Dakit-dakit Island, Cebu

The Great Summer Escape Part 3

It was Day 3 in Malapascua and I was psyched thinking about what I had planned for the day. I was determined to scuba dive and see the wonders below these waters myself. for the Discover Scuba Diving course, we took a small boat out to Dakit-dakit Island which is just about 10 minutes away from Bounty Beach, Malapascua.

My travel buddy succumbed to the agony of her sunburnt skin and decided to hole up in the hotel room which meant I had to do the course solo. It wasn’t so bad though since my instructor assigned his apprentice to be my dive buddy. This is my second time diving–the first, probably not more than 10 years ago. So you can imagine how excited I was to be underwater again. Photos and Videos taken by my instructor. My only regret was that I did not have the camera gear suited for underwater use so I could have documented the beauty 15 meters below, much better.

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Kalanggaman Island, Palompon Leyte

 The Great Summer Escape Part 2

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On our second day on Malapascua, we hired a boat to take us to an island 2 hours away. Kalanggaman is more than an islet than an island–a sitio that belongs to Pamlompon, Leyte.

ImageWhen our boat slowed to halt by the edge of the shores, we had no words but only cries of awe. Kalanggaman is truly a sanctuary with seemingly-endless sandbars flanking each end. The beach is a long stretch of pristine, powdery white sand lapped up by gorgeous waters in gradients of blue.

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 We paid about Php1500/pax for the trip back and forth inclusive of lunch and assistance by the boatman. Entrance Fee to the island is at Php150.00 for locals and Php500.00 for foreigners. Overnight camping can be done with tents since there are no establishments on the island. You should feel at ease staying on this island with Palompon’s government ensuring safety with a Police force stationed on the island 24/7.

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I spent the day snorkeling and baking in the sun taking in the beautiful view and relaxing breeze. We didn’t want to spend the night in Kalanggaman with our accommodations back in Malapascua but we stayed almost until 4 in the afternoon. It’s not advisable to to sail back from the island past 3 or 4 pm as the seas could get very rough plus you’d want to have enough time to be off the waters before nightfall.


The Great Summer Escape Pt. 1: Malapascua Island


April 14 – 16, 2012

It was Malapascua or bust for this summer together with my friend Bart who was flying in from Manila.  We came up with a beach-bound itinerary with an intent to also see another gem of an island about 2 hours from Malapascua which I’ve been reading about, for weeks now (Kalanggaman Island–please see next post).

Malapascua is a pretty popular summer destination so I thought it wise to pre-book our accommodations online through agoda.com for 2 nights at Hippocampus Resort (scientific name for the seahorse). I didn’t want to take a chance and not have a place to stay while we were there.

 

The island has an “almost-Boracay” feel to it, minus the over-commercialization. It’s beachfront establishments are mostly owned and run by foreigners and do serve good food for a price. What my friend  and I liked most was of course, Happy Hour–which starts at 4:00pm.

 

Because Malapascua is still considerably a small island, regardless of it’s popularity with tourists especially in the summer, the island still holds the romance of an island get-away. The tourists generally stay out of each other’s way. I easily forgot about my worries, lounging my thoughts away on a bean bag by the beach over Happy Hour.
 

How To Get There

The island is part of the Municipality of Daan Bantayan in the province of Cebu. Getting there from Cebu City requires a reasonable amount of perseverance and patience since the trip entails a 4-5 hour-bus ride. Here’s the 411 on getting there.

1. The starting point of your trip should be Cebu City’s North Bus Terminal. There are 2 modes of transport to get you to Maya:

a. Ceres Bus bound for “Bogo-Maya” – Bus fare is about Php163.00/pax for a non-airconditioned trip as of press time.

b. V-hires for Php200.00/pax – We took a V-hire for Php200.00/pax thinking the ride would be more comfortable only to be proven wrong as the heat sweltered  inside since the van’s AC was not strong enough for the summer heat. So if you decide to ride the V-hire, choose a newer looking unit and be sure of the AC to get our fares’ worth.

2. Once you get to the Maya, the northernmost Baranggay on the island of Cebu, you’ll see a jetty where you can get a boat ride to Malapascua Island. From Maya the boat ride is about 30 minutes to 45 mins (depending on the waves) for Php.80.00/pax. Be warned however, the boat trips to Malapascua are not regular and depend on whether there would be enough passengers to and from the island. Special trips to get you across would cost about Php1,500.

