Summer heat. I'm sure you've heard the heat index in Metro Manila is getting higher same with nearby provinces. And it's a must to find a better solution how to fight the scorching heat of the summer. I believe most of the resorts and public pools are fully booked til the end of May and it is not surprising.

So for those people staying in Manila and have no time for beach, then ACE Spa is a solution for you. Note I'm not promoting this spa I just want to share to you the experience and how to beat the summer heat.

The reason why posting this article is just for a quick guide and common questions I had when I first visited this place.

The regular rate is 550 PHP and we came here just a walk in guest.

Hours allowed staying inside:
If I read correctly, guests are only allowed to stay for 4 hours.

Proper attire:
Yes, they are strict with proper attire. They prefer spandex material. If you are unsure with what is allowed you can show it at the reception.



It's going to be a kick-ass adventure to winter in wonderland. I'm thinking what would be the official hashtag? Hmmm. 😋

Anyway, this is not the first time I booked a flight to South Korea. I have done this last year, but unfortunately, I had to transfer work and I need money to support.

This year, we booked a flight again, thanks to our low-cost carrier, another good steal for a roundtrip flight. This was May so imagine how many months should you wait? LOL. We booked it for 9,116.74 PHP for two. It's just 4,500+ PHP per person. Thanks to Cebu Pacific. I suggest to always check their social media accounts or subscribe to the newsletter so you are up to date of their promos. Yeah?

June, I've already started saving money on my bank account. Yep! this would be the first step because Korean Embassy requires to provide Bank Certificate and Bank Statement. I know, I know very well that show money is really important. Although nobody knows how much should be in your bank for you to get approved a Visa but just be ready.

I heard that a minimum 50,000 PHP must be on your account but you know what it all depends on how many days you are staying in Korea. In my case, I set $100 a day. And because we will be staying there for 8 days therefore I need to have at least 40,000 PHP ($1 = 50PHP).

November, I started completing the requirements. You can click here to see the list of requirements. But note this is under Employee Category. If you are under Student, Businessmen, Self-Employed, etc etc, you can click here to see the list of requirements depending on the category.

After I completed the requirement, I went to Korean Embassy and the process was so smooth. I believe I stayed there for like 10 or 15 minutes. So long the requirements are complete, you got no problem dude!

By the way, I noticed, the Korean Lady who went through my requirements, she encircled the basic salary on my COE. So I guess it's a huge thing to get approved.

Then I waited for the next Monday! I prayed of course because this is the first time I applied for a Visa. I had so many questions in mind, the Embassy is so unpredictable. We will never know.

Come Monday...

BOOM! Approved!

See you in Seoul next week! I'll be active on my Instagram account so feel free to follow me there -instagram.com/iambuchok. I heard that it started to snow so it looks like another bucket to tick off on my list.



#TGGoesHigher our official hashtag for Maculot dayhike. TG stands for Team Guttom and that's my running team. Climbing is not new to me, in fact, this would be my second time to climb Maculot that's why I gave this hike for my team. And one of the reasons why I chose Maculot to be their "first kiss of the mountain" is because Rockies has one of best of the panoramic views atop plus it's an easy climb which is perfect for newbie hikers.

I'd like to give thanks as well to Coach Nur (our swimming Coach who is a certified Mountaineer, Swimmer, Diver and one of the strongest triathletes in the country) for helping me guide and making this event possible and successful. See that guy hugging the Marker post. That's him! Some of the pictures tho are taken from him.

We started the hike at Mountaineers Store at Brgy. Siete. We hired two guides as it is required and one of them is already our contact before getting to Cuenca. The first part is a pavement downhill all the way to this marker. And as usual, the hike wouldn't be complete without having a picture at the marker. It's required. Lol. Then another pavement uphill all the way to the end of the concrete road. And the start of the real trail. Honestly, I'm not so worried for my team even though it's their first time. They're all runners, in fact faster runner than me. So I know legs are strong enough to overcome the trails. Though there are challenging parts like sliding sands trail.

