Sunday, July 26, 2020

Baywatch at Camp Rofelio


The west coast of the Philippines. That's one of my favorite summer destinations. And the place to go is the coast of San Felipe, in the province of Zambales. A peaceful town in the North.

The waves, the blue-green waters and the greyish-powdery sand makes it a great getaway to rejuvenate and spend some pure thinking moment.

In May 2018, I've discovered a newly-built camping site on the coast of Liwliwa, town of San Felipe.

A serene ambiance, with several cottages and tents for an overnight stay. At first glance, I knew it that I would love the place and, and so I did.




Standing barefooted at the seaside gate of Camp Rofelio is a wonderful view of the horizon. The water is clear and the waves are relaxing. You can sit on the sand, meditate and capture the best view of the surrounding.

A great weekend retreat. A camping at the beach. A soulful moment to watch the sunset. A fresh grilled seafood for dinner and a bonfire night to remember.

A memorable and fun moment at Camp Rofelio.

It's not a crowded weekend destination. A solemn place where you can be at peace and one with nature. When you hear the waves inside the tent at night, you'll have the most relaxing and deep sleep ever.

But, hey! I'm supposed to be baywatching!


A Baywatch, not only to appreciate the area and the surrounding waters, but this place facing the West Philippine Sea has been a controversy from unwanted intruders.

The pirates of the sea had been inside our Philippine waters and caused tension and threat to the fishing livelihood of the locals.

That's supposed to be protected by the Philippine government. To defend our territorial waters. To protect what is ours, and our own people.

Questionable dredging foreign vessels were spotted in territorial waters of Zambales and truly a threat not only to our territorial rights, but also to the fishing rights of several fishermen  on our own territory.

We are standing as a baywatch. Someone who sees intruders from afar.


But our local fishermen are powerless and even the local and national government seem not powerful enough to defend the territory.

I love Zambales and I would love to come back for the next summer season, but the best Baywatch is to see happy people, and not stories of intrusion -- like thieves of the sea.

Camp Rofelio is a good place for baywatching, but be mindful and have a telescopic eye for the pirates of the sea.


We dream of having a great and safe tourist destinations, and so we have to be aware of issues affecting our rights and our dreams not to be taken away from us, which is likely to happen  if we are silent and doesn't care.

San Felipe; a place of kind and peaceful people. Protect your place, make it a heaven on earth experience. Make it a paradise. And together, we can protect and become a good Baywatch. A good Filipino.

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Highlands of Baguio



An American town in the Philippines. That's the Baguio city in the Cordilleran region. A hill station in the North.

The "Little America" also known as the City of Pines attracts tourists from all over the country and foreigners who would want to explore the rich culture and heritage of this highly urbanized city in the Cordillera region -- literally means a mountainous region.

But the tag of American town is not its present day description. That was just how it was called back then in the 1900s during American colonization in the Philippines.

Baguio is one of the coolest hill station in the Philippines and good thing that the Americans during their occupation of the country have developed this place to be their mountain resort to escape from the lowland heat, most especially during summer season. 


And why do Filipinos love Baguio City? No doubt, it's the cool climate almost all year round due to its higher elevation. When summer time comes, more people would pack up for an adventure. It's not just during summer season, but it has become a weekend getaway of people from the nearby provinces and all the way from Metro Manila -- the National capital region.

On the present day, Filipinos are in full control of the former US military base; the Camp John Hay, not after they have given back our independence in 1946, but it was just a not so distant past in the year 1991 -- almost 3 decades ago.

That's just a little piece of history, and yes the Igorots of the Cordilleras have a colorful and vibrant culture, which even Americans were not able to change or took away their identity.


I have lived and worked in Baguio City in the summer of 2015 and have witnessed its natural wonders, but this place is slowly losing its balance due to commercialization. It's a number one enemy for people who are into environmental protection and preservation.

Housing projects, malls, big infrastructure projects are just on the rise and it cost thousands of century old pine trees to be cut down to give way to these projects.

Baguio City is now crowded and you can see the hillside full of houses and even far away mountains almost full of houses. That was not what I've witnessed back in 2004 when the first time I visit Baguio.


Development on this mountain resort was so fast in just a decade time, and so developers are eager to exploit more and make the City miserable.

Yes, development would have made Baguio to be a highly livable Philippine city, but over development for the sake of business profit will slowly kill its natural charm and beauty.

One thing I admire most about Igorots (the local name for Cordilleran people) is their hospitality and friendliness. They are also kind and honest people. I hope that they will be able to preserve its rich culture and pass it on to the next generations. And yes, I hope that they will fight for their land and not to be taken away from them.


The Burnham Park, Wright Park, Bell House and Kennon Road and Brent School. These places of interests were named from the Americans who have made a great contribution on what Baguio city has become.

And so Americans showed us how to build a highly master-planned city on a mountain top. Originally, they have built it for not more than 30,000 people, but after more than a century the population has become 10 times larger at more than 300,000 people.

The highlands of Baguio is truly captivating to any tourist. It's history and culture is the soul of the place and of the local people. 

After the Pandemic, more people will again be stuck on a traffic jam on its zig zag road and all the way up just to feel its mountain breeze again and the warmth of the Igorot people.

Baguio City, in the Highlands of Benguet Province, Philippines is a cultural gem and a hub of the great people deserve of recognition and reverence.

Baguio City; home of the charming people.

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Breathtaking View of Taal Lake


The Philippines as a tropical country is hot and humid almost all year round.

And so it's even hotter on summer!

When people need to relax and unwind over the weekend, there's a place we can travel to escape from the lowland heat.

