I am a lover of beautiful messes. I love the concept of The Circle Hostel Zambales where guests can creatively put vandals everywhere. Aside from the vandals, you have hammocks, conga, ukulele, bread and peanut butter, and the beautiful Liwliwa Beach nearby (the life!).
A quick review of the hostel: They allow early check-ins, they have nice dorm rooms provided with mosquito net and nice shower areas, they have activities like island hopping and bonfire night, and the staff are really, really nice. They do not have a cafeteria or canteen but there are a lot of places to eat nearby. You can book a bed at a very affordable price. Circle Hostel stickers are sold for Php50.
One hot summer, an officemate and I went to the Circle Hostel Zambales to have a quick weekend getaway, and it was one of the shortest ‘short but sweet’ weekends I spent in my traveling life. I will be forever thankful that a lot of beach areas in Luzon Island in the Philippines are very accessible by bus from Manila. Here are some photos from the hipster hostel we stayed at. Enjoy!
As I was looking online for a place to have a long weekend escape, I came across this town in Aurora Province which I haven’t heard of: Dingalan. First things first, I have to look for an accommodation in Dingalan Aurora since I chose to go this totally unfamiliar place to me. I only know Aurora because of Baler, a popular surfing spot. I tried Googling photos and places to see in Dingalan, and this is the view that I commonly see:
IT LOOKS LIKE BATANES, RIGHT?
Apparently, Dingalan is also known as “The Batanes of the East”. I was surprised to know that such beautiful scenery exists just a few hours from Manila. Hence, the ever so spontaneous part of me packed my bags and traveled to Aurora.
Dingalan can be reached from Manila in two ways: (1) a bus at Baliwag Transit that has direct trips to Dingalan every 4AM everyday, or (2) a bus at Baliwag Transit bound to Cabanatuan and then a van from Cabanatuan going to Dingalan.
ACCOMMODATION IN DINGALAN AURORA: Fil-Dane Inn
For my accommodation in Dingalan Aurora, I stayed at Fil-Dane Inn. It was not difficult to locate because it it just a walking distance from the Van Terminal right at the Public Market. Other previous guests made a mistake by riding a tricycle going to Fil-Dane Inn, but in reality it’s a few walks away. There are other accommodation in Dingalan Aurora available but Fil-Dane Inn I think is the most accessible one.
Fil-Dane Inn is an accommodation in Dingalan Aurora owned and operated by the Hofman family. The name Fil-Dane originated from the nationalities of the owners, because it is owned by a Filipino and Dane couple.
THE CHECK-IN PROCESS
Fil-Dane Inn is an accommodation in Dingalan, Aurora that has a very efficient direct reservation system which can be done either through their website (www.fildaneinn.com), via email, or via Facebook. You could also reserve through third party reservation sites such as Agoda. If you have a prior reservation, the process will be a breeze and will only take a few minutes. The Ates and other staff were so kind and accommodating to all my concerns. After which, you will be escorted to your room.
I stayed at Room 7 which is a very spacious room which is good for two persons, but in my case I stayed alone. Rooms at Fil-Dane Inn does not look like your commercial hotels located in cities, but instead it looks like a typical Filipino provincial home which is perfect for a homey, provincial vibe.
Fil-Dane Inn provides the basic necessities to your room such as drinking water and toiletries, including towels and slippers.
The room I stayed has a huge flat screen TV with a good cable reception. They also have a desk, a cabinet for your clothes, a basic mirror/dresser, and a nightstand/side table.
The aircon unit provides just the right temperature for your room and the sheets are white, clean, and they smell good. So comfy!
THE HOTEL VICINITY
Fil-Dane Inn is situated on a quiet street so you don’t have to worry about the sounds of people or vehicles passing by. Looking around, I get a garden resort vibe which is very relaxing.
