Palaisdaan at Kamayan sa Ilog, San Pablo


I actually visited this small resort last year when I was invited by friends to be a resource speaker in a workshop, I have been to San Pablo countless times in the past, when I was not blogging yet. Thus, I do not have photos of my favorite tilapya eateries around Sampaloc Lake. Nor a photo of the magnificent cathedral at the city center. I will confine this post to that recent trip.

Palaisdaan is a small lovely resort perfect for a picnic. Huts and cottages may be rented, and guests can spend the day around the pool. Lodging is available if you plan to stay overnight.

It has a rainforest setting. Vines on trelisses. Cascading waters from ponds and lagoons. Fruit bearing trees like lanzones, rambutan, mango, santol, banana, jackfruit, avocado, and coffee.


There is also a mini-mini zoo with an eagle, owls, doves, a peacock, and iguana.

Food can be ordered from the kitchen. The crispy tilapya is a winner.

Visitors who want to spend the day in the resort pay entrance fees of P70 per head, while children are charged P50 per pax. The fees are higher for overnight visits. Huts can be rented at between P500 to p800 depending on size and time of use.

Lodging rates are P1,500 for 12 hours, and only P700 for 4 hours.The rooms are clean, but not great. There are also just 5 0r 6 rooms within the resort.

few rooms




Palaisdaan is at Barangay San Ignacio, San Pablo City, at Km 83 of the Maharlika Hi-way.  To get there, take the diversion road, skipping the city center. It is in the direction of Villa Escudero/Quezon Province, but well within San Pablo City itself. Look to your right. It is near MERALCO.Travel time from manila is approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Contact them at telephone (+6349) 5613164 or mobile number (+63927)5253796, +(63917) 5009282. Email them at Visit their website :



If you want to spend the day at Palaisdaan but wish to stay in a proper hotel, The Coco Palace Hotel is just 5 minutes away, northbound, on the same road.

tel +(6349) 5612271, email:

my 'de luxe" room, P1,456 overnight (P1,975 rate per day)


I also checked out the nearby Sanctuario de San Pablo Resort Spa. I failed to bring my camera from the car and so I was unable to take photos. Visit their website to see the lovely sight that I saw in my visit.  I think this is the best possible accommodation in this area, and I could be wrong, too.. It is primarily a spa, but you can book a one-bedroom villa overnight for a P4,500 package that includes complementary breakfast for 2, one hour massage each for 2, plus 10% discount on other spa services and on food and drinks. Visit their website for contact details:


Pagudpud, (not) the Boracay of the North


At the northernmost tip of Luzon, 560 kms from Manila,  lies the Ivory Coast of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. My first visit to to the then undeveloped Pagudpud was in the mid 80s, when there were yet no resorts. One had to make arrangements with then Mayor Benemerito to be accommodated at the family’s beach house, and when they did allow, the accommodation was for free.

Pagudpud in the 80s

not so many knew this paradise

Many years later, I went back in the company of officemates on an outing. I couldn’t then recall exactly where the old mayor’s beach house stood.

My last two visits, October 2010 and January 2011 allowed me to piece those memories together.


Saud is considered by many as the premier destination in Pagudpud. Unlike the other Ivory Coast resorts, coconut trees shield the cottages from the glare of the white sandy beach, giving the property a real, honest-to-goodness tropical setting. Of the beach restaurants in Pagudpud, Saud has the best view of the ocean, making dining an experience to look forward to. Hammocks hung from coconut trees, inviting guests to a nap.

lazing at Saud Beach Resort

no one knew where the ducks originated, and now there are thousands of them

pristine waters – the Boracay of the North

breakfast with a view of the ocean

don’t miss the bagnet, with bagoong and kamatis

a beautiful restaurant on the Ivory Coast

The rooms at Saud Beach resort are the best in Pagudpud. They are also the most expensive.Room rates start at P3,619 with family rooms renting out for P6,534. All rooms have TV and refrigerators. Suites have bath tubs.

