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Monday, January 13, 2020

8 Things You Should Know for Your Pick and Pay Grapes Experience in La Union Grapes Farms

There's been a recent drive of tourism in Urayong, Bauang, La Union or "Elyu" for the Pick and Pay Grapes Farms in the area.  Before diving into your grape picking experience allow us Travel Tripsters to share the 8 Things You Should Know  before going there. 

lomboy farms
1. Lomboy Farms as the First DOT-accredited Grape Farm in the area

Lomboy Farms is the pioneer grape farm in the area.  It was established as a backyard project in 1972 by Avelino Lomboy from 20 grape cuttings brought from Cebu .  It is now managed by Gracia Lomboy, the daughter of its founder, who thought of opening the grape farm for tourism.  Contact: (72 ) 705-2105, (0939) 623 -5020

Lomboy Farms offers its services for a fee as follows:

1-10 100 php
11-30 80 php
31-50 70 php
51 and above or Viewing Fee
When not Picking Season  
50 php

According to the price guide it includes:
1. Entrance Fee for the Pick and Pay Experience
2. Optional Briefing
3. Tour Guide

Lomboy Farms having a frontage by the road-side made it easier for tourists (like us) to find the grape farms in the area. 

lomboy farms la union
It even has a demo area to give guests an overview of what a grape vineyard looks like.

However, we were expecting a guided tour that would orient as with grape as a fruit and grape farming (viticulture) but there was none.  The only thing we got for the fee is to convoy behind a motorcycle that led as to one of the many grape farms that has most grapes available for the pick and pay experience.

The advantage, although for a fee, with Lomboy Farms is that they will coordinate with other grape farms so you can have your pick and pay experience during your visit.  This can save you time asking around and looking for one as it is extremely hot during day time in the open fields.  In fact, it was so hot that some of our companions almost hesitated to come with us in the field.

2. Grape as a Fruit

So here's some interesting facts about grapes.
a. Grapes are classified as non-climateric fruits (don't ripen after harvest). 
b. They are also  botanically a berry because the entire pericarp (fruit wall) is fleshy. 
c. Grapes are packed with:
c.1.  vitamins such as B1, B6, C and K;
c.2. minerals such as calcium and phosporus and polyphenol;
c.3 anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, quercetin, anthocyanins, catechins, lutein, lycopene, phenolic acid, ellagic acid, reservatol and flavanoids

3. Grape Variants
There are two main kinds of grapes:
a. European or Californian grapes (Vitis Vinifera) - most common with at least 5,000 varieties
b. American or Concord grapes (Vitis Labrusca)

In Urayong, Bauang and Caba, La Union, the grape farms carry the Red Cardinal variant.
It originated in California as table grapes and mainly used for raisins but in Asia, it is also being used for wine-making.   They have thick and crunchy, skins and large seeds.

There are other variants available in other parts of the Philippines. 

4. Grape Products
grape products la union
Grapes can be eaten fresh as table grapes or they can be further processed into:
b. jam
c. juice
d. jelly
e. grape seed extract
f. raisins
g. vinegar
h. grape seed oil

la union wines
In Lomboy Farms, you can free taste or buy its Don Avelino wines which comes in 5 variants:
1. Guapple
2. Rosa Grape - a Red Cardinal Grape Wine
3. Moreno Cafe - Coffee flavored Wine
4. Pitaya Wine
5. Sandia Wine

ians mix and match wines
You can also buy other sweet wines during the farm visit.

guapple jam jelly
While Lomboy Farms offers jam and jelly, they were made from guapple and not grapes. 

5. La Union Grapes Farms

orpilla grape farm
Orpilla Grapes Farm
Since 1950's, grapes are grown in various areas in the Philippines including: Batangas, Bataan, Arevalo in Iloilo, Urayong, Bauang and Caba in La, Union and Sibongan in Cebu, Cebu City, General Santos City, South Cotabato,  Zamboanga and more.

