Presenting, my first LL (leadiiinglady) Travels post! Enjoy 💜
Last January 28, I went on a day trip to San Felipe, Zambales with my best friend, Liz & my boyfriend, Boo.
Before that, Boo told me that he saw something on Facebook about going to Zambales for tree planting & meeting the tribes. It was from a page called MAD Travel PH – Tribes, Treks & Islands. I checked it out and saw that they had different kinds of packages. Some included an overnight stay in Circle Hostel, others included island hopping. But because of our busy schedules,we decided to go with the day trip package.
For this post, I will be telling you all about our trip to Zambales: our time with the Aetas and the adventures in between. Note: all pictures were taken and edited by me (except for the ones I’m in of course, they were taken by Boo) Ty btw to Liz and Boo for being the best models and greatest company ❤
We all met up and left Manila at 3am. It takes you around 4 hours to get there and we needed to be at the Circle Hostel, Zambales by 7:15 and so we decided to leave at that time.
Luckily it wasn’t that traffic and so we got there at exactly 7am.
I wasn’t able to take a picture inside so the sign will have to do. Circle Hostel pretty much looks like a giant hut. It is very quaint and the wood’s been painted with many different colors. I wasn’t able to explore the second floor and so I’ll tell you guys a bit about the first floor. The first floor is divided into two parts: the eating area and the sleeping & shower area. In the eating area, there are wooden tables and chairs to sit on. The sleeping quarters on the other hand are filled with hammocks to sleep on that they just fold up during the day time. It was pretty interesting. I haven’t seen anything like that before and so for sure, I’ll come back to experience an overnight stay here.
To get to the grounds where the trek started, we had to take a jeep and a car. I chose to ride the jeep. I love riding jeepneys for some reason! Swear. It was a pretty long ride, around 20-30 minutes before we got to the area where we would start the trek.
At first, it was mostly mud we were trekking on, surrounded by tall grass.
And then it became sand, a wide stretch of endless sand.
From the get go, I could already tell that this was going to be a difficult but BEAUTIFUL trek. Yeah, the sand was pretty deep and it was hard to keep walking (esp with barely any hours of sleep) but the scenery captivated me and made every hard step worth it.
Say hello to our four-legged friend (and Manong- who doesn’t seem amused 😞 hahaha)
Throughout the trek we walked through sand, mud, and- water.
Note: If you decide to go on this trek, use either sandals, slippers or trekking shoes! Don’t use your nice rubber shoes because there is now way you can get through this trek without getting them super duper dirty.
After about an hour and a half of trekking, we all decided to take a dip. The water was so cold! It felt AMAZING. It was also crystal clear and so I really appreciated that (random fact about me: I don’t like dipping my feet when I can’t see what I’m stepping on hahaha)
Afterwards, we started on our trek again. BUT this time we got to ride on the carabao thingy which Lizelle really enjoyed, as you can see.
After 45 minutes, we finally got to our destination: the Aeta village.
*****Note: I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures of the Aeta village because I chose to be interactive instead of behind the lens the whole time. I did take a few pictures though especially of the kids- they really enjoyed smiling for the camera.*****
When we got to the village, the people were very welcoming. They smiled at us as we passed by and the children were hiding behind the older ones wondering who we were but smiling nonetheless. (I think they were shy at the start but they eventually warmed up to us)
They served us ube chips and lemongrass tea for snacks. I don’t really eat ube but I decided to eat the chips out of courtesy and hey I actually really liked them! Also, they made it out of their local ube and so that’s pretty cool!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture of our lunch but for lunch they fed us fish, adobo, tinola and rice. I tried everything and they were all delicious. While we were eating, they kept asking me if I was okay, if the food was good and if I wanted more. They were very very very accommodating.
After lunch, we got to explore the village and the few activities they had. Some of us tried Archery with bows and arrows they made themselves while the others (including me) went to the classroom to interact with the children and read them books. We noticed that they would pick a random book and just skim through the pages. They didn’t understand the words. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at my Tagalog and so Boo decided to translate some books for them and the children enjoyed this very much.
The children were very happy and friendly and they loved smiling for the camera! Click away for a better look!
After the activities, the chief toured us around the village showing us different planting grounds, trees and huts. It was great because we got to learn a lot about their livelihood. Afterwards, they told us that they prepared a short program for us. First, one of the elders danced their “courtship dance”, she even pulled a few boys from the group to dance with her. Later on, the children performed a dance that mimics the actions of different animals. We were all having fun because everyone was so funny and game. There was a point during one of the dances when Boo and I both got pulled in and at first I was SUPER SHY cause I don’t dance but then someone went “You’re doing it!” and I was like OMG??? And then there. I got confident hahaha. For the last dance, they made it a bit of a “competition”. They would give flower crowns to those who danced the best. I got one so that must mean something right??? I really had a great time 🙂
The next part of our adventure was tree planting! It’s the goal of the village as well as the people behind it (with Circle Hostel and Mad Travel PH) to save the rainforests in the Philippines. With the help of the indigenous tribes, they are working to plant as many trees as possible to benefit the land as well as the people who live in these areas. For this activity, we each brought with us two little trees to the tree planting grounds around 30 minutes away from the village.
This was on our way to the tree planting grounds.
I have such beautiful friends 🙂 hahaha
At the tree planting grounds.
We were all assigned to do different things. Some of us worked on uprooting the bigger trees from the nursery and transferring them outside, others worked on fixing the canopy on top of the nursery while some even worked on cleaning and maintaining the nursery.
(Here is Boo trying to figure out how to cut some branches off a tree since we needed extra wood for the little trees’ support.)
Here are our last few pictures from the trip!
Afterwards, it was finally time to head home. As we were saying goodbye, the children smiled & waved and I couldn’t help but feel really happy that I got to spend the day with them. It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this. (I’ve never met an indigenous tribe before) But for sure this experience will not be my last.
On our way back, we got to ride the carabao cart thingy again and for a while, I actually fell asleep. It was actually super comfortable!
After we got back to the town, we ended our adventure with a sunset by the beach.
All in all, this day was nothing short of wonderful. Never in a million years did I think I was going to be doing this. But now I’m thinking, why didn’t I do this sooner?
I’m just really glad I have someone who likes taking me on adventures to new places. (Hi Boo!)
If you guys are interested, go check out MAD Travel PH: Tribes, Treks & Islands. You won’t regret it!
Til the next one xx
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