I have always wanted pallet furniture for the beach. We wanted everything to be simple yet colorful and relaxing. The idea was just to serve appetizers and drinks – but the menu evolved to accommodate dinner, and our specialty and best seller became the mediterranean pasta and the beer burger – our special recipes! We are also proud of our mango shake and banana shake that guests have exclaimed again and again to be the best in all of El Nido. We are of course boasting of the pretty sunsets that we have in Corong-Corong beach. Here are some photos of the many sunsets we are lucky enough to be able to see nearly everyday. If you guys are looking for the sunset in El Nido, it is found in Corong-Corong beach. Come drop by the bar for some milk tea, cold beers and cocktails, delicious pasta, and your daily dose of sunset.
I have been back in El Nido since two weeks and with my newly-acquired 11-16mm UWA lens have been enjoying myself with some sunsets both in Caalan, in front of our resort – The Last Beach Cottages (Hippocampe Beach Cottages), and even in Corong-Corong Beach which was our home last year.
It has always been my dream to have an ultra-wide angle lens, and after saving for some time, have finally been able to afford one. I am extremely happy!
But I am even happier with the sunsets I have been fortunate enough to witness these past weeks.
First off, some credits where/to whom credit is due.
Happy World Turtle Day from all five species of sea turtles that can be found in Palawan! El Nido Resorts takes part in sea turtle conservation by protecting their nesting sites, educating guests and staff, and engaging in monitoring activities.
When I started looking for a space to lease in January 2013, I was really looking for a place to put the milk tea shop and the booking/ticketing office slash travel agency. (Outventure was not really supposed to be a travel agency, it is supposed to be a payment services outfit, but I found out that in El Nido, there is no distinction among booking office, ticketing office, travel agency, and/or tour operator – they are all the same). I was looking for a space to put the Outventure office because I needed a business permit and physical address. I started looking in January 2013 for a place in a not-so-busy area of El Nido where rent was reasonable. It took me nearly a year and 4 potential spaces before I found one some time in September 2013. Serena Street is probably the third busiest street in El Nido but it was what I found. I had a personal deadline and it seemed I was running out of time and choices.
So I found a space and it was bigger than what I intended. I needed to fill it up. And that’s when I decided to fill it up with items from my micro-entrepreneur friends. Friends that I have found when I still had Kikayism – an online reseller; and participated in and supported the Global Pinoy/Yabang Pinoy advocacy. I still believe in and support that advocacy. In the Outventure shop, all the items we sell are made in the Philippines.
Yabang Pinoy encourages its volunteers to live happy, passionate, and meaningful Filipino lives by effecting positive social change. The organization hopes every Filipino will realize the greatness in bearing the citizenship.
If Filipinos will be conscious of the small great changes they can do, they will understand the purchasing power of P1. For every foreign product in the market, there are comparable local options. If Filipinos continue to look more to them for consumption, demand will make better the economy.
Yabang Pinoy also hopes its volunteers will influence their own social circles to spread the word about thinking Filipino. To be infectious, they must always be ready to address negative comments or news about the Philippines and the Filipino people.
Its advocates and volunteers are the young and idealistic Filipinos who spearheaded change in the mindsets of their countrymen. They want to convert “closet” Pinoys into Shouting Proud Pinoys, Filipinos who share the impassioned spirit and love for their country with fellow Filipinos and people from around the world. This change, they believe, will happen because they are starting it now. We are the change we want to be.
I tapped into my network and partnered with entrepreneur friends who were willing to lend me their items, without paying for them outright. I was minimizing my start-up costs and my friends were very supportive. Now, the Outventure office and shop carries these items, on display and on sale.
Palamuti by PJ Valenciano (Palamuti Storytelling Jewels) are made by a woman who was inspired to create from the complexities of women, which transcends to accessories for every woman. Behind every piece is a vision of creating customized and original costume jewelry for today’s modern woman using different materials, mainly incorporating an element that is proudly Filipino. All handmade Palamuti costume jewelries and accessories are products which are painstakingly improved through a continuous process of learning and refining techniques that fuse both modern and traditional methods, and are guaranteed to be one of a kind. Each individual piece is not only an expression of art, beauty, and style, they are interwoven with the stories of the wonderful women who have been inspirationally instrumental to the birth of these pieces.
In my life, I have been blessed with friends who are creative artists and entrepreneurs – and this has always been an inspiration to me.
