About Me

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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

When In Puerto Galera: The Tribal Hills Mountain Resort Review

After road tripping for 3 hours (from Manila to Batangas) and sailing for an hour aboard an inter- island ferry, the last thing on our minds upon arriving at Puerto Galera was finding ourselves in any stressful situation.

Luckily, we were booked at Tribal Hills Mountain Resort - where being stressed out is a thing of the past.

To sum up our stay at Tribal Hills, we gave it our TMW score of 5/5. Here's why:

Tribal Hills' free shuttle drop off and pick up point at White Beach

The resort prides itself in maintaining a full staff to cater to the guests' needs. The staff were courteous, pleasant and reliable, always willing to extend help and were sincerely eager to please. They were knowledgeable about the region, cuisine and travel related questions.

waiting for our ride after dinner at White Beach
Another service that the resort provides are the free shuttle services that ferry you to and from the resort. There is a designated schedule (departure and pic up times), but I noticed that they're not so strict in following that scheduled. Upon arriving at the resort, I realized that I hadn't sealed the cap of my contact lens fluid on tightly, resulting in me losing the entire contents of the bottle. Luckily, one of the 2 drivers, Manong Charlo was around. He brought us to a pharmacy at the White Beach area and waited til we got everything we needed, then brought us back to the resort, despite the fact that there wasn't a shuttle scheduled to leave.  SCORE 5/5



With the numerous employees at the resort, cleanliness will never be an issue. Tribal Hills Mountain Resort is a well maintained establishment - from the rooms to it's facilities, we did not have any concerns at all.

Room wise, our Double Deluxe room was quite spacious and tastefully decorated.

Our huge private terrace gave us a wonderful view of Mt. Malasimbo on one side and a view of the Talipanan beach and South China Sea on the other.

The queen sized bed and accompanying pillows were quite comfy. A pull out trundle bed was great too for MAX.  For anything, the room also had a personal fridge in it.

The AC was more than enough to cool the room, while the cable TV was great especially for Phil who had to watch the Cavs and the Golden State Warriors battle it out.

An en suite bathroom provided us with hot and cold showers with enough counter space for my toiletries.

signal's a bit weaker in the afternoons
WiFi came in the form of Globe Tattoo LTEs. The only downside to this device was that signals were weak inside the room. You had to leave the gadget on the table at the veranda, but still be able to surf in the cool confines of your room.

the pool area at Tribal Hills

Phil and MAX as seen from our 2nd floor veranda

Amenities-wise, the resort housed an outdoor pool and a Jacuzzi. They also have a billiards table near the swimming pool area.

I don't know whether to be proud or terrified. Apparently, 2nd and 3rd child are naturals at archery

the archery range structure is perched up on a tree house of sorts

Higher up the property, you can also find an archery range. The cost of renting out the archery equipment is around P300/hour, regardless of how many people use the bow.

The resort also houses various ATVs that you can rent out and use to go around the island. ATV rentals cost P500/4 hours plus you have to gas it up when you bring it back.

For P2500/5 people, we got to go island hopping, snorkeling and fish feeding in one of the clearest waters we've seen

While we did not take advantage of this activity, it will be good to know that they offer a free guided trek to the Aninuan Falls. Inquire at the front desk if you'd also want to go snorkeling, fishing, fish feeding, parasailing and the likes. More on that in our next blog: Exploring Puerto Galera.

all meat pizza. Huge. Seriously.

Should you be feeling the munchies, the resort also houses a restaurant.
Mt. Malasimbo, straight ahead

High up the hills of Puerto Galera, in the Aninuan area, lies Tribal Hills Mountain Resort.
The site gives you the perfect view of the bluest of blue from the beach below, ghetto whole time surrounding you with lush greenery while being refreshed by the cool mountain breeze, as you are on the slopes of Mt. Malasimbo.