THE COMMON AREAS: Dining Area, Indoor Pool, Hammock
Fil-Dane Inn has a relaxing outdoor area (with an indoor pool and hammock) which guests can interact with one another or even with the owners. I had a chat with Mr. and Mrs. Hofman, the owners of Fil-Dane Inn, and I learned so much about Dingalan, Mr. Hofman’s life as an expat in the Philippines, and their life in Denmark as well, where he came from. Oh how I always love learning culture and the way of life of people from other places! So priceless.
My stay at Fil-Dane Inn includes a complimentary breakfast wherein you could choose among common breakfast meals. Because I am a huge bacon lover, I would always, always choose bacon. Coffee and juice will also be provided.
DINGALAN AURORA DAY TOUR
Fil-Dane Inn offers a Dingalan Aurora Day Tour for an additional fee (excluding the tricycle rent), and they have an accredited Tour Guide on standby if ever guests want to avail the tour. Kuya Bong Mariano was able to show me around the town for a Dingalan Aurora Day Tour.
What’s special about the Dingalan Aurora Day Tour offered by Fil-Dane Inn is that it is very customizable. You could suggest the places you want to see, depending on your preferences and the number of people joining the tour. Kuya Bong was able to bring me to several off-the-beaten paths of Dingalan, the one without tourists. That was one of the best guided tours I ever had on any trip. You may reach out to Fil-Dane Inn for inquiries about Dingalan Aurora Day Tour.
Fil-Dane Inn just recently launched the Vikings Restobar which serves good food and drinks. There, you could possibly spend the night socializing with other guests and enjoying the night.
Overall, I was able to maximize my weekend stay at Dingalan because Fil-Dane Inn made it so great — from the amazing tour to the comfort they provide after a tiring day of seeing around. If you guys happen to visit Dingalan, I highly recommend you consider Fil-Dane Inn as your accommodation of choice. You’ll never regret it. 🙂
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Malolos, Bulacan is something that almost no one will consider visiting, except if one wants to feel the Spanish colonial period vibe while avoiding the mainstream Intramuros in Manila. Let me tell you that Malolos is more than that by presenting my very own DIY Malolos Bulacan itinerary!
I have been to Bulacan province a few times already, primarily for family outing activities because there are a bunch of nice resorts in this area which serves as one of the nearest escapades from the city. Moreover, I pass by this province every single time via NLEX whenever I go somewhere up north. As a History Professor who is super passionate about teaching the subject with original photos and more accurate information, I decided to pay a visit and check some things to do in Malolos, Bulacan.
I hopped on a bus at Victory Liner Terminal in Caloocan bound for Apalit, Pampanga.
In order to access the Bulacan Town Proper, make sure you alight before this flyover.
MALOLOS BULACAN ITINERARY. So, without further ado, here is a list of the things of things to do in Malolos, Bulacan:
For other travel itineraries in the Philippines, check this out:
This Wes Anderson-ish restaurant is totally worth visiting, especially for serial IG-worthy places hunters like me! They serve a lot of good dishes, but since I arrived there in the morning, I ordered an English Breakfast and a mixed berries shake.
This beautiful church was the site of the First Philippine Republic, hence the name Malolos Republic, in 1899.
APPRECIATE PHILIPPINE HISTORY AT THE MUSEO NG REPUBLIKA NG 1899
Beside the Barasoain Church is the Museo ng Republika ng 1899. It houses several informative exhibits and memorabilia from the Malolos Republic. You will also see here the actual text of the Malolos Constitution. There are wax figures of Philippine History personalities in some galleries.
CHECK OUT EMILIO AGUINALDO STATUE AT THE CHURCH PLAZA
General Emilio Aguinaldo was the President of the Malolos Republic. The Historical Marker says:
Emilio Aguinaldo Y Famy (1869-1964)
Unang Pangulo ng Pilipinas. Dito niya sa Malolos pansamantalang inilipat ang Pamahalaang Rebolusyonaryo mula Bakoor, Kabite dahil sa napipintong Digmaang Filipino-Amerikano, 10 Setyembre 1898 – 31 Marso 1899. Pinulong ang Kongreso ng Malolos sa Simbahan ng Barasoain, Bulacan upang mabalangkas ng Saligang Batas. 15 Setyembre 1898 na nagtatag ng Republika ng Pilipinas, ang Unang Republika sa Asya, 23 Enero 1899.