Along the trails, there are stations where you can rest for "take5". The most common mountaineers lingo. I'm not sure how many stations but what you like about this stations are locals do sell buko juice for 10PHP and some food stuff. And knowing my team, every stop is a photo opportunity plus some of the "hugot lines". Darn this climb should have another hashtag, "#hugotmaculot"

Then passed few stations, we reached the second to the last station where you can see a good view of coves around the Taal Lake. Perfect time also to show our love to Jeff Lo's Pinoy Fitness. Hope he could give us one of the shirts tho. Lol. Honestly, we didn't talk about it of what to wear. Maybe because they're just too comfy to wear especially for activity like this. Let me add na din the hashtag, "#pflifestyle".

We finally reached the campsite but we got no time to rest, I asked the team to immediately go to the Rockies so we finish early and take lunch back to the campsite. Also, the sun is up and started to heating up. The most challenging part is going to the Rockies, not the boulder part but again the sandy trail. It's really slippery going down, glad the locals have put ropes as a support but should be very careful.

And you might wondering why the Rockies. Because this part you gonna see huge boulders. You have the be careful when climbing the rockies, otherwise, your head will surely kiss'em as my experienced the first time I climbed here. But not now! Lol.

And after you passed the boulders, you will received a sweet present of nature. The Taal Lake and Taal Volcano in full view and the provinces of Laguna, Cavite and Batangas. Welcome to the Rockies. I hope you forgive me for the endless selfies but hey we deserve a death fying photo-ops ayt?! That's what we here for -- spirit and adventure. But do take necessary precaution.

Also just a side note, Rockies is not the summit. Summit is about an hour hike from the campsite depending on your pace but we didn't climb there. We just stayed at the campsite and lunch there after photo-ops at the boulders.

After a few hours of photos and witnessing the beautiful view of Taal Lake we head back to the campsite for our sweet moment. Ka-ka-in na! I asked the team to pack light and yes, they actually packed light but not with the packed lunch. That was the most awesome lunch at the top of the mountain. Team Guttom mantra is present. Train hard, eat harder! The campsite has small kubos with tables and you can use it for free. It has also small sari-sari store. 

After our lunch, we stayed there for a couple of minutes to rest. Also Coach Nur had a quick conversation about BMC (Basic Mountaineering Course). Then we commence back to the jump-off.

There you go, thanks for the Easter Sunday dayhike team. This is just the first of many mountains to conquer. Congratulations to your first mountain hike! 

If you are commuting, you can ride jeep to SM Lipa and the ask the driver to drop you off at Lomi King in front of La Salle Lipa. You can tell the driver that you are going to Lomi King. It's most visited lomihan after climb. Then ride jeep again to SM Lipa Terminal. There where you can catch JAM liner to LRT Buendia at 125 PHP.


Private Car - Pass through the SLEX then Star Tollway to Batangas taking Tambo exit. From Tambo exit turn left in Lipa - Tambo Highway all the way to Banay-banay. Turn right before Phoenix Gas Station and follow straight the National Highway going to Cuenca Town Proper. Then from Market area, take the first right and ask the local for the registration site and mountaineers store.
Commute - Buendia Station going to Lemery via Tambo Exit signboard. Ask the driver/conductor to drop you off at Cuenca. They usually ask if you are climbing Maculot then they know where to drop you off. From drop-off take tricycle that would bring you to registration area and then afterwards will bring you to the mountaineers store. DLTBCO and JAM travel to Lemery via Tambo exit.

Bus Commute - 147 PHP
• Tricycle to Jump-off - 20 PHP per head
• Registration Fee - 20 PHP per head
• Guide Fee (Required) - 400 PHP (per 4- 5 pax) Rockies only / 800 PHP (per 4 - 5 pax) to Summit.
You can contact Joseph 0977-328-9791 / 0935-664-4553. He is our guide.
• Wash up at the Mountaineers Store - 15 PHP (per timba)

You need to surrender one ID at the Registration Site per group.
• It is required to get a guide.
• Bring at least 2L of water.
• Has a strong signal to all networks. But if you need internet or cellular data, it's strong at the Rockies. I was able to post a status on Facebook. Lol.
• No water source on the trail, but you can buy buko juice along the trail plus there's a sari-sari store at the campsite. Price is higher tho.
• Rice, yes, there's a rice at the campsite for 30 PHP.
• Need to do the number 2. It's near the campsite. XXX
• Don't forget the LNT. Be responsible mountaineer. You know what that is. https://lnt.org/


