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


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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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