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!

Singlehood

It’s always a mystery how everything falls into its proper places. It happens unexpectedly in a way that you’re not even aware.

Singlehood has been a blessing in disguise! Life is fast changing every single day. The moment you wake up each morning is already a miracle. I do believe in magic, I do believe in fairytales, I do believe in serendipity and I do believe that anything in life is possible unless you try.

I seem to have a career though it’s not nice paying but still I consider, professional in my chosen field, has a wide social circle, pleasing personality, acceptable philosophies in life, spontaneous lifestyle, and single yet happy. This is the best stage I will ever be in. I have been enjoying my singlehood for quite some time. To be honest I have my own fair share of ups and downs all through these years but I know this was a journey worth taking.

I had come to know myself more down from the little things up to the important details. Eventually learned that ice creams are my best comfort food ever and that I am always fascinated with pasta. I became certain that yellow is my all-time favorite color and for some reason I love buying things that is red. I became aware of my temper and my childish attitude, and somehow know that I got plenty of patience now. By and by I had the time to think and surprisingly fascinated by my written outputs. I am still certain that I love receiving love letters than some expensive gifts. One-by-one discovered the adventurous side of me when I began wandering; climb the mountain, cross rivers, stand and jump on a cliff. Finally realized that I am capable to exceed my limits.

It’s liberating to know yourself and it’s crucial as sometimes you may not understand your choices but that’s actually the point of singlehood, understanding and accepting every inch of you before expecting anyone to do that for you.

I can accomplish my very own life bucket list at my own pace. I can even give my best shot in my career growth. See that? I literally have the world upon my feet. Experience everything and seize every moment, because you have all the time in the world.

It’s sad that most of the single people these days are exhausting all their efforts and energy they have in order to find the right one; I’ve been there before, done that but enjoying this freedom for a while. Imagine yourself forty to fifty years from now, while sitting on your rocking chair, what are the things that you could possibly regret not doing when you were younger? Then do them now. Follow your most intense obsessions. Do things that scare you the most, because there is nothing greater than doing things you think you cannot do.

Pour out your love extravagantly that when people see it, they get moved and wonder how and why you never run out of love to give away.

My time for love will eventually come, but I need not stop my world from revolving while waiting for it. Singlehood is one of the best times of my life and I am embracing it. I never know, I might be done with this phase before I know it. Can I say I lived it well and enough? What is the most daring thing I’ve done so far?

Forty to fifty years from now, these will all become my own stories to share with my future partner, to my children, and even to my grandchildren. They’ll be amazed to know how cool their granny was when she was young.

I believe that life is all about timing, there’s a reason for Singlehood

This is the time I realized that I deserve a man who doesn’t agree with me all the time but when we argue, it feels as if we’re pushing each other to be our best selves. Someone who wants to sit down and talk with me until dusk turns to dawn about new beginnings, aspirations, desires, goals, the unknown, the indescribable feeling of ecstasy when we’ve accomplished something successfully. The one who knows that the touch of warm skin sometimes says more than a thousand conversations could.

I know I deserve someone just as independent and driven as I am. A partner who will inspire me and share the same vision as mine. The one who has his own goals and identity, and we will be each other’s support system. Someone who will trust me enough to give me space to grow. Someone who pushes me to travel down a path of understanding, to be unashamed and to fill myself with courage. A man who will be my partner in almost everything; in business career, in travelling, in a long chill in the coffee shops, in every meal, in every wine night, in every cup of tea, in every drop of disappointments, in every heavy load, in every mood swings, in every laughter, and toward success.

In Singlehood, you’ll discover your own person

I’m learning to let love find me when it’s real, when it’s simple, when it’s mutual and when it’s passionate.
Love is not complicated as it seems, all I know from sitting in a cafe this afternoon; while sipping a teal gray tea, is that this is what I’ve been longing for the entire years, funny how it’s that long now. I feel lonely sometimes but it doesn’t bother me because I know, God got me. He’ll surely arrive, and when he does, I won’t let go. I know this a bit far-reaching but I don’t care. I’ve been through a lot of ups and down, I wouldn’t mind taking the risk with caution, this time.

Sometimes in life, actually often times in life, God will allow you and me to go through brokenness, failures, mistakes, and disappointments; so that he can use us even more.

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