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It's been almost a year since I last visited Playa La Caleta, I still have the collection of fresh good memories from the resort. Months ago I received an invite for their beach clean up which I never tried before so I gave it a go, at the same time I was there to also check what's new several months after my visit. This time I saw significantly huge changes since our last visit; They're now in the process of setting up new rooms with air-conditioner as not all travelers are up for kitsch/rustic accommodation, the slip N slide was set up in a more thrilling slope, they also made some changes in their amenities which are too many to mention, number of guests is also rapidly increasing for the record. Before all these changes come to life I already had this vision in mind, it was not at all surprising. There's certain taste of fulfilment when a destination gets recognize and you're one of the first to see it. In the dissension of my fondness for PLC's success it made me think again, will this place stay the same after years? Well, I know the answer is a loud NO.




As suggested, it's better to leave Manila earliest possible to avoid traffic congestion (4am is perfect), the duration of travel going to Bataan is somewhat indeterminate, sometimes it will depend on the bus route so expect at least 3 hours getting there. We took Bataan Transit heading to Balanga (travel time, 3 hrs) from Balanga Terminal there are two options getting to Bagac Public Market, it's either you take the local bus heading to Bagac or a Jeepney, we wanted to try the local bus but since we  didn't have enough time to wait for the next trip we all settled to take the available jeepney heading to Bagac Public Market. From bagac Public Market we hired a tricycle going to the jump off point (Standard fare, 200Php for three passengers, duration of 15 minutes), from the jump off point there's boat transfer to the resort (standard rate, 1800Php for 10pax), boat ride was roughly 20minutes. By the way the 200Php for a tricycle service was I think overpriced for its proximity, I remember we hired a tricycle service somewhere in Tanay (whole day, shared for 4pax)  for just 1000php in a more intricate road encounter and longer journey, I  had myriad of tricycle rides in my years of traveling the Philippines so I know 200Php is too much, I know one way or the other it help the locals of the town but we are missing the point, that shouldn't be their practice and it shall never be an excuse.





Playa La Caleta is not the best island my feet  had set on, it's not even close to my top listed island destinations but this cove resort is very special to me, it has this unique charm inimitable to other islands I had visited before. Talking about what's new in Playa la caleta everything has pretty much improved, few months back everything was plain and simple, the accommodations were very limited, the resort was already loaded with thrilling activities but they added more to it, the construction of the accommodation is now in progress, they also added shower rooms, and I heard they will have more water activities soon.




BEACH CLEAN UP EVENT

We visited the island in a long weekend so somehow we expected a larger volume of tourists reckon the beach clean up event took place during our stay, surprisingly it was not too crowded as we expected it to be. After years of operation it was PLC's first beach clean up event and I'm honored to be part of it, a lot of people joined the event so it drove our motivation and easier for us to do it since everyone seemed enjoying what they do, funny thing was we arrived a bit late for the event, participants already started the clean up drive and we didn't do much for it honestly.

I had a great weekend getaway, short and sweet. Before I forgot, let me share that it was my first time to travel with my fellow travel bloggers, it was my first time to meet them yet it seemed as if I knew them for years the way we crack jokes to each other, it was just perfect. If there's one thing I enjoyed most about this trip aside from the exceptional hospitality  of the management of PLC it's the camaraderie we built during this trip, it's something that I always look forward whenever I travel (I always say this). 





Again we had a blast at Playa La Caleta! It was an epic weekend escape. It left me with another amazing experience the second time around, I just hope the improvements mentioned above are for the betterment and not wear off the serenity of the place, I know writing an article twice for this resort is another way of enticing travellers to come and visit the place but I just hope that this won’t hinder PLC to take measures in keeping this place as what it was. I would like to thank the owner Migs Camacho and the rest of the staff for giving us a well spent weekend getaway. Thanks PLC!


Breakdown of expenses:


Manila to Balanga: 200Php x2

Jeep from Balanga to Bagac Public Market: 47Php x2

Bagac Market to Lasalle (jumpoff point): 200php, good for 3 sharing x2

Boat Transfer: 1800php RT, maximum of 10 pax sharing

Accommodation: 2000 good for 6 (overnight)

Food: depends on your preference

Activities: This is optional, check out their page for the menu of its prices. 

It's safe to budget 2000-2500 (per head) for an overnight stay.


