Note: All videos and photos you will see here (except for the first two photos) are all taken from the ASUS Zenfone 3.
It was a busy Thursday evening when my friends from ASUS called up and invited us for getaway vacation. The only requirement is to bring my ASUS Zenfone 3. I’m so clueless as to where are we going until the eve of our flight, they revealed that Batanes is our destination. But there’s a catch, since two typhoons (namely Karen and Lawin) ravaged the the typhoon-proof province, Internet is down there but luckily, power has been recently restored.
The heads up left me cramming for work, Instead of sleeping, I went to Ninoy Aquino International Airpot Terminal 3 very at 1am to work. Before that, Team ASUS created a chat group on Facebook to coordinate the meet ups at the airport. I asked my fellow media/blogger whom which most of them I’ve never met before to meet me at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store at NAIA 3. Three lifestyle bloggers showed up there and chitchat with them for three hours. We had a quick breakfast at McDonald’s when our we met the rest of the group. We are all 42 by the way. Yey! Big group!
Our flight was at 6am and we reached Basco Airport about 7:30am. We are at awe and stunned by the sheer beauty of Batanes the moment we got off the plane. We had a quick breakfast at Batanes Seaside Lodge and Team ASUS gave us our room assignments. My roommate was Emmanuel Tortoza, a contributor for GadgetPilipinas.net. We just met the day before in an event and I barely know him.
Incredible Goes to Batanes Day 1
Overwhelmingly tired have not slept for 24 hours. I respectfully begged off the tour and series of activities for the day. When I was out sleeping, the group pushes on their Day 1 tour – Idjang Viewing Deck, Yayang Rolling Hills, Naidi Lighthouse, Japanese Hideout and Batanes Church.
I rejoined the group for dinner at Cafe De Tukon in Fundacion Pacita. Later that evening, George Su, Country Manager of ASUS Philippines had a talk about the success of ASUS this year plus parading the new ASUS Transformer 3 and Asus Zenbook 3 which will be available in stores this November. Professional photographer and blogger Aaron Palabyab thought us how to to take long exposure shots at night to see the beauty of the galaxy. Since all of the members of the groups are very tired, Team ASUS led by Anvey Factora, Francis Garcia and Alvin Estacio decided to move the ASUS Quiz Night to day 3, November 27. We all returned to the hotel at 9pm.
Incredible Goes to Batanes Day 2
We woke very early at 5am. We were told that our next tour will be crossing from Batan Island were capital Basco resides to the southern island of Sabtang. On our way there, I found out the groupings for the activities and challenges. I belong to Team Estacio Knows – Lea Cruz of Unbox.ph, Chris Hidalgo of Gadgets Magazine, food and travel blogger Melo Villareal of OutOfTownBlog, Arcee Miranda, a lifetyle and parenting blogger and our leader Alvin Estacio, Technical PR of ASUS Philippines.
There are group challenges like the ASUS Max Challenge. Each team will be given an ASUS Zenfone 3 Max unit to use throughout the trip. The team should find a hidden QR code on each Batanes destination. Once found the QR code should be scanned at a clue will be revealed to solve a puzzle mystery.
The Laser Challenge is another group activity in which each team should film 10-second videos per day while fulfilling the Max Challenge. The group will edit this video for an Instagram post that will be posted on the IG page of eacg members of the team.
Due to my numerous health concerns, I was not able to participate on the group activity. Our friends at ASUS Philippines are aware of my situation and they do not require me to join. There are individual challenges like a photo essay challenge and galaxy shot challenge which i happily participated.
Moving on, we travelled from Basco to Mahatao port which is around 20 minutes away. We were aboard a large motor boat and travelled 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach Sabtang Island. We immediately travelled to Morong Beach which is 15 minutes away. Morong Beach is so beautiful and I took a gaze upon the Ahao Natural Stone Arch. I stayed there for about 15 minutes but the scorching heat of the sun compelled me to return to our vehicle and stayed there for an hour. The group pushes on with the activities.
The big grpup moved from Morong Beach to a small town of Savidug to take photos and to find another QR code for the challenge. Again I was not able to participate due to my low tolerance to heat. I took refuge to a small eatery which is surprisingly cool and breezy since it resides at the seaside. I was advised that the group will stay there for lunch so I decided to stay there until lunch was served. While waiting I was able to take photos and video of the beauty of the Savidug seaside.
After lunch, we returned to Sabtang and 1 hour and 10 minute boat ride to Mahatao port and back to our hotel to rest. The group got back around 3pm We had a call time of 6pm to go to Cafe De Tukon in Fundacion Pacita for dinner. After that we headed to the lighthouse in Basco to take our Galaxy shots. Me and my newfound friends ended up star gazing while playing music. It was my most memorable Batanes experience. Its been a long time since I star gazed. We stayed there for about an hour and a half.