Oh yes, you will never really forget your first. Now that I'm done with my first marathon, I think it's about time to go back in blogging. Well, running was not the reason why I stopped blogging for a while, work is. But then again if writing is your passion there's really a call that needed to attend. Hindi ko alam kung passion ko ba talaga ang pagsusulat dahil grammar pa lang bagsak na ako. O baka naman sadyang madaldal lang ako.

Anyway, I have a lot of things to talk to while I'm gone but lemme focus first what happened on my first marathon. Honestly, I looked myself running in the marathon one day, I've been running for quite a while and this won't stop in the half-marathon. Thanks to my boss who invited me joining The Bull Run Dream Marathon. Sa takot na din siguro sa "boss" kaya pumayag na ako. Nevertheless, I think this is the right time to experience the full mary.

TBR Dream Marathon happened last Sunday, February 21, 2016 in Nuvali. Medyo kulang sa tulog dahil galing pa sa night shift, from Friday night to Saturday morning. Maling-mali na hindi nakapag leave ng Friday. Kaya next time, especially sa mga graveyard people, if you have a marathon the following weekend make sure to vacant your Friday. 

We arrived at Microtel Nuvali around 5PM and hurried to check-in so I can get sleep even for a couple of hours. At dahil kabado ka na excited, hindi talaga ako nakakuha ng magandang tulog. I think I slept for only 3 or 4 hours. Tapos andiyan pa yong pakiramdam na najejebs ka na hindi naman talaga na naiihi ka na wala naman talaga. Ah ewan!

Around 11PM when the phone alarms, sign that we have to prepare as we need to be at the race village by 12:30AM. I can sense the excitement of each and every participant, and like me, they looked so stress as well. Kakaba-kaba.

And the run commenced at exactly 2AM with a gunstart, everyone was cheering and shouting, things I remembered. I was with Faye and Jerikko and we stick to a slow pace. Our target time to finish the first half (21k) is three (3) hours. I guess this is better for first-time marathoners because the goal is to sustain the energy til the end. Dinadaan ko sa patawa ang lahat para kahit papano mawawala ang kaba dahil kaming tatlo eh first time marathoners lang din. By the way TBR is for the first and second-time marathoners. I thought we finished the first half at 2 hours and 49 minutes but I found out we actually completed the 21k at 2 hours and 28 minutes. Medyo malakas pa ako that time, kayang kaya pa ang second loop. Although at the second loop, hindi na kame nagsabay-sabay. So I was running alone without Faye and Jerikko but I know they're just on my back. Faye is a strong woman. I don't know what was I thinking when I'm alone, I didn't use a run-walk pace, it was all the way run and stop whenever I need to but stick to my slow pace.

At KM25, uphill, I started to walk. I don't know how much energy left but I feel tired already. I stop each hydration and sip a mix of Gatorade and water. Lakad pag pataas, at mabilis na takbo pag pababa para mabawi ung nawalang oras. At KM28, there where I started with a side stitch, it's really hard to run. In my previous runs, I'm always in trouble when side stitch strikes. Sobrang hirap, masakit! Then I started raising my hand and then adding pressure by pressing the other side where the pain is. It helped a bit pero hindi talaga nawala.

Come KM34 sobrang pagod na ako but I never stopped running. I was at the very slow pace. My target finish time is 6 hours and I thought I still have plenty of time. When hydration station arrived at KM36 I checked the time and I was on 4 hours and 50 minutes of running. So meron pa akong isang oras para mabuo ang natitirang 6.195KM. That time medyo nahatak ako ng pressure sa oras. But my body can hardly run faster. Tapos sasabihin ko na din na utot ako ng utot, stomach cramps?! I dunno but I feel sorry ung nasa likod ko.