HAVE A PHILIPPINE HISTORY PRIMER AT CASA REAL SHRINE
Casa Real Shrine was the former seat of the Spanish Colonial Government in Bulacan and was converted into a museum. If you visit this place, you will have a comprehensive information on Philippine history, from prehistory/precolonial period to present.
DROP BY THE MALOLOS MUNICIPAL HALL
I remember my graduate studies Professor who got weirded out on me when I shared the information that whenever I visit a new place in the Philippines, I make it a point to drop by the municipal/city hall and take a photo of it/pose by it. I mean, come on. Why not? It will give you an idea of the daily hustle of the place. Plus, you can always pay the Tourism Office a visit.
APPRECIATE COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE LIKE THE GOBIERNO MILITAR DE LA PLAZA DE MALOLOS
Colonial buildings like this one are being converted to government offices and museums, and look at this Meralco Building! So beautiful! The historical marker says:
Sa pook na ito dating nakatayo ang kwartel ni Heneral Isidro Torres bilang tagapangasiwa ng kapayapaan at kaayusan ng bayan ng Malolos sa panahon ng Pamahalaang Mapaghimagsik hanggang sa Unang Republika ng Pilipinas 1898-1899.
Ang panandang pang-alaalang ito ay pinasinayaan ngayon, 14 Seytembre 2014, bilang bahagi ng pagdiriwang sa ika-116na guning taong pagbubukas ng Kongreso ng Malolos, 15 Setyembre 1898.
DROP BY BAHAY PAARALAN NG MGA KABABAIHAN NG MALOLOS
My Philippine History/Jose Rizal students, remember the Ang Sulat Para sa Kababaihan ng Malolos by Jose Rizal? This is where those women of Malolos used to school. The historical marker of this spot says:
Pook na kinatayuan ng paaralan ng mga kadalagahan na nilihaman ni Jose Rizal buhat sa Londres noong ika-22 ng Pebrero, 1889, ng kanyang bantog na sulat ng pinamagatang “Sa Mga Kababayang Dalaga sa Malolos” noong ika-12 ng Disyembre, 1888. Ang 21 dalagang taga-Malolos ay humingi ng pahintuloy sa Gobernador Heneral Weyler na makapagbukas, sa sariling gugol nila, ng isang paaralang panggabi na magtuturo ng Wikang Kastila. Sa kanyang sulat ay pinuri ni Rizal ang mga naturang dalaga dahil sa kanilang pagkukusa, sigasig, at diwang makabayan.
WALK AROUND TO SPOT BEAUTIFUL SPANISH COLONIAL HOUSES
Malolos, Bulacan is the site of so many Spanish colonial houses, and it is a beautiful thing that they were able to preserve these cultural heritage. <3
CHECK OUT MALOLOS CATHEDRAL
The Malolos Cathedral is more than just a Catholic church in Bulacan, but it was also the site of the Presidential Palace of Emilio Aguinaldo during the Malolos Republic.
CHILL UNDER THE KALAYAAN TREE
This historical Siar Tree is known to be planted by President Emilio Aguinaldo and the spot where the historical figures meet and planned things out during the Philippine Revolution.
DROP BY THE BULACAN PROVINCIAL CAPITOL
This is not only where you can find the seat of the current Governor of the Province of Bulacan, but this is also where you can find the statues of Marcelo and Gregorio del Pilar, Filipino heroes during the Spanish colonial period. There is also a souvenir shop at the left side of the building where I was able to buy a fridge magnet of Malolos.
