From Coron, Culion, Busuanga

All You Need is Pag-ibig: 4 Filming Locations in Coron, Palawan

When I quit my full-time corporate job a couple of months ago, I thought I could finally have the time to update this blog on a regular basis. But I was wrong. Love happened. Pag-ibig happened.

All You Need is Pag-ibig is a Star Cinema entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) this year. When I was first invited by Director Antoinette Jadaone to co-write this, the concept was so distant from it has become. To be honest, I declined initially. I just didn’t know where to get the time to do it. But it is hard to say no to somebody like Direk Tonet who, as Kris Aquino put it, has the ability to make stories feel like “it happens to all of us and yet she does it a cinematic way.”

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Coron on a Budget: Travel Guide

It was like a giant bucket of paint spilled into the water that morning. Dazzlingly, the sun showered the world with a whole lot of gold and red. Half-awake, we got up and watched  our boat made futile attempts to scratch the mirror-like surface of the sea. The sun, bursting into full glory, just snatched us out of slumber completely. The day had officially begun and if the view was any indication, it would be an unforgettable one.

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Maquinit Hot Springs: Tub Therapy in Coron, Palawan

The Boiling Frog popped up in my head as soon as I took the first step into the pool. My reflexes instantly pulled my leg out of the water. It wasn’t lukewarm; it was scalding. Playing within 39 and 40 degrees Celsius, scalding may be exaggerating it, but it was almost unbearable at first dip. Blame the the unusually cold wind even though it was a mid-summer night. Still, I trod on and tiptoed to the middle of the pool. The heat had turned into warmth, and I allowed it to envelop my body as it began to sweep all my troubles away.
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Sunrise at Culion Church and Fortress, Palawan

I was able to beat my alarm clock. At five in the morning, I woke up from a short and shallow slumber, opened my eyes, got up and out of the bed, and then the alarm clock went off. It was one of those rare mornings that I was able to score against it. That’s how excited I was to start the day. I grabbed my camera and made my way to the church to watch the sunrise that Culion is starting to be known for.

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Lusong Shipwreck and Coral Garden: Shallow Reverie in Coron, Palawan, Philippines

I can tell you a thousand reasons why I am not a diver, but they all boil down to one thing — fear. For a traveler who was born and raised in Batangas, a diving hotspot, I am unusually afraid of the dark and beautiful depths of the sea. Yes, it is the fear of deep water, of drowning, of death that has always kept me afloat, skimming only the surface of the water. For the longest time, I had been content with my snorkel and never had the thought of exchanging it for a diving gear entered my mind. Not until I got to Lusong.

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Tameta Pension House: Where to Stay in Coron, Palawan, Philippines

If I ever wondered what it would feel like to stay inside an oven, I would have had an idea on my first day in Coron, Palawan. Summer had just started but it already felt like we were in the inner layers of hell. Mind you, Coron is infinitely beautiful but the late March heat had turned the ground into frying pans and we were but seared meat. That’s why, looking back, I don’t understand why I chose to stay in a fan room that day. Ah, I know — budget.

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The Other Pamalican Island in Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines

Even before coming to life, my plan of circling the island on foot died when our boatman, Harold, told us we only had 15 minutes to spare. He was worried about the weather and the time. We were set to make one more stop before calling it a day, and the sun was already threatening to retire. Still, I hopped out of the boat with a smile on my face and let my feet make shallow marks on the white bed of sand that skimmed the island.

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Mt. Tapyas: Chasing Sunsets in Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Why do we keep chasing sunsets?

Is it the sight, the picture of the sun surrendering all his glory to the restraints of the liquid horizon? Is it the warmth, the feeling of the king’s last-born rays caressing our skin as he dives into the sea? Or is it the chase, those jading moments when you brave the way or beat the time just to catch his last few breaths?

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Hotel Maya: Where to Stay in Culion, Palawan, Philippines

She raised her left arm and led my eyes to the round-roofed church perched on a cliff by the shore. “Beside it,” My friend Mica said as-a-matter-of-fact-ly, “is where we will be staying.”

Before I could respond with “We’re staying outside the church?” complete with a half-joking half-violent look to match, my eyes caught the big bold letters that adorn the edge of the plateau — Hotel Maya.

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