When people ask me which tour is best among Tours A, B, C, and D, this is what I say – Tours A and C are the most popular. Tour A because it goes to the lagoons in Miniloc Island and this is what made El Nido famous, aside from the fact that the big lagoon is really quite magnificent. It should not be missed. It is such a beautiful place to swim in and even have a wedding at, as some people from El Nido Resorts had done in the past. The big lagoon must not be missed. Tour C is what most tourists recommend and say as the best – it has secret beach and hidden beach, and there is such a beauty to be held atop the rocks in Matinloc Shrine. Tour D is the least popular because it is the closest and most people can get there by kayaking from town proper. Now what about Tour B? I would like to say that Tour B is for those who want to avoid the crowds of Tours A and C. It is the most relaxed too. Not much to do but hang out on the beach, do a little bit of swimming while waiting for lunch either in Snake Island or in Cudugnon Cave. Furthermore, Pinagbuyutan Island is so beautiful that we consider it our favorite island.
2014 saw me last post on the 30th of October, something about the sunsets in front of our resort, which we called The Last Beach Cottages, at the very end of Caalan Beach. Shortly thereafter, we encountered numerous issues with the resort, the property owner, and the owner of Hippocampe Beach Cottages, that made us decide that it was better to just let the resort go, live a peaceful life, and move back to the other side of town, back in Corong-Corong Beach. The month of November saw us working on putting together the sunset bar that we called 1209 Sunset Beach Bar in Corong-Corong Beach and opening in December 15th. I will post on that some other time as, believe it or not, I haven’t gone around to taking any proper photos of the bar.
What I have been busy with though is island hopping. I finally went on Tour B! After nearly 8 years! And have been fortunate enough to have some pretty pictures of our favorite island in Bacuit Bay – Pinagbuyutan Island.
I wasn’t supposed to post these photos but, on Facebook, there are a lot of photos of me taking photos.
Image downloaded (and text below lifted) from the Facebook page of WWF-Philippines.
“Today is World Oceans Day!
The planet’s oceans and coasts are home to an incredible array of life – and are vital to human health, livelihoods, and cultures. But damaging and unsustainable human activities are taking their toll on marine habitats and marine species around the world.
WWF works toward a future in which well-managed oceans and coasts are resilient, full of life, and capable of supporting sustainable development.
Visit http://wwf.org.ph/ to find ways to help!”
Image by El Nido Resorts.
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.
On the first day that we went out on Tour C with a group of four, another group composed of nine English and Spanish guests, went out at a later time on a different boat, also on Tour C. On the second day, we combined the two groups in one big boat, the Kryzel Jane, that is good for 2o pax, and went out on Tour A.
Our first stop was the Small Lagoon in Miniloc Island where the girls did some kayaking outside. I took this panorama shot using my phone.
The last time I was on a tour boat was years ago so on one particular sunny day, when my resident tour guide was on day off, I decided to go with my tour guide in training instead. We only had 4 guests from Brazil and Austria and it was a rather relaxed and fun day! We did a stop at Cadlao Lagoon, which is actually part of Tour D, in place of Hidden Beach because the tide was too low to go there, before heading for the area covered by Tour C.
Our second stop was Culasa Beach in Tapiutan Island for lunch. While the tour guides prepared grilled pork, chicken, fish, squid, and eggplants because we had a vegetarian on the tour, our guests went snorkeling and swimming, and took some nice photos on and around the beach. Culasa Beach is also one of the stops of Tao Philippines.
This is Serena St. and these are our neighbors – Seadog Diving, The Alternative Inn and Restaurant, El Taraw Booking and Ticketing Office. If you are coming from the main streets of Rizal Avenue and/or Hama Street, you will pass by these establishments before arriving at the Outventure shop and booking office.
And this is us:
Our next-door neighbor on one side is a sari-sari store and next to it, Shipwreck Pension. And on the other side is El Taraw Booking and Ticketing Office.
Outventure was DTI-registered in July 2013. Though I have been doing bookings as early as March 2013 for friends, it was under a different company. Outventure had its soft opening on November 10 but was only open for a week. Lia and I had to go to Manila for some important errands, and we went back to El Nido on the first week of December. Outventure officially opened the office and shop in December 11. These photos were taken then.
Because we get our items from different parts of the country: Baguio, Sagada, Bacolod, La Union, Manila, Albay, to name a few; and we have to deal with shipping from these places to Manila then loading them on a cargo boat to El Nido, we change our items often. When items are sold out, it takes a while to replenish, if we do at all. Shipping is a tedious, time-consuming, and expensive process that involves at least 7 people every time.
When we opened, I had some left over stocks from Kikayism like knitted bikinis and clothes by Chizza. Most of the clothes have been sold out in January and most probably, there would be no new stocks until next season. I also had the tapis dresses from Agos Pilipinas and they were sold out some time during Chinese New Year. My goal really is just to keep the shop always filled with items on display even if that is not really our main line of business.
Outventure is an office. It is where we process our pre-booked guests and voucher holders. In the Outventure office, we provide tourist maps and information kits. It is a one-stop shop where one can book anything: rooms, flights, land transfers, tours in Puerto Princesa and El Nido, as well as other activities like camping, fishing, and diving. We also offer services like laundry, massage, and rentals of motorbikes and kayaks. Just come in and let us know what you need and want to do, and we can arrange anything for you. The Outventure website is unfinished though and work on it is ongoing with a web developer friend of mine based in Cebu.
Outventure also processes credit card payments. The goal of Outventure is to be of assistance to travelers, even with just information. Yes, we provide free information as well, if the tourism office is closed. 😉
What one will see, hear, and feel in the Outventure office and shop, is a mix of our interests and passion. If anything, it is a space filled with vibrant colors and positive energy. Outventure, with its white walls, and solid bold bright colors, is truly one of its kind in El Nido. It stands out (or at least hopes to) in everything it does – from online bookings, payments, Filipino-made items, and above all, service. I am very proud of what Outventure is. Some people come in and say it is such a hippie/hipster place. Maybe it is, maybe we are; but nonetheless, we are proud of it.
We are on the left side of Serena St., if coming from the main road that is Rizal, after La Bodega and Sealand Venture on the left side and The Alternative Inn and Restaurant and Seadog Diving, both on the right.
I fell in love with What If Handmade‘s products the moment I saw them. I sent them a message on Facebook and placed my orders. I arranged to pick up the items at the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2014 in Rockwell Tent, Makati. We carry their items because we love and believe in what they do. People come into the shop and they go crazy over the travel blankets, towels, and wind chis. The book ends/door stoppers are heavy, so even if a lot of people love them and would like to buy them, they are limited by their luggage allowance with the airlines as well as luggage inspections. Me, I love having them around! The owl and the kitty cat are absolutely charming.
Since everything is handmade, I usually have to wait at least a month for them to complete my orders, depending on season as well, and then we deal with shipping, which takes some time from 1 to 2 weeks.
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