Contact Saud Beach Resort at (+632) 9289953, (+632) 9212856, +(63918) 9208826, and (+63920) 2706075. Visit their website at



On my visit two weeks ago, I found out that Villa del Mar was where the old mayor’s cottage stood. This I learned from an old lady who owns the resort, and is  a relative of the former mayor. I actually checked out this facility last year but stayed in Saud. This time we decided to stay at least overnight.

A rather unique attraction at Villa del Mar are two monkeys, Moymoy and Mamay. I nsaw some staff playing with them. Mustering enough courage, I played with Moymoy, too. I didn’t know what he was trying to do but he was reaching inside my pockets. As it turns out, Moymoy always “steals” hankies, mobile phone, or wallets and plays with them. To make it worth his while, I then put some candies in my pocket. It was fun watching him unwrap the candies.


Vista del Mar shares the same sandy shore as Saud’s with only one big resort in between. The choice of where to stay, therefore, is dependent on one’s budget. Vista del Mar has clean, decent rooms at rates lower than Saud’s.

best spot: family room at absolute beachfront

This resort has a huge restaurant with a billiard table at the far end. They also have a swimming pool, even if no one will probably prefer to stay in the pool when you have a beautiful stretch of white sand before you.


Room rates start at P1,200, with fan, good for 3. A standard aircon room costs P1,500. Family cottages that can accommodate 6 persons cost P3,500.00

our family cottage, good for 6

Contact Villa del Mar at phone (+63921) 2958196 and (+63919) 8995673



This resort sits right in the middle of Saud and Villa del Mar. I will probably stay in this resort the next time. For this visit, I inquired about accommodations and rates, and was pleasantly surprised that they are actually cheaper than Villa del Mar. While standard rooms cost pretty much the same as Villa del Mar’s, their family rooms are cheaper, and are on absolute waterfront.

The room settings are also perfect. Two storey cottages directly facing the beach, an al fresco bar/restaurant, and beach huts dotting the sandy shore. Arinaya could just be a favorite.

the patio for drinks al fresco

long stretch of white sand beach

Rates start at P1,500 for aircon rooms. Family rooms cost P3,000 for a maximum of 8 persons.

family cottage on the beach for P3,000

Contact Arinaya at (+63921) 5581366, (+63916) 3931082, (+63915) 3159899 or email them at

LUCKY SEA: Budget Accommodation on the beach

Tucked in between Arinaya and Villa del Mar is Lucky Sea, a homestay facility. Do not expect a restaurant or any other facility. Oh yes, you can get a tattoo courtesy of its resident tattoo artists.

Henna, anyone?

cheap rooms on the same glorious stretch on the Ivory Coast

Lucky Sea beach huts

Lucky Sea is more of a backpackers’ place. Contact Mrs Gloria Galera at (+63928) 5393086


Other resorts / accommodations:

this resort has a loyal following

THE OTHER PAGUDPUD : the cluster of resorts in Malingay

While visitors to Pagudpud typically know only of Barangay Saud (now known as Ivory Coast) and choose only among the resorts there, there is another cluster of resorts in Pagudpud, in the direction of the Patapat Cliff.


the most advertised – – there is a signage every 200 meters

Hannah’s has the most complete facilities on this side of Pagudpud – –  restaurant, billiards and darts, karaoke, surf boards, banana boat, kayak, speed boats, gym, massage, etc. Contact (+63920) 9834659, (+63920) 6057121, (+63910) 4966525 or email

a friend has stayed here, and the place is beautiful yet very inexpensive


On all my trips to Pagudpud, I always  drive through the Patapat Cliff. I’d say it is the most scenic coastal drive there is in the Philippines, driving through a one and a half kilometer road  jutting out of the mountain edges 31 meters above the sea level. Always a lovely sight.


The famous windmills of Bangui can be seen from Saud Beach on a clear day, which is almost everyday in this bright and sunny place.

