Sunday, September 6, 2015

How To Travel Alone in the Philippines

Mt. Pinatubo trek

There are no shortcuts or instant answer to this question.

You have to experience it first. And your experience will make you a better traveler. But for the meantime, I will give you tips on how to do it.

First of all. PLANNING is the key to your successful travel. You simply have to plan ahead.

      There are plenty of questions to answer before you can start traveling alone. And I have listed herein some of the basic questions and tips in traveling alone.

1. When do you plan to travel? 
       There are three possible choices, summer, rainy season or during Christmas season. 

        You can enjoy hiking, island hopping, diving, snorkeling or beach bumming during summer. While during rainy season, you can indulge in spelunking, river rafting, or waterfalls chasing. And during Christmas season, you can enjoy the cold weather in Sagada, Baguio, Tagaytay or Banaue.

     2. The crucial question is what do you intend to do?

     Do you intend to relax, explore or have an adventure of a lifetime?

    If you are into adventure, there are various activities that you can try like spelunking, trekking/mountaineering, waterfalls chasing, river rafting, beach bumming,diving, snorkeling, nature tripping, nature photography, bird watching, whale watching, surfing, wake boarding, sand boarding, sky diving or cliff jumping, among others.

3. The next question is where are you going to travel?
       You can choose from either Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao for your destination. You can surf and read travel blogs for the best destinations. My three best destinations are Sagada, Batanes, and El Nido.

4. Then, how much do you intend to spend?

     You have to work on your budget. You need to save for your travel needs. And you need to start saving right now. Traveling entails a lot of expenses but it is worth every penny of it!

5. What are the places that you intend to do in your itinerary?

      Reading travel blogs will give you an idea on what to do Make the best and detailed itinerary that is flexible and would fit your needs. Try new things in life. Life is short and you have to live it to the fullest!

6. How to book your travel?

        It is better to ask the help or guidance of a learned person in booking. When I started to travel ten years ago, I had no knowledge on how to book my hotel or my ride. But I asked the help of my friend who was well-versed in the internet booking and after that I learned how to book on my own. 

      There are plenty of online hotel bookings such as or, among others. But the best part of traveling alone is being a transient. You have no definite hotel booking simply because you do not have any idea how long you will stay in the area. Though it is a bit risky, you will have flexibility in your chosen destinations. 

7. What to bring?  

        On the night prior to your travel, pack light and bring the travel accessories that you need. Bring an octopus adapter and a power bank.
boat ride to Basilan

        8. During the travel, what are you suppose to do?

              a. Be street smart

       Always be on alert. You cannot be complacent. You have to be attentive and observant. Your own safety is your primary consideration.
      b. Travel light. Do not over pack

          One bag will do. The bag should contain a weight of 7-10 kilos only.
      c. Bring the right apparel

My suggested brands are The Northface, Columbia or Deuter. For your compression needs, I highly recommend Tesla Compression wearTESLA Compression wear is available at ZALORA Philippines.
     d. Be careful of what you eat
         Know your allergies and stuff that makes you uncomfortable.

    e. Wear sandals

 My suggested brand is Sandugo.
     f. Ask three times from different people for directions

        If you get two same answers from two different people, then you are on the right course.

            g. Travel in the morning, check-in late in the afternoon

        It usually rains in the afternoon. It is better to explore early in the morning.

           h. Always bring a jacket
        My suggested brand is The Northface

    i. Put your money on separate pockets

       Unfortunately, you have to be very cautious when you are traveling in  the Philippines.
   j. Bring a map

        It pays to know where you are going. There are times that you cannot communicate with the local because you do not speak their dialect. By simply pointing at the map, the language barrier will be lessened a bit.

         k. Know whether there are ATMs or credit card facilities

         There are still areas in the Philippines without ATMs or credit card facilities.

        l. Eat light. Drink light. Mingle more.

         Enjoy in moderation.

          m. Buy your souvenirs at the last destination

         You do not want your bag to be very heavy.
   n. Know your limitations or injuries

         Be aware of your asthma, high blood or bone injuries in your chosen adventure.

  o. Bring a plastic for your dirty clothes.

        Segregate the clean clothes from the dirty ones.

 p. Inform your relatives where you are

    But do not post in facebook or other social networking sites your present destination.
 q. Change your paper bills
    The Philippines has sari-sari (retail) store and riding a local ride needs plenty of lower bills or coins.    
 r. No deadly weapons in your travel

    You do not need these weapons in your travel.
 s. Know the local customs and practices

      Respect is the word.

  t. Try the local food. Small amounts of everything

      We have a variety of mouthwatering delicacies.

         u. Hire a guide, especially if you will be trekking

      This is part of your own safety and security. You have no intentions of getting lost.
 v. Keep a low profile

      Do not wear expensive jewelry and try to blend with the locals.

        w. Sleep at least six hours

      You need the energy. Sleeping is the best way to regain strength in your travel.

         x. Rehydrate
        We have  a very warm weather especially during summer.
  y. Expect the unexpected

       This is part of being street smart.

 z. Watch the weather news at night

      Knowing the weather is a must when you travel in a tropical country.