My mother loved travel. When we were growing up, she always said, “Go on all the field trips and educational tours. Go on any out of town trips. They may be expensive and maybe we can not always afford it, and we may not be able to give you a lot of money, but the experience will be a gift and a treasure for you.”
Or at least something like that.
So we grew up traveling with her and even with our father, who for his part hated traveling, but was, at first, being a lawyer for agrarian reform cases in the provinces of Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, and then later on assigned as a member of the Department of Agrarian Reform‘s Adjudication Board in the provinces of Aurora, Laguna, Marinduque, and Romblon. Later on, my mother would let me arrange all her trips with her group of friends, always at least four of them, sometimes as many as twelve, to El Nido, Boracay, Batanes, and other places. I was her personal travel agent. I booked the tickets, arranged the rooms, the boats, the guides, and everything else in between. Her friends started to tell me that I should start a travel agency. I laughed, but they said it would have made my mother happy and proud if I did.
As a daughter, especially after my mother’s passing, I have tried, in my little ways, to make her proud, or at least make something out of the inheritance that she left me. I lost all of it in Naga City when I had Wharf Galley in Avenue Square, but in exchange, I learned a lot, and somehow think earned a masters in business administration or something along that line because of that experience. So I let go of the bar and went back to travel. These days, when I help people out with their travel plans and arrangements, I do so as I would my mother and her friends. It is in her memory that I put up Outventure – because it would have made her happy and proud.
Outventure started out online BUT it did not feel that I am a legitimate business if I did not have a physical location. I worked hard to put up an office. When I was looking for a space to lease, I was looking for one for Outventure. So I could not afford spaces that leased out at Php25,000 to Php35,000 per month.
I love milk tea. I have been a fan of Nai Cha since my days in the university when the fast food chain Chow King came out with it. I was always going to Bubble Town for my milk tea fix when I was still in Naga City. El Nido did not have milk tea and it sounded like a sound business idea to put up one.
So I worked on the idea that my space should be big enough to hold a milk tea shop or booth at the very least, and be the Outventure office. The boutique was a side story. It was not meant to be a priority. I was just told that if I had Outventure as a booking and travel services office, it would also be a good idea to have some souvenirs or other items to sell in the space, because that’s what everybody else did. I did have some stocks from Kikayism and Thriftista Shop – my online shops, so I thought, yes, that could work. On the side.
We started working on the logos.
Folding 8 did the Outventure logos and sent me these studies.
When my mom passed away in early 2011, I decided to come back to my home province of Camarines Sur, some 450 kilometers south of Metro Manila, to be with my father who was alone in our family house. I managed a small rock bar for a month called Wharf Galley Rock Cafe that was located along Elias Angeles Street in Naga City. I set up my own business, but decided to keep Wharf Galley as a trade name, for the bar that I put up at the second floor of Avenue Square, a lifestyle center located in Magsaysay Avenue – the night life strip of Naga City. I ran it for nearly a year but closed it in February 2012. I went back to Manila and took some much needed rest. I was invited back to El Nido to sub as a high school science teacher at the school where I taught grade schoolers back in 2005 in July 2012. After a few months back in El Nido, I finally decided that I wanted to come back and live here.
Although my first big business was the restaurant and rock bar in Naga City, and the first one to ever have a physical location, it was not my first venture into enterprise. I had an online shop called Kikayism that I and my friend PJ Valenciano put up back in 2009. I had another online thrift shop in 2010 that had web pages in Multiply and Facebook and partnered with Xend for the shipping. Kikayism was a participant in the Global Pinoy Bazaar at the Rockwell Tent in Makati in 2010. I made a lot of friends and contacts in the Yabang Pinoy network. Though to be honest, and this is going to be the first time that I will openly admit this, my first business ever was when I was nine and I was selling candies and snack food to my classmates during recess. I saved a lot of money from my small scale enterprise in my grade school years and deposited my money in the local bank. I was such a funny kid because my family was not poor and I really did not need the money to send myself to school or anything. I just liked the entire process of going to the market at the end of the day, after school, to buy stuff, and sell them.
When I closed Wharf Galley in Avenue Square, I took back with me a wealth of extremely important business lessons. It seemed like I did a very expensive crash course in entrepreneurship. I made a promise to not give up on being an entrepreneur but also vowed that I would start a smaller enterprise next time, probably with just one or two staff. I wanted things simpler, and of course, easier to manage.
