Have Eagle Creek bag, will travel

Have bag, will travel
By Walter Ang
May 9, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

This summer, exploring the country is one of the options for travel. And if you really think about it, traveling within the Philippines is easy. Buses in Manila travel to any point in Luzon, and there are ferries and planes to take you anywhere else you'd like to visit. So all you really need is a sturdy bag to put some clothes and personal items in and you're good to go.

To kick off this summer's adventures, Eagle Creek travel bags took a group of media members to Caramoan in Camarines Sur to check out the sights, to road test their bags, and to introduce their Global Citizenship campaign.

The campaign wants all travelers to be more aware and mindful of the impact of their actions to the environment, both natural and social. Responsible traveling is the only way to go these days. You can't just go into a new place with its own culture and start throwing around your weight, your trash, your germs, your rules. Being respectful and keeping an open mind and seeing how you can help the locals while you have fun is the battlecry.

The Bicol region is accessible from Manila by bus. Take the buses bound for Naga City that leave Manila at night so you can sleep on the way. You'll arrive in Naga just in time for breakfast. You'll have to drive to Sabang port for a boat ride to Caramoan.

We checked out the hottest spot in Caramoan right now: Gota, a small cove with narrow beaches that have the same talcum-powder sand that Boracay is known for. Gota is gaining a reputation with European travelers since the France, Turkey, Israel, Bulgaria and Serbia editions of the reality-show Survivor were shot there.

There's buzz that the American edition might shoot there soon. Aside from small islands with beaches, the area has rocky terrain, caves, limestone hills, coral-rich dive spots, a subterranean river, lush forests and mangrove areas.

We did a bit of island hopping and also went to Hunungan Cove, just off Gota Beach, where waters are calm year-round because it's sheltered by a small island. A fifteen-minute boat ride from Gota is Matukad Island, full of white puka shells, corals and pinkish sand.

These different environments allow visitors to do a host of activities from as mundane as fishing or sunbathing for hours on the beach to more outdoorsy stuff like hiking, camping, rock climbing and mountaineering. I took the sunbathing and lazing about route while all my companions scampered here and there, running and throwing frisbees, and swimming from islet to islet. Phew!

But I did join them in hunting for the old sets (the voting area) of the Survivor show. With a bit of looking (and if no new shoots are scheduled; they close off the area when Survivor has shoots there), you'll spot it in one of the beaches the area.

These varied terrains and conditions were also actually the perfect testing ground for the Eagle Creek bags. They have a wide line of different bags and luggage, but I tried out the Twist 22, a backpack whose straps can be folded in to transform itself into a wheeled-handcarry with a retractable handle. (There is another line that transforms into duffel bags.) Since its size meets most airline standards for carry-ons, you can imagine hopping off a plane and getting down and dirty right away.

In backpack mode, it has an internal frame that's curved to fit the body's contours and the bag's mesh-and-foam construction allows for air ventilation. The shoulder straps are ergonomically contoured and an adjustable padded hip belt protects your back from the bag's wheels and transfers weight evenly.

The buckles, zippers, webbing and fabric choice of each Eagle Creek bag is selected based on rigorous lab and field-testing. In the Twist 22's wheeled mode, the oversized off-road rubber wheels prevent it from falling over itself. Rubberized runners protect the bag's outside edges and backside, perfect for someone like me who is prone to dropping all my travel gear in a fit when I get tired and cranky (or when I'm falling all over myself from clumsiness).

There seems like the bag has a gazillion pockets on the front and side, which is a great way to help you categorize and organize your items. You'll never run out of places to shove your stuff into if you're in a hurry. Toiletries can go in one pocket, food in another, water bottle in the other one, and so forth. If you like to stuff your bag to the brim, it has compression straps inside to help keep items in place.

For the more organized traveler, all Eagle Creek bags are compatible with the Pack-It organizer bags. Little mesh bags that keep your clothes neatly in place while minimizing wrinkles (if you roll them up first).

Call 303-1234 and 567-0611 or email philippines@primergrp.com.

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