Mt. Makilling trek

The Perks of Traveling Alone

at Enchanted River
I started traveling alone in 2006 after I resigned in a Quezon City law firm wherein I was a partner. I made a major decision. And I decided to become a full-time teacher in Far Eastern University. 

But teaching alone made me think again. I needed an outlet  I need to live my life to the fullest. I must explore, enjoy, and reap the fruits of my labor. I wanted to travel!

Then, the big question came. should I join a group tour or just simply travel alone?

As a teacher, I was given a handful of holidays, semestral breaks, and leaves for my travel. And so, I decided to TRAVEL ALONE.. 

And after ten years of traveling in the Philippines and in twelve countries, I want to share the benefits of traveling alone.

I know it is very difficult to convince people that traveling alone is better than traveling in a group. But let me share first the perks and the reasons why one should travel alone. And here are the reasons why you should.


Yes, freedom. Everybody wants freedom. Freedom from the hassles of life. Freedom from stress. Freedom to decide, to choose, and to explore. You will be the master of your own travel. Nobody will be there to convince, influence or worst annoy you in your travel. 


The itinerary of one's travel is an important  factor for the success of your travel. You can now decide how long you would  stay in a specific destination. Even though you have an itinerary, if circumstances warrant, you can easily change your itinerary to your satisfaction. You do not have to adjust for your travel, your travel will adjust accordingly.


The Philippines offers various tourist destinations and it will work on your favor if you can travel at your phase and on your own choosing. Preparing the bucket list is another must for a traveler. The feeling of fulfillment once you accomplish a particular task is priceless. Now, you can focus on the destinations that you really wanted to explore.


Chances are if you are in a group tour you will not indulge in talking or mingling with other people or even strangers. But you have no choice when you are traveling alone, you simply have to talk and mingle with other people. Simply asking for directions for your destination is already reaching out to other people. Additionally, you will have plenty of time to experience, observe, and even practice the culture and traditions of the people that you encounter.


Nobody is there to ruin or spoil your activities. You can indulge in spelunking, river rafting, trekking, waterfalls chasing, diving, snorkeling, wake boarding for hours. Simply enjoying your life without someone there to spoil it for you. You do not need to adjust to somebody else's needs. Your own needs is your priority!


The feeling of empowerment is in itself a motivation for you to travel alone. There are so many intangible benefits of traveling alone and probably this is one of the best reasons why you should travel alone. After working for hours, days, weeks, months or years, now you have the authority and opportunity to be responsible for the outcomes of your decision and live with it. 


Traveling alone in Mindanao is in itself a big challenge. It gives you the extra dose of thrill, adventure and adrenaline. After your travel, you will feel more confident and you will crave for more. You survived being alone!


Budget is the primordial consideration for your travel. A backpacker's hotel is the best option for my stay. In my travels in Bukidnon, Sagada, Camiguin and Batanes, room rates vary from P150 to P300. You will not feel that awkward feeling of being left alone or behind or being envious to the accomplishment of another.


Along the travel you will make plenty of mistakes. Do not worry. It's normal. But your have to learn from your mistakes and never commit the same mistake on your next journey. On my part, I made a list of the errors that I have committed so that I will not commit it in  my next travel.


Sitting alone either at the top of the mountain watching the sunrise, or in long stretch of the beach watching the sunset or in the hills of Batanes looking at the horizon, you will find time to discover yourself. You will have plenty of time to think about your past, present, and your future. You will learn new things about yourself along the journey. And you will definitely smile and be surprised!  

At Tinuy-an Falls
Now since you are traveling alone. You need to be comfortable in your journey.

Traveling alone needs the proper gadgets and apparel for your travel.

It is important to document your travel. You can bring your own camera, tablet, notebook, cellular phones and other gadgets.

Another important aspect of traveling alone is wearing the best brands of apparel for your travel needs:

      For your bags, jackets and shoes, you can choose from either The Northface or Columbia.

     For your sandals, my favorite brand is Sandugo.

    For your compression wear, Tesla compression wear offers the best and most affordable wear in the market today. Tesla compression wear is available at ZALORA Philippines.

    Finally, take into consideration your own health and safety.

