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Monday, December 31, 2012

Chillaxin' at Katabom

A Night of Positive Vibrations

When spending a night of beer-guzzling and chillaxing at Puerto Princesa after a tiring city tour, Katabom Bar is the place to be. Located along Rizal Ave beside Taverna Luna, this place gives the guests a piece of Boracay memories through its island reggae music performed by talented artists from the shores of Boracay and Palawan.

Katabom got its name from Bambi and Cheng's eldest daughter, Katahum, combined with Bom which stands for the Bombom Bar - a chill-out bar known for playing tribal/acoustic/reggae music in Boracay, also owned by the couple. Thus, upon deciding to expand their business in PPS, Katabom was conceptualized.

Just recently, Katabom celebrated its 3rd Year of bringing out positive vibrations to all its guests.

Katabom offers good food, great place and awesome music. During Wednesdays and Saturdays, locals and tourists flock in this Xaymaca-Bombom Bar-inspired haven to chillax and jam the night away with the Mitus Tribe. Fridays are also jampacked with the RegBeat band as Toto, the lead vocalist, entertains the crowd with high-powered-energy of dancing and grooving.

Lloyd, our good friend and my housemate back in boracay days, happen to manage the bar . :)
This guy is so cool. I was reminded of Ago - his twin brother. hahaha

Manager/Singer/Drummer - all rolled into one.. tsktsktskts san ka pa?
Lloyd made me dance when he sang his playlist (which I missed hearing from him  for a very long time in Boracay) when he jammed with the Mitus Tribe on a Saturday night. Wala pa ring kupas from Santeria-to- Obladi-Oblada to Maling Akala and his malupettt na pamatay kantang La Bamba with matinding spanish accent. Whoahhhhh.. Nag-enjoy ako ng sobra, Pramis! I thought I was in xaymaca..

I soooo love this picture with my old-time friend, Pareng Bobot :) 

I was reunited with the bombom boys. Endless chit-chats and telling stories, reminiscing the past and sharing memories of a beautiful friendship built to last.

Bessy, you should see this. hahaha

The friendly Katabom Staff 

Posing with the Katabom ladies - Shiela the funny girl, Connie the sidekick, and Nina the cashier.
I had so much fun bonding with you. ladies. I promise to be back and  do things with you..

With Pareng Jude and my girl-bff-gee's exclavu, Mark :)

I had so much fun in PPS. No amount of words, write-ups and descriptive words can document all the memories I've had with all these people I came across with. To someone like me who thought traveling solo is boring, I have learned to accept the fact that it isn't. You'll meet exciting people along the way, experience unexpected pleasures and that makes a great adventure.

I'll be back,sooooon...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wandering in One of the Seven Wonders: Cruisin' the Underground River

Day Two.

After being reunited with the Bombom boys and feelin' steady with the RegBeat  at Katabom during my first night, I woke up still feeling a bit quirky. I hurriedly prepared my things and head off to Matutina Pension along Taft St. to meet my sister's office mates. We were very lucky not to spend van for hire to take us to Sabang Wharf because Nang Daday happens to have a bro-in-law who currently works in the city, generously offered to be our guide and drove us to the wharf with his green pick-up truck.

We were all excited for the trip. We left the city around 7am and arrived at Sabang by 9:30 am of Dec. 8. I didn't enjoy much of the scenic views along the way since I only slept for 3 hours and I felt like a zombie with  a huge eye-bag  so, I played dead for the rest of the trip. Zzzzz..

When we arrived at the Sabang Wharf, we were greeted by hundreds of tourist waiting in line for their slots for the underground river tour. I remembered what Nong Bobot once told me: "If you plan to go to Underground River, magbook ka muna ng permit mo, before you book a flight to Puerto Princesa". haha I can say that there's a really a truth in his statement. Good thing we've already secured permits and booked ahead of time so it was easy for us to just wait for our turn for the next boat to take us to Underground River entrance.

At the Sabang Wharf, still dizzy from the ride..

The cool waves are tempting at the Sabang Beach.

