12 May 2013
in Cebu Tags: Cebu, Malapascua, travel, Visayas
I rarely put an adjective on any blog title, but I felt like it today. I still like Bantayan Island more than Malapascua because of the food, which is delicious no matter what dish and no matter which resto or resort, so I would have to find another, hopefully, better adjective than “beautiful” for the title of my Bantayan Island blog.
I have been to many islands but I would have to concede and say that Malapascua is so charming I would want to live on it if I didn’t already live in another island where I happen to love the people so much. I have more than a few friends who love this island as much as I do now and it was only on my second trip that I finally realized why.
On my first trip to Malapascua Island in 2010, I got on a boat and went snorkeling around the island. I took a few ugly photos here and there too. You may look at them here. You may notice that I have kept the border style but not the processing. I have long discarded that processing action, and have now moved on to, hopefully, a better and more realistic approach to post processing. If I could go back to all the photos I processed in my early days and redo them, I would. As it is, I think them too ugly to even go back to. I am rarely impressed with photos and this also applies to my own. For every 100 photos I shoot, I think all 99 of them are ugly. When I shoot, I think more about the text and an entire article to go along with whatever I am shooting. I suppose this makes me more of a writer than a photographer, but then again, who cares?
If I am to consider myself a photographer, I would say I am really a very lazy photographer. I shoot as I walk and only stop for a few seconds, enough to hear the focus lock, then click, and move on. I keep telling myself I should improve on this, crouch more, hide behind this trunk or this plant or that chair, but I’m too lazy. I suppose it also didn’t help the cause that I almost never travel without my daughter, who turned 4 years old last month, and it was such an effort to carry a baby/toddler and a bag of her necessities plus a camera, and a camera bag with an extra lens, and shoot too, all at the same time. (Did you see my Hong Kong blogs in 2010? I had a 1.5 year old baby, a backpack, a trolley that I pulled, and a stroller that I pushed, and I did these all by myself.)
11 May 2013
in Cebu Tags: Cebu, diving, Evolution, Gato Island, Malapascua Island, travel, Visayas
Gato Island is one of Malapascua’s most famous dive sites. It is a small uninhabited island north west of Malapascua.
Leaving Malapascua Island for Gato Island via Evolution Divers
Gato is a marine reserve and sea snake sanctuary. It has abundant marine life and considered an underwater paradise for the tons of exotic aqua marine life species it plays home to. Gato Island is also a popular breeding ground for sea snakes. It is one of the only remaining three sea snake breeding spots in the Philippines. Breeding season is from March to September and during these months, species of snakes like the black and white banded sea snake, gigantic moray eel, silver eel and other poisonous snakes abound. Other marine life species you can see are frogfish, scorpionfish, shrimps, shells, cuttlefish (often while mating), pufferfish, tuna, mackerel, squids, stingrays, snappers, nudibranchs and pygmy sea horses. The site is also known for sightings of sharks such as the white tip reef sharks, cat sharks, and bamboo sharks that are usually seen sleeping in the cave and sometimes lurking around the exit.
10 May 2013
in Cebu Tags: Cebu, Ceres, Daanbantayan, Malapascua, Maya, Northern Bus terminal, Rough Riders, travel
After three years and despite my misgivings due to some horrible experience from some people, I decided to go back to Malapascua Island in the northernmost tip of the island of Cebu.
Note that this horrible experience has nothing to do with the people of the island or the island itself, but still, I was hesitant to go back.
And I found Maya and the island itself relatively unchanged, still peaceful, still beautiful, and ready to give me some beautiful memories to replace the bad ones I had before.
Getting to Maya pier/wharf in Daanbantayan, Cebu:
1. At the Cebu International Airport, walk past the Arrival area, cross the street, and walk up the ramp to the Departure area where there are taxis that will take you in and charge you by the meter, instead of a fixed rate of Php450 (if I remember correctly). Ask to be taken to the Cebu Northern Bus Terminal. My own taxi meter was about Php150.
