Violet’s desire to see the world hasn’t changed, even if means to travel alone.

Solo backpacking. What a big change that sounds. It had never ever happened before. Violet – a traveller always accompanied by friends, now gone solo. What lies ahead for her with no one but herself to depend on? This is definitely no ordinary trip for a girl running solo for the very first time.

Day 1: Planning Iloilo-Antique-Guimaras

That was the original plan but the delayed flight from Manila 4:45 PM went beyond what is expected. Violet arrived more or less 8:00 in the evening in the beautiful Iloilo International airport but was delighted with the tourism office full of beautiful maps of Western Visayas. She knew what to look for next, a van taking her to SM Iloilo (Php 50.00) and then arrived 9:00 PM.

Seeing SM Iloilo closes, she is screaming her panicking heart out. Good thing, a very kind looking Ilocano is also waiting for a ride and she asked for directions going to Robinsons Place Iloilo for the Ong Bun Pension House, and she wasn’t disappointed.

???? She said to herself, “that wasn’t that bad or scary. Iloilo is good. It was just like Metro Manila. Nothing to fear.”

So, she rode the Mandurriao jeepney, paid Php 7.00, scanned every turns on the road and checked google map. Happy not to encounter any traffic.

Where to Stay in Iloilo?

Going to Ong Bun Pension House is an easy find. It’s very near Robinsons Place Iloilo but the street where it is located is quite dark and lots of girls where roaming the dark alleys. Not my biz anyways. I just noticed them when I bought my chicken joy meal at Plazoleta Gay.

Remarkable about my first Day in Iloilo: Good roads. No traffic. The yema is too good to ruin my diet (bought it infront of Jollibee). A night time to plan my solo exploration since I had no itinerary prepared. Sleep.


Day 2: ILOILO – GUIMARAS Island Tour


How to Get There: From Ong Bun Pension House going to Ortiz Port, ride a jeepney going to La Paz (7.00). Get off at the University of Iloilo and walk straight to the port, unfortunately the pumpboats going to Jordan Port  transferred to Parola Wharf as per advised the coast guard (Typhoon in Luzon). Hence, another ride with a tricycle worth 20.00 just to get there (approx. 15 minute ride).

Once there, bought my ticket for 14.00 and register. It was just a short boat ride and then there’s Guimaras. Welcome! Welcome to Guimaras Province!

I was greeted to sign in the tourism office and I was greeted by Kuya Cherald – my tour guide. Yes. If you’ve read about him. It’s him. 🙂

Do not underestimate this small island, it did look small in the map but in a ride, you have to prep the butt for the long bumpy ride.

Here is the list of the places Violet explored (in order, with gallery and notes):



Traveling Up! Let’s go, Ilocandia!

DSC_3337 1Last year, Violet and Len traveled to Sagada and had a blast with their summer adventure. It was one adventure to remember! This year, the two will embark together with eleven more companions to continue to travel up further and see what Ilocos Region can offer. This is Summer Adventure Year 2!

Continue reading


Traveling up! Let’s go Sagada!

Photo Album: SAGADA 2013
Facebook Page: Violetxplorer

Bomod-ok Falls

Bomod-ok Falls. Photographed by: Len Flores

Entako’et id Sagada! This is not your ordinary sight-seeing trip. It was a test of courage, stamina, mind work, wit and charm for two girls who embarked into the fortress of the Cordillera. From eight possible travelers down to two, what lies ahead for these two backpacking girls traveling North for the very first time?

Organizing the trip was not easy. Violet had read more than 30 blogs to consolidate details for the up coming trip. A month preparation it is! From the main attractions, mode of transportation, rates and prices, fixing schedules, people that could possibly help in making the trip smoothly sailing and to a point of what to bring and what to expect in Sagada is noted. Here is a SAMPLE ITINERARY created before going to Sagada.

Getting There

Manila to Banaue: Take Ohayami bus located at Cor. J. Fajardo St., Lacson Ave. Fare: 450 pesos and leaves at 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM daily (reserve if possible).