TRAVELER TIPS

1. There is generally no electricity on the island, so if you will be staying @ budget hotels, make sure to bring insect repellents. There are however, hotels that do have their own generators.

2. Stock up on drinking water in your room.

3. Learn to haggle with the boat rides. Esp. with the trips to and from the mainland. The trips don’t have a regular schedule as it is dependent on the the number of passengers.

4. If crossing islands, choose bigger/sturdier boats, the waves get bigger in the afternoons.

5. Make sure to pack up an ample supply of sun screen–and to pack LIGHT. You wouldn’t want your Backpack straps to be digging in to your sunburnt shoulders when it’s time to travel back home.

6. Don’t be afraid to explore the island. There are so many exciting things you can do: Cliff diving, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving. island-hopping, etc…

7. If you do go for online hotel reservations, you might want to pick the ones with breakfast included. We enjoyed our inclusive breakfast at Hippocampus (although they seem to take a longer time to serve locals over foreigners, or maybe we were just uber famished…)

8. Lastly, relax. Enjoy your vacation!

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Pandanon Island: An April Fools’ Adventure

I was assigned to a new team at work and with our fabulous group dynamics, we thought we’d go hopping around the island on our very first Team Outing.

We assembled at Boyla Hotel in Maribago and set off to our first stop in Hilutungan Island for some snorkelling and then soaked up some sun at Pandanon Island stopping by the waters around Caohagan Islet (which was thwarted by a jellyfish exodus) by afternoon before heading back to the mainland. This won’t be my first time in Pandanon, but I’ll never be one to pass up an opportunity to visit again.

Pandanon Island, which is already within the bounds of Bohol, is just about 45 minutes from the dock at the Boyla Dive Center by boat. Entrance fee to the island as of this post is Php150.00/pax, exclusive of the cost of the island-hopping package which was about Php5,000 for a 20-person boat. The beach huts are also an additional Php250.00 for the day. I haven’t heard of overnight stays on this island as yet and they are probably not encouraged as there is no electricity on this little sanctuary.

There are designated grilling stations on Pandanon which is why we decided to have lunch there. Depending on your arrangements with the boatmen, you can have them wait on you until you’re ready to hop on to the next island of your choice.

 

The day went by beautifully with our slightly-browned skins–blissful to have had our sun and sand fix this summer.

If you would like to contact Boyla Dive Center for their affordable island-hopping rates, you may call +63 32 492 1823. I had initially made arrangement with another “banca-cruise” specialist but found their rates much too steep, leading me to look further into the island-hopping circuit.


The Postcard-Perfect Series: Iloilo


Food in Iloilo City

Food in Iloilo City is literally just everywhere. Especially with the Dinagyang Weekend approaching, the streets started to get filled with foodstalls and Food festivals were being held simultaneously in different designated areas (SM City Parking Lot and the area near the Capitol).

I’ve heard a lot of talk about how food is in abundance in Iloilo and how inexpensive it is. With my 4-day itinerary, I made sure to document my food experience in the city, trying my very best to recover after every bout of  “food coma” so I could live to tell about it. So here goes. Let the pictures whet your appetites 🙂

STREETFOOD

For the more adventurous palates (and tummies), Iloilo’s streets during the Dinagyang week would feel like a streetfood bazaar.

Ramboy’s Liempo

Here they serve liempo like no other. My friends Bo and Russel shared with me a secret on how to tell a good liempo from the rest on the skewers: they have to have that “bubbly skin” appearance. I don’t know if there’s any science to it at all but it certainly worked for us at the time and got us a tasty piece of good old liempo yumminess.

Deco’s La Paz Batchoy

Ever wondered why they called it “La Paz Batchoy”?

Yep. You guessed it.

The origins of the great “La Paz Batchoy” are rooted in La Paz, Iloilo.

At Deco’s you can enjoy an extra serving of caldo (soup) and chicharon (pork rinds) toppings at no extra cost and pair it off with a couple of their “pre-war” pandesal. Adjacent to the restaurant is where you can also make your Souvenirs and Pasalubong stop. You can choose from biscochos, butterscotch, Guimaras Mango Jam and many other Ilonggo treats.

