All posts by aljohncalapatia

Aljohn S. Calapatia is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and is currently completing his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Sto. Tomas. He is a travel blogger and a food enthusiast. He once dreamt of becoming a journalist or a writer. He is currently employed at the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and holding a position of Financial Planning Specialist. He entered the government service because he wanted to make a difference.


People. Its very hard not to notice Ilonggos friendly attitude as they  wear their big smiles at all times. Ilonggos are very approachable and accommodating making the  tourists feel at ease in asking assistance/queries. The only barrier between the locals and tourists is the language differences. Since they have their own dialect, expect that not all locals are fluent in Tagalog. I suggest that  when you communicate with them, try to use either English Language or TagLish. With this they can understand you better. And when you are interacting with locals expect that some may completely understand your queries, however,  when  they respond to you, they will speak in Ilonggo. You really have to make a good pick to whom you will throw your queries. 😅😅😅


Gigantes Group of Islands

Cabugao island

The most popular amongst the islands of Gigantes is the Cabugao Island.

 Figure 1. Cabugao Island.


Locals were able to put  a wooden stairs going to the peak of the island’s limestone formation. This gives the tourists a picturesque background for their selfies. Also, this is what makes the island very unique.  Who wouldn’t want to take a selfie in this spectacular view? Capturing the entire beauty of the island and the blue waves surrounding it. It is not surprising to see people lining up just to see the view that locals boast. Your Iloilo vacation is incomplete without including this in your itinerary!!

Figure 2. Wooden Stairs

 Figure 3. Fisheye shot of Cabugao Island


Bantigue Island

Bantigue Island has become popular not only because of its long stretch of sandbar but also because of the fresh and budget friendly seafood that it offers. This island is indeed a heaven for seafood lovers. Scallops are being sold for only 1 pesos per piece!! You can have 1 tray of fresh scallops for 100 pesos only! You can eat grilled squid, sinigang na lapulapu and many others without spending so much!!

Aside from scallops they also have very unpopular seashell seafood that they wanted to promote. They call it wasay-wasay. It has a very different and very weird shape making it less attractive and harder to sell. According to locals, they prefer eating wasay-wasay than oysters because unlike the latter, the former is far more hygienic.

Figure 4. One tray of  fresh and steamed scallops that we ordered for  lunch.


Figure 5. The sandbar of Bantigue Island

Antonia Island

Antonia Island is also a must-visit island in Gigantes as it boasts finer white sands and picture perfect limestone and rock formation.

Figure 6. Rock formation at the edge of Antonia Island.

Figure 7. Limestone Formation.


The famous La Paz Batchoy of Iloilo. Other than biscocho and butterscotch, Iloilo is also well known for its noodle soup called La Paz batchoy. They say this is the Iloilo’s version of Batangas’ Lomi.  It is a tradition for tourists not to go home without trying this out.

Figure 8. La Paz Batchoy


For tour packages you may contact Kuya Joel at 0920-811-6164.



In the presence of advance technology today, who would have thought that there are still Filipinos who have never lightened up their homes with electricity? Imagine how hard their life is, and imagine fortunate you are to enjoy the benefits of electricity while some are struggling because they have no access to it.

According to the United Nations (UN), access to electricity should be declared as a basic human right and urges all the countries in the world to make electricity available for all.

While this issue is still on debate, I, myself, who is a member of an organization which is a vanguard of rural development through rural electrification, firmly believes that indeed enjoying the benefits of electricity is a privilege that everyone should have. Though this remains a challenge for the Philippines for years, as we are limited with financial resources, the government never lost its faith in energizing the entire country from the smallest island to the farthest one by continuously capacitating the electric cooperatives and empowering the member-consumers-owners.

Undoubtedly, electricity plays an important role in rural development and in the absence of it, there is no progress, there is no economic growth and people are imprisoned with poverty. Statistics show that people who live in rural areas with no electricity are likely to stay living below the poverty line because of limited resources and opportunity.

While people who live in rural areas which has been energized, just recently, through the help of government’s sitio electrification program, experience a significant change in their lives. Records show that there is an increase in income for every household beneficiaries of the said program and this can be mainly attributed to the surge in production of their farm and higher employment rate in their area.

Brudland (1986) says that “Energy services are a crucial input to the primary development challenge of providing adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, sanitation, medical care, schooling, and access to information. Thus energy is one dimension or determinant of poverty and development, but it is vital. Energy supports the provision of basic needs such as cooked food, a comfortable living temperature, lighting, the use of appliances, piped water or sewerage, essential health care (refrigerated vaccines, emergency and intensive care), education aids, communication and transport. Energy also fuels productive activities, including agriculture, commerce, manufacture, industry, and mining”.  Apparently, the electricity serves as the main stimulant of economic growth and reduces poverty in the rural areas.