La Union Grape Farms was pioneered by Lomboy Farms and has now expanded with various Grape Farms which includes:

  • Orpilla Grapes Farm - This is the farm that we were brought to by Lomboy Farm Staff for our pick and pay experience.  Contact Vangie Orpilla: (0909) 283-9679
  • Gapuz Grapes Farm - This began in the 80's with its  first cuttings from Lomboy Farm.  It uses organic fertilizers made out of seaweed.  It is the pioneer in the pick to pay idea back in 2010 (entrance is free and is always open from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm) and it also offers boodle fight.  The harvest season is announced in its Facebook Fan Page.  It can be found using google maps and waze.  It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact: (0999) 714-7616, (0916) 418-6232, (0915) 778-44594
  •  Calica Grapes Farm - This began with 76 vines in 1984 by Virgilio Calica who is former farm help at Lomboy Farms.  It offers pick and pay and boodle fight.  Contact: (0907) 905-0303 (Smart) and (0905) 550-5046 (Globe)
  • Manguerra Grapes Farm - This is open for pick to pay with free tour guide (entrance is free and is always open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm).  It has a signage along Ilocos National Highway and can be found through waze.  Contact (as of January 13, 2020): (0977) 457-8737

  •  Uncle Dave's Grape Farm - This is open for pick to pay.  It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact: (0906) 406-5257
  •  Mangaoang-Lacbao Grapes Farm - This is open for pick to pay. It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact: (0930) 048-2276, (0910) 283-6513
gapuz grapes farm
  • Acosta Grapes Farms - This is owned by Danny Acosta.  You can harvest evenly veraisoned grapes here although they are covered in plastic while unpicked to protect them from rots (entrance is free and opening is announced on its Facebook Fan Page).  This is located in Palaod, Bagbag, Bauang , La Union. It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact (as of January 13, 2020): (0946) 046-1787 (0919) 261-1166 . 

6. Grape Veraison (Grape Color from Green to Red)

The French term "véraison / veʀɛzɔ̃" is adopted in English use to connote the onset of ripening of grape berries.  The process takes an average of 10 to 14 days.  The trigger is still unknown.

la union grape farm
Veraison is very essential in Viticulure (grape-growing) and in wine-making.  In order to produce a silky and balance wine, the harvest must be composed of uniformly ripened grapes. 

la union grapes
The uneven veraisoned grapes look like this.  It can be eaten as table grapes which is probably why it is available for the pick and pay experience.

red cardinal grapes la union
This is a sample of evenly veraison batch which were collected by the Orpilla Farm staff. According to them, they have a continuing order for these as they are used for winemaking and other grape products.

7. Grape Harvesting
Some visit the grape farm of their choice and expect to have a guaranteed pick and pay experience.  Of course, the pick and pay experience is only available during harvesting season. 

Here in the Philippines the common harvest season for grapes are:
  • Summer: April to the end of May (May - best time)
  • July to August
  • December to January

8. Pick and Pay Experience (350 - 400 php/kilo)
pick and pay grape experience la union
My 160 php grape bunch
There is no time limit for the pick and pay experience.  You can spend your time selecting and picture-taking as much as you want.  You will be provided a basket to put your grapes in.   They will be weighted before you go out so you can pay and take them home. 

Lomboy Farms
Budget Per Person 50-500 php (see above) Lomboy Farms Map
Payment Options Cash

Operating Hours Monday to Sunday:
(even holidays)
7:00 am-4:00 pm
Reservation Required No
Contact  (672 ) 705-2105, (0939) 623 -5020

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sunset Bay Beach Resort: Featuring Elyu's Beautiful Sunset (San Fernando La Union Philippines)

It has been awhile since we wrote about La UnionLa Union has evolved so much and is now coined as "Elyu" by millenials.  But, there are some places that remain the same just like Sunset Bay Resort

sunset bay resort
Sunset Bay Resort has been awarded as Tripadvisor's Traveller's Choice from 2015 to 2019.  Upon our arrival, we could already see why.  It is located just a few kilometers away from Thunderbird's Resort Poro Point.  

sunset bay resort
The resort was well-maintained with lush greens mixed with indigenous artifacts. 

sunset bay elyu
There were potteries everywhere.

sunset bay la union
There were many spots to sit and relax. 

sunset bay rooms
Each room also has its own patio area.

sunset bay hallway
At night, the entire place is even more enchanting with all the yellow lights. 