DINE AT BISTRO MALOLEÑO
What’s interesting about this place is that the menu is inspired by Philippine History. Visit Bistro Maloleño to see the menu for yourself. In my case, I attended a work-related event when I dined here but I was able to taste the Santolada Juice. Yum!
If you are looking for a quick historical, gastronomical, and Instagram-worthy escapade near Manila, Malolos is a nice place to go. 🙂
Malolos Bulacan Itinerary and Other Things to do in Malolos: More Suggestions are Welcome!
I hope you enjoyed your day trip by following this Malolos Bulacan Itinerary containing things to do in Malolos. If you think I missed anything that deserve to be included in this list, please let me know! 🙂 Happy travels!
I was on my way to Dingalan, Aurora for a long weekend escapade so I took a bus at Baliwag Transit going to Cabanatuan City and then a van going to Dingalan. Since I left Manila early and my check-in at Fil Dane Inn is still after lunch, I decided to have a quick tour of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. During my quick day tour of this city, here are some things to do in Cabanatuan that I could suggest every traveler to the city could follow:
1. Ride a tricycle at the Tricycle Capital of the Philippines
How can I miss riding the tricycle in this city? I ride the tricycle everyday from my house to work and the experience is no different than the tricycle ride experience here in Cabanatuan, but it is worth-trying. Cabanatuan is home to around 80,000 tricycles as of 2018 (imagine how many tricycles it has now today!). And yes, this is an item at Sherlyn’s Philippine Travel Bucketlist and therefore included in my list of things to do in Cabanatuan. 🙂
2. Pay a visit at Cabanatuan Cathedral
One of the things to do in Cabanatuan and other places for me is to visit a church. From the Cabanatuan Grand Terminal, I hailed a tricycle going to the Cabanatuan Cathedral. Since it was a Sunday, I stayed for a while during the Sunday mass.
3. Check out Plaza Lucero and Antonio Luna Death Place Marker
In front of the Cabanatuan Cathedral, you will see the General Luna Shrine (yes, the Heneral Luna you knew from the movie). However, I was not able to take a photo of the shrine because a lot of vehicles of the churchgoers were parked.
Another spot worth examining is Death Place of General Antonio Luna. However, it was not preserved and even the marker has been vandalized. Sad. I hope the Philippine government will try to take care of these important spots.
Thank you, government, for taking care of our heritage sites. 🙂
4. See the Old Provincial Capitol Building of Nueva Ecija
The current capital of Nueva Ecija is Palayan City where the Provincial Capitol is located, but the Old Provincial Capitol in Cabanatuan City is still being used by the provincial government. The building is nice and well-maintained. Cabanatuan City used to be the capital city of Nueva Ecija until 1965. Another trivia: the capital city of Nueva Ecija got changed four times.
Very historical, right? Definitely included in the things to do in Cabanatuan.
5. Appreciate the Gabaldon school building structure of Nueva Ecija High School
The building of Nueva Ecija High School is an example of a classic Gabaldon school building built during the American colonization period in the Philippines (early to mid-1900s). While Gabaldon buildings in other parts of the country are being demolished and replaced by modern architectures with names of politicians (haha), Nueva Ecija is doing a good job preserving this. Very good!
6. Have some refreshing ice cream at Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet
Cabanatuan is considered as the second hottest place in the Philippines, hence an ice cream to beat the heat won’t hurt. Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet is a popular locally-made ice cream in Cabanatuan and I heard it uses imported Italian machines to make the ice creams (so shall we expect a Italian gelato quality?). They have a lot of flavors to choose from, but their bestseller is Cheese Cashew Macapuno, which, of course, I did not miss.
7. Visit Camp Pangatian Shrine (Highlight of my Trip)
I hailed a tricycle to bring me to Camp Pangatian Shrine. The first tricycle I asked told me to just ride a jeep going to Aurora because it is far from the city center (I think he did not get that I was renting his tricycle to bring me there and drop me off to the Cabanatuan Grand Terminal). I hailed another tricycle and agreed to take me on a special trip to Camp Pangatian Shrine for Php200.
