Siargao Island, Philippines: Worth every Daydream

When I gaze upon the most stunning scenery from a mountaintop, shocked by the eternity of beauty God has promised – I drifted for a while and fell in love with Siargao.

Have you ever been in a place where you find solace in a chaos? Have you ever stumble into a paradise where you get to appreciate life more, even if it’s messy? Did you get yourself into a haven where you realize that the sound of the waves, the calm of the ocean, the salty wind rushing your ears, the fresh salty scent of the breeze and how the sun sets and rises lingers your desires to be alive in a moment? Have you met Siargao, yet? If not, I hope you get to finish reading this blog and find time to watch the video as I story tell you everything we’ve experienced, together with my Siargao Babes, Loraine and Trixie.

Come, take my hand and follow me where time stands still.

Siargao Island’s whereabouts

Siargao Island is part of Surigao del Norte, a tear-drop shaped gem in the Philippine Sea. It is one of the Eastern Islands in the Philippines facing the Pacific Ocean that is blessed for its big waves all throughout the years – Making it the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”. The main towns where most of the surfing tourism activities are centered. According to the local tourism, tourist surfers from all over the world have been visiting and revisiting the island since the late 1980s. Aside from surfing, the most central activity in Siargao – The island has a lot more to offer.Even though the popularity of Siargao Island has boomed all over social media, tourists both foreign and local that have been visiting in and out the island are still manageable.

Getting around Siargao

The island is served by a small efficient Sayak Domestic Airport which is approximately 45 minutes away when you’re taking a van going to General Luna. The town Dapa is situated 30 minutes away from General Luna, where the main port, municipality, schools and universities, government offices, and the only bank in the island can be found. (make sure you bring enough cash, or extra cash I should say to get you throughout your stay) There are vans parked outside the terminal to transport passengers going to your hotels, the current rate is 300php per pax. Alternatively, you may also take a tricycle, price starts at 500php good for four pax or take a habal-habal/motorbike for 400php good for 2 pax.

Good thing to know

In fact, if the beach is what you are after, you are better off staying in the areas in around Burgos and Allegria. Just know that whatever you do, wherever your location may be, the surf is never far away. Dead months of surfing in Siargao starts on June to August, on the contrary, big waves in Siargao starts to attract surfers on the month of September onwards.

Explore Siargao Island

Everyone pretty much knows each other, so it is not difficult to organize tours for your adventures. The most popular ones is to go island hopping and visit places like; Daku, Naked, and Guyam Islands, go to Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cave tour, explore the mangrove at Del Carmen on a Kayak and of course whether you’re a beginner or advanced take advantage of the yearlong available surf spots in the island.

We only have 3 days and 2 nights to explore the island so we maximized our itinerary and adjusted it along the way. We never have the chance to go island hopping and eat in Kermit, but yeah there’s still a reason to go back. Yay!

Most visitors will find themselves staying at the southeast of the island, the area between Union Beach and Cloud 9, where most restaurants, hotels, and homestay are focused. I personally wanted a beachfront accommodation, so I tapped in Airbnb and booked with Payag Suites Level II Beach Front located in General Luna hosted by Atty. John (I’ll be giving a link below, just in case you’re visiting Siargao and earn instant credits if you sign up and successfully book a trip.)

Sugba Lagoon, Siargao

This is pretty new and not yet commercialized, but this site is the most visited tourist attraction since it captured the eyes of most travelers.

I know it doesn’t look high, but girl, if you’re in there you really can’t move your legs and jump for your life! The waters in the lagoon is flat, so the struggle is real.

We met Chai and Shem at Del Carmen Port going to Sugba Lagoon, we were able to share the boat that can carry 7 people. We charted the boat for 1,600.00Php back and forth, yes it’s a good steal! It will take you about 45 mins on the way to the lagoon, but the view will never bore you, I swear! Once you get in here, you can try jumping in the lagoon for a couple of times because that’s what made it famous. You can also try paddle boarding to vividly see the whole view or just swim in the turquoise waters.

Snacks aren’t allowed here so you better grab a bite before heading to Sugba Lagoon.

New found friends in Siargao

Meeting new people, getting to know them a little and making memories in a place you’ve been loving at the moment is one of the very essences of traveling. We thank Chai and Shem for taking our shots in the Lagoon and for helping us with some tips in our next destination. We really hope we can see each other again, on our next travel, perhaps?

Mapupungko Rock Pools, Siargao

The view is scenic, couldn’t even imagine there’s a gem like this. The crystal blue waters had me in awe, always speechless by how abundant Philippines is.

It is important to take note that the tides changes dramatically, low tide is the best time of the day to check out this place. When it’s low tide, the water is hot and the rocks are black. For the adventure junkie, there is a small cliff diving spot waiting for you and if it isn’t your thing, there is still a ton of adventure to be had at the rock pools.

The entrance fee is 50.00php per person and it gets you to access the rock pools and the Magpupungko beach which is worth itself by the way. Inside the premises, there’s plenty of small restaurants that can serve your hungry stomach. Just in case you have a motorbike, you have to pay 20php for a parking fee. (Not bad!)

How to get here: Ride or rent a habal-habal, it takes 45 mins to 1 hour from General Luna (Coconuts are everywhere and the roads are super nice)

Cloud 9, Siargao

Do you ever wonder what “Cloud 9” means?

It means, “feeling on top of the world” – but for surfers in Siargao Island, it’s so much more than that. The island is one of the most well-known surfing areas in the Philippines. It was our first time to learn how to surf, well we’re in the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines” so why not try? Afterall, we’ve come a long way. We came in June, I know it’s not the right time to visit Siargao if you’re after the waves. So, if you’re planning to say hello to Siargao, come from November to April to catch the big waves.

Before you realize that the wave never stops coming; paddle hard and welcome the pain in your shoulders, laugh at the salt water with the salt on your face, shout through your agony as you stand tall on the surfboard while balancing your weight, release your inner thoughts, and let yourself be heard because even if the ocean is huge, it hears you. As you make it back to the lineup, you’ll feel proud and exhausted, but that’s where the real game begins.