Don’t miss the chance to explore Banaue. Violet really wanted to see Banaue with her own light. Here’s to DREAMING OF A DREAM

Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue is such an enchanting place. It will definitely take your breath a way or make a heart beating fast. Its people are amazing and it was overwhelming for a first timer. What exactly do two girls do in Banaue? Here’s to a QUICKIE BANAUE.

Banaue to Sagada: Arriving in Banaue, expect to be welcomed by people working in the transportation. They will offer you ways to get to Sagada via van (300 pesos) or via jeepneys going to Bontoc or straight to Sagada (try the topload). Do not forget to take a view from Banaue Viewpoint and if you like museum, you better see Bontoc Museum in Bontoc (1-2 hours away from Banaue).

Arriving on a Monday, lesser adventurer arriving, left Violet and Len to take the van. It took them to the Banaue Viewpoint (which is delightful) but didn’t let them to take a sneak peek on the Bontoc Museum which is really get into Violet’s nerves (she’s really hoping to see it). After 3 hours of traveling and witnessing the beautiful terrain of Banaue and Mountain Province, it’s showtime!

Where to Stay in Sagada

946823_10152471584967925_2104179686_n (1)

Violet and Len stayed in Sagada Guesthouse for two nights. There are plenty of rooms but be sure to reserve before coming here (especially if arriving on weekends), well it’s Monday for them, so it wasn’t a hassle to arrive with no reservations and all rooms are almost available. The RATES are reasonable and negotiable. The guesthouse is located near the main road making it a good place to stay at and accessible to the information center, transport terminal and restaurants. Here is the review for SAGADA GUESTHOUSE and some interesting facts about it.

Tourist Attractions

There are plenty of attractions in Sagada. Its either you’ll walk or rent a vehicle. Here is the map from Sagada Guesthouse:



Note: The man and the chairs are not part of the attractions. LOL! 😀

  • Cave Tours: Sumaging Cave, Lumiang Cave, Balangagan Cave and Crystal cave
  • Mountain Tours: Marlboro Ountain, Mount Ampacao, Mount Sisipitan and Mount Polis
  • Falls Tour: Bomod-ok Falls, Bokong Falls and Pongas Falls
  • Sunrise: Kiltepan Peak
  • Sunset: Lake Danum
  • Easy Tour: Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, St. Mary the Virgin, Underground river
  • other attractions: Pottery and Weaving, and Rock Inn/Orange Farming

Tip: You need to gather all your strength if you want to walk it all (but you need a guide) and if you don’t want to walk, you’ll need to stretch your wallet.

Do you really need a guide? Do you really need to rent a vehicle?

Yes and No.

Why? Here is an honest answer and an essential read.

Note: There are two group of guides in Sagada: Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS) and Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA). We choose the later since they’re stationed in the information center while the other is a bit farther (and SAGGAS Guide didn’t replied about inquiries).


Things To Bring“All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go.”

This excerpt from the lyrics Leaving on a Jet plane do make sense for a traveler. Since Sagada is a place for adventures – exploring from above and below the ground, means you need to know the essentials stuff to bring.

Food Trip:

Try the different taste of Sagada and find the pleasure of its uniqueness. Here are some of the food places and it’s review.

3D/2N Entako’ed id Sagada Adventure!

 (May 20, 2013)

11:44 AM: Arrived in SAGADA; Stayed in Sagada Guesthouse

Check-in and a little rest. It’s already lunch time, we got of the guesthouse and look for good food. After 2-3 minutes of walking. We arrived in Salt & Pepper and took our order.

1:00 PM: Lunch at Pepper and Salt and Lemon House Pie

Starving…Patience is a must. Took 20-30 minutes to wait for the food and we finish it in less than 10 minutes. Thank God, the food taste good! 🙂

Then, searched for the famous lemon pie house and bought 2 slices of pie (egg and lemon) for 60 pesos. Delightful Sagada Food!

2:00 PM-3:00 PM: rest at the guesthouse

3:00 PM: Cave connection with Violet, Len, Jun and Kim and Hanging coffins view deck

 Behind the Cave Connection: It was a great idea to try cave connections instead of normal caving. So many stories to tell.