2. At the Northern Bus Terminal, you can get off outside of the gate and walk inside. If not, you will pay a Php10 vehicle entrance fee for the taxi.
3. There are three options. One: Take the yellow Ceres bus. Two: Take the red Rough Riders bus. Three: Take a van. Fare is the same for all. Php180. I took the van because the Ceres bus had just left when I arrived and the Rough Riders bus was still empty. Buses to Maya supposedly operate 24 hours, leaving every 20 minutes.
4. Travel time from the bus terminal to Maya pier takes 3-4 hours. The van I took left the terminal at 7:30am, dropped off some passengers with cargo at the Hagnaya port bound for Bantayan Island, before proceeding to Maya, arriving there at 11am.
Except for the boat transfer being more organized and more expensive at Php80, than its previous Php40/pax in 2010, the Maya wharf has not changed much.
This tree, of course, has grown bigger. The photo above was taken in 2013 while photo below was taken in 2010.
For my Going to Malapascua Island, Cebu (2010) version, click here.
05 May 2013
in Travel Tags: backpacking, Bacolod, Cebu, Dumaguete, Moalboal, Oslob, Sumilon, travel, Visayas
Here is the tentative itinerary for the planned 7D/6N Backpacking Visayas trip for this month, subject to (many) changes. I have done my research and my thanks to all the resources, that are quoted, and linked. I have not done this in ages, and quite frankly, I am a bit scared. Hahaha! I always like my trips slow and deliberate, but this one, is taking it too fast, according to my standards. I just feel old but well, I will pretend like I am still in my 20s.
By the way, this will be my third time in Bacolod (the second time was spent in Punta Bulata in Cauayan), second time in Dumaguete, first time in Oslob and Moalboal, 5th time in Cebu City. In 2008, I already spent nearly two weeks in Dumaguete, Siquijor, and combed the coast of Negros Occidental from Dumaguete all the way to Sipalay, and back.
So here goes!
Arrival in Bacolod (ETA 13:05)
Sightseeing in Silay – The Ancestral Houses (via The Poor Traveler)
Eating! – Chicken Inasal, Palapala, and Calea (via Franny Wanny and Solitary Wanderer)
Overnight at Ong Bun Pension House (via Juanderful Pinoy)
Optional Tours (via Bacolod City Govt)
Depart for Dumaguete via Mabinay (via Bacolod City Govt. and Happy Steps)
Mabinay route, the shortest route from Bacolod to Dumaguete crossing through the mountains from the north-western part to the south-eastern part of the Negros Island:
Bacolod City (capital of Negros Occidental)
Dumaguete City (capital of Negros Oriental)
Arrival in Dumaguete
Accommodations via friends
Accommodations via friends
Travel from Dumaguete to Oslob (via Unsatisfied Mind)
Sightseeing on Oslob
Overnight in Oslob (via Pinay Solo Backpacker)
ETA 7AM Sumilon Island Day Tour via Sumilon Bluewater Resort
ETD 530PM Travel from Oslob to Moalboal (via Boy Wander)
Estimated travel time: 2.5-3 hrs
Overnight in Moalboal (via Lakwatsero)
Sightseeing in Moalboal
Depart Moalboal (What is the last bus trip out going to Cebu?)
Arrive in Cebu
Depart Cebu ETD 6:00
Arrival Manila ETA 07:20
This is happening next week. I am going solo so I would probably be taking a lot of photos. No checked in baggage but bringing camera gear, laptop and gadgets, and own snorkel and fins. Just like good old days. Hah! Good luck!
05 May 2013
in Travel Tags: backpacking, travel, Visayas
While I am busy going through the photos from my trip to Malapascua and Bantayan Islands in Cebu last March, and will be posting these photos and blogs this week, I am nearly done with preparing my itinerary for my upcoming trip back to the Visayas.