Deluxe Room
sunset bay deluxe room
We availed of the Deluxe Room.  This room can cater from two to four persons (with added cost).  Our stay included free WiFi access but is exclusive of breakfast.

sunset bay room
Although the furniture and interior of the rooms looked dated, it didn't have a negative effect on the overall room comfort because the room was tidy.

sunset bay deluxr room desk
It offered the basic amenities like a wall mirror, electric kettle, desk, cabinet and...

locked airconditioning
air-conditioning.  The air-conditioning required room keys for activation which was a brilliant way to conserve electricity.

sunset bay bathroom
The bathroom was also clean.  The shower is also equipped with heater. 

sunset bay elyu beach
The sand isn't the best there is but the beach front was clean.  During our visit, it was not crowded too. 

sunset bay elyu beach front
You could simply spend your time sitting under the shaded trees, enjoying the sound of the waves and the soft caress of the sea breeze. 

sunset bay la union
We weren't fortunate enough to witness the full sunset.  But, the purple hue caused by the scattering phenomenon in the atmosphere was still evident. 

violet sunset
It left us quite a romanticized scene of our beach experience.

sunset bay elyu garden
There were many photo and video enthusiasts who caught such a scenic moment as well. 

sunset bay la union garden
But, don't be intimidated by their camera setup because the place is so well-lit, we ourserlves just you our pocketable point-and-shoot camera.

sunset bay la union pool
The place was really photogenic. 

violet pool view

At night, you can chill by the bar, restaurant or enjoy a night swim at its infinity pool.

Overall, we Travel Tripsters, were surprisingly pleased with our stay at Sunset Bay Beach Resort

Sunset Bay Beach Resort
Hotel Address Airport Rd, San Fernando, La Union, Philippines
Contact (6372) 607-5907 Reservation Required Yes
Payment Options   Cash Public Transport Bus then Tricycle
Room Types Room Amenities Price
Upper Deck Superior
• Good For 2 Persons
• 1 Queen-size bed
• Hot/cold water / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Free Wifi
• Patio area
4,250 php
Upper Deck Suite
• Good For 4 Persons
• 1 Masters Bedroom with Queen-size bed
•  2 Single Bedrooms with Single bed
•  Hot/cold water / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Free Wifi
• Patio area
5,050 php
Poolside Suite
• Good For 4 Persons
• 1 Masters Bedroom with King-size bed
•  2 Single Bedrooms with Single bed
•  Hot/cold water / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Free Wifi
• Patio area
4,850 php
• Good For 2-4 Persons
• 1 Matrimonial bed [add-ons: single bed (500 php) and pull-out bed (600 php)]
• Hot/cold water / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Free Wifi
• Patio area
2,700 php
General Amenities •Infinity Pool
•Beach Front
Parking Yes
Travel Tripsters Hotel Review Rating Sunset Bay Beach Resort
Room Comfort

Monday, September 23, 2019

Mambukal Hot Spring Resort: Top Ten Things You Can Do (Murcia Negros Occidental)

Mambukal Hot Spring Resort is one of the top destinations to visit near Bacolod, Negros Occidental.  We, Travel Tripsters, know that there's no need to convince anyone in including in your Bacolod itinerary.  

mambukal hot spring resort
Upon entry, you will be charges for entrance fee and parking fee.

Gate entrance per head is:
a. Adult: 50 php
b. Children: 20 php

Parking fee per vehicle is:
a. Light Vehicle: 15 php
b. Trucks and/or Buses: 30 php
There are so many things you can do at this 23.6 hectares government-run mountain resort.  Some decide to have an overnight stay here while some decide a day tour or even just a half day is enough. 

mambukal mountain resort
Top Ten Things You Can Do at Mambukal Resort

To help you decide your length of stay, we Travel Tripsters shall orient you with the top 10 things you can do during your visit at Mambukal Hot Spring Resort.