   NOW we are ready to travel!

   Enjoy traveling alone! =) 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Central Mindanao Tour 2015 (SOCCSKSARGEN)

My 7th travel in Mindanao and the place 
never ceases to amaze me... 

It was my second time to join the Journeying James Tours. The first one was in Fortune Island about a week before this tour. Normally, when I go to Mindanao, I travel alone and this tour was the first time I had companions. Traveling alone has its own perks and benefits. But nonetheless, for a change, I decided to join this packaged tour called Lake Sebu and Asik-Asik Falls: Culture, Nature, and Adventure Tour. 

Day 1

just arrived in General Santos

The tour was supposed to start June 11, 2015 at General Santos City. But Faty Jayme and I decided to take the Davao Airport instead of General Santos Airport for the simple reason that it was a lot cheaper. We arrived in Davao 10 pm, flagged a taxi, proceeded to the hotel (P250 only for 12 hours at the D Morvies)) and called it a night. The following morning (June 11, 2015) we went to Ecoland Terminal in Davao and boarded the Yellow Bus Lines to General Santos. Travel time was 3 hours. The fare was P170 and we traveled 131 kilometers. Along the way, we passed Digos and we were just 88 kilometers from General Santos City. Around 8:45 am, we arrived in General Santos and proceeded to SM GenSan. Exactly 9 am, we met Red Chuca and the rest of our fellow travelers.

Pineapple planation
We were fetched by the van and our tour guide that day was Mr. Roy Ungcal. From General Santos, we proceeded to Koronadal City. Travel time to Koronadal is more or less 1 hour or 51 kilometers. Koronadal to Lake Sebu is 41 kilometers.

Along the way, we stopped at the vast pineapple plantation area of DoleFil. From the said area, we were able to see also Mt. Matutum.

souvenir pictures please
We took souvenir pictures and after 15 minutes, continued to our destination.

It was my second time to visit Koronadal. The first time was in 2012.

Tri-people Monument

We headed to Surallah City and stopped at the Tri-people Monument for more souvenir pictures. Then, proceeded to Lake Sebu.

Koronadal to Lake Sebu is 41 kilometers and we endured another 45 minutes of travel.

Lake Lahit
Finally, we reached Lake Sebu and we passed by Lake Lahit. I felt the excitement in the air as we were nearing our hotel. There were only 8 of us who joined this tour and they are Raine, Faty, Gzel, Red, Nilo, Lawrence, Beck and I.

Mountain Log Resort

We were billeted in Mountain Log Resort, one of the best resorts in Lake Sebu, if not the best!

Mountain Log Resort
Contact numbers - 0917-574-6729  / 0926-629-5640 / 0917-8755-498
Tel No. - (045) - 963-2078
Fax - (045) - 961-2681
email -

The view in the resort gave us the thrill to start with the tour. And they served a very sumptuous lunch.

After taking our lunch and resting a bit, we proceeded to Lake Sebu School of Living Traditions. Part of the tour was the cultural interaction with the T' Boli. It was my first time to see the musical instruments, the cultural dance, and the way of life of the T'Boli.

Everybody enjoyed the various presentations of the T'Boli ranging  from playing their musical instruments and their cultural dance presentations.

At the end of the captivating presentation, we took our souvenir picture with the T'Boli.

Thereafter, we proceed to the house of the late Lang Dulay, the revered dream weaver and the living legend. Unfortunately, she passed away a month before our slated visit.

Roy explained thoroughly the process on how to the T'Boli weave their products called T'nalak.

Last stop for the day was at the T'Boli Museum.

Again, Roy explained the history, way of life, and the artifacts of the T'Boli. 

Past 5 pm, we went back to Mountain Log Resort and I waited for the sunset. But it was cloudy that day and I just caught a glimpse of the sunset. Louie Pacardo aka Nomad's Perspective joined us that night at the resort.

Day 2

I woke early the following morning to catch the sunrise but it was cloudy again. Faty and I climbed the tower and waited for the sunrise as it unfolded in the horizon. There was a sea of clouds!

Even though the sunrise was not that spectacular, the view from the tower of Mountain Log Resort was really fascinating. I did not mind seeing the sunrise. I was equally treated with an amazing view of  Lake Sebu.

From the tower, you can have a 360 degree-view of Lake Sebu. 

The Tower
Good thing Mountain Log Resort has this facility and the only resort which has this facility in Lake Sebu.

After watching the sunrise, Faty and I proceeded to the lake to watch the Water Lily and Lotus as they bloom in the morning.

I hired a boat for P100 and we went to the other side of the lake to see the multitude of Lotus plants.

It was my first time to have this experience. My first Lotus encounter!