Haha, kadiri mang pakinggan but couldn't help but to release the fresh air (urggh!). Otherwise, I will be late on my target time. Thank goodness to my lower body, kayang-kaya pang dalhin ung katawan ko but I learned that the upper body must be in good shape as well. Sa pagkakataon yon, hindi na nagkakasundo ang katawan ko, andami kong hangin sa loob ng katawan. Imbes na utot, dighay ang kinalabasan. Ewww! But still I didn't stop running, call me crazy but on the last kilometers, I ran all the way from T-Loop to H-Loop. Little by little I will be able to finish the marathon. At KM38 I started praying the rosary, I keep on telling myself that I dedicate this to my parents, my mind was stupid of making any story. Kadiri pero nakakabaliw na mag-iisip. I know I can feel the difficulty of other runners, so do I. May nakita pa akong umiiyak na.

Until I reached the E. Nature Avenue na abot-tanaw mo na ang finish line. Pero hindi pa pala. You still have to turn around the H-Loop. Thanks to Dream Chasers, or else I won't be able to finish the race in 6 hours. I know I can finish it by walking because I got loads of time, however, when you set a finish time you'll have to achieve that goal which is really important. When H Loop came, I gave up, that was the looongest 2KM of my life. Akala ko tuloy tuloy lang ang takbo pero napatigil din ako, at *napamura.

And here comes the KM42 mark. You are not done yet, you still need additional .195KM to finish the race. Oh boy! Parang di na kayang humakbang ng paa ko, nanginginig na pati tuhod ko, nagmumura muli ang mga dila ko. Naknangteteng. And then I heard someone calling every finisher's name on microphone and the people around cheering for their loved ones. That time I don't know kung sino sasalubong saken, meron ba o wala. 

And here comes the energy again, totoo pa lang talaga ang final push. Napatakbo ule ako hanggang sa finish line. Nilabas ko ung scapular ko at nag sign of the cross. Thanking the Lord for running me through the finish line. And that was the best moment of my life. You will never really forget your first forty freaking two.

Finish time at 5 hours 41 minutes and 50 seconds. Rank 114 of 618 runners. 

Congratulations to all the finishers or should I say MARATHONERS, the organizer and the TBR Team led by the Bull Runner herself Jaymie Pizzaro. That was a successful event, I haven't had regret taking my first marathon with TBR. Feels like I have fire and gold and ready for anything. Thank you to my #teamGUTTOM for the support and the push. And huge thanks to #AyalaTriads for providing us the regular training. Thanks to everyone who helped me conquer this big milestone race. This is not the end, this is just the first and the beginning to something new.

Proud TBR alumnus here!


Selfie at the terrace at Tyffany's Inn.
There are no fancy hotels that you can find in Mangagoy Bislig City. That's why when I was searching for staycation prior for my trip, it was easy for me to find a place. I don't need to check on reviews, the important are accessible to most of the tourist spots, an air-conditioned room, (please don't judge me I can still sleep on budget fan rooms but if I were to choose I want a place where I can really sleep), and of course budget friendly.

You have many options where to check in around Mangagoy. I was calling for several hostels and inns, but unfortunately, some of the phone numbers posted are no longer active. In fact, I have emailed Casa de Babano which is more popular staycation in Bislig. Then I called Tyffany's Inn but it was just ringing so I texted them. Fortunately, I received a callback from them.

This is a 3-storey building located in Castillo Street. Originally, we booked for a single AC bedroom for 600 PHP and we had an agreement that payment will be paid in full upon arrival. Although sometimes they require paying half of the price through a bank transfer but you can actually settle for an arrangement. Just make sure to update them three days before check in.

When we arrived we checked the room first and it is small. So we asked for an upgrade and glad that they still available two-bedroom at the third level for 800 PHP/day. Not bad! And it's near the terrace so perfect view to see the life in Bislig. Tyffany's has free wifi but only at looby, reception area. However, if you have a postpaid line, Globe and Smart have good internet connection.

Actually the room cost only 750 PHP but if it is included with breakfast then additional 50 PHP. You can contact Rachel at 0907-608-7403 for booking.

This is the 800 PHP room. I think they called it Matrimony.
Tyffany's Inn room.
Another selfie at the terrace.