Camp Pangatian Shrine is a memorial to those who died from the Death March during World War II. Before World War II broke, it used to be an American Military Camp, and was converted by the Japanese colonizers to a prisoners-of-war camp during World War II, the largest in the Philippines. The Camp is divided into two areas: the first area is a memorial for the Filipino soldiers (maintained by the Philippine government) and the second area is a memorial for the American soldiers (maintained by the US government).
I went to the first area but the gate was closed because it was a Sunday. We tried going to the second part and I saw a very well-maintained memorial. The man who takes care of the area is even cleaning it despite the bad weather. It was a peaceful place and I stayed there for a while. I then asked the caretaker if I can get access to the first area even though it’s closed. He told me that there is an open area at the sides which I can access.
Upon reaching the area, I can see a lot of garbage on my way to the memorial. The metal plates narrating the Death March are destroyed. The whole place was deteriorating and full of vandalism. It is sad that important places like this are being neglected by the government.
Things to do in Cabanatuan City: More suggestions are welcome!
That was a sweet quick tour of Cabanatuan City. I still want to visit nearby places such as the Aquino Diokno Memorial and to look for a Longganisang Bototay (because yea, the movie Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo was shot at Cabanatuan City haha) but I could always go back anytime.
Now, on my way to a lovely weekend at Dingalan, Aurora! 🙂
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Where to stay in Cabanatuan City?
Looking for a place to stay in Cabanatuan after your day tour? Well, I did the research for you! Check these accommodations out and click for more details:
Having parents coming from two different cultural/linguistic groups (my Dad is from Batangas and my Mom is from Pampanga) is something I am very proud of because I got to expose myself to two different worlds and learn two different local languages. However, having born and raised in my Dad’s hometown has allowed me to have a very limited exposure on the Kapampangan culture and way of life. The Pampanga culture is known for a very rich cuisine hence the food culture here is so rich. Moreover, there are a lot of Catholic/religious traditions that are exclusive to this part of the Philippines. My family and I regularly visit Pampanga during holidays, and everytime I go there feels like a crash course on Philippine culture.
SNAPSHOTS: ASIA Trailer
SNAPSHOTS: ASIA PHOTO ESSAY #3: APUNG IRU FLUVIAL FESTIVAL (PIN IT! )
This article on Movies About Bataan is something I’ve written to honor the World War II American and Filipino Heroes.
The 9th of April is an important date in the history of both the Philippines and the United States, and it is called The Day of Valor (or Araw ng Kagitingan). In a nutshell, it was the exact day in 1942 when Filipino and American soldiers lost the Battle of Bataan to the Japanese forces while hopelessly waiting for a reinforcement. This event was one of the succeeding battles after the Pearl Harbor attack. The aftermath of the Battle of Bataan led to the infamous Bataan Death March, where Filipino and American soldiers walked almost a hundred kilometers from Bataan to Tarlac.
This particular highlight in history has inspired filmmakers to create movies about Bataan, making the said province rise to fame as one of the historical places in the Philippines any history lover (like me!) should visit.
The history Professor in me wants to provide more details about Bataan in World War II, but I came here to provide you information on movies about Bataan. Hence, you should watch them instead. It’s better that way since we are all trying to be productive while in community quarantine.
So, without further ado, here are movies about Bataan that you should watch to celebrate the Day of Valor or Araw ng Kagitingan.
Bataan is a classic movie that portrays the defense of the Americans of the Bataan Peninsula against the Japanese forces. Critiques say that this move provided the most realistic portrayal of what really happened during the said period in history.
SO PROUDLY WE HAIL (1943)
So Produly We Hail is a movie based on a book written by an American army nurse whos served in Bataan and Corregidor during World War II.
CRY ‘HAVOC’ (1943)
Cry ‘Havoc’ highlights the role of American army nurses in Bataan during World War II and emphasizes the feminine side of wars.