Learning includes wound and scars

I fell a couple of times from the surfboard, but I continue to balance my body as the wave approaches. I accidentally flipped from the board few meters from the shore and fell over a rock. Sadly, I bled for minutes not even knowing it until Kuya Fernando screamed telling me “Chris, may sugat ka!!”. I ignored it telling him, “Oh, it’s fine Kuya, maliit lang naman po.” just so I can finish my last few “ordered” waves as they call it. After the lesson, I sat down looking at my wound realizing “Ghaaad, it’s awfully bleeding and it hurts now”.

Kuya John approached me asking me to straighten my affected leg saying he’s a nurse and he’ll help me with my cut. He cleaned, medicated, and dressed it. I am thankful and I suddenly smiled knowing how caring and alert the locals in the Island. Seriously, this place is the best.

All of these road trips, walking around, beaching and surfing will get you exhausted and hungry. The island has a lot of eating options, there's a mixture of local and international food preferences that you can enjoy.

Harana Surf Resort and Restaurant

Located at Brgy. Catangnan, General Luna, this restaurant has a great variety of Filipino dishes. They provide first class service and accommodation. The food is surely first class!

Bravo Beach Resort and Restaurant

Located a few minutes from Harana Surf Resort in General Luna, this restaurant offers more in international taste. The babes headed to Bravo for some Spanish Tacos and Yammers.

RumBar

Located at General Luna, opens every Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays around 9 pm – 3 am. They serve great cocktails, and a lot of hard drinks I may say. This is the bar that we went to when we arrived on a Monday. They offer a live reggae party event.

Nightlife in Siargao is great, there’s something for everyone. If you like reggae, modern or just pure chill at night, the island can cover your needs. There’s a bunch of bars to go every night. Flashing lights, surfers, locals, and tourists in one place enjoying one dance floor and one music. Yes, you should try partying in Siargao too!

 

Siargao is more than a paradise

When you find yourself calm, hearing your own heartbeat in a peaceful way surrounded by nature and the beach, you delve into a naturally pensive state in tune with your thoughts and emotions. I can attest to why people are attracted to the energy of this kind of island, because you always feel refreshed every after a beach trip.

Siargao is like a dream, a heaven and a place where you don’t want to leave and a place you want to go back. But at the end of every trip, we leave and all we take back home is the memories of Siargao and the Babes with our photos, videos, and waves of laughter and leave with no trace of sadness.

 

FUTURE REFERENCES AND BOOKINGS

FLY

You can fly to Siargao directly from Manila if you’re coming from the Visayas, there’s a flight directly from Cebu or Iloilo via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. You better keen in finding the cheapest flight available to save, but whatever the price of your ticket, Siargao is worth the spree!check your tickets now!

Cebu Pacific Air

Philippine airlines

STAY

Payag Suites Level II Beach Front located in General Luna, here’s the link for a hassle-free booking and earn instant credit once you book here http://www.airbnb.com/c/christyrosea

hosted by Atty John

contact number: 09177037001

*Note there are a lot of hostel accommodations that will cost you around 300Php per night, other resort will cost you 1000-2000 per night and some high end resorts costs about 10,000Php per night. It’s up with your preferences, we booked the Payag Beachfront for its best location, cleanliness, comfort and good service.

VAN TRANSPORTATION

I forgot Kuya’s name but this is his contact number 09472222304

PROFESSIONAL SURF INSTRUCTOR

Look for Koya Fernando and Koya Jaz Cruiz (Contact number: 09481152219)

Koya Botchoy, the photographer

(First name basis because they personally know each other in the island, you have nothing to worry.)

EXPENSES

Cebu to Siargao roundtrip tickets via Cebu Pacific – 2900.00Php

(Cheapest steal! Regular fair will cost you around 6000-7000Php one way)

Iloilo to Cebu round trip tickets via Philippine Airline – 2200.00Php

Accommodation for 2 nights good for 3 pax – 5,172.00Php

Van Transpo round trip from Sayak Airport to General Luna – 600.00Php per pax

Surfing lesson – 500.00Php per pax for 1 hour

Photographer – 300.00Php

Cloud 9 entrance fee – 50.00Php per pax (You might score a no entrance at the early morning, so why not visit early in the morning  and catch a good sun-rays)

Boat rental going to Sugba Lagoon – 1,600Php (320/pax)

Motorcycle Rental – 1,500.00Php good for 3 pax (From General Luna going to Sugba Lagoon and Magpupungko Rock Pools, give some extra money to Kuya driver for his food it will just cost you 100-150.00Php)

Environmental fee at Port going to Sugba Lagoon – 50.00Php

Sugba Lagoon Rental for life vest – 50.00Php, Paddle board – 150.00Php

Magpupungko Entrance fee– 50.00Php

Food– Splurge!!! Food is lifer, girl 🙂

Hey friends, for other concerns please send me an email. Safe travels!!

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Phuket, Thailand: Authentic and Ethical Experience

Elephants are the defining symbol of Thailand, but sadly most of these gentle giants are in captivity. In this blog, we are visiting the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Khatu, Phuket, Thailand.

Let’s meet, feed, bathe, play and know their story!

Elephants are becoming endangered to the habitat loss, poaching and increase tourism. Of course, there are companies out there that treat them ethically, however, most of the time, the elephants that you see out there giving rides all day is actually separated from their mother at a very young age. They are then put through this process “crushing” as they call it, where they are basically being into sumission.

Growing up and working in the riding camps, they are continuously abused and overworked. For us travelers, honestly most of the time, we have no idea that it’s harmful or if there’s a better alternative to meet and play with these friendly giants. So I hope this blog will show you that there is a more positive and ethical way to meet the elephants.

What is Elephant Jungle Sanctuary?

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is a private company that started 4 years ago in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. After a few years, they branched out in Phuket. At Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, volunteers work hard every single day for the benefit of the elephants. This is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Phuket.

Their mission is to provide as many elephants as possible with the good health, freedom, and happiness they truly deserve. They enforce a strict NO RIDING policy and do not make elephants work, perform, or do any activity outside their natural behaviors. Their hope is to lead by example, and contribute to a positive change in the perception of elephants; to witness a future where elephants are not ridden, poached, overworked, or abused, and are instead treated with care, love, and respect.