I started the early stages of planning in January 2013. I made and studied business plans for a milk tea shop, a boutique, a bakery, a laundry shop, and a travel services company (not really an agency). The hardest step was looking for a place to lease in El Nido. I wanted a small and inexpensive space to lease because I did not want another 208 sq.m. place with a 30-member staff. I wanted a simpler life and a smaller business. The planning stage took nearly a year, and four different locations all over El Nido that did not fall through. One owner changed her mind about leasing, another did not push through with construction, another could not give a proper contract, another one was too far outside of town, until finally, some time in September, I found a place. Construction was started in early October and I documented this process as best as I could. All the photos here were taken by my Samsung S4.
October 15, 2013
I have been meaning to write this post as this happened three and a half months ago but I have been extremely busy. I used to blog everyday. Before I moved to El Nido, I posted something twice or thrice a day. One would think that with my moving to El Nido, to live in a native cottage that is roughly 15 square meters, with just the most basic necessities, without air conditioning and television, far away from the city, I would have more time to blog. As it is, I have barely written anything noteworthy since I sort of officially, permanently, moved here half a year ago.
Anyway, my 4-year old daughter and I went to an afternoon party at a beachfront restaurant along Corong-Corong Beach where we live. At the party, my daughter found one of her best friends, our 5-year old French neighbor, and together, they went swimming. They were out on a paddle board, while two Filipino boys ages 10-12 were on two surf boards following along and keeping watch. I was sitting on a bench on the beach, watching all of them from a distance.
I saw my daughter waist-deep in the water, as she had probably fallen off the paddle board, and heard her screaming “Help! Help!” while making frantic wading motions in the water. I ran towards her as fast as I could. By the time I got to where they were, my daughter Lia was already lying face down on one of the surf boards with one of the local boys. One of the boys had managed to fish her out of the water and up on the board. She was quiet but breathing heavily. I called out her name, and she slid off the surf board. She ran towards me. I was unsure of what was happening and I immediately took her into my arms, and felt the stings on my arms and my stomach, where her legs had touched my skin. “Ah, jellyfish!” and I put her back. There was no way I would be able to carry her myself back to shore so I borrowed the surf board from the boy and paddled us both back to shore.
On the shore, I walked towards the restaurant and calmly asked for a glass of vinegar. I poured the vinegar all over my daughter, all over her stomach, arms, hands, legs, chest, as well as on her face and ears. The owners and the staff came running to assist. She still had a lot of tentacles wrapped around her hands and legs. We picked them off of her one by one. We used two full glasses of vinegar on her.
My daughter was crying but not screaming. She was very brave and strong. I kept asking her if it hurt and she kept saying yes but she was very calm. She kept asking me to take her home and give her a bottle of milk that she takes as comfort food. I rushed her home up the path to the road, into a tricycle, off again into the street, down the path at the back of our house and all the way home to our cottage by the beach. I gave her a quick bath and gave her some paracetamol for what I expected would be a quiet night of applying hot water on the stings every now and then.
The locals said she would be fine, that there was nothing else I should do, that the stings would start to get itchy the next day but everything would be okay.
That’s when I took a photo of her right leg.
The first time I was here was eight years ago and I have always felt that this place was “home,” but when I decided to permanently move back to El Nido this year, I was not as prepared as I thought I was. The first month was truly difficult as my daughter and I went through the tedious process of looking for a house where we both could live peacefully and happily, and feel truly “at home” in all meanings of the words, and the adjustment to the weather, to the flora and fauna, and the new environment took its toll on our health.
For me, it was not so much about location, as I was not too keen on living by the beach front, but was most concerned about cost AND the speed of the internet connection. I have said this often to anyone who cared to listen, “The two things that make me happiest are, 1. really good coffee and, 2. really fast internet connection.” So I was looking for houses near where I knew, from experience, internet connection was fast enough, if not the fastest, in all of the town; but my daughter had an entirely different perspective about this new home of ours.She, of course, did not care about the cost, being four years old, and cared only a little about the speed of the internet connection. Lia was most concerned about comfort and her own idea of happiness – the beach, and being a child, lots of space to run around.