Read more about the windmills of Bangui :


Provincial buses ply the Manila-Ilocos Norte route, with some going directly to Pagudpud. You may also want to stop in Laoag, the provincial capital, before another ride of about an hour and a half to Pagudpud. From the town center, tricycles can take you to the resort of your choice.

By car, take NLEX-SCTEX, exit in Tarlac, and drive all the way north passing thru Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and finally Ilocos Norte. Drive time to pagudpud from manila is approximately 13 hours.

Hundred Islands


The Hundred Islands is easily the most popular tourist destination in the province of Pangasinan. Well, other than the beaches of San Fabian, the Bolinao Peninsula, and the Manaoag Church.


watching over the islands?

the boat ride starts here

It is easy to understand why one would want to go the the Hundred Islands. A visit there will mean you are now only looking at 7, 006 islands to visit from our 7,107 islands (101 islands including Luzon mainland where the visitor is presumably coming from). Guess what? There are fewer islands to go to after, because Hundred Islands is actually a total of 123 islands, but it is of course easier to just say Hundred.

a few of the 123 islands


The Tourism Office, I must say, is doing a good job in managing visits to the islands. It is well organized. Banca hires and other fees are regulated, and visitors know exactly what to pay for.


Picnic tables P200, overnight P300

rent the PBB house for P10,000, 30 liters of water P100

motorboats at p800 for a daytour for 1-5pax, a large motorboat rented as "service' for P2,000

Tourism Office

well staffed

and visitors are well-informed



a preview of the islands ahead



A short day tour will typically take guests to three islands: the Governor’s Island, Quezon island, and the Children’s Island.

Governor’s Island

This is the most developed of the islands, and is where the Governor’s House, renamed PBB (Pinoy Big Brother) house is located.

landing at Governor's Island

from the highest point of Governor's Island

the Pinoy Big Brother house

the other end

Quezon Island

Quezon Island is the most popular, and is where day-tourists most often stay for the day, renting picnic tables and spending the day on the beach.

boat landing on Quezon island

Children’s Island

Accommodations in Hundred Islands

Within the islands, the most decent accommodation is the PBB house that rents out for P10,000 overnight. Most visitors prefer to pitch tents, charged at P200 overnight pitching fee. Still, there are private nipa huts in some islands that can be rented out at P2,000 overnight. Arrangements for these can be made with the Hundred Islands national Park office, at telephone numbers (+6375) 5512505/5527406

Those who do not want to spend the night in the islands, especially those who can not not have electricity, can book themselves in the many inns across from the Tourism Office. I checked out a few:

Villa Milagros

Room rates are PP1,400 for 2, P1,600 for 3, and P1,800 for 4. Generous discounts, as much as 30%, are offered during off peak. Rooms have air-conditioning, and cold showers (no hot showers). Contact Milagros Santiago at (+6375) 5513040 or mobile numbers 0920 8502082, 0922 2436624, and 0915 2187220.


Island Tropic

This looks like a modern structure, with a restaurant and bar on the second floor, overlooking the islands. Room rates:

Penthouse                             2 pax with breakfast    P2,500

Barkadahan Room             4 pax                                 P2,000

Matrimonial                         2 pax with breakfast    P1,600

Contact Jerry Noel Mateo, Operations Manager, tel (+63917) 554 0800, (+6375) 6969405



one of two bedrooms

This is a privately owned house rented out to visitors. Overnight rate is P2,000, negotiable, and is good for a group that wants a place all its own. Contact Lerence Naniaga at mobile number 0918 731 2151

There are  other options available, with contact details visible from the photos



I did not have the time to visit this place

but it does look decent and may be considered




I have dined in this place a year ago, and remember that the food was great. They have accommodations, too.

viewed from the wharf



There are tens of stores selling T-shirts, bags, and other souvenirs, in one section of the complex between the Tourism Office and the wharf. Pay toilets are also available.


t-shirts, shorts, hats, bags, etc





Lando and Yolly are a nice couple

This eatery is the first you will see, coming from the Tourism office. I sat down and asked if they had sinigang, and Aling Yolly said she was still going to cook. I went inside to see what fish she was cooking.