The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary project also provides many Karen people with employment, education, and financial support. “Karen People” means those who volunteer in the Sanctuary as it is founded by Karen Hill in July 2014 in Chiang Mai. The money they raised from visits, volunteers, merchandise, and donations is primarily used for elephant rescue, food, veterinary care, infrastructure and land so they can constantly grow and expand the capacity of their Sanctuary.

Knowing the Elephants

Elephants are the world’s largest living land animals, they are much much heavier than any other animals. There are two kinds of elephants; the African Elephants and the Asian Elephant.

They are long-lived, complex and social. They are big and they are strong, but against the relentless spread of humanity, they are powerless.

The elephant is the heart and soul of Southeast Asia’s wilderness. Its the flagship of all the animals especially in Thailand. They live in a variety of habitats; forest, savanna, desert, and swamp.

Elephants live in groups, groups of elephants are called matriarchs. Dominants within the family group are largely based on age, experience, and size. Female elephants have to wait before an older matriarch dies before they can have any chance of leadership. In male elephants, only at around 25-30 years old do they reach the chance to dominate rivals and compete successfully with female elephants.

Facts you might not yet know about Elephants

Elephant’s poop is one of the best fertilizers ever, and then they also said that you can use it for writing or drawing. Now you know that you can draw and write using elephant’s poop, how cool is that?

Elephants use sand and dirt or mud on their body. Why? Because it’s their natural sunscreen and insect repellent too, it protects them from the sun and from the mosquitoes. They toss it on their head and back to protect them from the sun rays.  Ahhh, we’re honestly learning here, right?

The elephant is herbivores, they eat 10% of their body weight which means, they can eat 400 pounds of food. It’s a lot! It’s like eating 18 pounds of salad.

Elephants live just like humans and they are polygamous in nature, they can have 5 girlfriends or 5 boyfriends at the same time.  Female elephants go through 22 months of pregnancy.  When talking about baby elephants, they are large when born that weighs about 200 to 250 lbs.

Asian Elephants cannot run, because at all times they have at least two feet on the ground.

Elephants can recognize themselves in front of a mirror.

Here’s a short video, yet one of the happiest days of my recent travel.

 

 

Ethical Activities and Fees

This includes food for feeding elephants, your food, and a free Karen shirt! (Tip: Make the most of it all, it’s a lot of fun)

  • FEED ME PROGRAM

Adult: 1.500 baht/person

Child <3 yrs Free

  • HALF DAY VISIT

Adult: 2,500 baht/person

Child: <10 yrs 1,900 baht/person

Child <3 yrs Free

MORNING SCHEDULE: 06:30 AM – 07:30 AM, Pick up from your hotel and activities are done around 11:30 am- 12:00 pm.

AFTERNOON SCHEDULE: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM, Pick up from your hotel and activities are done around 16:00 – 16:30 pm.

  • OVERNIGHT VISIT

2 days 1-night program

Adult: 12,900 baht/person

Child under 7>10 yrs 10,900bath/person

Child <7 yrs (Not advisable)

3 days 2 nights program

Adult: 19,900 baht/person

Child under 7>10 yrs 17,900bath/person

Child <7 yrs (Not advisable)

What to Bring?

Change of clothes and some good shoes

Swimming suit

Sunscreen, hat, towel, insect repellant

Any medicines you require

Book here via:

KLOOK

Or feel free to visit their official site and Facebook page

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

EJS – Facebook

The experience has been so good and I am grateful for the opportunity. I feel like I am glowing with joy and my heart is full for such a beautiful chance to be with the elephants in their natural habitat. I just love how the activity doesn’t feel like an activity or a tour visit, it feels like we are following what the elephant is doing on a daily basis. It is such a natural and authentic experience rather than going to a zoo to see an elephant or riding them for 5 to 10 minutes.In general, this experience is genuine and real and I hope you get to experience it too with your loved ones because it’s just breath-taking.

If after reading this blog, the elephants warmth your heart, please don’t forget to leave a big thumbs up, leave a comment and share this, so you too can recommend this blog and get it seen by more people. I hope you get to experience it too! Safe Travels, Loves!

Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan: The Mother of all Philippine Festivals

Ati-Atihan is the largest and oldest Catholic celebration in the Philippines. It legally holds the title “Mother of all Philippine Festivals”. Ati-Atihan means “to be like Atis” or “to make believe Atis”

Kalibo is the gateway of the most famous party island in the Philippines, Boracay. To everyone’s knowledge, it is also the home of the legendary festival all of us enjoy celebrating.

The Ati-Atihan Festival is held on the third week, concluding on the third Sunday of January in Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines. It originated during the 13th century when Aeta aborigines arrived and wanted to settle on the island. The chief minister traded with the natives and bought goldenseal coat, brass basin, and bales of cloth. The festival was born then.

When the Spanish arrived, they adapted the festival to eliminate the pagan rituals and incorporate various religious practices, thus, the Sto. Nino (The Infant Jesus) made its appearance in the Ati-Atihan Festival, even until now.

This event also corresponds another festival around the Philippines, like Sinulog Festival in Cebu and the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo. The festival itself is marked by the people joining in the streets, dancing to fantastic drum beats. It consists of tribal dance, street music accompanied by members of indigenous tribes in their costumes and weapons. There are also parade of their designated floats and Sto. Nino while dancing or what we commonly known as, “sad-sad” short for dance “sayaw” and walk “lakad” in our Filipino dialect.

Ati-Atihan’s catchphrase “Hala Bira! Pwera Pasma!” is formerly associated with the festival as the merrymakers and believers keep on going with the revelries all over the town.

As traditional processions go, the actual procession was anything but traditional. People bring the image of Sto. Nino (the infant Jesus). Instead of walking, people do sad-sad with a lots of taking pictures, videos, talking, cheering, drinking on the street, and accompanied by a marching band. During the parades, alcohol flows freely, firecrackers and other noisemaking are honestly not uncommon.

Photo Credit to Trixie Orola

I’ve been participating in Ati-Atihan for seven years and until now, the hype doesn’t change. People starting celebrating from early morning to the wee hours of the next morning, rain or shine, for one week or even more. Amid our cheering and drinking, we were entertained by fireworks blossoming in the sky from time to time.