BACK TO BATAAN (1945)
Back to Bataan portrays the struggles of Filipino and American soldiers leading to the infamous Bataan Death March by the Japanese forces. One of the main characters of this movie is Andres Bonifacio, a Filipino resistance fighter.
THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945)
Another classic that portrayed the Fall of Bataan during World War II.
AMERICAN GUERRILLA IN THE PHILIPPINES (1945)
American Guerrilla in the Philippines is not exactly focused on Bataan but tells us the events that happened in the Philippines during World War II. While most Hollywood movies about Bataan were actually never filmed in the Philippines, this one have scenes taken in Subic.
THE LONGEST HUNDRED MILES (1967)
Set in World War II Japanese invasion of the Philippines, The Longest Hundred Miles features a group of refugees in escape aboard a creaky bus as their getaway vehicle.
WOMEN OF VALOR (1986)
Women of Valor is a movie about a group of American army nurses that were captured and imprisoned by Japanese troops during World War II.
YAMASHITA: THE TIGER’S TREASURE (2001)
A proudly Filipino film, Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure is about a grandfather World War II veteran telling storied to his grandson about being involved in hiding the Yamashita’ treasure.
THE GREAT RAID (2005)
The Great Raid is movie about 500 American soldiers who were imprisoned at Camp Pangatian Shrine in Cabanatuan towards the end of World War II and the dangerous mission to save them was led by a group of Rangers.
It was a huge flop with an $80 million dollar budget but only earning $10.8 million. It was indeed very underrated but it was a nice movie though!
The War is a docuseries that covers the perception on World War II of citizens across 4 US states. The first episode of the series entitled “A Necessary War” covers the Pearl Harbor Attack and the events that followed it, including the Bataan Death March.
The Inheritance of War is a documentary following the fight for justice of World War II soldiers as they file a class action suit against the now multi-billion dollar corporations which committed wrongdoings against them.
MOVIES ABOUT BATAAN AND WORLD WAR II: Your recommendations are welcome! 🙂
There you have it! But let me know if I missed any important movies on the list. You can send me an email or slide a DM to my Instagram account. in the meantime, happy binge-watching! And I’m willing to discuss World War II history, btw!
Who does not want to have a relaxing place to stay away from Metro Manila but near a shopping mall? There are so many hotels to choose from along Friendship Avenue alone, but it’s necessary to choose the best of the best. I was lucky enough to have stayed at this minimalist hotel situated at Clark, Pampanga which is very near SM City Clark: Lewis Grand Hotel.
The outside of the hotel is very, I must say, white. Expect the same with the inside. It really gives a relaxing vibe to its guests.
The vicinity of the hotel is very relaxing. It is situated in the middle of the city but abundant shades of green can be found around.
Lewis Grand Hotel’s infinity pool is a must-experience. It also has a jacuzzi next to it. There is also a bar beside the pool.
Now, let’s go to the room.
The room is huge enough and so relaxing. You will wake up with the sun streaming in. The outside will give you a view of the Mount Arayat in the morning.
A popular surfing spot near Manila is Liwliwa Beach, which is located in the town of San Felipe, Zambales. Some avid surfers from Manila and other nearby destinations would go here every weekend to have some taste of the waves. If you are not a surfer, this can also serve as a nice beach near Manila to relax and have a nice time.
I was able to visit Liwliwa Beach one summer and here are some of the stunning photos I was able to capture. Enjoy!
Liwliwa Beach: Photo Gallery
This beach is a popular beach near Manila also filled with people busy with their livelihoods.
Being one of the popular surfing spots near Manila, this beach could get busy on weekends.
Accommodation in Liwliwa Beach: The Circle Hostel Zambales
My accommodation in Liwliwa was at the Circle Hostel Zambales and had a good time there with its colorful interiors and nice dorm rooms. I will definitely consider staying there again to have a more detailed review.