Going Solo in Coron

While working non-stop on Project Runway Philippines earlier this year, I promised myself that I would take a much-deserved break after the first leg of shoots concluded. Not only would I take a break; but I would do it alone. Yes… alone. It has always been something I’ve wanted to do; and this was the perfect opportunity to do it.

I picked Coron as my destination; because I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it. Aside from that, my first experience in Palawan was for work (a shoot in El Nido); so I wanted to go back to that wonderful island but in a new area. And you know what? It was a great experience that I would not forget.

Flights and Accommodations
Before I get into the details of the amazing sights I saw, I will run you through the tickets I bought and the resort that I stayed in.

I only booked my tickets one month before my trip; so seat sales weren’t exactly in the horizon when I decided to take this vacation. Still, I did my due diligence and checked the cheapest fares from the usual suspects. I ended up flying with Philippine Airlines. They had a special offer when you book via their mobile site; and the total roundtrip fare was around Php6,500.

the plane i rode in on the Busuanga airport runway
the PAL plane i rode in on the Busuanga Airport runway

As for the accommodations, I honestly wanted to splurge. Given that I was traveling alone and was in charge of my own budget, I decided to pick a well-reviewed resort that had amazing views and a spa. It HAS to have a spa. I just set a budget cap for myself based on my current savings for travel. (Side note: Yes, I always set aside money strictly for travel. I highly recommend you do it as well.) I checked Agoda for options; and I picked Busuanga Bay Lodge. It was not as expensive as Two Seasons or Huma Island (Those resorts are insanely pricey especially for a solo traveler.); but I felt like it would still have a luxurious, exclusive feel. I just went with the pictures I saw and my gut feel. It’s still more expensive than the average hotel or resort in Coron; but I just went with it and have no regrets.

The resort itself is about an hour away from the airport. When I arrived, I was welcomed with the staff singing followed by a cool drink. I was then oriented about the facilities that the resort has to offer and the activities I could organize with the person in charge. I was also accompanied to my room and the guide showed me its features from the balcony lock to the television. It allowed me to familiarize myself with the place I’ll call home for the next couple of days.

Busuanga Bay Lodge is one of the few resorts situated in Sitio Lawi, Barangay Concepcion. It’s literally perched in the mountains and the roads are still being built to this day. Still, it adds a great deal of privacy and security. The views are also quite unique from Coron town proper, which is about an hour away. Their room packages usually include breakfast, airport transfers, use of resort facilities and non-motorized sports equipment (ex. kayak). They have two restaurants that serve an array of dishes and drinks. They also have a small spa where you could get a massage. It really has everything you could ever need to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. I really loved staying here.

Coron Galeri Tours
A decision I made in traveling solo was to be extra cautious. This was my first time; so I didn’t want to take any chances with my safety. I went on organized tours with round trip transfers from the resort already covered. I made sure I was always with a guide and I had a pre-planned itinerary for the day. I rarely wandered off by myself; and I only stayed in Coron town until the afternoon. After the tour, I was immediately whisked back to Busuanga Bay Lodge. Traveling solo was an adventure; but I’m not too adventurous that I would go around looking for places to go all by myself. I had to pre-plan and pre-arrange everything even before arriving in Busuanga.

As for the tours themselves, I had to join group tours to save money. Customizing a trip all on my own would be more costly. I booked these with Coron Galeri. They have a number of options for group tours and as long as you meet the minimum number of people, it would push through. They are very organized and the guides are knowledgeable. It was really fun for me; because being without companions allowed me to talk to other people also in the group. We took each other’s pictures and chatted along the way.

I had two full days for activities; so I picked Tour B-1 (Php650/pax) and Tour B-2 (Php750). This includes at least 5 stops and a delicious lunch.

B-1 B-2

I was thankful that the weather was generally favorable (save for a few moments in the morning when we were met with strong waves). I just spent the days relaxing, swimming and simply ogling at the beautiful sights of Coron. On more than one occasion, I just kept going “wow” at the natural beauty of it all.

Since I went on organized tours, I missed certain tourist spots such as the Tapyas Viewdeck, the hot springs, the ship wrecks, Malcapuya Island (among others) and the Calauit Safari Park. That is why I plan to go back to Coron in the future. Still, what I did get to see and experience are more than what I expected given the limited time I had on the island.

Tips on Traveling Solo
1) Have a budget but be prepared to spend more than usual.
Traveling alone means that accommodations, food and transportation cannot and will not be split with another person or with a group of people. You only rely on yourself and your own money to make it through the trip. Make sure you have a budget; but consider the fact that you will spend more than usual.
Still, the upside to this is that you control the expenses. You can pick the hotel that you will stay in. You can pick the tours you will join. You can scrimp on the food you eat. Your money is your sole responsibility; so you get to decide whether you’ll splurge or save on each activity and each expense. Very adult!
2) Join group tours and meet new people.
This is really the ideal set-up for solo travelers. Group tours mean that you will be able to share the full expenses of an organized tour with other people. This is also your opportunity to meet new people and practice your social skills. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to take a photo of you, or ask where they’re from to start a conversation. Everyone has a story to tell; and it’s always great to widen your horizons.
3) Enjoy yourself but be safe.
Depending on your comfort level, traveling alone is a great time to be adventurous and explore places on your own. If you’re like me, you want everything to be organized before you even step foot on your destination. Others are braver. They like not having any plans and going with the flow. Either way, your first priority has to be your safety. There’s always a level of danger in being alone in a strange place. Don’t always trust every person you meet; and don’t go for the first deal offered to you. Always be aware that being alone means you’re more vulnerable. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
4) Make the most of “me” time.
Trips with friends are great; but traveling solo has its perks… Number one of which is you control your schedule.
You don’t have to be dragged by friends to an activity. You don’t have to join another tour if you don’t feel like it. You can wake up at noon if that’s your plan… Read a book. Get a massage. Lounge by the pool the whole morning. Sleep! No one will resent you for it. Solo travel is “me” time to its fullest. Make the most of it.