7 days of hardcore backpacking, which I have not done in ages, through Bacolod, Dumaguete, Oslob, and Moalboal. I will be flying in to Bacolod and flying out of Cebu City.
I hope to be able to finish all blogs, do a lot of work while I am still in the metro and gear up for one week of buses and boats and travelers hostels and backpacker lodges, and hopefully, come out of this trip with my job intact, all my business meetings done, and only a few thousand pesos poorer.
18 Apr 2013
in Travel Factor, Zambales Tags: Forever Summer, The Circle Hostel, travel, Travel Factor, yacht party, Zambales
ROAD TRIP + YACHT PARTY + BONFIRE = FOREVER SUMMER
You’ll begin your adventure with a scenic roadtrip to The Circle Hostel, San Felipe, Zambales, our home for the weekend. Looking around, you’ll see the many adventures that await you. Take a walk on the quiet beach. Be one with the ocean and try surfing. Go skimboarding. Or just simply soak in the sun. You’ll then feast on a sumptuous barbecue lunch, maybe down it with a cold bottle of beer.
You’ll want to take a nap, soak up more sun, create some art at the hostel, or surf. Or you could join the Forever Summer Yacht Party. Sail into Subic Bay aboard a beautiful yacht, feel the wind your face, catch some salt in your skin. Listen to the best island beats by DCFER, swim in the ocean. Watch the sunset.
A bonfire waits for you back at The Circle Hostel. You clink bottles and glasses with your new found friends. Coffeebreak Island takes the stage and deliver their dose of sweet island music. You wish this could go on forever. The sun rises, and the ocean invites you in.
Jun 1-2, 2013
08 Apr 2013
in Bohol, Cebu Tags: Cebu, emo, Fast Craft, ferry, Ocean Jet, Ocean Jet Ferry, photography, Tagbilaran, travel, Weesam Express
Coming from Bantayan Island, I took the bus from the port of Hagnaya to Cebu City and a cab from the Cebu North Bus Terminal to the port of Cebu to catch the 15:35 Ocean Jet ferry bound for Tagbilaran.
Fare was supposedly Php800 for both Open Air and Tourist/Airconditioned classes, as indicated on the website, but paid P500 (plus Php20 for the terminal fee) because there was an ongoing promo. How lucky!
*Click here for Ocean Jet fares and ticket info for their other destinations like Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Iloilo, Jagna, Siquijor.
The issued tickets have seat assignments but they really let passengers sit anywhere they like as long as the seat is empty. I dislike being in the airconditioned areas of ferries because to be honest, much as I love boats, and I travel a lot, I have motion sickness. I have always had motion sickness. So much so that I never took fun rides. I have never been to Enchanted Kingdom! Only because I would not be able to do anything there. I always booked the top deck of the Super Ferry or Negros Navigation too. So on this ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran, I took a seat, the best one actually, on the Open Air part of the ferry, with a direct view of the entire back part of the boat. And these are what I got because of that.
I don’t know what I was passing by but I took photos anyway.
05 Apr 2013
in Palawan Tags: Cassia, Palawan cherry, Puerto Princesa, travel
I got an invitation from the owners of Makulay Lodge to go to their house south of Puerto Princesa and I was eager to go. The lodge in El Nido is now being managed by their sons, Likha and Kalikasan, while the owners live in their house in Luzviminda, about 20 kilometers outside of the city proper of Puerto Princesa. There are two ways to get there, by land via bus or van bound for Aborlan or by boat, from the port at Callebajo to the port in Mangingisda.
Fresh from the very first flight of the day from Manila via ZestAir, I stepped into the cool and crisp morning air of Puerto Princesa and headed directly to Itoy’s Coffee House. I love Itoy’s Coffee House. I have been going there since 2008 and I like how they have improved through the years. The service is great, the staff, friendly, the coffee, good, even if the food is not so much. What I like best about them is that they are open at 7am. I stayed there for three hours before hopping on a multicab going to the San Jose terminal.