I feel grateful that I become part of an organization which was created for missionary and humanitarian purposes. While most millennials are having difficulty in finding their inner purpose in life and looking for ways on how they can make a difference, I unknowingly found mine, amidst my challenging and meaningful stay in National Electrification Administration (NEA). On the contrary with what most people think of millennials, I would be the living proof, that it is not always the monetary benefits that makes one stay in the workplace, because surprisingly, in rare occasions, it is the value or impact that you can bring to the society. It is always good to find a high paying job but it is very rare to find a fulfilling one. And even though I am not a front liner in implementing rural electrification programs of the government, I still appreciate the roles that I play in the agency no matter how small it (effort) is, because I know that I am one of the reason why some members of the marginalized sector have lights in their home.



Visayan Region of the Philippines has a lot to offer and exploring Cebu alone could take all your vacation leaves if you wish to visit all the tourist spots in this wonderful place. Indeed Cebu is one of the most blessed places on Earth when it comes to history, culture and natural beauty. What makes Cebu unique as compared to other places in the Philippines is that, it’s a total package. It has plenty of beautiful white sand beaches, mysterious mountains, majestic water falls, and breath taking underwater scenery. It is also a place where you can find delicious foods/delicacies.


Based on my observation, Cebuanos are inherently religious people however not all are kind. There are few people who will take advantage of your unfamiliarity, for instance, you wanna buy an ice cream, banana q, or any other food street or items, and you ask for the price,  they will most likely charge you twice. My advice is, “just hand them your money and never ever ask for its price” and let them give you your change. This strategy is for the vendors to think that you are very familiar with how things are being normally priced. You have to show gestures that you know everything and you do not tolerate opportunist people to take advantage of you. AVOID ASKING FOR THE PRICE, ALWAYS!!!

Places to visit.

Cebu Region is divided in to two parts, the southern part and the northern part. If you only have 3 or 4 days of vacation I suggest that you only choose one part of Cebu to explore and focus on it. South Cebu alone will eat your 3 day vacation. Below are the must visit tourist spots in Cebu City and in Southern Part of Cebu region.

  1. Magellan’s Cross. Undoubtedly it is the most famous icon/trademark of Cebu City. Don’t forget to take a selfie on this site. However, lots of people go here, so you will surely have a hard time taking good pictures. Also, it is extremely hot in Cebu so expect to sweat a lot.


  2. Temple of Leah. It is a Greek inspired musuleo contructed for the remain of Leah Villa Albino-Adarna, the wife of Mr. Teodorico Adarna (grandfather of sexy actress Ellen Adarna) who owns chain of motels in Cebu. It is a new attraction in Cebu that calls the attention of many tourists because of its appeal. Also you can see the entire city of Cebu from the site.  For more detailed information about the temple you may visit this site (


  3. Tops in Busay.  It is located on the top of the mountain and is situated next to Temple of Leah. you can dine here while enjoying the city lights during the night.

  4. Oslob. It will take 3 to 4 hours of travel from Cebu City to Municipality of Oslob. It is a place where you can swim  and experience a close encounter with the whale sharks. I suggest that you stay overnight in a hotel near the area because you have to be early to enjoy this attraction since they only allow swimming with the whale shark in the morning. Also be noted that lotion and other chemicals are not allowed on this site, you’ll be asked to wash it out because according to them it might affect the habitual visitation of whale sharks once the shore is contaminated of chemicals.

    You’ll get briefed before you can proceed to the site.

  5. Sumilon Island. Another tourist spot near the whale shark diving site is Sumilon Island. You will surely enjoy its snake like shape sandbar.

     Just let your inner self enjoy the waves, the sun and the water. =)

  6. Quartel Beach, Oslob. This place will bring you back to the past as you will have a glimpse of old spanish structures such as church, street lights and baywalk.

  7. Osmena Peak. From Oslob, you can go straight to Osmena peak, which may take 2 to 3 hours of your time. Almost all the roads are good, what will make it difficult is that you’re going to pass by so many mountains.             You will feel the pressure on your ears as you go higher. just like what you always feel when you are inside the airplane.  They say this place is the Baguio of Cebu because of its cold temperature. This is where the supplies of fruits and vegetables of Cebu are coming from.

    I rode habal habal to get there that’s why I was able to take picture in this road, which is still under construction. You have to try riding habal habal in Cebu. It is really fun and exciting. I enjoyed it very much.

    It will only take you 20 minutes of hiking to get on top of the hill.

    This is what you can witness when you get to Osmena peak. Locals say this is Cebu’s version of Bohol’s famous chocolate hills. You can eat your mirienda here while enjoying the cold wind and the fantastic view. (Please don’t leave your trash here.)

     The little island there is Badian. Another paradise on the list. =)

  8. Moalboal. A perfect place to get a close encounter with school of sardines, colorful fishes, live corals and even giant turtles. It’s a paradise for scuba divers because of its rich marine biodiversity. You can see different races here, if you are a Filipino you may find it like you are the foreigner here because almost all the restaurants here are owned and operated by the different races, if not American, it could be European or Korean. Rates here are also expensive.  There are budget room for rent in the area but they are very hard to find. The place may be tricky if you are not good at directions.

  9. Pescador Island.

  10. Canyoneering + Kawasan Falls. If you want to experience an extreme adventure and get a dose of adrenaline rush, this activity is definitely for you. Jump, slide, dive and swim!!! Indeed an action packed adventure that you must try!