Tourists hurriedly jumps off a motor banca that will take then to the Underground River entrance
When I regained my strength after taking a tablet of paracetamol, I'm back to my senses again. We patiently waited for our turn and when the time came to ride the boat, I was shouting for joy. Woooohoooooo! The boat ride took us around 30 mins. I tried to really secure myself with a life vest since I don't know  how to swim and I don't want the sharks to feast on my healthy body. haha

Click. Click. Click. - Picture perfect.
I was able to go bonding with my sister's office mates.
You miss all the fun, dear sister! lol. :)

Yehey! 1 down, Six to go!!
 #dyingtoseeallthe sevenwondersoftheworld. hahaha and why not? 

Monkeys and monitor lizards roam around the area and welcomed us like kings and queens as we entered the entrance. We were told not to feed them so as not to affect their natural habitat but a snappy monkey with a great sense of smell , jumped over Nang Bing's plastic bag with biscuits, and that scared us all. tsktsktsk. 

Striking a fake smile to send signal to the monitor lizard that I don't taste good and probably, it worked! :)

Hurry Up,please! Click the shutter button!!!!!!!!

We walked about 2 km. to the Underground River entrance and enjoyed listening to the  humming of the birds and insects around the area. It felt good to be one with nature. This is just a perfect weekend get-away from the cacophony of the city and from the monotonous routine back home. 

For more details about the Underground River as to how to secure permits and everything you need to know, please click this site:

I soooo love life!!!! 

All aboard and off we go! :)

As we entered the cave entrance and sailed with our paddler, we sat in amazement and bewildered by its unrivaled beauty. Our lips were sealed, unable to utter a word for we were all captured by its magnificent rock formations. God must have took a long time to create this wonderful art for us to take pride in His creation. We should do our share to protect and conserve it the best way we can so the little ones may be able experience it the way we did. :)

This is Kuya Ading - our funny cave guide and paddler. 

Our 1.5 km cruising-in-the-underground-river-experiences has just ended yet the fun never stops. We were like teenagers sharing different versions of the story after watching a great movie. hahaha Too bad that I wasn't able to take pictures of various rock and limestone formations inside the cave since I didn't have an expensive DSLR camera at hand. tsktsk. On the other hand, my eyes were able to capture it up close and personal, unedited and that by far is a moment to be cherished more than seeing it through expensive lenses. :)

We ate our late lunch at a restaurant around the Sabang area. We feasted on the food prepared by Kuya Umpong -our new-found friend/guide/pick-up driver and ate like hungry wolves. BUrppppp! We left Sabang at around 2pm and while on the road, we recalled funny experiences with our cave guide. I mimicked everything and impersonated the guide with my funny antics and that made the whole gang laughing endlessly. And I thought, "Hey guys, don't you think I'd be better off as a tour guide?" lol..

We paused for awhile to re-position ourselves inside the pick up truck. I felt my butt was already getting numb so we needed to stretch as we took advantage of a picturesque view of the Karst Mountain and Elephant Cave from where we stopped. Should there be a chance to visit PPS for the second time around, I wouldn't hesitate to get an experienced guide and trek this trail all the way to Sabang. And I mean it, for reals! :)

We stopped by at a view deck overlooking the view of Snake Island, Dos Palmas and Cowrie Island and so, cameras started rolling. Endless poses were revealed. May shooting teh?

We head off to Sta. Lordes Wharf  just to see the starting point of the Honda Bay and its nearby islands and headed back to the town proper around 4pm. We drove down to San Jose Public Market to buy some dried fish and other pasalubong and we were all surprised to know that their dried fish cost half the price as those were sold in Aklan.

It has been a long and tiring day for me yet a very fulfilling one for I was able to see one of the seven wonders of the world. As they say, there are no short cuts to any place worth going, all the butt-aching rides paved way for a great and wonderful memories to cherish.

Yes, I have so many stories to tell. And this is just one of the many treasured moments to share with. What makes this tour special is that -- it's free, it's unplanned, and it's worth taking the risk of meeting the elements of surprise. 

Power nap for 2 hours to get ready for an Irie-Saturday-Night with the Mitus Tribe at Katabom.. Do not disturb! :)
(updating post soon..)

Gone for the Weekend: Touchdown Palawan

Day One

Unplanned trip. Unexpected pleasures.