Feel like going out for a round of golf? Nearby Ponderosa Golf Club is a few minutes away. Check out their website here: http://www.puertogaleragolf.com/

nearby Talipanan beach
Should you feel the need to visit the beach or head out to town to pick up supplies or extra toiletries, everything's a good 5-10 minutes away via shuttle.

To get to Tribal Hills, here's a look at our previous post  En Route To Puerto Galera: How To Get There

Here's a schedule too of the Minolo Shipping Lines: (don't forget to ask Triball Hill's receptionists to confirm your return trip).

The Treetops restaurant is located at the top floor of the office building and has an excellent view of Talipunan beach below. Food and drink options are plenty and varied.
Prices are quite reasonable, slightly pricier for Puerto Galera White Beach standards, but still quite affordable.
20% off voucher/room/2 persons/every time you order breakfast meals at breakfast

The room service menu is the same as that of the restaurant's. Note that the serving potions are quite huge. Check out their menu at this link : TRIBAL MENU

Food is often made from scratch, so expect a minimum waiting time of 30 minutes for your food to arrive. SCORE: 5/5

grilled pork belly cooked at the grilling hut just below the restaurant

want some chicken? It's dee-lee-cious!!

As always, we booked through Agoda, which in itself makes the nightly stay quite reasonable. Booking during the off peak season also gave us a better deal. The thing with Tribal Hills is that without these discounts, we would still have probably enjoyed our stay. Yes, our family loved it there! SCORE: 5/5

a romantic getaway or a family trip, this place has a little of everything for everyone
The stay at Tribal Hills Mountain Resort was quite invigorating. I felt in touch with nature, but not isolated from the other charms that Puerto Galera had to offer. We would definitely go back if given the chance to do so. For more information about Tribal Hills, visit their website at http://tribalhills.com/

a quick dip after half a day of traveling. I HEART Tribal Hills!!
From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!!!


Saturday, June 18, 2016

En Route To Puerto Galera: How To Get There

Puerto Galera was one of the places I visited in my childhood. We didn't exactly live there, but my father was assigned for a couple of months at nearby Calapan, making this beach destination quite accessible to us.

Puerto Galera's Ilong Island - clear waters, pristine white sand and no crowds to boot!!

Back then, Puerto Galera  (pre-Boracay days) was the weekend destination if you wanted to see more of nature and celebrate your being a water baby. With it's beautiful coves, white sand beaches, clear waters and diverse marine life, it's always a great idea to reconnect with nature here.

Fast forward to 30 plus years later, and here I am, with 3 of my 4 kids, bringing them over to see the island's beautiful bays, clear blue waters and pristine white sand.

After a 3 hour drive from Baguio to Manila, we stayed overnight at Phil's family house in Quezon City. We rested a day and drove the next ,  using the app, Waze, the whole time to get us efficiently to the Batangas Port. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get there.

The drive was pleasant, uneventful, with no real nice scenery to speak of. The road is what you basically see when you follow the Tagalog Arterial road the moment you exit Manila. Allot around P400 (actually less) for the toll gates and whole lot more if your family's the munchy type (most gas stations have various fast food restaurants, convenience stores and coffee shops).

Beverage break at Starbucks with our munchy crew

Taking a bus from one of the many bus companies that ply this route will set you back around P200 per person (Cubao, Quezon City to Batangas Port).

Once we got to the Batangas port, we went straight to Park and Sail and parked the car for safekeeping.

Parking cost about P155.00/first 24 hours and P6.00/succeeding hour. The structure is open aired but quite near the pier and ticketing offices. It also offers secure parking, 24/7.

The Minolo Shipping Lines ticketing office is at Terminal 3 of the Batangas Port
As planned, we bought tickets for White Beach (the closest drop off point to our resort) at Minolo Shipping Lines. Fare is cheaper if you purchase a round trip ticket. An adult round trip ticket costs around P450 (or P500 one way) with an additional 50 pesos per adult for the environmental fee (kids are free of charge).

terminal fee was useless for us..as soon ad we entered the air conditioned structure, we were heading out to board our boat
There's also a P30 terminal fee for us adults (paid after you book your boat ride). Student discounts are available too, where all our children's fare costing around 350/pax. Don't forget to bring their school IDs.