It is more popular staycation in Bislig as I mentioned earlier. It is situated in Caramcam street also in Mangagoy. They have fan room at 275 PHP. For booking, you can contact them at 0986-853-2097 / 0975-200-9704.
Casa de Babano in Bislig
According to our guide, this pension house is one of the best in Mangagoy when it comes to facilities. It has also a higher satisfaction rate with good reviews from guests. It is situated in Espiritu Street at rates starts at 500 PHP. For booking contact: 0986-853-8890.

It is located in Castillo street and price starts at 150 PHP. Sadly I don't have a contact number but this inn is just along the street where Tyfanny's Inn located.

Contact: 0986-628-2327
Email: yolandainn@yahoo.com

You might want to check this link as the local government of Bislig listed all the lodging houses in Bislig/Mangagoy with contact numbers.


This post is part of my Bislig, Surigao del Sur Trip happened on my birthday July 26 - 29, 2015. And this is my first time to set foot in Mindanao.

■ Trip Itinerary: Getting to and from Bislig City via Bancasi Airport in Butuan
■ Staycation Guide: Where to stay in Bislig City/Mangagoy
■ The Enchanted River
■ Sibadan Fish Cage
■ Tinuy-an Falls
■ Hagonoy Island and Bon-bon sandbar
■ Hinayagan Cave
■ Staycation in Bislig City
■ Where to eat in Mangagoy


At the Bislig Marker in Bislig Baywalk
Bislig City is said to be the "Booming City by the Bay" and I couldn't disagree more because this growing City has a lot of things to offer. Although one of my favorite places in Surigao del Sur is not really part of Bislig yet this is the closest place you can stay with numerous inns and hostels.

Enchanted River is the main reason why I wanted to visit Surigao del Sur. I have no idea how to get here and haven't set foot in Mindanao. When I was college I saw a picture of this magical river and I didn't know that it can be found in the Philippines. I thought it was somewhere in Europe or in Americas. Geeesh! I must explore the Philippines more. Anyway, make the story short, I promised to visit this place someday and I wanted to make it happen right on my very special day! And of course when I have work to finance my travels.

The time has come to witness its real beauty right before my eyes, thanks again to piso-fare promo. I was able to book a flight at a lower price. I learned Bancasi Airport in Butuan City is the closest airport to get to Bislig City, although Davao would be another option but land transfer takes longer time to travel compared from Butuan.

Bancasi Airport in Butuan
R4 mini cab.
Cramped! This mini-cabs are just like in MOA.
Don't be confused with Mangagoy (Ma-nga-goy) and Bislig, they're just technically one place. So either you say Mangagoy or Bislig, drivers will drop you off in one place. Mangagoy is one of the Barangays of Bislig City but here where most of the transient houses and establishments are situated. Therefore, it would be better to say you are going to Mangagoy if you are coming from Butuan.

We arrived at Bancasi Airport (Butuan) around 9 AM, then we rode an R4 mini-cab to get to the terminal where you can find vans that will bring you to Mangagoy. Please note that there are plenty of mini-cabs parked at the airport, those vehicles have different signs (R2, R3, R4 up to R12). "R" means road, and make sure to ride the R4 as Road4 passes through the city terminal.

Cool mini-cab graffities.
These are the vans piling outside the terminal.
Also do not entertain people that offer van for hire at the airport because it would cost you more money. I'm not saying those are illegal, those are private vans for hire.

When we arrived at the terminal, the driver dropped us right in front of the van bound to Mangagoy. There are other vans bound to Barobo and San Franz. By the way you also have an option to ride van bound to San Franz, and then from San Franz you can ride another van bound to Mangagoy. As of this writing, fare is 240 PHP (Butuan - Mangagoy). And because we were cramped with four people per row I asked the driver if I could pay another seat. The travel time is 4 hours and they actually dropped us off right in front of Tyffany's Inn where we stayed in Mangagoy.