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Project Runway Philippines Season 4: #veryveryfashion

Let’s start the show…

The project was awarded over a year ago; and yesterday, the pilot finally aired on ETC. From auditions to the runway shows, it was a long road for our team; but I’m so thankful to have experienced shooting Project Runway Philippines Season 4. It was a far cry from advertising and shooting commercials; yet it was still fun in its own way. Aside from the drama and challenges posed to the designers on cam, a different kind of drama also unfolded behind the scenes… Believe me. Still, we are way past that and everyone’s just really proud and happy with what we’ve put up.

In celebration of the premiere of Project Runway Philippines Season 4, I’m sharing some behind the scenes photos from the first few days of shooting (aka shooting the pilot). Be sure to check out the captions for some interesting info about the show.

Don’t miss the all new #sewlegit season of Project Runway Philippines. New episodes air every Sunday at 8pm on ETC, with primetime replays every Monday at 7PM and every Wednesday at 10PM. Other schedules: Mondays at 12nn, Tuesdays at 7am, Tuesdays at 2pm, Thursdays at 10am, Saturdays at 1pm. No excuse missing it! Make sure to use the hashtags #prponetc #sewlegit #veryveryfashion

Please watch and support the next big names in Philippine fashion.

the IT list #13: TV’s Freshman Class

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #13
The 2014-2015 TV Season is drawing to a close; and I’m happy to have discovered a bunch of new shows to obsess over. They are all fresh, brilliant and entertaining. Most, if not all, of them have finished their freshman year (1st season); and I could definitely vouch for their quality and potential for longevity. I suggest you get hooked and catch up as soon as you can. As a bonus, I’m adding a mini-series/documentary that made waves early this year. Read on…

#ONE
Better Call Saul is a spin-off/prequel of the groundbreaking AMC series Breaking Bad. But instead of living under the shadows of its predecessor, Better Call Saul stands on its own. Its only connection to the former show is the common characters and the setting. Other than that, it has its own stories to tell and gives great insight into the origins of the Saul Goodman (and even the Mike Ehrmantraut) we think we know.

#TWO
Marvel’s Daredevil is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is meant to be a first in a series of shows that will lead up to a Defenders crossover miniseries.

Honestly, I don’t particularly follow the TV shows from the MCU (Agents of Shield, Agent Carter are not in my radar.). I’m more of a DC follower when it comes to the small screen. However, if this is the jumping off point for the next series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, then sign me up. The season arc is well-developed and tight as a story. The show is also anchored in reality in that every episode shows just how vulnerable our hero is despite his abilities. The characters are complex. The action sequences are amazing. The build-up to our hero donning his suit is also not contrived. It’s definitely another feather in Netflix’s cap of awesomely-produced shows.

#THREE
Anything Rob Thomas does, I will most definitely watch. As an avid fan of Veronica Mars, I eagerly awaited his latest foray into television — iZombie. It definitely doesn’t disappoint.

It might be another zombie series, sure; but this one has elements of Veronica Mars. You have a strong female lead. The episodic mysteries are engaging, yet there’s an overarching story that spans the whole season. There are hooks at the end of each episode that keep you intrigued; and the characters are interesting and funny. The season hasn’t ended but with two episodes left, I’m positive it’s going to be good.

#FOUR
This is the absolute standout freshman series for me this season. It is loosely based on Venezualan telenovela Juana la Virgen, where our lead, Jane, accidentally gets artificially inseminated. Her world turns upside down when she discovers that she’s pregnant despite being a sworn virgin.

The premise seems crazy; but the show just goes with its telenovela roots yet still infuses a lot of heart into the story. This results in a really unique, quirky and funny show that will let you see past the craziness and just appreciate the characters and their relationships, which is still grounded in reality.

#FIVE
The Flash is a spin-off of Arrow, the other DC TV show that’s pretty good in my book. The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes; so it’s great to see him get his own TV series. As far as first seasons go, this show succeeds in creating its own fun little world within Central City, far and away from the dark and brooding seriousness of Star(ling) City. The characters are really likable; and the central villain (for the first season) posed a real threat to our hero throughout the season. I hope this show doesn’t lose its momentum and continues to impress leading into Legends of Tomorrow.

#BONUS
Documentary crime dramas are my guilty pleasure; and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst hits that sweet spot. It’s very real. It’s very controversial. It’s seriously intriguing… especially in the end. It’s only six episodes; so I highly recommend that you check it out. I guarantee you won’t be able to stop watching until the gripping conclusion.