Bantayan Island, another Fun Place to Watch For!

2 12 2012
Sunday, 13 October 2012
Northwest of Cebu Island,
Visayas region, Philippines

If you want to have a more of nature and less of crowded people, go to Bantayan island for another year-round fun!1-Bantayan look

Find out why the island is true to its name (“bantayan” which means  “to watch closely” in Filipino). Here are the reasons why:

1. The island has something to offer for snorkeling. From Bantayan island, you need to hire a boat to go to the snorkeling areas2-Bantayan sandbar

2. If you really love the sea, you could go island hopping and see for yourself your Bantayan adventure! Bantayan is the main island amongst the Bantayan Island Group which comprise of more than 16 smaller ones

5-Lazy day 

 3. For a lazy afternoon, you could just bum around, enjoy the fresh air,   savour the seabreeze.

4-You could also do some touring.  Hire a van from your hotel and check out the adventure park and resort for a short caving and little sunbathing beside a pool (if you miss a little bit the city life!).  Then go 4-Bantayan treelineto the Sts Peter and Paul Parish church built during the 1580s. Then after a holy hour go to the interesting wet market where you could see different sea species abound. Bantayan is Cebu’s fishing ground and famous for its guinamos (salted fish) and buwad (dried fish). These goods go to the main island – Cebu, to Mindanao and Manila. So before they leave Bantayan and have more padded cost due to the freight charges, why don’t you do your marketing here and enjoy buying for less!3-Bantayan sundown

HOW TO GO THERE: From Manila, take the early flight bound to Cebu so that you could catch the ferry bound to Bantayan island before night time. Travel time: less than 1.5 hours. Then from Cebu Mactan airport, you could either hire a van or ride the bus that will drive you to  Hagnaya port. Bus terminal is located at the North Bus terminal from SM mall. Travel time: about 3 hrs from the airport to the port. Major areas to your point of destination: Liloan, Campostela, Danao city, Carmen, Catmon, Tabogon, Bogo city. Then from the port, take the ferry boat that goes to Bantayan island. There are organized ferry service companies to choose from. Travel time: 1.5 hrs.

WHERE TO STAY: There are quite a number of resorts and even areas for backpackers. But before you land the island, make sure you have already did some booking to avoid annoying sales agent from the port.

BUDGET: About 200 USD (8k php) for a group of 4 people inclusive transportation, hotel, food and even shopping for dried fish! There are very few banks on the island so please ensure that you have already loaded before you go to the island. It is better to enough that would get you a decent place to stay and food to eat than regret. You could use the limited ATM facilities for shopping.

LANGUAGE SPOKEN ON THE ISLAND: They have a fusion of Visayan language (Cebuano, Illonggo, Waray-Waray, Masbatenyo and Boholano). If you are not familiar with any of these you could either converse with the local in Filipino or English. h


RIO IS ART: A Weekend Get Away

21 09 2012
Monday 17 September 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

If you want to feel how it is in Rio for a weekend, try this itinerary (beach, events, sightseeing, hiking):

Friday, Day 1

Arrive late night Guarulhos International Airport

Saturday, Day 2 Copacobana, Ipanema, Harley Davidson Motorcycle event, Corcovado

Early Morning – go to Copacaba and Ipanema for photo opportunities and natural appreciation of beauty. Copacobana is Rio’s major site. Ipanema on the other hand surfaced famous bossa nova songs, my fave.

Mid-morning – I was lucky to see the second Rio Harley Davison Motorcycle event where I saw several models and heard in volume the powerful head turning sound of this big bike!

Afternoon – Catch the tram that would take you to Corcovado, the statue of Christ the Redeemer. This is the largest, most famous Art Deco and considered sanctuary in the country. Christ is soaring high at 30 meters with 8 meter pedestal on Tijuca National Park (710 meters above sea level). Once here, enjoy the panoramic natural beauty of Rio’s sea and mountains. The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lies just fronting Corcovado.

Sunday, Day 3 Bodyboarding World Championship event, Urban Hiking on Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf)

Early Morning – Another good thing happened during this trip was my destiny to see and witness the Mundial Bodyboarding/Bodyboarding World Championship event At Copacobana’s Posto 5

Afternoon – Urban Hiking on Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) and catch the sight of Botafogo and Guanabara Bay. Related link >>

Monday, Day 4

Depart early, Guarulhos International Airport

HOW TO GO TO CORCOVADO: This will depend where you will come from. Say Copacabana, go to Bus station 2 and take bus#583. Going back to Copacabana should be bus#584. Otherwise, get the local Rio Guide book for more information.

