsylvania Avenue,
San Fernando City, La Union
Transportation to Attraction
Shuttle
Commute Guide

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pugad: Pugo Adventure at Pugo La Union

After watching about Pugad Pugo Adventure on TV, I've been yearning to check it out.  So when we Travel Tripsters decided to head north, I sneaked it in our itinerary.

pugad pugo adventure
Since the place is new, we couldn't find any commuting guide from the internet.  We had no idea how to go there so we just asked around.  Luckily, the locals know how to get there and the bus dropped us off at exactly the right place.  

pugad pugo adventure
As soon as we entered, we saw this huge wall that indicates all the activities available.  I was so excited!  As we walked further, we saw a sign indicating the the actual Pugad Pugo Adventure is 1 kilometers away.  Of course, I did not let that lower my spirits.  We gladly walked while hearing gun shots from the distance.  

pugad pugo adventure
Finally, we reached the registration area.  It is also were the parking area is.  We were given a pamphlet with all the activities available and with their appropriate pricing.  Since I loved ziplines, I quickly viewed the details of each zipline route they had available.  They offered three kinds of zipline experience:
  • Zip Line 1 (Superman) (400 php) is the longest zipline route.  It allows you to zipline in superman form through 400-meter cables that connects two mountains. The height of this zipline is at 250 feet above the ground. 
  • Zip Line 2 (250 php) is the fastest zipline.  It allows you to go from station 2 which is near the entrance to station 3 which is the pool area and mini zoo of Pugo Adventure.  This is only 250-meters long. 
  • Zip Line 3 (250 php) is the opposite of Zip Line 2.  It allows you to go from station 3 to station 2 passing by the pool area, the bridge and the lake.  This is also only 250-meters longs.
I honestly wanted to go for all route.  They have packages available which is lower than the total cost if availed separately.   These are the packages:
  • Package 1 (1,000 php): Zip Line 1,2 and 3 + Rappeling + Wall Climbing
  • Package 2 (500 php): Zip Line 3 + Rappeling + Wall Climbing
  • Package 3 (850 php): Zip Line 1,2 and 3 

However, since we were on a backpacker and budget trip type of an arrangement, I was forced to choose only one.  Although it took me a long time to consider, I opted for Zip Line 2 since a thrill seeker like me loves speed.

Since fellow Travel Tripster Kurt is not to fond of heights, I had to choose an activity we could do together.  We initially wanted to avail the Buggy (350 php) but we were told it was not yet available.  So, we settled for the ATV (250 php per 20 mins).

I also wanted to do the Australian Run Down (250 php) but I was told I'm not wearing the appropriate foot wear.  Too bad since it looks interesting.The Giant Swing is also not yet available during our visit.  

pugad pugo adventure atv
We went back the same way we came in, until we saw the huge sign. We went uphill and saw the kids riding the ATV and having fun.  It was our first time to try an ATV so we were ecstatic.

pugad pugo adventure atv
We watched as out ATVs, were being started and prepared.  When it was ready, we were told to ride it and follow the guide.  

pugad pugo adventure atv
Kurt took this photo of me in front following the guide
It was so much fun.  We were told not to use it in full speed because our ATV might turn over or something.  But, I guess I loved how the speed went and wouldn't want to let go.  As we were signaled to return, we both felt like we wanted to ride more! =p

horse back riding
We also passed by the Horse Back Riding (350 per hour) station.  This horse is left all alone while its companions were busy accommodating customers.  

wall climb rappel zipline
After the ATV, it was my turn to go Zipline.  I was told to go up this wooden tower.  It is also the same tower for the Wall Climbing (150 php) and the Rappeling (150 php).  In front of the line is a huge family so I thought it would take forever before its my turn.  But, the family was so kind enough to let me go first.  

pugad zipline
As I buckled up, I could feel the cool breeze sweeping through my hair and across my face.  I could also see the view of Station 3 or the poolside and mini zoo area which was separated from this side by a lake.  I loved the view but it only took me a few seconds to observe because the staff gave the signal and I jumped of the ledge letting the cable lead me downward in fast speed.  I swiftly passed over the lake, the bridge, the pools and landed where I was supposed to.  Somehow I did not feel much thrill from this because it ended too quick but the experience of passing through the pools was magnificent.  

pugad pugo adventure
If I had not taken the Zipline 2, this is the way to the poolside area from the registration area and the parking lot.  

pugad pugo adventure
Upon entry, you'll see this small cafe style restaurant.  The menu is posted on the chalk board.  From what we observe, it is quite pricey which is typical for a resort or adventure park. 

pugad pugo adventure
You'll also pass by this beautiful grotto.  It's nice that they've set up something like this.  I love fountains. 