7:30 PM: End of caving/spelunking

After the fun yet super tiring activity, we had so many stories to share and to recall inside the van. Thank God we hired that van cause I know I couln’t walk anymore. hehehe,,, I just want to eat and get some sleep.

7:30-8:00: Quick Shower
8:15 PM: Dinner at Sagada Homestay Diner

Shhhh… No one’s talking. Hungry (Galit-galit muna)…

9:00 PM: curfew

9:30 PM: walked back home dead tired and sleepy

(May 21, 2013)

6:00 AM: Walk looking for breakfast. Sagada is still asleep.
7:00 AM-7:30 AM: Porridge/ Lugaw Breakfast near GL Bus Terminal
7:30 AM: Visit St. Mary’s Church and walk some more
7:40 AM: Went back to Sagada Guesthouse
8:00 AM: Ganduyan Museum
8:30 AM: Went to info center and met Sir Lary, Sir Richard and Sir Joey for Bomod-ok falls and trekking
11:30 AM: Lunch at Pinikpikan House
1:00 PM: Deliver Sir Lary, Sir Richard and Sir Joey at Lumiang Cave
1:15: Rest and Sleep at Sagada Guesthouse
3:30 PM: Seeing hanging coffins, weaving and pottery making, lake danum sunset but it rained (cancelled) instead buy pasalubong.
Avoid Ganduyan Shop (very unfriendly), look for Seven J’s handicrafts & souvenirs in front of Masferre
5:30 PM: Snack at Yoghurt House
6:30: head back to guesthouse
8:00 PM: Dinner at Sagada’s Guesthouse Restau Pancake
8:30 PM: Bathing

(May 22, 2013)

4:30 AM: Kiltepan Sunrise
6:00 AM: Rock Inn/Farming
6:30 AM: Echo Valley and Sagada Cemetery
7:00 AM: Lugaw Breakfast
7:30 AM: Wash-up and check-out
8:00 AM: Departure to Baguio

For More Details on the itinerary & Expenses (Click Here)





Balaan Bukid of Guimaras

Balaan Bukid

  • No entrance fee
  • Trek for 30-40 minutes.
  • Notice the different markers that symbolizes the stations of the cross.
  • Along the trails, huge and beautiful trees will welcome you while on top awaits the mystical church and the cross; miracles are said to be granted here.
  • Witness the majestic view of the seascape surrounding Guimaras.
  • Buy atis from the locals (if no mangoes available).

balaan bukid church

hug a tree main picture

Back to DIY Iloilo – Guimaras Blog



Guimaras Photography by Kuya Cherald

In connection with the post I wrote about my tour guide in Guimaras, here are some of my fave shots.

Has an EYE for Photography
He has the skills in using DSLR and camera phones. A huge fan of panoramic shots. He did lay on the ground and stood in the risky edge of the old rusty lighthouse just to give me the profile photo-worthy shot. All that under the extreme heat of the sun and while the strong winds scared the fearless-in-height in me on top of the lighthouse. LOL.












What To Do in Guimaras That You Never Read in Other Blogs?

Tired of reading the same stuff about Guimaras over and over again?

Here is a extraordinary spice added to what to look out for.

  1. HUG A TREE – see the beauty of trees and marvel with their power to connect with our souls. 

hug a tree main picturehug a tree


2. SELFEET – featuring the different landscapes of Guimaras and it’s limestone foundation.


???????????????????????????????????? 3. Church Hopping – I’m gonna be remarried here 🙂 ????

balaan bukid church????????????????????????????????????


4. Make Friends & Take a Jump – awesome people from GenSan. I love jumpshots but it doesn’t love me. hehehe




5. Meeting the Locals – encounters are truly enriching.


Kuya Boy who helped me out with my 3 island hops. A bangkero from Raymen. Please give them some tips, it does help.

DSC_9571 The Tres Marias of the Trappist Monastery buy their goods please, you might get discounts and free item from them.