The main show is held on Saturday Night, where a massive night party brings everyone together to dance the night away and gaze up as lights and fireworks illuminate the sky. One of the most famous party house in Kalibo is the Abregana Bar, you wouldn’t spend your happy hour anywhere but here. As dusk sets in, there are DJs doing there magic making the crowd having those cutting edge dance moves. Definitely a nice place to end the night!

The festival ends on Sunday, where there’s a high mass in the morning around 7:00 am followed by the grand parade of the tribes representing different groups that competes for tourists’ attention and prizes.

It has been always a great experience to be at the Ati-Atihan Festival this year. I am looking forward to join the festival in the succeeding years.

Have you been to Ati-Atihan Festival? Share your experience at the comment section below! Or if you haven’t yet, consider joining next time. Safe Travels!

Oslob, Cebu: A Humbling Experience to Swim with the Whale Sharks

Oslob is one of the municipalities in the province of Cebu, Philippines. This is the only place in the world where you can swim with whale sharks anytime of the year. There is something so majestic about the ocean and what lives within it. It’s a whole other world. Despite their intimidating name, whale sharks are some of the friendliest giants that live in the sea.

Whale Sharks is a sheltered species in the Philippines and Under Republic Act 9147, an Act for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and habitats in the Philippines, it is definitely illegal to harass them. So we better be responsible to comply with the guidelines in the activity area.

The story behind the trending “Swim with the Whale Sharks” Adventure

Generations ago, the fishermen would throw baits into the water to catch fish but then the whale sharks would end up eating their baits. So what these fishermen did, they would throw away the bait farther to divert the whale sharks. But then, later on, the whale sharks would keep coming back to the fishermen’s bait and eat it. So this happens for generations and generations ago.

There’s an NGO (non-governmental organization)that actually takes care and protects the whale sharks in Oslob. LAMAUVE, these people have been in Oslob for years already to monitor the compliance of interaction regulations. They have taken care of 600 whale sharks just in Oslob. Imagine how many whale sharks are there? The fishermen have been feeding them for generations. They have created a livelihood for these fishermen too. The tours they have here for this activity are pretty respectable when it comes to eco-system and to the animals as well.

When you go swim with the whale sharks, they’re about 8 to 10 whale sharks that actually go to the same place every day from 9 am to 12nn. They will conduct a 10-20 minutes orientation before starting the activity. It is really important to follow and cooperate with the tourism for the rules and regulations before starting to swim with the whale sharks.

I am in complete awe, humbled by the opportunity to share the same waters with the 60 million-year-old species.

Whale Sharks Interaction in Oslob and its Controversy

It has been the most talked about matter since it started the craze. Some people don’t support this activity, while some happen to be enjoying the rare adventure. It became very controversial because most people don’t abide the interaction code and conduct. Many tourists breach the guidelines given during the thorough briefings, and sadly they are not penalized.

How to get to Oslob, Cebu

Fly with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia daily between Manila and Cebu

When you’re coming from Cebu City, you can head to the South Bus Terminal and ride a Ceres bus going to Bato via Liloan. Just don’t forget to tell the conductor to drop you off at Brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob for the Whale Shark watching just along the highway. The trip would take about 3 hours. Bus fair would cost you around Php 150-200.

When you’re from Dumaguete going to Oslob, look for multi-cabs to Sibulan Port. Ride a ferry or fastcraft to Liloan. At Liloan port, board a Ceres bus going to Cebu City and tell the conductor to drop you off at Oslob Shark Watching just along the highway.

It’s such a wonderful experience, a tick off my bucket list. I was scared at first, but the old saying were true, that when you’re already there you just have to go for it. After all, they don’t bite.

Fees in Whale Shark Watching in Oslob

Local Tourists

Includes Whale watching in the boat with no swimming, with life jacket, costs Php300
Includes Snorkeling with Whale Sharks with life jacket, costs Php500

Foreign Tourists

Includes Snorkeling with Whale Sharks with life jacket, costs Php1000

Whale Sharks Watching in Oslob lasts for 30 minutes only and available daily from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm only.

A quick tip: Go early as you can because there are so many people hungry for the experience as you do too. Safe travels!

Antique: Cascading Waterfalls and Awe-inspiring Mountains

Longing for some taste of nature? Antique has been a good choice in the Visayas.

The province of Antique is situated in the western regions of Visayas. Historically, Antique was called “Hantik” which is the name of an oversized ant. Kinaray-a is the language spoken by the people in Antique. (that  is hard to comprehend) anyhow, that is one of the best essences of traveling for me. Meeting new people, engaging with their culture and learning a new language.

Thanks to my “dirtiest” (my endearment for him) friend Francis who planned the whole trip for the Apps&Dogs. The five of us wanted to have a unique adventure together so we decided to push through Antique. From Roxas City, Capiz,  we brought goods for our overnight stay. On our list were: Chips, Red Wine, Coke, Bread, Cup Noodles, Canned goods, utensils, Water, Gums, Candies, and Coffee. We also had a lunch box filled with cooked adobo chicken/beef, hotdogs and chorizo for our lunch.

The Adventure

Around 6:00am we departed Roxas going to Kalibo, Aklan. We arrived around 8am and decided to eat breakfast at McDonald’s. We then rode a van from Kalibo going to crossing Nabas, that took us 30 minutes to 1 hour. From Nabas, the bus going to Tibiao was very rare, so we stopped over in a small cafeteria and bought some rice for our lunch. Unfortunately, it rained. Not too heavy but it rained!!!! What we had in mind? RANDOM! So when the bus passed by and stopped, we hurriedly ran ourselves into the other street fighting the rain and the wind. (So many bloopers that remind us always) the bus ride would take 1-2 hours. This is our best opportunity to see the view of Antique and we witnessed how Mountains meet the Sea. It was mesmerizing and enchanting at the same time.

Arriving in Tibiao feels so relaxing and refreshing. If you were looking for a place to renew, this is the best place to be.

We arrived in Antique at around 11am, we then rode a habal-habal (₱80.00 each back & forth ) going to Tibiao. The road was so rocky, bumpy and a lot of muddy tracks surrounded by dense forest, plus it was raining that moment, lucky us because the drivers were very nice to lend us their “kapote”. We paid ₱50.00 each for the environmental fee, then headed straight to where were staying.