HOW TO KNOW THE LOCAL EVENTS: From the international airport, go to the information desk. Ask for the guide book and look for what you could find. Also get a map, to know how to get to the event you have chosen!

As I have said, RIO IS ART! Atè a proxima! h

Snorkelling on Maricaban Island in Batangas

19 04 2012
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Batangas, Philippines

Batangas is one of the provinces in the country known for its beaches, mountains, diving and snorkelling areas. Amongst its many jewels, Maricaban island is the nearest and less crowded place where you could go to. Although no historic shipwreck underneath, Maricaban is a must see for a year-round snorkelling  and beachineering (bum at the beachline).


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Fronting Tatay’s Resort, underwater you will see some corals and other marine life (multicoloured fish, sponges, elkhorn, brain coral, and crustaceans inhabit the area).


Above water, you get to enjoy the dramatic sundown while the fisherman passes by.

But what I love most is the fact that our friend Pugon owns the resort!

SAMPLE ITINERARY (2 days, 1 night):
07:30 – ETD Manila
10:30 – ETA Batangas Pier/wharf. Buy packed lunch and do some marketing for Dinner, Breakfast and Lunch the following day!
11:00 – ETA Anilao
12:00 – ETD Anilao Pier/wharf, mainland Have LUNCH while cruising the sea
NOTE: limited boats, so do not miss this public transportation
13:00 – ETA Maricaban island, take 5 min hike to Tatay’s Resort
13:30 – ETA Tatay’s Resort. Prepare Merienda,  And arrange for a rented banca for the following day to take you back to the mainland.
14:30- Quality time for snorkelling, swimming, siesta, book reading while enjoying the breeze
17:00- Prepare Dinner
19:00- Have DINNER
20:00- Socials/Fellowship
23:00- Pitch tent or bivouac, lights out!
07:00- Wake up call
07:30 – Prepare Breakfast
08:30- Have BREAKFAST
09:30- Quality time for snorkelling, swimming, siesta, book reading while enjoying the breeze. Break camp
11:00 – Prepare Lunch
12:00- Have LUNCH
14:00- ETD Maricaban via the rented banca
15:00 – ETA Anilao Pier/wharf, back to Manila
18:00 – ETA Manila

BUDGET: <2,000php / <40 USD per pax for a group of 5. Transportation arrangement from Manila to Batangas on board a bus or own vehicle. Parking at Anilao Pier/wharf is pretty safe anyway. Other expenses: boat ride coming to and from Anilao pier/wharf, food including drinking water, very affordable resort to base

HOW TO GET THERE: Public transportation coming from Edsa or even LRT Taft Avenue are available. Or else, via own vehicle passing through South Superhighway then Star Tollway link-road. You may follow the directional signs along the way to Anilao Pier/wharf.

WHO TO CONTACT: Just drop a line. On a regular diving season. Tatay’s Resort is for daytime home base only. However, you could directly arrange for a camping or bivouac sleeping adventure! h

My Dinagyang Fever

20 02 2012
Dinagyang Festival, 20 21 22
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Iloilo City, Philippines

I have had this fever for years. Finally, I had the last opportunity to do it. I did it with O.

I thought once I have the final schedule, everything will just be smooth. I started booking the flights since last month and I tried checking out the hotels only to find out they were full! After all, Dinagyang festivities will surely draw crowd since it is a cultural and religious celebration in honor of Sto. Nino. “Viva Sto Nino!”

One day before the flight, I still was not able to find the hotel. Upon landing the IloIlo airport, I went to the tourism desk. And voila! 3 flyers were there, waiting to take a chance with me. After several sms and calls, JC (Jesus Christ) heard my prayers. We got a Friday night hotel booking!

Our hotel was very near the festival’s venue, Freedom Grandstand. And the port for our Saturday side trip was just 2 blocks away! I told myself, I will deal with the Saturday night hotel booking tomorrow.