I had freshly cooked sinigang na kitang, and it was so cheap !

choices, would you care for pinakbet?



or crabs perhaps

in a no-frills outdoor setting



Take the North Luzon Expressway and then the SCTEX all the way to the Tarlac/Luisita exit. In Tarlac, turn left to Camiling. Follow that road, passing thru the towns of Mangatarem and Lingayen. From Lingayer, you will pass by the beautiful coastal towns of Labrador and Sual before you hit Alaminos. In Alaminos, go to the cathedral where the road to the Hundred Islands is just fronting the church itself.

Buses bound for Alaminos and Lingayen originate daily from EDSA and Buendia (Pasay City) terminals. Tricycles can take passengers from Alaminos town to Hundred Islands.




Fort Ilocandia, jewel of Laoag


the grandeur of an era

I first went to Fort Ilocandia a few months after it opened, nearly 30 years ago. I was in a a big group of advertising agency people who were invited by a major TV network for rest-and-recreation in this much talked about hotel – – a typical PR activity by media companies wooing advertisers’ budgets.

I have been coming to Fort Ilocandia since then.

Today, I am told the hotel is being run by foreign investors, the same group running the casino at the second level of the hotel. I have played a few games on the black jack table. I just make sure I leave my ATM cards in my rooms, so I don’t  lose more than I the little that I had budgetted for an hour or so of fun.

the grand staircase to the casino

The hotel has kept its grandeur and, in my book, is still the best hotel in Laoag. For many reasons.

Its architecture is unique. Two-storey buildings sprawling the magnificent garden facing the ocean. Bougainvillas creeping through the brick walls on the verandas, accentuating the lovely balconies of each room.

A fountain that will make you feel like you are in a European plaza.

Guests will not feel idle. They can ride horses along the shore, drive all-terrain-vehicles thru the property, practice their swing on the driving range, or do hole-in-ones in the putting green. There is an Olympic-size pool, beside another one with a cascading waterfall. Drinks can be enjoyed at the bar beside the reception, at the Sunset bar, or at the Lagoon bar, my favorite spot in the resort hotel. There are also beach huts where guests can picnic on the beach. Not to mention the slot machines and the gaming tables at the casino.

The hotel also offers package tours for groups of at least 5 persons. A half-day tour around Ilocos Norte, visitng Paoay Church and the Marcos Museum, among others, costs P750 per person. There are two whole day options. One goes south to the Vigan Heritage Village, and another goes north to Pagudpud, with stops at the beautiful Cape Bojeador lighthouse and the Bangui windmills. The whole day tours cost P900 per head.

Saud Beach, Ivory Coast, Pagudpud

Cape Bojeador lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte

Bangui windmills


I stay at Fort Ilocandia because the rooms are nice and comfortable, and all rooms have verandas.

Room rates start at P5,600 for a standard twin, to the P50,000 a day Ambassador Suite.There are also several types of suites, the Sunset Suite having been booked by me once or twice.

standard twin

huge veranda facing the ocean on the 2nd-floor Sunset Suite

Sunset Suites cost P15,400. Rooms rates are generally discounted at 30% during off peak. I have also tried, and got, the same discount rate even during peak season – – – these dates are set by the hotels. But when I notice  that occupancy rate is low, like in early January (which they classify as” peak”) I usually get the off-peak rate. Try bargaining, but be prepared to pay the full rate if they happen to be hosting a convention and only few rooms are available.

If you are not taking the tours offered by the hotel, you can do these on your own. I usually drive from the hotel to Sarrat where the biggest attraction is the Sta Monica Church where Irene Marcos and Greggy Araneta were wed.