We stayed in Kayak Inn, Tibiao for our overnight. Isn’t it so native? Everything we had in mind were exactly what we got ourselves into. The ambiance were very soothing and inviting. They also offer a lot of nature adventures perfect for adrenaline junkies like us.

 THE RAPIDS OF THE TIBIAO RIVER

Very much excited to start our tribal adventures, we proceeded with White Water Kayaking first which cost ₱450.00 per pax. Across the greenery and calm atmosphere, this is a good place even for newbies like us to try our hands in paddling. The instructor said, the water is usually placid during summer month but since the rain just stopped, the current of the water is strong at the moment.

After we geared up, we headed to the river and started the demonstration. The river is so long and very tricky, lots of big rocks and the water current is telling us “break a leg”. We went Kayaking one by one, supporting each other.

Some of us fell and fell all over again but we actually managed to finished the track. We had the most wonderful feeling, right after as if we’re fighting for our lives and won the battle. Yes, we survived.

BUGTONG-BATO FALLS

In the wilderness of Antique there lies a beautiful wonder. We all love waterfalls. So we didn’t miss Bugtong-Bato Falls. Together with our tour guide, we trekked to the Mountain for almost an hour. We were really tested for our outdoor skill. More chikas, laughter and sightseeing on our way to the falls. The moment we got there, we felt heaven.

Back to our Inn, we were starving so we ate an early dinner. The ambiance, the atmosphere, and the smell were perfect. We heard the nature’s natural sound at night and to that, we celebrated life and friendship over red wine.

HANGING BRIDGE

We woke up early the next day to visit the hanging bridge near Kayak Inn. It was only a 5 mins walk. We took pictures and decided to cross the bridge, but the ending? I was the only one who survived the test. We even met a new friend. He’s kind of adorable you know. 🐶🐶🐶

KAWA SPA This is definitely a must try whoever goes to Antique. A soothing, relaxing and meditating spa-bath be like. Kuya said, it is normally done at night but since we want better pictures, we decided to do it early morning (vanity).

We basked in an early sunshine in an enormous kawa hot bath. It has herbs and mints which give us this feeling of serenity and bliss.

After our glorious Kawa Spa, we fixed our things and leave Tibiao. We rode habal-habal again and caught the early ride going to Pandan. We visited Francis’ aunt and eat our lunch there.

MALUMPATI COLD SPRING

The cold scenery, turquoise water, and astonishing aura made our heart smile the moment we got here.

For only ₱20.00 you could enjoy the resort as long as you want. The Malumpati’s water flows all the way to Bugang River. We were very mesmerized by how the place pleases tourists. We changed our outfits and dipped in the clear / coldest water we’ve been to.

Almost time to go home, we headed to the terminal and rode a van going to crossing Nabas. Then rode another van going to Kalibo. We stopped over again at McDonald’s for a quick snack and finally headed to Roxas.

Get a tan,  Go paddling, Scale a mountain, Get wet in the rain and Soak your stress away in one destination. Many have changed in Antique nowadays, it offers a whole lot as what we experienced a few years ago. I hope you’ll be tickled by your wanderlust and try to experience the fun Antique has imparted in our lives. Safe travels!

Bohol, Philippines: Friendly Heart of Visayas

When you’re planning to fall in love with a Wonderland, it would be definitely Bohol, Philippines.

Let’s lose ourselves and fall in love with a bizarre and perfect one-day trip in the Heart of Visayas.

I wasn’t really sure if I’ll include Bohol in my itinerary knowing my original plan was to explore Cebu for four days. Fortunately, I did spare one day in Bohol and it couldn’t have been any better. Its located in the Visayas and a quick ferry journey from Cebu. Yes, it’s the best side trip whenever you’re in the Queen City of the South.

Bohol, Philippines is popularly known to be the tenth largest island in the country. People come here for the white beaches and beautiful nature with its diverse wildlife. The world-class diving, waterfalls and hundreds of caves for spelunking. And they come for the incredible history of the place.

Welcome to Bohol, the friendly heart of the Visayas and one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Philippines.

What I came for Bohol, Philippines:

1. HISTORY

Boholanos still affectionately call their province the “Republic of Bohol” in reference to the island’s short-lived independence at the turn of the 19th century. Bohol is known not only for its environmental wonders but also for its old churches, some of which are built during the Spanish colonial era and considered national treasures.

I came to visit Loboc and get to see the famous Loboc Church, it is massive in scale and elegant in design. Unfortunately, I came and saw it dramatically damaged due to the typhoon Yolanda way back 2013. The infrastructure is work in progress, hopefully, it will recover soon. Now this place is called “Loboc Church Ruins”. But the place became even more attractive because of new mysterious and historical atmosphere.

 

2. MAJESTIC CHOCOLATE HILLS

One of the best spectacular landscape I’ve ever seen. The main reason why Bohol is famous and highly recommended as a tourist destination. They all have the same shape but differ in altitude. The best time to come here is when summer because they literally look like chocolate, while greener for the rest of the months.

I simply can’t imagine that everything around is not man-made, it’s a wonderful example of a caprice of nature. So mesmerizing!

3. JUNGLE INTERIOR

Man-made forest (Mahogany Forest)

It is filled with hundreds and thousands of Mahogany trees. Every one of it was planted by man. The place is beautiful, relaxing and nature loving. However it’s just a mahogany forest, nothing else. I even stepped out from the bus and walk-on.

4. EYE BUGGED TARSIER

Tarsier Conservation Area

Tarsier is Bohol tourism’s mascot. It is known locally by many names like; mamagmagomagaumaomag, malmag and magatilok-iok but I would prefer calling it Tarsier.


Tarsier Conservation Area is the new home of the captive tarsiers previously displayed for tourists along the Loboc River for decades.

We were told to strictly observe silence to avoid interrupting their sleep. The use of camera flash and touching them is strictly prohibited as well.

5. LOBOC RIVER CRUISE

The cruise was surprisingly pleasant. Actually, there were many foreigners onboard. There is an “Eat all you can” buffet system on this restaurant-boat, so it works well as a place for lunch. There’s also a native folk singer who will serenade you as you enjoy your sumptuous meal. It was very relaxing, serene and very good for the soul.