(Swimming-Hiking-Touring SHT: one whole day side trip to Guimaras, then half day Dinagyang/city tour the following day.)
DAY 1 (Guimaras island tour)
0900 ETD Iloilo to Guimaras.
O and I started walking to the ferry terminal and headed to Jordan, Guimaras! We reached the destination after less than 20 minutes of cruising the Iloilo Strait, a narrow channel between Iloilo and Guimaras. It was a very welcoming and safe arrival. The local tourism on the island greeted us. We registered and they gave a 5-minute briefing on what are the interesting spots on the island. They told us their registration process whereby you will also have an idea how much the cost of the “contracted” vehicle per the 5 areas – Buenavista, San Lorenzo, Jordan, Sibunag and Nueva Valencia. More better than this, the locals were very hospitable! Although they speak different dialect (Hiligaynon/Ilonggo), they tried conversing with us in Filipino. (The country has a minimum 120 dialects all over the 1,707 islands around the archipelago.)
We hired a tricycle for us to maximize our day within the island. Tricycle is a local 3-wheeled motorcycle with an attached passenger sidecar.
1000 Start of island tour. White beach of Poblacion
We first targeted the “white beach” at the southern west part among the places to go to on the island. And ended up ordering early lunch at Raymen Beach resort. While having our seafood, we sat on the beach and frolic under the sun. We were awed by the beauty of white soft sand Guimaras castle made by some foreign and local tourists.
1330 Guisi Point Lighthouse, Dolores
After a refreshing underwater fun, we took some snaps of the historical Guisi Point, built during the Spanish era (1896)
1430 Sad-sad Falls
We did some 30 minute hiking (descending and ascending) to Sadsad falls so that O could see how it looks like in its actual form. This was the side trip of the side trip ’cause it was not really part of the deal! It will be a shame if I will not show a falls to this city person after she asked, “How does a waterfall look like for real?”
Melvin our driver took the challenge. We turned right at km 611, started trekking under a scourging sun and left our bags on the trail so that we will not miss our way back. Then after few minutes, we started hearing the sound of water. We were near the falls! We were able to walk on the rocks on top of the falls and peer over the edge. We saw the beauty of Sad-sad falls!
1530 Trappist Monastery – Our Lady of the Philippines in San Miguel
We did some meditation in the artistically crafted church and bought some “pasalubong” such as processed mango, ube, handmade bags etc from the Gift Shop
1630 Guimaras Adventure Park in Alaguisocs
We checked out the park, saw the zip line, the rappel and other facilities.
1700 ETD Guimaras back to Iloilo
We were already considering to stay on the island since we saw more spots for snaps
but the hotels were full as well. We then decided to take the pumpboat back to Iloilo.
As soon as we reached the main island, I started the hotel booking marathon. I almost reached the finish line but when I found out that the hotel charges on an hourly basis, I started doubting! I told myself, “This is not the hotel suited for a 12-year old Manila girl!”
Finally, we found a new hotel in Molo. When O heard that there was no aircon in the room, she told me with a smile that this will be an exciting experience for her. I uttered, “simple things give surprises!”
DAY 2 (Dinagyang Ati-atihan Parade/Contest and some historical city tour)
0900 Iloilo Dinagyang 2012
While heading back to the Freedom Grandstand area, O told me that she was surprised that the ceiling fan could be as cold as the aircon! Then we braced ourselves as we wandered through the crowd like a needle dropping incessantly. We saw the Ati-Ati street dancing where locals returned back in time pretending to be the Ati natives with bodies covered with soots and ashes. (Ati natives were the indigenous on the island before the Malay arrival in the 10th century). The crowds were chanting “Viva El Senor Santo Nino!”
After few snaps, I was already melting in the sun. We left the crowd and tried some local food.
1400 Historical tour to Plaza Libertad and Fort San Pedro
We took the “sicad”, the local pedicab and did 2 out of dozen historical landmarks within the city.  One, at Plaza Libertad, the spot where the First Philippine Republic flag was raised in triumph after Spain surrendered Iloilo to the revolutionaries in 1898. Then off we went to the second landmark, Fort San Pedro built in 1600s by the Spaniards. This was the place attacked by Dutch, British, American and Japanese troops.
1500 Recharge in the hotel then go to the airport.

I am sure I will no longer have Dinagyang fever. But would rather go back to Iloilo for more local food galore like at Roberto’s then explore more Guimaras island one day..h

12 Hopeful Adventures to Rough out in the Philippines

30 12 2011
Friday, 25 November 2011
Guam, USA

1. BIRD WATCHING and see the famous Calayan Rail – found only in 2004 on Calayan island up north the country and make sure you have x number of days to spare so you could go to the forest and have a glimpse. Otherwise, you will ask yourself to choose – the bird or the boat to the main island? Ah! tough one!

2. HUMPBACK WHALE encounter – Camiguin island, Babuyan group of islands. They like to swim around the areas before sundown. While killing time, you could go to the literally “hotspot” area for a stone massage in Magas-Asok

3. CULTURE-WATCHING the religious way – after travelling on rough sea aboard falua boat, hear mass wee hours in the morning in Itbayat. Make sure you are in the right hour since mass service for male is different with the female! Might as well donate some books to the locals while you wait for your turn.

