Tag Archives: Cebu

Swimming with Sea Turtles!

February 12 – 14, 2013

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Travelling to Apo Island from Cebu is grueling, but it is definitely worth it!

Here’s the 411 on getting there from Cebu City:

1. Take a V-hire from Citilink Terminal in N. Bacalso Avenue to go to Liloan Ferry Terminal in Santander for not more than Php250 and the trip will take about 3 to 4 hours.

2. From the Liloan Port, you’ll be taking the ferry boat to Dumaguete which will set you back about Php65.

3. Once in Dumaguete, if you’re travelling with a large group, you can negotiate for an easy ride (public mode of transportation) to take you to Malatapay, where you will be taking the boats to Apo Island. Malatapay is about 45 minutes from Dumaguete City.

4.  When you get to Malatapay, you need to go through the market and then you’ll see the LGU Station that mans the Boat Rentals towards Apo Island.

5. Welcome to Apo Island!

Swimming with the slow, deliberate and graceful Pawikans of Apo Island

Swimming with the slow, deliberate and graceful Pawikans of Apo Island

The rates as of February 2013, are below:

Boat rental rated going to Apo Island

Boat rental rates going to Apo Island

You’ll probably want to aks what other miscellaneous expenses this trip would entail, so I thought I’d give you a break down of what to expect:

1. Apo Island is a protected area, therefore, frolicking in it’s waters will cost you a minimal environmental fee around the figures of Php100.

2. If you don’t have your own underwater camera, there is one you can loan for a fee of Php1300 for the entire day. For that amount, we had to provide our own memory card though.

3. Life vests, snorkeling gear, beach hut rental and flippers are for rent as well, going for Php200 each item.

4. If you’d like to have a guide to spot the sea turtles for you, that would cost another Php300. In our case, the pawikanwere abound and we didn’t really feel the need to hire a guide since we could spot the turtles ourselves even in shallow waters.

5. If you didn’t pack any lunch, you can ask some of the locals to cook up some lunch for you. What’s available varies though, and cooking fee per person was priced at Php75/pax. Good thing our group packed some lunch with us.

6. You may find it a good idea to spare some budget for souvenirs as well. 🙂

Save the Sea Turtles

Save the Sea Turtles

It was a breath-taking and rare experience, especially with the sea turtles’ steady decline in numbers through the years. If you want to know more about sea turtles and why we should save them, check out an editorial for a local newspaper written by my brother: Why save the sea turtles? (newsinfo.inquirer.net).

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An Extreme Eco Adventure!

January 28, 2012

An out-of-the-ordinary experience, Danasan Eco Adventure Park, in Danao Municipality of Cebu, promises an all-natural high with a host of  activities that will get your blood pumping and test your will. Set in the mountains, the park’s serene and seemingly gentle landscape can be quite misleading. But then again, you’ve got to remember that it’s the action you’re coming here for. 🙂

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 Please be forewarned, if you do decide to come here, that this is not for the faint-hearted. It’s also best to  pack the following for a day trip:

1. Extra dry clothes

2. Waterproof/shockproof camera OR a waterproof pack for your cellphones/cameras

3. Good footwear: flimsy beach flipflops will not be a good idea especially if the weather is wet and damp since the ground will be very slippery and muddy.

4. Pain Relievers to take at the end of the day: a full experience of the park’s awesomeness comes with a guarantee of muscle aches, bruises here and there, body pains and a good share of mud on your hair and clothes, so it’s best to be ready!

5. Lots of energy.

Here are some of the activities I tried:

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Tyrolean: push your limits and enjoy the rush!

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This authentic John Deere tractor will ferry you  from the entrance/restaurant to your adventure destinations such as the waterfalls, the caves or the water park. This ride only looks gentle–wait until you try going through DEEP tire tracks in the mud and have the tractor throw you around the compartment like a ragdoll.

No waterfall-jumps this time, so I decided to rappel down the waterfall instead.

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I don’t think the ATV ride would have been as much fun as it was, if it had been sunny and dry that day. The dirt and the mud had to be the key elements!