You will encounter a few Kubo and a small pool on this side before you go through the a long wooden shaky bridge that will allows you to go to the other side.  The entrance fee of 150 php for adults and 100 php for kids includes the use of pools.   The rates for kubo rentals are as follows:
Kubo CapacityRate
Small10500 php
Medium15800 php
Medium with Room10800 php
Small up and down151,000 php
Up and Down251,500 php
Tree House302,000 php
Rock House302,000 php
Long Kubo503,000 php
Long Kubo Up and Down704,000 php

The bridge passes through the lake and it shakes whenever many people cross so people had the courtesy to oblige each other to take turns.  I am a afraid of heights so it was quite of a challenge for me.  But, I felt the bridge was safe because even toddlers were passing through it.  In addition, it had a lot of ropes and some nets on the side so you won't fall of.  

pugad pugo adventure
Behind this Pugad plant sign is the pool area.  There are also a couple of huts.  All of them are occupied.  The occupants are a mix crowd of locals, tourists from the city and westerners.  

pugad pugo adventure
They charge a fee from the usage of the swimming pools.  And, they strictly require the use of swim suits.  It was such a hot day and I was eager to go for a swim.  But, we didn't bring any extra clothes.  

pugad pugo adventure
Like all other public pool areas, they have a shower.  It looks like the drainage is a bit clogged though.

If I recall correctly, there were three large pools on this area.  

pugad pugo adventure
There is also a playground where little children can play.  It even has a mini wall climb.  

There is a wishing well.  There were quite a number of coins tossed in it.  I wanted to make a wish too but I didn't have any coins on me. =(

pugad pugo adventure
There is a rental store for the swimwear and other swim items.  There's also drinks and ice cream available.

There were a few roosters there where you can touch and see.  

pugad pugo adventure
They also have a cooking area where you can grill.  

pugad pugo adventure
My favorite part is the Mini Bird Zoo.  Its FREE to view too.  It had many types of birds like Black Head Ibis, Wood Ducks, Mandarin Ducks, Peacocks, Black Caped Lory, Black Lory, English Budgies, Red Wing Parrots, Red and Violet Lory, Rainbow Lory, Chattering Lory, Indian Ringneck, Red Mask Conure, Sun Conure, Gold Caped Conure, Roseifrons Conure and Green Wing Macaw.  There's also a Python and Iguanas.  

Once we were over with our activities, we thought we were going uphill again towards the entrance.  Good thing the lady from the registration saw us and told us they they can take us there for FREE.  So we got on as the only passengers and we were brought to the nearest bus stop.  It was such a nice service because it spared us so much time.  

Overall, we Travel Tripsters recommend Pugad: Pugo Adventure at Pugo, La Union as a must visit for adventurers and even for those who just want to relax and have a good swim.  We heard that they are going to offer more activities soon.  We're not surprised since it covers a wide area.  The location is pretty good because it is near Baguio City too.  It's only around 40 minutes from Baguio City.  The place is just new but I'm sure it will gain a lo more customers in the future.  We hope to come back whenever we can!