Locals say that the whole route from Fort Ilocandia to Sarrat was planted with bougainvillas, sourced from landscape contractors throughout the country. It has been said that there were not enough flowering bougainvillas, and teachers started making paper flowers so that those without flowers also looked like they were in full bloom.

From Sarrat, you can drive to Batac to visit the Marcos Mausoleum. Observe silence while inside the air-conditioned mausoleum, viewing the preserved body of the late president.

From Batac you can drive to Paoay Church and drive on to Paoay Lake.

the belltower is an interesting and rather easy climb

After marveling at the church and having climbed the tower, have some snacks at Herencia Cafe. Try their pinakbet pizza, the only one of its kind in the world.

pinakbet pizza, anyone?

just across from the church

Hopefully, the Malacanang ti Amianan would have been open again to the public ( I have visited this beautiful mansion several times, but was told last January 5 that it was closed to the public on orders of the provincial government).

Fort Ilocandia can be booked via +(6377) 6709001, fax (+6377) 6709101, email


I spotted some resorts for low-budget travelers right beside Fort Ilocandia, sharing the same beach. Access is thru the Fort Ilocandia compound, where a driveway to the left, if you are facing the hotel, goes straight to a cluster of huts selling cheap beer, cheap meals, and inexpensive overnight accommodations.

sharing the same beach


From Manila, take the North Luzon Expressway and exit in Tarlac. Drive north passing thru Pangasinan, la Union, and Ilocos Sur. Laoag is about an hour’s drive from Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Several bus companies ply the Manila-Laoag route. PARTAS and Farinas, are the most popular. Farinas Trans is  located in Lacson Blvd. (between Dapitan and Laon Laan Sts.) in Sampaloc, Manila.. Partas Trans has a terminal in Laon Laan, Sampaloc, Manila and in Cubao, Quezon City. (thanks to a reader for providing these details)

Travel time from Manila to Laoag is around 11-12 hours.

Matabungkay Beach


People go to Batangas for its beach resorts. But when people go to Batangas, the top choice is now San Juan, Laiya to be exact. So why would people still go to Matabungkay? For that matter, do people still go there?

Yes, they do. I went to Matabungkay yesterday. My mom who is visiting from Australia almost always goes to Matabungkay at least once, and sometimes thrice, when she spends her 6 months a year in the country. And the top draw of this place to her is the experience of spending the day on a raft, enjoying ihaw-ihaw lunch prepared right there while she watches the kids play on the shallow beach water around the raft.

And I realized that other visitors to Matabungkay do the same – – – lunch on the raft. There are probably a hundred rafts anchored on the shore, ready for the day’s guests. All of them have bamboo tables and benches fixed on the floor. The “sawali” cover makes sure those who do not want a tan are under cover. While those who want to go home and show off a tan can spend the day on the deck chairs and get as much sun as they wish. The rafts also have a small cabin, so anyone who wants to  can rest, or sleep.

deck chairs for sunning, a small cabin for sleeping, while on the water !

The rental for the whole day is P1,500. The owners of the raft will provide you with the grill and charcoal, and all you need is to bring food to grill. You can even buy them at the center of Matabungkay where fresh seafood are sold by vendors, some in stalls.

ihaw-ihaw on the raft

the view of the shore from our "balsa"

Accommodations are also available for those who plan to stay overnight. I checked out a couple of resorts thinking that I should spend a night or two in rustic Matabungkay some time.

CORAL BEACH CLUB is the best possible accommodation in the area. Yes, far better than the old and ill-maintained Matabungkay Beach Club. The resort has a clean swimming pool, a bar and restaurant, billiards, and excellent staff. The rooms are nice and clean, and inexpensive.

the best accommodations so far

the bar

charming de luxe room (single detached) at P3,100 overnight on a weekday

nice and clean de luxe room

even the standard room, P2200 overnight on a weekday, is good enough for me

Room rates are from P2,200 to P4,600, based on 2 adults sharing a room. Additional persons in the room are provided with mattresses, at P500 per extra person.