This park is the first of it’s kind in Cebu and I’m sure it has extreme-adventure enthusiasts excited. The park adventure was a great way to get together with a new team and it made breaking the ice a little less awkward and a little more fun and spontaneous. There’s a lot for everybody to do: wake-boarding, horse-riding, trekking, spelunking (beginner’s and advanced level) and as a matter of fact, you could stay overnight in their accommodations.

For more information, you can drop by their website (link is above) and check out other activities they have going on.


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.


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.


Into the Fold of the Strange

Red wine and Rhymes

Venturing out of my comfort zone one dreary Sunday night, I took up a friend’s invite to join one of The Really Bad Poets’ poetry-reading sessions.

I was warmly welcomed into the fold of “strange-people” like I’ve found my own kind,  my Tribe.

I’ve never had my poems read out loud before, but with my friend Chai’s encouragement and the rest of the strange-folk’s warmth, I felt comfortable enough to read a couple of my PMS-induced, drama queen-ish, verses, I (sometimes, unwillingly) consider as poetry. It was quite fitting that the theme for the night was “Other Worlds” too, which my 2 poems could loosely relate to.

The background music for this one was Paul Anka's "Put Your Head on my Shoulder". Contrary to what the song might suggest, this Cebuano piece, styled as a mock-radio program poked fun at politics.

The session was laid-back and filled with beautiful verses in English and some in Cebuano. There were a number of humorous pieces while some verses romanced pathos. Some took poetry-reading to a higher level with jazz drum beats, tandem recital and free-style delivery. It was simply inspiring.

A perfectly executed tandem recital by Chai and Alex. I just had to ask if they rehearsed beforehand. They didn't.

I’m happy to have stepped out of my walls for a night and I have a feeling this won’t be the last they’ll see (or hear) of me. Thank you, Chai Fonacier and The Really Bad Poets. Until next time! 🙂


While My Guitar Gently Weeps: A Tribute to Manny

Cebu's musicians gathered to play and sing their hearts out for Manny

Two weeks ago we were grimly reminded of our all-too-real mortality with the passing of IT activist and musician Manny Amador, Cebu Designer Sal Malto and UK’s resident bad-girl/singer, Amy Winehouse. Even the heavens seemed to join us in mourning with the unceasing downpour the past couple of weeks.

I did not know Sal Malto personally nor Amy Winehouse for that matter. But that’s not to say I don’t feel for their loved ones’ loss. Prayers, with utmost sincerity, go out to their families.

Manny Amador, however, was a friend. Inevitably so, it was this connection that amplified the grief after knowing that he had moved on to a better place.

We didn’t hang out often enough to be close, but as I’ve said on his Wall after finding out about his passing, when we did hang out, it was never forgettable.

So Tuesday this week found me at the second level of Maya Taqueria and Tequila Lounge (Crossroads, Banilad) with 2 of Manny’s friends. We joined in the gathering of kindred souls saying their last goodbyes with the wails of their guitars. This was the 2nd tribute night for Manny, the first having been the night before at Outpost Restobar, Manny’s favorite haunt.

With the music cranked up, it dawned on me that in the midst of being reminded of how real Death is, the reverberating message is that,  the ones who are left behind, become the living reminders of how your life has touched another. This will tell you enough about how well your life was lived.

Manny you were larger than Life.  I’ll never forget our conversations about music, guitars and Juan dela Cruz while you’d drink almost 2 litres of soda in one sitting. 🙂

You will no doubt, be missed.


Barili: Chasing Pavements & Waterfalls

Another action-packed Saturday has been conquered with a  1.5  – 2 hour drive to the Municipality of Barili together with friends from work. Coincidentally, we were joined by Max, our trainer from Manila and since it was his first time to venture out of the city, I thought it a great idea for him to experience some of what Cebu has to offer. Our convoy of 2 vehicles drove out to the South of Cebu right after our shifts so we could make it to our first stop in Car-car just time for lunch.

Car-car Public Market 

Car-car has always been known for their flavorful lechon (roasted pork) and as soon as you stepped into the Lechon section of the public market, you’d be delighted to see them in all their mouth-watering goodness. The market also sells puso (“hanging-rice”, rice encased in coconut leaves that have been woven together into a diamond shape), plus a variety of local dishes.