In general, the food was delicious, the river was astonishing and the waterfalls at the end of the route were picturesque.

I now know that a one-day trip isn’t enough to explore this wonderland. I have now more reasons to go back. Until my next time.

TRAVEL GUIDE:

1. Transportation:

Fast Ferry: The most convenient way to get from Cebu to Bohol.

Ocean Jet: If you’re from Pier 1, Cebu Pier Area this is the best choice. The fare is 800.00 Php (tourist class), and 1,000.00 Php (business class). The trip is daily from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm from Cebu port to Tagbilaran, Bohol vice versa.

Supercat: If you’re from Pier 4 North Reclamation Area, Cebu City this is the best choice. The fare is around 500.00 Php (promo fare) and 423.57 Php (discounted fare). The trip is daily at 6:30 am to 7:40 pm from Cebu to Tagbilaran and vice versa.

Starcraft: If you’re from Pier 1 North Reclamation Area, Cebu City, this is the best choice. The fare from Cebu to Tubigon vice versa is 200.00 Php (economy), 220.00 Php (tourist class), and 280.00 Php (business class). The trip is daily from 5:45 am to 5:30 pm back and forth.

Domestic Flights: Bohol is currently connected with Manila. (Check their websites)

Philippine Airlines: One-way fare starts at about 3,300.00 Php and it varies from time to time.

Cebu Pacific: One-way fare starts at about 2,438.88 Php and it varies from time to time.

Air Asia: One-way fare start at about 2,757.99 Php and it varies from time to time.

PLACES YOU CAN VISIT IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN A DAY:

Panglao Island

Corella Tarsier Sanctuary

Alburquerque (Santa Monica Parish Church)

Antequera (Mag-Aso Falls)

Balilihan (Spanish Watchtower)

Sagbayan Peak

Danao (Extreme Adventure Tour)

 

 

 

Cebu, Philippines: The Queen City of the South

Indulging in the cultures and places the world has to offer are some of my greatest joys. It is where I find serenity, self-discoveries and the introduction of change in one’s psyche, which I won’t be able to find in my daily life living in my comfort zone.

Join me as I go around in the most luxurious City in the Philippines. Cebu City is a province of the Philippines in the Central Visayas Region. It’s an island consisting of more or less than 150 smaller surroundings islands and islets. The City is well-known to be the “Queen City of the South” since then, because of its vast potential in terms of tourism, economy, infrastructures, and history. The City is situated on the mid-eastern side of Cebu Island. In the history, it is the first Spanish settlement and considered the Philippines’ oldest city, which made it the first capital of the Philippines, long enough before it was changed to “Manila”. There language is known as “Bisaya, Binisaya or Sugbuanon”, Cebuano speakers are so-called “Cebuano”

Fasten your seat belts because we are leaving faster than Indiana Jones just to see the top tourist spots in Cebu City.

I booked my ticket four months before my travel date. I got it for only 1,800 Php back and forth, quite a good deal, traveling from Kalibo – Cebu – Iloilo. My greatest tool is the internet; it’s very convenient and easy to follow, plus you can search anywhere as long as you have mobile data. Google has everything and it’s my best friend because why not? Got my ticket, tried the self – service check in to get my boarding pass and paid my terminal fee then proceeded to the lounge area. There are several ways to get into Cebu City. If you’re coming from different countries, you can drop by Manila, the capital of the Philippines and fly to Cebu City. Just check and arrange with your chosen airlines.

Luckily my sister got me a transient room in her apartment so I paid for less than I expected. With so much happiness I treated her in Dessert Factory, Ayala Center Cebu, the food was tasty and delicious.

Top Tourist Spots in Cebu City

1. Crown Regency Hotel and Towers

On my first night, I headed to Crown Regency Hotel to try the most talked about “Sky Walk Adventure”. Overlooking Cebu from 430 feet up (the highest tower in the city) was a different kind of thrill. It was really scary at first, but I had a really great first night in the city. I had to pose like a pro though.

Skywalk cost 400 Php per person, 100 Php deposit for the wristband, they will be refunded after use. Hard copy of the photo cost 150 Php per photo (yes, you gotta pay for it for a remembrance)

2. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Formerly Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of Saint Vitalis and of the Guardian Angels. The church was one of the first churches in the Philippine history, built in April 1565.

I started my first new day by attending a mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, lit candles and prayed to the Holy Guardian Angels which is their titular and patron Immaculate Conception. Always a good start to my every travel is to drop by and give thanks to the Almighty Father.

3. Fort San Pedro

Known as Fuerte de San Pedro, a military defense structure in Cebu built by the Spanish under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Located at the Pigafetta Street, I entered the premises to feed my hungry mind about the history of the City.  The place will definitely make you feel nostalgic about the Philippine history and I’m honored that I got to see the whole place and made a memory for a little while. Entrance fee: Regular 30Php, Senior 24Php, Students, and Children 20Php

4. Magellan’s Cross

One of the most historical landmarks that are a must see when in the City. The Cross of Magellan is a popular tourist attraction in the middle of the busy Magellan Street. The paintings on the ceilings with a scene depicting the landing of Magellan in Cebu, the vibrant colors, the structure and the devotees who would drop coins or put lighted candles at the foot of the cross. Seeing all those things made me really happy.
5. Basilica Minore del Santo Nino

Commonly known as Basilica del Sto Nino, the mother, and head of all churches in the Philippines. It was founded in the1565, located at Osmena Boulevard. The moment I stepped on inside I felt goosebumps and security. It is a very nice place to be when in Cebu. I lit a candle, offered a prayer for my petitions and made a wish.

6. Tops Lookout

My sister and I decided to have a late night adventure, so we went to see Tops Lookout; the beautiful scenery during the night in Cebu. This relaxing spot is found in Barangay Malubog, Busay, Cebu City. This is one of the most overrated tourist spots in the City. We rode a habal-habal (motorcycle) from the center of the City going to Tops which took us 45 minutes travel. The route can be just as fun as riding a roller coaster. The moment you feel your ride is starting to go uphill then you know you’re going the right way.