For booking and inquiries please check out their fb page: https://www.facebook.com/playalacaletabataan/





















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Sariaya is a municipality in the heart of Quezon province, it's not as famous as its neighboring province when it comes to popular landmarks and other tourism related destinations. When a sleepy town completely gets ignored that's when I use my travel radar and look for the best kept jewel. I don't know if it's just me or if others also does this but Facebook is I think a good alternative search engine, whenever I look for prospective travel hideout I always maximize the use of social media specially Facebook, and that's how I found Balai Loreta. 

I've been around Quezon enough to get familiarized to most of its places, if not all probably I know most of the prominent and popular travel destinations within the province so I kept searching where to spend my weekend getaway. My goal was to find a nice, uncrowded yet budget friendly place, after hours of digging the depth of google I simply gave up or I must say google gave up on me, I just turned my attention to my fb's feed then I realized the good use of search tab, as simple as that I found a nice place worth visiting, the next thing I know we're driving our way to the resort. 


 We left Manila 11am and reached the place 4pm, the travel was not really far, it was relatively easy, if not because of traffic congestion and if only waze didn't mess up the route we could have been there by 2pm. The best way to reach the place is via private car, I would least suggest the public transport as it is not an easy access for bus or jeepney, though it's still possible. 


We were not expecting too much, prior to our visit I talked to the owner of the Balai Loreta via messenger, he was really nice and humble, he loved telling stories about his resort but I noticed he doesn't want to set our expectation high, maybe he was trying to avoid false expectations, you know an instance when someone is bragging a certain subject that you'll get surprised when it fails your expectation? I get it. Well, it was the other way around, what we saw in the picture was what we exactly had, it actually exceeded it. 

The place was very peaceful and the staff were very accommodating, the owner was even there when we paid a visit (he's really cool). The sand was brown but the water is clean and swimmable, the infinity pool was gorgeous and very appealing, the ambience was very laid back.




 Now we're talking about the accommodation, needless to say more. I like the rustic style of each room, it's very homey and comfortable. This is something worth your money. 




They don't have a restaurant but it's few minute drive away from the super market where you can buy meat and some ready to eat goods.


The resort is indeed a great place to spend your weekend to, its serenity is one of the reasons why I enjoyed my time summate the good amenities and great customer service. Again, I would like to emphasize my big thanks to the owner for allotting his time to accommodate us, he's not always available and we were lucky enough to meet him at his resort when we visited, we had a real nice and deep conversation, in 30 minutes that we chatted I was bewildered and inspired that I realized this is one of the best in travel, you got to meet amazing people along the way. 

Balai Loreta may not be extremely elegant but it's not short to having great service.  No doubt, Balai Loreta deserves a 10 out of 10 rating with two thumbs up! 
 
For inquiries and details you may contact Balai loreta through their FB page https://www.facebook.com/balailoreta/


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I'm not a huge fan of Aurora province and if you're  into white sand beaches this province isn't a place for you. I'm more into powdery white sand littoral sites in a seclusive setting, but then why on earth I'm writing this article now?  So how did this place turned the table that I'm now writing an article for It? Obviously, my wrong impression bit the dust.

Half a year ago when I witnessed the charm of Batanes Islands, I still have the after taste of its sweet memories, my experience was just surreal that I still couldn't get over it. Far from the nearness of Batanes you probably heard the so called Batanes Of The East, Dingalan in Aurora province. Dingalan is a third class municipality and a subtle town lies in the southern portion of Aurora province which is a prominent surfing nook across the island of Luzon, I realized this province isn't just limited to surfing/extreme activities but also has an eliciting surprise just waiting to be unveiled. The town of Dingalan lays a pile of great jewels concealed from the travelers eyes and that is what I'm going to feature in this article. Dingalan is climbing its way to becoming one of the traveler's choice due to its proximity and less intricate itinerary, just take a bus heading to Cabanatuan and ride a van from Cabanatuan to Dingalan and you'll reach the town, making an itinerary to Dingalan is absolutely no rocket science.
 


We left Manila at 2am via FiveStar bus heading to Cabanatuan, I suggest 12mn-2am is the best time to leave Manila to get there earliest possible specially if you had your reservation in white beach, note that the coast guard no longer permits a boat transfer from the jumpoff town to the white beach beyond 6pm. In our case, we had a Chinese friend (a foreigner) who left Manila at 12nn and reached Dingalan at 7pm, apparently he missed the last trip going to the island so he had no choice but to walk from the town going to the white beach (yes, it's connected) to meet us and it was not an easy trek. 

We visited five famous landmarks in Dingalan: The mountain view, The lighthouse, White Beach, Lamao Cave and Tanawan Falls. 


