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





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):
DAY 1
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!
DAY 2
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





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





12 Monthly Reasons why we should all enjoy Philippines

24 11 2011
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Guam, USA

1. HIKING to Pulag in JANUARY – via Ambangeg trail, hike up the highest mountain in Luzon at 2,922 asl. Enjoy the breeze and see the most beautiful sunrise

2. Balloon ourselves up for the HOT AIR BALLOON in FEBRUARY – every year, Clark has the most extravagant celebration of hot air balloon and aviation sports event

3. Join or arrange your own OUTREACH programs in MARCH – go any where in the country to help indigent families

4. SWIMMING with the Butandings in APRIL – go south of Luzon to the Bicol region and enjoy swimming with the quite gentle yet humongous whale sharks of about 15 ft

5. SUNDUNE in MAY – make sure it is the early rush for you to go up north the Ilocos region and enjoy a 4×4 short circuit. If you miss the first two weeks of the month, rainy season will already be a hindrance to your fun!

6. SNORKELLING to the Cross Marker and Sunken Cemetery in JUNE – challenge yourself while you “fight with the tide” as you reach the marker of Camiguin island. The current is so strong that you will end up riding a boat on your way back to the main island.

7. ZIP LINING in  JULY – go to the longest zip line of Bukidnon and enjoy the view of Mindanao while you are wearing a harness

8. WHITE WATER RAFTING in AUGUST – get the splash of your life in Davao during the Kadayawan festivities. It may be a prelude to your Mt Apo (the highest in the country at 2954 asl) adventure.

9. SEPTEMBER REEF WALKING in Boracay  – go to the Visayas region and look like an astronaut for once, with your diving helmet

10. CATCH the vinta* REGATTA in OCTOBER with your lens – be amazed with the colourful ala Latin festivities of Zamboanga City in the island of Mindanao, southern part of the country

11. PAY TRIBUTE to the Kabayan Mummies of Sagada in NOVEMBER – take the late bus bound to the north of the country and immerse with the culture and prepare yourself as a travelling archaeologist

12. DECEMBER MOUNTAIN BIKING in BATANES   – cool down and enjoy the slow-paced life in the Batanes area, the north most part of the country. And surprise yourself if you are still in Asia or not..h

*vinta-traditional boat





Caramoan Whirlpool

3 04 2011
April 2007
Caramoan Islands,
Bicol, Philippines

As snorkelling buddies, Bucopie and I explored the island together. Monay and Oven became worried when 30 minutes later they still could not see both Bucopie and I. They went around the island and they saw Bucopie trying to rescue me. I was caught in a whirlpool while being fantasized by “nemo”, a clown fish. Immediately, the three of them got me out from an outdoor danger.

Be careful then with Caramoan whirlpool that could probably pull you down to an abyss. h





“Sweet, Lead!”

16 11 2010
Cagayan de Oro City-Camiguin Island-Bukidnon
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Mindanao, Philippines

I ended 2009 with a very sweet chapter in 3 different places – Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City, Camiguin Island and Bukidnon. Adventures on white water rafting, mountain climbing, hiking, snorkelling, island touring and zip line happened all in 5 days.

White Water rafting in Cagayan de Oro River

We had a sweet wet and wild start! Great Water Rafting gave us a treat with more than 10 rapids and fed us with a very sumptuous dinner! I could no longer remember where I lost site of my “powered eyes” and miraculously put them back while the water was filling up our raft. I just whispered to a scream “JC (Jesus Christ)!”, asking for a divine help. Just before our rubberized raft capsized, I was “eye powered” once again!

Mountaineering to Camiguin’s Mt. Hibok-Hibok (1,332 m asl)

After getting wild, we headed off to a muddy adventure. It was a cool, rainy trek. We traversed from Barangay Yumbing Mambajao to Ardent Hot Spring with Ronald, our Guide and “Sweep Sweet” Nan , our local mountaineer counterpart,

It was a refreshing cemented ascend for we stopped for coffee at Ronald’s house. Then, we enjoyed the forested trail and saw quite a number of steam vents and outlets in various locations in the area. There were relatively a number of pitcher plants too! We bouldered down to Ardent Hot Spring and soaked ourselves into the 39 degree C pool!

Hiking on Mt Tres Marias, the 3rd itinerary (731 m asl)

After the whole day trek to Mt. Hibok-Hibok, I was still on for another hike. I left both the two Leads – Oven and Monay in bed and rode a motorbike with another guide. I went up to Tres Marias Hill where Itom crater (the site of 1949 eruption) can be found. Manang Carmelita and her family from the jump off were kind enough to hand me a raincoat and even offered one of their few clothes to warm me. They knew I was already cold. But I still headed on.