When I got to the terminal, the van that would pass by where I was getting off only had three passengers and was waiting for, probably, 10 more people, and I was told that it might take an hour for it to leave. I was advised to take a bus instead. A bus bound for Aborlan was pulling out of the terminal when I got there and it was full to the point of overflowing. I nevertheless threw my bags into the bus, near the doors, and hoisted myself up. I was laughing while thinking, “Igzoydiiing!”
I sat on my bags and held on tight. The sun was bright, the sky, blue, and foliage, green. The fresh breeze rushing through the windows rustled everyone’s hair, clothes, luggage, and even our spirits. Especially mine. Sitting on top of my bags, my booted feet dangling almost out the bus doors, I felt happy and free. I love open bus rides through rural areas.
It was a very narrow bus with two seats on each side, bright green outside, and very colorful inside. The baggage was so much that it was as high as the passengers’ shoulders and heads. Even I sat on two layers of bags.
The highlight of this bus ride was being reminded it was the blooming season for one of my favorite trees – the Palawan cherry (Cassia nodosa or Cassia x Palawan Cherry). The trees lined the road and made the scene very pretty.
02 Apr 2013
in Bohol Tags: accommodations, Bohol, Bohol Bee Farm, Panglao Island, restaurant, travel
There is always something new every time I pay Bohol Bee Farm a visit. This year is my third time in Bohol and Panglao Island. Ever since my first visit there, with Travel Factor and when Lia was only 8 months old, I make it a point to go to Bohol Bee Farm whenever I find myself in Bohol. Aside from the delicious food, I love the simplicity of the place. And it just keeps reinventing itself.
I didn’t blog extensively about my first visit there. Posting only a few photos of the beach in Dumaluan, where we were staying at. On my second visit there with my family, we stayed at Bohol Beach Club, right next to Dumaluan Beach Resort, and blogged about the trip extensively. Sadly, of all the 8 posts I made on that trip, only 2 survived the website crash in 2011. I still have to recover the posts. I might be able to recover them soon, but until then, only these two remain.
Tagbilaran Airport (Bohol)
Bohol Beach Club – A Place for Families
DBR Grill at Dumaluan Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol
Dolphin Watching, Snorkeling at Balicasag Island and Virgin Island – A Day in the Bohol Sea
Snorkeling in Balicasag Island, Bohol
Balicasag Island Dive Resort, Bohol
Bohol Bee Farm – Always A Great Experience
Dumaluan Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol
Too bad because I posted photos of Bohol Bee Farm from both 2009 and 2010 in one of the still-missing blog post.
On my way to the Tagbilaran airport, to catch a flight back to Manila, I had the habal-habal (motorcycle) drop by Bohol Bee Farm so I could buy some more of the squash muffins that I like so much. And then I took some more photos of the place.
They are always expanding at the farm. The restaurant now is even bigger. It is actually huge now! And even the store – they have also expanded the store. And even the lobby and receiving area. Maybe they even have more rooms now.
A lounge area near the restaurant.
Sunbathing and Lounging Area
The deck for sunbathing. This is also where the boat docks for island hopping and dive trips. The stairs leading down is found near the restaurant.
01 Apr 2013
in Bohol Tags: Balicasag Island, Bohol, diving, snorkeling, travel
As the boat was approaching Balicasag Island, I could not help but exclaim, “Welcome back to me, Balicasag!”
Balicasag Island happens to be one of my favorite islands to snorkel at. Though, I was, on a dive boat this time, with other divers, I was still not diving. I have yet to get a license. I just go on the dive boat all the time because, aside from other reasons, it’s really much cheaper that way. I brought my own snorkel and fins, so on this boat, I only had to pay Php300. This was one of the boats of Sierra Madre Divers.
It is not Balicasag if I don’t take a photo with the lighthouse in it. I simply must.
Snorkelers in the marine sanctuary.
On a dive boat with loads of Koreans.