Fresh, crispy Carcar lechon

Max at one of the Lechon Stalls

The market offers more than just lechon

Raf with the puso

Local food: "inun-unan", etc...

After buying some food for lunch, we made a quick stop at one of the chicharon (pork rind) stalls so we could all get pasalubong to take home. We hit the road soon after but had to stop for photo ops and “vehicular bloopers” when we passed by a refreshing, wooded section of the Guadalupe road.

Roadside Comic Relief

My fellow Weekend Warriors

Causing a ruckus in an attempt at being a mechanic. lol.

Jimmy also pointed out bibingka stalls by the road near the Mantalongon Public Market. Apparently the place is known for this delicacy so we decided to get some for dessert too.

Excellent Bibingkas

Molave Milk Station

We finally got to the Milk Station that I have read so much about and I wasn’t disappointed. In its simplicity, I thought it would be a very welcome addition to the list of possible chill-out places in Cebu on a weekend. The cow’s milk and home-made ice cream was an excellent treat too.

Fresh Cows Milk for the Dairy fans

Chillin' at the Station

Milk Station also has food on their menu at reasonable prices. If not a destination, this spot would make a refreshing pit stop on a drive to the South.

Mantayupan Falls

It’s surprising how underrated Barili’s main tourist attraction is. It’s even more surprising that the highest waterfalls in the province of Cebu is only 61 km away from Cebu City and that I only came to see it now.

Mantayupan Falls boasts of 2 tiers. As you enter the gates and walk towards the sound of water falling, you will be greeted by 3 cascades from the 2nd tier which measure about 14 meters in height.

A sight to behold

Standing tall at a stately height of 98 meters


We climbed up the stairway leading to the 1st tier and was awed by a magnificent, 98 meter-tall waterfall. I had wanted to wade in its cool, pastel-green waters but since we had a sunset to catch, I ditched the idea and made a note to self about coming back.

Sayaw Beach

On the way to Sayaw Beach after a couple of hilarious events (we drove into somebody’s residence thinking it was the museum referred to by the banner near it–it was a huge colonial-style house), we stopped by a historic spot in Palalong:

Perhaps a monument could be erected instead to better mark this historical spot

A couple of minutes after getting back on the road, we got to our last stop for the day: Sayaw Beach. For a Saturday, the beach wasn’t crowded at all and we took our time in just relaxing and gazed at the still waters as we waited for the sunset.

The waters were very still, you could barely hear the gentle crashing of the waves

When the sky’s colors signaled sundown, much to our enjoyment, this last stop unwittingly transformed into a  photoshoot.

The Dynamic Duo: Raven and I @ SunDown, having conquered Barili.

          

*photos courtesy of Mr. Russel Capatoy (www.russelcapatoy.com) and Mr. Max Coquia
**Thanks to www.dailydropcap.com for the drops

Earth Hour and Beyond

 

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‘m sad I wasn’t able to make it for the Earth Hour celebrations last night. I had to be at work. I had wanted to suggest that we turn off all the building lights for an hour in observance of the global event but I didn’t think our management would appreciate that very much. Clients might pounce  on them for Productivity and Lost Hours. Sigh. Capitalism.

In any case, the message of Earth Hour is really not just about those annual, 60 measly minutes of you turning off all appliances and unplugging your gadgets while the globe switches off the lights, time zone after time zone–it’s more than that: we ought to realize that this event is meant to be a reminder for us to go beyond the hour.

There are 365 days in a calendar year.

There are 24 hours in a day.

In one year there are 8,760 hours.

So last night, as some of you willingly missed an episode of your favorite soap and turned off your idiot-boxes for an hour in honor of sweet old Mother Earth, I am hoping that you realized that it was just 1.14 % of your time in a year. Did you think about the rest of the 8,759 hours of your year? If you did, then, there may be hope for us yet. If you didn’t, then maybe you should think about it now.

So, why not turn off the radio as you go to the other room? Switch off the porch lights when you pick the paper up in morning. Opt for open windows over the AC on cold summer nights. Unplug the fridge before going on a short vacation.

Let’s unite to unplug every chance we get. Go beyond the Hour.

 

 

 

*Thanks to Jessica Hische of http://www.dailydropcap.com/ for the lovely Drops.