Pugad: Pugo Adventure  Pugad: Pugo Adventure  Map
Price Per Person 150-2,000
Payment Options Cash
Business Hours 8am-7pm
Reservation Required No
Contact (0917) 506-6931
Other Facebook Fan Page 
Address
Sitio Kagaling, Palina, Pugo, La Union
Transportation to Attraction
Bus
Commute Guide
From San Fernando, La Union: Ride bus to Agoo
(50 php) and from Agoo ride bus to Baguio (40 php)
From Baguio City: Ride bus to Agoo 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sagada Cave Connections: Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves

The Sagada Cave Connections is the highlight of Sagada's Tourism.  It is called Cave Connections because it is composed of two interconnecting limestone caves: Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves.  But, before heading on to the cave, tourists are required to register at the Sagada Tourist Center and pay a minimal registration fee of 10 php per person.  You could also hire tour guides there.  Tour guides are available at a standard service rate of 400 php.  The suggested guide to person ratio for beginners is 1 guide per 3 persons.  Better go there early because there are warnings at the cave entrance not to enter beyond 4 pm.  

Spelunkers have the option to choose their route.  For beginners especially children, the Sagada Tourist Center advises the Sumaging Cave which takes approximately 2 hours to explore.  Through this route, you exit where you enter.  On the other hand, you can choose the Cave Connections where you will enter the Lumiang Cave and exit through Sumaging Cave.   This takes approximately 4-6 hours.  On our case, our duration was exactly four hours and we were a mixed bunch of 19 with kids and senior citizens.

sagada cave connection map


















sss
sagada cave connection trail


The Sagada Cave Connections is considered to be a novice level cave.  In fact, the track towards the cave entrance through the woods is already cemented.  

lumiang cave










There are hanging coffins by the Lumiang Cave.  Well, not exactly hanging as some of those coffins are on the ground and opened even.  You can see scattered bones as you pass by.

lumiang cave



As indicated by the map, the first part is going downwards.  As you go deeper, the light from the cave entrance fades so the guides are equipped with their lanterns.  However, there are instances when our guide's lamp malfunctions.  Good, this we had our light headlamps which we bought in Manila from Wyler Enterprises

lumiang cave

lumiang cave
As novice spelunkers, we were focused on taking one rock at a time.  I did my part slowly but surely.  As I looked up, most of my companions were already far from were I was.  Through my beginner's eyes, I could not trace the track they took because I could not differentiate one ruble from another.  Good thing, I was always with a guide.  They would patiently point were to step in each obstacle along the way.

lumiang cave
I enjoyed the part were I just need to fit myself along the natural cracks along the boulders.

rappeling
But, it was the rappelling which I found to be difficult.  They told me to bend and spread my legs so the rope won't shake to much as I pulled my own weight upward.  I noticed the guides could easily go up without any ropes though.

sagada limestone



If you lack exercise and stamina like I do, you'll find the spelunking journey to be a bit exhausting.  However, the tour around the cave and the beautiful limestone formations is worth every ounce of sweat.  You'd have to see to appreciate their funny names like pregnant woman, mickey mouse, curtains and rice terraces.  There is also a huge cauliflower over there.  Although you way be thirsty, don't ever drink the water inside the cave.  Its stagnant water were you can get amoeba.  

Once you approach Sumaging Cave, you'll go through water tunnels which is in my opinion not as scary as seeing the dark and seemingly endless pits of Lumiang Cave.  But, the cold water can make you feel a slight pang to your tired nerves.  After the water and crawling through a mountain of bat poo, you'll find the light that will lead you to the entrance of Sumaging Cave.  The bat poo part was a bit of a challenge for me since countless of time, my slipper got stuck in it and my feet would slide of my flip flops.  Bringing along a hiking sandals or flip flops is advisable.

Sumaging Cave
Once you get outside the cave, you'll have to climb a hundred more steps to reach the road.  

Sumaging Cave
According to the cave rules, vandalism and scattering of trash is not allowed.  Sadly, there were some visible vandalism and trashes on the cave.  =(

Overall, the Sagada Cave Connections is one adventure that a Travel Tripster will never forget.  Try it out for an adventure of a lifetime.  After you're finish this cave, buy yourself a "I Survived Sagada" T-shirt from the nearby stores and tell your friends about it.

Sagada Cave Connections Sagada Cave Connections
Price Per Person FREE (guide 400 php)
Payment Options Cash
Business Hours Before 2 pm
Reservation Required No but register at the Sagada Tourist Center
Contact
Other
Address
Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves
Transportation to Attraction
Jeepney, Bus
Commute Guide