I was not too surprised when, going around houses in the middle of El Nido town, Lia did not find anything she liked enough. She only liked one house, its old paint made pale pink through neglect, because it was really big, with its three rooms and spacious living areas and a garden and yard going around the entirety of the house, that I was told rented out at Php20,000/month. There is only me and my daughter so we did not really need a three-roomed house, and so I started looking farther out of town where I thought it was going to be cheaper. In the end, we found the house a friend of mine was living in last year empty and available, and it sat directly on the beach. Lia, exclaimed exuberantly, “We’re home!” When your 4-year old child declares you are home, you just have to believe that and trust in her instincts. After, of course, checking out how fast the internet connection is. Never mind if it is an expensive bahay kubo! You are paying more for the view – and the opportunity to walk barefoot on the sand everyday, than the house itself.
For my part, I was paying more for my daughter’s happiness. Because as long as she is happy, then I can be happy. And I am saying that realistically. My daughter and I live alone, just the two of us. I have to be able to work, and take care of her, and do all of the house chores all by myself, and all these depend on whether or not she is happily skipping about, or digging sand castles in the yard, rather than clinging to my legs or walking about with a dour face, ninety-seven percent of the time.
I have not been blogging in the past months because between trying to make a home for just two people and trying to make a living, I just had my hands full. The first month was the most difficult as we both had to deal with adjusting to the weather, the island fauna, maladies of all nature, and just getting the basic necessities inside the house. I know I have been living in this little town on and off through the years, one week to two months every year in the past seven years after the initial ten months in 2005-2006, but there is nothing like leaving one home to another that was completely empty. When, after a full month, I went to Puerto Princesa to buy a stove, a rice cooker, a coffee maker, dishes and bowls, utensils and water glasses, brooms and dust pans and trash cans, non-slip bathroom mats, laundry baskets and clothes racks, hooks and hangers, and all kinds of foot rugs, was I ever truly able to breath and exclaim, “Oh, what joy!!”
Our first month was spent getting to know the neighbors, and acquiring a dog, in the process. Elvis, the black Labrador-Doberman mix dog, is our neighbor’s. But he spends the entire day with us while his “dad” goes to work diving during the day. He is Lia’s play mate, and they are almost best friends.
January 2013 was a very eventful month. And truly, it defined how the rest of the year is going to be for me. I know this year’s only been three months but it was the most difficult time of the year. So far, at least. And when things are difficult for me, I run to my refuge, back to where my heart is, to the place I call home.
I love riding my bike in El Nido. On one January afternoon, I concluded my ride by having a glass of shake and some food at Stunning Vistas Beach Resort in Corong-Corong and happened to have caught this. <3
Stunning Vistas Beach Resort
Lugadia, Corong-Corong, 5313 El Nido, Palawan
Contact numbers: +639217515783 or +639995660888
If you are looking for more accommodations in El Nido, here is the link to the most updated list of accommodations, with contact numbers, links and a map. Click HERE.
La Salangane has rooms and a bar and restaurant in the heart of town, as well as an apartment/villa in Caalan. I have not been to La Salangane II in Caalan and the photos here are mostly of the bar and resto.
I have been in El Nido two months when I first walked into this restaurant. It was a bright and sunny afternoon and I was completing a photo walk around town. It was one of the last accommodations located on Serena St. that I was supposedly documenting, and it was nearly four in the afternoon. I walked in there, and met two very amiable men, a French and a Spaniard, and forgot to leave.
Amidst bottles of San Miguel Pale Pilsen and my cocktails, we talked about music, movies, cuisine, and travel all over the world.
Our last few days in El Nido last September were spent hanging out at the beach in the afternoons….
A friend of ours has a cottage in Corong-corong and we would swing by sometimes to hang out.
The beach in this part of Corong-corong is not known for being clean because there are a lot of trees and leaves fall on the beach.
Of all the places in El Nido, the beachfront has the most noticeable changes. There are so many more establishments as more homes were converted to businesses – either a restobar or lodge/pension.
The photos on this blog were taken on many different days over a period of two and a half months. The photos at the end of Rizal Street were taken one beautiful, sunny August afternoon; the photos of Pukka Bar and El Nido Corner were taken as early as July, as well as some photos of Sea Slugs were taken in August; and the rest of the photos were taken one windy September morning when the sun played hide-and-seek with me.
I took a walk starting off from where Rizal Street ends, with Aplaya Bar and Casa Buenavista on either sides, and ending in the small, narrow alley right after Tandikan Beach Cottages that emerges where Lonesome Carabao Lounge is.
And as more buildings and businesses were established, the more the sand turned brown. I used to swim on the beach nearly everyday, I would not want to do that now.
The beach still looks beautiful on sunny days like this…
…but nothing compared to how it used to be.