Many members of the group where talking and organizing a drinking/bonding session between team ASUS and bloggers. After dinner a large grouo of media went to the Batanes Seaside Lodge Annex verdanda to meet with team ASUS for a drink and happy bonding. I did join only for a while since I don’t drink alcohol.
Incredible Goes to Batanes Day 3
We had a very respectable call time of 6am to prepare for breakfast at Batanes Seaside Lodge main which is at 7am. At 7:30am the group went to a multi-purpose hall to distribute relief goods to Ivatan residents who are affected by typhoons Karen and Lawin. Here, check out the photos and videos
After that, the group presses on to the south of the island at a small town of Mahatao to buy some souvenirs and pasalubong and then we headed to Racuh a Payaman or known to tourists as Marlboro Country. The view was indeed breathtaking that left me speechless and in tears. I sat on the grass for about a 20 minutes to do my thing – my moment alone thing. It was interrupted due to the harmful heat of the sun that makes retreat to our van. I stayed there for about 45 minutes while the rest are doing the group activity. We stayed in the area for lunch as well.
After this, we head on to a small town of Ivana where we went to the famous Honesty Coffee Shop. The rules are plain and simple, get the things that you want or need and pay upon exit. There are no “bantay” or any personel to watch over you and assist. There are no CCTVs as well. The owners of the establishment are banking merely on trust that their guests will pay for whatever they took. I bought some cookies and souvenirs which amounted to P500.
We headed back to the hotel to freshen up and rest. Our call time for dinner is at 6pm. We had a quick dinner at Cafe De Tukan in Fundacion Pacita before heading at Sidewalk Grill and Bar for our ASUS Quiz Night, our last activity for this trip.
Our last stop is the Sidewalk Grill and Bar for our Quiz Night. Our members of the group namely Lea Cruz, Melo Villareal, Chris Hidalgo, Arcee Miranda and myself converge for a chance to win. Most questions revolve around Zenfone and Zenbook products plus bonus questions not related to ASUS. Luckily, out of 6 teams, our team – Team Estacio Knows came in second place. 🙂
Incredible Goes to Batanes Day 4
We left early at Batanes Seaside Lodge for Basco Airport at 6:30pm. Our flight is at 8:50am and we are expected to arrive in Manila by 9:50am. Then a shocking news brought our sleepy consciousness back to life. The airport personnel said that our PAL plane will have to offload our luggage and half of the 80 passengers of this flight due to strong winds. The plane from PAL is a Bombardier Dash 8 Q-series aircraft with a dual turbo propeller engine. It is an old but working aircraft and it is hard to fly during typhoons and strong winds.
Shocked, confused and agitated, the group of media and team ASUS called their bosses and loved ones in Manila to tell the situation. Then the group deliberated who should decide to stay or join the flight. Philippine Airlines will shoulder the hotel accommodation and food for the offloaded passengers. After hours of talking and deliberating, more than 25 of the our group including Team ASUS decided to stay. A handful of our group (about 12) including myself flew back to Manila around 11:50am and arrived at NAIA 3 at 1:15pm.
Those offloaded passengers went back to Manila the following day still their luggage left behind. Due to the inconvenience brought to us, Philippine Airlines gave us a compensation of P2,000 for offloaded luggage and delayed flight. Nice service PAL!
What was the effect of this trip to myself?
I have been working more than 18 hours a day being a blogger and for a day job. Going through a break nor travel was the least of my priorities. In this trip, I found a place of Zen in which I was able to rethink of my priorities in life. Before this trip I found out about my deteriorating condition of my heart and kidneys due to complications of my diabetes plus added stress and lack of rest. Because of work, I became anti social and missed out so many things in life. My trip to Batanes won me new friends from fellow bloggers of other interests. It was a really a fun group and truly an unforgettable experience.
I would like to personally thank Anvey Factora and Alvin Estacio of ASUS Philippines for their invitation despite the fact that they know I cannot participate on some of the activities and challenges due to health concerns. I would also like to thank Francis Garcia and Anne Plaza of Team ASUS and Niel Nugas of ID8 for their encouragement and concern throughout the trip. I would also thank my newfound friends – Kathy Kenny Ngo, Jennifer Aspacio, Leah Cruz, Chester Labajo, Emmanuel Tortoza, Chris Hidalgo, Jaja Ramirez, Arcee Miranda, Melo Villareal, Reggie Ramos, Jerome Ancheta, Melai Balitaan and Peter Jan Icogo for the laughter and the fun stories we had.
Most of all thank you to my trusty ASUS Zenfone 3, this trip wont be documented properly if not of the phone’s very good camera, long lasting battery life and solid build quality. This trip made me love my ASUS Zenfone 3 more. It is indeed an experience I will never forget.