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Nacpan Beach, El Nido
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The overnight storm from Typhoon Basyang caused us to rearrange our schedule while we were at Erlittop. The rains came down so hard during the night that the next morning the travel company was reporting mudslides and unsafe highways that led into the city of El Nido. We previously planned on doing the island hopping tours, but we were unfortunately forced to reschedule those to later in the week. Thankfully, there were still some roads that were drive-able. The travel company suggested visiting Nacpan Beach and Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. We had no other choice as those were our only available options. We hopped back on another terrifying van and we were ready for our beach excursion.

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Our first stop was Nagkalit-kalit Falls. We came to a stop on the side of the main road. A number of small shacks lined the highway and what looked like someone’s Lola (Grandma) greeted us. Our guide handed us walking sticks and said we had to follow him to get to the falls. I was expecting a short stroll past the shacks. Instead, what we got was a 45 minute hike through the actual jungle, all while in our flip flops and swim suits. We were prepared for relaxation on the beach but were surprised with an impromptu hike through shallow rivers and rough terrain. It was unexpected, at times it was tough, but it ended up being a wonderful journey. It felt like we were transported to Jurassic Park with the open fields and beautiful landscape. It was an experience like no other. The end of the path finally led us to a pair of waterfalls. There was a small waterfall that welcomed us. We were able to swim in the plunge basin. It was refreshing and cool as the heat of the day started coming down on us. To get to the second waterfall we had to climb up the side of a steep incline, overlooking the first waterfall, using a slippery rope. I was not going to risk bringing my DSLR or my iPhone, so I left those behind with one of our guides. This path was maybe a quarter of a mile up that led to the main falls. The Nagkalit-kalit Falls were absolutely gorgeous, a literal hidden gem, and an overall amazing adventure to get there. We took some time to be immersed in the falls and hang out and enjoy the water. Then we made our trek back to our van to head to Nacpan.

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It was a short drive west to reach our destination. There were some sketchy parts of the road due to the storm but we were able to make it. When we finally arrived to Nacpan Beach our jaws just dropped. The views of the beach were breathtaking. Bold blue water matched the blue skies. Lush greenery contrasted with the clean and clear sand. Massive islands outlined the sea in the distance. This was a sandy stretch of Heaven. It was the most picturesque postcard. There were a lot of people but there were long stretches of beach that were just untouched and peaceful. There was a large gazebo and a rock jetty that stuck out in the middle of the ocean extending pretty far out. We took the time to soak in both the beauty of the beach and warmth of the sun and just enjoy our time.

We were ready for some lunch and some drinks. There were a couple different options directly on the beach. We stopped by Sunmai Sunset, a more modern looking outdoor restaurant compared to the other establishments. This place was buzzing with a live reggae band and party atmosphere. The food took a little long as it looked like the kitchen was slammed. But the drinks were flowing quickly, Mango Margaritas, San Miguels, Pina Coladas, and of course, a whole coconut with a straw. Such an awesome find.

We didn’t even plan on coming here but I’m so glad we did. The rainstorm was a blessing in disguise, and led us to this beautiful beach with the most amazing views that I will never forget in my life.

Previous: Erlittop Garden, Sibaltan, El Nido

Erlittop Garden, Sibaltan, El Nido
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Our next stop on the island of Palawan called for us to head north to the town of El Nido. We booked a small B&B nestled on the northeastern coast of the island called Erlittop Garden. The most recommended way to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa was a van transfer (pretty harmless, right?). A 15 passegner van picked us up mid day in Puerto Princesa - we were the first ones to be picked up for the journey. The van didn’t take long to suddenly feel cramped and claustrophobic. We went from stop to stop and slowly the 15 passenger van began to fill up with other tourists, locals, and what looked like deliveries that needed to head north as well. With the van now full, we were ready for our six hour trek up north. Those next six hours were probably the most frightening six hours I’ve ever experienced. We were on a single lane highway with no speed limits and a driver who drove like he was in a Nascar race, except this race included dodging stray dogs, weaving around jeepneys, motorbikes, and at times gaping holes in the middle of the road. With each turn and each hill we went over, my grip on the handle and seat tightened more and more. It also didn’t help that the proximity of the road to the mountainside cliffs that led into the ocean was practically nonexistent. To make matters even more nerve racking, we drove through a tropical rainstorm as the entire island was feeling effects of Typhoon Basyang that was currently over the southeastern part of the Philippines at the time. It was absolutely terrifying but at the same time exhilarating. I don’t know how the driver could see in the downpour but he was just trekking along. I just had to close my eyes and pray. We had a few stops on the way to break up the anxiety of the trip, but by that time the ride was just more fun to see if we were actually going to make it to El Nido. Thankfully we did.