Next to Casa Buenavista is Marber’s Restaurant.
Back when Marber’s Restaurant was on the ground floor of the building where Og’s Pension is, this was Blue Karrot Beach Bar and Restaurant.
Blue Karrot has a long history, being originally owned by Rudy and Rose, and then sold off to a friend of theirs. Rose’s family now owns Makulay Lodge and Villas in Caalan, and Blue Karrot does not exist anymore, neither in this spot nor any other spot in town.
Casa El Nido has been there ever since I can remember too. It used to have a little garden on the side where there were trees, and loungers under the shade.
CASA EL NIDO
Calle Hama begins where Balinsasayaw Road, a road that starts off at Rizal Street, meets the road that goes to the northernmost baranggays of the town of El Nido, at the corner where Lally & Abet Beach Cottages is found. This is the street that we take all the time because we lived a kilometer or so north of town but the entire time I was there, I kept thinking I was going to devote just one day to taking photos of the town, that in the end, I did not manage to. In my last two weeks in El Nido, it kept raining and some of the establishments were in the process of renovating and/or building more cottages.
Most of the originals of my old El Nido photos are lost. The ones I repost are mostly from a folder that I found that has a title “El Nido Town Reduced”, so the files have been reduced. But recently, I found a folder that says “El Nido Town 3” with photos taken from April 2006 and these were original files and have not been reduced. I found these two photos:
LALLY & ABET BEACH COTTAGES, 2006
ROSANNA’S COTTAGES, 2006
My photos of Calle Hama begin at Lonesome Carabao Lounge and end right before Marina Garden Beach Cottages. Calle Hama is the busiest street in El Nido town and has the most number of establishments, accommodations and restaurants. In order, from the intersection, one can find the following accommodations: Lally & Abet Beach Cottages, El Nido Beach Hotel, Inngo Tourist Inn, Devayn’s Inn, and Rosanna’s Cottages.
LONESOME CARABAO LOUNGE
Lonesome Carabao Lounge sits at a location that I remember used to be a rice store… if not a poultry supply store. The building right next to it used to be where the El Nido Public Market was “supposed” to be. The local government has tried to move the public market many times. The public market now has been successfully moved and operating at a big complex in Corong-Corong, where the bus stations are also found. This has done wonders in the vehicle and foot traffic in the narrow streets of the little town and El Nido – something that I truly appreciate.
When I was living in El Nido in 2006, my favorite store was Kuya Loy’s store in front of the waiting shed. We hung out a lot there with Kuya Loy and his wife, Ate Mavic. We borrowed his paddle boat a lot too. Kuya Loy, a musician, played at Balay Tubay and Ricson’s Bar and Restaurant. One of my co-teachers and also my best buddy at that time, Eric, played bass guitar for his band every now and then. (Photo below: Top, 2006; bottom, 2012)
In the photo below, on the leftmost end is Lonesome Carabao Lounge, and on the rightmost end is where El Nido Plaza Inn is.
In between Kuya Loy’s store and Baracalan is a parking lot and El Nido Plaza Inn. El Nido Plaza Inn has been there ever since, one of the oldest and cheapest accommodations in El Nido, but I have never seen it. I don’t know what it looks like inside or where exactly is the building. I just know it’s there.
EL NIDO PLAZA INN
Across the street is a row of beachfront cottages, also with entrances through Hama Street.
Where Rizal Street ends is where Sirena Street begins. Sirena Street runs parallel to the beach, as well as a part of Calle Real, both terminating at the port.
Sirena Street, a very narrow, one-way street, can easily be missed. At the corner, on the left side is a clothing store, painted in green, and a sari-sari store on the white building on the right side.
On Sirena Street, construction was in full swing on the lot right next to the clothing store when I was documenting during the month of September. It used to be a cozy little restaurant called Vicenta’s, that we loved to eat at back in 2006 because they had the most delicious seafood dishes.
We used to feel uncomfortable walking on this street because it was crowded and a bit scary. It’s looking a bit better now, but it is still the street I like least in El Nido.
On this street, one will also find the Tao Philippines booking office.
And the Palawan Pawnshop, one of two in this town. I used to ignore this shop until I realized how important it was in a town that had no banks or ATMs. It is the only way to send or receive money from outside of El Nido.
PALAWAN PAWNSHOP AND EL NIDO SANDS INN
I’ve never even noticed it before, but a photo from 2006 tells me it’s been there ever since.