It's Tagaytay! Overlooking Taal lake.

A cool climate. That's one of the reasons why I love Tagaytay. A mountain resort about one-and-a half hour travel away from the Philippine capital -- Manila.

It's not just the climate, but also known for its scenic and breathtaking view of the Taal lake and one of the world's smallest active volcano.


In June 2018, I had a great weekend in Tagaytay. Just a brief moment to rejuvenate away from the noise and stress from the metro. That was my 3rd and last visit and is memorable ever.

But on this charming tourist destination is a sad story of the recent volcanic eruption in January, this year 2020. Its eruption is one of the most destructive, that caused struggle to the livelihood, health, safety and loss of lives in the town of Taal, province of Batangas, and also affected nearby provinces and had reach as far as Metro Manila.

Will I ever come back on this place?

Yes, I will for sure. This awesome place bordering the province of Batangas and Cavite will never lose its charm. The people remains resilient and will always strive to get back to normal lives after the natural disaster.

The destruction of the ecosystem is a threat not just to the livelihood of fishing and farming, but also a big loss in the tourism sector.


Now, during this time of Pandemic, the people in Taal and Tagaytay is again on a major threat of livelihood due to disruption of businesses due to lockdown. They have not fully recovered from the volcanic eruption in January when the lockdown due to pandemic was ordered in March 2020.

That's like a continuous disaster and suffering. I hope it will end.

Tourism is a big loser during this pandemic. It could hardly recover given the strict travel restrictions and protocols on health standards. 

And so when this pandemic ends, we have to help revive the tourism industry -- the major economic sector in the country.


Is it safe to visit?

I believe so, since it will take years for another volcanic eruption to happen, hopefully.

Tagaytay, overlooking Taal lake is close to my heart. It has memories to cherish for a lifetime. It will be a breathtaking place to visit for a lifetime.

© 2020 Del Cusay


Friday, July 10, 2020

Press Freedom in The Philippines



This is another attack on the Philippine press freedom. The Philippines is crippled and crushed again. The Filipino people is saddened and mourning.

Today is another history of killing the press freedom in the Philippines when the country's largest television network won't be given its 25 years congressional franchise.

This is not right and just. The Philippine Congressmen on legislative franchise committee didn't hear the network and the Filipino people in general. That's the truth. They killed it. They killed us. They killed the press freedom and  people's access to vital news and information on these very tough and rough times.

When the country is currently surviving on the pandemic, the government is losing its priorities. They turned around and face the wrong enemy. They have tuned the battleground against its own people.

We don't deserve this. We deserve accountability from our government for suppressing press freedom and even the freedom of speech of the Filipinos who are critical against autocratic leadership and abuse of power. 

We don't cry. We mourn! We suffer! We are not being heard and we are made to be silent and not to dissent. Why Can't We Speak?

To the world. To the Filipinos all over the world. This is our country now. This is the country we love that is slowly being killed. The democracy that we're fighting over the years and for centuries are now at risk to be back on its darkest Philippine history.

Stay strong. This is not over yet and together we'll regain our voice. We'll regain our true democracy. We'll regain the real freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. We deserve to regain what we have lost and what we are about to lose. We deserve a Good Governance Towards a Better Philippines. 

Be heard!

© 2020 Del Cusay



This post also published on iCritq

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Weekend Getaway in Boracay


I need a vitamin sea. That's how  millennials or young travelers would say whenever they need a break.

The sea is a medicine. Prescribed not by physicians, but none other than our very own friends, our colleagues or people closer and special to us.

When we are in a body of water, we feel calm and relaxed. And so, our mind becomes clear and our soul is renewed.

Our wellbeing is healed and rejuvenated.
And that's an ultimate goal to achieve.

The truth is, we want to escape reality once in a while. The reality of work-related stress.

We take a pause, pack our things and go for a travel and adventure.

Dream on and go on...


Back in April 2016, I had a great weekend getaway in a small Island on the west coast of Panay Island in the Philippines.

Boracay Island. One of the world's best.

It's a hotspot of the world's beach and Island lovers. A multi-cultural hub where the east meets the west.

That was my 5th time to visit Boracay in about 2 decades. And each time I visit, there were several transformation, not just with its ecosystem, but with the culture.

The Boracay culture I used to love.

Perhaps I have seen Boracay during its pristine days when it's less developed and had its Island vibe.


Last year when it underwent temporary closure, it became like a ghost Island. Not much tourist and businesses closed for about half a year.

If we humans deserve a break, a busy Island deserve a much needed break too.

When its ecosystem has been damage due to commercialization, it has to clean and heal itself before it could serve people again.

And so other popular Islands in the country and Southeast Asian region followed suit. They also rehabilitated their Island paradise. A great move with great sacrifice and love.

Taking a break from the crowd. The party. The noise. The pollution.

I love Boracay. It has a different vibe among Philippine Islands and beaches. And so, I am pro rehabilitation if needed. For it to breathe again and get rejuvenated -- just like us human beings.

That weekend getaway in Boracay in 2016; was still a magical day and night escapade.


The Nami Resort over the hills was exhilarating as you are transported from an old style elevator reaching the hilltop.

Nami resort got the best view of the Island and it was just awesome.


The food, the music, the ambiance. The experience was great ever.

Boracay was again closed just recently. This time due to pandemic. And so, when people are able to travel again without restrictions, Bocacay will again open its paradise for responsible business owners and kind travelers.

Boracay is for everyone. One day, I may be able to swim on its water again. Witness its captivating sunset. See the sandcastles and leave footprints in the sand.

© 2020 Del Cusay