The Mountain View

This I think is the most well-known destination in Dingalan, this captured the interest of the tourists through its identical features to Batanes. I believe this is the major reason why people are raving with curiosity to see this place. You'll need to hike 20-30mins depending on your pacing, we visited in a rainy season so the trail was a bit slippery and the trek was difficult to manage.

 



 
The light house

Another breath taking site in the island but somehow similar to the mountain view although the trail to the lighthouse is an opposing path. The trail going up was scenic ocean view and we took photos most of the time so we didn't really feel the rigorous trail (slightly backbreaking). Unfortunately, due to the unmindful behaviors of previous travelers they restricted to open it to the public, we weren't allowed to enter the lighthouse, it's now covered with fence and locked up.



 
Lamao Caves

From the White Beach it will take you 20 minutes going the caves, these caves lies on the coastal stretched of Paltic. Here we discovered hidden tidal pool covered by huge rock forms, it's 7-8feet deep.




 
The White Beach

This is the starting point of all the above mentioned places, if you're planning to go to the places I discussed above white beach is the perfect place to set your accommodation to, though the shelters are a bit rustic still it's the convenience we're after. They call it white beach but ironically the sand isn't even close to being a white sand beach.

 

 
Tanawan Falls

This is the last venue of our Dingalan getaway. From the Feder Port just hire a tricycle heading to Tanawan Falls registration area (50 per passenger), from the registration area you'll need to hike 20-30mins going to the falls (20php for registration). This falls reminds me of Majayjay Falls in Laguna, not to its structure but because of its water temperature, the water was ice cold that I can hardly dip my entire body.

 



 
How to get there?

-      There are several buses you can choose going to Cabanatuan, we took FiveStar bus from Pasay, fare is 196Php

-      From Cabanatuan you may take another bus ride or van heading to Dingalan, fare is 100Php for van transfer.

-       Alight at the Dingalan public market to buy your supplies.

-        Hire a tricycle to the Feder Port, 20Php per passenger.

-        If you reserved your accommodation at the White Beach you will have two options to get there. First (advisable) ride a boat going there and the second option is to trek (45m-1hr). If you’re conscious on your budget you may take the option number two but if you’re in a big group option number one is still the best, 800php if you’ll rent the boat by yourself and 100php each passenger for 10pax.


Good to know:

-        Leave Manila earliest possible, preferably 12mn to 2am.

-        Total travel duration is 5-6hrs (public transport).


-       Buy your supplies at the market and complete your essentials before heading to the white beach.

-       Last Trip from Feder Port is 5pm
 

-       Wear appropriate attire and gear when you go to the mountain view/Lighthouse, the trail can be difficult during the rainy season.


Breakdownn of Expenses:
- 196Php X 2- Bus heading to Cabanatuan
- 100Php X 2- Van going to Dingalan
- 20Php (per head)- going to the feder port
- 100Php (per head)- boat transfer to White Beach
-  200Php (per head, group of 3) Food and supplies
- 1200Php (for the entire group) 5 tourist spots including the guide fee, overnight.
 
- 2500 (3pax)- accommodation.
 
- 300Php (for group of 3)- tricycle going to Tanawan falls
1,912Php per head for group of 3
If there’s one thing I didn’t like in my entire stay in Dingalan it was the accommodation, I didn’t have high expectation at all but the price of our shelter was a bit overpriced, it was 3000Php we haggled till they agreed for 2500, it’s pretty decent but not worthy for its price, they should at least provided new linens, unlimited water supply, there are two water containers but when we exhausted everything we had to go out and use a public restroom, even the lightbulb in our rest room was not working (yes walang ilaw yung cr). There’s no issue paying 2500Php as long as it’s synchronized to what we’re getting but it is not, you may be wondering why we accepted it in the first place? Because we hosted a Chinese friend, a first time traveler in the Philippines, that's the best accommodation they have and somehow we wanted him to leave a good impression of the place. If you’re a traveler you know what I’m saying, 2500Php is already a fancy accommodation (sometimes breakfast included).  
On the lighter note I still want to commend the locals of Dingalan, our issue with the accommodation is nothing compare to their hospitality and warm generosity, all the town locals I talked to were very nice and friendly, I also want to  recommend our guide Kuya Edgar Tipontipon, he's just referred to us since our tour guide that I contacted back in Manila was not available. Dingalan was unexpectedly captivating, this is something want I to keep hidden from travelers eyes but this deserves to be noticed.  I will surely recommend this place to everyone.  




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