JC heard my prayer for when I reached the Tres Marias Hill, I saw the clearing of the sky and found myself sandwiched in between other mountains in the area. The trail down from the summit was nice and easy. It was a familiar rooted trail of Luzon. Hence, the whole 1 hr trek was a fine cooling off from the 1.5 days hike from both Mt Hibok-Hibok and Mt Tres Marias.

Snorkelling at Mantigue Island, the 4th itinerary

That same afternoon, the three of us Oven, Monay and I reunited and went to Barangay San Roque, Mahinog. We rented a 500php (10USD) 30min boat ride to Mantigue island. This is a 4km fish sanctuary where divers alike would feel like staying on for longer days.

Snorkelling to the Cross Marker and Sunken Cemetery

Before 5pm, we found ourselves snorkelling once again. This time, it was just Oven and I. Monay stayed on to the stairs area where he could watch our belongings. I still could remember how I grasped for air fighting with the tide while Oven was laughingly looking and bullying me. He thought I was still okay, but I was already cold. I crossed the sunken cemetery with no fear on the tombs under the water around the area, but rather to the heavy cold water that pushes me to the left instead of doing a one straight snorkel path! I could still remember the wondering gesture of Monay from the other side thinking of where was I going! Whew!

Touring Guiob Church Ruins

We didn’t leave the island without catching the sundown not only from the Cross Marker but also from Guiob Church Ruins. The three of us thanked JC for the adventure and prayed for us to catch the 7th activity before the year ended.

Zip Zoning Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon (840 m long; 4,500 m asl)

Once again, our prayers were heard. Our zip line came true. We almost gave up since the travel time back from Camiguin to CDO was already leading to “just a look of what’s in the park”. Going to Dahilayan is about 40km more from CDO. Thanks to our Queen host and her hubby. They both got us on line zooming like Superman with an average speed of 45 kph. It was a killer! But with the lush greenery and breathtaking views abound the mountainous Dahilayan, the whole experience became a breeze.

Finishing up the whole Adventure at Del Monte Camp Philips

Passing through the vast Del Monte pineapple and banana plantation from the zip zone, I took the liberty of taking a snap of the largest catsup I have ever seen from Del Monte Camp Philips Club’s restaurant! It was indeed a “sweet lead” to close the year.

HOW TO GET THERE

Cagayan de Oro is located at the northern coastline of Mindanao (one of the three main islands in the country). CDO as locally known is considered to be the melting pot for its accessibility to nearby towns and islands.

via air > an hr and 20 min away from Manila . Taking a flight will depend on what are the things you would like to do since I have shared 7 activities. If you wish to go direct to Camiguin island to do water or hiking activities without the water rafting in CDO, take the Catarman direct flight from Manila instead.

via sea > mind you, this will take 30 hrs from Manila

via land > this is 40 hrs from Manila . If you plan to maximize your trip, please choose by air and enjoy the area!

If you decide to go to Camiguin via CDO, go to Agora Market bus terminal bound to Balingoan town. Then take the ferry to Camiguin island. After an hr, you will reach Mahinor’s Benoni Wharf . Or else you could also take a ferry ride from CDO to the town of Guinsiliban in Camiguin that sails for 3 hrs.

BEST TIME TO GO

Every day is best time for Mindanao . Your tailored itinerary will only be dependent on the activities you intend to do. If you want to see the Lanzones festival of Camiguin island for some culture immersion, plan your trip on the 3rd week of October. But if you want to have a nice and easy leisure trip, then choose the non-busy months. Lanzones by the way is a tropical fruit and locals celebrate thanksgiving during this time for a bountiful harvest not only of lanzones but also other agricultural products. The island was very much influenced by the Spaniards like that of great explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1521 and 1565 respectively. Spanish settlement on the island was even established way back in 1598. This explains why festivities such as the Lanzones’ are being celebrated.

WHAT TO BRING

Make sure that whatever you bring suits your budget. There are some restrictions specially when booking a flight. Or else, you will end up paying additional charges for not travelling light. If you are into sports activities, have a spare money for your sporting goods. There are airlines that are tricky in charging the passengers. If you are the type of person who would like just to have a weekend relaxing get-away, a lovely book is a handy thing to bring. Your book could brighten up the waiting time at the airport as well.

BUDGET

Since Mindanao has a lot to offer, the budget should be at the minimum 200USD. The key when budgeting a trip: the more friends you have to share with the expenses, the better!h








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