I’ve been traveling for almost two decades now but it was only last year that I started posting a year end travel review to share my experiences and realizations. So why only now? I blame it on my never ending backlogs and other activities on the side. Just to make it clear, I am in no way complaining. In fact, I’m thankful and happy with my 2013 out of town trips.
Melo Villareal in Myanmar
As the year draws to a close, let me share with you some of the more adventurous, life changing and memorable trips of 2013.
In January I faced the challenge of joining a Paragliding Adventure in Carmona Cavite. Although I was not able to try paragliding in the end, I believe seeing the preparations on top of the hill helped me conquer my fears and gave me a reason to come back. Traveling is sometimes risky but don’t let fear stop you; it feels exhilarating to gain an edge on your fears. I also started the year with a staycation at Taal Vista Hotel, and believe me, it was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to stay at this beautiful resort after seeing it during our Tagaytay Food Tour in 2009. It was also last January that I visited Apuao Grande Island in Camarines Norte with my fellow travel bloggers. Visiting Apuao Grande was an early summer treat and a nice way to start the year!
February gave me the chance to visit Dipolog City. On this side of Mindanao, I was able to explore the peaceful city of Dipolog and the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City. I was also able to experience visiting the beautiful Dakak Beach Resort in Dapitan City.
March sent me to Burma, now popularly known as Myanmar – one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to outside the Philippines. Here were some of the most colorful sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever experienced. I was also able to visit beautiful temples, experience Myanmar Cuisine and the hospitality of the Burmese people. I was also able to attend the Malasimbo Music Festival for the second time and meet Joss Stone personally in Puerto Galera the day after her performance.
April gave me another chance to visit the Pico Sands Hotel for the Pico Tri 2013 Invitational held at Hamilo Coast. I also covered Aliwan Fiesta 2013 and enjoyed taking photos of some of the contingents. Last April, I also had the chance to spend two weekends in some of the country’s top resorts: Summit Ridge Tagaytay and Widus Resort & Casino in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.
May was an awesome month. I visited two of my favorite places in Palawan, Puerto Princesa and El Nido. I was invited by AirAzia Zest to visit and experience Kota Kinabalu. After a week, I got an invitation from Cebu Pacific along with fellow travel bloggers for the Cebu Pacific Juan for the Fun Bloggers Backpacking Adventure Challenge in Camiguin. After visiting Camiguin, Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu hosted me for a night, and the week later, I visited Lucban Quezon for the Smart Live All Out Pahiyas Festival.
June is normally not a perfect month to travel since it marks the start of the rainy season. Instead of planning for a personal out of town trip, I accepted an invitation to The Hotel Henry in Cebu for a 3-day-2-night staycation. Last June, I also got an invite from AirAsia to represent the Philippine blogger community for the AirAsia Bloggers Community Party in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
July pampered me in Bicol. First, I joined fellow bloggers for Around Bicol in 30 plates (parts 1, 2, and 3). A week after, I was invited by PHILTOA to join their Bicol Familiarization Tour (days 1, 2, 3, and 4). The highlights of the tour included our visit to Tikling Island in Matnog Sorsogon, the adrenaline pumping Mayon Volcano Lava Trail ATV Adventure, and our wonderful stay at the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino.
August was rainy as hell, but that didn’t stop me from exploring some of the country’s heritage and adventure sites. Along with fellow travel bloggers from Manila, Iloilo and Bacolod, we visited some of the heritage sites of Antique and experienced some of its popular eco-tourism products like the Kawa hot bath, Lambaklad fishing and Tibiao Fish Spa. I also visited Iloilo for a short food tour. After Iloilo, I stayed in Bacolod for two nights to visit popular sites like the Church of Angry Christ, The Ruins in Talisay, Balay Negrense, and the famous Bernardino Jalandoni Museum.
I dedicated September to focusing on my client work, but it didn’t stop me from traveling! I managed to enjoy a 3-day-2-night staycation at the Linden Suites, a premier hotel located in Ortigas Center. I also treated myself to a couple of two-night splurges on some local hotels (hotel reviews soon) and visited the MarQuee Mall in Pampanga with fellow bloggers for the launch of the Northern Food Festival.
October rewarded me with a surprising nomination. I was chosen as one of the nominees for “The N Factor” Nuffnang’s Blogger of the Year award at The 2013 Nuffie Awards! I was also invited to tour the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training in Pampanga and try their Airbus A320 simulator. I visited Miri Malaysia to witness the Asia Music Festival 2013, sponsored by AirAsia. October was also a staycation month. First, I organized the first Travel Bloggers Pajama Party in Linden Suites, and a week later, I visited Davao to attend the Mindanao Blog Awards. I wrapped October up with a rewarding 3-day-2-night staycation at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao.
November was a busy month for my cookie business but I’m glad I was able to spend quality time with my parents in Tayabas Quezon. Unlike last year, it was only last November that I finally returned to Baguio City to visit and dine in my favorite restaurants. Along with the country’s top food bloggers, I finally got the chance to experience 3 days and 3 nights of fun and gastronomic feasts during our staycation at the Movenpick Resort & Spa in Cebu.
December was the biggest month for me and a fantastic way to end 2013. After my staycation at the Movenpick Resort & Spa in Cebu, I joined Cebu Travel Bloggers for a visit to Kuala Lumpur for the AirAsia Zest Cebu – Kuala Lumpur Inaugural flight. A week after, I went back to Miri in Malaysia for the second time for the AirAsia Zest Manila – Miri maiden flight. The third week, I journeyed to Cebu to join Cebu Travel Bloggers for the AirAsia Zest Cebu – Kota Kinabalu Inaugural Flight. For the first time, I was able to experience Whitewater rafting in Sabah. On Christmas Day, I volunteered for Pasko ni Juan sa Tacloban – a Christmas Party for Yolanda survivors which was spearheaded by Cebu Pacific.
I hope 2103 has been a good traveling year for you all and I hope your 2014 will be even more exciting and meaningful. I also hope that this blog inspires you to travel more for yourself, and to continuously share the beauty of traveling. In this coming year, 2014, my goal is to travel more, learn more, help more, live more, read more, inspire more and dream more.
I would like to thank my blog readers, Twitter and Facebook followers, sponsors and fellow travel bloggers for supporting and sharing this wonderful year with me.
Happy 2014 everyone!!
This is my contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for December 2013 with the theme “The Pinoy Travel Bloggers Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living” hosted by Brenna Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue.