Joycee Goes Places

Traveling is one of my leisure whenever there’s a long holiday and extra bucks I have. I’m a budget traveler so I prefer DIY trips and backpacking adventures. Most of my trips take place in Luzon (biggest part of the Philippines) where I can go hiking, swimming, surfing (at times), and sightseeing. I really wish to go down south and as well as abroad. There are still plenty that I have to tick off my bucket list.

And speaking of traveling, how cannot we document it even with just phone camera? Although I usually bring a point and shoot cam, I still shoot with my phone so I could instantly share around the world through SNS. Not sure if many of you are familiar with VSCO CameraMost probably if you’re an “instagrammer” and you are so bored with their same old filters, VSCO is another way to spice up your images with a hint of vintage-ish and hazy feels. Instant analog yo! Though I bet analog photographers would dig it, too that’s if they are not so purist.

So apparently I’m that kind of traveler who is fond of shooting sceneries, facades, odd but cute stuff, portraits of other people instead of taking selfies-with-a-little-portion-of-the-backdrop (not to mention jumpshots too) ha ha!  With VSCO, it makes my shots more interesting and memorable or I just think. And lately they established VSCO profiles where we can follow other users around the world. But of course, I had to make myself one and I ought to post my travel photos solely. Here are some of it:



More on my travel diary on VSCO or Instagram.

Check out other cool VSCO users, too: Aleyn Comprendio, Minna So, Mujipanda, and Kittsantos





Liwliwa Surf

There’s a light that never goes out


Make a friend


Bunk beds





We own the sea


Surfing chicks


Second surfing trip with these girls after Baler. It’s more of beach bumming in fact because there was no swell. We just enjoyed the sea and hostel because we arrived before anyone else.

Liwliwa, Zambales

Jan.30, 2014






Mystical island of Cagabalete x Hamog’s 2nd Anniv

Last June 23-24, Haksonero Mountaineering Group (HAMOG) held their second anniversary in Cagbalete island, Quezon. Jordan and I had a chance to join the said event despite of the hectic schedule at work. Right after my shift that Friday night, we headed to the meeting place without any sleep or bath. Haha! There, we saw familiar faces like Shan and Dhez from Daraitan hiking, DJ, Jec, and Tem (the ones we used to rub elbows with in Talahib gigs), also Jevi and Sara from Cristobal climb. We got to know the rest of the group at the event proper.

After 3-4 hours of travel by bus, we waited for the public boat going to Cagbalete island. There’s a public market nearby so we could buy everything we need for an overnight stay.

We headed to Villa Cleofas which is 1.5 kilometer walk from Sabang (where the public boat unloaded us). And to our delight, this welcomed us– LOW TIDE!  Hello, Cagbalete! Villa Cleofas is one of the resorts in the island and we were lucky to own it even just for a night because there were no other guests.

After having lunch and setting camp, we had a short program about HAMOG’s second year anniversary. It started with introducing ourselves to each other since some (like Jordan and I) were newbies in the group. The crowd was cheerful and warm. You will always laugh at funny gestures and jokes.  Haksonero Mountaineering group promotes enjoyable and responsible mountaineering as well as valuing safety, camaraderie, and respect for the environment. They even had outreach programs for some communities living at the foot of the mountains they have climbed up on. Get to know more about them through their facebook fanpage.

At first, I thought there was no luck to swim because of low tide but then after few hours the water gradually filled up the sea bed. Notice  the sky was painted yellow orange which made it magical and romantic.

We spend the night enjoying savory meals such as pork sinigang, grilled pork chop, and an octopus dish (for realz) cooked by amazing youngsters in the group, never-ending rhum and iced tea, drum jam, guitar app by Shan, and fun fun fun stories. The island was quiet and cozy. I had a good night sleep in our tent.

Though many stayed up late, some were still able to have a glimpse of the sunrise. Not me because I’m a sleepyhead yet I had to get up and lavish the glittering water. It’s  so inviting. You MUST hop in before it subsides again. Morning swim!

drum jam with the guys

We had quick lunch then break camp to be able to catch the 1pm boat ride, however, we missed it. We had to arrange a chartered boat and another misfortune was the tide became low again so the boat couldn’t sail. We waited for a couple of hours or more (I guess) at the barangay outpost. At least we had time to take a nap and chat more with each other. Just before the sunset, we found ourselves boarding the chartered boat heading back to Mauban port.