The main ground is decorated by concretes in hexagon form and withered Bermuda grasses. The covered resting place and eating area are wonderfully made by big concrete stones and designed in curves and circles.

They also have a bar, snack bar, and souvenir shops. From Tops you can witness the breathtaking view of the whole City, you can even see the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers. There’s not much fun to do but take photos of the City lights, but a really good place to reflect, plan or simply think about life and how lovely it is in Cebu. This place made my heart melt like hundred times and the reason why I want to go back. Entrance 100 Php, Habal-habal 250 Php

Tip: Bring some gum along with you. As you go higher, you’ll need something to pop your ears.

7. Tuslob Buwa

The next morning, I went to Coner of Katambisan Village, Central Nautical Highway, Catmon, Cebu to try out the Restaurant named Tuslob Buwa in Azul. “Tuslob Buwa” means to dip in bubbles. It is one of Cebu’s exotic street treats. The local dip is made of pig brain, oil, fish sauce, onions, shrimp paste and all other assorted flavorings.

I  got to enjoy this experience because you’ll cook your own Tuslob Buwa, they serve it straight from the wok paired with Puso (cooked rice wrapped in coconut leaves). After you cooked your own Tuslob Buwa, you gotta dip your Puso and start digging in.

8. Taoist Temple

Looking for some quiet time I headed to Taoist Temple located in the wealthy Beverly Hills residential enclave in the suburb of Lahug. It is said to the home of many Filipino-Chinese millionaires and the Taoist Temple was built by them and some donations. This cultural center of the Chinese with its dragon paintings, altars, and statues of the Buddha harmonizes with beautiful pagoda roofs.

There is also a beautiful view of the city from this mesmerizing place. For me, the Taoist Temple is one of the highlights of my Cebu travel because I had the time to meditate and pray.

Cebu City has been my favorite travel destination. I honestly haven’t explored the whole City at all but that would be a reason to always come back, in the Queen City of the South.

 

 

Siquijor: A Magical Island of Fire and Mystique

If you’re looking for a magical adventure, Siquijor is the place to be!

Siquijor is a Province located in the Central Visayas Region of the Philippines. It is mostly labeled as, the Island of Fire due to the glow it shows off during sunset as a multitude of fireflies gathers on the Molave trees surrounding the island. For the older generation, it has been said that Siquijor is a place of mystery, mystics, and magic; for they believe in witchcrafts, sorcery, and black arts. In a matter of fact, it is indeed practiced until today, but on a less prevalent than before.

 

Honestly, people find it very odd when they found out that I’m traveling to Siquijor Island. I know I’m going to like this place because it’s pretty bare, there’s not a lot of things to do, no noise, more trees trees trees and beach beach beach. It’s such a nice hideaway! But who would have thought that this island people used to be scared of going into, will turn out to be a perfect tourist destination? Apparently, this island is known to have witches and mythical creatures which are why for a while even the locals wouldn’t come here. But I think that was just an urban legend or something like that. I don’t know but maybe some people still believe it, maybe it’s true, or yeah hopefully it’s not.

 

 

More than that, Siquijor island is unexplored in terms of its tourist destinations, it isn’t the top destination people have in mind when travel popped in. That’s why we’re here because it’s honestly a hidden gem.

Basically, when you arrive at the port, you can buy your tickets there. There’s no need to buy your tickets in advance because there’s a lot of room, no worries needed. You show up at the Dumaguete, Port, buy your tickets for around 130.00Php, a terminal fee of 15.00Php, and you’re good to go. Of course, there’s a lot of choices, you could go fast craft for around 200.00Php or more. The travel time ranges from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on your chosen boat.

 

Getting around the island is quite easy especially when there’s a lot of tricycles available for tour, their rate is 1000.00php per day which is around $20USD. Usually, you could split that with 3 to 4 people depending on your preference. Each tour guide has actually a specific route to follow depending on where your starting point. But since I’m going to explore Siquijor for a day with my siblings, I made some arrangements with our tour guide. Cos, of course, I’m gonna take you to places that are must visit.

Sites to Explore in the Province of Siquijor

1. St. Francis of Assisi Church

In just a hop away from the seaport, this church is considered to be a warm opening feature of the province. This church was built in 1793 and was made of coral stone. Like most colonial churches, its belfry is separated from the church.

2. Lazi Church

Known as San Isidro Labrador Parish Church, a Roman Catholic founded and became an independent parish in 1857.

3. Lazi Convent

Lazi Convent is the biggest and the oldest convent in the Philippines and all of Asia. It is constructed around 1871 and declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. It is also nominated for UNESCO World Heritage. What a goosebumps! Amazing isn’t it?

  4. Capilay Spring Park

A public natural spring pool located at the heart of San Juan town. Capilay Spring Park provides a refreshing plunge to everyone as it has no entrance fee.
The pool has three chambers which are the spring area, the swimming, and the laundry pool. The flowing waters stream down to the nearby bay.

5. Old Enchanted Balete Tree

In the Philippines, Balete tree has been known to be a dwelling place for supernatural beings. This Balete tree in Lazi, Siquijor is centuries old and believed to be over 400+ years old; the most popular landmark in Siquijor is. Right under the tree, there’s a fish pond that is very popular for its “fish spa”.

 

6. Cambugahay Waterfalls

This multi-tiered waterfalls can be reached 135 steps down from Lazi main road. Enjoy the clean, refreshing, and cold waters that cascade all the way from natural springs. You will have the chance to jump using a swing, which is popularly known as the Tarzan jump. The water is so turquoise, no filter needed.

7. Salagdoong Beach

A very nice and secluded beach on the far side of Siquijor. This beach is popular because of its blue waters and endless skies. Salagdoong Beach is famous for its twin beach separated by the boulder rock. You can cliff jump, eat, party, and everything you want to do. It is quite a scenery!

8. Cantabon Cave

This is a must adventure in Siquijor, the cave is fascinating and extraordinary. There are plenty stalagmites and stalactites formations which will make you stare in awe. Exploring the cave, you will have to coordinate with the Barangay officials to get a tour guide and rent a flashlight.