Puerto Princesa is topping my list for my travel destination next year. If not for my dear sister Ces who backed out from her trip with her office mates, I wouldn't be able to explore its unrivaled beauty by the year ends. I was hesitant to go because of financial constraint but my itchy feet told me I should go to break away from work. With my 5k on hand, a credit card, a fake Id, and my lonely planet travel guide on my backpack, I decided to go.

 I left Kalibo at around 6pm of December 6 bound for Iloilo and took the first flight off to Puerto Princesa, Palawan the next day. I was in a real backpacking mode by that time and so eager to reach Bambi's place myself but to my surprise, Wacks fetched me at the airport, and the whole backpacking mode ended. haha
(Bambi was my best buddy back in college. He ventured his business - the Katabom Bar&Resto in PPS and offered Wacks a job as bar tender. Wacks happen to be one our close friends,too. On the otherhand, Bambi's parents: Tatay Rufo and Nanay Glenda acquired a house around the city and that's where I'm crashing for three days. )

As we drove along Rizal Ave., I can't help but be surprised to see a city within a forest - a model city of cleanliness, indeed. We stopped at Katabom Bar for awhile, decided to leave my bag at Bambi's place then head off to Crocodile Farm now known as Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center about 30 minutes drive from the city.

Wacks  volunteered to be my tour guide only to realize, he also needs a map to take us there. haha
 Both first-timers and we just love getting lost and all the pleasant surprises in between.

As we entered the main building, we were greeted by a huge sea water crocodile's skin of Maracascas hang on the wall and its skeleton inside a glass casket. According to the tour guide, Maracascas was caught somewhere in the island and was killed after eating half of a child's body. 
..salt water crocodile can grow this big! :)

We passed through the main hall that led us to the Hatchling House where the little crocs are well taken care of and are segregated in basins according to their different levels of maturity. Tourists are advised not to use flash from their cameras so as not to disturb and cause stress to these hatchlings.

Next to the Hatchling House, we proceeded to see the cages for the bigger and older crocodiles. The crocodile den has a metal path just above it so the visitors can take a look at them from afar. They seem to look so innocent but when they start to make a move, I was so damn scared like hell. whew.. 

After the guided tour, we explored the rest of the nature park with pens for ostriches, cages for birds - the Philippine cockatoo and the bear cats.

Although some of the areas are not properly managed, the birds and other endemic species still adds attraction to the park. Wacks and I enjoyed taking pictures and when we got tired, had some snacks at the food stall, bought crocodile key chains and decided to leave the area. 

Our next stop is the Baker's Hill located at Mitra Road, Barangay Santa Monica. This was featured before by Jessica Soho on tv a few years ago and it was far different from seeing it with my own eyes. No entrance fee is required in this disney-inspired compound where you get to see life-sized images of Marilyn  Monroe and Captain Jack Sparrow among others. Baker's Hill is famous for its home-made freshly baked pastries - from hopia to chocolate crinkles that are best for pasalubongs.

Camera started clicking and the naughty pose of Wacks harassing Miss Marilyn Monroe, which of course I directed, made the passers-by giggled. The nuns-on-tour who saw us can't help but uttered: "Susmaryosep". haha

Just a few meters away from the Baker's Hill, we drove to Mitra's Ranch to catch a scenic view of Honda Bay. No entrance fee again so we took advantage of feasting our eyes with such a lovely sight. 

Dying to have a perfect jump shot, I tried my best to be good at it, but after ten jumps, this is all I've got.. huhuhu
I so hate you, Wacksss!!!! 

Residence of former Senator Ramon Mitra located right on top of the hill.

Exhausted from driving and starving to death, we went back to the city and took our late lunch around 3pm at Pancake House. I thought I'll use my credit card to spare me from spending my cash but unfortunately, they are not accepting American Express credit card so that left me only P2,800 from  my pocket. :)

Whoah.. not bad for my first day of exploring Palawan's beauty.

I've just been given a gift of weekend for myself. I took a break from life's routine and felt good about it. When was the last time you decide to take the risk for unplanned trips? If you haven't experience one, it's never too late to start. -rissa