1. Bat Watching and Bird Watching

Bat Watching and Bird Watching are free activities you can enjoy at Mambukal Resort.  

Mambukal has several species that are protected by the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act No. 9147).  

Among the bats (also called "flying fox") species in Mambukal bat sanctuary are:
a. Golden-Crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon Jubatus) - this is the world's largest bat specie and is only found in Mambukal resort!
b. Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus)
c. Common Island Flying Fox (Pteropus hypomelanus)

Among the birds in the area are:
a. Spotted Wood-Kingfishers(Actenoides lindsayi)
b. Dimorphic Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx margarethae)
c. Black-belted Flowerpecker or Visayan Flowerpecker (Dicaeum haematostictum

2. Kayak in the Boat Lagoon
mambukal boat lagoon
The boat lagoon is serene and scenic.  You can rent a kayak for 50 php/15 minutes.

mambukal boat lagoon
Although it is a lagoon, the water here isn't really encapsulated.

mambukal resort bacolod
The excess goes back to the spring.

3. Explore the Butterfly Garden
mambukal butterfly garden

Just opposite the boat lagoon is the butterfly garden which opens at 9 am.  The entrance fee is only 50 php so why not spend your 20 minutes or so for an education and photography session there? 

4. Take Amazing Photos
mambukal bacolod
Bench by the Boat Lagoon
There are lots of photograph sites around Mambukal Resort

mambukal lgu cottages
Picket Fences By the LGU Cottages
You just have to explore and you'll be amazed at what you can find.

5. Pamper at Blade Spa
spa natura blade spa
For as low as 450 php, you can get a body massage at the Blade Spa.  It offers cottage services until 10 pm.  If you intend to go there to avail its services, it is open from 10 am to 10 pm. 

6. Eat Your Hearts Out

mambukal food court
With so many activities in a spacious 23.6 hectare area, we're sure that you will need to eat to replenish your energy.  There are many options when it comes to food in Mambukal Resort

mambukal hot spring
Spring Crossing Short Cut to the Food Court
a. Food Court
Hear the beautiful sound f the spring while you dine at the food court.  From the parking area, you could take the short cut stone steps and cross the spring towards the Food Court.  But, if the spring flow is too strong, we suggest you take the official route.

mambukal food
There are many establsihments offering local dishes and fruit shakes at the Food Court

entings mambukal
 We heard the best there is Enting's but unfortunately, only Tita Ed's was available during our time of visit.

mambukal resort food court
The Food Court looks hygenic.

mambukal resort
You can even wash your hands here.

chicken inasal
Chicken Inasal
The food doesn't stand out but if since we're hungry, we try not to be choosy.

avocado shake
Avocado Shake
Shakes are just okay too.

b. Grill
pagoda tellis
grilling station
You can also just bring your raw ingredients and some charcoal and grill you own food.  Mambukal Resort does not charge any additional  corkage when you bring food or drinks.

c. Picnic
You can rent a picnic hut (300 php for a small hut and 600 php for a big hut) where you can enjoy your packed meals.

7. Reach the 7 Waterfalls
mambukal waterfalls
Because the the 7 waterfalls of Mambukal Resort, it's best to visit this place on summer time because they don't allow you to trek up during hard rains since it it is prone to landslide.  

There are two ways to go up and down the 7 waterwalls:
a. Trekking
b. Take the habal-habal or riding on the back of a motorcycle (50 php/person one-way)

You can choose to mix them up depending on your preference.  Either way, you are advised to hire a guide (guide fee is around 200 php).  The trek to the 1st waterfall is one hour.

Waterfall Tariffs as Follows:
1st - 100 php
2nd - 150 php
3rd - 200 php
6th - 250 php
7th  - 300 php

The first six waterfalls are less than 15 minutes apart.  While, the 6th to the7th waterfall takes around around an hour apart.

The 4th waterfall is technically the real waterfall.  While the 6th waterfall, is the best for experience because you can dive into a 14-feet deep pool.  The 7th waterfall is a natural 4-5 feet pool where you can swim.  You can easily reach this by habal-habal.