Siquijor is a place that would amaze you with its natural and pristine beaches, astonishing waterfalls, lush hiking trails, serene environment, centuries-old churches, and the friendliest people. If you guys have the chance to visit this magical island, I so so so recommend it. Go to Siquijor and experience what I did or better yet, have more fun than I did. Let me know in the comment section below about your adventure friends, safe travels!

Boracay Island, Philippines : Timeless Beauty

You wanna know what the white beach in the world looks like? Let me take you to the Philippines, where Boracay Beach stands out.

Summer never truly ends in the Philippines which brings the locals and tourist to a perfect haven. By witnessing its beautiful white sand beaches, blue crystal clear waters, sunrise and sunset, serene atmosphere, and fresh salty air; you know that you’re in the ultimate vacation island of the Philippines, Boracay! This has been always my summer go-to beach or anytime I feel stressed out.

Boracay Island is part of Aklan Province, located specifically in Caticlan. According to the local tourism of Aklan, in the year 2015, it was visited by 1.5 million tourists coming from different parts of the world.

Boracay is one tiny island but there are more reasons for millions of people to cross an ocean and visit the Philippines.

It has become the face of tourism in the country since then. Boracay is considered one of the astonishing hotspots in the Philippines and one of the top islands in the world. This piece of beach paradise is always on the must-visit list of every tourist. People go here to unwind and take a time off from the busy zone of the city. It has been popularly known as the top destination for relaxation, tranquility, and nightlife.

This place is seriously an all-in-one packed with everything.

It is a home of hundreds of beach resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, activity area, and businesses; that will suit every taste and budget of any traveler. The island is adorned with several white sand beaches; the most famous of which is the one known as “White Beach”, as the name implies, this beach is the fairest of them all. This is also the commercial center of the island and also never miss the amazing sunset this beach is famous for.

What composes the Island?

This island is divided into three stations; Station 1 is a 3.5-kilometer white beach, it has the finest white sand in the entire island. This is where the most luxurious resorts, restaurants, and bars are found. Station 2 is considered the busiest area, where you can find the most famous mall on the island (D’mall). Many varieties of shops and restaurants are found here. Station 3 is the most peaceful and less crowded part the island, where you can find cheaper deals in the southern end.

If you find White Beach very busy and you’re looking for something low key and just want a relaxing trip, the next island suits your taste; it is known as “Bulabog Beach”. When you suddenly crave for peace and serenity with fewer people going around, head on to the next island popularly known as “Puka Shell Beach”. Whatever it is that you prefer as a traveler, Boracay got a place for you.

How to get on the Island?

There are two ways to get to this island. If you’re coming from Hongkong, Singapore, or Seoul; you can fly directly to Kalibo, Philippines. Or if you’re coming to everywhere else, you can drop by Manila, the capital of the Philippines and fly to Caticlan, the airport that is much closer to the island. When you get there, you can take the Southwest Bus from Kalibo Airport to Boracay, it is more convenient compared to the vans, They can also facilitate your boat transfer from Caticlan to Boracay. Upon arriving in Boracay Island, a tricycle can take you to your booked hotel.

Every time I travel here, I see to it that I can try new things or be in a new station for my accommodation. This time, I checked in with the Bambooze Hauz, located in Station 3 of the White Beach. The hotel is affordable and offers a very good accommodation.

What to Eat and Where to Chill?

Dining on the island is diverse. This party island has the most popular restaurants to date, flaunting their sumptuous and delicious meals. Few of these are; Real Coffee & Tea Café offering the most talked about Calamansi Muffins and every breakfast craving you have had. They serve different breakfast meals, and yes this place will convince you that Breakfast doesn’t only deserve a coffee. (Cos I don’t normally eat breakfast, Coffee is my everyday breakfast) I find myself in awe and I will probably start eating every morning.

The Banana Peanut Shake at Jonah’s is something I always have when I’m on the island. Jonah’s is an icon of fruit shakes in Boracay, which means everything in their list is worth a try.

D’Talipapa offering their very own Dampa-style wet market wherein you can have your food cooked and watch them as they do it, and Merly’s BBQ offering a home of the original chori burger made of Filipino longaniza.

You will never starve!

My favorite dining place is always I Backyard BBQ located nearly D’mall at Station 2, it is labeled as the “KING OF THE GRILL”. They have the best tastiest baby back ribs, BBQ, Chicken, and a lot more. You have to arrive really early before every meal time to avoid waiting for your table. (People usually fall-in-line just to dine)

When you get hungry, thirsty, and a bit tired in the afternoon, there’s a nice place to chill. Spider House is located at Tambisaan Jetty Port Road, just a bit farther from station 3. The Bamboo built Resort/Restaurant has a lot to offer; from a unique accommodation, a spectacular sunset straight from the best view on the island, very relaxing and inviting couches, and the food are outstanding!

 

Gypsea Shack formerly Hoy Panga is a must visit Bar and Restaurant on the island. it is the home of the best-grilled tuna and all festive food in the Philippines.

Fine dining right at the beach with French-Mediterranean food when you dine in Degustacion at Sandbar Beach Club. For Pizza and Pasta, Caruso at The District hotel is a winner. For Japanese, there’s Sushi Shi-ro at Bulabog Beach, where your Sushi and Sashimi are made right in front of you.

Boredom has no place in the Island

Not to mention this island has a lot of water and land activities to offer. Just like Parasailing, Paddle Boat Riding, Flyfish, Banana Boat Ride, Cliff Diving, Atv, and etc.

No one thought this small island can have it all. It blooms every single day, not knowing it has been a fun part of every single person’s life who indulged in it. Usually, people who came to this island tend to visit the place for a few days, but for some, they chose to stay and make a living. The memories of Boracay experiences are too fast at night time but seems like fast approaching at daylight.

The white beach is full of dreamy paraws (outrigger sailboat) giving rides, colorful parasails fly through the air, perfect scenery, many food choices, the live music breaks out, fire dancers twirl their batons while spinning fire, and the party goes on all night until dawn.

Boracay is a place where you can find everything that you have been looking for in a vacation destination, everything is considered. It’s going to be worth a try to visit it if you haven’t yet. Then, grab that cocktail by the beach, sit on the bean bag and see what the paradise has to offer.

 

 

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