Contact +(63) 917 9014635, (+63) 919 8220383

email :  website:

Another resort I visited is  ROYALE TAGAYTAY,, apparently the beach destination for members of the Royale Tagaytay Club. The sign on the gate says it is exclusive, but walk in and you can get a room for P2,500 per day. The resort has a swimming pool, videoke, and a bar/restaurant.

walk into this "exclusive, members-only" beach resort

accommodations are cheaper in these nipa huts

P2,500 overnight in proper, airconditioned rooms

To book  Royale Tagaytay, contact Nelson at 09093218440.

A hotel sits right at the center of the small commercial district. It is not fronting the beach, but guests can take the few steps from the hotel to the shore. The hotel is called SUNSHINE RESORT HOTEL and is ideal for big groups.

a hotel in the busy part of Matabungkay

They have rooms that can accommodate 10 persons, squeezed into any of their “Big Rooms”, each at P4,000 to P5,000 depending on the size of the room. Regular rooms for 2 persons are at P2,500 per day. All rooms are air-conditioned, and with cable TV. They have a small swimming pool right in the middle of the property.

family room at P4,500 can have as many as 10 persons in the room

a regular room for P2,500 overnight, for 2

SUNSHINE HOTEL: for reservations, contact (+63) 9177301015, (+63) 916 4281334, (+63) 906 4770424, and (+63) 927 2970743

From Sunshine Hotel walking towards the shore, I found more accommodations made available by local residents. One such is owned by an old lady named AMY DE LUNA. Her 2-room cottage on absolute waterfront can be rented by a family for P3,500 overnight.

one room is air-conditioned

on absolute waterfront

One of the rooms is air-conditioned. Lola Amy even provides her guests a stove and cooking utensils. The downside is that there is practically no privacy in the cottage, unless you are in your room/s. This downside is also the upside – – you can mingle with the local folks who get together almost by her doorsteps, talking about the day’s events, or maybe waiting for visitors who could send them to an errand, for a small fee. Talk about local color, this is the place.

call her Amy, or maybe Lola Amy

Lola Amy de Luna can be reached by phone: (+63) 917 9551376

Right beside Amy de Luna’s place is another cottage, but I was not able to inquire, not finding the owner. Here are photos of the place.

The Center of Matabungkay

Visitors can literally just bring their clothes. Anything and everything they will need they can buy in the many shops within the “sentro” or the place some people call the “palengke”, Seafood is available. Water. Charcoal. Softdrinks. Fingerfood. Rice. et cetera

fish, squids, lobsters, and pork

Would I go back to Matabungkay? I like this no-frills place. And so why not?


On private transportation, take the South Luzon Expressway, exit in Sta Rosa, and drive to Tagaytay. From Tagaytay, take the road going to Nasugbu. Follow the signs and take note of the junction where the road forks : to the right is Nasugbu proper, and to the left is Lian, going to Matabungkay. When you get to the Lian town proper, just go straight ahead until you find yourself in the junction going to the Matabungkay Beach area. The prominent sign to follow is “Matabungkay Beach Club”.

Buses to Nasugbu and Lian can be taken from terminals in Buendia, Pasay City. Travel time from the Nichols toll gate to Matabungkay is approximately 2 hours.

2010 in review


The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 46 new posts, not bad for the first year!

The busiest day of the year was December 1st with 153 views. The most popular post that day was The Windmills of Bangui.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bohol, tejeros convention, siquijor, camiguin via cruizes pictures, and moon garden tagaytay.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The Windmills of Bangui December 2010
1 comment


Subic: Ocean Adventure & Zoobic Safari April 2010


Camiguin, come again June 2010


Bohol and Panglao July 2010
22 comments and 1 Like on,


Laiya, San Juan, Batangas: best beach south of Manila April 2010