Here's a look at MSL's Schedule:


- 7 am to 5 pm (every hour) (high and low season)


- 6:55 am, 8:20 am, 10:15 am, 11:10 am, 12:30 pm, 1:45 pm and 3:30 pm

- 9:30 am, 2:50 pm, 4:10 pm (OPTIONAL TRIPS during PEAK SEASON)


- 6 am, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 12 pm, 1 pm and 3 pm

- 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm (OPTIONAL TRIPS during PEAK SEASON)

there's also a lot of seats in front of  the ticketing booth

Had we taken the car, and rode a RORO (roll on, roll off) type of sea vessel, the journey would have taken us approximately 2 hours, and we would have gotten off at the Muelle Pier in Calapan, Mindoro. This would have been followed by a 1.5 hours drive to get to White Beach and subsequently, our resort, Tribal Hills.

we seriously just breezed through the waiting area
After leaving our car at the Park and Sail parking lot, we took long pump boats instead (fits around 100-150 people) for our 1 hour journey to Puerto Galera's White Beach. The body of water that lies between Luzon and the island of Mindoro is known as the Verde Island Passage and is so-called because of Verde Island, which sits in the center of the channel midway between Batangas and Puerto Galera.

the boat's interior
welcomed by the beautiful waters at the Sabang Port
Arriving at Puerto Galera, our boat dropped us off at the Sabang Port rather than the shoreline of White Beach. I was a bit worried that we'd be stuck in the area for awhile as our resort's shuttle was not expecting us to come from this area.

Sabang Port
My fears were immediately resolved as the Minolo Shipping Lines has arrangements with various resorts on the island. The brought us to the foot of the hill that our resort was located in, at no extra charge. The resort's shuttle was promptly there, to continue the next short leg of the trip.

taking shade at the makeshift terminal at White Beach. They charge 10 pesos/adult as terminal fee
 Going back to Manila, we departed from the makeshift terminal (actually a hut along the shore of White Beach). The boat stopped by for more passengers at Sabang, and after that, it was smooth sailing from thereon.

Some tips to remember for those who want to head out there via MSL:

1. The boat we rode in were long pump boats. Wear sensible shoes as getting on and off the boat requires one to step on planks. Sure, there are handlebars beside 'em. But on a moving boat, acquiring sea legs and walking on planks won't be easy in heels. Wear comfy clothing too. The boats are open air and shaded. Also, the possibility of you being dropped off at the beach is quite huge. Think of footwear for walking on the sand.The port at Sabang is an actual port, so no sand..but the plank will still be there.

the beautiful white sand and clear waters almost make you forget the long wait for the boat to arrive
2. The plank warning goes double for luggage. Backpacks and handier trolley bags are preferable.

we brought back packs/carry on cases that were also trolley bags

3. Bring your snacks and beverages. The prices of these goods, as commanded by the various vendors boarding the boat are cutthroat indeed. Picture a 15 pesos bottle of water (SRP) sold at 40. Aside from the peddlers, expect beggars sparsely surrounding your boat. As always, be mindful of your things.

MAX drinking overpriced water (waiting for our the delayed boat to arrive depleted our precious stash of agua)
4. Even if you booked  round trip tickets, it is always prudent to have you or your resort, confirm the tickets at your chosen shipping line. DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS. You might end up boatless or have to wait for a later trip, AFTER your first boat departs without you. Don't lose your return ticket too.

5. There are no seat numbers in the boat. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. There are priority seats for PWDs and Senior Citizens though at the front of the boat.

6. Lastly, the waves are gentler in the morning. I strongly suggest that you book a trip for the morning or early in the afternoon.

It was a pleasant experience indeed, given that it was a  first for my older boys to go on a bigger boat, to ferry them between islands.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!!