DSC_9469These kids are the naughtiest of all. I asked them if the Bell is working and if I can ring it, they told me that I can. And so I did. Then all ran in different directions including me. Afraid to be caught tugging the cord. 🙂 That was fun anyway. LOL

6. Take Panoramic Pictures
The picturesque ruins

The buwis buhay panoramic shot with the wind blowing too harsh and standing in the old rusty lighthouse is another fear factor experience

The Raymen beach. Short beach walks are too awesome in the morning and noon

7. Try Local Food – the veggies called “Laswa” and their own version of dinuguan.


8. Sea Creature Encounter


9. Play with the Colors
20151003_174334no filter. real.






10. Make Your Own Trail and Chase Sunset – near Raymen is an ecopark and nobody seems to go that way and things unnoticed is what I really like.Plenty of things to see and so I will write more of it with another post.

???????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????




All safe and me happy to explore Guimaras with my awesome friend here. DIY Iloilo – Guimaras blog here 


A tour guide who answers your text and call inquiries whenever wherever. If he could, he would definitely answer your queries in his sleep. Suki ng unlimited promos.

Here are the infos:                   Cherald Padojenog
SMART: 09084748122
GLOBE: 09179647934


credit to his fb account

2. Sought After by Travellers, Chosen by Explorers & Recommended by Bloggers

I will name few bloggers who wrote about him: Blissfulguro (2013), Senyorita (2014), Sacurativo (2013), Lakad Pilipinas (2014), et. Al. All were satisfied with the Guimaras Island Tour and to name this list is just a few. Look it up on google and be amazed of the different stories about him.

3. Has an EYE for Photography

He has the skills in using DSLR and camera phones. A huge fan of panoramic shots. He did lay on the ground and stood in the risky edge of the old rusty lighthouse just to give me the profile photo-worthy shot. All that under the extreme heat of the sun and while the strong winds scared the fearless-in-height in me on top of the lighthouse. LOL.

Highlight of Events: Arriving in the Guisi Lighthouse, 2 girls are taking their photos in the lighthouse and their driver/guide was just watching them. While as for me, Kuya Cherald is such a delight to offer his good skills in photography and allowed me to have my mini pictorial. He took really awesome photos. Gallery of his shots (click here).

Meanwhile, we watched them to took their photos gazillion times and still with no luck with a good angle. That’s a No! NO! Everyone deserves a good profile photo of Guimaras. So, I did offer Kuya’s expertise and even took their photos on the top of the lighthouse.

And much for a surprise, they  all discovered that it’s Kuya Gerald that they sought to be their guide and contacted him on his facebook (which he couldn’t open/lost password). Lucky me, I was able to contact him on his cell phone number and yes, he is my tour guide. Almost won the jackpot there (overwhelmed to be the lucky one).



Trivia is an essential part of the tour and he knows what to tell about Guimaras, such Iloilo and Guimaras are two different provinces. We even talked about politics, paying taxes and ownership of lands in this province. Ask and he’ll try his best to give you facts.

5. Haggler

Can ask for discounts if you cannot speak Illongo like what he did with the sugar apple (atis) I bought in Balaan Bukid. He also called Raymen Beach Resort to move my reservation (I came 2 days earlier than my booking. A girl always changes her mind). J

And much for a surprise, he is willing to give discounted rates for the island tour, the lowest and the cheapest Php 1,000 from the usual 1,200 – 1,500.  I got mine for Php 1,500. Here’s why ? (click here).

6. A Family Man

I met his wife while descending Balaan Bukid. He told me his story, his humble begginings, about his wife, kids, nephews, and brothers. Some which he says he took as his own. He is a provider, a good father and brother, I could tell especially when he speak of his kids and how he helped his brothers to improve in their tour guiding and took care of some of Kuya Cherald’s guests. I see a good man in him.

7. Good Companion

Answers. – a must have for a good companion

Hahaha. I am a full-of-questions person. From the stupidest to smart-ass questions, I had it all stored in my head.

But the essentials: Guide. Driver. Photographer. Enthusiast. Friend.


I might be running solo on my adventure

but meeting Kuya was all part of the wanders of the universe.

I never felt alone. I was able to fulfil a dream to encircle the entire Guimaras Island.

I even left the entire bag at a stranger’s house and laying on the tricycle (putting in on risk).

But found trust with it,

Learn few Ilonggo words.