Best of Coron, Palawan

The island of Coron is just one of the many beautiful places on Earth that you MUST visit before you die. No one could disagree with that. If you  want to explore the Philippines, this island should be on top of your list. Coron,  has been named as the most beautiful island in the world for several times. It boasts crystal clear water and breath taking rock formation, mysterious lagoons and last but not the least, the magnificent marine life deep down below it.

Accommodations and tour packages in the island are cheap and reasonable. In fact, you could enjoy a one day island hopping with spending only PhP800.00 to PhP900.00 pesos and that includes a free boodle lunch especially cooked by the bangkeros or boatman. The price of tour packages here depends on the distance of the island you will explore, the farther it is, the pricier it will become.

Exploring the island could be the best thing you could ever do in your life!!!

Below are the pictures that I would love to share with you guys. =)

A wooden bridge that perfectly suites the beauty of nature.

Who would have thought that this kind of view does exist??

This lagoon is so beautiful that will make you feel like you wanna spend your entire life swimming there and have fun with the small fishes.

Where to stay:

I recommend the hotel where I stayed at, it is called Sunzen Coron, a Korean owned hotel located near the city town proper of Coron Island. Their place is really nice, rooms are clean, breakfast is good, staffs are hospitable and well trained (they will always greet and smile at you). They also provide free transportation going to the town proper if you wish to visit supermarket, travel agencies, churches and pasalubong centers. There are many hotels or transient rooms in the city town proper you can choose from but if you have a budget for nicer one, this hotel is one you can consider. One disadvantage on this hotel is that, signal here is very poor. You have to get out of your room only to have one to two single bar of signal. Fortunately they have free wifi (though its weak, its still working!!) for their guests enough to be able for your phone to access and browse social media apps.

Here are the photos below:


For me, Coron is not a place for food tripping. Don’t expect that fruits and vegetables will be fresh as being an island it is really hard for them to get fresh produce from other parts of the Philippines. Though there are high end restaurants which you can always try, but if you are working on a tight budget finding a delicious food  with a reasonable price could be a struggle.

One restaurant that I recommend is the Kawayanan Grill. They are famous in the island because of their delicious crocodile sisig!!! It taste like a chicken while the meat texture is like a beef. Very meaty!! Exploring the island is incomplete without tasting it.


Once you landed at the Busuanga Airport, expect plenty of travel agencies to approach you. Surprisingly their rates are doubled than the normal rate so if I were you I will ignore them and go straight to the city town proper to canvass and look for more travel agencies. I recommend Calamaian Island Travels and Tours (0917-552-6766). They have cheap rates for tour packages.

One good news in exploring Coron is that tour packages here are all joiners which makes them cheaper and more affordable.


Tired of air pollution and warm weather in the city?

Do you want to breathe fresh air, feel the touch of cold wind on your face, and walk in the streets in the afternoon while sipping a cup of hot coffee??

Well, Sagada is the perfect place to be.  A place that sits above the mountains of Cordillera Region. It boasts a perfect green picturesque of rice terraces which are said to be carved with bare hands of locals’ ancestors centuries ago.It is a place where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables and several variants of rice.

Fortunately, Sagada is one of the many municipality  that greatly benefited in the government’s farm to market road projects as almost all of the roads in this place are already concrete.  What will only make it difficult for the tourists/travelers is the mode of transportation in the area. Since the place is too far and the roads are very steep, you can only see few service vehicles roaming around. With this, it is advisable for those who wants to explore Sagada to avail joiner tour instead of doing “DIY” (Do It Yourself).

Places to visit:

1. Kiltepan Rice Terraces

Aside from the beautiful sunrise, this is where you can also watch the amazing sea of clouds (well, that is if you are very lucky). According to locals, sea of clouds is not always present on top of Kiltepan, and there are occasions that tourists are very unfortunate not to witness its majestic beauty. Weather condition is a factor to consider.

 Apparently I am one of those unlucky individuals. (heavy sighs)


 The clouds are very shy… ='(

 I can only see pines trees!! (ugh!!!)

 2. Hanging Coffins

According to our local tour guide, it is tradition of their ancestors to hang the remains of their departed loved ones on the cliff. And even until now, there are still few natives who prefer to hang coffins.

One proof is the white and blue coffin  behind me.

I can’t explain the  ambiance here. Its so weird. (LOL)

Trivia: Did you know that in Sagada, the burial ground in their cemetery is free of charge?? Yes!! You read it right! Perhaps you want to reserve one for the future. You just have to coordinate with the  officer in charge. =)

 3. Echo Valley

Before you reach the Hanging Coffins you have to first pass by the Echo Valley. I won’t mention why it was named that way. =) LOL

4. Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

With the influence of the missionaries from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, the town of Sagada has become the only Philippine town that is predominantly Anglicans. 95% of its population to be exact.

 Anglicans allow their priest to get married.

5. Bomod-ok Falls

One of the longest trek I have experienced. It was tiring but at the same time it was fulfilling.

6. Sumaguing Cave

I was not able to see the cave because I was so tired trekking to the Bomod-ok Falls. I suggest that you explore these two in separate days so that you can have the time to regain your energy.

Continue reading EXPLORING SAGADA