(Otherwise known as, Part II of my Banaue — Buscalan — Baguio adventure.)
When I first decided that
This would be the year—before I leave for Masters—that
I was going to get that tattoo from
Apo Whang Od,
The friend I was originally supposed to make the trip with
Found the Facebook page of
A travel agency, of a sort,
Owned and started by two Filipinos, Romer and JaVee,
That organizes weekly tours to various places
Around the Philippines.
What I appreciated from my first experience with them are:
That it was affordable—
A PhP 3,000 fee, with a downpayment of PhP 1,000,
Inclusive of the transportation, accommodations, two (2) meals, and a complementary bag tag.
That their driver, Kuya* Atoy,
Clearly knew where he was going, and has
Made the trip several times before—which is
An advantage, considering the winding and slightly precarious mountain roads.
(*Note: “Kuya” is a Filipino term meaning “older brother”, but it is also used as a term of respect for any older—but not too old—male.)
That our guide, Kuya Romer,
Prepared our itinerary and a list of things to bring (i.e., he suggested bringing
Candies for the local kids and matches for the elders, as a sign of respect and thanks for letting us stay in their village),
Knew the area (e.g., he chose cheap but good restaurants for us to eat at, and he helped to
Lead us to the village),
Was familiar with the people (e.g., we
Stayed at the house of a native of the village, and
You actually need to have a native guide before being allowed to enter the village),
Took care of us (e.g., prepared our meals),
Made sure we socialised to an extent (e.g., he knew all our names, and he spoke with each of us), and
Did his best to ensure we all got the experience (i.e., the tattoo) we came for,
However, there are a few points I feel
They can improve on, though:
While Kuya Atoy was good, he was also rather
Reckless (i.e., he would zoom past blind curves on the road,
Barely missing any incoming cars); this, and
The fact that we were 12 people in one van (i.e.,
No room to stretch your feet)
Made sleeping during the trip very difficult—
A problem when the ride is ~8 hours, and you don’t expect
To get much sleep on the trip, otherwise.
Also, though I am still reflecting on the true issue behind this (a future entry on this may follow), Kuya Atoy
Liked to honk his horn at “pretty women / girls” and wave to them from inside the car (i.e., similar to
Further, with regards to the organization of the trip, it might have been
Better if we were informed about
The itinerary and list of things to bring
Earlier. As it were, we were only given the itinerary two days before, and
The list of things to bring (i.e., the candies and the matches) a few hours prior to leaving.
This is a problem if we need to buy said materials and don’t really have the time to do so before the trip.
Also, while I understand that this is
Not the only trip handled by Kuya Romer, I still found it
Slightly irresponsible of him to have left us
A few cities back (before Baguio) to proceed straight to his next destination.
While Kuya Atoy was more than capable of taking us to Baguio then Manila (we’re not kids, after all), but
As the organizer and Tour Leader, I felt it would have been more
Proper for him to have made us the priority until the very end of the trip.
Overall though, I
Cannot find much fault with GalaPH, and in fact,
Not only would I recommend them to others looking for a short trip around the country,
Given the chance, I would definitely
Join them again in the future.
- For Part I of this trip, on the actual itinerary and the experience of getting tattooed by The Grand Master, Apo Whang Od, you may read the entry here.
- Part III of this trip
will follow, on my packing mistake, is ready for your viewing here.
- Part IV talks about feminism and modesty, based on my experiences on this trip. You may read it here.
- Part V, the final part, is all about traveling solo. Check it out here.