4. SURFING in Aurora province – whether you like it or not, local law enforcement may stop newbees any time in Sabang due to the high tide of the Pacific Ocean. The alternative for you then is to get a BIG HUG from Baler’s 600-year old Banyan tree standing tall at 50 meters in height. Baler is the town proper. But if you are not like me and you are the so-called “highly skilled” individual, Charlie’s Point is your target!

5. If you are still in a SURFING mode, try BARAS in Catanduanes – or else hike up to Mt. Lantad for the cool coastline view along the ridge

6. For some MILITARY adventure, swing by Camp  Abubakar  in Maguindanao and learn the peace efforts done back in 2000. Mind you, no bunkbeds for you here! You could either stay in Lake Sebu for a relaxing meal after a hostile experience!

7. BEACHINEERING in Jolo – this term is actually a concoction of swimming and bumming then leaving the island after max 4 hours! The exciting part here is taking photos of the prestine waters of Jolo and the colourful Muslim stilt houses.

8. PHOTO OP on Pink island, Zamboanga when the sun is up! You will see why it is called PINK. The island’s cemetery is a point of interest since the tomb tells a lot of stories. As a courtesy of course, you do not take photos without asking the locals within the area. Before going onto the island, register at the Tourism office to book your “bodyguard”. Oh by the way, get real. You are still not WHITNEY HOUSTON!

9. LANZONES craving in Isabela, Zamboanga. Yes, the best in the country! This may sound subjective, but how would you know if you will not go there? While munching, you could enjoy watching the rubber treeline in the area. Awesome! Make sure you have the tricycle driver to tour you around and listen to the locals and or men in uniform for instructions up to what point you could only bum around.

10. SNORKELLING with the 3ft long TURTLES on Apo Island – then enjoy the breeze while you lounge in your veranda hotel. If you still have some adrenalin rush, scramble to the the stone structures in front of the hotel

11. NEMO hunting on Caramoan group of islands – stare in one of them and for sure you will end up stuck in a current of whirlpool. Mesmerize yourself and end up staying in one of the islands with no electricity. This is already a clue for you to always bring a flash light with you.

12. RIDE a 6×6 to the foot of Mt Parker – General Santos City. Make sure you bring some school supplies for kids and medicine for the locals. Kids here walk x number of km just to get education. Hook up with the local mountaineering group for better logistics so you could also experience Mt Matutum as well so you could have 2 peaks in 2 days!

NOTE:This is ONLY for adventurers who  could backpack lots of fun, open mind, courage and prayers! If you qualify, make sure you have left back home a copy of the signed insurance policies for you will surely experience the most inconvenient fun adventure of your life! h

Awesome Boracay!

13 11 2010
Sunday, 24 October 2010
Boracay Island, Philippines

I was not really excited going to Boracay this time. I have seen quite a number of places in the country that I find better than the island for environment preservation is very imminent. But I suddenly found myself frolicking under the sun.

It is good to see tourism activities that impact the natural beauty of the island are now under control. One would see anti-smoking signages. Sewerage systems are now managed. A lot of improvements!

Boracay once again is awesome! Ahh…beautiful sand, beach and people..  I would love to go back once again and stay not only for a weekend but at least a week on the island and in the same hotel Discovery Shores. Come along with me and find out about Boracay!

Boracay is located in the Visayas region, one of the three main islands of the country.
via air > from Manila to Caticlan or via Kalibo 50 min flying time. Kalibo has another land trip to Caticlan (90 min). Boat from the mainland to the island is another 30 min.
via sea > this is the “budget” way and travel time will take about 12 hrs via Roll on Roll off (RO-RO), a government run fleet. From Caticlan, there is an additional travel time of 90 min. This is good for first timers in the Visayan region to have a glimpse of various points of interests on your way to the island. One could also bring their own vehicle so you could drive your way to Caticlan. The road will take you to the destination, nice and easy.
summer time > to enjoy the sun and water activities, go there from March up to mid May when the tides and transportation choices are still travel friendly. During bad weather, there is a big chance that the traveller will stay a day or two on the island.
Of course, beach clothes! But don’t forget to bring something to warm you cause it gets cool during the night.
This will be from 150USD and more depending on the number of days, season, taste of hotel or activities you intend to do on the island. Activities may be: ATV joy ride around the island, bat observatory, butterfly garden tour, hike to the highest point on the island, wall climbing, beach volleyball, frisbee, island hopping, fishing, snorkelling, diving, banana boat ride, reef walking, parasailing, skimboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing and some good nightlife h

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