We dropped off passengers in the main tourist area of El Nido, which was on the western coast. We, on the other hand, had another hour east to travel to our accommodations at Erlittop Garden. It was a long treacherous trip but we finally arrived. It was pitch black dark when we arrived, and we had no idea where we were but we were just glad to be alive and out of that van. We followed a dimly lit, steep stair path that led us to their welcome/dining area, and we were quickly greeted with warm hospitality from all of the staff. They arranged welcome drinks and a delicious dinner as we waited for our room to be prepared. A calamansi shake and a Red Horse paired well with a fresh vegetable salad and a pork sisig. After dinner and some general information, they led us to our room down a path of perfectly arranged stepping stones. We gazed at the tall trees that lined the path, while walking by various tents and open air huts. We could barely see with the sparse lighting and our phone flashlights. We got to our room and it hit us - we were on the side of a mountain, in the middle of the jungle, sleeping in a mosquito net, next to a gigantic lizard who so thoughtfully greeted us. It all started to sink in as we stood in our room, enjoying the last bit of light as the electricity allotment for the B&B was coming to an end for the day. We were definitely out of our comfort zone.

Welp, as you probably could have guessed, no, that was not the best night of sleep I have ever gotten. We were hot. We were sweaty. There was zero breeze. And of course, there was our large reptile friend watching over us all night. It was definitely one of the longer nights I’ve experienced. We did finally catch a break in the wee hours of the morning when the storm from earlier came back around. The winds and rain picked up, giving us a bit of relief from the heat. All different types of sounds were coming through the bamboo windows and the mosquito net was the only thing keeping us safe. What. A. Night. What a day!

Morning came. We survived. Everything was calm and everything was beautiful. Suddenly everything was at peace. Erlittop was our beautiful home for the next two days. The grounds were gorgeous. The different huts were spread across the mountainside and surrounded by abundant greenery. There were hammocks and gazebos placed throughout. Stray dogs and chickens roamed around the property while travelers from all over the world did the same. The staff was welcoming and friendly as our favorites, Albert and Kasey, always made sure we were taken care of throughout our stay. The food was great and we were extremely thankful for the strong Wifi at the welcome center, as we planned our next activities for the coming days. The views were simply amazing overlooking the Sibaltan Bay. We were in a different world. I will have to admit, we were quite a bit unprepared for this rustic experience and yet, it was everything we were hoping it would be. Some of our best stories came from our time at Erlittop, and at the end of the day, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The Motherland

Have you ever seen that "Master of None" episode where Dev and Brian discuss their heritage and their parents upbringing? That episode is a perfect representation of how I've always felt growing up. I am Filipino, yet so much has been unknown to me about my own heritage, about being Filipino. Growing up I never took the time to learn about where my parents are from, it was never a real priority as a kid. I never knew how my parents grew up and their entire journey of how they got to the United States. Yeah I've heard bits and pieces and different stories about them and the Philippines as a whole, but I feel like I've always taken my parents for granted and what they've accomplished in their lives. I feel like as normal human beings living our own lives we all take our parents for granted in some sort of fashion. How well do we really know our parents? I know that my parents are from the Philippines, but to be blatantly honest, I really know nothing about the Philippines. I've always had our famous Filipino pride but what does that really mean??  For so long it has always been on my list to travel to my parents' homeland and in February of this year all the cards aligned. Timing, finances, work, just everything lined up and my girlfriend and I were blessed to make the journey all the way around the world to the Motherland of the Philippines. In the next few weeks I'll be posting our journey and trek all the way across the world. Follow along on the blog and subscribe!