8. Detoxify with a Sulfur Bath
warm dipping pool
Warm Sulfur Dipping Pool
If you prefer warm pools, you have two choices:
a. Warm Sulfur Dipping Pool - which is the most crowded warm pool because it charges a lower rate:
i. Adult: 50 php
ii. Kids: 20 php

You can avail of the lockers for free upon paying for your entrance fee.   The sign says that this closes every Tuesday for maintenance but we were there on Tuesday but it was open.

japanese ofuro
Japanese Ofuro
b. Japanese Ofuro - we preferred the Japanese Ofuro which is still public but has less people because of the hotter temperature, no kids provision and higher rates:
i. Adults - 100 php

japanese ofuro mambukal
If you're lucky like us, you can even enjoy it by yourselves.  The hot spring water is flowing: in from the higher point and out on the other end.

But, if you prefer privacy, there is the Ishiwata Bath House which was developed by a Japanese architect named Kokichi Paul Ishiwata in 1927.  Unfortunately, because of the heavy rain, we weren't able to check that place out.  The rate here is at 150 php/30 minutes.

mambukal swimming pool
Swimming Pool
If you can't stand the heat but want to enjoy the same sulfur minerals  from the spring water (with a mix of chlorine), Mambukal Resort also has a swimming pool with kids provision.  The rate is the same as the Warm Dipping Pool:

i. Adult: 50 php
ii. Kids: 20 php
9. Be Adventurous with Outdoor Activities
For those who prefer some adrenaline rush or a sight from great heights, you can avail of these outdoor activities:
i.  Wall climbing - 25 php
ii. Canopy Walk - 50 php
iii. Slide for Life (200-meter long zip line) - 100 php/2 Trips

10. Relax and Stay for the Night
There are many accommodation options at Mambukal Resort but we don't highly recommend this since almost every review we encumbered were dissatisfied with the maintenance of the place.  Check in time is standard 2 pm and check out time is standard at 12 pm.  Choices as follows:

a. Camping - For as low as 30 php/person, you can camp and enjoy the natural sounds of nature while you sleep.

b.  Dormitory - For a big group of 20, you can rent the dormitory for 2,000 php/person

c.  Villas
i. Matrimonial  - 1,700 php
ii. 1 Single & 1 Matrimonial - 2,000 php
iii. 4 Single Beds    P2,400.00
iv. Extra Bed    P200.00

d. Family Cottage - 4,000 php

e. LGU Cottage - good for:
i. 2 - 900 php
ii. 4 - 1,200 php
iii. 6 - 1,500.00 php

f. Tourist Lodge Rooms:
i. Ordinary - 600 php
ii. Deluxe - 750 php
iii. Family - 1,000 php

Accommodations require reservations and 50% down payment so make sure you contact any of their offices at

Mambukal Reservation Office
Gatuslao Street, Bacolod City
Tel. No. (634) 709-0990 | Telefax (634) 433-8516
Mobile No. 09082712174
Mambukal Resort
Tel. No. (634) 7100-800 | Telefax (634) 7100-80

Overall, we Travel Tripsters, hope you can now plan ahead for your visit at Mambukal Hot Spring Resort.  We find this a must and affordable stop for your Negros Occidental trip especially if you're coming from Bacolod because it is only a 45-minute jeepney ride away.

Mambukal Hot Spring Resort
Address Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental Philippines
Budget Per Person Swimming Pool
*Adult - 50 php
        Kids 11 years & below - Php20.00
        Light Vehicles - Php15.00
        Trucks/Buses - Php30.00
    Ofuro - P100.00 per person/day
    Ishiwata Bath House - P150.00 per person/30mins
Mambukal Hot Spring Resort Map
Payment Options Cash

Operating Hours Monday to Sunday:
(Maintenance on Tuesdays)
8:30 am-11:30am
1:30 pm-4:30 pm
Reservation Required No (only for accomodation)
Contact (634) 7100-800