This is the van waited for us bound to Mangagoy.
Photo op inside the van, when boring strikes. :)
Cramped, and so cramped ride. Thanks I paid another seat.
Bachelor Express is your choice. You can also ride an R4 from the airport and tell the driver to drop you off at Bachelor Express Terminal. They have buses that travel straight to Mangagoy. Travel time is 5 - 6 hours so if you are not in a hurry and you just want a relaxed road trip then taking bus is perfect for you. And likewise as van, you can also ride this bus bound to Davao just in case no more trip to Mangagoy, then alight at San Franz (San Francisco), then you can find van there that travels to Mangagoy.

You can ride a tricycle and tell them to bring you at the terminal. Note that if you wish to ride a van that go straight to Butuan for a hassle-free travel then you have to be at the Mangagoy terminal early in the morning before 10 AM. Otherwise, you can ride van bound to San Franz then from San Franz, another van bound to Butuan like we did.

Somewhere in Agusan del Sur en route to Surigao del Sur


This post is part of my Bislig, Surigao del Sur Trip happened on my birthday July 26 - 29, 2015. And this is my first time to set foot in Mindanao.

Trip Itinerary: Getting to and from Bislig City via Bancasi Airport in Butuan
■ Staycation Guide: Where to stay in Bislig City/Mangagoy
■ The Enchanted River
■ Sibadan Fish Cage
■ Tinuy-an Falls
■ Hagonoy Island and Bon-bon sandbar
■ Hinayagan Cave
■ Staycation in Bislig City
■ Where to eat in Mangagoy


Heard the word Singapore? One thing enters my mind is Merlion. This creature is indeed a representation of the Lion City. It is an icon, an 8.5 meter tall statue with a body of a fish and a head of a lion. So that when visiting this state-country, make sure to pay a visit to the Merlion Park. 

Merlion Park is not really hard to find, Singapore is just a small country yet the most accessible when it comes to public transportation. That's why when going around the city, MRT would be your best friend. Merlion Park is situated in One Fullerton Hotel, near the Central Business District. 

We come from the Gardens by the Bay with Marina Bay Sands and Supertree Grove, that's why it only took us a couple of minutes to get to Merlion Park. It's already dark when we left the Gardens and we arrived at the park past 7 PM. But we were captivated by the lights surrounds it and the tallest skyscrapers on the background.

I'm sure there are a lot of ways to get to Merlion Park but at the moment please use the MRT as your reference. And for obvious reason, this is the only transportation I know and I'm sure I won't be lost. The nearest MRT station is Raffles Place (NS26 / EW14), then use the Exit H. Then right to the Fullerton Road and then right again to get to the Esplanade Road. You will have to cross the street to get to the park. 

Please refer to this link for your guide. 

After crossing the street and walking for a couple of meters, we already saw a white figure spouting a huge amount of water. I'm sure it is the Merlion already plus the amount of people around the area is countless. Then we stepped down thru the stairs and saw this small cub. I don't know what this cub represents, but it looks like a small replica of Merlion or maybe the son. This cub though is shinier, but the Merlion overpowered the dark ambience of  the bay area out of it's pure and white character.

And look at that, isn't amazing, the Merlion standing proudly in front of those towering skyscrapers. I thought it would be admirable to visit the Merlion Park during the day so you can see the structures around it but I thought the night has a better look. 

Here are the failed attempts of taking pictures with the Merlion. It's really hard to get the chance because if it's not blurred then someone is blocking the view. Plus I don't have a background in photography - night photography and portrait. My apologies Jerome and Harty. :S

We decided to stay there and enjoyed the view. I am busy taking photos with the self-proclaimed perfect photo of Singapore's Bay area. I was fascinated by the lights of the skyscrapers plus the Marina Bay Sands and other Singapore's known structures that are seated across the park. I don't mind taking photos of myself, enough for me to have a perfect picture with the place.

And then we heard huge sounds that called everybody's attention. I don't know Singapore has the Symphony of Lights also likewise as Hong Kong. Then some were clapping as if they're expecting of an extravagant show. I have no idea. Then a green lights suddenly appear slowly from the top of Marina Bay Sands! That was perfect and amazing.

Please see below pictures of the Symphony..

Amazing and fantastic lights show. Thanks for the welcome though. Our restless body just relieved by the warm welcome. Then after two hours of stay, we decided to go back to the hostel to rest our dead and tired body. This show cap-off our first day in Singapore.

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