I love sunsets by the sea.

The whole cast! (Photo grabbed from Shan’s album)

Wait! Misfortune didn’t end there. We also missed the public buses going back to Lucena Grand Terminal where we could take buses back to Manila. The night already unfolded and we had to arrange another chartered vehicle again, this time two vans for all us. Despite of being restless, we still managed to keep our heads up. Sometimes, it’s just hard to follow the itinerary. Haha!

On top of everything, I’m delightful to be part of this event as well as having the chance to set my own feet in Cagbalete– a mystical island for me. Breathtaking views, magical beach, great buddies, fun times. We’d definitely come back!

How to get there:

  • Take Lucena bound bus either in Cubao, Buendia, or Alabang. Jac Liner or Jam Transit have regular rides going to Lucena Grand Terminal. Fare is 210php from Buendia (3 hours ride).
  • From Lucena Grand Terminal, catch a mini bus (ordinary) going to Mauban, Quezon (almost 2 hours ride). Fare is around 50-60php.  The last trip is at 6 pm.
  • Arriving Mauban town proper, the port where the boats are stationed is just nearby public market. Trips are scheduled at 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM daily, for P40-50 per person. They usually drop off passengers at “Sabang”  although they sometimes drop off their passengers directly to the south eastern part of the island where the resorts Villa Cleofas and MVT Sto. Nino are located. Chartered boats are also available. Rate is P4,000 two-way ( Mauban-Cagbalete-Mauban) and can ferry up to 25 people.

Where to stay:

You may want to check out this:

Mountain climbing in Harry’s eyes

My Korean student, Harry, 13 years old, goes mountain hiking on free weekends with his family. I was thrilled to find out that he also likes hiking as much as I do. He made this for his homework as we discussed about mountains last Monday.

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My family goes mountain climbing sometimes.

It is very good for health.

So many people climb a mountain.

When we go to the mountains, we can get fresh air.

I also feel good when I reach the summit.

However, mountain climbing is very hard. It takes 4-5 hours.

There are many climbers in the world nowadays.

Everyone likes mountain climbing.


In my almost four years of teaching Koreans, I may say that most of the teenagers would rather lavish the city life than going to the mountains. It’s good to know that there are some who still values the benefits of mountain hiking/climbing like Harry.

I will invite my students to share their hiking experiences in Korea in this blog. In a way, it will encourage them to express themselves in English through their interests.


Harry gave his consent to have this posted in this blog. All the photos belong to him.

Meet Mr. Wandering Gnome

Hello, my new travel buddy!


If you have seen Amélie, you must be familiar of this. Late last year, we launched our collection of 7 gnomes in different colors and seeing the film was one of our inspirations. Amelie (Audrey Tautou) persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world by stealing his garden gnome and having a stewardess friend send pictures of it posing with landmarks from all over the world (Wikipedia). Clever, isn’t it? 

All these wonderful gnomes are already in good hands now. We gave them as freebies at the recent 10a Alabama Craft Fair. Wait! There’s one left. Tada!

He’s actually our prototype and we just can’t let go of him. So there, he’s our travel buddy from now on. Other hobbies of us is traveling though we can just do it if we have spare time from production and yes, savings. We’d like to share…

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March 2012

This was our first time to go hiking with mountaineer friends. Shan, Dhez, Tyland, and Maricar are members of HAMOG (Haksonero Mountaineering Group). They joined numerous climbs of the said group. We headed for Daraitan to celebrate Shan’s birthday. Tyland and Maricar led us all throughout since they had been there once.

Daraitan is a trekking destination within the Sierra Madre mountain range in Tanay, Rizal. It’s well-known for river trekking, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, and spelunking. The trail is mainly rocky though ground level only. Locals called the river, “Tinipak.” It’s no wonder! The trail is full of big chunks of cream-colored rocks along the river. Parang tinipak na mga bato talaga. 