Falls No. 1
After taking our breakfast, we proceeded to the main attraction. We headed to the seven falls of Lake Sebu! It took us only 15 minutes and we were on Falls No. 1

The highlight of the tour was the twin zipline ride as you hover over Falls No. 3, 4 and 5.

Falls 3, 4, 5
We documented our zipline ride through our various gadgets, action camera and cell phones. It was one awesome experience! My second time to experience the zipline ride of Lake Sebu!

Falls No. 7
After the zipline ride, we trekked Falls No. 7. It took us an hour before reaching our destination. But the effort was worth it! The trek back to the jump-off point was really exacting and taxing.

Falls No. 2
After reaching the jump-off point, we rested a bit and decided to explore Falls No. 2. But only Louie, Nilo, Faty and I joined the quest.

Lake Sebu
We took our lunch at the resto overlooking Falls No. 2. and after lunch headed to Tacurong City. By this time, we were now exchanging stories, jokes, laughs, and having a good time inside the van.

Along the way, we stopped at Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol for our souvenir pictures.

After 2 hours, we reached the Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City.

I have seen the bird sanctuary in Olango, Cebu and Candaba, Pamapanga. But this bird sanctuary is a must-visit bird sanctuary. The place is filled with hundreds of various species of birds.

After the bird watching, we spent the night at Tacurong City 

Day 3

We woke up 3 am, packed, and left the hotel past 3:30 am. Our last and final destination was Barangay Dado, Alamada, North Cotabato. I took us more than 3 hours before reaching Barangay Dado. The road was rugged and not cemented.

We stopped at a local's house and hired our habal-habal ride to the falls. Again, everybody, enjoyed this ride to the falls!

The habal-habal ride was already the adventure!

After 20 minutes, we reached the jump-off point and took our group picture.

Then, the trek to the falls started.

While trekking, we enjoyed the view of North Cotabato.

Good thing the trail was good and it was already cemented.
The 376 steps down to the falls was our second adventure that day.

After walking for nearly 20 minutes, we sighted the falls.

Asik-Asik Falls

Personally, this was the best part of the tour!
I enjoyed the breathtaking view.
I enjoyed the trek.
I enjoyed the cool waters of the falls as we took a swim in the falls.
I enjoyed the lunch.
Most importantly, I saw smiles written on ALL my companions.

I promised myself that I will be back and explore the other falls of Alamada.

Before leaving, another set of souvenir pictures were taken.
Hooray to Asik-Asik Falls!!! =)

After lunch, we headed back to Koronadal City.
In Koronadal City, we took our sumptuous dinner.

Day 4

The following morning we headed towards General Santos Airport. But before the airport, we stopped at famous buko halo-halo of Saravia in Konadal City. Another must-try, must-eat in Mindanao! 

We also stopped to buy pasalubong before proceeding to the airport.

Raine, Nilo and Gzel went to the airport. Beck, Red and Lawrence went to Sarangani. While Faty and I went to Davao. 

We ended our group tour in Central Mindanao. Thanks to JJ Tours. 

Day 5

Our tour in Mindanao was not yet over.

Faty and I went to Paradise Island in the Island Garden City of Samal.

Originally, the plan was river rafting. But last minute, Faty changed the adventure and decided instead to go to Samal. We paid only P200 as entrance fee to the resort.

We enjoyed snorkeling!

We explored the bay of Samal for 2 hours under the heat of the sun.

And we were treated with various specie of fish, corals and marine life. 

Past 12 noon, we headed back to the hotel, fixed ourselves, and went to Davao International airport.


definitely enjoyed our Central Mindanao Tour and our side trip tour to Davao!

Persons who joined the tour
Louie Pacardo
Red Chuca
Raine Gozon
Gzel Dizon
Loreta Baylon (Beck)
Nilo Ilagan Lontoc
Lawrence Alejandre
Faty Jayme
Jun Villegas

Journeying James Tours


  • Explore the 7 Falls in Lake Sebu or 4
  • Ride the Zipline and Hover above the Waterfalls
  • Meet the T'boli Indigenous people of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
  • Meet Lang Dulay, the National Artist for Tnalak Weaving
  • Enjoy a Buffet Meal while cruising the 254 hectare Lake
  • Taste some of the unique Tilapia Dishes
  • Trek the 376-step stairs to the marvelous and geologically-unique natural formation of Asik-Asik Falls, a 60-meter talls and 140-meter wide falls in Almada, North Cotabato
  • Visit the Sanctuary of some 20,000 migratory birds in Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City
  • Countless Photo Opportunities
For inquiries, please contact JJTours Manager Red Chuca via Viber or text/call +639985523440.