 JJ’s Cafe

Located close to Mary Mart, this joint offers an extensive array of caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks. We came by here more than a couple of times to take a breather from the madding tourist crowd.

Roberto’s

My friend Russel took me downtown amidst the thickening mob that was taking over the city for the festival. But he certainly had good reason to drag me to Roberto’s to try the King Siopao and Lomi which was supposed to be merienda  but ended up feeling like a full meal.

Allan’s Original Talabahan

I never thought baked talaba could be better especially in a place where there never seems to be a shortage of this shellfish. Allan’s sets itself apart with it’s melt-in-your-mouth baked talaba specialty.

Rooftop Brewery @ Smallville

An interesting pub with an interesting crowd–and an even more interesting collection of beers from around the world being served to a scene of laid-back patrons enjoying the late 80’s and early 90’s music spun by their in-house DJ.

Blue Jay Coffee

Before the global brand of gourmet coffee, Starbucks, swept the city off it’s feet, there was Blue Jay.

Dulcinea

Simply sinful. Cream Puffs and Churros just blew my calorie-counting into oblivion. Enough said.

Patpat’s Kansihan

I was curious with what Kansi  really was. It came to us as an uninteresting-looking piece of big beef bone with soup (commonly referred to as Pochero in most parts of the country) in a bowl served with a fork, a knife, and a little stick to poke into the bones to get the yummiest, artery-clogging piece of bone marrow. Please, do eat this at your own risk.

Following this 4-day food spree, I just felt like I had to run miles to take the pounds off.

Oh well.

‘Til the next Dinagyang!


Iloilo City: Dinagyang Festival 2012


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rmed with our media passes and lenses, two of my friends and I hit the streets of Iloilo City as early as 8:00 AM. The city was alive and the locals took to the streets with a sense of excitement which fast became a contagion. We proceeded to Stage 4 at the Iloilo City Sports Complex and claimed our spots favorable to a good view of the tribes’ performances.

This was my first Dinagyang experience and as soon as the drumbeats summoned the entrance of the Tribe Paghidaet which was first to perform, I felt my eyes  get misty in awe of the spectacle and the overwhelming exodus of colors.

There were 13 tribes all in all and the dancing wrapped up in just a little above 3 hours. All the performances yielded applause though none had more of it than the Dinagyang 2012 Festival Winner, Tribu Pan-ay, which unanimously got standing ovations from all 4 stages and left the audience stunned with their jaw-dropping performance inspired by the Philippine Eagle. I was lucky to have been able to capture their performance on video:


Happy New Year!

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I know, I know. I’m 3 days late with my greeting. Still. I thought I’d send wishes along your way while testing out a fabulous app I found called DecoSama and trying the WordPress app too. Looks like this vacacionista’s got her tools picked out for another great blog run this 2012. Awesome!


Exploring East Borneo: Day 4

On the itinerary for my last day in Sabah, were some stops at the Borneo Museum and the Puh Toh Tze Temple. But I decided to make the day flexible instead and then get ready to leave for the airport by sundown.

The night before, I had thought of going to one of the famous islands to check out the beach scene but I decided against it thinking that I might get pressed for time.

I guess my feet had their own agenda for the day.

KK Esplanade

I went walking around the city and took pictures of KK Esplanade. Next thing I knew, I was approached by one of the ferryboat dispatchers telling me he could get me to Manukan Island for RM30.00 back and forth. I gave in to my impulse and got aboard the speedboat. For once, I’m glad to have given in.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park:

Manukan Island

From the ferry point by the KK Esplanade, it only took about 10-15 minutes for me to get to Pulau Manukan which is one of the islands that comprise the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Entrance to the Park cost me only RM10.00.

I had the speedboat all to myself, for just RM30.00 to the island and back.

The boardwalk and the dock at Manukan Island.

Taking in the beach scene...

Mastering the art of self-timer photography

The State Mosque: Masjid Negeri

On the way to the airport for my flight back home, I made sure to drop by and see the beautiful State Mosque.

The State Mosque can accommodate up to 50,000 worshippers and has beautiful gold inlays.


Merry Christmas!

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Presents! 🙂 For the young 'uns (my godchildren) and the young-at-heart

 Happy Holidays to all the followers of The Chronic Vacacionista from myself and my family to you and yours. Raise your glasses to good health, more blessings, more trips, and all the happiness we will find with the coming year.

Cheers!