Day 1

We gathered somewhere in Shaw, Ortigas then took a jeepney going to Tanay, Rizal. It took 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the traffic. We’re few hours behind our itinerary so we weren’t able to catch up on the public transportation to get to the jump off site. However, we had luck to get 2 chartered tricycles for the seven of us. It was getting dark. We bought ingredients at the public market before taking off.

The tricycle ride was more or less 1 hour of on and off dark and rocky road. First half was meant for sightseeing. Rizal is indeed a beautiful province. Then, I was quite thrilled in the second half. Darkness unfolded and we see nothing but the light of the vehicles and silhouettes of trees and occasional houses. I stopped myself imagining things because I have that kind of habit. Creepy.

Arriving at the jump off site, there was a dim view of the river. We got ourselves ready with our head lights and flashlights. Like most of the trekking destinations, we headed to the barangay hall to register our names and pay for registration fee. We were told that there were plenty hikers before us so we could expect others along the campsite. They were concerned about night trekking since we didn’t hire any guides. (Note: The trail was merely straightforward, however, there are available guides if you need one.)

At the beginning of the night trek, we were stunned after seeing a number of tombs in the beginning of trail just right after passing by houses in the barrio. Just look straight, though. Hehe. But then after, we could hear the lush sound of the river. The wind was chilly and the sky was full of stars. What a sight!

After approximately 1.5 hours, our feet set off the campsite. We saw others pitched in their tents in the riverside. Quite scary, we thought. Obviously, there’s water source nearby so cooking and washing stuff were just easy. Boys were pitching the tents and we, the girls, prepared dinner. We did the socials right after dinner.

Day 2

At last, here comes the photos!

Good morning, Daraitan!

View from the campsite

You can appreciate it more in daylight, indeed. We did break camp right after having breakfast and decided to enjoy a little in the river.

(L-R: Rj, Dhez, Maricar)

(L-R: Tyland, Shan, Jordan)

square 1-6: Maricar, Dhez, Rj, Jordan, Joycee, and Shan with dumagat kids.

How serene it is? You will be a nature lover in a glimpse. That’s why we have gone this far because of this trip. We owe it all to Daraitan and to our hiking buddies. Nostalgia brings the fun memories and vivid scenery I was able to capture in my mind.

We had our lunch along the riverside and dipped in the water. It’s deep and has strong current. We saw local kids diving from a tall standing rock. We learned that the main inhabitants in the mountain are called “dumagat,” indigenous people in Southern Tagalog. We met some children and gave them our spare breakfast (sopas). They also collected our plastic bottles for recycling. They are very different from the people in the town. Everything was just basic. Some of them were still waiting for their parents who went out farming. I remembered a protest song we knew way back college. It was entitled “On Potok.” A local indie band, Talahib People’s music made their own cover of it. It’s all about the struggles of dumagat people against mining, land grabbing, and the violations of indigenous people’s rights. Hear it in soundcloud.

To sum up my very first hiking outside the metro, it was truly fascinating. Night trekking, enchanting river, new faces, overnight getaway, it was all superb! Thanks to Shan and Dhez who invited us over. We got into hiking because of this unforgettable experience. More camping trips in my next entries. Imagine, I had blogged about this after 4 months of hectic schedule and occasional getaways. Whew!

How to get there:

1. From Shaw Boulevard, take a jeepney bound for Tanay Rizal. Travel time is around 1.5 to 2 hours, fare is approximately Php 50 pesos.

2. Get off at Tanay Public Market and proceed to the jeepney terminal located at the back. Take the jeepney going to Brgy. Daraitan, fare is around Php 60 pesos. Travel time is about an hour. You can also rent the whole jeepney for Php 1,500 pesos.

The Tanay-Daraitan route has scheduled trips at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM from the terminal in Tanay Market and at 9:00 AM and after lunch from Daraitan.

3. Upon reaching Brgy. Daraitan, look for the Barangay Hall and have yourselves registered in the logbook, pay Php 10.00 pesos each as registration fee. Guides are also available here for Php 250 pesos per guide. (Pinoyadventurista)

We need a life,